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Late Night Lori, in all her glory


Lori’s is a beacon in the night, as easy to miss as a fireworks display. A brightly lit ramshackle roadhouse a half hour out of town to the east. A big neon roof sign reads “Late Night Lori” in huge cursive red letters and “in all her glory” in smaller block lettering beneath. The parking lot is nearly full but Spence manages to squeeze the borrowed B.M.W. between a Dodge pickup truck and an old Toyota Celica with one fender of a mismatched color.

The bar is long, backed by an enormous tarnished mirror rippled like the surface of a pond. Navigate through the mismatched wood tables and chairs painted vibrant colors – red, green, blue, yellow, orange – to the bar where you stand western style. No stools to encourage malingerers. A place where serious, production drinking is encouraged. designed for frequent enough turnover to keep everybody alert and on their toes. A Wurlitzer jukebox is cranked loud but not too loud to talk over. A Tube’s song is playing.

Step right up and don’t be shy

You will not believe your eyes

The walls are cluttered with mounted and framed centerfolds of Lori in various states of undress. Vintage. When centerfolds were more art than smut. No full-on crotch shots. No spread eagle gaping vulvas. Just coquettishly posed Lori flesh. Big, juicy Lori breasts. Smooth, round mounds of Lori ass. Long, shapely Lori legs. Her nakedness often punctuated by a pair of heels.

Spence particularly likes the one on the beach in a straw hat. Lori holding a beach ball strategically at her waist. Lush honey-blonde shoulder length hair. Demure, almost innocent despite taunting nipples and fetching thighs. She looks like she can’t believe what she is doing. Like on a dare. An “am I doing this right?” expression. You want to protect rather than defile.

one in a million girls

she’s a beauty

Why would I lie?

The pin-ups are arranged chronologically. The ones from the tail-end of her modeling career show a more wizened, perhaps cynical Lori. Sprinkled among the centerfolds are photos of fully clothed Lori in the company of celebrities. With Ed Begley on a movie set where she made a cameo appearance. Arm in arm with baseball player Mike Schmidt. Having lunch with Dick Cavett. An endearing photo of Lori holding the hand of a child wearing a frilly dress and white socks trimmed with lace, her daughter Lucy presumably. Still shots from T.V. commercials for a soap manufacturer. An out of date poster for The Odd Ball charity event that Spence had attended several days ago.

There are also campaign posters. Lori is running for office under the slogan – Nothing to Hide – a playful jab at her centerfold history and serious corruption allegations against her opponent.

Spence finds a spot at the busy bar. A chubby bar maid with a pert nose, perhaps a former pin-up girl herself before the life-style and age took its toll. A smoker’s voice. A smoker’s skin. She’s looking like a strip of beef jerky but with striking green eyes and a warm, sweet, though nicotine stained smile.

“Lori isn’t here tonight,” the bartender says to Spence,  the new guy, the stranger she had watched studying the centerfolds and photos. “Tourists always expect to see her but she’s not here tonight.”

“Okay. A beer then. What’s on tap?”

“Miller. Miller Light. Bud. Bud Light. Coors. Coors Light. Heineken.”

“A High Life, I guess.”

Spence turns his back to the bar, leans back and rests his elbows on the bar as support, surveying the crowd. Mostly regulars he’s guessing. A cluster of Yuppies in business attire, keeping to themselves. A group of construction guys in dirty jeans, work shirts and baseball caps sit at a large round table in the center of the room. They laugh too loud and ogle the female customers and servers who are badly outnumbered. A foursome is engaged in a game of euchre. “Stay home. I’m going alone,” a man says to his partner who lays her cards face down on the table and pumps her fist. An arched doorway leads to an open-air grotto that Spence will check out later. He doesn’t want to lose his spot at the bar just yet.

A young, pretty server with a very round tight bottom squeezed into black tights scurries about the room delivering drinks and picking up empty glasses. You could bounce a quarter off her ass, Spence thinks.

A man in a leather jacket with star shaped studs strides authoritatively to the bar. Under the unzipped jacket he wears a “wife beater” tee-shirt. Customers move aside without resistance to allow him access to the bar. A red bandana tied to his shaved noggin, jeans, boots and a wallet attached to his waist with a chain.

The chubby bartender puts a beer in front of “leather jacket” without being asked. Mug to mouth, he drains the beer without a pause, his Adam’s apple pumping vigorously. “Chubby” wordlessly refills his mug. Again, mug to mouth, mug drained, empty mug on the bar for a refill. This happens three times in quick succession. The barmaid enters the walk-in cooler at the far end of the bar and brings forth a twelve pack of Budweiser. Leather jacket tucks the beer under a burly arm and walks out the door. No money is exchanged. In a moment the distinctive rumble of a Harley. Motorcycle and rider must have been there, somewhere, when Spence arrived. He wouldn’t have missed it pulling in.

Spence catches Chubby’s eye and points to his empty mug. He’s down three to one against the biker. Chubby lays down a fresh mug. She is assembly-line quick.

“The big guy that was beside me,” Spence says to her. “That was impressive.”

“What was?”

“He put three mugs away in, like, less than ten minutes.”

“Tic gets thirsty.”

“So, that was Tic. I should have known. Sounds like a guy I should meet.”

“Tic is Lori’s brother. He’s a decorated Vietnam war hero. He’s here almost everyday at some point. If you become a regular you’ll meet him. But don’t expect to become buddies.” She walks a way.

###

Lori sits in the small office. Alone, having issued instructions to the staff that she is not to be disturbed. She should be working on the books but instead, after her meeting with her brother, she is in the endless thought loop that has dominated her mind for the last several days. Ever since the L’il Bruno incident at The Liz.

They paid her to take her clothes off. How easy was that? Stand. Sit. Recline. Bend-over. Try not to sweat under the lights. Nothing to it at all, really. Look at the camera. Smile sweetly but knowingly. Click, click, click of the shutter.

When the magazines came out she could hardly recognize herself. Like looking at a slightly prettier twin. A completely different, glossy, two dimensional person.

They wanted more, of course. But even at her tender age she was smart, she understood. She gave of herself freely, too freely, but in private and only to people who mattered. She would not do porn no matter the money offered and it was often substantial. She understood that what is scarce is valuable and what is plentiful is cheap. She would not become plentiful. She would control how much of her, and in what form, was in the marketplace.

The acting career never took off. She almost landed a stripper part in The Exotic Ones, but she could

t dance for shit. The trashy, cheap Ron Ormond horror-comedy film with Sleepy LaBeef. What interesting men, both Ron and Sleepy. She made another attempt with Swamp Thing which wasn’t quite a remake or even a sequel but was inspired by The Exotic Ones. That didn’t work out either. By that time she was getting a little too old and who could compete with Adrienne Barbeaux’s tits anyway. So she stuck with the gentleman’s magazines for as long as her body would allow.

It was Tyler who had helped her understand that she was a brand. The soap company certainly thought of her as a product although they bought her when she was nothing more than a Sears catalog model and dumped her as soon as she showed up in nudie magazines. The movie studios liked the naughty girl next door image she had cultivated and gave her bit parts in B movies but her lack of acting, dancing and singing ability stymied her progress into more meaningful films and roles.

Tyler was supposed to manage her career but all he managed was to drain her bank account and fill up her womb. The pregnancy ruined her figure and her career not that Tyler gave a shit. He wasn’t interested in Lucy’s arrival at all. He split soon thereafter and there was never a chance at reconciliation. His foolish lifestyle made that a certainty.

The little Alpha Romeo didn’t bounce off the galvanized steel guardrail the way a regular car would have but wedged itself underneath taking off the top of the car, the top of Tyler and the top of the floozy who was stupid enough to ride with him.

Lucy romanticized her father as she grew older. In her mind he was James Dean and she was James Dean’s daughter and that brought with it certain privileges and obligations. Lucy became as reckless as had been Tyler. She thought the rules didn’t apply to her. She lived in a world without consequences. Lori knew all about consequences. You pay for everything sooner or later. When the balance comes due you’re lucky if you can pay in installments without too much interest but you pay none-the-less.

Lori had hoped that Michael, the older man, the experienced man, might be a stabilizing influence on Lucy. But he is as much the opportunist and corrupter that Tyler was. He connected her with the crowd that saw only her exterior beauty. Lucy as object. Lucy used her beauty as a medium of exchange. Parties, drugs, gifts and money in the bank.

Lori was down and out, broke and abandoned with child when she met Arnold, her Impresario. Arnold offered to bankroll the roadhouse expecting nothing but a financial partnership in return. He inspired her to get involved in charities and politics. He found the late, ill fated L’il Bruno. He saved her life.

She had been distraught over the bear. Saw it as a disaster but Arnold had a different view. The newspaper and television coverage were free advertisement for the charity, the movie, the roadhouse, the restaurant and her political campaign. Almost any publicity is a good thing if you know how to spin it, he said. Contributions to the charity were rolling in. The movie would open to record crowds, Arnold assured her. People were asking about franchise opportunities for Bruno’s Beastro. She led in the polls by a wide margin.

It was Arnold who told her to consult with her brother about Lucy’s boyfriend. Tic would know what to do with Michael, he said. She knew that was true by the look in Tic’s eyes as he left their meeting earlier. It’s a weird, weird, warped, wonderful world. And she is only now learning how to live in it.

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