Sonora was all played out as far as Sardo was concerned. It was late Sunday morning and his head was grinding away at a hangover that'd seemed to begin before he'd even had a chance to enjoy his drinks. He and the other guys––Don, Mike, and Tony M.––had pretty much exhausted their options for a good time. It was always the way in those little shit towns, not like back home in New York where you couldn't get enough time off to wear out the fun, even if you never worked another day in your life.
They'd ended up at some dame's place that had turned out to be an amateur whorehouse, with a bunch of average-looking gals they wouldn't have bothered with had they not been in limiting circumstances.
He'd gotten the head dame, he could almost remember her name... Dorothy? Donna? She was a bottle blond and though older than the others, young enough. Her breasts stood up fine and her ass was nice and round. But she had mean eyes that were full of mocking disrespect and a mouth that had the shadow of a toothless hag in the begrudging way she smiled. He looked at her in the harsh morning sunlight coming in through the kitchen window and saw a bitter old women lurking just beneath her young skin. It spooked and repelled him.
He slumped over his coffee cup and waited for her to finish scrambling eggs. He wasn't sure he'd be able to eat them, but she'd offered, and the other guys didn't seem to be up yet, so, what the hell. Two of the other gals wearing wrinkled, slept-in slips, last night's smeared make-up, hair-dos askew, had groped their way past him to get glasses of bromo-seltzer and cups of black coffee, with the beleaguered attitudes of those who must get up and go to work with a hangover. He wondered briefly what the hell kind of jobs they had to go to on Sunday morning, waitressing? Maybe whoring was a part-time gig.
Probably, if he and the guys had gone to the whorehouse in San Angelo that Romeo had insisted was their best, safest bet for nearby entertainment, they'd have had access to a better class of whore. The Shy Violet had a fine reputation and was extra friendly to guys from New York.
Or so Romeo had said. But Sardo had had enough of taking orders from Romeo at the Bella Vista motel, him and his petty dictator routine. You'd think Romeo was running a military school for wayward boys instead of a safe house for gangsters. Enough was fucking enough. So they'd gone to Sonora instead and whooped it up through the little town, starting in a spic bar they'd seen fit to ransack, beating up every sucker they could get their hands on. They'd all of them gotten rip-roaring drunk. He had a faint memory of struggling to get the Packard out of a parking space and scraping against another car. He hoped the Packard was okay. Next thing he knew, they were sacked out at the house of Dorothy, or Doris, or whatever her name was.
She loaded his plate with eggs and deposited it in front of him with all the warmth of someone plunking a dog's bowl on the floor, then turned back to the counter and her own cup of coffee to stare out the window.
"Thanks, Da... uh..." he tried.
"Dolores," she finished for him, without looking back.
"Right," he said, filling his mouth with eggs. They weren't half bad. He had more of an appetite than he thought he did.
He heard the women in a nearby bathroom getting cleaned up, the water running, medicine cabinet door opening and closing, murmuring voices. Jeez, the other guys must be dead to the world, he thought. He wasn't relishing the idea of going back to the motel for another week of Romeo's task-master routines, but they ought to be moving along.
Then the fourth gal appeared in the doorway of the kitchen and stopped short when she saw Sardo sitting at the table. He noticed she had had the decency to wash her make-up off and put on a bathrobe. She looked to be the youngest of the bunch and was not happy to see him. He put another forkful of eggs in his mouth and chewed, staring at her.
She sidled past him to pour herself a cup of coffee and leaned against the counter next to Dolores, pouting. The pouting was clearly not for his benefit, as she kept sighing and shooting glances at the older woman. Dolores finally looked at her after a moment and said firmly, "Peggy, stop it."
The girl sighed again and made a Shirley Temple unhappy face. With the puffed out lower lip and everything. Sardo found her pretty cute, and suppressed the urge to giggle as he shoveled more eggs into his mouth. Dolores paid her no mind, glanced over at Sardo as if to gage how much longer before he'd be finished and then began taking cleaning supplies from beneath the kitchen sink, a bucket, rags, a huge scrub brush, and setting them aside on the floor next to the sink.
Keep your sunny side up, up... Sardo sang in his head, humming the tune to himself as he chewed.
Dolores stepped up to Peggy, cleared her throat meaningfully, and waited as she moved aside resentfully. The young gal took a big gulp of her coffee and glared at Sardo as Dolores opened a drawer and pulled out a really big butcher knife and a huge, wicked-looking meat cleaver, laying them out on a large cutting board.
The other two gals, now cleaned up and dressed, purses in hand, paused in the doorway, peering into Sardo’s eyes strangely, the way you'd look at someone if you were trying to tell if they were awake or not. This time he couldn't suppress the giggle and had to take two stabs at getting the eggs into his mouth. The more he chewed the happier he felt. His hangover was completely gone.
"See you later, Dolores," the gals said, eyeing Peggy smugly.
Dolores crossed her arms and asked them, "Did you do your work?"
"Yes, Ma'am," said one.
"Ready and waiting," said the other.
Dolores gave a curt nod and the gals were out the door.
Peggy stamped her foot on the floor and exclaimed, "It's not fair! I did mine, too, and you haven't even finished yours."
Dolores, imperturbable as ever, raised her eyebrows and gave Peggy a schoolmarm stare that Sardo found absolutely hilarious. The laughter burbled up his throat and he laughed and laughed.
The young gal put her hands on her hips and rolled her eyes. "Oh, all right," she whined, "can we get on with it then?"
She suddenly pulled the table away from Sardo, and he was briefly aware of Dolores stepping up behind him, one hand gripping the hair on the back of his head and pulling back sharply, while the other hand sliced across his throat with the big butcher knife. The last thing he saw was that cute little gal in her bathrobe, a resentful scowl on her face and the big meat cleaver clutched in her hand.