Part Three of the Aaron Copland Tetralogy.


Two Nice Girls is a lesbian duo from Sydney. This is a very obscure underground piece of music that I will be surprised if anyone on this list has heard. An amusing ditty, to say the least.


Last Ten Dollars


by Carol Trendall


I spent my last ten dollars on birth control and beer

Life was so much simpler when I was sober and queer

But the love of a strong hairy man has turned my head around Two Nice Girls


The biker bar was seedier than Ray Kowalski had imagined it possibly could be. Even as fully armed as he was he didn't relish the idea of going inside. But he always was a sucker for a damsel in distress.


Even if the damsel was Inspector Margaret Thatcher, RCMP and even if she was more drunk than in distress.


Inside the bar the stench of unwashed bodies and stale beer hit Ray like a wall. Resisting the urge to cover his nose with a handkerchief, he affected his best tough guy stance and swaggered between tables of heavily tattooed and pierced men and a few women to finally reach the bar. The paunchy barkeeper met his eye and shuffled to meet him.


"What'll it be?" he huffed out, stale breath making Ray's nose wrinkle in distaste.


"I ... ah, I'm looking for a woman."


"Aren't we all?"


Ray rolled his eyes. "You're a riot. I'm looking for a woman, about this high ..." he indicated Inspector Thatcher's approximate height, "dark hair, Canadian ... she called me and said she was here."


The barkeeper's face twisted in a smug grin, his chubby cheeks pushing up into little red balls. "Yeah, I know the one ... the Mountie ... " his voice dropped to a level that reminded Ray of a pimp, "she's been keeping everyone ... entertained ... "


For reasons he could not explain and didn't want to examine too closely, a sudden wave of protectiveness came over Ray. With the speed and dexterity of a gunfighter from an old western he pulled his badge from his pocket and pushed it into the barkeeper's face.


"Just tell me where the fuck she is," he growled in a voice that came out far more menacing than he had intended.


The barkeeper wasn't very fond of cops, so he shut his mouth and jerked a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of a row of booths. Without thanking him, Ray moved off in the direction he indicated.


He found Meg in the end booth nursing a near empty glass of something amber coloured.


"Detective Kowalski," she acknowledged fuzzily as he slid onto the seat opposite her.


"You're drunk," he said, somewhat unnecessarily.


"You're observant, Kowalski, I guess that's why you're a detective." She tipped back her head and drained her glass then fixed him with her glazed eyes and drawled in a voice that was meant to sound sexy, "You going to buy me a drink?"


"You called me and asked me to drive you home and that's why I'm here. Besides, it looks like you've had more than your limit tonight anyway."


"Ooh, so uptight ... " Meg taunted as she signaled to the barkeeper for another drink. "Looks like you've been spending too much time with Fraser."


Ray cancelled the drink order with a withering glance at the rotund barkeep. "Look, I drove all this way down here cause you said you needed a ride home. I thought you might be in trouble. If you're just going to sit here and get stinking drunk, I got better things to do."


Meg looked at him through lowered lashes and said nothing.


"And anyways, why did you call me? Why not Fraser?"


At the mention of her subordinate's name, she looked abashed. "You know, Kowalski, Fraser and I ... we nearly ... "


Ray rolled his eyes and looked around the room, avoiding looking at the drunken woman across from him.


"No, I didn't know and it's more information than I wanted about ... about your ... Why didn't you call a cab?"


"Can't," Meg said, demurely, not looking at Ray.


"Why can't you? You got a cell phone."


"No money."


"So what the fuck are you doing here with no money?" He waved a hand at their squalid surroundings. "What are you doing here at all?"


"I wanted to ... to ... meet ... a ... men ... I wanted to meet men."


"Christ, Thatcher, if you want to get laid there's better places than this."


She gave him a look that he couldn't decipher, but remained silent. After a moment, Ray shook his head and stood.


"I'll drive you home," he said, reaching out to help her from the booth.


It wasn't until he helped Meg to her feet that Ray saw the tiny black dress she wore. Seated and in the dark he had been dimly aware that she was dressed in something black, but until she stood he didn't realise how small that something was. He muttered a curse and slipped his leather jacket around her shoulders, then guided her through the bar to his GTO outside.


Ray manhandled Meg into his car, trying not to notice when her dress rode up to reveal the scrap of black lace masquerading as panties. Leaning over the inebriated Inspector, Ray buckled her seat belt and then closed the passenger door. Shaking his head, he took a deep breath before moving to the driver's side, wondering why he let himself get sucked into this rescue mission.


By the time they arrived at Meg's apartment block, she was getting a little cantankerous. When the GTO pulled to a halt, she opened the door and promptly fell onto the sidewalk. Ray muttered a curse and shot from his seat, rounding the front of the car as Meg staggered to her feet, wobbling on her stiletto heels.


"I'm OK," she told the detective as he put out a hand to steady her.


Ray held up his hands in surrender and let her stagger across the sidewalk on her own. Leaning against his car, he watched as she propped herself against the front of the building and began searching for her keys.


Meg rummaged in her small black purse, frowning. "I know they're in here somewhere."


Pushing off the GTO, Ray crossed the sidewalk and stood in front of her. In an attempt to help, he grabbed the purse. "Here, let me."


But Meg wouldn't let go. She pulled it free from Ray's fingers, the resultant jerk spilling the contents all over the step.


Ray watched in horror as several condoms fell to the ground, their bright cellophane wrappers cheerful against the dirty stone step. Meg giggled.


Dropping to his knees, Ray hastily swept up the condoms and deposited them into Meg's outstretched purse, noting that the selection was in all the colours of the rainbow.


"Sheesh, Thatcher, looks like you meant business tonight."


She giggled again. "That's where my cab fare went. They had this machine in the bathroom ... put my last ten dollars in it."


Scowling and embarrassed, Ray grabbed the keys and rose. "Like I said before, more information than I really wanted."


He opened the door and let Meg inside. Following her into the unfamiliar house, he waited until she flicked on a light.


"You going to be OK? Need anything?"


"I'm fine, Kowalski. Thanks."


"Yeah, well next time you want to get laid, make sure you got cab fare and don't call me if you don't."

Without waiting for a response, Ray turned to leave, reaching the front door in three steps


Behind him, Meg scowled and flopped onto the sofa.


"Oh god, this was much easier when I dated women and didn't drink."


Ray stopped, his hand on the doorknob. "What?"


"You heard me."


Suddenly wondering how drunk Thatcher really was, he turned and faced her. "You dated women?"


Her only reply was a strange smile.


Tucking his hands into his pockets, he shuffled his weight from one foot to the other. "So what was tonight about? What were you doing in that bar trying to pick up guys? And you said you and Fraser ... what about that?"


Meg smiled again and kicked off her shoes before answering. "Let's just say that my experience with Fraser led me to believe there might be more to this heterosexual ... thing."


"What, one big strong handsome guy and you ... you ... "


"Let's just say he turned my head around."


Ray had no answer to that. He stared at the woman on the sofa, realising that she had dropped into instant sleep as he watched. With a final shake of his head, he opened the door and stepped out into the late night air, Thatcher's last words repeating in his head.


Copyright October 2000


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