The Payment Plan Ch. 01byAmeaner©
The room they were shown to felt large, certainly larger than the pool of light in the middle of it, cast by an overhead fixture and illuminating a dark brown, leather sectional with a wide mahogany coffee table between it and an opposite, matching couch. They were seated here by the same person who showed them in, a very polite, scantily clad barmaid named Gwen, as her nametag claimed. She left two drinks for them and exited.
Janet Fulton and Victoria Sharpe peered around themselves as their eyes adjusted. There seemed to be the shadowed outline of bookcases at irregular intervals along the almost invisible walls and, looking close, one could just make out two doorways and a large, draped window.
Janet, forty-two, blonde and married with two children, complained in a low voice, "This is just great. I can't believe this."
"Would you stop it, already?" Victoria insisted, taking a sip of her apparently complimentary drink. She found it ironic that if she didn't owe the establishment over seventy thousand Dollars, she'd have had to pay for it. "You've been saying that all night, you think I want to hear it now?"
Thirty-eight, dark brunette and married with no children, Victoria was the more adventurous, or as Janet's husband once put it, 'unsettled'. It was her idea to drive to Vegas while their husbands were both away, Janet's on rotation aboard an oil rig, her own out of town on business. After much coaxing, she'd persuaded her neighbor and best friend for over two years to leave her two sixteen and seventeen year old kids and a good excuse (lie) with her mother. From there, they'd drive to Vegas with a few dollars for a girl's night out and be back home before anyone knew. Just like Thelma and Louise, except nobody would die.
Now, here they were. In addition to her own sudden and staggering debt was Janet's, over fifty thousand Dollars.
"What are they going to do?" Janet fretted aloud.
"Stop worrying. This isn't TV, they're not going to kill us, who do you think we're dealing with here?"
Janet knew her friend and neighbor was a lot more worried than she'd let on and her anxiety wasn't quelled. She took a sip from her glass and looked at Victoria, trying not to blame her and being quite unsuccessful about it. Tom was right, she was unsettled. Always the one to bring up sex, or drinking, or some wild misadventure she'd been on. Both she and her husband were more like teenagers than adults in a lot of ways, probably she thought, the result of never having raised kids. It showed on her, too. Victoria worked out regularly and, while she wasn't thin, she was far from overweight. She would often dress her athletic body in outfits that would embarrass Janet a little in public and especially in front of Tom. To give him credit, Janet never once saw him taking a peek at those C cups, no matter how far down the neckline plunged, possibly because he had his wife's D cups to entertain him. But Janet considered Victoria was an exciting friend, even after always having led the life of a careful, proper woman who stood for decency and who could be counted on to make wise choices. Except for this time, when she'd let this thirty-eight year old child make a choice and look where it landed them. Now she couldn't help but wonder why she would have ever thought to become such good friends with her to begin with.
They both took another sip and continued to wait for whatever.
"What? Stop looking at me like that, Jan."
"I'm sorry, I just,..."
"You just blame me, I know. I was only trying to dig ourselves out of the hole!"
"The one you fell into and then dragged me down in.", Janet answered reproachfully.
"Don't give me that, you were already on your own way down!"
Janet turned in her seat, preferring to look off into the gloom at this fact, taking another drink.
Behind her, Victoria continued frowning at the back of her head. The Prude didn't even want to come to Vegas, said it wasn't her style, she remembered with some guilt. She had to admit this was true, now in the not so bright light of day as her blonde friend sat there with her legs crossed, one hand nervously fidgeting with the hem of the tight, dark blue skirt that stopped just above her knees, the one Victoria had to convince her to wear. The snug fitting, short sleeved white pullover was a harder sell, but this was Vegas and women with curvy hips and big firm boobs like Janet's showed them off, heels and all because that was just the way it was. She herself chose the famous 'little black dress', complete with ultra short hemline, low square neckline and no sleeves.
She took another drink, suddenly trying to picture Janet in her church on Sunday morning dressed like she was. What would her friends say? Would the men all stare at her tits? She was just finding herself a little surprised she'd be distracted, even a little turned on by such thoughts at a time like this, when one of the doors, the one they'd entered by, opened in the gloom.
Four men walked into the room. Janet assumed they were men by their height as they followed the shadows around the edges of the light to the opening point of the seating arrangement. The first three sat directly across from them on the couch, the last one on the broad arm at the end. They seemed pleasant enough, Janet decided. They were all wearing nice suits and smiling politely. She'd been feeling a little better about the situation, for some unexplained reason, just before the arrival of these newcomers and their dignified demeanor reinforced this mood. She took another sip and relaxed just a little.
Victoria was also feeling a little less anxious. She took another drink, thankful for this and making a mental note to thank these men for the consideration of her assumedly free beverage. Now the large one seated on the arm of the sectional was about to speak.
"My name is Buckner. Mr. Buckner, or just Buckner, I don't care." he assured with a smile. "These men are associates of mine, Vernon, Mikey and Bull."
Each one casually waved or nodded in greeting, the two women responding with a polite, "Hello.", in Janet's case, and a warm, if unsure, "Hi", in Victoria's.
"You are Victoria Sharpe and you are Janet Fulton, correct?" he asked, not waiting for an affirmation before going on. "Both of you look stunning and I regret that I can't ask you ladies if you're enjoying yourselves in our establishment, knowing your predicament. You're from out of town, am I right?"
"Yes.", Victoria answered while Janet nodded.
"Do you realize you even lost your car and that you don't have enough money to so much as pay for a bus ticket home?"
"Yes.", Victoria repeated, sick to her stomach at what Reggie would do when he found out why his prized, nineteen sixty-eight, restored Firebird wasn't in the garage when he got home.
"Well, that's what we're here to talk about, Ladies. That's what we're here to work out."
Janet took another sip and said, "Thank you for being so understanding, Mr. Buckner."
Buckner, who was about to go on, suddenly smiled, glanced ever so briefly at the glass in the soccer mom's hand before saying to his fellows, "You hear that, guys? What a class act."
They agreed, genuinely nodding their appreciation at Janet, who almost flushed at their approval of her attitude.
"I'm also very appreciative of your time and patience with us." Victoria said, adding the smile of she who didn't want to be left out.
He transferred his own smile to her, bobbing his head positively and saying, "You don't know what a pleasure this is for me. I mean, I feel for you two ladies, being in the position you're both in, but you can't imagine some of the people I have to deal with on this kind of business. It's a real breath of fresh air to get a couple of such high class ladies who treat me with such respect. Now, as much as I hate to do it, we do have to discuss this business between us."
Both women nodded, took another sip of their drinks and waited for what came next.
"Victoria, seventy-two thousand Dollars. Janet, fifty-four thousand. Please tell me you can cover this somehow, ladies."
Victoria stammered, "Um, well I could,... I'm afraid I don't have that kind of money. I already lost all I had and more."
"Okay, what about you, Janet?"
She shook her head and cleared her throat quietly before saying, "I'm afraid I'm in the same position, Mr. Buckner. But I could,... get a loan. It's really not that high, I don't think."
"Yes, I could also get a loan." Victoria piped up hopefully.
Buckner looked from one to the other as they took another sip. "Janet, you could possibly get a loan, but in today's financial climate, it's not assured. Especially with no down payment, no capital and nothing the bank can repossess in case of any failure to make your payments. Is your credit that good? Do you know someone who could co-sign, or would you be willing to put up your house if you have one?"
"Um, I don't,... know. I'd rather nobody,... You know." she finished in a small voice, looking away.
"You'd rather nobody found out. Yes, I do know and it's perfectly understandable, but it may come to that. Victoria, I'm afraid I really don't see you getting a loan at all for the very reasons I gave to your friend Janet, here. I doubt even one of those high interest loan institutions would touch you."
Victoria started crying, real or fake, Janet couldn't tell.
"Oh, honey, it's alright." Buckner assured. "I hate to see a lady cry, you know, boys?" He leaned forward, proffering the hankie from his suit jacket pocket.
She took it, and proceeded to dab at her tears while sniffling, "It's-s not just that, Mr. Buckner. M-my husband's car. He'll k-kill me.", she lamented, sincerely, Janet decided.
"Mr. Buckner," Janet added in a small voice, "I have the same kind of um, problem. You see if people find out,... my husband and his family,... Oh god, I can't imagine. It would get to church and it would ruin everything."
Buckner nodded understandingly and she went on.
"Well, I wonder if we couldn't just make payments to you? Directly. I promise, I swear on the Bible I'd make those payments, Mr. Buckner."
Victoria, still blubbering a little, looked up again, hopeful at Janet's idea. "Yes. I could do that. If it's okay, I mean. I can make the payments too, Mr. Buckner."
"I'm sure you both could.", he agreed, looking at the wide coffee table as if he were talking to it and not the two desperate and slightly inebriated women on his couch. "The problem is that both of your debts, put together, add up to one hundred and twenty-six grand. Believe it or not, that money isn't mine and it has to be in a safe out back in a little over two weeks from now. It has to be, you understand?"
They nodded, their hopes falling.
"Unless you can make some very big payments in a very short time, which I know you can't do,..."
"What if,...", Janet was trying again, grasping at the very last straw she could find, "Mr. Buckner, I hate to ask this, and I'm afraid you may think less of me when I do, but,... Um, if you personally could loan us the money,... If you have it. Please forgive me for having to ask."
Victoria looked from one of them to the other, holding her breath while Buckner leaned back, inhaling deeply as he thought for a short time.
"I do have it, Janet, and I don't have to forgive you for asking. In fact, I admire you for it. Unfortunately, that's a very large amount of cash that,... Well honey, I'd have to charge you over twenty-five percent on that just to make it worth my while, you understand?" He shook his head. "I'm not saying it isn't an option at this point, but it puts me in one hell of a personal bind."
"I guess you'll just have to let Bull break our legs." Victoria said morosely, taking another drink from her now almost empty glass.
Everyone was quiet at this for a moment until Buckner began laughing heartily, inviting the laughter of the other three men in turn. "No, no.", he chuckled. "I want to assure you that nothing bad will happen to either of you. You ladies have been such a top shelf act in here, I wouldn't dream of it. Maybe not even your husbands."
The last part of his assurances made it hard to feel assured.
"Our husbands?", Victoria asked fearfully, trying not to imagine Reggie being jumped by-
"Well, it's a lot of money." Buckner explained apologetically. "I've sent the boys out for a lot less. But in this case,... like I said, you two have been so willing to co-operate and have been so respectful."
"Sooo,...", Janet prodded, clinging to a hope that he seemed to dangle.
"See, In a way I like your idea, Janet. But, the structure of it is very inconvenient for me and, let's face it, I'd own you both for a good long time. You'd never have anything on account of those payments, never be able to recover. Especially you, Victoria. Also, the problem with your husband's car doesn't get solved, does it? I don't have to tell either of you what all this could do to your marriages."
Victoria shook her head, one thick lock spilling out of its stylishly sloppy hold and falling over her shoulder.
"And then, what happens if you should come to a point where you can't make the payments?"
Now both women shook their heads, Victoria finishing her drink afterwards and staring at the coffee table in defeat as she swallowed.
"So, we need to put the co-operation you two ladies have so graciously offered to something a lot more profitable in the short term. A lot more, because I also want you both to drive home in that,... Camaro, is it?"
"Firebird.", Victoria corrected with a glum tone.
"Ah, forgive me. Very nice car, by the way. I bet you two look great in it. But yes, I want you both to be able to go home in that car with no obligation to me, or disruption in your lives whatsoever, while I can be assured that I'll be financially happy about this situation beyond any doubt."
"Is that possible?" Janet asked.
Buckner winked and said, "Honey, in this town, we've got a saying. You may have heard it. 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas'. I've always been a big believer of that philosophy, you know, and if that can't apply to a couple of class acts like you, then what the hell, right?
"Really?", Janet asked, finally feeling relief flood in and wondering if it was because of this drink which she was sipping at again, reminding herself that she didn't drink and she should really slow down because she was feeling a little-
"Hey, I told you we'd work things out, didn't I?"
"Well,... what do we do?", asked Janet, taking another sip.
"First of all, just relax."
They did, Janet remembering that these were decent and reasonable men who were wearing suits, after all, Victoria only happy to be told there was a free and clear way out of her colossal mess.
"Both of your separate debts will be combined to one and I'll even knock off a grand to make it an even one hundred twenty-five. Then, you two will go to work for me to pay this off. This will take a little longer than you planned on being here, in town, but don't worry about that. I know lots of very friendly and respectable people who will prove that you came to Vegas for a short term, sudden high demand job posting for something like,... travel agency bookings for the Shriner's world tour, or whatever.", he smiled, eliciting one from each of the two women in return.
"In fact, when you get home, you both will have a few grand in your pockets to prove it. Victoria, you buy some nice ah,... tires for your husband's car and he'll be happy. In addition, both of you will arrive home with your bank accounts and credit cards intact and without any debt to me, or anyone else over this. You go home and, like I say, it all stays in Vegas. How's it sound so far?" he asked, fishing something out of his inside pocket and tossing it on the coffee table.
It was the keys to the Firebird.
As Victoria watched, he then stood, took out his wallet and began removing bills, six by her strangely giddy count. She felt her crotch begin to heat up for some unexplained reason, quite sure the sight of money had never actually turned her on in the past. He tossed the bills on the table as well and then sat back down while Victoria noted that they were one thousand Dollar bills.
"I personally guarantee the terms I've just put down, ladies. That's my word. It means a lot in this town and yours means a lot to me, otherwise,... well, I think you understand how important that is."
"Absolutely, Mr. Buckner.", Janet replied.
"Very important." Victoria agreed.
"But I don't know anything about travel." Janet worried, looking down and being astonished to find that her drink was gone.
"That's okay, Janet." Buckner almost soothed. "That's not what you'll be doing."
"Well,... what will we be doing?", Victoria asked, a little confused.
"First of all, you two will be making up."
The two women looked at one another, then back to him.
Buckner raised his eyebrow and explained. "Give me some credit, ladies. I've seen how these things work out, how people get with one another. I'm sure there was some finger pointing and maybe some harsh words before I came in, am I right?"
Janet confirmed, a little sheepishly, "Yes, Mr. Buckner. I blamed Victoria."
Buckner smiled, letting her know it was alright, then turned to Victoria and raised his eyebrow again.
"Well,... I did get mad when she reminded me of how this is all kinda my fault."
"There you have it. If I won't let this thing ruin your lives, I won't let it ruin your friendship. Now, do we have a deal?"
Not remembering that Bucker hadn't told them what kind of work they'd be doing, Janet agreed. He was a very nice man with a very smart suit.
"Yes, Mr. Buckner."
"Uh huh, I'm in.", Victoria also decided with a nod, mostly because Janet agreed and she seemed to know what they were doing.
Buckner sighed in relief, grinned happily at them and said, "I knew you'd be reasonable. Now, first things first. You two kiss and make up."
Feeling a little uncomfortable, both women looked at one another.
"I'm sorry I blamed you, Vicky." the woman with the medium length, blonde hair said.
"I'm sorry I snapped at you, Jan. And for getting us into this."
They both shot each other a look that said they were good, Janet actually surprised and strangely touched by Victoria's sincerity.
"Um,... really?", Victoria questioned.
"Oh yes, my dear."
They leaned towards one another and awkwardly kissed each other's cheeks.
"No, no, on the lips."
Janet looked at Buckner, jaw sagging a little. She looked as if she wasn't quite sure she'd understood.
I,..." Victoria began, then trailed off.
"Go ahead, it's just a kiss."
Victoria turned and kissed Janet's mouth, Janet dutifully kissing back, confusion still in her eyes as they rolled warily to Buckner.
"That was nice, keep going."
They both looked at him uncertainly again, but continued, awkwardly with open, nervously darting eyes.
"You two look so nice together. Use your tongues."
Victoria poked hers out and licked at Janet's lips until she opened them and hesitantly showed her own pink tongue. Her friend began licking that too, then sucking on it gently.
"That's it, ladies."
Janet was in a bit of a state, hardly believing Buckner would be telling them to do this, hardly believing how Victoria didn't seem to have the problem with it that she did as she felt her neighbor's tongue invade her mouth. Most of all, she couldn't believe she was actually doing it, how some small part of her seemed to be actually enjoying it. She blamed it on the drink and cursed herself for not stopping when she knew she should.
After a good thirty seconds or more of this, Buckner asked with a knowing grin, "Are you ladies enjoying yourselves?"