I have $103 in my hands. I bolt upwards to Todd since he is the only person here who I can even think of to see Desire. As I approach Todd, his eyes are fixed on the stage. They bob and dip with the corresponding actions on stage. Once I’m next to him, he looks at me with enough disdain for me to realize that I took him away from the best part of his job.
Todd bellows loud and flat, “How can I help you, sir?”
I look down at the money. It’s the most I think I’ve had in my hands in awhile, and I’m about to spend it on a stripper. Something is wrong with this picture. I would never spend this much cash on anything. I’ve never spent this much on groceries but that’s because I’ve been stealing most of them lately. The most I’ve spent at one time to buy movies was probably $40. Now, I’m about to spend this much on a huge breasted black woman because she called me something other than my real name.
“You know,” I stutter in front of Todd, “changed my mind.”
A small smirk develops on Todd’s face, “Sir, I can make sure your first time is a smooth as possible.” A hand gesture like petting a cat is accompanied with the word ‘smooth’ with a fictitious booty smack at the end. If anything, that sealed the deal that I am not going to be spending this money. I let out a strained smile and shuffle back to my seat.
“Here,” I shove the money back to Enrico, “Never mind.”
Enrico crinkles up his face in disgust, “Are you kidding? No, no, no, no. You go champ. You go and let that woman shake her ass in front of you.” Enrico grabs the back of my shirt and lifts me from my seat. “This is enough money for you to get hard and little more that she might finish the job.” Enrico starts smirking. I know he’s smirking because he just said ‘job.’
With me in his left hand and the money in his right hand, Enrico yanks me to Todd. He drops me in front of the beefy security guard and screams at him, “How much for that nubian princess that was shaking her ass on stage?”
Todd clearly is enjoying how big of a pansy I am. “That’ll be $40 for one dance. Any additional time spent is negotiated between the client and the dancer.”
Enrico shoves the money in my hand. “This young man would like said dance.”
Todd barks orders to follow him and starts walking toward a pair of velvet-like curtains. I stand there because, well, I don’t want to go. Enrico gets behind me and shoves me through the entrance. Once on the other side, I’m standing in a hallway. Red on the walls with red flood lights shining down on us. An audible thump remains from the music at the stage but the ear-bleeding volume is gone. There are a line of doors, and I can only imagine the sounds I hear of squeaking and additional bad music are from those rooms.
Todd points to the end of the hall, “Sir, everything is set up in the last room at the end of the hallway.” His voice is almost pleasant.
“Set up?” I query, “What’s set up?”
“Honestly, I don’t know this time. They’re your people.” Todd pats me on the back, walks out the hallway, and back to the dance floor.
As soon as he leaves, the overhead lights turn blue and the mixture of the light turns the walls a odd shade of purple. Apparently we need special lighting to summon the approach of an easy mark. It’s too late now. I’m standing here about to get a private lapdance.
I step into the room that seems to be much smaller than the hallway would suggest. The walls are covered in loud, electric blue curtains. Like Icehouse Electric Blue; obviously hip at one time and maybe from Australia. Anyway, the room looks tired from the strain of keeping up its 80s decor. The curtains seem to be constantly flapping with the rhythm of other rooms and the dance floor in the distance. A blue vinyl chair like the one I was sitting on is waiting for me in the center of the room resting on a mirrored floor. Thank goodness, I now have every angle possible. A distant voice pipes from a speaker of undetermined location, “Go ahead and sit down, boss. We’ll start in a second.”
Before I have the chance to question what that voice meant, in walks Desire. “Well, look who decided to join me in my chambers.” She walks towards me as if to produce some sort of seductive mating dance that is supposed to arouse me in some way. It looks silly. The way she is flipping her hair, touching herself. It’s all too much, like she’s telegraphing to the back row.
She finishes her strut and with one finger pushes me into the chair. She clears her throat, “I just need something to start?” I hand her the $40. She smiles and nods as to acknowledge she has been given the green light. She tucks the money into her top; a cross between a bra and some sort of drapery with the amount of tassels and cords I can muster from the hastily hot-glued front. She takes her time getting the money out and feels up her breasts. Desire moans out, “You like that?”
I blurt out the first thing that comes to my mind, “Am I supposed to?”
Desire smiles. She slowly straddles my lap and lets out, “I think I can give you something you like.” She leans in and starts licking my neck.
Before I go any further, I must state that I hate having my neck touched. When I was in the third grade, my class went to Pickett Forest Nature Center as part of our science field trip. At the end of walking through an overgrown forest that apparently only had unidentifiable tall trees, lichens, and duckweed, we went to the field house where they kept indigenous animals of the forest. After looking at mice, skunks and raccoons, they brought out snakes. My mother, being one of the chaperones, insisted I touch one of the snakes. I didn’t want to touch that snake or any of the snakes. My mother made me touch one of the snakes. The snake I touched was repeated mentioned as “harmless and non-poisonous” and probably two feet long. In my mind, it seemed like this never-ending python of doom. As soon as I touched the snake, it slithered up my tiny arm, around my neck, and squeezed. Once the people at the nature center got the deadly beast off me, my mother put her hand on my neck and tried to massage it. It just reminded me of a squeezing snake. Since then, I don’t like people touching my neck.
“Get the fuck of me!” I scream and I push the stripper off me.
Desire looks at me in horror. Through her now ruffled hair, she spews, “What is your goddamn problem?!” She turns to her right and shouts, “What is his goddamn problem?”
Behind one of the drapes, a man jumps out and grabs Desire arm and pulls her until she is standing. “What did I tell you? The only place I told you not to touch him was his neck. Can’t you remember a f’ing thing I tell you? Get out, just get out.” The man pushes her towards the door. As the door slams from Desire’s exit, he lets out another command, “Can someone please chase that whore down so I can get my money back.” Another figure darts out from the curtains and bolts out the door. Soon, three or four other people with cameras and poles emerge and start sighing.
“What is this, what is going on?” I blurt out.
The man who threw out Desire kneels down and places his hand on my knee, “I’m really sorry about that, boss. It won’t happen again.” He lets out a large, concerned sigh, “I think it’s just way too soon for you to start this back up.”
A woman appears from nowhere and leans in to kiss my head, “Oh, William, it’ll be fine.”