By Jeffrey R. DeRego
I make it to work ten minutes late. I forgot to put aside ten bucks for cab fare and had to walk. I spent my last fifty bucks on an eighth of a gram from Tommy and did half of it before getting into costume.
Tonight I work the floor in a black lace minidress, stockings, garter, and clear plastic platform heels.
Katie helped put my hair up to show off my blue eyes. The club is dark enough that no one can see the dark circles beneath them. I don’t get the stage for another twenty-five minutes, about seven songs in jukebox-time. We’ve got ten dancers tonight including me because it’s Saturday night.
Selling lap dances early in the early evening is really hard because the customers aren’t frisky or drunk enough yet to drop twenty on a three-minute bump and grind. I’ve only got about ten bucks in singles after the first two hours.
Rosemarie sidles up beside me. “Cheap bastards,” she mutters.
She points at a little group of men in the circular booth at the right hand side of the stage. “Tommy, can’t you get them to move to the back or something? You’re bankrupting us for chrissake.”
He answers, “They paid extra to sit there. Sorry.”
“Who are they?” I can make out four men in suits, but they look like just about everyone else in here.
“I don’t know them, but I’ve seen at least two of them on TV, managers at InterCity Police. You’d think they’d be out looking for the chief’s kid rather than wasting the stage space in here.”
“Isn’t the chief their boss?”
“Nah, the chief is appointed by the mayor to make sure that InterCity does their job.”
“Cheap bastards,” she mutters. “I’m telling everyone to ignore that side of the stage. They don’t want to tip, then screw them.”
“Getting anything good off the floor yet?” Rosemarie glances down at my pathetic stack of dollar bills.
“Things will pick up Josie, don’t worry.”
I’m watching the men in the circular booth now. Why would InterCity bosses be in here when the kidnapping is front page news. Wouldn’t they want to make a big show of searching or something? The men keep on talking even as Katie is flashing her bits right there at the edge. They don’t even throw her a buck. “Hey Rosemarie. What’ll you bet I can get them to buy at least a lap dance?”
She laughs. “In this place? Nothing.”
“A car date then.” The words come out of my mouth before I can think to stop them.
She laughs even harder. “You don’t car date Josie —”
“Well, I’m not making any money the regular way.”
“You score a car date with just one of them and I’ll forget you owe me twenty bucks for the line you stole last night.”
I work the floor and try to stay close to the circular booth but the music is way too loud for me to overhear anything they say. Six songs in now and I head back to the dressing room. Rosemarie has drawn a grid on the big mirror in lipstick. She’s written every girl’s name but mine down the left hand side with a dollar value next to it, and put a check mark in either the yes or no column. “Jesus Rosemarie, way to make me feel like a streetwalker.”
“Oh come on. This will liven things up tonight.”
“Yeah, for them.” I squeeze into a red spandex bikini — the bottom has a long devil tail stitched on the back — red stockings, red headband with horns, red elbow length gloves and red pumps. I slip a half dozen dollar bills into my garter and head out to the stage. The men in the circular booth barely notice me for the first half of Shout at the Devil. Though, one of them is starting to pay more attention to me than to his pals. Older guy, maybe forty, diamond wedding ring on his left hand.
I finish the song and strut off the stage, but keep the devil costume on. I buy a glass of ice water at the bar for two dollars and wet my whistle before sauntering over.
The men only acknowledge me when I stand almost on top of them. “What’s the matter boys, you don’t like me?” I finger the few dollars in my garter.
“Piss off,” one of them says.
“Come on, you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want us to dance for you.” I turn around, swing my hips and the tail follows. “Twenty bucks and I am yours for four minutes.” I slap my exposed buttock. “Everything else is negotiable.”
“We said piss off. Now go away.”
“Aww, you don’t mean that for all of you.” I make eye contact with Diamond Ring. “I know at least one of you wants me to stick around. Or maybe he wants to come over to the bar and buy me a drink?” I sway to the bar and look back over my shoulder. Diamond Ring is watching me.
Tommy has thrown out my ice water. Asshole. I buy another one and lean over the bar and make sure the tail swings back and forth, back and forth. Rosemarie is on stage and I catch her eye. She smiles and nods towards the men.
Diamond Ring stands up and straightens his black slacks before threading through the crowd towards the bar where I’m waiting.
Jeffrey DeRego was born in the seaside city of New Bedford, Massachusetts, one time home to both Fredrick Douglass and Herman Melville. A graduate of New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire, He now lives in Derry, New Hampshire, with his children Ian and Margaret and the memory of his beloved wife Cindy. His wildly popular Union Dues stories have appeared in audio format at Escape Pod, and Clonepod. His post award winning post apocalyptic tales of Pleasant Hollow are available at Tales of The Zombie War. His novels, Escape Clause and Fleas, are available wherever books are sold.