Cheyenne sucks face with another dancer on the red leather couch in the dressing room. A mess of pale flesh, black lingerie, and spit. A primal aroma of their arousal and marijuana permeates.
I walk to the vanity and sit naked—wearing heels—on the counter. I fix my smudged eyeliner and hot-pink lipstick in the mirror.
The DJ calls the dancer entwined with Cheyenne. She comes up for air, runs up the stairs to the stage. Tugs at her lace bodice and booty shorts.
Cheyenne sits up and lights a joint. She exhales weed smoke into a toilet paper roll stuffed with fabric softener sheets.
“You’re next, Lux,” she says, hands me the joint. I walk over to the couch and grab it with my index finger then pinch it with my thumb. She tosses the smoke-roll my way.
“For this,” I take a hit, “Yeah.” “For that,” I point at her up and down, with the roll as a wand, “No.”
“Don’t lie, I know you love me,” she says, sprawled on the couch.
“My guy friends adore you, but you’re stringing them along,” I say while we pass the lipsticked joint and toilet paper roll back and forth.
“Jealous?” she asks.
“Don’t kid yourself,” I say. “But these dudes keep calling me in despair. Get a grip.”
“Too late,” she says, laughs, then skips up the stairs.
“Break a leg, literally, you fucking ice queen,” I say, as I walk up the stairwell.
She grabs the banister with both hands and switches her gallop to a slow saunter.
“I heard that,” she says.
“That was the point,” I say, walking up behind her.
She bops to the stage. Throws her arms around a customer at the rack and kisses his cheek.
I sit at the bar and watch her black-widow dance.
Bertha squeezes her huge tits on stage. Purple veins run through the nipples and almost reach her shoulder. They sag and swing because they’re real.
We change in the musky dressing room that’s more like a large closet. Paint peels and hangs from the Pepto-Bismol walls. Bertha steps into a pair of jeans.
“Are you leaving?” I ask because we’re the only dancers on shift. I’ll have to cover her rotation on stage until she returns.
“I’m going to blow a guy next door for some extra cash,” she says. “My kid and my husband don’t know how I make so much money.”
Next door is a porn arcade with private rooms. I have no idea how to respond. I don’t want to judge, even if it’s not my lifestyle.
“How much do you make?” I ask. Apply more mascara in front of the stained dressing-room mirror.
“Enough,” Bertha says before shutting the door behind her.
I grab a handful of CDs and hit the stage.
Ca$h Me Out Carl
Yesterday’s Big Mac left its mark in his ever-growing beard. A chunk of meat, maybe some lettuce. It didn’t matter. He had money, power, chicks, and a Harley. He booked numerous bars and everyone kissed his big ass. He could get away with bad hygiene.
But he couldn’t get away with the smell, and he knew it. He relied on his employee he called “friend” to tell him when he reached the stench threshold—literally and figuratively.
Today, he needs more. He needs a favor, one that was part confessional, although he’d never admit it. The desperation seized him as he washed up in the bathroom after a long night of boozing high on coke and watching strippers scissor.
He needs more. He slaps the rubber dildo suctioned to the tile in his double-headed shower. It boings up and down, back and forth, in no particular rhythm.
He needs more, so he puts on his leather pants, then walks into his bedroom, and picks up the phone near the bed. He twirls the cord with his sausage fingers as he lay down on the quilt.
“Hey boss,” Daniel says, over the phone.
“Do you still blow glass?” Ca$h Me Out Carl asks.
“Can you make…dildos?” Carl asks. The skin under his beard hot to the touch. He rubs it.
“I actually already do,” Daniel says. “Do you have a design in mind?”
“I want one as big as a baby’s head,” Carl says. “For these crazy chicks.” He laughs, kicks his feet down into the mattress.
“I can have it ready this weekend,” Daniel says.
That weekend, as promised, Daniel brings over what he’s dubbed The Gerber.
Ca$h Me Out Carl tones down his excitement. He sets the glass dildo-plug that’s the size of a baby’s head on the kitchen table next to a bowl of half-rotten fruit and a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels.
Ca$h Me Out Carl disappears for a few days, and Daniel is stuck booking too many clubs alone, and so he hires a dancer to help him.
“Where have you been?” Daniel asks.
Ca$h Me Out Carl limps over, his head hung low, sweat on his brow. He clutches a bar stool as he shuffles closer to Daniel, who’s seated at the strip-club bar. Peanuts crunch under Ca$h Me Out Carl’s feet. The sound and vibration nauseates him.
“Can I get a bitters, soda and lime, and a side of JD on the rocks?” he asks the bartender. Groans, then slowly sits down.
“Don’t give me that shit,” he says and sneers at Daniel. “I’ve been out sick. Had to get a goddamn colonoscopy.”
Daniel pushes images of The Gerber out of his mind. Sips his IPA.
“That sucks,” he says.
“No fucking shit,” Ca$h Me Out Carl says.
They sit at the bar in silence until Lux, the new agent Daniel hired to help him, arrives.
These stories originally appeared in Exotic Magazine, July 2017.