I showed up, virtually ignored by everyone as I walked into the dressing room to change. As I was walking in another woman was behind me, with her stripper droppings all over her body pouring out her hands.
“I think I broke the bank tonight, new girl. One guy visited the ATM twice. Might give a private dance and see how useful he’ll be.” she sat next to me, wiping her makeup off of her face with a smile of delight.
“Oh, that’s awesome news.” I said politely, “Um who do I talk to about working tonight?”
She rolled her eyes, immediately withdrawing her friendship.
“Did you sign up for a dance? You have to sign up for dances.” She treated me as if she was speaking to a child.
“Um… no I wasn’t aware there was even a list. I thought we all got to dance or at least some direction. I think I’m a server.”
“A server?” She laughs revealing the politics to me, “you shouldn’t even be back here! Ew, Grab a tray and shake your ass on the floor. I have to rest up for my next dance. I don’t have the time or energy to deal with you.”
“You have another dance?” I ask curiously.
“Yep, a few songs before I call it a night and see if homie wants my booty bouncing on his face. He seems the type.” she didn’t care who she told her story to, she just wanted to share her night with anyone who would be jealous.
“Why don’t I take one of your songs or two. You can let him eat your booty tonight? I’ll take the stage and you can handle your business in the VIP.”
“First off, no one is eating my booty unless they want to pay $300 o r his name is Morgan Ellys, and secondly, that is not how it works new girl!”
“How does it work?”
“You work the floor until you quit and we hire some new bitch.” She rolls her eyes, “Most ya’ll last a month or two then deuces.”
“How do I go from the floor to the stage?”
“Ha, bitch you don’t! Surprise. Now, go serve drinks and chicken wings. Get out my face.” she sucked her teeth, waving me away as if I was some fly.
“You’re not serious are you!?” My whole plan was blowing up. “Come on, give me one song.”
“Did you believe I was doing this out the kindness of my heart? You’re unworthy. Go serve drinks.” She waves me off with even more irritation as if it would make me go.
“What’s your name?” I wanted to remember her in case she needed something one day.
“I’m Tangerine.” She pointed to the hot-orange bikini she wore. “I’ve been here for two years. You’re out your mind if I’m giving up my spot for some new chick who doesn’t even know respect.”
What did respect have anything to do with this? Crazy women made you second guess yourself.
“I bet you had to give a lot of blow jobs to secure that spot.” I rolled my eyes, having my fair share of shade to throw.
“Yep!” She winked blowing me a kiss, “And Morgan loved every last one.”
“You’re his girlfriend?” I asked with curiosity.
I hit a sore spot as she turned to me with fire in her eyes and venom on her tongue. She looked at me, wanting anything to criticize but she didn’t know me and my outfit was stunning. She was intimidated, as she should be.
“Come on, you had to blow more than Morgan to get your spot. I heard about the VIP.”
“Morgan would fire me if he ever heard I did something like that.” She rolled her eyes, quieting down.
I wanted to probe her more but I knew if I upset her again. Either she or security would be on top of me.
“Is Morgan here tonight?” I asked, especially since he invited me.
“Ew, bye…” Tangerine rolled her eyes flicking her hand sending me on my way.
I laughed as I said my goodbyes. Heading off to find solutions on how to make the money I needed without compromising myself or putting a dick in my mouth. If Tangerine could make it so far from the bottom with her decency and head up her snatch. Then I should be able to navigate the system. She had a critical part in her success as many of these strippers did. The only dude they seemed to be sleeping with was the boss. I’ve never heard of such a thing in a strip club.
I should have asked her if she ever banged, Felix. I would have quit instantly. But Felix wasn’t even here tonight nor did I see any of the girls I interviewed with. Not even the two nudist enthusiasts.
I walked around the floor looking for someone else to talk to, at this point not even sure if I was getting paid hourly or by tips. I went up to the bar and they had no idea there was even going to be a new girl. They told me to ask a favor from one of the servers, they gave me the same reply as Tangerine or said they couldn’t hear me over the music.
So, few options remained. I could start sitting in laps and laughing like a freshman at a frat party. Or… I could complain to the boss.
I looked around the club, searching for the secret entrance upstairs. There was a clear wall of one-way mirrors lining the upper-level. Most seemed to ignore the ivory tower, thinking the real party was on the floor. I needed to get out of the money pit into the real scene. I had plenty of time to explore the club, there wasn’t single pathway to the VIP from the ground-level. I found it slipping inside the kitchen. I avoided eye contact with anyone who might realize I wasn’t a regular. I held up a tray walking around as if I was searching for an order, disappointed no one even seemed to care I was there. I dropped the tray and shook my ass all the way to the back corridor with two doors. One reading employees only and the other door pushed ajar with an alluring energy vibrating from its small opening.
I pulled the door open, walking up the stairs feeling as though a weight was atop my shoulders. The music changed as I got higher no more of the blaring trap music. Ambient tunes and what sounded like live music played. My heart belongs here. The weight was heavier as the scent of sweat and alcohol was replaced with marijuana, incense, and perfumes. I felt as though I was walking into the past of Erdu and Esha.
My stomach knotted as I reached the top of the steps. Spotting him sitting at the bar alone eating a plate of wings, and drinking a mug of beer twice the size of my head. His chair was custom-made, the rest were barstools. His was dome-like seat, made of leather exterior, with golden colored armrests made of what looked like wool.
The scene around him was incredible to match. On one side there were a few men in business suits with their ties tossed aside or tied around their foreheads, with lines of cocaine before them and dancers in their laps. As they spoke business, financial literacy and sports.
In the front of all was a band playing, and people with their instruments lined up next to play, jamming and enjoying the vibe passing a blunt between them, a few bottles of wine on their table.
The last table was my favorite scene. A bunch of people dressed in silk and scarves, or bohemian garb talking about some pulsating material from proper development of lower Exigo, the ancient wisdom of the Erdun people. Every so often one of the women strip naked and dance passionately and exotically to whatever song caught her spirit. Before she sat back down to join back into the conversation.
My excitement came to an abrupt halt as a mountain of a man blocked my pathway.
“Yo! You’re not supposed to be up here.” Rosie, a giant guard from the islands off of western Maya standing about 6’7 and 350lbs towered over me. “Whatchu want girl?”
“I- uh- I-
I was stammering, already taken aback by the scene and now, this giant man accosting me. I didn’t have any business up here. This was like nothing I had ever seen before. All sectors of life in the same room, doing completely different things in unison. Each absorbed purely within their world, connected to everyone at once. It was beautiful. I couldn’t leave yet.
“I wanted to speak to him.” I pointed straight to Morgan he didn’t even turn from his chair.
No one seemed to notice or care for my presence. In part because I wasn’t interrupting anything but mostly because of this man. He was enough assurance I wouldn’t worry about anything either.
“He’s busy, he’s eating.” The guard huffed.
I knew there was some underlining bullshit here, this man trying so hard to intimate someone he had an even foot over and at least 200lbs. I held a bit of weight in my booty and legs, but I couldn’t possibly appear to be a threat to him or Morgan. But I couldn’t probably kick a few asses of the patrons here, ha.
“I can understand why that seems like such an occasion for you, big boy. However, I’m not sure he’s going to like you attempting to scare me like this.” he was just a guy doing his job, which meant he had the same fear switch every normal person did. He was just here to look scary and give the air of security, looking at everyone up here, he didn’t have to do much compared to security downstairs. It was hard enough to find this place, it was unlikely the unwanted could even get this far along.
“Girl, ain’t nobody up here worried about you.” he scoffed, brushing me off just like Tangerine did.
I was so close to him, I couldn’t let doubt take me away from my dream when it was only twenty feet away.
“He is…” I hoped at least. He did call me, addressed me by name, and told me to be here. “I was invited.”
Rosie looked over his shoulder to Morgan. He gulped turning back to me as the gears started moving, he took another quick glance then sized me up. He seemed more afraid of disturbing him than he seemed letting me waltz in. Every time he turned his head to Morgan, he seemed scared Morgan would be looking back at him. Relieved he was engulfed in his meal and beer. I couldn’t imagine why. Acting all tough. He was twice Morgan’s size easily. Probably his senior by a decade or so as well.
“Uh… Go ahead. I just gotta pat you down for weapons.”
“Touching is gonna cost you.” I wink opening up my shawl to reveal I had nothing but lingerie underneath and spinning around, “only he can touch me.” my confidence bolstering up to the scene.
“Fine.” He sighed rubbed his temples. “You can go ahead.”
“Thanks, sweetie.” I walked in as though I belonged. My chest up, my hips swaying all the way toward the bar. “Excuse me, Mr. Ellys… you called for me.”
He didn’t turn his head, or look away from his plate. Focused as he shredded through the wings before him. I thought we caught eyes for a second as he reached for his beer right by my hands but it was only a split second before he was washing down the brew focused back on his meal.
“You’re going to choke at that rate.” I speak up, “HELLO! I said you’re going to choke!”
“Hey, boss, you have a fan.” The bartender was a cute brunette, with a shapely figure. She filled up his mug. Her grey eyes never left me, God, I knew what that meant!
He rolled his eyes, still focused on his meal as if he had never eaten a day in his life.
“You’re a cute one.” she smiles out the side of her mouth, rolling her eyes as she sat at her post at the end of the bar none too far from his side.
He let out a sigh. He looked to his left side first then turned to find me by his right hand. Where I belonged within this new world.
“What do you want?” He raised a brow.
Or not… Ew, rude.
“You, called me. You told me to be here tonight.” I put my hand on my hip, ready to pour his beer all over his head.
“Roxanne?” the excitement in his voice made him readjust in his seat.
“Rumya…” I felt a little fool, blushing as if he would remember me. He sat alone amongst the thrills below, and the serenity above. “Rumya Vur.”
He grinned, “say your name again.”
I leaned into his ear, biting his earlobe as I purred, “Rumya Vur” once more with my mother’s accent.
He suddenly seemed less interested in food as he turned to take me in. The sound of my name changed his attention as if he’s been waiting for me all night. His hands moved to my hips, running alongside my frame opening my shawl with little more than his thumbs. I stepped closer looking confused as his lips met mine. I pulled away out of instinct but a quick jerk brought our lips together once more. I was covered to the world and naked in his hands.
“You’re not a stripper.” He stated.
“I’m not… well, technically I was supposed to be a server but no one knew who I was, they were all so rude to me.” I was flustered and breathless wanting his lips once more but I got nothing but air.
He turned back to his beer, gulping it down like nectar from the gods. As he set it down, I grabbed the mug with both my hands, lifting it to my lips and gulping down as much could fill my throat before putting it back.
He grinned, taking a glance at the bartender then back at me.
“You want anything?” he asked with joy as if he didn’t listen to a word I said.
My mind went blink caught off guard completely. I had no money on me and my pocketbook was still downstairs in my garment bag.
“As long as you’re paying.” I smiled.
“Don’t be rude…” he cut his eyes at me aggravated, “It’s on the house, it’s my damn bar.”
“What… what does that mean?” I was wondering, “um, yes can I have a glass of wine?”
He gestured his head for the bartender to take my order as he went back to his food.
The bartender approached in front of me, “what do you want, honey?”
“My name is Rumya… and I want. Pinot Grigio aged nothing in the last ten years.”
She laughed but I was serious. My face didn’t move as I cut her eyes mimicking his momentary concealed outrage.
“Did I make a joke?” I asked positioning to jump over the counter and smack the shit out of her, was everyone in this name strip club looking down upon me!? “Do I need to pour my own drink?”
She looks at Morgan, “you need to take this hoodrat back downstairs.”
“For your information, I am not even from Ecru. I’m from the Mayan, Eshan border of the Balkans.” I corrected her with them facts.
She rolled her eyes, “you think your fake accent impresses me? Plenty of you bitches walking in here thinking you’re the shit because you watch some old movies and want to be the new Star.”
Admittedly, my feelings were hurt. I struggled to find a response but was already drained from my evening of confusion running around like a chickenhead. She cut right to the core and left me speechless.
“Hillary…” Morgan grumbled, “this is my guest. I can confirm she is what she says. Now, pour us the wine.”
“But daddy, these fake bitches come in here all the time. ” she whines.
“Now.” He said without much anger or force.
Hilary went to her naturally timid self, thinking the bar and Morgan would protect her. Without any more fuss she went to the bar to get my drink, exactly as I asked for it. She was planning on getting some dick tonight. I knew the look in her eyes as soon as we met. I cunt-blocked her. It was definitely worth the aggression. And we had a clear view of her so she couldn’t spit in my drink.
“So, you do know who I am? You didn’t bring me up here just to squeeze your dick inside a foreign chick, did you?”
“And if I did?” He replied without much grief or shame.
I rolled my eyes unafraid to show my disgust.
I say defensively, “I expected more…” I sucked my teeth turning my back to him.
He had a flash of agitation then sighed. “I’ll be back in a second, let me clean myself up .”
I half smiled, taking a paper towel from the bar and dapping my shawl clean of the sticky BBQ sauce. Did he expect me to drop to my knees right here? I wiped off my mouth, enjoying the flavorful taste of our kiss but less of the mess afterward.
“I apologize for being so barbaric. Usually it’s enough.” He extends a hand to me, now clean. “Captain Morgan Ellys.”
He smirks, “I kill bad people.”
He had a boyish charm, and I exaggerate boyish. I expected a debonair man in his mid-thirties with a cigar, and cold confidence. Instead I found an excited, maybe twenty year old bouncing in his seat to see me. I felt like some mail-order bride locked in a shotgun contract. I wasn’t but nineteen myself…
I smiled ignoring my perception, I had to be wrong. Maybe he was older, way older and just had a pituitary issue.
“I’ve met plenty bad people who need to meet you.” I accepted my drink with a polite smile having little interest in another exchange with Hillary. “Do you think you could pay them a visit?”
“Wouldn’t be worth it. Takes a lot for me to get involved.” he pouted, he actually pouted, “Ex-boyfriends and bad bosses aren’t quite on my list. Usually foreign dignitaries, corrupt officials, and anyone fighting against the Regime’s grand dream of Global Regulation.” he read it off as if some script.
He seemed bored with it, bored with it all. However old he was, owning a strip club wasn’t in his plans. Even surrounded by these people, he honestly seemed ready to return to his beer and wings.
“What’s the best story you got?”
“Hmmm… best? They all kind of blur together. Outside of prep I don’t spend too much time to make them memorable.” he tapped his chin, barely even any facial hair growing on his face. “I suppose the one time I broke into a fortress, oh no, no this is a good one!” He sits forward with an excitement unfamiliar to the bartender. “A couple years ago, I got my worst injury. Like, worst injury ever. I was sent into Erdu to take down some Bearrillas, a foreign mixed breed of bear apes. Over 8ft tall, travel in groups on territory bigger than most city for just twenty of them. They’re highly territorial with insane speed and sense of smell. If you even set foot in their territory there will be one upon you like that!” he clapped his hands. “They were harassing a village in the badlands for well over a month. They finally sent word to the Regime and I was given the job. When I arrived the village was already destroyed, what was left of the villagers were displaced. I negotiated a neighboring village take in the refugees for about 1000 kiu, their currency, about the $200 bucks in my pocket. And then set out to find the Congress of Bear-Gorillas. I wasn’t ready but I managed. There were about ten all together. I hoped for a peaceful solution but they were hyper-aggressive. Negotiating with people is easy. With 8ft bear monsters, there’s a problem. Most their Congress only watched as they set their troopers to meet me. They have a little culture and tact, but were little more than wild animals after all.”
“Bear monsters? I don’t believe it.”
He shrugged, “I suppose you’re not supposed to. That’s sort of why I do what I do. To fight against the world around this one. There are many things going bump in the night, or in a parallel dimension right next to ours. Demons, Monsters, science experiments, beings from other planets. It’s an amazing world. Terrifying as well. I’m here to protect you citizens from all the things going bump in the night. That’s how I afford all this, but I have no idea how these people know me. I pay the bills and leave management to whoever seems most competent. I have to spend most my time in Erdu.”
“You’re full of shit! How could you even get here from Erdu?”
“Yep, that’s how I started up all my businesses. I’m full of shit.” He winked, leaning back in his chair and laying his feet across my lap like an ottoman. “I get around by the best form of travel unknown to man.”
“You’re used to doing whatever you want, huh?” I ask gently pushing his feet on the ground.
“Quite the contrary. I’m used to always being told what to do and what not to do. What orders to take and not to take. It’s frustrating. But it’s all I know. But Nadia is my favorite scene. I feel a kinship here.” he spoke as if it was only us here.
It was flattering to be the center of his attention. I had so many questions to ask and nothing but time to learn all I could from him. Or hear more of these insane stories. Did he say demons and science experiments?
“I expected you to say Ecru. You do in your interviews.”
He grinned, “want to hear something crazy?”
I lean in curious as he whispered in my ear, “They believe I’m Obatta Sameera’s son but I have no memories before being ten.” He pulls away laughing as if it was the funniest thing he’s ever heard. “Training in the Regs completely erased my memory. Besides, I couldn’t be the son of some radical.”
I felt a knot in my stomach, feeling pain for him. Suddenly his story made more sense. I had to accept it all or accept nothing. The proof was surrounding me. Not to mention how his powerful aura felt. He radiated danger and power. He was the one who didn’t know. This was all mundane and blaise to him. Too young to understand the life he was living, it was the only life he ever known, and none of it rooted in my reality. Where do I go from here?
“You’re the real deal, huh?” I asked rubbing his chin, mistaken as his mood switches and his eye turns a blood curdling reddish brown tint.
“Don’t touch me… I touch you.” he moved my hand away, “Don’t mock me, Rumya.”
“I-I- I’m sorry… I was being sincere.”
“Oh, well, okay then.” he shrugged it off as if he didn’t just stare through my soul.
He closed his eyes and kissed me deeply. I surrendered in his arms. Climbing out of my seat into his lap. His allure was so overwhelming. The night was speeding by before me. His eyes were of legend and his tongue was in my mouth kissing me as if I could be his Queen. His kiss was addictive. Such force and passion, if only he felt something for me I wonder how he would taste. How he would feel inside me.
I wanted to see his eyes again.
My people referred to them as the Jewels of Ecru, or the King’s Eyes. They have always been rare. Someone had to be a full-blooded, Ecru Elite to have such eyes. Even then most had only one or a yellower version.
“Morgan…” the bartender coughed, “you have company.”
He turned with irritancy written all over this face. I looked up to the man who believed he could interrupt us, feeling Morgan’s irritation filling me as well.
“Who do you think you are?” I asked before Morgan could speak. “We’re in the middle of something.”
The man had a grim look about him. When my eyes met his I fell silent. He didn’t need to turn his eyes red to pierce through your soul. His eyes were a soulless deep black from a man who spent his life dealing death. Morgan seemed irritated, though he accepted it more as a child being told he had to clean his room than being told there was someone to murder. I thought I was protecting him, but my own emotions began to return as a fear settled across me. Morgan was becoming terrifying in his blaise acceptance of life’s darkness, and this man looked like his gravedigger.