Friday, June 1, 2012

Desperate Excerpt (1st 3 Chapters)

“Dad, what are you doing here?”
      “I came to see you. Can an old man come to check up on his only son?”
      “But you’re dead.”
      “You don’t think I know that by now?” Charles patted his leg on the step and laughed like it was the funniest joke he ever heard. His eyes crinkled at the sides from his laughter. “They say a dead man can’t tell no tales. So I came to tell you the truth. But you better listen up. ’Cause I can’t stay long.”
      “I’m bugging,” Chris said aloud and rubbed his eyes, certain that when he looked at his father again, he wouldn’t be there anymore. Chris had just left his best friend Melvin’s house and he’d had one too many drinks. He knew it had to be the alcohol playing tricks on his mind.
“It ain’t the alcohol,” Charles said and held out his hand. “Touch me. I’m real.”
Chris looked at his father’s extended hand, but made no move to touch him. He blinked continuously, but no matter how much he blinked, his father would not disappear.
When Chris was fifteen years old, a sophomore in high school, he came home one day and found his father sprawled across the living room couch, the front of his face blown off, brain matter stuck to the wall behind him, and so much blood that from that day forward, Chris despised the color red. Chris was now thirty-two years old. His father had been beneath the ground for over a decade and a half. Skin and organs that were in his body when they placed him in his grave had decayed and deteriorated a long time ago. The man was nothing but bones and just a few teeth—the few teeth that didn’t get blown out his mouth when he pressed the gun to his jaw and decided to end his life. It had taken some time, but Chris had come to terms with his father’s death. Had he forgiven him? Somewhat. Had he let go of the pain and devastation? Some days were better than others.
But whatever the case, his father was dead. That’s why, for the life of him, he couldn’t understand why his father was sitting on his front steps, wearing the same plaid shirt and white-washed jeans that he’d been wearing the day he died. The only difference was his face wasn’t hanging off. He looked healthy, vibrant. Taut, tanned skin, teeth that had browned a little from years of alcohol, cigarette smoke, and poor hygiene habits, and his perfectly trimmed goatee, never a hair out of place. His twinkling brown eyes and his handsome smile that had made many women swoon and was undoubtedly the culprit of his failed marriage. He looked to be about forty-two, the same age he was when he died.
“Sit down beside me, son; let’s talk.”
Just as Charles said those words, Chris’s wife came soaring into the driveway, her convertible stopping just inches from hitting the house. Chris and his dad both looked questioningly in her direction. Angelique jumped out of her pastel pink convertible and all but pulled Christopher out of the car, rushing toward the house.
“He has to pee,” she explained to Chris as she hurried across the lawn with Christopher, Jr. already unbuttoning his pants. “He almost pissed in my car! All that time we spent at the school rehearsing for that play, and you would’ve thought he’d have the decency to relieve his bladder there. But no-oooo! He wants to wait until he gets in Mommy’s leather seats and not say a thing about having to pee until we’ve passed every convenience store in the state of Texas! Christopher, Jr. if you pee in your pants, I’ll skin you alive.”
“Hurry, hurry, Mom! I can’t hold it no more!”
As she fussed, she hurried up the steps, all but dragging Chris’s son behind her, and the two literally walked through Charles as he sat there with his chin propped in his hands and a wistful smile on his face.
Angelique continued walking, unaffected by passing through a ghost. But Christopher, Jr. paused momentarily and turned around and looked at his grandpa with a smile. Charles waved at his grandson and Christopher, Jr. chuckled and waved back before Angelique yanked him in the house and raced to the bathroom.
“You spit him out,” Charles said, once Angelique closed the door behind them. “Handsome little rascal. He’s gonna go far in life. Do some great things.”
Still unsure about the situation, Chris eyed his father warily. “He looked at you like he knows you.”
“He does know me. I come to him all the time, him and all my grandbabies. They still have their innocence. They can still see the other side.”
“So what are you supposed to be? Some kind of angel?” Chris smirked. “I know that’s a lie. If you kill yourself, you die and go to hell. So what are you, a demon or something?”
Charles exhaled loudly. “I’m just your father. Nothing more, nothing less.”
“Father?” Chris guffawed and leaned against his car. “Because you bust a nut in my mother and made four kids by her does not make you a father.” Chris couldn’t believe that he was talking to a ghost, but there was so much bottled up in him that he was thankful for this opportunity to get it out. “You bailed out on her,” Chris said, clenching his jaw. “I became the father. I’m the one who held her when she cried. I’m the one who raised my three sisters. Times got hard, and your sorry ass just checked out on us. Did you have to do it in the house? We still had to live there, you know? You could’ve went and drowned your ass in a river or something. But no, that would make too much sense. That would be too easy on us. And you could never make things easy on us.”
Charles pushed up from the top step and his knees creaked. Chris found this surprising. Everything about him seemed so realistic, from his creaking knees to the piece of lint sticking to the side of his curly hair. He couldn’t possibly be a ghost, could he? But he had to be. He was dead. Chris had seen the aftermath of the suicide with his own two eyes.
“I ain’t get it all right,” Charles said, sighing heavily. “I messed up time after time after time. I could give you excuses, but that’s all they’d be. Excuses. I could apologize, but it don’t take away the pain. Millions of times I’ve asked God—literally—if I can go back and do it again. But He said nah, it don’t work that way. You make your bed, you gotta lay in it. It’s consequences to everything. You gotta understand that it ain’t just your life. When you make decisions, they don’t just affect yourself. You understand me?”
“Why are you telling me all this? What does it matter now? Just like you said, you can’t go back and change a thing. Why are you even here? Go back to heaven or hell or wherever you came from.”
“Chris, you’re gonna die.”
Chris shrugged his shoulders. “You ain’t telling me nothing new. All of us got a number. We all gotta go one day.”
“Yeah, but sometimes you speed up your time. It’s all about choices—”
“Which is what you should’ve thought about when you took the coward way out.”
For the first time, Charles raised his voice. “Won’t you listen to me, Chris? I’m trying to save you and I ain’t got much time left. I came to warn you.”
It was then that Chris noticed that his father was fading, flickering like a flame that someone was lightly blowing on. Ignoring his father, Chris popped the trunk and began taking out the $100 worth of groceries that he had purchased from Womack’s IGA store. With ten bags in each hand, he walked through his father and felt a cold chill come over him as he passed through Charles’s body.
“Don’t be like me, Chris. Don’t be stubborn. Don’t be—”
Chris used his foot to kick the door shut on his father. As far as he cared, the man could crawl back in the wooden coffin that he had slithered out of, and choke on his own embalming fluid.
Inside, the house was warm, uncomfortably warm.
“Baby, did you turn the heat on?” Chris called out.
From somewhere upstairs, Angelique called down, “Yeah, I did. When I got on the steps, it suddenly got so cold. Like the temperature dropped or something. I got goose bumps. Did you pick up the ground beef from A-Pointe?”
“Yeah, I got a few other things too,” he called back, and quickly went in the kitchen to unload the bags before Angelique came downstairs.
She hated when he shopped at Womack’s IGA store. The IGA store sold primarily knock-off, generic brands of food, and she considered the place the “poor people’s grocery store.” He had no problem shopping there and felt that he got three times the food with the same amount of money than shopping at A-Pointe. Moving fast, he unloaded the goods, balled up the grocery bags, and stuffed them into the bottom of the trash.
He moved over to the deep freezer to pack in the frozen food items he’d bought, and nearly jumped out of his skin when his father suddenly appeared at the kitchen table, sitting in one of the cushioned dining chairs.
“Dammit, Daddy,” he whispered fiercely. “You’ll have to chill out with that mess before you make me have a heart attack. Go away! Isn’t there some rule that if I tell you to go away, you have to disappear?”
His father was already fading so much that Chris could look through his body and see the beautiful mounted bronze butterfly art piece behind him on the wall that Angelique had paid nearly a fortune for.
“I can’t go until I warn you, son. I came for no other reason but to warn you. If you chase after her, you will die.”
“Chase after who?”
Now, not only was his father fading visually, but his voice was fading as well. It sounded as though he was speaking to him from the other end of a fluted cone. His voice was tiny, barely audible.
“Pay attention to the man…”
“What man?”
“The man in the shadows… He’ll be in the shadows…”
Irritated, Chris flung the frozen veggies into the deep freezer, then turned to face his father. Instead of facing his father, he was face to face with his wife, and she was looking at him like he needed to be admitted to a mental ward.
“Who in God’s name were you talking to?”
Chris shrugged his shoulders. “Myself.”
Angelique didn’t seem convinced. She rolled her eyes and walked to the table, then picked up some canned beans he’d bought. “PorkaPorkin’ pinto beans? Really, Chris? You’ve  been shopping at that cheap store again?”
Chris pecked his wife’s lips. “Babe, you know this is my week to buy groceries, and money is tight. I still have to put gas in the car.”
“Well, you should’ve just said something. I would’ve given you the money—”
“I don’t need your money.”
“It’s not my money, it’s our money.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t need ‘our’ money,” Chris retorted with plenty of attitude.
Angelique sighed as she washed her hands at the sink, then popped open the package of ground beef. As she seasoned the meat, she asked, “How’s your job search going?”
“It’s going.”
“Your breath smells like liquor. Let me guess, you went to the bar with Melvin.”
She huffed. “What’s up with the attitude?”
“Long day,” he called over his shoulder as he swept his shirt over his head and raced up the stairs to take a shower. “And I’m not hungry. I already ate.”
In the bathroom, his father appeared once again. But this time, he was so faint, he was more like a mist sitting on the toilet than an actual person. This time, his father didn’t budge or even look up from the tiled floor. Just before he disappeared entirely, he looked up at his son with forlorn eyes and whispered two words: “I tried.” Then he vanished.
Shaking his head at the absurdity of the whole situation, Chris stepped into the warm spray of the shower and made a solemn vow. “I’m retiring from drinking.”
After that day, he still took a few drinks here and there, but nothing heavy. He never saw his father again. Not on the steps, not at the table, not in the bathroom. But he never forgot his father’s warning. And he never went a day without paying attention, very close attention, to anything that moved in the shadows.

 Chapter One
            “Melvin, do you see dead people?”
            “Hell yeah, every day. You ever seen those women walking around with that foundation on that’s two shades too light? Face look like Olay and neck look like Oh-no. I call it funeral makeup. Look like they supposed to be in a casket.”
            “Melvin, I’m being serious.”
            “I’m being serious too.” Melvin chowed down on a sprinkled, chocolate-iced donut—which was his sixth donut in the past ten minutes—then said with his mouth full, “I’ve been working on this joke. Tell me what you think about it.”

Without sparing his friend a glance, Chris continued to vacuum the passenger floor of the black and chrome Cadillac Escalade, pressing the lever to squirt out a layer of foamy Rug Renew before sucking it up with the angled vacuum head. He had just finished the passenger carpet and was moving over to the driver side when Melvin pulled the plug on the vacuum.
“Man, what you do that for?”
“That vacuum cleaner might be loud, but it ain’t that loud. You heard what I said.”
Chris pointed at the three other sedans and the two SUVs that they hadn’t even touched yet, the ones that had been repossessed a few days ago and were still full of trash, crumbs, and other debris. “Do you see how many cars we still have left to do? And I got to leave at two for an interview. Save your jokes for another time and let me do my job.”
“An interview! You ain’t tell me nothing about an interview,” Melvin said, walking over to his friend and giving him a heavy thud on his back. “So what kind of job is this? You’re gonna be a computer IT, or some crap like that? Somewhere where you’re making a little more money than the chump change I’m putting in your pocket?”
And he wasn’t lying when he said “chunk change.” He paid Chris forty dollars per detailed car. On a good week, like this one, that meant a total of fifteen to twenty cars and a measly check for $600 - $800. Eight hundred dollars wasn’t enough to pay a quarter of the mortgage on his two-story, cobblestone and paneled French country house. Six to eight hundred dollars a week, or roughly twenty-five hundred dollars a month, seemed like a slap in the face when just two years ago, he was bringing home monthly paychecks that always had three zeroes behind the leading double-digit number.
After investing seven years of his life into TCP Robotics Research, and coming up with several technological advances that had landed the company numerous international contracts that stretched from Toronto, Canada all the way to Sydney, Australia—then to be called into the office and fired because they had to cut their staff in half? To go from being a computer engineer specialist to a…to a car detailer in his best friend’s backyard? It was more than embarrassing for Chris—he’d rather have two baby nuts and a pinkie for a penis than to deal with this bull.
“So what kind of interview is this?”
Chris’s eyes dropped to the vacuum cleaner in his hand and he pretended to be completely engrossed by the black and orange lettering on the 500 watt machine. “I’d rather not talk about it. If I get the job, then I’ll tell you. If not, then it really doesn’t matter, does it?”
Melvin looked at him strangely, realizing that it was something more going on with his friend than what he was letting on, but he decided to let it go. “Anyway, so let me tell you this joke I’ve been working on—”
 “Melvin, on the real, I’m not trying to hear another one of your tired ass jokes.” As soon as he said the words and saw the hurt expression flash across his friend’s face, Chris quickly said, “I’m sorry, man. I didn’t mean it like that. Say the joke. And I swear this better be funny.”
Melvin held the orbital polisher and leaned against the burgundy PT Cruiser, one of the worse-for-wear cars that they hadn’t even begun detailing. He performed a magical feat and stuffed the last chocolate donut in his mouth, downing it with just two chews. Then he cleared his throat, which meant that he was getting into character for his comedian act.
“A’ight, so a man walks in the bar and sees a gorgeous woman sitting alone, sipping on a martini. He asks her if she’ll sleep with him, and she says, ‘How much you offering?’ So he tells her that ’cause of the recession, he just lost his job and he’s a little hard up right now. She calls him a scrub and tells him to keep it moving. So he sits at the bar beside her and watches three other men try to get at her, but they’re all hard up on cash too. Finally, they’re the only two at the bar and she asks him what time is it. He says it’s a quarter to eleven. ‘Eleven?’ she exclaims. ‘I’m usually in bed by this time. But if I ain’t in bed by midnight, then forget it, I’m going home.’”
Always the one to crack up on his own jokes, Melvin doubled over the car, clutching the hood while his large belly jiggled with every laugh. It took Chris a minute to get the punch-line, but once he understood it, he simply lifted his eyebrow and gave Melvin a half-smile—one that was more pity than humor.
“That was funny, right?”
“It was all right, man.” Chris gave his friend dap. “But keep perfecting your art. The worse thing to do is to take the stage, tell a punch-line, then hear the crickets chirp.”
“Yeah, like what happened last time, right?”
“Right,” Chris said with a nod, recalling the last time that Melvin begged to be the opening act at a concert only to receive bored stares, a chorus of boos, and the persistent request to “Get his fat ass off the stage!”
“I’ve been trying to hone my skills, you know? Steph got me this gig at a sport’s bar that she’s gonna be bartending at this weekend, and I really wanna make a lasting impression. You coming to see me in action, right?”
“You know I got your back. But here’s what I recommend.”
“What’s that?”
“One thing that tends to go pretty well with a crowd is to make fun of yourself. All the great comics have done it. If you’re short, crack jokes about your shortness; if you’re ugly, crack jokes about how ugly you are; and if you’re fat—”
“You calling me fat?”
“—then crack jokes about your fatness. It’s a way of letting the crowd know that you got this flaw, and instead of them laughing at you, they can laugh with you. You feel me?”
“My dawg.”Melvin did an about-face, then saluted his friend. “See, that’s what I like about you. You seem to know the solution to everything. So tell me this; what’s the solution to getting Stephanie to like me how I like her? I ain’t just trying to smash, either. I’m really feeling her. I want to tell her, but…I don’t know how to deal with rejection—which is something your pretty-boy, muscle-packed ass don’t know nothing about.”
Chris shooed his friend’s accusation away. He got that a lot, being called a pretty boy. Maybe it was because of his toasted-almond complexion, or his jet-black long eyelashes and eyebrows that were naturally arched. Some said it was his low-cut hair that had more waves than the oceanfront. Others said it was something about his lips, his almost naughty smile. And then, of course, it was his 6’2” frame that housed not an ounce of body fat, and was covered from neck to calves with defined muscle tone. He knew he was a handsome man—back in the day, he used to be a bit of a ladies’ man—but he never considered himself a pretty boy.
However, he had to admit that he was a bit surprised that Melvin was feeling Stephanie like that. The kind of women that Melvin usually tried to talk to were women with low self-esteem: overweight, unattractive, missing teeth, old enough to be his mama—the distasteful list was seemingly endless. But Stephanie? Stephanie was built like a brick-house with an hour-glass figure, light brown eyes, and a flawless bob haircut that fit her heart-shaped face perfectly. Though she oozed feminine beauty, she had a classy tomboyish demeanor that kept the drooling men at bay. She was the type of woman who could kick it with the fellas and easily fit in. 
Up until this point, Chris always thought that Melvin found her attractive but assumed he had placed her name at the top of his unattainable, never-in-this-lifetime list.
“Kiss her.”
Melvin’s eyebrow shot up high. “What you mean, kiss her?”
“Kiss her with confidence.”
The way Melvin was looking at Chris, it was as though he was speaking a foreign language. “Of course, she’s going to slap you. But she likes you, Melvin. She likes your personality. You make her smile; she even laughs at your corny jokes. And if you kiss her with confidence, controlling the kiss and coercing the kiss, that’s your unspoken demand for her to recognize you as something more than just a friend.”
Though he was standing a car’s length away, Melvin seemed to be on another planet as his eyes took on a faraway look and his lips perked up, giving practice kisses to the air. His tongue darted out, whipping around in a circular motion that made Chris cringe and force back a gag.
“No tongue,” Chris added. “For first kisses, tongue is tacky. Just lips, your hand on her chin, holding her face still, and your body close to hers, but not touching—not touching unless she steps forward and flattens her breasts against your chest.”
“Damn,” Melvin whispered, still lost in his fantasy world. He shook his head, shaking himself away from the imaginative stronghold of his thoughts. “No wonder Angelique is so crazy over you. You know your stuff.”
They exchanged dap again, then Melvin turned on the polisher and Chris plugged in the vacuum. As he finished vacuuming out the Escalade, Chris couldn’t stop thinking about Melvin’s words: “No wonder Angelique is so crazy over you.” Boy, if Melvin only knew the truth. But he hadn’t let Melvin in on the ugly reality of his marriage.
The truth about his marriage was that it was falling apart worse than wet tissue paper. Chris had no doubt that financial woes were to blame. Every place he put in an application, he heard one of two things: either they weren’t hiring, or he was overqualified. It had gotten so bad that he’d even put in out-of-state applications online—and actually got an interview that offered him the job on the spot, under one condition: they’d have to move to North Carolina. Of course, Angelique had refused to relocate, saying, “No one wants to move to that country bumpkin state. That’s where people go to retire and babe, I still have a year before I turn thirty...I’m staying right here in San Antonio, Texas.” So he’d turned down the job and continued to search for employment, while she continued to do the same. It didn’t take long for the unemployment they had been living on to run out; and then suddenly, they had to start figuring out how to turn twenty cents into twenty dollars—it had went to hell in a gasoline-drenched hand-basket from there.
Angelique had stubbornly refused to downsize her lifestyle, even though they both had lost their jobs during one of the hardest economic times in years. He had recommended that they let the house go, suffer the loss, and move in with his mother or one of his sisters until they could get back on their feet. But when he made that suggestion, she reacted as though he had cursed her out. She was determined to live in their posh neighborhood where each home was either a French country house, or had a Mediterranean or Italian flare. She still wanted to keep their luxury vehicles, and continue to shop at the top-notch stores and bombard their son Christopher with new toy after new toy—regardless of the price. She was determined to continue keeping up with the Joneses, despite their hardships. And for that reason, she made Chris feel inadequate. Luckily, she was able to land a sales representative job at an insurance company where she was making almost the same amount that she had been making at Delta Airlines. With that weekly paycheck, she alone paid every single bill—the mortgage, the car notes, the insurance, utility bills. Any time they went out to eat, she picked up the tab and left the waiter a gracious tip.
And though she tried to make it seem like footing all the bills and having a “broke” husband didn’t bother her, her actions and behavior screamed otherwise. The Angelique he’d known before getting fired was never short-tempered or belligerent. The Angelique before the termination was his personal freak: she gave him the cookie anytime, anywhere, and any place. He didn’t even have to ask for it; all he had to do was give her that look and she was wet and ready. Now, he couldn’t even remember the last time they’d made love, or even had a quickie for Pete’s sake. She was always too tired or too sore; her period was on, or she had to get up early the next morning, or she just wasn’t in the mood. She never had a short supply of excuses.
After he finished vacuuming the car and using the compressed air blower to remove any leftover dirt and grime from the carpet, cushions, and the crevices in the vinyl and burled walnut wood trim, Chris returned the tools to Melvin’s garage-shed. He washed his hands in the grit-covered garage sink, then donned his black blazer and gray and black plaid newsboy cap.
“You gone already?” Melvin asked as he sprayed down a coupe that was in dire need of a wax and polish. Chris kept walking and gave him the deuces sign. “I’m only paying you for two cars. That’s eighty dollars. Unless you come back after your interview and help me knock out a few more of these babies. You know I gotta have these things ready for Old Man Henry by tomorrow.”
Old Man Henry was basically Melvin’s boss. He was a little white-haired old man who owned R&R Cars, an auto shop that sold refurbished, confiscated, and repossessed cars. All the man did was sit in his office and play his guitar. Chris was sure that once Old Man Henry passed, he’d probably let Melvin take over his business since he didn’t have any living children.
“No, they’re all yours,” Chris called out as he ducked into his black on black, customized Infiniti G.  “I gotta go.”
“Aye, man, why’d you ask about dead people?” Melvin called out as Chris started up the car.
Chris rolled down his window and yelled back, “’Cause my dad was sitting on my porch steps yesterday when I got home. We actually held a conversation.”
“But your dad’s dead.”
“I know.”
Melvin just stood there a moment, unblinking, then said, “Fool, I knew you was crazy. Get out my yard, and you better get that job!”
Chris hoped he got the job as well; and based on how desperate the manager sounded when he called Chris in for the interview, he was pretty sure that the job was his. However, there was no way in hell that he’d tell his wife that he’d finally landed employment as a night-shift stocker at Womack’s IGA store. He decided that if he got the job, he’d tell her that he worked there, but as a security guard, not a stocker. And that would be the first outright lie he ever told his wife since the day he stood before his family and hers and said, “I do.”
He felt some kind of way about lying to Angelique. His intentions weren’t to deceive his wife; however, he was at a point in his life where he felt like his well of options was running dry. He had become a man who was distressed and despaired; but most of all, he had become a man who was downright desperate.
Not wanting to think anymore, he blasted his music and rolled down the windows, then out-sang the newbie R&B artist on the radio, singing at the top of his lungs the whole ride to his interview.

“And now I introduce to some, and present to others…Miss Butterscotch.”
I heard the DJ call my name, and no matter how much I pinched and rubbed my nipples, they wouldn’t stay hard. In a last ditch effort, I grabbed my chilled bottled water and rolled it across my flat nipples. They perked up and stood at attention like two missiles. Satisfied, I put on my shiny black vinyl top and hurried out on to the stage. The DJ winked at me as he put on a slow, sensual song, and I smiled my appreciation.
With an alcohol-drenched towel in hand, I did something that my boss absolutely abhorred. I thoroughly wiped down the stripper pole—got to be sanitary—then tossed the soiled towel to the DJ. As I looked around the crowded club at the white men dressed in suits, conducting “lunchtime meetings,” I licked my lips and tried to choose which one would offer the most money for a lap dance. I preferred dancing for this crowd because I didn’t have to bend over and touch my toes. There was no droppin’ it like it’s hot. These guys liked big titties, not big asses. But one thing they paid well for was for me to squat over their laps and gyrate my ass all over their hard little sticks. Or, their personal favorite: straddle them and suffocate their reddened faces between my fun bags—boy, did they get off on that. And it suited me just fine, especially since my breasts were natural triple Ds.
Finding the beat of the music, I winded my body while massaging and jiggling my breasts. Dollar bills littered the stage. But I wanted more than flimsy, washed up George Washingtons—I wanted to see some Benjamins. I could tell the men were captivated by me because they stopped talking and their eyes followed my every move. Some of them drank liquor while others leaned back in chairs and discreetly touched their groins. I felt like a goddess, and I imagined every man in the place as my slave. They had to worship at my feet. The thought almost made me laugh, so I bit my lower lip and loosened my vinyl mini-skirt, slowly dragging it down my toned legs.
Prancing around the stage, I showed off my flat stomach, small waist, and apple bottom. I made eye contact with some of the patrons before slinging my blonde wig side to side. I continued making seductive gestures before spreading my legs into a V, then flipping upside down on the pole while I slid down into a slow split. The men went wild. They whistled and clapped. More money littered the stage. At the edge of the stage, I bounced my booty until I felt someone slide some bills between my crack. Only then did I reach behind me, undid my bra, and flung it across the stage. I ran my fingers between my ample cleavage and gave a naughty grin. I knew every guy in the club wanted to do me. Being the object of so many men’s fantasies made me feel even more powerful and sexy. I liked being in control.
One man in particular was screwing me with his eyes. So I descended the steps of the stage and walked over to him and swallowed his face with my boobs. While I wiggled and jiggled my breasts, his penis grew harder by the second. He stuck a wad of money into my garter belt, and the bills felt good pressing into my thigh. After him, I moved over to another man and slow-winded my ass in his lap. He grinned like an old, balding pervert and filled my garter belt with even more bills.
Noticing that the song was about to end, I returned to the stage and gave everyone a final showdown as I wrapped my long, slim leg around the pole and swung my body around until I slid down to the floor in a provocative position. The song ended, and I collected every crumpled dollar and gathered my clothes off the floor before leaving the stage.
I went straight to the dressing room to count my money. Some of the other dancers were in there touching up their makeup, styling their hair, and adjusting their costumes. I counted out fifteen hundred dollars and stuffed it in my Prada bag. Not bad for four hours worth of work. 
Quickly, I changed into a pair of tight jeans, gold top, and open-toed, high-heeled, rhinestone sandals. When I went to pay the DJ, he grabbed my arm and whispered, “You need to stop playing and let me get your number, Butterscotch. Your husband can’t wax that ass like I can.”
He always did this; try to flirt with me, even though he knew his flattering attention was headed down a dead end street. The only time he tried to talk to me was whenever our boss was not around; but when Dexter was present, the DJ would jokingly whisper, “Let me leave you alone because there goes your boyfriend.”
I don’t know why he called Dexter my boyfriend. My relationship with my boss was strictly about the business; even though he was a piece of dark-chocolate eye candy…and you know what they say about dark chocolate. It’s good for the body.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said to the DJ, handing him his cash. “And find me another song like the one you just played. I liked that song. You see how it had me grooving.”
“Girl, you had me so hard watching you dance…”
I ignored him and said bye to everyone, put on my designer sunglasses, and left the club. I couldn’t be late picking up my son from kindergarten.
As soon as I got in my Lexus, I flung my purse on the beige leather passenger seat. I felt free as I rode down the highway, thinking about my place in life. Seven years ago, I graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in International Business. Chris and I got married a year later. Not long afterward I landed a job as a marketing executive at the airport. I loved my job, and I worked there for five years. Then the recession hit, and I got downsized out of a job. The timing couldn’t have been worse because my husband got downsized too. We had some savings, the equivalent of six months of our salaries in an emergency fund, so we thought we’d be all right until we found other jobs. The problem was that we didn’t find other jobs.
A year had passed, our unemployment had run out, and neither of us had landed new jobs. Not the kind of jobs we were used to. The final straw came when we were unable to afford our mortgage. Never in a million years would I have thought we’d be in that situation. We were hardworking people who stayed on the right side of the law, paid our taxes and our bills on time. The thought of losing the home we had worked so hard to get made me feel like a failure.
Stripping was my last resort. I tried other avenues first, like trying to sell our house. But the housing market had crashed as well, and there was no way we could sell our home without incurring a loss. Chris wanted to downsize, but we couldn’t qualify for a new home without either of us having any proof of income. And if we allowed the house to go into foreclosure, it pained me to think about how many years of suffering we’d have to endure while trying to rebuild our credit scores. When he suggested moving in with his mom or his sisters, I just looked at him like he was crazy. I had not come this far in life to allow the mat to be yanked from under my feet. Time was of the essence, and since my husband wasn’t stepping up to the plate, I worked my way into the adult entertainment business and did what I had to do.
At first, I felt ashamed of my profession. Even now, I wouldn’t brag to anyone about being an exotic dancer. But over the past six months, to my surprise, I’ve come to like being a dancer. I don’t work at some sleazy, graffiti-covered hole-in-the-wall. Instead, I landed a job at an upscale gentlemen’s club. Besides the money, I liked the flexible hours. I worked only three days a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. That worked well for me, especially since I never took home less than three grand a week.
Unlike some of the other girls I worked with, I didn’t need to drink alcohol or do drugs to get me in the mood to dance in front of a bunch of strangers. Most of the time I thought about making love to my husband, or how much money I stood to make just for being sexy; that made me wet real quick. Something about getting paid to be hot resonated with me. I felt like a model or an actress. Like them, I put on a show, and gave the customers what they wanted.
Unbeknownst to my husband, he actually gave me my stage name. He often commented that my golden-yellow skin felt as soft and smooth as butter, yet tasted as sweet as butterscotch. Butterscotch just has an exotic sound to it; that’s why I picked it. Plus, it goes along with my Puerto Rican and black heritage.
Working the pole came with ease. Long before I had ever thought about dancing professionally, I put a pole up in my bedroom and took a pole-dancing class with a few of my closest girlfriends. I knew how to work it. I just hated keeping this part of my life a secret from my husband, family, and friends. Rather than telling them the truth, I told them that I got a job in sales. That wasn’t a complete lie. Technically, I was in sales. I sold fantasies to men.
Regardless of how messed up all of this seemed, telling lies didn’t come easy for me. It pained me to my core. Lying goes against my moral fiber. I think I’m a decent person…at least I try to be. Even though I understand my reasons for becoming a stripper, I fear the judgment that’ll come if anyone I know and love ever found out, especially my husband. He’d be disappointed in me. That’s putting it mildly. He’d be so disgusted that he’d probably divorce me and seek full custody of Christopher.
And my father, he’s probably turning over in his grave. Never in this lifetime would he have thought his sweet baby girl would be doing something so naughty. My mother, if she ever caught wind of it, probably wouldn’t even be surprised. She wouldn’t hesitate to drag my name through the mud and utterly destroy my character. The quote came to mind: It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy it. That’s why I strive so hard to keep my professional and private lives separate. I don’t want people to confuse what I’m doing with who I am.
Enough with all the negative thinking; I’m giving myself an anxiety attack. I can’t focus on stuff that hasn’t happened. Chris doesn’t know, my father is deceased, and my mother is non-existent, so what am I so worried about? I refuse to be consumed with intense fear, worrying about what ifs. For now, I’m going to roll with it…whatever it is.