“Darla, you’re on,” my manager Stiff says to me.
I hate going on stage and performing. Stiff calls our audience members clients or customers depending on what services they come to purchase. I prefer to use perverts or low-lives. Hey, I call them how I see them. I know that I shouldn’t be so hard on some of the guys that come to drool and watch, but I truly can’t help myself. I’m extremely bitter towards them. I think it’s the anger that I have myself which really gets the better of me when I’m dealing with these perverts, ahem, customers.
I strut onto the stage and do my Tuesday usual. I walk up and down, swinging my hair around and bouncing like a child on a trampoline. I grip the pole for stability. Man, these seven-inch heels are killing me. Another guy tucked some dollars onto the strap of my heel.
Finally my shift is over and I get to go home, I go back to my vanity—only the ‘long term gals’ as Stiff calls them—have their own vanity. I take off the strappy heels, which reveal a twenty, ten and four single dollar bills. I start to take off my stockings, the lace getting tangled in my hands as I squish it into a ball. A pound of glitter falls out.
I return to taking off my lacy underwear which always rides up on me, as well as the leather skirt and bandeau I have on. I gather my own clothes from the duffle bag I have underneath my vanity. As I sit fully nude in my chair, I begin to put on my goucho sweatpants and a black cami tank top. I grab my leather jacket. I pull on my black Steve Madden combat boots. I rip off the fake eyelashes from my eyelids. I take a look in the mirror—I look like a biker Barbie doll. I untie my hair from its creative bun on my head, letting the blonde curls fall loosely on my shoulders. I then gather my belongings and grab my helmet. I turn the switch, shutting the bulbs that line the vanity’s mirror. Other girls are flying to and from the stage.
Stiff gives me a wink. I go out the back door.
I work six days a week at the Uncover Gentleman’s Club. It’s basically a cheap strip joint on the far side of town where divorced men come after having to work all day to pay their ex-wives alimony and the three kids they had. I started working here three years ago when a great guy Gus owned the place. He made a huge fortune from it. Guys would constantly be throwing their bachelor parties here. Once Gus sold it to Stiff, it all went downhill. The atmosphere went from wealthy bachelors seeking a night of fun to sex addicts seeking their thrill, drunken alcoholics who have gotten kicked out of every other bar during the night and pathetic old bachelors and divorceés who have nothing better to do than watch girls half their age.
I’m one of the youngest ‘gals’ that Stiff has. The oldest is about thirty four, her name’s Vicky. She has a nose ring and shaved her head two weeks ago. She has two kids at home and her husband is in jail. I sometimes babysit her kids while she’s at work. Another oldie, as Stiff calls them, is Siendra. She’s half Mexican, half Jamaican. She has four kids. Her husband works as a coal miner. I’ve watched her kids also. She’s thirty three years old. Siendra has been at this place for the past six years. The younger ones that I actually like and talk to are Tobi and Mya. Tobi’s twenty five from California. She has a baby. Her boyfriend is in the military. And Mya’s twenty two. She had twins last October. Her boyfriend left her though. I always try to help her out. Her parents died when she was young and she was forced to stay with her grandmother.
Mya and I are truly best friends. I’m twenty. I’m currently seeing someone. He’s a fireman. He thinks that I’m an actress that does independent films. Oh, I wish I was. Somehow though I got stuck here.
My mom died when I was five from brain cancer, which left my father to take care of me and raise me. He was often strict and very easy to dislike. My father owns a multi-million dollars company. He was extremely powerful. As a child I used to model for him. Even as a teenager I would model. My dad died when I was fifteen years old. It was an accident or something. The details confuse me. He left me his company. When I was eighteen I sold his company, his house, everything he had. As a college student it was way too much for me to take care of. I don’t know exactly why I chose to start as a stripper so young. I know I wanted to make my own living without the help of my dad’s savings. Stripping wouldn’t have been my first choice. But when you’re in the witness protection program, you have to make some sacrifices.
At seventeen, I was approached by two men. Duke and Chival. They told me that there were men who have been after my father for decades and they would soon be after me. I didn’t know what I was getting involved in or how to stop it from happening. They told me to fake my own suicide. I said okay. So as far as the world knows, Carter Fox is dead.
At seventeen, I was first moved to a city in Europe—some small German village where men lived in shacks and women were domesticated caretakers. I was engaged to a man named Fredrick. He was the love of my life. I felt as if I couldn’t live without him. We were going to marry at the village church. His mother was quite friendly with me. But then witness protection came and told me that I must leave the country immediately. I left Fredrick a letter saying I had an emergency and that I’d come back for him when I could. Then I got moved to New York City. I went from a simple life, complete isolation to seeing new faces everyday. I applied at the gentleman’s club. I worked and earned thousands of dollars a week. I was safe there. I’m safe here.
At work the following night, Stiff approached me and tells me that a man requests me in the VIP room.
“Really?” Most men don’t use the VIP room anymore. They think it’s too expensive.
“Yep. The guy said the girl with the scars on her shoulder. That’d be you.” Instinctively, I felt the burn marks on my shoulder. They were there, but faded, you wouldn’t be able to see them in the dimmed light and I always made sure my hair covered it.
“Oh, uh alright,” I’m wearing a loose kimono cardigan and head to the room.
As soon as I walk in, I saw nobody. The door slams behind me. I feel a hand clasp on my mouth.
“You’re Red’s daughter,” I hear him say over my muffled scream.
“Nod yes,” he demands. I nod.
“You’re coming with me,” I feel a blow to my head and smash to the floor.
Then everything went dark.