became self-fulfilling prophecies in a club. She thought of summer. The beach. The breeze in the sun and a glass of. Nothing. Nothing, like Al. She and Al.
Jamie closed her eyes and shut her mind. She had to stay positive.
They walked past the writhing bodies on stage, the convergence of skin and suits, to the dressing room in the back of the club. Somehow the overhead fluorescent lights seemed brighter. Benches, covered in a once-pink fabric, had worn down to the thread. The mirror, which lined the walls, had starred and cracked in various spots where someone hit it too hard. Jamie and Savana picked out a locker and started to change.
“You have a plan about that?” Savana looked down at Jamie’s ankle.
They tried everything. They wrapped ribbons around Jamie’s legs. They used tights, bodysuits, every piece of lycra and nylon they had, to hide the giant piece of plastic. As a last resort, Savana pulled out all of her miniskirts and tied them around Jamie’s feet, like oversized, repurposed hair scrunchies.
“I look like the adult porn version of The Baby-Sitters’ Club.”
“Hey, maybe that’ll be somebody’s thing?”
Jamie had never worked without taking a shot first. The judge told her that the monitor would detect any kind of alcohol through her sweat. That meant no mouthwash, no cough medicine, or certain cleaners. She wondered about how many people had gotten popped for just freshening their breath. It somehow seemed so funny in court. She approached customer after customer. As each one did a full body scan, she felt her face redden when they hit her feet. Did they know what was under those skirts? It felt like a modern scarlet letter or another step toward the stereotype that hovered over every dancer: She’s a mess.
Jamie could see their responses on their faces before they even spoke.
“Maybe in a bit.
“If you tell me your real name.”
“Tits aren’t big enough.”
“Let me see you on stage first. I like a little audition.”
“How about we head back to my hotel?”
“Too fat. Go get that girl for me.”
After four hours, Jamie counted the contents of her wallet. She had made exactly $7.00 and there were only forty-five minutes left. A man, balding, middle-aged, sat in the far corner, alone. She had seen him when they first came in and he hadn't moved. For some reason, the other girls seemed to be avoiding him. That meant he either had no money or plenty left.
“Hey, Baby,” Jamie said. She couldn’t figure out what to do with her hands. What had she done with them when she was drunk? Put them on her hips?
“No thanks, I’m just here for a beer.”
“You’re here for the beer?”
“The $9.00 Bud Light. You’re just here for the $9.00 Bud Light.”