This extra is not suitable for those under 15, as it contains mature content. If you’re underage or likely to be offended, please don’t read on. It won’t affect your reading of the story as a whole.
This extra was inspired by mdpthatsme’s theme prompt of ‘jealousy’.
Union, West Virginia
This ain’t what I wanted to be doin’ with my life. No: this ain’t what I’m gonna be doin’ with my life.
I’m jus’ doin’ this to put myself through college. It’s hard, y’know? We don’ all get it easy. I gotta make ends meet somehow, gotta pay my way, so I work here at Red’s.
An’ it’s fine, y’know. Mostly. Red, he’s a decent kinda guy, an’ Tina, she can be a lil’ harsh if ya get on her bad side, but her heart’s in the right place.
I don’ mind the servin’ drinks ‘n food, the wipin’ tables.
But every Friday ‘n Saturday it’s entertainment night an’ folks from the town come an’ sing or play guitar or crack some jokes, an’ we all have to take our turns an’ all.
Only I can’t sing or play music. I can dance. I used to dance as a kid, an’ I wuz pretty good, y’know? But there ain’t much call for that here. Then Tommy an’ Austin, they went to this bar in Bluefield an’ started ravin’ ’bout these pole dancers they saw. So Red got some poles built in the bar, an’ cos I can dance, I gotta try them out.
It’s kinda strange at first. The cold, hard steel is pretty intimidatin’ an’ climbin’ it can be kinda awkward, like those firemen’s poles I used ta climb when I was a lil’ girl. You have ta learn how ta keep your grip an’ not fall.
It was kinda hard to learn, but it was kinda excitin’ to master it, y’know? To do something lotsa folk’d struggle with. Kinda gives ya a sense of achievement.
But then the guys told Red that we were doin’ it all wrong. I was wearin’ just some hot pants an’ a top, y’know, workin’ gear, an’ they kep’ sayin’ that the girls in Bluefield, they jus’ wore bikinis, an’ if Red wanted the guys ta keep comin’ here an keep givin’ him their custom he maybe should think ’bout that, cos times are tough an’ folk can jus’ drive elsewhere if they choose.
I didn’t wanna, but Red said I should try it, an’ he let me take tips. The guys said in those big bars the girls let the fellas tuck the tips into their panties but I really wouldn’t feel right at that, an’ Red refused ta let them, said they could put the tips in a jar an’ he’d make sure I got ’em. I’m mighty glad, I can tell ya. The thought of their hands on me makes me squirm.
But ta tell ya the truth, I don’ much like doin’ this, not this way. I don’ like bein’ all on show. The metal against my flesh is cold an’ hard an’ unfriendly. I have ta keep real trim cos there’s nowhere to hide.
The wors’ thing, though, is the men starin’. They stan’ there gawpin’ an’ leerin’ an’ if they’ve had a few drinks down ’em they get rowdy an’ sometimes some of ’em will start callin’ for me to take ma clothes off, tho’ Red never stands for that, he don’t, an’ he sends them on their way. Still, I don’ much like them lookin’ at me that way. It ain’t right.
The worst is when ya can see they’re gettin’ off on watchin’ ya dance. There’s this one ol’ guy, an’ he’ll stan’ there an’ ya can see him gettin’ more an’ more excited, an’ his face turns into one big leer, an’ there’s nothin’ ya can do but wait til he goes to the men’s room to deal with himself an’ he can leave ya alone for five minutes.
But he always stays right til we close, an’ when he orders a drink I can hear his breathing, hot’n’heavy an’ stinkin’ of alcohol. He tries ta touch yer hand when ya serve him. He makes my spine crawl. I never walk home, even tho’ I live real close. I don’ trust him, not one bit. I wish Red’d send him packin’, but these ol’ timers, they been aroun’ so long, would jus’ cause so much upset in the town if any of ’em got barred, it wouldn’t be worth the hassle.
Sounds dumb, I know, but though I hate them leering at me, I hate it even more when there’s a game on, an’ I’m dancin’ an’ puttin’ it out there an’ all they can care about is who’s hittin’ a home run. It’s crazy, right? I hate their stares, yet I hate it even more when I dance an’ no-one notices. I feel even more exposed, cos’ then I’m not even serving a purpose, I’m just goin’ through the motions.
Since she came, though, it’s been harder. The girl, Naomi. I feel mean bitchin’ ’bout her, cos she’s a sweet kid an’ all. But since she came, I ain’t exactly been ringing in the tips like I usedta.
Red’s kinda sweet on the girl. I don’ think he’s sweet on her in a sexual way, but he’s like a dad, y’know? He’s always been like that, always takin’ lost lil’ boys’n’girls under his wing. Guess he’s tryin’ ta make up fer his son. The kid died when he was jus’ sixteen. Drugs, they say, tho’ Red don’ ever talk ’bout it.
Naomi’s the latest lost cause. I’ve driven her to the city a coupla times. She’s OK, don’t talk much. She seems so young, tho’. I can’t believe she’s twenty-one. But she works hard an’ she’s pickin’ things up quick.
Girl’s talented, I gotta admit. She ain’t like me, ain’t gotta dance on these poles, ain’t gotta strip to next ta nothin’ to get noticed. She can play guitar an’ she can sing a little. She can get the bar all singin’ along like I ain’t never seen.
An’ the guys are sweet on her, too. She ain’t wearin’ a bikini, but when she bends over that guitar, the eyes of every man in the place are lookin’ down her top. Ain’t a fella in here hasn’t talked ’bout what he’d like to do to her, only difference is, they respect her enough not ta say it to her face. Me, I get ’em all jeerin’ an’ tellin’ me jus’ what they wanna do to me. Least she’s protected a lil’ bit.
I gotta say, I’m jealous of the girl. I wish I was talented like her. I wish I could dress more normal an’ not have ta climb that pole every night.
Still. This ain’t what I’m gonna do forever. Jus’ til I get through college, then I’ll be free.
Til then, I guess I’ll jus’ keep on dancin’.