Saturday, May 9, 2009


“Millie, I’m fine. Tonight I haven't drunk anything, so why would you say that?”
“I heard about last night. I heard you left with Lionel.”
My stomach turned. “I’m good, Millie.”
“Yeah, she’s good.” I heard a familiar voice behind me.
I turned around to see who it was. It was Phillip! I damn near peed my pants. “When did he get out?” I wondered.
“Long time no see.” He was smiling, but his eyes told another story.
“H-h-hi, h-how are you doing?” I stammered. I never thought I’d see him again.
“I’m doing fine. No thanks to you.” He grinned that evil grin again.
“Well, I’ve got to get going.” I turned toward the dressing room.
He grabbed my arm. “I never thought I’d see you in a place like this. When Jenny told me you were down here dropping it like it’s hot I didn’t believe her. Now I owe her one hundred dollars. We haven’t seen each other in a long time; can I get a dance or somethin’?”
“So that’s how he found me.” I mumbled. “I was on my way to change, maybe next time.” I told him, trying to move away.
“So you telling me no?” His eyes darkened.
“Unfortunately, yes. I am just about to get off and I’m tired. Like I said, maybe next time.” I planned to have him banned from the Gold Mine after that night.
“Trick, you owe me! I spent time in prison because of yo’ snitchin’ ass. Now give me a dance.” His grip tightened.
I tried to pry my arm from his clenched fist. “I said, no. Let my arm go!” I yelled as I snatched away from him.
He slapped me so hard I could taste blood. My lip was swelling. Before he could hit me again Frank tackled him. A couple of other bouncers wrestled him down, and they hauled him out. He yelled threats at me all the way to the door.
“What happened?” China ran up to me. She passed me a napkin for my lip.
“He was an old boyfriend from college. He got into some trouble, and I was forced to testify against him or face charges. Remember those girls we saw at the mall? One of them is his best friend’s sister. She must have told him that I worked here.”
“Those bourgeois broads? I wouldn’t think they’d associate with him.”
Before I could answer I heard shots ring out. Then I saw Phillip run back into the club, this time with a gun. He aimed at me, and before he could shoot, someone shouted, “he got a gun!” People started screaming and running. I ducked and began to crawl on the floor. I got kicked a couple of times, but I was still alive. I spotted the broom closet so I opened the door and slid in there. Once I was inside I peeked out through the crack in the door. It was total mayhem; tables were knocked over, glasses were broken, and people were getting trampled. I didn’t see Phillip anywhere. He must have lost sight of me in the crowd. I heard police sirens. After what seemed like hours Bert walked in with a couple of officers. One of the officers said, “it's all clear. Everybody, you’re safe to come out now.”
I stepped out of the closet. People came from all over. From behind the bar, under tables, the dressing room, the bathroom, and VIP. When Bert spotted me he made a beeline my way, with the officers in tow. “Millie told me you knew that guy.”
“You knew the gunman? You need to come with us.” One of the officers commanded.
“Did anyone get hurt?” I asked, worried about Frank and the other bouncers that escorted him out.
“No one was killed or seriously injured, but we had one girl with a flesh wound.”
“Did you catch him?” I asked following them out of the club.
“No, he got away,” the short stocky officer answered. He had a low haircut and a thick mustache. “Do you have any idea where he could be?” He seemed like he was in charge.
“No I don’t.” I told him what happened in the club, and the history of our relationship. When I was done, he let me go. He advised me to get a personal protection order. I walked back into the club to get dressed.
On my way out Bert stopped me and simply said, “you’re fired.”
I was too tired to argue so I turned around to go back to the dressing room to get my personal effects from my locker.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


While I was at the mall, on the other side of town Carlton was meeting with his potential client.
“Hello, my name is Carlton Fitzgerald, thanks for coming. Will you have a seat please? I will be with you in a moment. Would you like coffee or pastries while you wait sir?” He shook the Bar Association President’s hand.
“No thank you. I’m fine.” He sat down in the chair positioned next to Carlton’s desk.
When Carlton returned to his desk, they began to talk business. His presentation was perfect and he landed the deal. “Thank you Robert, you will be more than satisfied with my services. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call me anytime.” He stood up, handed him a card, and they shook hands.
“I feel confident that we will have a long, profitable, relationship,” Robert said, smiling. He glanced down at Carlton’s desk. He focused on a picture of Carlton and Carmen. They were formally dressed, holding hands, and looking into each other’s eyes smiling. “You know Candy?” he asked, amused.
“Candy? Excuse me?” Carlton answered. He was puzzled.
“That’s Caramel Candy, right there. She works for me at the Gold Mine.” Bert replied.
“Who, Carmen?” Carlton picked up the picture Bert was pointing at.
“Yes, she’s one of my top dancers.” He looked at Carlton and saw the pain in his face. It suddenly dawned on him; this man didn’t know. He felt bad, but it was too late.
“Oh my god. I thought…” Carlton lost his composure for a moment. He closed his eyes and grabbed his head. “She said…” “How do I get to your club from here?” He pulled it together and wrote down the directions Bert gave him. “Please, don’t tell her that I’m coming. I’m going to surprise her.”
“I’m sorry man. I wasn’t trying to blow her cover. I thought you knew. I won’t say a word. Thanks again, I guess I’ll see you tonight.” Bert grabbed his suitcase and left the bank. That wasn’t the first time he’d seen a man crushed when he found out his girl was a stripper.
I was in the cage dancing to Sexy Back and having fun. I had been drinking like a fish as usual. Once that song was over I gathered my money from the floor of the cage and climbed out. I was on my way to the dressing room when I saw China over in a booth passing a large wad of money to this thuggish looking guy. He snatched it and put it in his pocket. He got up and left the club. I went over to the table. “Who was that cutie?” I asked, being nosy. I didn’t want her to know that I saw her give that brute her money.
“That was Tre. He just stopped by to see his boo.” She smiled nervously.
I could tell that she wondered if I saw what transpired. “Oh, I would have liked to meet him. He rushed off in a hurry. He got business, huh?” I asked, trying to find out what was going on.
“Maybe you’ll catch him next time. He’s not doing too much business lately. He’s on parole, you know. He doesn’t want to go back to prison any time soon…well, ever.” She relaxed.
“So he’s working?” I asked, still probing.
“Not yet. He’s looking, though. I’m helping him out until he can pull it together. He did take good care of me before he was locked up. This is my chance to take care of him,” she replied with uncertainty.
“Well, don’t lose yourself in the process,” I answered. Worried that she would be giving up more than what she bargained for. Every time I called he was sitting at home. It didn’t seem like he was doing too much job searching.
“Don’t worry, I won’t. Do you mind keeping this to yourself? I don’t want the other girls to be all up in mine. You know they be hatin’.” She thought about Wet-n-Wild’s escapades with Young Hustla. She remembered how Wet-n-Wild listened intently when she talked about vacations and shopping sprees. She knew that if Wet-n-Wild got a chance with Young Hustla she would jump at it. She just didn’t know that Young Hustla would. She hated them with a passion. Now that they were together she didn’t want either one of them to know that she was taking care of a man.
“Of course. Just take care of yourself.” I walked toward the dressing room.
I didn’t see Honey that night. I made a mental note to call her after my next set. I walked onto the main stage with my hot new costume. Underneath I had some new pasties and a sparkling g-string thinner than dental floss. Although, I had been drinking plenty that night, I managed to dance exceptionally well in stilettos. I was swinging around the pole, spiraling down to the floor. Holding on to the pole, I arched my back and bent over backward toward a customer who was standing next to the stage. I came face to face with Carlton. His eyes bore deep into my soul. The pain that was reflected resonated through my body. I quickly sat up and turned around to face him. Tears streamed down his face. I jumped off the stage and grabbed his arm. He broke away and began to walk toward the exit with record speed. “Wait, I can explain. I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry. Listen…please.” I cried as I followed him through the crowd. His head was down and he pushed his way outside the front door. I followed. Frank was at the door and he saw me run outside. He came outside too.
“Candy, you can’t be out here like that. We will get a fine. It’s too cold for you to be out here anyway. What are you doing?” he asked and motioned me to go back inside. Not only did Frank help me to realize that I was undressed, the cold air did too, but I still refused to go back in. I had to talk to Carlton. I had to explain.
“Carlton, please wait,” I pleaded with him. He stopped and turned around to look at me with disdain. When Frank realized I wasn’t going back inside, he took his jacket off and wrapped it around me.
“I don’t even know who you are. I don’t even know who I’ve been dating,” Carlton spat out angrily.
“Yes you do. You know the real me. This isn’t me. I planned to tell you. I just didn’t know how. It wasn’t easy for me to tell you what I do.” I continued to plead my case.
“I know the real you, huh? What is the truth about you? Are you really in nursing school?” he asked.
I lowered my eyes and shook my head.
“I loved you. I could have handled anything, except you being a liar. Goodbye Carmen.” He walked away. I was crushed and I couldn’t speak. He was right. Our relationship was built on lies, except the fact that I loved him dearly, but it was entirely my fault. I went back inside, and handed Frank his jacket. I walked to the bar and asked Millie for another drink. I kept drinking for the rest of the night.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Move

Thursday came and went. As did weeks and months. I’d been dancing for a little over a year. I was doing well in school and my best friend kept my secret from her mom. I quit my job at the bar after Bert offered me a spot on the payroll. I wasn’t the star attraction but I had steady clientele and I got along well with everyone there. The girls I met at the bar were now my friends. We shopped together, hung out together, and made money together. We did private parties every now and then to make up for slow nights. I didn’t have a steady boyfriend, but I was on the dating scene. I’d met a few guys while at the mall and at school. No one knew what I did at night and I liked it that way. It really wasn’t their business. I leased myself a Landcruiser, but I hadn’t moved out of Toya’s house yet. Her mother, Laverne, raised an eyebrow when I came home with the SUV, but she didn’t pry. The one thing that she was concerned about was my drinking. I drank every time I danced, which was at least four nights a week. My courses were becoming more intense. I would have to take the exam for the nursing program soon, so I knew that I would have to curb it somehow. The only problem with that was the fact that I performed better with some liquor in me. I needed the sauce to keep me loose. One night on the way home I could barely see straight. I drank three bottles of Moet over the course of the night. As I drove home, I made sure to drive slow and stop at every light. The last thing I needed was a DUI. I pulled into the driveway and sat there for a moment. I gathered my thoughts and stepped out of the truck. I headed for the door, concentrating on keeping my balance. I noticed a car pull up and stop at the end of the block. I figured it was a neighbor coming home after a night on the town. I dragged my body up the stairs, pulled off my clothes and dropped onto the mattress like a dead woman. Just as I fell into a deep sleep yelling downstairs woke me up. I sat up, grabbed my robe, and as I put one foot into a slipper, Laverne burst into my room. “What’s going on here?” she yelled. “A strange man just left my door looking for a girl named Candy! Is that you?” She looked puzzled. “I’ve called the police! What are you doing, girl?” I scrambled to understand what was going on. Right then the doorbell rang and she shot out of my room as fast as she shot in. This time I followed her. I looked out of the window. I saw two gentlemen in blue uniforms with shiny badges on the front porch. She opened the door and frantically started again, “a strange man was here and…” “Excuse me ma’am, please calm down. Let us ask you some questions. Then you’ll have a chance to give us the details. We’ve checked the perimeter. There aren’t any signs of anyone outside. Could he have gotten inside by chance?”
“No, officer. Once I got the door locked I turned the alarm on, and it covers all of the windows and doors.”
“Okay, may we sit down?”
“Yes, no problem. I apologize, but I was so shaken up,” Laverne said calming down a bit.
They sat down, but I continued to stand by the window. Things were coming together in my mind and I began to realize what had just happened. “Ma’am, what is your name?” The officer asked.
“Laverne Gordon,” she replied.
“And your age?”
“Is this your home?”
“We received a call about a possible intruder, but upon our arrival there is nothing going on. Could you tell us what happened to prompt your 911 call?”
“I was asleep in my bed. I heard my door bell ring. Carmen works on the late shift, so I thought it could be her. Maybe she lost her key or something. Anyway, I came downstairs, looked out of the window, saw her truck in the driveway and immediately opened the door. Well, it wasn’t her. It was a man. So I tried to close the door as fast as I could but he stuck his foot in the door and said that he was looking for Candy. I told him no Candy lived here, and reminded him of the hour. He insisted that she did live here, and that he just saw her pull up. He was pointing at Carmen’s truck. I told him that truck belonged to my goddaughter and her name isn’t Candy. I asked him to remove his foot from my door before I call the police. He grabbed my collar and called me a lying bitch. He said he knew Candy was here because he had just followed her from The Gold Mine. He yelled something about some unfinished business and began to push his way into the house. I pressed the police button on the Brinks control pad and the alarm sounded. It startled him and he stumbled. I quickly snatched out of his grasp, closed the door, set the alarm, and called 911.”
“Ms. Gordon, what did he look like?”
“I explained that to them on the phone. He was a black man, about five eleven with a medium complexion. He had acne, but no facial hair that I noticed. He did have a hair cut like Bart Simpson.”
“That was Lionel,” I thought to myself. He was one of the lamest dudes that came to the club. He had cheddar though. I was always promising him a night of private dancing, but I never came through. I never intended on it. I just wanted that dough. He was a real good tipper. I couldn’t believe that he followed me home. He was a true psycho.
“Did you hear me? Hello…what do you know about this?”
“Who me?” I asked the policeman. He must have been addressing me while I was lost in thought.
“Yes, you. You are Carmen, right? That is your truck out there, isn’t it? The man did say that he followed you here; no matter what name he called you. He said that he knew you. What light can you shed on this?”
I sighed deeply. I didn’t know what to say. I started to lie, but I looked up and saw Toya standing at the bottom of the stairs with a you-betta-tell-the-truth-I-can’t-believe-you-put-my-mama-in-danger-I-outta-kick-yo-ass look. “I am Candy.” I heard Laverne gasp. The police officers had an I-knew-it look on their faces. “I’m an exotic dancer at the Gold Mine. He’s one of my clients. Laverne I am so sorry.” I was almost in tears.
“Sorry? That’s all you can say? You could have gotten us killed. And what are you doing working there anyway? You deceived me. What would your parents think if they knew you were taking your clothes off for a dollar and living under my roof? They would probably think that I condone this behavior or at best encourage it. I am very disappointed in you. Toya, did you know about this?” She turned toward the staircase. Toya didn’t say a word. She just nodded and dropped her head. “And you have my daughter deceiving me as well. Carmen, you have to go.” She sighed deeply.
“But Laverne….”
The police officer interrupted, “Well do you know the perpetrator’s name?”
“Lionel, that’s all I know.”
“Do you know what kind of car he drives?”
“No. I’ve only seen him inside the club. I don’t know anything else about him.”
“Ms. Gordon, I think we have enough information for the night.” He turned to me. “If you can think of anything more let us know. We will be contacting you, as well,” he said to me as he handed her a business card, stood up and headed for the door. His partner looked at me and shook his head.
Once they were gone, I tried to reach Laverne again. “Please, I didn’t know he followed me. It wasn’t my fault. Please….”
She looked at me like a woman with a made up mind. “No Carmen. You lied to me, encouraged my daughter to do so and brought riff raff to our house. I am a single woman. I can’t take that risk. If you were going to do as you said and go to school that would be different, but you chose another path and I can not support that in any way.”
“But I don’t have anywhere to go. You know my parents won’t take me back.”
That fact softened her a bit. “Okay Carmen. If you quit and find a respectable day job, I will let you stay. You will have a curfew and restrictions.”
I thought about the money I had been making and I realized that I knew this day would come. I couldn’t go back to making pennies a day. “I’ll have my things out by Friday.”