A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2018 Karen Lockhart
Ellen gave me a wink, looked at Pete, and asked, “Just who is going to these strip bars, it's not you is it? How did you know Steve wanted to be introduced to Jean, and that Ginny did it?”
Pete stuttered a bit, then replied, “Ellen, just how in Hell did you know her name was Jean? Wait, I know you two are up to something, and you guys are about to drag this minor into it!”
Now Ellen's Irish was getting up. Wendy and I moved back a little from Pete to a safer distance.
“Just who do you think you are to order us around? If Ginny wants to take her clothes off and tend bar, or for that matter, if I wanted to, what gives you, mister policeman the right to say a thing? Further more, if you keep this up, I may have to reconsider our relationship, you Neanderthal!”
I said she would do the Gorgon proud. I have heard her filet a 260 pound construction foreman who paid her no attention, then calmly ask where I wanted to go for lunch.
Wendy was frozen in the armchair, her mouth agape. Pete's complexion paled, and I think he suddenly realized he had crossed the line. To give him credit, he didn't storm out, or even start shouting; instead you could see him deflate a bit, take a deep breath and apologize.
“You are absolutely correct Ellen, I owe you an apology. But more importantly, I owe Wendy and Ginny a bigger one for trying to run Ginny's life. She can do what ever she wants, and Wendy is seventeen; that's old enough to enlist in the Army and place herself in harm's way. Sorry again, I guess I'll get out of here.”
As Pete turned to go, Ellen grabbed his sleeve, and standing on her tiptoes, gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“Now, you big lug, what would you like for supper? We can have a pasta delivery from the place on the Lynnway. How does Chicken Piccatta, and Caesar Salad sound?”
Wendy and I gave a sigh of relief, but I think the one most relieved was Pete Smith.
After eating, Pete kissed everyone goodnight, saying he had to supervise a task force drug bust at 2am. This way he could grab a few hours sleep on a bed before heading to Chelsea.
We watched the first half of the Sunday Night football game before heading to bed ourselves.
In the morning, I packed a small duffle with my bartending clothes. This way, I could change in the office before Jean picked me up in the afternoon.
Ellen let Wendy drive us in the Explorer to work. You'd think she was driving a bus the way she drove around corners.
The morning was uneventful until after lunch, when Wendy pulled out a pair of heavy black tights, and a cute pink sweater dress.
“Just what are those for young lady?” I asked.
“I want to go with you to the lounge today. This way I can watch you tend bar, and see for myself what a “tittie bar” is like.”
Ellen smirked at me and shook her head saying. “I hope you're happy Ginny, you've created a monster.”
Wendy got indignant, looked at us, and stamped her foot, “I'm the one who lived on the street for two years, not you two, and nothing happened. Believe it or not, I can take care of myself!”
“If Jean says okay, then tonight only, and you will not so much as hand a Coke to any one. Is that clear?”
With a big smile, she nodded and gave me a bone cracking hug, while dancing around yelling “Yes,yes, oh thank you Aunty, thank you!”
Around 3pm, we heard a honk outside. I waved Jean inside.
“Jean, Wendy is insisting she come with us to the Naked City tonight. I told her it was up to you. What do you think?”
Jean laughed, “Sure, but there will be rules. No serving even a glass of water except to Tim or Susan. No wandering around, it's not safe. There are bouncers to keep Ginny and the 'talent' safe from the patrons. If you want to see my act, or another, you will watch from the employee's lounge. Is this perfectly clear, honey?”
Wendy nodded again. I looked at Ellen, “Jean's car is a two seater, how about swapping? We'll take the Explorer, and you can pick up guys in the sports car.
“As long as it's only one guy at a time, sure why not?”
I slid behind the wheel, Wendy got in the back and off we went to Peabody.
After a few minutes, Jean looked around at the leather heated seats, the Bose sound system, and the room inside the SUV. “Ginny, I might trade in my car and get one of these. I hate the thought of driving that roller skate in another winter.
Wendy started bouncing up and down, asking if Jean did sell, could I buy the car for her?
“Not likely, young lady. You are going to drive an old Checker Cab, something safe.”
We arrived at the employee's entrance in no time. I locked the SUV, and followed them inside. Wendy's eyes were enormous as she entered the darkened room. Jean showed her where the employee's lounge was and the employee's restrooms.
Wendy peeked inside the ladies room and was surprised it was so clean.
Jean and I laughed, “Did you expect it to look like a public bathroom in a bus station?” Jean asked her. “We work here just like anywhere else. C'mon, I'll introduce you to Susan and Tim, great people, and good bartenders.”
Introductions made, Jean headed off to become Terri, and I tied on my apron. I repeated the rules to Wendy for the night, and warned her we weren't leaving until 2am.
Susan teased me about bringing a child to an adult venue. Wendy of course, turned bright red. This got Tim chuckling, saying to Wendy that if the power went out, he'd find her to light our way like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.
Soon we were busy; nothing like Saturday or Friday, though. This allowed longer breaks for Susan, Tim and I.
During one of my breaks I asked Wendy if she wanted to see Jean's act as Terri the Tiger.
“Absolutely, Aunt Ginny. Would I be able to see any of the others?”
“Sure, let me tell Tim what we're doing.”
Soon I heard the Stones' Satisfaction over the speakers and grabbing Wendy, I headed for the backstage entrance.
As the lights slowly came up, here came a tiger from the shadows. I had forgotten Wendy had never seen Jean's complete body tattoo. She was fascinated by the sinuous act. Constantly oohing and ahhing, Wendy never took her eyes from Jean's act.
All too soon the music faded, and 'Terri' retreated into the shadows. Wendy was beside her self. “Can we see her, I can't believe this dance, can we Auntie?”
I beckoned her to follow me. Tommy the mammoth bouncer, winked at me and asked if Wendy was trying out for a job.
You guessed it, Wendy lit the way backstage with her red face. Knocking on Jean's door we entered and sat while Jean put on a robe against the chill.
“What do you think Wendy, want to give it a try? I've got a tiger stripe catsuit somewhere.”
This evoked a nervous laugh from the kid, and a quick “NO WAY!”
I opened Jean's cube refrigerator and handed a diet ginger ale to Jean and Wendy.
“Jean, whose act should Wendy see, besides you that is?”
After thinking a bit she suggested a twin act that used the two fire poles and they should be starting now. We made our goodbyes and headed backstage again.
Wendy watched the twins perform, but I could tell after seeing the tiger act, everyone else's was like kissing your brother.
Last call couldn't come soon enough! I slipped off my heels and into my boat moccasins, aah!
Jean came for us as soon as the coast was clear, and we headed out, but not before Susan handed another stuffed envelope to me again.
“It's not close to Saturday,” Sue said, “But it's better than a poke in the eye with a dull stick.”
With that homily in my ears, I unlocked the SUV. “Jean, why don't you drive? That will tell you if you want one.”
Wendy curled up in the back seat, doing her best Kevin imitation. Soon soft snores kept us company on the ride back to Swampscott.
As she was swapping cars, Jean looked at me and asked if I was up for one more day.
I said 'yes', and that I'd see her at 3pm that afternoon.
We almost carried Wendy inside. She didn't perk up until she saw the money inside the envelope. Another $400! This made $1900 in tips in four days!
Many thanks to Bronwen Welsh, for without her encouragement, and assistance in correcting typos and sentence structure, this story would not happen.
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