A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2018 Karen Lockhart
“Hello Pete, how have you been? I haven't seen you for a bit, what's up?”
God, I sounded guilty even to me!
“I'll tell you what's up, you nosing into my investigation, that's what up! One of my guys saw a woman of your description working behind a bar in a strip club in Peabody. You want to explain?”
I swallowed, “Pete, Vinny Morales was seen in two gay bars, first as a bartender, then applying for employment as a singer in another. What would make you think he'd work in a straight strip lounge?”
“Due diligence on my part, covering all angles. Not that it's any business of yours Ginny.”
Wow, Pete actually was angry with me !
“Ginny, I worry you'll get hurt, I worry Morales will recognize you and take off again. I worry that because of you, Ellen will be hurt, One thing I hate is worrying, and right now, you are the cause of making me worry.”
Taking a deep breath before speaking, I promised Pete I wouldn't get in the way of his investigation, and would never endanger Ellen.
He grunted a goodbye and hung up, leaving me feeling guilty for if not actually lying, then fibbing to him. I knew he would blow his top if he found out my plans to work at the Candy Cane Club.
After making a quick lunch of Pea soup and a smoked ham and Swiss cheese sandwich, I sat down to watch ladies figure skating on television to kill time before getting ready for tonight's shift at Naked City.
Looking at the time, I ran into the shower and then found something to wear behind the bar this evening. Tim said Saturday was the busiest, so I decided to wear suntan stockings, a cute red cheerleader's skirt with a pullover white polo shirt. This time, I wore boat moccasins, and stuffed a pair of red heels in my purse.
Jean showed up at exactly at 3 PM, Jeeze she was punctual !
“Hey, when will I meet your boss?” Jean asked, “I bet he's a hunk!”
“A happily married hunk with a couple of kids. I tried to call him Friday, but he wasn't home. I'll try again on Sunday at the half of the football game, never during the game.”
“Any time sweetie, any time.” Jean answered.
Parking in the back of the lounge again, and entering through the employee's door brought us to the entertainer's lounge. Regretfully, I removed the moccasins and slipped on the 3” closed toe heels. Susan saw my open toes last night and said never to wear those behind the bar in case of broken glass.
Giving me a quick air kiss, Jean said “good luck” and headed for her dressing room, or should I say 'un-dressing room'?
Susan and Tim were already behind the bar, and greeted me with “Back for more punishment, uh Ginny?”
I cracked my knuckles and said let me at them, I'm ready for bear.
“Bear! Half of the guys tonight would scare a bear off.”
Like the bell that starts a boxing match, the first refrains of 'D I V O R CE' weren't over before waitresses started putting in orders for bottled and draft beers.
Soon, the three of us were busy, with more guys in front of me than Tim and Sally.
About 11 PM, I heard a booming voice say, “Hey Ginny, where is she?”
Looking up, there was Steve Brady waving a mug of draft beer, and looking around the room.
“Steve” I yelled, “Let me get Terri's attention, so you can meet.” Just then, I heard the Stones' Satisfaction over the PA, This meant Terri was on next.
I asked Susan if I could take my break after Terri's act was over. Susan nodded okay while still making drinks. Like magic, four Margaritas appeared in front of her. Thank goodness we had an area for waitresses only, now the bar was wall to wall patrons.
Just before Terri finished, I signaled to Steve to follow me. Winding back and forth between tables brought us to the backstage area. I got a smile from the bouncer, and Steve got a glare.
“It's okay Tommy, he's with me.” I knocked on the door with the big gold star and announced us.
“It's open,” called Terri, “Come in.”
Steve was like a kid on Christmas morning as he entered. You could see he actually was nervous.
Looking at what Terri had on, I was glad Kevin wasn't there !
“Is this hunk the guy you work for Ginny? He's cute!”
Steve turned bright red, and mumbled his name, stammering over the 'S'.
Terri gave him a hug and a kiss on them cheek, thanking him for letting me have time off to look for Morales.
“Any time, any time she needs time off, it's okay.”
I gave Steve's sleeve a little tug, saying, “She has to get ready for her next act, and I have to get back behind the bar.”
After getting to the bar, Steve gave me a rib-cracking hug saying “Thank you kiddo, take tomorrow off.”
I nodded to Tim to take his break, and was laughing as I pulled a couple of draft beers. Susan asked what was so funny.
I told her the story of Steve and Terri, but when I got to the part where Steve told me to stay home tomorrow, she started laughing also.
“Shoot,” Sue said. “Tomorrow is Sunday, that was awful generous of him, wasn't it?”
If anything it got busier at the bar, with guys two deep. I think they liked looking down my shirt and Susan's too. When Tim came back, and Sue took her break, the mob thinned out a bit. By now, I wished I had left my boat moccasins on, my feet were KILLING me!
After the PA call, “last round, drink up.” I knew my shift would be over in twenty minutes. Sue and Tim didn't lie, tonight was a madhouse!
As soon as the bouncers had cleared out the drunk, semi-drunk, and just plain lonely patrons, it was safe for Terri to show up at the bar.
“How did my girl do tonight?” she asked Susan, “Think she's ready to solo at a bar yet?”
Sue just smiled as Tim handed me a thick envelope stuffed with money.
“Just count the tips Terri, that will be your answer.” Tim said.
As we were sitting in her cute little car, I counted the tip money.
“Jean”, I shrieked, “There's more than $700 here! That means I've made 1500 dollars in just three days. Steve Brady only pays me $1000 a week for 40 hours. This means, in tips alone, in the week I'm here, I'll make 2500 dollars!”
Jean turned to me, smiled, and asked if I had any idea how much she made in tips.
As we arrived back at my condo, I did some quick math in my head, then did it again.
“Shit Jean, that's $ 130,000 per year in just tips. Maybe I am in the wrong job.”
Promising to pick me up at work on Monday, we said our good nights, I went inside and washed and changed into soft flannel PJs.
I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I awoke a little after 9 AM, showered, and put on a soft pair of mommie jeans, and a Boston College sweat shirt.
Ellen and Wendy were in the kitchen drinking coffee.
“Look who's up! Ellen can we have breakfast now?”
“Scrambled eggs okay? It's about all I can make. Wendy could you start making the toast? Use the Pumpernickel for a change honey.”
“Then Ellen gave me third degree, starting with Pete's phone call, and ending with me saying how I had made ma fortune in tips.
“Just how much did you make?”
Ellen was astonished when I said 1500 dollars.
When Wendy hear this, she exclaimed, “See, in a month I could pay for school, and in another month, I could buy a new little car!”
Just before the start of the Patriot's game at 1 PM, there was a knock at the door, and Pete came in with 2 six packs of Moosehead Canadian beer.
My heart was suddenly in my mouth!
Pete never brought up Morales, just handed me a beer and a church key. After opening my beer bottle, I handed the opener to Ellen, who just gave me a smile, and a nod.
It was a heck of a game, but during half-time, Pete asked if I was still tending bar in Peabody. I said yes, I needed more cash to pay for my ridding lessons and the lease of my western horse from Cathy.
This seemed to satisfy him a bit, but then asked why my boss was introduced to the tattooed dancer?
I gave him a look and asked if he had ever seen her act, if he had, Pete would not ask that question.
Ellen, God love her, gave him a look that would do the Gorgon proud. “Are you watching strippers now, I'm not good enough?”
Pete was all nervous negative answers and would not look Ellen in the eyes.
Ellen looked at me and winked. I had to laugh at the big tall cop who was cowering before a 140lb girl. Wendy left the room to be able to giggle in the bathroom where Pete couldn't hear.
Special thanks to Tanya Allen who graciously gave permission to use her Candy Cane Club in this story.
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