So, a fair bit of warning, this chapter does get kind of a explicit. I don't think it's ridiculously so, but still. Keeping context to a minimum, the "I" character is at Camille's apartment*. She tells him her experience of being a stripper. So, here is Chapter Eleven:
*Final warning about adult content*
“Does your girlfriend know you were at a strip club tonight,” she asked over the running water.
I don’t know if she was trying to flatter me, but she kind of did. Her saying that means she thinks I’m the type of guy a girl would want to be with or at least wanted me to think she thought that. She may have just been curious about my relationship status, but didn’t want to come right out with it, but even that theory has a similar affect on me. I’ve made jokes for years about having an imaginary girlfriend, so I witty answer actually came to me quickly enough for me to use it.
“She’s imaginary,” I said, “so she knows what I want her to know.”
She laughed harder than I had heard her laughing before. You can tell when someone finds something really funny. It’s not that all laughs are insincere, but a lot of the time you can at least compose yourself enough to laugh in a more controlled manner. Her laugh wasn’t annoying or anything it was just different than the way she had giggled before. I was just really glad she had found something I had said funny.
“Do you work, Michael?” she asked.
I hated that question. I’ve found that telling people that I didn’t have job was terribly embarrassing. I mean it wasn’t entirely my fault, but it still sucked. It was even worse considering what she did for a paycheck. I just sat on my ass and collected unemployment, too discouraged to try as hard as I could to look for a job.
“I don’t have a job right now,” I said.
“It kind of sucks right now,” she said, “It’s tough to get a job. What did you do before?”
“I worked in a warehouse,” I said.
I wasn’t going to tell her exactly what warehouse I worked in unless she asked. I worked at the Victoria’s Secret Direct warehouse.
“What did you do?” she asked.
“I worked in Inventory Control,” I said, “so basically I did a lot of counting to check inventory. There was a lot of walking, but that’s about as hard as it got.”
“How did you lose it?” she said.
“I got laid off,” I said.
That was actually a half truth. I mean technically I was laid off, but in reality it was more mutual than that. I could’ve stayed and honestly I should’ve, but I thought they weren’t doing things the right way. They had kept hinting at making me a regular employee, because I had been hired seasonally, but then they said they wanted to keep me through a temp agency. I didn’t agree to be hired by the temp agency, so they had to lay me off.
“That sucks,” she said.
For a bit the only sound was the water running. I felt the need to keep us talking though. I was feeling slightly more comfortable. I was curious about something. I convinced myself to ask.
“What’s it like?” I asked before I started rambling, “I mean at your job. Are people respectful? Are there a lot of jackasses? Do you get used to it?”
I immediately felt like I shouldn’t have said any of that. I was sure my face was in the process of turning red. She was probably going to kick me out or yell at me. I was sure. Instead I heard her sigh. More importantly it didn’t seem like an annoyed sigh. I couldn’t really quite quantify it in my mind.
“The reason I do it is because it pays well;” she said, “at least well enough for me to stay here in relative comfort. It kind of sucks, but some days are better than others. I can’t really say I’ve ever gotten used to it. I’ve gotten to the point where most days I’m not so acutely aware of all the eyes on me when I’m on stage, but other times I feel each and every one of them.
“As for the customers when I’m out on the floor, it really varies. I’d say the most of them are respectful to me. Still, the others will stick out in my mind. There are the dumb fucks who don’t get that they aren’t allowed to touch me. I mean it really sucks having your boob grabbed, but the bouncers make quick work of them. Those aren’t the worse ones though.
“No, it’s the assholes who are verbally abusive and degrading. They say horrible lewd things to me. I can’t get really desensitized to that. I can be really terrible, but I have to force myself not to cry when that’s all I want to do. I just want to go home and cry.”
I looked over my shoulder at her. She had sounded like she was choking up pretty bad. She was looking up and I could see how watery her eyes were behind her glasses. She was blinking a lot; I think she was trying to keep the tears from getting out, but I could see the drops running down her cheeks. She looked right at me.
“That’s really awful,” I s aid before turning back to the dishes, “It sucks that people can be so terrible. And it doesn’t matter if you know they’re just a jackass, it still hurts.”
“Yea,” she said sounding more composed than I expected, “It’s exactly like that. I just can’t really fully associate the hate to the hateful person. I wish I could. The girls that have been around for a while seem pretty hardened to it. They try to give me tips on how to deal with it, but I just don’t know if I could ever be so calloused.
“Probably the worst thing, well not for me personally, but for someone to hear, is the stuff that happens in the V.I.P Rooms. They’re supposed to be just for some quieter, private dances, but I learned quickly that it’s not that simple. It costs someone a lot to get back there. I learned quickly from the other girls that you could make a lot by taking special requests in the rooms and that seems to be the expectation of a lot of the guys who pay for it.
“It’s not uncommon for a guy to want to play with himself in the backroom. They usually offer me some bigger tip, so they can do that. Then there are some weirder things. Like, one guy wanted me to take off my shoes and touch him with my feet. I don’t really mind those requests so much.
“Sometimes though, the requests are for actual sex acts. They also come with a ridiculous tip. I always turn them down and usually they don’t get upset, but if they do all I have to do is yell and the bouncers come in. Actually, one time I did agree. He asked me to just touch his cock for 500 hundred dollars. I agreed, because I was tempted by the cash and I didn’t think it was that awful. Then he said he’d triple it, if I started stroking. I mean that’s more than I can make in two weeks and my hand was already around it, so I just started doing it. I really wish I hadn’t, even though he did give me the cash. There are some lonely rich fuckers out there.
“I really like the bouncers there. They’re really nice guys even if they look intimidating. I think they’re the only reason I can stand to go into that place. I can at least feel secure, because they’re quick to handle things that might get out of control. That’s about it, I guess.”
*This would make slightly more sense had Emma picked Chapter 5 the first time ;p