Truth Be Told

By: Holly Ryan


I swing open the door to Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club right before the stroke of midnight. The metal handle is freezing, and I pull my hand away as quickly as I can. I forgot my gloves at home today. I check the time on my Michael Kors watch and let out a breath of relief, which freezes in the air in front of me. My shift starts at twelve o’clock. It’s eleven fifty-six.

I’ve been working as an exotic dancer on the side for almost two months now. It’s not something I particularly enjoy. The men I have to put up with in my job are generally unappealing, sometimes rude and borderline harassing, but always drunk. But I do it because, well…why does anyone put up with a job?

“Gotta pay those bills,” moans Lorelei, coming in behind me.

Ah, Lorelei. I’d recognize that voice anywhere.

“Sure do,” I say. I stop and wait for her, holding the door.

Lorelei has been working here longer than me, although I’m not quite sure how long it’s been for her. I’m weird with details like that. It’s not that I’m spacey, it’s just that details can go right over my head if I’m thinking about something else at the time. Which isn’t good, considering my line of work.

Lorelei takes the door. “Thanks.”

“Why do I get the impression you don’t want to be here any more than I do?” I ask as we head to our lockers.

She shrugs. “Probably because you know me. You’re right. We’re twenty-one. We’re stripping after college. We’re two walking, sexy clichés.”

I set my purse on one of the tables, then open my locker and start to undress. The outfit I pull out of my purse, the one I selected from my closet an hour ago, is a unique one, even considering what we’re about to do; it’s a tiny little number, black and full of sequins, and the top of the garter explodes in a pattern of black lace. “Speak for yourself,” I say as the fabric falls through my fingers.

“Ugh,” Lorelei says. She’s taken off her pants and now she’s bent over, stroking one of her legs. “I forgot to shave.”

I hand her one of the disposable razors that I always keep close at hand. “Use mine.” Even though I’m anything but a veteran at this, I know you always have to come prepared.

I eye her as I finish getting dressed and reach around to buckle my bra. I’ve always thought Lorelei to be prettier than me, but I must admit that I have the better body. Lorelei has the kind of face that guys automatically go for. It’s the kind of face that shows no trace of inhibition when she’s on stage and is always done up to perfection with top-of-the-line makeup. The same goes for her hair, which today cascades down her back in perfectly-rolled curls. But she’s several inches shorter than me, and my long, muscular arms and legs beat hers any day.

“Thanks.” She grabs it from me and uses the small built-in sink to shave herself, her cheeky bikini riding up as she lifts her leg awkwardly.

When I’m sure she can’t see me, I reach down into the sock that I haven’t yet removed for this very reason. Swiftly, I slide out my knife.

I clutch the cold metal, concealing it within my fist. It’s a medium-sized switchblade, and I’m not even sure if it’s legal or not. It’s not supposed to be on the premises when we’re working. I know that. I stuff it inside my locker and quickly cover it with one of my spare tops, paying special attention to tuck the fabric down around it. There’s no way I’d do this job without some kind of protection, but unfortunately, I can’t keep that knife on my body at all times – for obvious reasons. This is my routine every night: secretly pull from sock, stuff inside locker, cover until invisible. Repeat. Most nights Lorelei arrives after me, though, so I have plenty of time to make my move in private.

I doubt Lorelei would care. Hell, I know lots of girls in this line of work carry something on themselves for protection, although ninety-nine percent of the time it’s usually just mace. It’s just that if there’s one thing the academy has instilled in me, it’s confidentiality. Because you just never know.

She finishes up as I’m pulling another pair of fishnet stockings over this elaborate contraption I have going on. Then I grab for a long, dark grey beaded necklace, which I swoop over my head and allow to cascade down my back – my signature look. It’s something different, and the men love it. I look at her and smile.

“There,” she says. She offers the razor back to me.

Instead of taking it, I say, “You can put it in my bag.”

“What would I do without you. Oh–” She stops, removing something from my purse’s depths.

I freeze.

“Ohh my. What is this, Stella?”

It’s a condom. She flicks it between her fingers.

“Hey.” I reach and miss and end up grasping at air. “What the hell do you think it is?”

“I know what it is. Why do you have this, missy? You know what Mama May said last week. This isn’t a special services club, and we’re not even supposed to have this kind of thing.”

The condom isn’t for me. Really, it’s not. My love life is lackluster, to say the least. And yeah, Mama May doesn’t want us to bring any of our own “sexual paraphernalia,” as she calls it, because according to her, if we’re not doing anything illegal, we shouldn’t need it. Which is pretty ridiculous if you ask me, because what if we want to do something perfectly legal after our shift? Not that that’s something I anticipate. The quality of men here is, as I said before, sorely lacking.