Thirty Bucks and a Table Dance

Thirty Bucks and a Table Dance - student project

This one wouldn’t be any better or worse compared to the others.

I pulled into the Big Town Inn, a Dallas motel for truckers and fly-by-night sorts.  That’s where my father was living while dealing crack cocaine. It was my eighteenth birthday.  He had phoned to say he had some birthday money for me and to come pick it up. There was a Food Mart gas station on the way, off US 80 frontage road where I filled my tank and sped off without paying.  Yet another bad karma investment but I was well on my way to becoming a bum just like my dad anyway. Mother was always certain to remind me of the fact.

A full tank of gas and a few extra bucks would guarantee a memorable birthday. Morality could wait.  Besides the time away from my mom was a gift on its own. I lived full-time with her and my step dad but sometimes slept at the motel, on the floor, in my dads room.  My Dad was a good drinking buddy until he felt the urge to pick a fight with whomever haphazardly crossed his path. He was an inventive drunk who could find any reason to square off with someone.  Ironically, he couldn’t fight worth a shit and that wasn’t the worst of it. When he became belligerent the cops were usually called and I was under the legal drinking age, so I either had to hide or face the risk of getting into trouble.

Room 201. The door was open when I arrived.  Dad was sitting at the desk in front of a mirror.  He liked to look at himself while getting drunk. There was one unopened half-gallon bottle of Bacardi rum beside a  two-cup coffee pot and stack of Ramen noodles along with another bottle, well on its way to empty. I knocked as I entered the doorway.

          “Hey, Dad.”

He turned from the mirror.

“Son!  Come in.  Happy Birthday!”  I could smell the alcohol on his breath and the scent of stale booze in the room.

     “Thanks.  You’re looking a little scruffy, old man?  His beard was completely white as was his hair, which only grew in around the bottom edge of his head and around his ears.

“Scruffy? This is my symbol of wisdom, young buck.”  He slurred.

          “Alright, whatever you say Santa.  I’m here for my birthday money. Pay up. Maybe you could throw down on some Christmas cheer too while you’re at it.”

He lifted his eyebrows.

“Hey now. What kind of shit are you trying to pull? Christmas isn’t for another five days. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

I picked up his pack of cigarettes, Marlboro 100’s.  I slid one out, lit up, and sat at the foot of the bed.

“How’s your mother?”  He asked.

          “Ah, you know, bitching as usual and about nothing important of course.”

He smirked as if to agree. 

“What about this time?”

          “Have you ever known her to need or have a good reason.  Hell, just pick something. Anything. That’ll be what she’s carrying on about.”

A long cigarette ash fell and landed on my knee. I brushed the ash onto the floor.

“Hey now, don’t brush them on the floor boy.” Dad passed an ashtray.

          “Sorry dad, thanks.”

“You know, son, your mother has always been a very hot headed woman but I gotta say.  I still love her with all my heart. I don’t think I’ll ever love another woman like that again in my lifetime.”

Nine years had passed and he still couldn’t let it go. It was pathetic and difficult to watch a man I was supposed to look up to daily destroying and self sabotaging himself. 

There was a soft yet urgent knock at the door. 

          “Expecting someone?

“Not for a while, why?”

          “Are you losing your hearing, old man? There’s someone at the door.” 

The knocks got a little louder and more desperate.

“Come on in.” Dad hollered.

A woman entered.  Her hair might have been more blonde after a shower.  It was oily, curly and tangled most likely by the back seat of a car, an unkept rug, or her nervous fingers that  snagged as she used them for a makeshift comb. Her legs were nice but bruised and her cleavage as sad as a crescent moon. She couldn’t have stood more than five-foot-four.

          “Randall, I need little taste but I can’t pay until I get off tonight.  Please, just a little taste to get me through work.”

At first, I thought she was talking to me.  That’s one of several problems with having the same name as my father.  

She made eye contact with me. I delivered a conjured smile along with a timid and bashful nod. “Hey. How are you doing?” 

Dad shifted in his chair and smirked.

“Now, Margaret.” He said. “You know I can’t do that.  If I do it for you, then every Tom, Dick, and Harry in this dump will be running down my door for a small fix on credit.”

She flailed her arms and gasped.

          “I won’t tell a soul.  Please, Randall, please. I promise. You know I’m good for it.  Baby, I’ll suck you off.”

She looked over at me.  “I’ll suck him off too but please I’m begging you.  I can’t strip tonight without a little taste.”

Margaret needed a shower. I stood and moved from the bed to the table near the AC unit mounted below the windows, on the wall. My father suddenly got that look in his eyes, the one he always got when coming up with something he considered a genius idea.

“Hey!” Dad pointed at Margarete.  “There is something you can do for me.”

          “Name it, Randall.  Anything.”
“You’re going to give my son here a table dance for his birthday.”

I choked on my cigarette smoke and quickly protested the idea.

          “Dad no.  No, it’s cool.  Just give it to her. If she doesn't come back, I’ll pay for it.”

Dad shot me a look and then turned toward Margarette.

“Listen, you fucking whore.” He slurred. “That’s what’s going to happen.  Now start dancing before I change my mind.”

“Dad, really I.”

“Quiet!”  

Margaret was staring at me. 

“Well, Margarette.  What’s it going to be?  You needy little bitch.” 

My father’s smile was sickening.  He was showing all his teeth. He enjoyed being in control and I hated having no control.  Margaret walked to the bedside table and tuned the clock radio to a suitable station. I could smell her body odor as she climbed up on the table near the air conditioner.  I was attracted to the woman under the unkempt hair, the one who would emerge after a shower but the stripper on the table stirred nothing inside me except for disgust. She began working her hips to the song Dirty Laundry, lifting her dirty and oily blonde hair to the top of her head and letting it fall. Then she bent and swayed over and over again and, on her way back up she lifted her shirt over her head. The shirt hit me in the lap as she moaned and grabbed her b-cup tits with both hands.  I stared down at the floor. I had only ever been with one woman.

“Son, you're missing out! Dad shouted. “Take it off, you bitch.” 

He tossed a hand full of coins at the table which bounced onto the floor, one coin rolling under the bed. I made a mental note for the next time I was scrounging for change to get a pack of smokes.

When I finally looked up I couldn’t believe what I saw.  What kind of creature or dancer was she? Her nipples appeared to be peeling off. The perfect quarter-sized pink nipples were separating at the edges of her areola.  What a freak show, I thought. The body odor was stronger after the shirt came off and made it difficult to control my gag reflex. Young boys and men are supposed to be turned on by this sort of activity but I felt nothing but complete and utter disgust. Margaret turned on the table and lowered her ass, shaking in it my face.

          “You like that baby?”  She asked.

Finally, the odor had me in its claws. I stood and ran to the bathroom, shutting the door behind me.  I knelt in front of the toilet and emptied my stomach. I could hear Margaret and Dad talking as I gagged again and again.

          “What the hell’s his problem.  Is he gay or something?” 

“Listen, here you  bitch. Don’t talk about my boy that way.  You understand?”

Their voices were muffled but I could hear things escalating. I stood from the toilet and made my way to the sink, listening as I splashed water on my face and I peered into the mirror. I didn’t want to be there and I didn’t want to go home.

          “I’m sorry, Randall.  Now how about that fix?  Hmm, please baby.”

“Fuck you. Come back when you can show a little respect toward my son.”

I considered slipping out of the motel room quietly but then I remembered dad hadn’t given me my money yet. 

          “Oh baby, please. I didn’t mean it. I take it back. Just one rock. I’m dying here!.”

I heard a knock on the bathroom door.

“Son, you alright in there?”

          “I’m fine, Dad. I’ll be right out.” 

I thought once more about trying to sneak out but didn’t want to pass on the cash. After drying my hands and face, I finally walked out and stood just outside the bathroom door. I saw Dad give Margret two crack rocks.”

“Now get the fuck out of here.”  He said.

She looked like a child running away from an ice cream truck with a popsicle and nearly knocked me down as she ran out, slamming the door behind her. I never saw her again after that day.

“Did you enjoy the dance, son?” 

          “It was alright, I guess.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?  Why’d you get sick?”

          “She stank like body odor and her nipples were coming off. Does she have some kind of strange disease or something?” 

My father shook his head. 

“Oh son, her nipples weren’t coming off. Those were pasties from her shift last night.  She’s a stripper at Faces up on Samuell Blvd.”

          “Oh, what are pasties?”

“The girls are required to wear them. They’re some sort of plastic covering over the nipples.  It’s a health department requirement or some bullshit. Who knows why?”

Dad pulled out his wallet.

“Will twenty do?”

          “Yea, Dad, sure.”

“You’re sure?”

          “Yea, great. Thank you.”

He handed me thirty and poured another drink.

“Wanna drink?”

          “Sure.” I said.

We sat there drinking in silence and all I could think about was peeling nipples, body odor and pasties. If that’s what I had to look forward to when I turned twenty-one then I would have to find some different coming of age hobbies. Thirty bucks and a table dance. That’s more than I got from Mom that year. She liked to say that she was combining my birthday and Christmas gift as one but only shell out for one.  

There was another knock at the door. This time a man entered. His smile was effortless at first and he had the same oily hair as Margaret.

“Jimmy!  How the fuck are ya man?”  Dad said.

          “I’ve been better.”  Said Jimmy.

“What can I do ya for.”

          “Well, I need the usual.”  Said Jimmy.

“You and your goddamn special orders.”

          “Well, this order will be more special than any other.” He said.

Jimmy scratched at his forearms, first the left and then the right. Wrapping the routine up with behind the ear and an awkward smile..

“Well, spit it out  goddamn it. Shit. I’m having some birthday time with my son here.”

Jimmy looked at me without a smile. “Hey, kid.”

          “Yeah, okay man. Listen, I can’t pay until tomorrow.” 

“What is it with you goddamn crackheads today?  You know I don’t do credit.”

          “Well, you did it for Margaret and she’s a hell of a lot more flakey than I am.  Come on man!”

“That fucking bitch.” Dad stood, ran to the door and opened it. He looked down both ends of the hallway. Then he shouted, “Bitch!” and slammed the door.

He shook his head on his way back to his desk, mirror and booze.

“Jimmy,  you’re lucky I’m in a pretty good mood. I’ll do it this time but if you fuck me I’ll find you and cut youyr nuts off.  You got it?”

          “Yeah, man, straight up. No bullshit, Randall. I won’t go wrong with you man.  Honest.”

Dad handed Jimmy a small baggie.

      “I’ll be back man.  I really appreciate this. I really do.”

“Yea, yea alright.  Now give me some time with my son, will ya?”

Jimmy turned away and was gone in three steps.

I looked over at my dad.

          “You know, you could have had him give you a table dance.”

He erupted with laughter.

“Shit.” He said. “That’s pretty funny. You get that from your old man ya know, the funny?”

I quietly hoped that’s all I got from him. He opened a new bottle of Bacardi

“Want another one?”  He asked.

          “Nah. I’m good.  I really need to be going. I’m meeting up with friends tonight.”

“Alright, well suit yourself.”  He said. “More for me!”

I walked toward the door and opened it.

“Hey son.”

          “Yes, Dad?”

“Happy Birthday, son.”

          “Yea, thanks.  Appreciate the cash.”

“Well,” He said.  “I figured you’d like the tits a whole lot more but that’s just me.”

          “Eh, I did. I did.  Don’t drink too much huh?”

“I can look after myself.”   He slurred. “Now get outta here and go have some fun.”

          “Alright, see you later.”

He held his glass up.

“Cheers.”  

I stepped out into the hall and shut the door. Well that wasn’t so bad I thought. I turn eighteen, see some nasty tits, get thirty bucks, and have an adult beverage with the old man.  That beats the hell out of my twelfth birthday when Dad had a shootout on the expressway at seventy miles per hour. 

Thirty bucks and a table dance.  Things were beginning to look up as I took the elevator down.