An Excerpt from “Girls in Rooms and Something Else”

“Are you with the guys from the Navy?”
Her skirt was so tight it might have been lipsticked on. She was wearing a man’s

suit jacket and leaned against the entrance to the bar, propping a heeled foot against
the wall. She opened her mouth to let the smoke snake out and looked over to the man on the pay-phone. His dress shirt was unbuttoned and he was pinching at the space between his eyes.

“Honey,” she spoke toward the man, “You’ve only got a few minutes of me left.” She looked at Pat and smiled. She had a gap in her two front teeth, just like Donna. “Just saw them go in.”

“How’d you know we were with them?” Dan, Pat’s brother, asked.
“Do me a favor, let em’ know now that the rooms are ten dollars a minute.”
Dan grinned and wrapped his arm around Pat and led him inside. The pick of this

place was his contribution to their brother Terry’s bachelor party. The first of the brothers to get married, they had all decided to pitch in something. Girls in Rooms was infamous for such celebrations, and Dan, being the youngest at 18, had told Pat he was more
than ready to go into many rooms with many girls.

‘What’s she talking about?” Pat asked Dan, who’d never been to the strip club before that

night.
“It’s the room part of Girls in Rooms. It’s for one on one strip dances, or at leastthat’s what they say. Keep it legal, ya know.” He winked. “This is gonna be great, man.” Breasts. That’s what the buzz was. Bouncing and falling and giving a little shake, a little

sway to the beat-box music. Men stuck to the bar like flies drowning in whiskey. The whiskey

they spilt as they tried to get to the breasts. The breasts walked by with trays of diluted drinks. The drinks kept coming and going and the women gave a little shake and stuck wads of money from outstretched hands into the lining of their skirts, in g-strings and garder belts.

“Isn’t this awesome? I hope I get picked for a room.” Dan was doing
that hopping thing when he walked, Pat noticed. Ever since he was younger, everyone knew when Dan was too excited.

“Picked?”
There was no touching outside of the rooms, that was understood. There were

tables, marked out by little red candles, where every twenty minutes you could pay to sit and sweet talk, flirt, make suggestive eyes with a pair of breasts. After that twenty minutes, only if the woman asked you, you could go into the back rooms for as long as you were willing to pay, or until she asked you to leave.

It was nine o’clock on a Friday night, and the place was already littered with loosened tie

holding empty glasses, waving single bills the air. They trickled in slowly, one or two at a time, making their way to the bar. Pat wondered if any of them had told their wives or girlfriends where they were going. Maybe they told them after, or from the pay-phone in the lobby when they needed a ride home and had already stuffed cab fare into g-strings. He wouldn’t have to call anybody tonight.

The breasts circled the bills with puckered lips and winking eyes, occasionlly swooping into let a bill or two join the dingy green plume decorating their waistlines.

 

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