The combination of heavy heat, cheap perfume, and pulsing neon lights was bound to make anyone sick. Eden, unfortunately, fell victim to the many illnesses of the strip club.
"Girls! You're up in five!" Mike shouted somewhere from the depths of the Pit.
Dancers ran around the Pit in a hurry, caking on body glitter, and tightening their outfits. Mike, the owner of the club, buzzed-about anxiously. He halted before Eden, scrutinizing her with his piercing blue eyes, and shock of blue hair.
"Eden. If you're not dancing, please make yourself useful. Please remember, you're on tip collecting duty today." Mike said sternly.
Eden nodded solemnly, and Mike ran off to find someone else to harass. Eden wasn't comfortable dancing herself, so she cleaned off tables or collected tips for the dancers.
Eden's only companion, Taylor, ran towards her. Taylor was already dressed for her dance: a fiery red ensemble with cut-outs enhancing her curves.
"How does my ass look?" Taylor asks poking her butt out. "Just kidding. Could you zip me up?"
Brushing Taylor's blonde hair aside, Eden carefully zipped her outfit up. Eden noticed Taylor's clammy skin and knew Taylor was going in over her head again. Despite Taylor's confident facade, Eden knew better. She turned Taylor around and gave her a heartfelt hug.
"You'll kill it out there. No doubt." Eden whispered fiercely into Taylor's ear.
Taylor pulled back and smiled. Peach, who had come into the Pit and watched this unfold rolled her eyes.
"Get a room, please. We're all so tired." Peach says, snapping her own lingerie ensemble into place.
"Stage-time girls. Go ahead now!" Mike whisper-shouts.
Taylor leaned in to give Eden one more hug, "Make sure you get all of my tips!" Taylor shouted.
Eden nodded and watched the girls confidently stride onstage. Eden could only dream to wish to reach that level of confidence-- to be able to march on stage in virtually nothing and be comfortable.
But Eden preferred being in the background- it was where she belonged after all.
The deep bass of the music sent vibrations throughout the stage and the Pit, and soon enough, the soft hum of the generator let Eden know the neon lights were going to go into strobe effect. This was her cue.
Staying close to the ground, Eden crawled on the stage ground. Looking out into the crowd, she saw nothing but dark figures throwing money.
Eden grabbed the wads of cash and stuffed them into bags. Eden stopped momentarily to watch Taylor perform. It wasn't mentioned, but Taylor was always the spectacle of the show.
Taylor's slender body knew exactly how to connect to the pole. With a leg wrapped around the pole, she twirled around slowly. A sensual smile curved her lips, and she quickly slammed to the bottom of the pole in a split. That was her signature move, "Tay-jump".
The crowd went wild. Wads of money were flooded her way. Eden hurried over discreetly to collect her funds. Still crouched on the stage floor, Eden collected her bills into the bag.
Something strange happened. A lone man in the audience started to hoot-- but it wasn't directed at the blonde bombshell on the pole. It was directed at Eden.
Mortified, Eden tried to collect the money quicker. Then, another man joined the men's hollering. Then another. And another. Soon enough, the whole clubs' attention was diverted to Eden, who was crawling on the floor.
Eden looked up to Taylor, who stopped dancing. All of the other dancers stopped dancing too and were visibly annoyed.
This was Eden's worst nightmare, and she was living it. A bright spotlight blinded her, and to her dismay, Mike was shining the light on her, a grin on his face.
The crowd threw money at her. Eden was genuinely confused-- why were they calling for her, when she was crawling on the dusty stage?
"They want to see you, gorgeous," Taylor says behind Eden.
Taylor lifted Eden up, and the crowd went crazy. Eden turned to Taylor uncertainty, and Taylor smiled at her encouragingly.
Eden wasn't completely sure what the audience wanted. But she knew how the minds of men worked- or at least the minds of men who came there.
Staring straight into the spotlight, Eden gave a sultry smile, before blowing a kiss. The men went crazy. Their hooting shouts were accentuated by the loud bass, as money streamed in. The lights faded, and that was it. The show was over.
The dancers retreated into the Pit, and Eden still stood there, stunned. What had she just done? Taylor jumped on her, screaming.
"YES! You just did that Eden. YOU did that!" Taylor said, shaking her.
Eden gave a shaky laugh, not convinced altogether this was something she was content with. Together, Taylor and Eden walked into the Pit.
The dancers eyed Eden with profound hatred and snatched their money bags from her. Peach came up and snatched her money bag.
"Don't think we didn't notice you on the floor poking your ass out so those guys could throw money your way. You're not a dancer. Don't act like one." Peach said crossly.
"You only feel threatened because you're not a good dancer. That's just the facts." Taylor retorted automatically.
Peach eyed Taylor with distaste and returned to her station. Mike sloped into the room, and nearly attacked Eden.
"Eden, my sweet Eden, amazing job honey! I'm not sure why they all found you goddamn hot, but I'm glad they did!" Mike said, hugging the life out of Eden.
Eden wasn't sure why the men found her so desirable either. But she didn't care-- she needed the extra money anyway.
Scrubbing down the bar table, Eden hurried to finish her work. She didn't want another second to be wasted at this club. Most of the dancers had already left, yet many of the customers prowled about to fiend on innocents.
In the back of the club, a lone man sat. Like Eden, he looked to be twenty years of age. Eden came over without introduction and began to wipe down his table.
"Thank you." The man said in a strange accent.
Eden nodded in response until she realized he was the man who started the hooting. She squinted at him.
Most of the men who came to the club were well over forty years old, and looked like... well, regular men. This man looked extremely groomed, with his brown hair combed to one side, and a clean, shaved face. Not to mention, his dress pants were pressed to perfection, and he wore a fresh, white dress shirt.
It was obvious this man wasn't from the slums of Manhattan.
"Sorry but I just wanted to say you're quite gorgeous." The man said.
Eden felt her heart flutter a little. His words sounded genuine and kind. His warm brown eyes seemed to affirm this.
"Your name?" The man asked.
Before Eden could reply, Mike and Taylor came over. Taylor squinted suspiciously at the man.
"Ay ay, stop fraternizing with the customers, and clean this up already!" Mike complained.
"She's not bothering me, sir. I was going to head out anyway. I'll be back to see you tomorrow." The man promised.
With a tip of his head, he collects his items and heads out.
Mike found an opportunity to jump Eden again: he hugged Eden, wrapping his needle-drawn arms around her neck.
"Eden, oh Eden. My money magnet. You're attracting customers! I knew you were good news!" Mike exclaims.
Eden turned excitedly to Taylor.
"Wow... that guy was so..."
"Creepy. Weird." Taylor finished.
Eden turned to watch the man exit the club in a trance-like state, "So... different."