Eden and Taylor arrived at their 8 p.m. shift early. The strip club portion was closed, yet the bar was lively and nearly full. Mike saw the duo and made a beeline.
“Eden! Taylor! I’m glad you’re here. There’s more men than usual today. Taylor, go scrub those toilets. Eden, come with me.” Mike ordered.
Taylor rolled her eyes, but made her way to the bathrooms. Eden followed Mike upstairs, and into his office.
“I’ll cut your time short sweetie. Yesterday you made quite the fuss. You know how things like that are good for business...” Mike started.
Eden nodded her head. She nearly forgot the strange moment that transpired onstage.
“Yeah, well, I think it was just a weird moment.” Eden answered shortly.
“No sweet-cakes. The men at the bar were asking about you today. Some of them have come to see you. That’s why I want to capitalize on this moment.” Mike said, ruffling in his duffel bag.
Men came to see her? Anxiety bubbled in Eden’s stomach, as Mike pulled out a magenta one- piece bathing suit. On the chest area, the logo “WOOFpals” was printed in bold, black print.
“Remember how I was talking about the business I was going to start? WOOFpals?” Mike asked.
Eden nodded, distinctly remembering the strange dog-delivery service Mike wanted her to invest in.
“Well, I need exposure, you’ll be the perfect way to do that. I want you to crawl on stage like you did yesterday, but when everyone’s attention is on you, I want you to strip into this bathing suit.” Mike explained delicately.
Eden felt her mouth go dry.
“Mike, you know I’m not comfortable with that-”
“I’ll pay you $200.” Mike cut.
Eden paused. Two hundred dollars could send her a long way.
“Fine. I’ll do it, just this once. But never again!” Eden demanded.
With a mingle of oaths and celebration, Mike strangled Eden in a hug. Eden pried his arms off her person, and walked outside to catch some air.
She was leaning against the unevenly painted brick, deep in thought, when a familiar voice startled her.
“Did I scare you?” The man asked.
It was the same, lone man from the day before. Today, he was wearing wearing a simple black t-shirt and blue jeans.
“No, you didn’t.” Eden asked, peering into his face. Something about his face was vaguely nostalgic.
“We didn’t get to properly meet yesterday. I’m Oliver.” He said, extending his hand.
“Eden,“Eden replied. They shook hands, and Oliver gazed at her.
“Eden? Like the Garden of Eden.” Oliver said, chuckling.
“Yeah, I get that comparison a lot.” Eden said. “Not as holy as the Bible puts it though.”
She gestured to the entrance of the strip club.
“Everyone’s got to do what they have to to get by.” Oliver says, shrugging.
Eden was appreciative for his attitude. She was convinced he couldn’t be from Manhattan-- it seemed as if the whole city resented her for her job.
“So, where are you from originally? I don’t recognize that accent.” Eden asked.
Oliver snapped his mouth open to reply, but at that moment, Taylor came outside.
“Eden, Mike wants you inside getting ready. Something about a bathing suit and dogs...” Taylor said.
Taylor stared at Oliver pointedly, like she expected him to leave.
“I’ll catch up with you later. Bye Eden.” Oliver said.
Eden watched as Oliver sloped about the corner, and disappeared inside. Eden turned to Taylor, and together they walked into the club.
It was show-time.