The strip show paraded out the regulars and a few of the new dancers. Lein was only moderately impressed. Ronnie was about to receive his promised bloody nose. He had hoped that more would come from the night. He would’ve been happier with a fifth of Jack and a nameless blonde. He was tempted to grab his drink and haul ass over to the other side and at least get something for his birthday. One of the new dancers, Peppermint Onyx, left the stage with greenbacks sticking out of her G-string; the Axers had provided most of it.
Ronnie clapped Lein on the shoulder and smiled. “This is one of your surprises, bro, happy birthday, man.”
Lein didn’t understand, but soon he would. The stage dimmed and the emcee’s voice screamed out from the curtained backstage, “This next little girl looks nice, but she’s very, very naughty. Gentlemen, get ready to experience some WILD INNOCENCE!”
A hard driving song began to fill the club. Lein was shocked to hear his own voice booming from the sound system, singing a tune Robb had written for Hard Axe’s debut album. The stage remained dark, and at first, Lein saw nothing. After a moment, he saw emerging white. He first thought the approaching color was a costume veil, but quickly realized it was actually a long fall of pale hair attached to the head of a girl so beautiful, it was almost painful to look at her.
Wild Innocence definitely looked everything but innocent. Her costume was made up of a see-through snow-white gauze duster over a black leather corset with under wire cups and a zip front. The corset was cinched tightly and hugged her body like a python. A matching G-string and fishnet thigh-high stockings completed the skimpy getup.
She stood absolutely still, as if contemplating her next move. In reality, Perion was petrified, and somewhat embarrassed. She hadn’t wanted to dance to a Hard Axe tune, but there had been no time to change the music. It was true she was a fan, but she was no ass kisser. Perion also had to fight to maintain her usual poker face.
After slowly regaining her composure, Perion leaped gracefully into the air and grasped the pole from the top and slid down the length of it until her backside hit the floor. The crowd roared. She closed her eyes [so as not to make direct eye contact with any of the Axers] and smiled, then arched her back seductively, as if the pole were an intimate lover pleasuring her immensely. She sat up slowly and began sliding back up, running her full red lips along the slick surface of the pole. More roars ensued, and the audience began holding up bills for her to take. However, she didn’t approach. She remained aloof. Lein watched the girl intensely. His brother and band mates were half drunk by then and yelling for her to ‘take it all fucking off.’ They weren’t alone. The entire bar was literally frantic over the dancer. He almost felt protective toward this girl. He wanted to punch everybody out to shut them up. She was, after all, a person.
Again, she smiled and walked away toward the curtain. With sudden, dramatic movements, she jerked the duster open and let it slide down off her body. It drifted down to her feet with fluid grace. She stepped away from the garment, facing the audience, and ran her hands along her body. Her breasts were straining desperately against the top half of the corset. If she didn’t release them from confinement shortly, they’d simply explode from the cinched prison and be freed. Lein absolutely couldn’t wait for that moment.
The guys holding up money began throwing it on the stage, but she didn’t move to pick it up. Lein quickly turned his attention away from the money she chose to refuse, and turned it back toward her as she began unzipping the corset, never missing a beat of the dance. Once unzipped, she jerked the getup open and flung it to the floor. Her full, round breasts were finally revealed. She ran her hands over them, stimulating the nipples, stimulating the men watching her [Lein included].
Her pale hair flew about her wildly as she twirled around like a prima ballerina. She stopped twirling abruptly and leaped to the spot on stage where she had left the duster. All that remained was her G-string and fishnets, but she wasn’t quite finished. She danced with the duster held in both hands poised over her head. She went into a wild, gypsy-like routine, never eyeing the audience directly.
Lein had never felt more like a voyeur. He wanted to get up and leave the room, but was unable. It was as if he were held into place by an alien force. At times, she came close enough for him to nearly touch her, but when he tried to get her attention, she turned her back and went to another spot on the stage. He had never seen anyone who danced so wildly, aloof, and without focus, but with so much undaunted talent. The men kept offering the girl money, but she continued to keep her distance. Lein had the distinct impression that she’d rather be anywhere than where she was.
Perion dropped the duster and approached the pole again. Facing the audience, she leaned her backside against the pole and spread her legs. She was extremely aware of Lein Blake directly below her, but she kept her eyes focused on a wall clock at the back of the club. She bent over, allowing her hair to fall into her face [again, so she wouldn’t have to look at Lein in the eye], and rolled her stockings down with very bright red fingernails. After they were off, she skipped toward the curtain again, with the stockings trailing behind her like party streamers.
Lein was flabbergasted. While she had been leaned down, he had tried to say something to her, but she blatantly ignored him. He couldn’t even offer her a dollar. He was too entranced to reach for money. She remained on stage, enticing the audience more and more. She took no money, nor did she tease the men offering it, nor did she hop off stage to approach the Axers like all the others had. She simply danced her dance and desperately tried to hide her breasts underneath her hair. Most of the men in the audience thought her shyness were an act, that’s why they loved her so much. But Lein didn’t think it was an act at all, he thought she was really like that. He could tell by looking into her face. He was so intrigued that he decided he had to meet this girl.
Perion separated the curtains and stepped behind them. With her breasts shielded behind the heavy material, she turned toward the audience [again, never looking at anyone directly] and waved at them saucily, blowing kisses.
As soon as she left the stage, Lein wanted to go after her, but his friends didn’t want him to leave the table. They were busily helping him celebrate his birthday and didn’t want him to disappear, even for five minutes. He decided to wait for them to get drunk enough where they wouldn’t care if he left or stayed. Lein hoped she wouldn’t leave the club before he had a chance to talk to her.
Perion fled backstage and into the dressing room she shared with the others.
“Thorn, what the hell was that out there? Don’t you know you’re supposed to go out in the audience and get the fucking tips? I would have expected it from a newbie, but hell, you’ve been here two years.”
She turned to face the boss, a burly man with a neatly trimmed beard and long dark hair pulled into a ponytail. He favored wearing tailored suits, and closely resembled a reject from the Hell’s Angels.
Crazily, she felt like screaming: ‘Kiss mah grits!’ Instead she spat, “I did what I always do.”
“The hell you did! I didn’t see you take any goddamned tip money, and there’s a bunch of big spenders out in the audience. A couple of the girls made about nine hundred in tips from those guys alone! What did you get? Nothing!”
“Those big spenders out there are in a band she particularly admires. She couldn’t take their money without freaking out. Lay off, New,” Sonia, a.k.a. ‘Daisie Buzzsaw,’ defended. Sonia was Perion’s only dancer friend. The others hated her; they thought she was a prude.
“If she pulls another stunt like this, she’ll be freaking out in the damned streets. Now, get your shit together. You got a private gig to do in a few minutes.” He stormed out of the room.
“He doesn’t mean it about firing you,” Sonia said.
“I don’t care if he does, I was extremely embarrassed. I had to dance in front of Hard Axe tonight, and they’re my idols. They’re probably out there right now, getting their money back because I did such a shitty job. I hope they never come back, I don’t think I could do it again.” She silently began twisting her hair into a solid rope. “If I didn’t have this other dance to do, I’d be out of here. I just hope I can do it.”
“You can. Just remember, you’re a performer.”
Perion sighed doubtfully. “Yeah, right.”
Lein, still dazed over the vision that had danced before him, watched as a bearded gent leaned down and whispered something to Ronnie. After a few seconds, he walked away.
Ronnie smiled and glanced at Lein. “Hey bro, you’re about to get your second surprise.” He stood. “Come on, let’s go.”
Lein stood as well. “Look, Ron, I’d rather go find that girl-”
“Go on, Lee, you don’t want to miss this one,” Robb chided.
Reluctantly, Lein left the table and followed Ronnie to the dimly lit area where the Thumpers did their thing. Lein groaned a little. “Ronnie, really, I’d rather go-”
Ronnie laughed. “Yeah, I know. You wanna find the girl. Just sit down. You’ve found her.”
Ronnie dragged his resistant brother into a tiny room with only a few pieces of furniture inside. He clapped his hand on Lein’s shoulder and forced him to sit down in a large wicker chair designed to look like a throne. The room was obviously used for special occasions.
“Yell if you can’t walk out, dude.” With that, Ronnie left the room laughing hysterically.
The dim lights in the room totally went out, and Lein was surrounded by darkness. He began looking around the room, trying to see what was about to happen. Soft music began to play in the background, and a vaguely familiar looking feminine hand lit a candle nearby. When the flame took, Lein drew in a soft gasp of surprise, as did the girl in the room with him. It was the Wild Innocence dancer.
She was dressed in a periwinkle bra and matching bikini. Her flowing hair was pinned to her head in some type of roll hairdo. Her uninhibited beauty again struck him. He blinked stupidly. He was about to be dry fucked by his vision.
“Oh shit, it is you,” she whispered. “I-I’m sorry. I can’t.”
She fled the room, high heels clicking. He stood up, determined to go after her. When the door slammed behind her, he found that it had locked automatically. He laid his forehead against the door for a moment. If only she had waited a few more seconds....
Lein remained in the room long enough to make everyone think she’d done the dance. He didn’t want her to get fired because of him. Ronnie and the others were very drunk by then, and didn’t bother asking how it went. Since they were appropriately sloshed enough not to miss him, he made his way from the table again.
He walked toward the restrooms, knowing another door to the backstage was a few short feet beyond. He wanted to see the girl again and at least talk to her. The entryway door to the backstage stood wide open. Paranoid, Lein looked around to make sure no one was watching him. He still felt like a punching bag. He found himself looking repeatedly over his shoulder just to see if some big beefy guy would grab him by the scruff of his neck and throw his ass out.
Lein entered the backstage area and found the dancers’ dressing room. Some of the girls were lined up at small vanity stations, removing make up. He found a vanity station with a vinyl-backed chair parked in front of it that had Wild Innocence stenciled on the back. To his utter amazement, he saw that there was a small photo of Hard Axe taped up in the corner of the mirror. The girl was definitely a fan. She hadn’t danced to a Hard Axe tune simply because she knew they were in the audience. Maybe that’s why she didn’t look at me directly in the face, and why she ran like that, he thought. Maybe she was too embarrassed. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see her anywhere in the room.
Athena Passion, one of the Thumpers, approached him. She was an exotic beauty, but compared to Wild Innocence, she looked sort of like dog shit. She smiled at him warmly. “I noticed you watching the show. Did you like it?”
Lein nodded. “Yeah, sure, I always like it. Do you think you could possibly tell me where the one named Wild Innocence went?”
She seemed annoyed he would ask and rolled her eyes. “I have no earthly idea. Besides, you don’t look like a Virgin man to me. But listen, if you’re looking for company, I’m free right now.”
I’ll bet you are, he wanted to say. Instead, he replied, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m looking for a Leftie tonight, she’s the company I’d like to have.”
Athena laughed, an ugly, nasty laugh. “Oh, really now? That chick is so uptight and whiny with her gold-rimmed ass. I don’t think she’ll ever let you do a thing to her.”
“I don’t care what you think right now, okay. See ya.”
Lein made his exit from backstage. He went back to the table where his friends waited. They hadn’t even noticed he left the table.
Ronnie looked over at Lein with a big, shit-eating grin on his face. “Well, bro, did you like her?”
Lein sighed. “Hell yes. I went back to talk to her, but she’s already gone doing whatever else she does.”
“You know, a chick like that already has several boyfriends,” Frank said.
“You said it, or she may even be hooking in her spare time. I’ve heard of that happening,” Robb chimed from the depths of his drunken soul.
Lein shook his head. “She may have a boyfriend or three, but I think I can safely say she isn’t a hooker. I just know she isn’t.”
“Oh, so you’re psychic now,” Ronnie spat, laughing. “Hey, but it was worth the time. I’d come again tomorrow if we didn’t have that rehearsal schedule to stick to. Forget her, Lein, you’ll probably never see her again. She might have been a loan from one of the strip joints across the waters, like in France, maybe. She looks kinda Swedish.”
Lein rolled his eyes. His brother could really talk nonsense and bullshit when he had a few belts in his system. “I don’t think I can forget her. I just want to meet her and talk to her awhile. If things move on from there, hey, I’m game.”
“Ronnie’s right, Lein, forget her. Once we hit the road, there’ll be plenty of chicks willing to do what we want them to,” Frank told him.
Lein said nothing. He simply sat at the table with his friends and drank a few more shots of whiskey. He wouldn’t forget her. There was no way he could. He’d come back to the club until he could talk to her.