THE MAN FROM AVIS
by Leslie Crate
One year, deep into my pretend university career, federal funding came up empty handed. I found out I was getting exactly nothing from them to pay my rent and buy my food. My mum had made too much money. Again. And Lord knew, I wasn’t going to see any of that cash. I had to do the unthinkable. I had to get a job.
I hit the want ads. Between offers for assembling products at home and delivering flyers, I saw a little ad that caught my eye.
No Experience Necessary
Great pay, great hours.
Well! There was an idea. I liked great pay. I liked great hours. I liked no experience necessary, and I kind of liked exotic. The man on the phone told me he’d put me up on stage if I showed up the next day. I had to bring my own CD’s.
The Club was way the hell down Bank St. Dressed, and coiffed and scrubbed, CD’s in hand, I took the bus down, down, down the longest road in town. The last stop on the bus stopped in the 3000’s. The street address of the club was in the 5000’s. You think the guy would have warned me they were so far away. I guess everybody is supposed to drive a car these days. I stopped into an Avis Car Rental joint, to call the club and let them know I was going to be late, and I asked the girl behind the desk if there were any other busses going my way. No. So with a sigh, I walked out of the Avis office, and started trudging down the gravel side of the road, in the bright September sun, wobbling on my five-inch platform heels.
A few moments later, a car pulled up beside me. There was a man inside. He offered me a ride.
“I’m from the Avis office,” he said, “and we’re supposed to give people rides.”
Was I so naïve that I thought this guy had given me a lift out of the goodness of his heart? When I was wearing come-get-me-tiger heels and a belly shirt? No, but giving the man from Avis a quick once over assured me I’d have no trouble out of this one. He looked about as tough as a week old banana. And who could blame the guy for trying? I was dolled up for midnight at two in the afternoon.
I got in. He asked me where we were headed and I told him the strip club way down Bank St. I could tell he was dying to ask if I was a stripper, so I explained it was my first day, that I was a university student who the government had left high and dry.
“You’re the girl who has to be a dancer so she can get through college, like on TV?” he said.
I agreed it was pretty funny. I don’t know how we got on the topic of nipple piercings, but we did, so I told him about mine. The remainder of the ride involved him asking to see them, and then apologizing, and then asking again.
“Let me see ‘em?” he said.
I laughed, and he let out a nervous titter in response.
“Ha, ha. Just kidding,” he said.
There was a long and pregnant pause in the car.
“No, really, can I?” he said finally, and he immediately shook his head. “No, of course, not really. Ha, ha.”
The whole stripper plan started to sour as I listened to this guy. He wasn’t scary. He was just a paunchy guy in a rental car, who probably had a paunchy wife and some paunchy kids in a house with a yard in the ‘burbs. But the puppy dog who just peed on the rug look in his eyes, his sweating hands on the wheel gave me a flash-forward of every poor jerk I was going to have to pretend to like to make a buck at the strip joint. This guy was every guy I was going to have to convince was somehow special.
I couldn’t do it. I just didn’t have a peeler’s soul.
He’d ruined the exotic in exotic dancer so completely, that by the time I got to the club, I didn’t want to be a stripper anymore. I still had to pretend to go in, until he went away, and I could hitch another ride back to town.
Back to the want ads.
Leslie is an emerging writer of the horrible and the bizarre from Canada. She works as a line cook by night, and a writer even later at night. After a hard day of yelling obscenities at co-workers and freaking out her boyfriend with morbid tales, she likes to greet the dawn with steak and Jagermeister. It's a strange life, but who's complaining?