Bad Girl Gone Good

By: N. Franko

“I hate fish sticks,” he said, rubbing sleep out of his eyes.

“What? Since when? You used to love fish sticks.”

“I also used to be ten years old. I’ll just eat at work.”

“Suit yourself,” I said. I sat down at on the couch and pulled my laptop close. I still had a few minutes before I needed to leave for work. Yes, I had a job besides petty thievery. I wasn’t a complete screw up. I brought up my eLove profile and saw that Bill was offline. I checked on Madison. No new message from the old guy but she got one from a Nolan Graham that caught my eye.

I didn’t recognize the guy as a stock image which was good. In fact, the profile photo looked pretty real. He was handsome with light brown hair, dark eyes smiled behind black frame glasses, and a sleeve of tattoos poked through the rolled-up sleeves of his button-down shirt. He was hot in a nerdy kind of way. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t into him. If this guy was for real, I might actually feel bad about the con.

“Hey, do you think this profile is real?” I asked Colin. You couldn’t be too careful, especially on eLove.

Colin looked at the computer screen and snickered. “Wow, some people just don’t even try anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“Abby, that’s Nolan Graham. He’s one of the founders of eLove. This guy is clearly a scammer.”

“Really?” I tried to hide my disappointment.

“Why would Nolan Graham be using his own dating site? The guy is a millionaire. I’m sure he’s swimming in a pool full of women. Literally.”

“Don’t be gross, Colin,” I said. “Maybe he built the site because he can’t get a date. Nerds are supposed to be bad at getting dates, right?”

“Don’t be so judgey, Abby. It’s the twenty-first century. Nerds are the rock stars of our generation,” he said.

“Well if that’s the case, maybe he’d like to share some of that money with us,” I said and typed a message back.

“Be careful, Abby.”

“Don’t worry, little brother. I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m great at sniffing out scammers. Besides, if it really is this Nolan Graham person, we’re in for a massive pay day.”

Colin rolled his eyes as he flopped down beside me on the couch. He watched as I typed.

Madison: Hey hottie :)

Like I said, I’m not just a semi-professional online scammer. I have a glamorous job as a waitress at Patty Cake’s, the most glamorous strip club in the city. Cue laughter here. By glamorous I clearly mean the dirtiest, grungiest, grossest place you’ve ever been to. The dark, red walls were covered in a weird film but from what, no one knew. The floors were always sticky, which was dangerous for the dancers who wore sky-high platforms and the place always had a musty, old, dirty man smell mixed with greasy fries and alcohol. It was not one of the high-class places like The Brass Rail or House of Lancaster.

Being a waitress at a place like this was one giant eye roll after another. This is where I learned that men will do just about anything for a pretty face. All I had to do was lean over a little, angling my cleavage ever so slightly and whatever poor schlep I was serving could say goodbye to their money. Of course, I could never compete with the dancers—nor did I want to—but I made good money in tips for someone clothed.

Patty Cake’s was owned and operated by Pat "Patty" Fontaine, the biggest, loudest, most androgynous drag queen in the city. No one is really sure if Pat was born Patrick or Patricia, but the six-foot-four linebacker build was a good sign that is was Patrick. Still, it wasn’t so cut and dry sometimes.

Pat was a chameleon. Some days, he’d don a business suit, put on his “big man voice” and fit right into a group of college douche bags who were probably very nice young men when they were at school, but turned into utter assholes when they were liquored up and facing a beautiful woman dancing on a stage. When these guys showed up, Patrick would make an appearance, just in case the rowdy men misunderstood that no means no.

Some days, Patricia would greet you and offer you the best seat in the house if you stayed for her rendition of Supermodel. Most days though, Pat was just Pat—bald head but vivid makeup against dark skin. His makeup skills could rival the dancer’s. Jeans and a t-shirt were the canvas for his large rings and jewelry he wore.

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