Look Don't TouchBy: Tess Oliver
"I don't ever get cold feet when it comes to poking pussy." I pulled my hands free and grabbed the top of her pants to push them down.
"Archer!" a rage filled voice sent me back a few steps.
The woman, whose name I'd never taken the time to discover, looked only slightly aghast. She discretely buttoned her pants and shrugged with an angry pout at George Stockton. He was still clad head to toe in his racing leathers and heavy motorcycle boots. I'd only met the man three times, but I'd never seen him quite so red in the face.
"Yes, hello, Mr. Stockton," I said quickly and buttoned my coat around the open fly on my pants. "I was just waiting for you to get off the track. Hope you had a good ride. Looked fast." I spoke quickly, and while I rambled the words out, I searched for a strategy that would somehow make him forget what he'd just witnessed. "I'm being rude." I pointed to the woman and wished to hell I'd at least asked her name. I knew her friend was Kate, but that wasn't going to help me. "This is my friend.” I let the words trail off, hoping he didn't notice that I forgot to supply a name. Turned out, I didn't need to. He supplied it for me.
"Macy," George said tersely. "My daughter."
A ball of lead formed in my stomach and my racing pulse slowed to a crawl. "Fuck," I said under my breath.
"Fuck, indeed," George repeated. He reached for his daughter's arm and led her away.
The pink and green neon signs reflected off the haze on the mirrors lining the back wall of the bar. The fake leather bar stools perched along the gritty wood floor and formica counter were sticky with grime. With the exception of the women who danced on stage, there was nothing inviting about Fantasm Strip Club. Yet, somehow, taken as a whole, the place worked. Fantasm was the epitome of a dive, right down to the dim, sporadic lighting, the thick, pungent atmosphere and the sketchy regular customers. Harvey, a massively fat, old guy, who needed two bar stools to support his weight, was already leaned over his usual corner of the bar, working on his second pitcher and hogging all the bowls of peanuts. Ruby, the bartender, had mentioned that Harvey occasionally fell asleep at the bar, and since no one could wake him or budge his giant whale-sized form, Rocky, the owner, would just let him stay like that all night.
I pushed aside the three empty whiskey shot glasses, poured myself another beer and slumped back against the hard sticky chair, my gaze only half focused on the woman wrapped around the stripper's pole. Fantasm was a place I slinked into when I wasn't in the mood to hang with snobby, self-centered people in richly decorated night clubs. No one knew me at Fantasm, and I liked it that way. It was my escape. And tonight I needed that escape more than ever.
The speakers perched on each corner of the stage were broadcasting more static than actual music. Or maybe it was the gritty noise in my head, reminding me that I was fucked. I was looking for every damn excuse in the world to make myself feel better, but as my dad had taught me, you never make excuses for failure. I'd been soft on myself, feeding my needs more than keeping my self-control. I'd spent two decades of my life under my dad's rigid iron fist. Now that I was free of it, on my own to do as I pleased, it was just too damn easy to let loose, party, fuck women and enjoy life. After I got to college, it had dawned on me that, for once in my life, I was free of Dad's harsh rules. I went fucking crazy. I was that badly shaken can of beer just waiting for someone to pull the tab so I could erupt. Temporarily forgetting that David Nash Senior was a psychotic control freak, I had naively thought I could get away with it. But I quickly discovered that he had promised the dean of students a nice lump sum for the university in exchange for the dean keeping a close watch on me. The dean called home with the news that my midterm grades were bad, and that I'd missed a lot of classes. For three weeks, I was slammed with cold silence from my dad. Then I arrived home for the winter holidays. I tromped upstairs to my room to find that all of my things were gone. Not that I had many possessions. Dad had a theory that the more stuff you owned, the stupider you got. My bed sat in the middle of an empty room, and the mattress was bare, no pillow or blanket. I spent the entire break wearing the clothes I'd flown home in. I had no computer, no books, except the textbooks in my bag. Not even a damn magazine. It gave me a lot of time to study, so, technically, the punishment worked. Except that it made me hate him even more. But after I made my first million, I realized my crazy, fucked-up old man had been right. He'd taught me that once you let life's distractions overwhelm you, the game was over. He was always hard on himself, and he was extra hard on me. But in the end, it had worked. Losing the Rad Video deal had been a wake-up call. I needed to get my focus back. I just wasn't completely sure how the hell to do that.