Look Don't Touch

By: Tess Oliver

I stared at him across the table. "Sometimes I wonder why the hell I keep you around."

"Who the fuck else is going to read your eulogy when they're shoving you in the ground?"

"I told you, no eulogy, no send off. Just send my remains to the nearest medical school and let them chop me into parts. Tomorrow would be a good day to start."

"Ah come on, buddy. You'll get through this. You're a fighter."

I glanced around. Some of the dancers and servers were lingering around the bar floor. "You're sitting here alone? Normally ten minutes is enough time for you to have a woman on each arm."

"That's because I'm not here for my own pleasure tonight. I'm here to support a friend," he said with a heavy dose of sarcasm. "I was in here last week though." Jack flashed his big white grin and winked across the room at a petite red head leaning against the jukebox in the back corner. She stepped in as a substitute dancer whenever Rocky needed one, but tonight, she was wearing shorts and a t-shirt that showed off the rhinestone stud in her belly button. "That night, Jade, the sweetie who looks as if she's about to dry hump the jukebox gave me a hand job in the back room." He spoke without moving his jaw, and he kept that smug smile plastered across his suntanned face. He raised his beer glass to her and took a gulp, then rested his forearms on the table and returned his attention to me. "I gave her twenty, but she insisted she would have done it for free," he boasted. "She just wanted to see if my erection was as magnificent as the rest of me. Her words. Not mine."

"So I guess she was disappointed."

Jack laughed dryly. "Considering that while she jerked me off, she was making the kind of sounds you hear from women who are getting their pussy pounded, I think not. Which reminds me, Rocky hired a new dancer. Her name is Shay. I don't know what it is about her, but I was sporting a chubby plank of wood before she even stripped off her clothes."

I took three slow gulps of beer. The beer on tap was another good reason for ignoring the trashy ambience. I lowered the glass. "And the new dancer gave you a blow job after the successful hand job?"

"Nah, she never came out on the floor. Which was probably a good thing because she left the crowd pretty damn wild. I thought they were going to start throwing chairs when she slipped off stage to the dressing room."

Jack refilled my glass to the brim. "Drink more. You look like crap. I can't remember the last time you lost a deal."

"That's because I haven't."

Jack sat back and his bearded chin shifted back and forth. "That can't be right. Never? What about that—" He stopped. "No, that's right. You got that one too. Well damn, then I guess this really is a milestone in your career."

"I think milestones are supposed to mark a good goal. Like reaching twenty million in my portfolio, which is so fucking close I can taste the flavor of cold green cash on the tip of my tongue. This deal would have eventually tipped me over to the nine figure mark." I poured myself another glass. My aim was getting worse and I spilled some on the table.

"You pathetic, rich bastard, how the hell will you survive this tragedy? Of course, I know the loss takes a bigger chunk out of your ego than your bank account. DNA and losing just don't belong together." Jack drank some beer and swallowed loudly. "I was thinking about your dad's initials. It goes right along with my theory that the man was not born. I think he was created in a cold, sterile lab by a group of misfit scientists determined to create the perfect human. But once they hatched ole DNA in the Petri dish, they decided that they'd created a monster and threw away all evidence of the experiment before letting their creation loose on the world."

I stared at him over a frothy head of beer. "I'm named David Nash Archer too. How does that jive with your brilliant theory?"

"It fits perfectly. You were sort of born in a Petri dish too. I mean, sure, your dad paid some lady to carry his spawn and drop you out nine months later, but she was acting like a beaker of sorts. And since she didn't have a name—"

"She had a name. I just never knew it." Which was only partly true because my dad had told me her name was Jane Doe. And for the first eight years of my life, I thought of her, this woman I'd never seen before but who I had always imagined as having soft skin and smelling like cookie dough, as Jane Doe. The harsh reality hit me with a good dose of humiliation when the second grade teacher in my exclusive private school asked us to write poems for our moms on Mother's Day. When I wrote mine about my imaginary cookie dough perfumed mom, Jane Doe, the teacher had a good laugh. Then she sent me to the headmaster's office for being a smart ass. I was suspended for the rest of the day. Our housekeeper picked me up from school. I waited in my room the entire afternoon, sure I was going to feel the buckle of my dad's belt once he got home. But when he discovered why I'd been sent home, he told me to Google the name Jane Doe. And while I read that the name I had etched into my brain as my mom's name turned out to be nothing more than two syllables used as a placeholder for any unidentified woman, my dad walked into his office and made one loud, angry call. The headmaster and teacher were immediately removed from their positions.

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