After the miscarriage and concussion in Quebec City, my agent had arranged for me to recuperate at my favorite hotel in Toronto, the Warwick. A friend of mine sang there in the afternoons and it would be good to get caught up with Judy and tell her what had happened with Jake, my former lover, and I.
My first week at the hotel was spent mostly crying and sleeping, trying to wrap my head around losing a baby that I had only known about for a few short days. A baby that had to be shared with a man/child who covered up his selfishness with pretty lies.
The second week in Toronto, my agent sent me on a whirlwind of activities to get my mind back in the stripping game. A new hairdo, glossy painted nails, new cocktail dresses for wearing to the clubs between shows, and choreography with a dance teacher to tighten up my dance skills. Plus, promo pictures. Finally, I had pictures my agent could send to clubs when she booked me for my new featured act fees.
When I walked into the club for the first time after my new makeover, my friend, Judy barely recognized me. “Tina, your hair looks great. I like your new makeup too. Whoo- hoo, the nails? You never wore nail polish before. You really look as though this past year never happened. How are your insides?” She tapped her chest.
“Oh, it comes and goes. Judy, sometimes I feel relieved- then I feel guilty for that. Sometimes I just can’t stop crying. I guess it’ll get better.”
“Tina, I was in a really bad relationship a few years ago. I thought I was going to die without him when he broke up with me. I didn’t. Now I’ve met someone who doesn’t want to control me, doesn’t lie to me, and doesn’t live a double life. You deserve someone like that too. Keep looking.”
“It’s going to be a long time before I feel like looking again, Judy. The last two relationships have been absolutely awful. At least Jake didn’t beat me up.”
“See? Right there. That’s what made you so vulnerable to someone like Jake. Smooth talk and promises- he didn’t get violent with you and because he seemed so different from your first boyfriend you thought he was perfect.”
She had a good point.
She invited me to watch her sing at a new club in Markham that night, giving me directions by subway. I was terrible at using subways and usually couldn’t tell where I was most of the time. Something about the name Markham niggled at the back of my brain. Jake had talked about going there often, way back when I had first met him.
I went back to my hotel room and dressed in one of the lovely cocktail dresses Misty had helped me pick out. It was a black and white polka dot knee-length number with a full skirt and a halter top. It felt spectacular and I couldn’t wait to show off the new me that night.
Taking the trolley to Yonge Street I searched for the subway entrance Judy had written down and tried to figure out what train to take. When the train whistled into the station, I had a hard time figuring out which one it was and where it was going. It was all too confusing for me, and I didn’t want to get dumped out on some deserted alleyway, so I climbed back upside and hailed a cab.
Even the cabbie knew I was doing it wrong when he said, “You know the subway can get you there for $2.00, right?”
“I know, but I don’t really understand it and I’ll probably get lost.”
“Okay, then. Meter’s running.” And off he took.
Wow. $12.00 cab far. Yikes. I’d better learn the subway system or I'd be broke in no time.
The club was small and squeezed into a strip mall between a hair salon and a sporting goods store. It looked brand new, and everything was shiny and clean. Judy was getting ready for her first set of the night, and I waved to her as I found a seat at the bar.
Instead of ordering my usual 7&7 I ordered a Sidecar and toasted in my head to Sol and Jean Luc, my dear friends from Quebec City, to whom I must send a thank you card. I was lighting up a cigarette when a flame appeared at my elbow. Well, that was nice. I hadn’t been in the club for more than five minutes and already people wanted to set me on fire.
My first cigarette in two weeks and I coughed like it was a joint.
“Whoa. You know, those things will kill you, eh?” The gentleman at my elbow said.
“So I’ve been told.” I quipped. I quip a lot.
“My name’s Bill. I’m in the band after the singer. Nice to meet you?” He ended with a question, and I was confused until he prompted, “and you are?”
“Sorry. Tina. Nice to meet you too.”
“American?” He guessed.
“Yep. I don’t even say ‘eh’ right.”
“So, what are you doing so far away from home?
“Um, just here to listen to Judy sing. We’re friends.”
“Nice. Are you going to stay most of the evening, then?” He wanted to know.
“Ahh, I’m not sure. I’m going to stay for a while anyway. I spent $12.00 on a cab ride to get here. I want to get my money’s worth.”
“Where did you come from?”
“Yonge and Dundas Streets. The subway confused me, so I gave up.”
“You know there’s a subway stop right outside the door here?”
“Well, I don’t know if I want to ride a subway at night. I don’t want to get mugged.” I protested.
“What? In TO? Not gonna happen, eh.”
“Where are you from in the States?”
“Rochester. Where are you from in, uh, Canada.” I asked.
“Sudbury. Up North where the cold wind blows, eh.”
“Oh, I’ve never been there. I just got done working in Quebec City.”
“Are you a singer, then?”
To illustrate that I was most definitely not a singer I wailed out a few bars of ‘Doe a deer’.
“Okay- so you aren’t a singer, then, eh. What were you doing in Quebec City?”
“Oh, I’m going to cry. You didn’t like my singing? Well, you can leave then.” I pretended to be offended, which totally confused him. He was adorably confused and even better looking not confused.
He was only five or six inches taller than me, and stocky, with rock and roll style wild blond hair, and the biggest blue eyes I’d ever seen. He was what the girls in high school would have called cute. Very cute.
Maybe I was going to get over Jake sooner than I thought.
“I’m sorry- maybe it’s the noises around us and I didn’t hear you clearly.” He apologized.
“Hahahahaha, giggle, giggle, snort.” I laughed, hating my snort.
“You got me. Nice. Well, you can sing in my band anytime, eh.”
“Why? Do you play ‘Doe a deer’?”
“I was just about to go write the lyrics for it when you walked in.” He laughed.
I couldn’t believe this was actually fun. Talking with a man who didn’t accuse me of anything and didn’t snap at me for asking questions. I was realizing the relationship with Jake was as abusive as my previous relationship without the visible bruises. I was always teetering on insecurity with a tinge of fear when I was around him.
It also didn’t fail to connect with me that as soon as he found out our sex life was put on pause, he made no bones (pun intended) about leaving me behind.
Bill bought me another Sidecar and asked me to at least wait until after they finished their first set so he could come back and chat.
When Judy came down after her set, she plopped down next to me and lit up a cigarette, saying, “I’m going to have to quit these things. They make my voice raspy.”
“You could sing really great blues tunes with a raspy voice.” I pointed out.
She just looked at me and rolled her eyes, saying, “You don’t waste any time getting back in the saddle, do you? I saw your new admirer.”
“Not quite back in the saddle. Just in the paddock. I realized how on edge and worried I always felt with Jake. Like he was going to get mad at me for anything I said.”
“Good girl,” she patted me on my new hairdo.
“You sounded really good in here- even better than at the Warwick.”
“You think? I should hope so.”
Another Sidecar for me and a gin and tonic for Judy sailed down to us, sent by another admirer down at the other end of the bar. Being single could turn me into an alcoholic.
Bill’s band was up playing, and it was a little rough sounding, but better than a garage band. Very head-bangy and not really my favorite genre. Bill was playing the keyboard and seemed to be keeping the whole mess together. It was very loud, and my ears were popping by the time they got done.
Bill came back and sat next to me after his set and asked the uncomfortable question, “Well, what do you think?”
“Um, I thought you were going to play my favorite song.” I teased to avoid the conversation.
“Eh, right. Sorry. Forgot. Do you like our music?”
“Um, yeah. I’m sort of into old blues and show tunes. But yeah, for rock and roll that was good.”
“Yeah, I’ve been trying to convince the guys that we need a signature sound, not a copy of all the hard rock bands that are around. There are too many of them. You know?”
“Right. I know what you’re saying.” It’s important to have your own style.
“So, you aren’t a singer. What do you do?” He asked.
At least he didn’t ask me if I was a hooker, so there’s that.
“I’m a dancer. I was dancing in Quebec for a few weeks.” I told him.
“Oh, nice. Ballet?”
“A little. Jazz, Modern.” I told him without telling him anything.
He looked down at my legs and said, “I thought you might be a dancer from your legs.”
Uh, oh. Was he going to grab my thigh and ask if I wanted a sugar daddy? I was sure glad Misty had talked me out of wearing my snow boots all the time and found these dress boots. Not very useful in the snow, but they looked a heck of a lot better than my mukluks, which did not highlight my sculptured calves and slender ankles.
“Just a warning; if you grab my thighs, I’m going to put this boot up your ass.”
He immediately removed his eyes from my ankles and said, “Oh, no. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“hahahaha, giggle, giggle, snort snort. Relax, I’m kidding. I used to work at a newspaper typing ads and my boss came into a club where I was dancing one night. He grabbed my thigh and asked if I wanted a sugar daddy.”
“Oh, that must have been interesting.”
“Yep. I quit the next morning and got booked in Canada.”
“Nice. Sorry. Not a perv. Just an admirer. Honest.” He said, holding his hand up like a Boy Scout.
“Good to know. I’m kind of tired of pervs, liars, cheaters, and men who use me.” I spilled out, sharing a little more than I had planned. Damned Cognac.
“Whoa- oh- okay. Nope, not any of those. Just a normal guy here who thinks you’re very cute and would like to get to know you better.”
“Sorry. Just got out of a terrible relationship- not your fault. Really, I’m sorry. Sheesh. I should slow down on the drinks. I’m not used to it.”
Bill ordered me a ginger ale and went backstage for his next set, leaving me wondering if the scars from my two last boyfriends were going to keep me angry with the entire male species for the rest of my life.
Judy came back from her singing set and settled in next to me and noticed I’d changed from Sidecars to ginger ale and gave me a quizzical look.
“Ah, yeah. I guess my emotions are a little raw to be over-drinking. I think I just scared that poor fellow away.” I said, lighting up another cigarette and enjoying not getting sick from it.
In the background behind us, I heard a familiar voice and a shot of electricity jolted through my body from head to toe.
“Oh, my God, I missed you, Baby. I thought I’d never get back from that damned job up North, eh.”
“Jakey, I’m horny. Let’s just go back to my place. I don’t need any more to drink.” A drunken, slutty, little voice piped up.
I looked in the mirror behind the bar between the bottles and saw a bleached blond with big boobs and not enough shirt hugging my ex-asshole, Jake, and crawling all over him. Well, well, well, this just kept getting more interesting. She wasn’t pregnant, so it wasn’t his wife. He was lying to her about his whereabouts last week, so it wasn’t me.
I jabbed Judy in the ribs, “What? What? Tina, that hurt.”
“Look, I hissed. No. Don’t look. Look in the mirror.”
“Holy shit- is that…” she began.
“Yep. It sure is and that’s not his wife.” I whispered, “sounds like he’s making excuses for the week he was with me in Quebec City.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Nothing yet. I’m thinking.” Then I ordered another Sidecar and a gin and tonic for Judy. This kind of thinking needed lubrication. Lots of it. I clinked glasses with Judy and put my evil thinking cap on. So far, he hadn’t noticed me, and I was hoping it would stay that way. At least for the time being.
About the Creator
My first book, G-Is for String, is now available on Amazon! g-isforstring.com
The sequel is coming out in the fall, as is my first novel, Save One Bullet.
I've dubbed my author brand: Broken Human Books
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions