Short story by Michael Botur
- FIVE HUNDRED BUCKS PER COCK PER NIGHT
It was close to pack-up time on the building site when Goose took his sweat-blackened shirt off and poured mineral water on his hard chest. The water ran through the deep cleft between the big fella’s pectoral muscles. Johnny T took the phone call away from his ear while he stared his friend up and down.
‘Holy Jesus, Goose, you’re built like the fuckin Terminator,’ JT said. ‘Anyone ever tell you that?’
‘Anyone ever tell you you could be a stripper?’
Goose crumpled the empty water bottle and threw it forty metres toward the dumpster. ‘Wife.’
Johnny’s ex began to shriek and he ended the call. ‘That could be us, all of us. Strippendales, bro, I’m serious, that’s us. The amounta money I owe peeps… Not worth thinkin about. We should do some night-time shit. I got child support on my ass, know what I’m sayin? I’m about twenty payments behind.’
‘Sorted,’ Goose said, his voice like a dropped fence post. He checked the time on his phone. ‘It’s four.’
Goose drove the boys from the building site to daycare. They walked up to Lollipoppa’s, JT strutting so that he wouldn’t get caught walking faggy if Miss Michelle happened to be looking out the window as the boys approached. Goose extended his arm over the gate. Jojo saw Goose block out the sun, rushed toward the gate and climbed her dad’s arm. Jojo was mostly schoolbag with a little bit of girl.
Kayla saw her dad’s huge white moneymaking grin and fetched her bag and shuffled over to her dad with hands covered in glitter-glue. JT squeezed Kay-kay and sniffed her shampooey hair and she allowed the hug and allowed the pickup but didn’t hug back. Daddy picking her up was a treat, not something she should get used to. He didn’t even see her most weeks. He spent a lot of nights fighting with Kayla’s skank-ho mum Justice, exchanging a hundred messages, pacing the living room. So what if JT had a little pop-up gigolo advert? How was he supposed to pay child support if he didn’t bring the income in?
Miss Michelle guided little Kayzy-wayzy out of the gate and said Kayla had had a banana-tacular day, whatever the fuck that meant. Finally she crouched and hugged the girl and they smooched each other’s cheeks and giggled.
‘Got some of that for me?’ JT said, winking.
Goose’s hand clamped down on JT’s shoulder. All the way back to the truck JT talked about becoming more than just a weekend fuckboy. He oughta become a proper actual legit stripper with mean abs. He passed Kay from one sore arm to the other and explained his plan to his friend. JT wouldn’t be the only stripper, it’d be all the boys, and they could learn about properly entertaining the ladies, like tantric styles. Maybe if he got some serious panache goin on, he’d get a chance to tittyfuck Miss Michelle. JT checked Kay-kay’s seatbelt was secure and gave her a quick kiss and shut her door. By the time they were strapped in and cruising past the subdivisions built for rich poofs, JT was doing the accounting.
‘See, we could get five hundred bucks per cock per night, five hundy times three, that’s, um, that’s like one-five, Goose. You seen that Facebook page for TJ The Gigolo. TJ is actually me, didja know. Thas actually my alter ego. I been gigolo-ing. Confession time.’
‘Real?’ Goose said, and scratched his jaw.
‘I’m tellin you from experience, we could do, like, Magic Mike type shit at daycare. Get into the single mums market. You reckon Miss Michelle’d want a piece?’
‘I’ve got some fatass child support payments to keep up with eh,’ JT whistled, leaning out the window to check out two mums in caps walking prams. ‘Goose, bro, it’s my ex is the problem. She is one greeeeeedy ho. Seriously, she wants two hundy a week, man. And you’re in the hole eighteen thousand bucks from your truck.’
‘Let’s go see Mish. He can be Strippendale Three.’
They slowed, pulled into The Mission’s house, hopped out and trudged up the gravel driveway. ‘Why can’t this guy pave his driveway with fuckin’ concrete like a ordinary dude? Dude’s been studying business for, what, six years now? Imagine the student loan on ’im. That ain’t no business acumen.’
The girls followed their big daddies inside The Mission’s converted sleepout office and immediately sat on two wicker chairs and started looking for pictures of toys in Mish’s magazines.
The Mission – balding, with silver chest hair and an expensive shirt and carefully cultivated stubble – removed his spectacles dramatically as he pushed back his office chair and welcomed his friends.
‘Girls,’ Mish said, ‘Lauren’s inside the house if you wanna go play with her.’ The girls ran to find their little friend. Mish took his glasses off, ready to discuss business, cricked his stiff muscles, making a big deal out of putting down his yellow pencil with a pink rubber on the end. ‘So what can I do for you gentlemen?’
‘Y’know your average person says Wassup, Mish.’
‘Average people are of average intelligence,’ Mish said, leaning back and pairing his fingers like a chess grandmaster. ‘If you want to be proud of being average, hey: who am I to stop you.’
‘Dude, me and the big fella here came to tell ya bout a project,’ JT went, leaning forward and arcing his fingers in the sky. ‘Here’s the pitch: Strippendales.’
‘One word does not a business plan make, Joseph Timothy.’
‘We’ll be strippers, yo. Pay our fuckin child support off, right?’ JT flashed his hypnotic teeth. ‘Get some serious pudenda. Three of us. Power trio. Eh? Need your approval here, Mish. That a awesome plan or what?’
Mish chewed the end of a pencil. ‘A male strip revue, okay, I’m seeing it, I’m seeing it.’ Mish looked to the ceiling. God gave Mish insight, sometimes. ‘Forecast revenue, whoooo, let me think: I’m seeing five hundred per person per night, 120 thousand per annum between the four of us… .’
‘The strength implicit in a quadrilateral is important, from a marketing perspective. Don’t worry. I have a gentleman in mind.’
- THE NATION’S PREMIER EROTIC PERFORMANCE TROUPE
Gramps was on the door at Meatworks, shooing away 17 year olds and stamping students’ hands, standing stiffly under the heat lamps, stopping fights with his eyebrows. Meatworks was the gay club where Gramps worked security on weeknights. Weekends, he helped take care of his grandchildren because one of the conditions of Gramps’s daughter’s parole was that her family had to take the kids. Gramps had a platinum wig and sunglasses. He was the oldest roadie-slash-bouncer in town. He’d done every segment of showbiz at some point – booking, plastering posters, lighting, and even a couple months as a dancer for MC Hammer. Gramps knew to go with the flow. Every gig paid for toys for his little granddaughter. God knew her mum didn’t do shit for the little lassie.
Gramps raised a palm to halt the line of sweaty drunk guys while he dealt with his friends.
‘Gramps, bro,’ JT began, flapping his salesman hands, ‘This is your last night working for sixteen bucks fifty an hour. Know why? Tonight’s the night you just got inducted into the nation’s premier erotic performance troupe: The Sensation. That’s what we’re called.’
Gramps lit a smoke and sucked it in. He wasn’t fazed. ‘Thirty percent goes my way. Thirty percent’s a quarter of the 120 percent I’m going to boost your stupid-arse idea. Got that, JT? And you’re almost there with the name. Needs a tweak. The Stirring Sensation. That’s us.’
‘Mean,’ said Goose.
Mish shook his head. ‘Hold up.’ Mish unlocked his phone and opened a spreadsheet app and waved it in Gramps’s face. ‘Expenses. We’ll obviously require a van – wrapped with signage, of course. Website; massages. A vocal coach.’
‘Nah, sall good,’ Gramps explained, ‘Watch and learn, young pup. IDIOTS! LISTEN UP!’ The queue of young men in distressed jeans and white shirts craned their necks to listen to the bouncer. ‘We are That Tingling Sensation and we do strip revues. Who wants to book us?’
A man in front with a cocky smile folded his arms. ‘The Tingling Occasion?’
The boys in line started giggling, elbowing, whispering. Somebody blew up a condom balloon and batted it toward the performers.
Gramps squeezed JT’s shoulder. ‘Get your skinny arse on stage. It’s YMCA or the Macarena.’
JT looked panicked. ‘‘I’m – I’m not even dressed.’
Mish winked at his friend. ‘That’s the plan.’
Big Goose put a hand around JT’s throat and a hand under JT’s butt and lifted him like a four year old with a dirty nappy onto the stage. Somewhere in the blue and black corners of the club, a DJ turned down the track he was playing and let just a tiny bit of drum machine play beneath Gramps’s voice. A hundred diamond ear studs turned towards the stage where Gramps stood in front of three frightened men.
‘We are That Tingling Sensation – and we don’t perform til everybody’s got a drink in their hand. MAKE IT HAPPEN YOU CUNTS!’
Dozens of men squeezed around the bar, got drinks, crowded the stage.
‘Boys,’ Gramps growled through gritted teeth, ‘Fan out.’ Goose went to the side of the stage and undid his buttons. His pectoral muscles seemed to push the shirt away from his body. Everybody whooped. The Mission undid the top four buttons of his shirt, let a little bit of chest hair spill out. Someone whooped. Someone threw cigarettes and coins on the stage. JT picked up the coins. Mish revealed a hint of muscled shoulder.
‘MY GREAT NIECE HAS GOT HER FOURTH BIRTHDAY PARTY ON LABOUR DAY,’ Gramps yelled at Mish. ‘WE CAN DO A THING AT THE PARTY. NEXT GIG. JUST GOTTA ACE TONIGHT’S ONE.’
By the time they looked over at JT, he was already naked, helicoptering his dick in circles as the saxophones blared DRRRRRRRN, DRN DRN, DRRRRRRRN, DRN DRN, and JT was seizing his cock and balls, pointing the package at the crowd and hopping on his tip-toes to the edge of the stage, following where his penis led him.
The intro ended and the words began, and Gramps’s mouth was the first to open.
‘YOUNG MAN! THERE’S NO NEED TO FEEL DOWN.’
‘I SAID YOUNG MAN! PICK YOURSELF OFF THE GROUND, I SAID
‘YOUNG MAN! CAUSE YOU’RE IN A NEW TOWN, THERE’S NO –
‘NEED! TO! BE! UN-HAP-PY!’
JT’s eyes darted around the stage, checking each of the four guys was working hard, taking in the steam, the violet and green lights, Gramps’s hips darting at the audience like rattlesnakes, The Mission whipping his head into stylish poses, and Goose stomping the stage, keeping the beat.
That’s the first 2000 words.
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