More than Exist(4)

By: Bethany Lopez

I pulled myself up quickly, turning in time to see a figure turn left about a block away. Without a thought, I jumped to my feet and took off after the purse-snatcher. I’d run track when I was younger, and until the accident, had kept it up. So, even though I was slightly inebriated, I was able to gain ground quickly. I turned the corner in time to see the figure open a door and bolt inside, my purse swinging as the door shut behind him.

I made it to the door, my breathing slightly uneven, and pulled it open without bothering to check where I was. As I hurried in, the smell of stale smoke hit me in the face while my eyes tried to adjust to the room. Music began to filter in my brain, and I became full aware of my surroundings, and the fact that there were half-naked women dancing on stages throughout the room.

I surveyed the large area, and saw my purse being handed from one man to another at the end of the bar. I hurried forward, careful not to touch anyone, or anything, as I moved through the room.

“Hey!” I shouted when I got closer. “That’s my purse.”

The men turned to look at me, then the tall, bigger man turned to the one who’d apparently took my purse and pushed me down, and said something that I couldn’t hear. Then the snatcher walked into the back room and out of my sight.

I walked up to the big man, who was holding my purse in a vise-like grip, and said, “That’s mine. That man stole it from me.”

Big and tall didn’t say anything; he just moved his beady eyes along the length of my body, then gave me a creepy smirk.

“I think you’re mistaken.”

I gasped, unable to believe this was happening.

“You can’t be serious,” I argued. “That man just stole that purse from me, about a block away, and I followed him in here. Look inside, you’ll find my driver’s license.”

“Seems like a case of your word against his,” Beady Eyes countered.

I put my hands to my hips, my temper starting to take the place of any fear I’d been feeling.

“Hand it over, and I’ll prove it’s mine.”

“The purse is in my possession, therefore it’s mine. But, if you want it, I have a way for you to earn it back.”

“I repeat … You can’t be serious,” I reply, practically shouting. “I’ll just leave, go to the cops, and bring them back here.”

Big and Tall’s face hardened. “And do you actually think the purse, and all its contents, will still be here when you and the cops get back?”


“What do you want me to do?” I ask, against my better judgment.

“Come with me,” he replied, then turned and walked into the back.

Helpless to do anything else, I followed him into a room filled with mirrors, chairs, and costumes. There were half-naked women everywhere, and I had to keep my focus on him, to stop myself from gawking.

“Ginger!” he bellowed, startling me and causing me to skid to a stop.

A pixie-like girl came rushing over, clad in only a G-string and pasties.

“Yeah, Big Mike,” Ginger said, her voice sounding like tinkling bells.

Seriously, she was the most adorable thing I’d ever seen. Well … minus the pasties. She had long red hair, and the tiniest body. She was like a real-life fairy.

“Take…” Big Mike turned to me, and I realized he was pausing for my name.

“Belle,” I responded.

“Take, Belle, here and doll her up; she’s working with us tonight.”

His words sunk in like syrup on a pancake, and when my brain was saturated, I turned to him, my mouth agape.

“No, I’m not.”

“Not on the stage,” Big Mike replied, and the knots in my stomach loosened. “Just a couple lap dances.”

The knots knotted back up.

“I’m not giving lap dances.” I was sure my face was red, and about to explode.

“Look, sugar,” he began.

“It’s Belle,” I reminded him through clenched teeth.

“I got something you want, and I have a need that needs to be filled. You fill that need, and I’ll give you what you want. Capiche?”

“But…” I stuttered.

“Can’t you dance?” Ginger asked in her singsong voice.

“Yes, I can dance,” I responded without thinking. I’d taken lessons religiously as a kid, and had actually met Ricky at a club. We’d danced the night away.

“Perfect,” Big Mike replied, with a scary grin. “I got clients who will pay top dollar for a girl like you. Someone obviously untouched.”

“Untouched?” I asked. “I’m not a virgin. I’m in my thirties, for crying out loud. I have a husband.”

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