Predictably, for an older Model No. 334, she didn’t come across as exotic, more like your ordinary girl next door with brown hair, wide-set eyes, up-turned nose, and gap-toothed smile. You’ve seen prettier and shapelier at the mall — former homecoming queens and previous winners of best in show at county fairs.
In the beginning, she didn’t wear gaudy gear like stiletto heels or sexy lingerie. Instead, she went for retro-hippie-chick — headband, fringed-out faux leather vest, halter top, mini-skirt, and white cowgirl boots. Underneath, she wore pasties and satin underpants probably like your Aunt Myrna bought at Kohl’s.
We played league softball and liked to catch her act at The Landing Strip following our games. Plus, a few times a month, stressed out from work, we met there to let off steam. Tom made mortgage loans, Al practiced law, and I sold software.
She got into exotic dancing because she liked the money and enjoyed her freedom. She didn’t mind the stares, was able to shut out the obscenities, and ignored the guys who tried a finger when they slipped a dollar down her drawers. She didn’t have a boyfriend or ex-husband, wasn’t interested in other women, and had never been pregnant.
Our dancer wasn’t a professional, just a young woman from Sheboygan, Minneapolis, or Omaha, with a few good moves. Her stage name was Chanelle, but if you bought her an expensive, watered-down drink, she’d say call her Lisa, Gloria, or Cheryl. Unlike other dancers, she wasn’t all about selling twenty-dollar lap dances, not that she’d turn one down. She’d ask about your job, where you saw yourself in five years, were you even happy — stuff like that. Not many people asked.
We weren’t sure if her interest was programmed or the result of a glitch in a program. Management wasn’t saying.
Anyway, we fell in love with her that summer. Well, maybe not real love, but a fantasy kind of love. See, we were all married. Not to mention, Tom already had a kid, Al had one in the oven, and my wife and I were working on one. Unfortunately, we weren’t having much luck. She produced eggs irregularly, and my sperm floated on lazy-river rafts instead of swimming upstream.
Mid-season, Chanelle started wearing new outfits — more glitter, lacy garter belts, and see-through nylon body stockings. In the beginning, she’d been too shy to strip naked like the other women, but pressured, or re-programmed, she dropped the pasties and G-string.
On stage, she’d sometimes unscrew a nipple and allow guys to pass it around while she gyrated. We got it — the cost of living rising, she needed bigger tips. Some guys tipped extra just to stroke a nyloned calf.
About this time, we lost our first game, 21-3, to a team we’d shellacked back in the spring. We committed errors and managed only one hit among the three of us — Al’s single up the gap. Our best pitcher, Fast Eddie Metzger, couldn’t get the ball over the plate, and when he did, the other team clocked it.
We drank a lot of beer that night, and Tom bought a lap dance in the Executive Suite, spending more on our girl than he could afford. He confessed it made him feel a little guilty and kind of sad, and he worried his wife would notice the scent of Chanelle’s perfume on his shirt.
Three games into our losing streak, a league championship at stake, Al’s wife miscarried. We didn’t really talk about it because what was there to say. He dropped balls in the outfield and overthrew our second baseman, allowing unearned runs to score. Tom’s wife, suspecting him of an affair, took their kid to Madison to be nearer her sister. Left alone with rising interest rates, he fell into his worst slump ever. Frustrated, my wife and I opted for in-vitro fertilization, only to learn the procedures weren’t covered by insurance.
Next to last game of the season, this d-bag from Adel slid into third and tore my ACL. No surprise, with all our problems, the league championship eluded us.
One night, on the cusp of autumn, softball season at an end, Chanelle mounted the pole, upside down, and twirled. It was a new move she’d not attempted before, but by then she was showing plenty of new moves.
She twirled so fast centrifugal force caused her entire left breast to detach and fly into the audience. Tom speared it like a line drive. After winding down, she alighted, apparently un-fazed, only to have her vulva detach and dribble across stage. Some perv caught it on the short hop and bolted for the door. He’d have made it, if Al hadn’t tackled him.
As luck would have it, the threads in the screws holding her breast in place had been stripped, making reattachment impossible. Her vulva, smooth and dysfunctional as a Barbie Doll’s, refused to snap back into place. To cheer her up, I gave her an “atta boy” on her behind, but her right ass cheek fell off in my hand. Management sent us packing and took her off-line, bitching that her warranty had expired.
Not long after, cooler weather descending, brown leaves swirling, Tom’s mega-bank merged with an even larger bank. Fired, he had no choice but to start a home-based consulting business. Without his wife’s support, Al could no longer face the courtroom — he quit lawyering and moved to the coast. My wife and I continued our efforts to conceive.
One afternoon at the doctor’s office, her ovaries gave up five healthy eggs and I spilled enough jizz into a plastic cup to fertilize. The doctor predicted triplets, sending my blood pressure through the roof.
Chanelle, back on-line following black-market repairs, held on for a while. In the end, I heard she was written up for taking indecent liberties with customers — hand jobs under the table and quickies in the alley. When management sold her for scrap, no one was surprised.
Gary V. Powell’s short stories and flash fiction have been widely-published in both print and online literary magazines and anthologies including the Thomas Wolfe Review, Carvezine, Fiction Southeast, SmokeLong Quarterly, Atticus Review, Jellyfish Review, and Best New Writing 2015. In addition to winning the 2014 Gover Prize for short-short fiction (Eric Hoffer Foundation), his work has placed in several other national contests including The Press 53 Prize (2012), Glimmer Train Short-Short Contest (2013), the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize (2014), and the Fiction Southeast Editor’s Prize (2015). His first novel, Lucky Bastard, was published by Main Street Rag Publishing (2012). He’s currently at work on a story collection, a novella, and a novel. He rarely sleeps.
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