On The Draw

Brenda Cowden stepped out of the club’s back door and took a long draw.  She tried to stop her legs from shaking. When they wouldn’t, she finally sat in the alley beside two days of garbage and a leaky dumpster.  The cigarette  slipped from her fingers to smolder in a pile of refuse.

“Put that thing out.” Her roommate Annie left the club as well and crushed the smoke under her heel. “What went wrong in there?”

“I got fired.”

“Because you’ve got limits on lap dances?”

“No. Rob says I’m hiding tips.”

“Oh.” Annie screwed up her lips. “Well, let’s go down the street and put in at Shimmy-Shebang.”

“He didn’t fire you, Annie.”

“We’re a team.”

“Listen, when he puts down the word that I keep money, there’s no club gonna hire me.”

“He’s not…”

“He is.”

Annie leaned against the wall, then sank down beside Brenda. She said, “Ow.”

“Yeah,” Brenda said, “Ow.” But she patted Annie’s arm where the brick had scraped it.

Annie said, “I got another idea.”

And Brenda said, “Sheena Green.”

“Yeah. Sheena Greena.”

“It’d be a hell of a pay cut. Think she’d hire us?”

Annie pushed up to her feet. “Think you can handle teaching preppy college girls how to pole dance?”

“I guess I’ll learn. If she’ll hire us.”

“Come on. The busses are still running. I don’t want to walk home.” Annie held out her hand.

Brenda used Annie’s arm for leverage and dusted grit and other debris from her backside. She hooked a finger inside her waistband and produced four bills. “Anyway, here’s your part of the take.”

“That fat bald guy? He did not give you $200!”

“I might have kissed Rob before I left.”


“Long, and sweet, with lots of hands. And he might have had some hidden cash of his own.”

“Damn,” said Annie, “Sheena Greena better watch her till with you on staff.” She took the money.

“Us,” said Brenda. “With us on staff.”


And this is what happens in the back alley with Trifecta.

On the Draw is a 7 card poker game that encourages risk taking. Also, there’s quick on the draw and slow on the draw.

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


On The Draw — 19 Comments

  1. I'm torn on whether I sympathize with Brenda or not — she seems to be getting a raw deal, but she also sounds like a load of trouble! Great dialog here — it moves the scene right along.
    My recent post Playing Hooky With Style

  2. Hey Jes!! We both got our nice seedy alley stories today. What a great prompt 🙂 If you are giving someone a lap dance I think you should be able to keep your tips anyway. Am I right?!?

    As usual, this is really well-written and descriptive the the dropping of ciggies and scraping of arms on the bricks!
    My recent post That's What You Get!!

    • Legally? Yes. If the club is in the least beyond seedy, though, it’s one of the first things to go. And this place? It’s positively under the table. Girls are legally supposed to be able to limit what they’ll do in a lap dance, and beyond that there are supposed to be pretty strict rules about what can’t go on to save a place from prostitution charges. This place? I’m pretty sure it has ‘under the table whorehouse’ spraypainted somewhere on that wall.

  3. This story felt tight, well crafted, heartbreaking. I agree that you've written some good dialogue here, Jessie. I sort of sympathize with these women. I hate how women are treated in these kinds of jobs. If they can be cheated and abused, it follows that they would play the same game if they can. And since I'm talking about the treatment of women, I'm even upset about about something the creator of Mad Men said this week in the Chicago Tribune about one of the women characters' actions. I never expected him to be a creep. I think he should apologize, but I won't hold my breath. Sorry. I'm in a mood today.

    • My sister, in one of her many incarnations, was a stripper (stage name, The Acrobat, because she could do a series of naked backflips down the stage). I'm oblivious to TV – what did the Mad Men guy say? Is that the one set in the 1960s? But yeah, I have to consider this a world of exploitation where there are few people doing anybody else good turns.

  4. ooh, don't be trusting Brenda 🙂 She's a definite opportunist!

    I thought the dialogue was a bit choppy, you could possibly cut some of it and the point would still be there. But other than that I loved the gritty feel of this. I had a great image of the two in the alley and almost wondered if there wasn't more to their relationship…
    My recent post Changing Paths

    • (Thought I responded, but it's not here, so I must have not!!) I agree with you about the dialogue being choppy. Not sure if I'd cut any out, but it needs to connect more clearly.

  5. Very much so – I've known a lot of people like her, and not all of them as desperate. I think you're right about the dialogue here. It needs more transitions or fewer words. I greatly appreciate the concrit!

  6. I like that the thief (Rob) got theived. I don't condone stealing, and I don't believe that two wrongs make a right, but in this case, I do!
    My recent post Big Ideas

  7. Thanks for linking up with Trifecta this week. This is so different from your usual writing, or from the writing I've seen from you, at least. I really enjoyed it. It's clear that you're careful in using your dialogue as a means to an end, which is great. I think the choppiness might just come from the rather lengthy back and forth. Perhaps it could either be shortened a bit (as suggested) or peppered with some description cut and pasted from elsewhere in the story. Anyway, great job with the prompt. Hope you'll come back for the weekend.

    • I think moving the description from elsewhere in the story would be the ticket here, and I agree about the choppiness. Thanks for the concrit, and I also love that this one came across as different than what I usually do!

  8. You do what you gotta do to stay ahead, right? But, the idea of teaching preppy coeds to pole dance? Now, that’s funny.

  9. I kinda wanted to take a pole dancing class, back when I could pull it off. I’d have studied with Brenda, but thanks for the heads-up about locking down my valuables 😉

    • I associate pole dancing almost exclusively with exploitation. I confess — I’m kind of disgusted it has gone mainstream. There’s nothing empowering about strip joints or that variety of exotic dancing to me. I do understand the impulse, though. It looks like sexy exciting dancing. Shit, it SEEMS to put a woman in a position of sexual power. But all I see is the subjugation of the people who most typically do it. I’d LOVE to see preppy coeds the world over steal that little evil part away and make it just another form of cool dance.