Fiction: Don’t Touch the Artwork (A Last Unicorn Prelude)

[No, I haven’t abandoned The Last Unicorn (my fiction series on Medium). I’ve been tinkering with Lexi and DJ on-and-off since the last installment. If you recall, we met our heroes at a wedding a couple nights after they hooked up at a bachelor party. I wrote the following scene for myself to establish the back story. Felt like posting because, why not.]

Lexi

You can learn a lot watching men in strip clubs. If a man has hang ups about women? They’ll show in the presence of strippers. You have the Too Eager guy, who’s pushing his way to the front with wide eyes and his tongue hanging out. He doesn’t get out much. You can bet he’s never been properly fucked, either. There are the Cheap Skates. The ones who crowd around the dancers but don’t spend any money. Like anyone who doesn’t tip for services rendered, they’re entitled and tacky. In a few instances, I’ve seen men pick up crumpled dollars from the floor and re-throw them. Which is just…no.

DJ had perfect stripper etiquette. At Davis and Roni’s bachelor party, he sat in close proximity to the stage. Tipped frequently, sans gawking or drooling. A few dancers walked by, offering lap dances. When he declined, he did so with a smile or a wink. When he accepted, the girl was either one of the prettier or more talented dancers. He mostly kept his hands to himself, only touching to slide bills into a g-string. He may have slapped an ass cheek or two in the process. And his “thank you” at the end of the dance came with an extra bill in hand.

He wasn’t thirsty. He needn’t be, looking the way he looked. He wasn’t a dickhead, either. He understood that even a woman in service to him deserved respect and reciprocity. The ass smacks? That shit was just sexy. Made me want to see him do it again…except…maybe to me?

Definitely to me.

This soon?

It’d been six weeks since we first met. Besides quippy exchanges on Instagram and the two times I ran into him at happy hour, we hadn’t talked much. What did I know about him? He boxed for fun (Saw a pic of boxing gloves in his IG feed). His black Jeep was his “baby” (Another fact learned on IG). He drank Remy. He worked downtown at an accounting firm. If he had a girlfriend, the relationship was moreso a figment of some hopeful girl’s imagination than an established fact.

After our happy hour run-in, he’d DM’d me to make sure I got home safe. The build up to something had begun. But, now? I was ready to cash in already?

I watched him order another round for the guys and ease back into his seat. It was Davis’s party and somehow, DJ still looked like a king perched on a throne.

Yes. Definitely now.

DJ

“Penny for ya thoughts, I know what you want…”

The Internet’s “Special Affair” oozed from the speakers, contributing to the fog and red-lit aura of the club. For the first time all night, I was out of the thick of things, at the bar with a glass of Remy 1738, watching the action. When Davis invited me, I wasn’t sure how a joint bachelor party bus to a strip club would work, but Davis and Roni prioritized a good time over everything else. Davis, fresh off the lap dance I’d purchased from a dark chocolate goddess named Ti-Ti, was throwing bills while Ti-Ti danced for Roni. Of the three dances I bought that night, she was the best. She looked like the chick who played Keisha in Belly and moved like a cross between a ballerina and one of Beyonce’s back up dancers. Worth every dollar being showered on her at the moment.

I was nodding to the beat when I saw movement to the left of me. It was Lexi and her empty tumbler. “Having fun?” she asked as she waved over the bartender, a short white girl with short, spiky blond hair named Kori.

“Not the best dancers I’ve seen, but it’s cool.” Kori came over and refreshed Lexi’s Milagro and lime juice. “You can put that on my tab,” I offered.

“Thank you.” Lexi added a five dollar bill to the tip jar. “I used to bar tend,” she said when she caught me staring.

“Where’ve you been all night? I haven’t seen you since we got off the bus.”

Her wide eyes narrowed with curiosity. “You were looking?”

“Wouldn’t ask otherwise.”

“I’m more voyeur than participant. Love the art of the dance. Not big on touching strangers.”

“Like a museum. Don’t touch the artwork?”

She nodded. “Exactly that.” She turned in time to see Ti-Ti drop into a split. “She’s impressive.”

“Quite.”

“Why were you looking for me?”

“Wanted to make sure you were having a good time,” I sipped my drink. “And maybe see if I could catch you wildin’ out a little.”

“Wildin’ out in public’s not my thing.”

“And in private?”

“Forward, much?”

I shook my head. “Curious.”

She sipped her drink. “Hmmm.”

“It’s a special affair. Better act like you. Who I am… Who I am…”

“No answer?”

“Ladies don’t tell.”

I let her answer hang. Quiet settled between us for a beat.

She stood up and held out her hand. “Besides, I’m better at showing. Let’s dance.”

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