An underlying excitement seemed to be building in the bar, but Ani was more concerned about getting her orders right, than paying attention to what was going on.
The bar was filling up with men more quickly and Ani was a little stressed with keeping up. She wanted to maintain perfect cleanliness at the tables, and perfect service, but she was having a hard time of it. She hated it when she had to add the numbers in her head for the different drinks when someone chose to pay for someone else’s drink.
Hank showed her how to use the straws to mark which kind of drink it was, as the liquid looked the same to her when it was out of the bottle and in the glass. Vodka got one straw and rum got two. Something like tequila got three straws, but Ani could smell the difference with that. She just didn’t want to stand there smelling each glass as the customer waited for his order. It didn’t seem professional to her and it certainly didn’t look it.
Heading back to the bar with her next order, Ani was surprised by the stranger who stood behind the cash register. His suit indicated that he was probably someone in management and she gave him a wavering smile as she emptied her tray.
“You must be the new girl,” he said as he flipped some switches and the sound on the TV died away. “I’m Sid. You’ve met my father already. I believe he hired you yesterday. Do you think you’ll work out here?”
“Well. I’ll be watching you. You report to me as well as to my father you know.”
Ani nodded her head and tried to remember her order as she turned to the register.
The nearness of another boss was throwing her off and she needed to concentrate. Her anxiety caused her to miss the fact that the stage lights had been flipped on, and she jumped when Sid bellowed into the microphone and the sound reverberated around the bar.
“It’s another Thursday night Gentlemen, so put your hands together and let’s hear it for ‘Midnight Dancer!”
Ani’s head whipped around as the music blared out of the speakers at the front of the room and someone climbed the stairs and stepped out onto the stage. From her viewpoint at the register, Ani could vaguely make out an image of something tall and shiny. As she made her way down the bar, she realized that a woman was strutting along the runway wearing a sparkly cowboy hat with matching gauntlets and chaps. ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ blared throughout the room and Ani had to make a conscious effort to close her mouth as she watched the woman turn and sway on her high heels.
“Did you have an order Ani?” Ed’s voice vaguely registered through Ani’s shock as she tried to focus on the paper she held in her shaking hand. She knew she had taken someone’s order, but she had been thrown completely off guard by the woman on the stage.
“Uh, yeah I did…Um…let me think a second.”
Someone let out a wolf-whistle and Ani’s eyes swiveled back to the stage. Glenn Campbell had given way to Blood Sweat and Tears as they belted out Lucretia MacEvil. The cowboy hat had been thrown up on a large round ‘bed’ that was sitting on the right side of the stage. Ani had never noticed it before as she had never been that close to the front of the room, but she noticed it now with the shiny hat sitting on top of it. It looked like it was covered in shag carpeting, and just that image alone began to worry her. When the shiny chaps went sailing next to the cowboy hat, Ani turned back towards Ed and quickly gave him her order.
“You’ve never been in a strip-club before have you Ani?” Ed had reached out and touched her arm and now held it gently as he peered into her crimson face.
“What was your first clue?”
“You look very embarrassed. Were you expecting something else?”
Ani fumbled with the straws as she tried to get out a couple to mark her drink and ended up knocking over the glass that held them. “I thought it was going to be all feathers and stuff like in the old movies.”
Ed made an effort not to laugh out loud and his struggles brought an embarrassed grin to Ani’s face. “I, um, guess things have changed – a lot.” They both laughed and Ani grabbed her tray and hurried to the pool tables where she felt a safe distance had been put between her and the activity at the front of the room.