By 9pm, nearly every seat in the bar was taken and Ani was continually on the move as she filled orders and emptied ashtrays. Memories of working in the university pub had kicked in and helped her with taking orders, and taking the teasing that went along with the job. The university bar had been an entirely different set-up and nearly everyone had approached the bar for their drinks. However, it still involved going out to the tables with some orders, and of course cleaning up after the drinkers had left.
Ani felt like she had just gotten her feet under her and that she had developed a routine, when the stage lights came on and Syd started bellowing into the microphone again. Dear God – not again! Ani thought as she looked towards the front of the room.
“Gentlemen! Put your hands together and welcome Diamond Girl!”
Ani’s tray clattered onto the metal sink as she lost control of it and Syd glared at her as he quickly clapped his hand over the open microphone. With a horrendous clang it hit the taps and bounced onto the floor next to the boss’ feet. Shaking his head he snapped off the microphone and threw it into the entertainment booth, then made a show of picking up her tray and handing it to her. She could feel the heat radiating off of her face as she took it out of his hands and hurried down the bar. She poured herself a glass of ice water and took a long sip before she turned to Ed to give him her order. ‘
“Don’t worry about it Ani. He loves to hear himself talk on that thing and you just spared us and everyone in here more of his blathering.”
Ani giggled and glanced again at Syd. “I keep wondering who he reminds me of.”
“It’s Kotter. You know that show Welcome Back Kotter? Doesn’t Syd look exactly like Kotter?”
“You’re right!” Ani gasped and threw a hand over her mouth to stop herself from bursting into a belly laugh.
“Lucky for us, Syd will hang around here until eleven when the last girl goes on, and then we won’t see him that much again until closing.”
Ani could tell Ed was being sarcastic and she tried to put on her most innocent of faces. “Why does he do that?”
“He likes to play the big-shot, you know, and introduce all the girls. He’ll run back and forth between here and the nightclub all night. But ask him for something? Man, it’s like pulling teeth!”
“Just how many girls are there?”
“There are three girls this week. They start at 12 noon and rotate through until the last one dances at 6pm. Then there’s a break until 8, and the last dancer goes on at 11pm.”
Ani shook her head in bewilderment before hurrying back to her customers with her order. This time around she wasn’t so embarrassed when the girl’s breasts seemed to leap into the spotlight and bounce around. With more customers in her section, she didn’t have the time to stand around and watch and she barely noticed when the girl got up on the ‘bed’ and spread her legs.
The men clapped and hooted when she finished her routine, and they looked at the stripper out of the sides of their eyes as she strode through the crowd to collect her music before heading up the three steps and out through the dented metal door.
As the minutes ticked away and the men watched something about sports on the big TV, Ani noticed the atmosphere in the room beginning to change. It was like they were all on edge and they peered into their beer glasses and shifted in their seats as they waited for something momentous to happen.
When the stage lights flickered on again, it was if the room breathed in together and then released it in one huge sigh. The audible click of the microphone could be heard throughout the room and the men held their breaths again as they waited for the next introduction.
“Gentlemen.” Syd took a very long deliberate pause as he gauged the room’s atmosphere before smiling secretively to himself. “Put your hands together Gentlemen, and welcome to the stage the star of the week – Black Magic!”
In the thundering applause that followed, Ani thought that if Syd could have manufactured a drum roll into that introduction – he would have. Shaking her head, she watched as each man in the room seemed to gather himself together, as if trying to sharpen his appearance by just thinking about it. At the same time, they all seemed to drool and turn into stalking beasts as their eyes focused on the stage and Black Magic ascended the short flight of stairs. When she placed her first glittering shoe on the flat surface, the room again inhaled and forgot to breathe.