Return to Washington Park's C-Mowes Strip Club
by Jack Corbett

There was a knock on my door and it was Voodoo returning my crutches. I had coffee on the pot which I continued to drink and offered him a beer. He had several as we caught each other up on the latest. Voodoo used to live in this apartment complex before he met any of us in the Lost Angels. And just moved back to Collinsville. After a couple hours we went out for a late lunch at Bourbon Street where I had spaghetti and meatballs as he drank his lunch.

I then thought....."I wonder if Nipples is over at C Mowes. She's back working days," I had heard, and "Voodoo might be interested in seeing who the main female character in my novel is." It was a nice sunny day so we went over to the club with the top down.

At first I didn't see any signs of her. Sassy was there who I knew and had done an audio file with Howard and me. So was Brenda, not the Brenda who's usually there, but the blonde who had her part in my novel years ago in the chapter "Piece of shit car". After we ordered our drinks, I found myself at the other end of the bar from Voodoo next to Nipples whom I hadn't recognized at first. She had dyed her hair a reddish brown and her face looked older than I last remembered it. It was she who said hello at first....then she started to tell me about Arkansas and how she had somehow gotten online from someone's computer but was unable to get in touch with me for some reason or another.

We didn't talk long. After several minutes it was her turn to go up on stage. Now in this club they rotate the girls off and onto the stage pretty quickly and after each girl comes off the stage she circulates throughout the room for her tips, going up to each guy and asking him for a dollar. I rejoined Voodoo where I started to cut up with Brenda. Today I was full of it. More than any dancer there. One gal came up to me for her tip, and I said to her: "I like you so much, we just can't have money come between us." which was my way of refusing to tip her.

I don't tip any of them. Why should I? Most of the time it's going to go back to a dead beat boyfriend or a drug habit of Heroin, Crack, Crystal Meth, or Cocaine. And I need all the money I can keep in my bank account for my own expenses in addition to new computers, digital cameras, software, and so on for the web site. This I explained to one of the dancers who came up to me for a tip. But I left out the part about the leach boyfriends and drugs.

But my greatest line was when I told a couple of them-----"Meet Voodoo. He's my illegitimate son. Most dancers like me at first but when I explain Voodoo's my son, they don't like me any more because they are jealous." Then after waiting a few seconds for them to figure it all out, I would continue: "It's because I had been fucking the shit out of Voodoo's mother but I haven't fucked them. So they get very jealous."

Although I like Brenda and always have, she has this nasty habit of trying to get things off me. I am tipping her more than 20 % for each drink I buy. The girls love my Beatermeat II t shirt I'm wearing. Then I tell them, "But the t shirt the dancers really like the most and are buying is my Pimp t shirt. Let me show you one." I go outside to the Miata and bring one back to the bar. One of the girls wants to buy it, then asks me how much it is. I tell her fifteen and she asks me if I'll take ten.

"Typical stripper bullshit." I'm not going to sell her one and could care less unless she pays full price. Some of them are always trying to do that just because they are so used to conning people all the time. Some--but not most, are straight up, and give me the money right off. This one's not making much today. For one thing she's way too heavy. But Brenda asks me for one. I haven't given away one yet and wasn't planning to but I give her the t shirt anyway, which she immediately puts on behind the bar. The other gals are envious but don't show it.

Then Brenda tries the old "buy the bartender a drink con." Tells me she just got married and asks if I will buy her a shot to commemorate the event. To this I simply tell her I'm practically broke. After that one, Brenda starts telling me--"You gotta tip these gals Jack. I know you have money. They are here to make a living and I'm thinking (Most of them are...to support their leeches and drug habits. I"m not supporting that). So I tell her--"Brenda, I am really very poor and have nothing to offer these girls except my great talent. That's all I have. No money. Just talent."

After that I tell her-----"If all of them are only so interested in making money off me, why do so many go out with me? Her response--"Do you pay them to go out with you?" My reply is sharp and to the point. "Hell no. Why should I? Some of them think I'm a blast to be with, are talented themselves and want to be around others who have talent."

One gal comes up behind me, gives me a quick pinch on the ass and moves on. Much later on another one fondles me for a few seconds, then moves on. Other than that most are pinching Voodoo on the ass. A couple of them tell him how good looking he is. To which I reply----"Of course he's good looking. He's my illegitimate son. What do you expect? He's played professional baseball and hockey and he could have been a pro football player. That's what a woman gets when she makes babies with me."

I had brought in the new mouse pad and picture the online company had done for me of Lori who had been my favorite bartender and waitress at Visions. First person I had shown it to was Nipples who had been Lori Mellon in my novel. I knew Nipples too well and had counted on this irking her. Although she often hides it well her jealousy has no limits. She had customers in the place. One she played pool with. Another one she sat with far across the bar from us. Still another one she took to a table----or was it one of those I just mentioned? Who cares. I am on a roll. Even lap danced a chair before I had my first beer right after Voodoo tells me he had never seen me do a chair. When I get finished with the chair I tell him: "Good thing I'm not drunk or I would have licked it too."

Voodoo keeps telling me----"They all keep pinching me on my ass. Nipples too. Every time she comes by us."

"Sure she would," I tell him. She's trying to make me jealous. She's also staying pretty clear of us."

"No doubt," he replies.

One gal starts to hang around me. Not bad as the day shift goes. I'm feeding her one line after the other. Not that I care one way or the other. I had decided that I would dedicate the rest of the afternoon and the whole evening to coming up with the worse and most outrageous lines I could come up with. I tell her I used to go out with Nipples and that she was the main female character in the book. She wants to see a novel but after going to the Miata for one I am surprised to find that I haven't brought a single one with me. So I call out to Brenda behind the bar..."Do you have one of my novels behind the bar?" She says she doesn't have one.

So I tell the girl I will bring one in the next time I see her. "But you can ask Nipples all about it. Just ask her how she feels about it." Which is a mistake it later turns out.

By this time the girl is hanging on me--holding my hand, standing close to me. Things like that. I'm starting to feel a little guilty because I had just bought Voodoo and myself a couple beers right in front of her and she's been hanging around me for an hour. I buy her a beer. Then another one as we continue to cut up. The little squeezes of the hang become more frequent. She starts to put her arm around me. Then I get an idea.

"Look. Voodoo and I have to go next door. I need to meet with Tommy, the owner. When's your shift over?"

"Eight o'clock."

"After you get done here you might as well go over there with us. This evenings going to be hilarious."

"Can you come back here before eight?" she asks.

"We will come over then," I promise.

She's been with us for two hours when Voodoo and I go next door to Chameleon. I'm thinking-----"If the C Mowes girl joins us, this whole evenings going to cost me more. So it's a wash in my mind. A new gal with us we have never met before but at a higher dollar than I might want to spend. Only for the extra drinks however.

Over at the Chameleon Tommy's sitting close to the club's door keeping his eye on the tv monitor that covers his parking lot, taking phone calls, and collecting a cover charge from each customer who walks in the door. "Guess who just called me before you came in Jack?" he asks with a sly grin.

"I have no idea, Tommy."

"Jim, owner of WT."

"What did he want?"

"He wanted to know if he could come in my club. Remember. I barred him."

"So he just wanted to come in?"

"That's what he asked. Know what I told him? I told him that as far as I was concerned he was barred but I would ask you, Jack Corbett if he could come in.

We had a couple beers as I kept looking at my watch. Voodoo was good friends with one of the girls-since high school. As he spent most of his time with her I talked to Tommy or one of the other girls. Voodoo was in his element. At one with the people around him. He's been a member of the Lost Angels for a year or two. Met most of us in the chats, then it had turned out that he used to live in my apartment complex long before I had moved in. Voodoo's only twenty-four and I'm fifty-two. But to those who haven't met him yet, he's a good looking guy--a bit on the short side, and athletic looking without seeming muscle laden. Only goes around one-fifty or so. A formidable drinker, his outspoken posts in the Lost Angels do not begin to give a person his true measure. Each time we meet his true character reveals itself. Personable, he's not pushy. Inside he's a true gentleman although he will probably be the first one to deny this. Got a big heart yet he's smart and very observant. He's a wild, good time kind of guy, up for any party, anytime. And very likeable.

"It's Macho Mug time," I tell him. They got them back at C Mowes and I told that girl we would be back before eight."

C Mowes is around a couple hundred yards from Chameleon and all one has to do is to walk from one club's parking lot to the other's. It's around 7:15 and the club is not far from changing its shift. We are immediately joined by the tallish brunette who had been hanging around me. Brenda's still behind the bar but Mom's joined her which means that she's our new bartender. Mom's in her fifties, I'd think. Possibly in her late forties. I go way back with her which some people just don't seem to understand. Back to a time when I was more naive about the whole dancing scene. Back to a time when I was writing my novel when Alex was working night shift. Back to when I was going out with Nipples. A few others. On that wild wild incredible adventure that would become "Death on the Wild Side."

If you haven't written and published a novel in which you've lived the part of its main character you are just not going to get it. No way you can. I had gotten into fights, almost killed myself a few times driving home to the farm from the clubs, and gotten two DWI's. And C Mowes had been the center of most of it. Sure, other clubs and dancers were part of it all but it was C Mowes that provided the book with its most riveting characters and scenes. Back then Mom had been a waitress on night shift. And I had remembered her hustling from table to table taking drink orders, then returning to the customers who often would slip their tips into her bra. Much later on, just recently, I would meet her daughter, Rose, dancing here, and a couple times Rose would come to the apartment with one of my buddies. Once we even did an audio file and put it up on the web site.

Back then they had limos and I had done a few with more than half a dozen girls. C Mowes had become my home away from home. There had been times I had gone through both shifts, drinking and partying throughout the day and not leaving the club till four AM. One night I had gotten arrested and spent the night in jail. Then the next morning called a lawyer friend to bail me out. Had him take me straight to C Mowes where I bought myself lunch and my first beer around noon.

Out in the parking lot I had told Voodoo----"Almost all these dancers would rather have an old decrepit car (for a boyfriend) instead of a Ferrari. They just can't stand a man getting too close who's got it all together. And Voodoo had replied-----"I can handle the Ferraris." We understood each other. Too bad the girls couldn't.

It's almost mid November and the weather's been unseasonably warm. The days sunny and the nights recently without their usual chill. Perfect top down sports car weather. It's one of those nights where everything's just right and once it's over you are never going to get it back. I was ready. For what? Anything.

Inside the bar I'm telling the girl: "I don't know what I want to do. Be a great writer, an unexcelled photographer or a movie actor. But they aren't going to take Voodoo and me on at Hollywood so we are just creating our own Hollywood."

"Prepare yourself to one helluva good time," I tell the girl. "We are the only fucking game in town."

"My shift's over now. I'm going to the dressing room. When I get back I'm going to look different. I'll be in my jeans."

Then she's gone. Voodoo and I had just noticed that Nipples had gone up to the dressing room. And she had not spoken to either of us for hours. I knew she had wanted to but she just had to keep making her point which was----"I don't need you. I'll be nice but that's going to be about it. I'll show you."

Turned out to be the other way around. I knew it would. We were the only fucking game in town and we damn well knew it. Voodoo and I had been entertaining the whole bar for hours. Usually it ends up like that. One or more of my friends and I making that impression that lasts forever. I had been at my best form. Playing the actor, changing my voice, having beer after beer with Voodoo, Voodoo for a few moments started singing along with the music. Then saying----"We ought to do Karioke here.

Gotta give C Mowes credit. Got one of the best sound systems around and often the best music. Some of it recalling my past misadventures. Speaking of which, I started to smell a rat but this time I wouldn't give a damn one way or the other.

I turned to Voodoo: "Nipples and that girl are in the dressing room together. Just watch, Nipples is going to fuck this thing up. Then I looked away for a second before answering myself--"And we aren't going to care one way or the other. They are a dime a dozen. Only ten percent will ever become remotely involved with this group. Just remember...."There's only one game in town and we are it. For that matter in the whole damn country."

Then I saw them. Two girls coming down the stairs. Not completely sure but they look like-----Nipples and the girl. The one I'm thinking is Nipples is the first to walk out the door. "Didn't even say goodbye to us, I"m thinking, but it doesn't matter. She wished she could but she's been playing the loser's game for way too long. I'm onto her." Without giving us as much as a look the girl walks out of the club.

We know what time it is. Nipples has gotten to her. No way she would have done that. Some of them will but we had kept her enthralled and she sure wasn't making any money around us. Five minutes later I go to the door and look out into the parking lot. Way in the back there's two pickup trucks. Two girls in one and someone in the other with the windows all rolled down, everyone talking to each other. Raven's standing next to the door probably looking out for her ride. I can't make out who the girls are so I ask her: "Who's in those two pickup trucks out there?"

"Nipples, her ride and (I didn't quite catch who the third person was."

Voodoo and I have more important things on our minds. Our macho mugs. A few minutes earlier when the girl was with us I had yelled out so the whole bar could hear: "Anyone who can't handle a macho mug is a fucking pussy." And the girl who was drinking a twelve ounce can of But Lite had replied: "I guess that makes me a pussy then."

Those are awfully big beers, which we would finish then go back over to Chameleon where we had serious business to attend to. Beer business. Then----fifteen after eight Nipples came back into the club. Looking for something. Be just like her------to pretend that she had forgotten something. I know her too well. And the other gal's walking out was no accident. And it sure wasn't basic stripper unreliability most are guilty of.

"Hey Voodoo. Notice who's just walked in?"

"Yep."

"Got to the brunette, didn't she?"

"She sure did."

"That brunette's finished. If she's so dumb to fall for Nipples bullshit she sure doesn't need to be around us. If I ever see her again, I'm not buying her one beer or waste any time with her. And Nipples---------Here it's eight fifteen. No way she'd come back in here. She just can't stand it. She has to keep some kind of connection but just doesn't know how to do it. Does everything ass backwards."

But Holly's here. And I don't care what anyone says, she's a character. Funnier than hell and doesn't seem to care how you take her, for better or worse. I introduce her to Voodoo and he seems to be taken with her. It's not just a matter of looks one way or the other but of PRESENCE and Holly's got plenty of that. But our beers are running low in their large mugs so we head back once more to the Chameleon. Tommy's wanting to play a joke on someone and I love him for that. We are just the ones to pull it off. And Voodoo and I had been discussing which one of us would handle it for him.

Tommy had seen me in action many times and probably thought I was one wild ass motherfucker. What he didn't know is that practically everyone of the guys who had stayed with the Lost Angels for long was capable of practically anything as well as having top notch intellect. Time to show him that I wasn't the only one. And I wasn't done yet either. The night was just too young and I just wasn't about to put the actor in me asleep.

After Voodoo finished doing our "little favor" we went back to the beer business at hand and whatever girls came within our range. A trim black gal had come back to work for Tommy. Seeing her sitting at the bar alone I told myself...."Now there's a likely victim."

Pulling myself up close to her I said: "Last night I scared you , didn't I?"

"No. You didn't scare me," she said as her eyes looked into mine.

"Great eyes," I said to myself. "Terrific eyes. And she's young. Only nineteen."

Then changing my voice--"You know what? We would make terrific babies together. You want to have my babies?" I heard myself ask above Voodoo's laughter in the background.

The girls eyes continued to melt into mine. I was beginning to feel this raw sensuality come over me from her eyes. Never...not once did she look away. They were those kind of eyes that keep boring into you, laughing with you, telling you-------"I am already seeing us together. Fucking." I'm sure she had in mind one of those pay for it kind of deals. I was reading her mind and she was reading mine. Then, like I had the night before I said to her....."But I"m not paying you for sex. I never do that. But if you do it with me and you know you are not getting paid you are going to come and come."

"Atta boy, Jack. Give it to her."

I was close to her and I love a girl with long legs and a firm body. Looking at Voodoo who was sitting a couple bar stools over talking to two girls I called out to him...."Get me out of here, Voodoo. This one's captivated me. She won't let me leave her."

Laughing now, the girl still would not take her eyes away. I wouldn't stop. Two could play this game I told myself. So I kept it up...."Voodoo. Let's get the hell out of here. You gotta rescue me from this siren." But Voodoo was ignoring me, intent on his conversation with the other two girls. Finally I went over to him and we left the bar.

Which brought us to Miss Kittys. And the next macho mug. Voodoo and I snatched up a little table close to the bar. But first we looked around and not seeing the tall brunette waitress I liked got ourselves two macho mugs from Chuck, the son of the owners' who often is the club's bartender. After handing us the two macho mugs and taking our money, Chuck turned to me and said....."Do you have anything about our club on the Internet?"

"Did I?" Hell....I had done a complete web site for them and had practically told everyone there I had. Great job too. And I hadn't had to take a single picture. Had already gotten them of three girls while they had been dancing other clubs. "Sure I have, Chuck. Done a web site for Kittys."

"You need to get rid of it then. My dad doesn't want anything about the club on the Internet."

"If he wants it that way, I'll take it down. But give me a couple days. Not tomorrow. But the next day."

"That will be fine," Chuck replied.

I'd take it down alright. The best club web site I had yet done. "And I'm not too enthused about doing club web sites. Gives them leverage over me. The real ball game's Alphapro. They just don't know it yet. I'll just swing the girls over into the Dancers Directory. And that will be that.

Returning to Voodoo at the table, he started telling me-----"I got a bad feeling about this place."

"What's that, Voodoo?"

When we were getting our beers the bartender told me to pull my hat around. Voodoo was wearing one of those hats with a little bill on it and had turned it around so that the bill was pointing from the back of his head. Hey....I do that all the time........probably half the time----pulling my own hat around so that it rested on my head ass backwards. Shows a certain devil may care attitude----in our cases not contrived but very real.

Then I saw the waitress and motioned her over to us. "When you get a chance I want to talk to you about something. But first I want to show you something from my car."

A few minutes later she came back to the table. I showed her the Lori mouse pad and picture as we bought two more beers from her. "What do you think of these?" I asked her. "I had something like it in mind for you and that's what I wanted to talk to you about."

"I just don't know what to think," she replied. "Something's going on and I'm not sure what it is."

"This is a bad time to talk. Call me. We can talk then," I said as I handed her my business card. Then I told her how I was going to take the Kittys web site down. "I don't know what to think either."

Woody and Kitty were at their usual spots at the end of the bar. Going up to them I gave Woody a cheerful hello as he grinned back at me. "Woody.....Got the message about the site. I'll have it down day after tomorrow."

"Thanks Jack. I appreciate that."

Then we talked about next year's gentlemens owners club convention at Las Vegas. Woody and Kitty had been at the conventions the last two years after I had supplied them with Exotic Dancer's promotional info pack that it sent club owners about its annual convention. Last September I didn't have a booth having decided to take a break but the past four years I had an exhibitor's booth. The year before I was suddenly laid up in a Las Vegas hospital with a blood clot while the people at my booth tried to manage without me. I learned from Woody that they were not going next year. Well...I sure as hell was.

The next few minutes found me going back and forth from the bar to our table. Over at the bar Chuck told me to put my hat on straight. Like Voodoo I had turned it ass backwards. "Part of their dress code," or so they thought. Not wanting any trouble I took my hat off and put it back on so that its front faced front wards.

Back at the bar I noticed Ed standing by himself drinking a beer. I had met Ed at Dollies. A captain of a tug boat, Ed was one of those guys who worked for a barge line on the river on a thirty days on, thirty days off shift. Funny that I had met him I often thought since the hero of my first effort at a novel had been a deck hand on a tug boat. I had started that novel when I was a Junior in College but after doing a hundred pages had abandoned it.

"I see you are still addicted to the titty bars, Ed."

"I sure am, Jack. I've been to lots of bars but I keep coming back to the titty bars. Nothing else comes close."

"I agree with you. "

"You know Jack....I go to these bars in Belleville and there's often one or two hot girls who come in. And there's always around fifteen guys firing in on each one of them. So it's mostly guys. I might as well stay out on the river to get that. At these places I can just lay back and have all these half naked ladies around me and have a ball.

Ed didn't have to say the rest. A couple good lookers coming into a bar with everyone firing in on them. Perhaps more. Not prizes at all. Kids at home and they are on a man hunt trying to find a sucker. And these guys all around actually thinking they might just end up with something worthwhile as they play their cards right. Looking at each other, and listening carefully to what the other had to say, Ed and I, who are around the same age understood the situation perfectly. We didn't have to say much more.

I returned to my table thinking......."It's like the Old West used to be. The dance hall girls all around the gamblers and cowboys as some of them got drunk while others gambled. Places where a man could feel like a man and let his hair down. But Voodoo and I have to wear our hats according to how others want us to wear them. Enforcing conformity."

"Voodoo. We are about done with our beers. Let's have our last macho mug over at C Mowes. Then on the way out I caught up to our waitress one last time and whispered in her ear: "I'm not saying I'm not coming here again and I haven't anything against anyone but my friend and I have both been asked to wear our hats the way they want us to. "Well........Jack Corbett doesn't conform. I like to have a hell raising good time. Call me, okay?"

She said she would. Earlier at the table we had been holding each other's hand. What that meant I haven't the slightest. I just wanted to do it and I guess she did too. Samantha had come over and sat with us while Voodoo gave her a back rub. Once again I kept telling her how good looking she is. It's the damn truth. Samantha's one of the most photogenic girls I've ever taken pictures of and if my telling her that makes her feel better, I'm going to keep telling her that. We walked into C Mowes for the third time. I went straight up to Willis and shook his hand as I often do.

Voodoo and I ordered macho mugs which Mom poured for us. Holly came over to us, smiling, with a mischievous look that probably resulted from her having a shit disturbing mind. Settling in once more a final thought hit me. "Hey everyone. My girl friend Nipples was in here earlier." That..........had just the effect I was looking for. Looks from both Holly and Mom of surprise and disgust. That said-----"Are you fucking nuts, Jack?"

Damn right I am. Nipples isn't my girl friend. Just looking for a rise out of people and had been doing that all afternoon and evening. As Voodoo and I drank our last macho mugs I noticed that both of us were wearing our hats backwards.

 



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