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No way will I let anyone else buy her v card
I’m her boss but Kiki hates me. She says I’m the reason she’s selling her virginity in the first place.
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MY BEDAZZLED shoe stepped with a wet thuck onto the carpet.
I didn’t need to look down to know that the offending liquid was barf. Working in a casino, you get good at identifying textures through the soles of your shoe. There are ones for cigarettes, ones for lost jewelry, the aforementioned vomit, alcohol, sometimes even blood. If you work in a place like this for long enough — which, mercifully, I have not — you can even start to tell different types of drinks as they soak into the three-pile shag.
I added to the mental tally in my head. This would be… hmmm… yes, the fourth time I’d stepped in vomit today. For the record, today’s additional tallies: fifteen times on cigarette butts, two jewels — one an engagement ring, so maybe an extra point — and five times in blood. I chalked the last up to the fact that a fraternity had rolled through on their spring fling, or whatever kids who go to college call vacations. There had been one solid fight in the middle of the casino floor, smack dab in the middle of my section, because I’m nothing if not a magnet for troubled men. After tearful bro hugs, the whole thing had been set to rest and I’d been stuck cleaning up after their mess.
Cleaning up after men, I thought with a grimace as I knelt down to take a swipe at the puddle with a handful of napkins. That could be the title of my memoirs. Though, let’s be honest, people don’t exactly read memoirs about cocktail waitresses.
As I did my best to scrub the carpet, thus hopefully making the late-shift cleaners’ jobs that much easier, I felt a swipe at my ass.
“Hey!” I said, jerking up and swiveling to look for said grabber.
He’d already disappeared back into the crowd.
“Fuck you,” I muttered, as though that would do anything.
If I really cared, I could go back through the security cams and try to find the guy, but it wasn’t worth it — the casino wouldn’t ban him, and I’d have wasted an hour to find out what I already knew — men, especially drunk men, especially drunk men in casinos in Las Vegas, are shitty.
Besides, it wasn’t like I’d gone into this gig blind.
The day I turned twenty-one, just over six months ago, I walked into Dazzlers and asked for a job. Winston, the floor manager, had recognized me immediately and I’d been hired on the spot. After all, through no fault of my own, I’d been practically raised in the casino. I knew which slots gave good returns, which roulette wheels were loaded, which patrons to watch for signs of stroke or overdose. In many ways, each more disturbing than the last, Dazzlers was my birthright.
So, yeah, I knew that guys were gonna touch me. Didn’t mean I had to like it.
On my first day of work — better known as my birthday, even though I hardly spent it celebrating — Sonia had been in charge of kitting me out.
As she passed me the scraps of material from a smelly locker, she’d suggested, “If you get a strapless bra, fewer men will try to snap your straps.”
She was right, and we’d been friends ever since.
The costume amounts to this — a thong leotard with gold and blue sparkles down the front, a deep-cut neckline, and slits up both sides of the skirt (what little there was to speak of). I’d put that shit on almost every day for the last six months. Think, if you will, about what that does to the human spirit. And if things kept on like this, I’d be in the same trollopy getup for the next nine-odd years, until I got booted out because of the casino’s insanely ageist cocktail waitress regulations.
Not like I’m bitter or anything. Twenty-one is too young to be bitter.
Even if I hadn’t been raised around Dazzlers, I reason to myself, I probably would’ve ended up in a casino somehow. Everyone I went to high school with did, anyways. It’s kind of the thing if you grow up in Vegas — get through school by wheeling and dealing, graduate, then go to work for one of the big joints in town. The Wynn, the Venetian, the Bellagio… so on and so forth. Sometimes it felt like high school was less of an education and more of a factory line into nightlife. It would’ve been more efficient for them to give us food safety degrees and be done with it.
As I deposited the dirty napkins onto my tray, I tried to picture a life beyond Vegas. Somewhere with trees, I thought. That would be nice. No more lights, no more buzzers or screams. Idyllic, that’s the word. Just calm. Where a person can be a person without needing to distract themselves from their own existence — no gambling, no drugs, no alcohol, no anonymous sex.