Everyone just called it “The Monkey”, because “The Pink Monkey Cabaret” was too generous a title to actually use in reference to what was essentially a border town brothel with zoning clearance. Last call at The Monkey was three hours later than any other establishment in the city, making for a diverse clientele of sordid, unseemly misfits craving illusions of desirability afforded by scantily clad female company on any given night of the week.
This particular night was Halloween, so you can believe the combined potential for debauchery and weirdness of those in attendance was, in a word, unbelievable. The roiling mob was composed of a very rowdy and drunken bunch indeed. Among the outlandish patrons wasting their time and money at Pink Monkey that night were including of but not exclusive to the following:
- Caucasian male wearing a Bane mask, attempting to sip a cocktail unsuccessfully
- Half a dozen Indian businessmen, sharply dressed in the conventional sort of way, spending a great deal of money with little to show for it
- Young white folk in cowboy get ups, not to be confused with the actual cowboys (it was, as previously mentioned, quite a busy night)
- An assortment of people in Disney themed costumes, which seemed really rather twisted given the venue
- Mexicans, always there are Mexicans
- Lesbians? Their reasons or incentives were unclear
And many motley more
Becky had been working nights at The Monkey for a couple years more than she cared to accurately recount, so instead she would tell her customers she’d only been there a few months. They seemed to respond eagerly to this contrived image of inexperience, which was fine by her — whatever paid the rent.
Becky went by Bentley onstage; she weighed 100 pounds on a good day — meaning one on which she did not resort to bulimia or cocaine — and had short, bleached blonde hair. Bentley had clear braces and typically wore a school girl’s outfit, speaking to her customers in an overtly infantilized voice. Bentley acted shy when approaching men, but less than shy once giving them dances. Bentley’s hair could commonly be found up in pigtails. You can see where this is going.
So she’s making the transformation from Becky to Bentley in the dressing room, which is not as friendly or bantering a place as film and television make it out to be. The dancers are competitive, because they’re at work. The outfits are expensive, because they are meant to make money. Heels never come under a height of seven inches, while skirts never exceed a length of three. Makeup is applied lavishly and to strategic effect. An absence of tattoos is more conspicuous than a presence of them. Cleavage is currency. Morality is left at the door.
Bentley’s red suspenders were worn over her nipples in lieu of a bra; her black thong paired well with them — aesthetically, that is — along with the plaid mini skirt accentuating her narrow waistline, and clear stilettos dramatically arching her pedicured feet. She was wearing those glasses that just sort of appeared several years back, the kind now all but synonymous with the underage fetish, you know, black frames with fake lenses and transparent intentions.
Immediately met with wanton, ravenous gazes upon exiting the dressing room, Bentley began to make her rounds. She started the same way she did every night, by sitting at the bar, waiting for someone to buy her a vodka-Red Bull. She never had to wait long. The first customer bought two consecutive drinks and dances, which was a good start, but not good enough (rent was due the next day).
At this point, her professional instincts began to kick in, prompting her to pick out the weak ones, quiet loners with lost eyes and empty glasses, loud bachelor parties with deep pockets and full bottles. VIP was a veritable hunting ground — especially for the girls whose ethical framework allowed for diverse methods of prostitution — so she took to ruthlessly hunting.
Towards the back, in one of the private cabanas, there stood a group of audibly Russian men whose professions were neither apparent or divulged — that said, drug dealing, human trafficking, or crude oil wouldn’t have surprised her. She couldn’t tell if their stoicism was owing to an accuracy in cultural stereotypes or a demeanor of simply being unimpressed with The Monkey (all the girls had heard wild and literally incredible stories about strip clubs in Moscow).
Having worked the Russians for a little less than an hour, Bentley made her quota for rent, and rewarded herself with a smoke break. She smoked Camel Crush because she liked having the option of plain tobacco or menthol, but found herself choosing the latter more often than not. Being one of the more lucrative dancers at The Monkey, she couldn’t claim many friends amongst her coworkers; and thus tended to keep to herself on breaks, indulging the occasional customer who appeared wealthy enough to justify feigned interest (this was a much more difficult feat to pull off when not under the influence of a controlled substance).
Around 1 AM things really started to pick up, which is to say they really started to degenerate. Seeking out more lost souls upon whom to prey, Bentley spotted a quiet, handsome and well proportioned young man wearing a Grim Reaper costume — scythe, face paint, black robe and all — sitting by his lonesome, sipping a watered down vodka-cranberry. She thought it best to leave him be. There are times when people really do just need to work through shit on their own.
Between 2:30 and 3:00 was when goings on took a turn for the dubious and illicit, seeing as this was right around the time when all the dissatisfied and sexually frustrated drunks arrived after leaving the bars at last call, devoutly committed to accomplishing the hunt for drugs and sex by any means necessary. A group of white guys who looked to still be in college walked in wearing Egyptian pharaoh costumes; they did not succeed in meriting Bentley’s affections.
By 4 AM Becky was tired, and ready to put Bentley to bed. She got changed and decided to have just one more smoke before leaving, making her way to the back patio. The space was empty, save for the conspicuously solitary Grim Reaper. Becky sat on the other side of the room, far from him as she was able to manage, no longer inclined to be so much as falsely engaged in anything anyone had to say.
One of the Mexicans who had been at The Monkey for hours got too drunk and was now in the process of being deported in the parking lot. There were four police cars, six officers, over a dozen bystanders, and absolutely zero hope present for him as to the prospect of making it in America. Becky was in her car, counting her many tips and few blessings when, much to her acute annoyance, there was a quiet yet still very startling knock on the driver’s side window.
It was the Grim Reaper, and he scared the living shit out of her. She was accustomed to being pursued by men after clocking out, ones vainly endeavoring to coax Bentley into coming home with them using the empty allure of cocaine or compensation (to her credit, they never succeeded in doing so). Becky considered signaling for the police, until meeting eyes with the man. He looked sad and exposed in the way that conveyed a sincere desire for friendship rather than a duplicitous one for courtship.
Something utterly inexplicable compelled her to roll down the window. He had ditched the scythe and taken off the hood, looking more human now than ever before. The Reaper had very long, thick black hair, and ambiguously dark brown irises that looked like those of an old friend’s in the reflection of the dim yellow streetlight standing overhead. Becky needed a friend; she saw that he did, too. On a whim and a prayer, they took a chance, as people sometimes do.