New York was something else entirely. Neither Daniel nor Elu could stop gawking from the moment they got off the train until they got to their grandfathers apartment in the Bronx. Never had they ever seen such tall building, so much traffic, so many people! It was utterly amazing. They got to grandad’s apartment, dropped their stuff, and demanded to be taken on the tour. So, tour they did.
This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen, Elu said to herself. I love it. I just love it!!! Daniel and Elu both learned to love the early morning coffee shops, Italian pizza places and popcorn. Elu could eat the different kinds of popcorn until she burst.
Grandpa insisted they get enrolled in their classes and start school promptly. Daniel was like a duck in water and took to advanced education like a natural. It wasn’t so easy for Elu. She had always been much more social than Daniel and soon made a whole new cadre of friends. They began to invite her here and there. They started to stop into bars for a beer. Elu had had beer at the res a few times. Most of the grownups drank some kind of beer. Usually the cheap stuff. But when she discovered the $2 pitcher specials at happy hour, followed by shooters; wow! She was in heaven. Where had this been all her life.
Naturally, her grades started to slip. Not a lot at first, but over time, school just didn’t seem all that important anymore. Then one of the girls, Jan, needed a roommate. Over many objections from both her grandfather and Daniel, Elu moved out and moved in with Jan.
Jan had a glamourous and exotic life as a dancer. Elu really didn’t believe all the stories Jan would tell until on Saturday nights she would come home with a purse stuffed cash. Then on Sunday morning, when she finally rolled out of bed, Jan would sit at the kitchen table and count out all her tips. Put them in stacks, label them and then put them in envelopes to take to the bank on Monday. The money was eye popping and definitely catching Elu’s attention.
“You made all this dancing? Just dancing?” Elu was astounded.
“Yep.” Jan was casual.
“How…how did you get started?”
“Easy actually. I took dance lessons in school and then they teach you more moves at the club. It’s easy. Even you could learn.”
Elu reached out a finger and touched one of the stacks of money. She had never seen so much of it at one time and in one place.
The next weekend Jan took her into the club and introduced her to the manager, Fred. Fred was a big fat guy with a cigar stuck in his mouth. He was sitting on a stool at the club while the maintenance crew cleaned up. He was reading a racing form.
“Ya ever dance before?” he asked Elu through cigar smoke.
He looked her up and down.
“You in pretty good shape. You look like you are.”
She nodded in agreement.
“You mind taking off some clothing?”
Elu had no idea what he was talking about. Maybe it was a sweater or something. She decided it didn’t matter. She wanted to make some of that money so she said “No.”
“Okay, you got the job. Suzy will teach you some moves and we will give you a trial. See how well you work. If you’re good, you’re a keeper; if not, well….” He jerked his thumb at the day. “Ya understand?”
Elu nodded furiously up and down.
“Okay, youse come back at 4pm when dey got the place cleaned up and Suzy will start ‘wit cha. Got it?”
Elu nodded again.
“She don’t talk much, do she?” he asked Jan.
“Yeah,” Jan replied, “but then again, a lot less arguments.”
“Well, there’s that.” Fred rolled his big frame off the stool and started walking to the back. “Youse two beat it fer now. Dey’s gotta clean.”
Jan grabbed Elu’s arm and hustled her out of the club.
“You got the job, you got the job!” They both jumped up and down with joy and hurried back to their apartment so Jan could help Elu find something to wear for her first night.
That night after the training with Suzy, Jan got the girl back into the wardrobe changing room to do her makeup. The first night she was just going to work the club and sell cigarettes and cigars to the patrons.
“We’re going to make you so glamorous, you won’t know yourself.”
Jan set to work with foundation, rouge, lipstick, eyeliner and false eyelashes. When she got done with that, she redid Elu’s hair into a French twist with some curls in front. She sprayed the whole thing with Freeze hairspray. Jan stood back to admire her work. She was very pleased. She swung the barber chair around so Elu could see herself for the first time.
Elu was shocked. She didn’t even recognize the face looking back at her. She had to lift up one hand and touch her face to be sure it was her. She was actually speechless.
“It’s really something, isn’t it?” Jan crowed.
“Yes, it really is.” Elu replied. “Really something.”
Elu soon found out what kind of place the club really was. She learned very fast that she had to walk quickly and be very careful leaning over so she didn’t get a hand up her skirt and practically up her ass. She was really relieved when Suzy said she was ready to dance, because that way she was up on stage and several feet away from the men. They would still reach and grab but she could avoid them better. Getting out of the dressing room after work and out the door into a waiting taxi proved to be a task but Fred had two big bouncers who would work the back doors so the girls could at least find a taxi and get into it without problem. But the telephone calls and the messages! Elu had never heard such language before. Great Mother of God!
Continued Part V