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!
But the money was rolling in, that made her very happy and she began to find that a quick drink before she went to work helped her get over the jitters. Then a shot or two at work were easy to get from the bartender and the whole evening passed in a flash and they were on their way back to the apartment again to crash and burn until the next day.
Life went on like this for many months. Elu tried to send some money home to her mother once. But, Mama got so upset with the gift and asked so many questions that Elu decided she would bank the money and wait until she was home again to give another gift. Life got into a pattern, that is until she met Him. Andrew Sebastian Van Houten, III at a party.
Elu saw Andrew Sebastian and her heart stopped for just a moment. The room went grey and all she could see was him. About 6’1” with beach blond hair, a tan in a white polo shirt and khaki slacks. Leather loafers and an expensive watch. She could have just watched him for hours and never even said anything. And then when he came over and started talking to them…
“Hey, Jan, how’s it going?”
“Hey, Sebastian. How’s tricks,” Jan was very casual too. “This is my new roommate, Elu.”
“Elu, that’s different,” Sebastian replied. “What is that, Chinese or something?”
Elu shook herself. “It’s Indian.”
“Oh, you’re from India. Jan didn’t tell me.”
“No, not India. I’m Indian from America. American Indian.”
“Oh, okay. American Indian. So, what, me White Man, you squaw?” Something like that?”
Elu felt herself blush. “Something like that.” She gripped her drink tighter.
“Actually, hearing myself even say that sounds pretty stupid, I have to admit. I didn’t offend you or anything, did I?” Sebastian looked down at Elu.
She had never seen such blue eyes in her life. She stared for a moment before she could speak. “Ah, no. I’m fine.”
“Well good,” Sebastian replied good-naturedly. “Let me get you another drink and you can tell me all about…being an Indian, American Indian that is.” He took her glass out of her hand. “White wine?” She nodded, too stunned to speak. He turned and went back to the bar.
Jan was grinning like the proverbial cat. “Oh, my God. Elu, he is so into you. I can’t believe it. Sebastian Van Houten, the third. Un-fucking believable. You have any idea of how much money that guy’s got?”
“What?” Elu replied dimly. She was still watching Sebastian’s retreating figure. She was having a hard time focusing on what Jan was saying. “What?” she turned back to her friend.
“I said…” Jan drew the words out longer, “that…he…is…rich. You bimbo!”
“Rich…oh,” Elu replied softly. “That’s nice.”
“Shush, don’t say a thing about what I just told you. Just be yourself and all that stuff. I’m gonna make myself scare.”
Sebastian came back with a fresh drink, handed it to Elu and steered her over to a sofa in the corner where they could talk. Once settled in, he asked her question after question about herself. She had never had someone shower her with so much attention before. It was amazing that he had any interest in her at all. She barely touched her drink.
When it was getting late and she looked at her watch in surprise. Sebastian offered to take her home and she agreed. Before she knew what she was doing, they were in her bedroom and he was ripping her clothes off and throwing her on the bed. The sex was incredible and took Elu to heights she had never known before. While she had had sex before a few times at the back of the drive-in, that was clumsy and fast and didn’t amount to much. This, him! Her head was spinning around backwards.
Sebastian left early in the morning before Jan got out of bed and before Elu usually got up.
“I’ll call you,” he said, leaving.
She really didn’t think he would. So, when she got a text message from him later that morning she was surprised. He wanted her to go to dinner with him. Golly!
Dinner turned into breakfast and then lunch. Elu was in love and knew it. She was on cloud nine. She had never been so happy. The man of her dreams, a swell job with lots of money in a great city. What a life!
She was schedule to go to grandpa’s every Sunday. She went and burbled on and on about her new life. Daniel said little and mostly studied his plate of lasagna. Grandpa listened and sipped his wine. He didn’t say much. Finally, she ran out of steam and started eating.
Grandpa put down his wine. “What about your school?” His bright blue eyes looked into her brown ones without blinking.
Elu looked up and got uncomfortable. “School will still be there, Grandpa. It’s not going anywhere. I can always go back. I’m young. I got time.”
She looked down at her plate but not before she saw him slowly shake his head. “What are you doing Daniel?” She worked hard to steer the conversation away from herself. Daniel was finishing up his classes at the community college. He was in the process of applying to the state college and looking for scholarships. They talked about him and then about mom and the kids back home.
More and more, Elu found excused to miss Sunday dinners. She couldn’t put it into words. Just, she was strangely uncomfortable when she left and it didn’t feel good. There was one excuse after another.
Finally, she was on the phone with the old man. “Whatever, Elu, you got to do what you got to do. Don’t call to say you can’t make it, you know when we eat. Just show up, okay?”
“Sure, thanks, Grandpa. You’re so understanding.”
“Yep.” He hung up the phone. Elu stared at the phone in her hand. Had he just hung up on her? That had never happened before. Maybe he was getting batty; he was in his 80’s. She shrugged and went to get herself a beer from the fridge. They were going to a great new restaurant tonight. She needed to figure out what to wear.
The restaurant was high end and glitzy. The lights were low, the benches were padded, the people were glamourous and dressed in the latest. She was wearing a new black sheath dress with soft black sequins and thin spaghetti straps. Elu couldn’t believe someone like her could be sitting in a place like this.
The waiter came up in a neat, crisp dinner suit and Bastian picked out a wine from the list. The waiter came back and showed the bottle to Bastian who nodded. Taking out a corkscrew, the man undid the cork and pour a little into each glass.
“Madam would like to try it?” He bent over the glass and presented it to her.
Elu almost blushed with embarrassment. No one had ever called her that before. She took the glass and sipped the wine. It was delicious. She nodded and the man poured her half a glass and then her date’s.
Bastian looked at her over the little lit candles on the table. “Pretty cool, huh?”
Elu nodded. She was staring at the menu and had no idea what to order. There was so much on here that she had never heard of it; it was confusing.
“You know what you want?” He was glancing at the menu.
She sighed and closed the multi-page glossy brochure. “Can I just have a cheese burger? Fries?”
Bastian suppressed a little laugh and smiled instead. “Sure, no problem.” He looked around and snapped his fingers.
A waiter rushed over and Bastian ordered a steak for himself and the burger and fries for her. She sat and just absorbed the ambiance. This place was so cool. What Elu could not admit was how completed overwhelmed and out of place she really felt.
Bastian twirled the wine glass in his fingers. Then he lifted the long silver chain from around his neck. She had admired it many times. It was a little dancing figure playing a flute. The figure was done in turquoise, silver and coral. It was small but very beautiful.
He stood up, leaned over to Elu, and dropped the necklace around her neck.
“Oh, no! Sebastian, you can’t give me this. It’s yours! Elu fingered the necklace.
“No,” he said, “it’s yours now,” and he sat back down with a smile on his face.
“What is it again?” she asked him.
“It’s Kokopellie; the Hopi go of music and dance.”
“But, I’m not Hopi, Bastian,” she told him, “I’m Mojave.”
“I know,” he told her. “But, still I think it fits you more than me.” He drank his wine. “But, I’m not sure it goes with that old, tacky necklace you wear all the time.” He looked away.
Elu fingered the other necklace around her neck. It was old. An old, gold filigree fine linked necklace given to her years ago by her grandfather. It held a locket with picture of her two favorite people in the world; Daniel and her sister Sally. Her hand went to the necklace and her mouth puckered. Really? she felt insecure and tugged at it. Her mouth puckered. She grabbed her glass of wine and drank a big gulp. She would think about it later.
A few days later, she left the gold necklace on the top of her dresser and felt better about it. The two strands kept getting tangled up with each other. Besides, she needed to get to work and make some more of that easy money. It was a few days later that she looked at the dresser and saw a little slip of paper. She picked up the paper and read 22nd St Pawn Shop. What the hell was this? She read it again and and saw with a shock the words ‘gold necklace’. The shock traveled all through her system. Frantically she started to paw through everything on the dresser. Her necklace from grandpa was gone.
Elu dropped down to the bed with the paper clutched in her hand. The tears started to flow and fall down her face. Finally, exhausted she fell backwards on the bed and sleep stole over her. Hours later, she woke up and she realized it was early evening.
She staggered up and went to wash her face. The slip was still in her hand and she stuffed it into her jeans pocket. In the bathroom, she bent over, splashed cold water on her face, and stared at herself. There were dark circles under her eyes and she looked thinner. Elu had never been on the heavy side, always leaning to the slim. But, now…the bones along her collarbone seemed to stick out more than ever. She pulled the makeup bag over to herself and put concealer on the circles. Not that she was going anywhere, it was her day off. More because she didn’t want to see the circles in the mirror. She brushed her teeth and went to she what they had to eat in the kitchen. Opening the fridge door it looked almost empty. When had she gone shopping last?
The door to Jan’s bedroom was closed. For whatever reason she seemed to be seeing less and less of her roommate these days. She shook her head and checked her purse. There was some money in there. She grabbed her coat and purse. The corner store would have cereal and milk. She couldn’t face much else right now. She closed the front door behind her.
Continued Part VI