Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"The Cost of Living" - Act II Part I

Muscleman could have resisted Scorpio’s conquest of him, but with so much pleasure coursing through his veins he would have regretted not trying out the other side of the fence without money being the only reason. He was tossed onto the bed as Scorpio unleashed every trick he learned in the multitude of people he considered fortunate to have experienced him. He began with levels of foreplay Muscleman had never received. Attention to his feet that turned into Scorpio worshipping Muscleman’s legs. “Oh yeah, bet you never had attention on your feet before, huh you skirt chasing piece of shit?” he barked carnally. “No, but I like it.” His conquest replied. “Keep to what you want and suck me off.” Only being miffed at having to take an order, Scorpio wrapped his arms around his conquests’ thighs and gave no warning over the oral warmth and impending pleasure waves he was emitting.

“Oh my God, you’re really good at that!” and several moans later, Muscleman knew he could feel Scorpio’s throat every time his head bobbed up and down. “Yeah, just like that…oh yeah…oh God yes, keep going.” That was all it took before Scorpio did the opposite and had his conquest lay on his stomach and told him, “Spread ‘em.” Muscleman obliged his power hungry lover and was quick to voice his pleasures once Scorpio was motioning the alphabet with his tongue. “Holy shit that feels so fucking good!” 5 letters into this previously unexplored side of pleasure, Muscleman began to well up in the eyes; a sign of a successful conquest Scorpio had noticed as well. “Your eyes watering up, bitch?” he rhetorically posed. “Get back in there!” his conquest barked. Getting through the alphabet to “N”, Scorpio used Muscleman’s loudest moan yet as a sign that the favor should be returned.

“I heard you.” He began. “You do me. All the same shit I just did to you.” His conquest nervously obliged, expecting some level of clemency from Scorpio. It would be the last mistake he made that night. Tepid oral had Muscleman’s head being grabbed and before long, Scorpio was thrusting himself in his conquest’s mouth. “You do this shit for money too, you little slut.” He barked to him. “Pretend you’re getting $1,000,000 and don’t be such a quitter already.” Every thrust had Muscleman adapt to the speed and suction desired by his commanding but sensual lover. Getting the picture, he eventually decided to flip the script on Scorpio by then treating him like he had, every mark and every lover to his name. Having Scorpio turn around and spread his glutes had the former amazed at his tongue and its capabilities. “You know the alphabet too, huh you son of a bitch?” he asked in a deliciously evil tone. “Shut up bitch!” he barked back. “I haven’t even got to ‘D’ and you’re acting like you’re about to cum.”

Once Muscleman got to “K”, he heard the magic words from the now second-in-command; “I want you to fuck me like life has fucked you recently.” Then, they both remembered that there weren’t any condoms or lubricant in sight. “Shit.” Muscleman began. “You bring rubbers and lube or something?” Scorpio sprang up from the bed, ran to his clothes to find his wallet with a condom he knew would barely fit Muscleman. “Got the rubber.” He said. “Let me slip my pants back on, rush to my car and see if there’s lube.” “That’s cool. We can fuck on the couch or anywhere this takes us.” Muscleman replied. Rushing out with keys like a madman, Scorpio opened his car and began foraging through it before finding a bottle of unopened silicone based lube in the center console. “Jackpot.” He thought. After locking the door, luckily with keys and lube in hand, he rushed back inside and locked the door. “Back to it.” He began. “Remember; we fuck like rabid animals.”

Having to arouse each other again after a minor delay, the two eventually made it back to the bedroom. Oral skills from both of them were put on display that made the other moan with
delight that they hadn’t experienced in a while. Scorpio knew Muscleman was ready to give it to him, so he applied the condom onto his engorged lover and tossed the now opened lube bottle. “Put it on your dick first and then lube me up with your fingers.” He instructed. Obliging in the two step process, Muscleman let the silicone lube coat his prophylactic encased dick before applying the lube to Scorpio’s readied anus. “You ready, big man?” Scorpio teased. “You aren’t the first to call me big man, and you won’t be the last either.” Muscleman assured. Slowly at first, his insertion created an electric feeling for the both of them. Synchronized moans and exaltations were reverberating in the bedroom, creating the best noise Muscleman had heard in the house in years. He had Scorpio lay on his back, so he could get his kicks in with a different position. “Put those legs by my ears.” He ordered.

Obliging at the speed of light, Scorpio let his conquest take the reins further. Insertion led to more euphoria on both ends. Muscleman’s euphoria led to him increasing his ravaging speed which only resulted in some of the loudest moaning he had ever heard. “Ohhhhh my Gooooddddddddd you fucking maniac!” Scorpio exalted. “Don’t stop now you son of a bitch!” As a groove was found with tempo, the sex turned twice as climactic when Muscleman kept going harder and giving long, deliberate strokes which only drove Scorpio to orgasmic induced madness. Every “Unh-hhh”, “Don’t stop” and “Oh God, yes”, had Muscleman drip sweat onto Scorpio who found the subsequent pheromones emitted more arousing than Muscleman’s tongue. “Sweat all over me you rat bastard!” he yelled. Eventually, something had to give and it had been long enough of resisting dousing each other in their thickened, rope-like ejaculate.

Muscleman turned Scorpio over, looked into his reefer green eyes and rewarded his impulse as so; “Ohhh I’m gonna cum! I’m gonna cum!” were the last words before thick strands of pearl white tinted ejaculate coated Scorpio’s lithe but sturdy frame. Only half a strand landed on Scorpio’s mouth before he was surprised to see him indulge in its flavor. “Now it’s my turn.” He said menacingly. He then had Muscleman lay next to him as he stroked himself to orgasm. “I’m gonna cum!” and a series of moans and toe curls only heightened the feeling internally, while he coated himself and Muscleman by proxy in his own pearly strands of ejaculate. Despite their coated states of being, the two of them ended this encounter with a passionate tongue swirling turned electric, passionate kiss. “You…sneaky motherfucker.” Muscleman goaded. “You closet case son of a bitch.” Scorpio retorted.

The two of them mustered up enough strength to head to the shower together. Washing and rinsing each other off took a little bit given their post coital exchanges were just happening. Mentally, their heads were still trying to process what happened. Muscleman was fixated on the fact this had happened by impulse and not monetary needs as he thought, “I just fucked a guy outside of hustling him and I liked it a lot.” Scorpio on the other hand began to contemplate, “I just made a move on and successfully got sex out of someone who had previously been a shotgun short of being hitched.” All they could see physically, was each other in the shower washing away every bit of their impulse driven romp. Once they left the shower and toweled off, the two of them reached the conclusion that Scorpio spend the night. “Stay tonight.” Muscleman began. “We need to try and talk about what the fuck just happened.” Scorpio concurred his sentiments by saying, “As long as you’re the big spoon, I’m fine with that.”

The two of them were losing each other in their eyes before Muscleman had to confront his newly broken-in sex partner. Bluntly, he asked him, “So what made you do this? Come onto me acting like something bigger was happening?” Scorpio was contemplating on how to phrase this as he knew this was a rare moment Muscleman had leverage in their exchanges. “It’s not that I wanted to merely use you for release, but having sex with you was in the back of my mind.”
He had waited for a negative reaction, but nothing of the sort came from that. “Go on.” Muscleman said. “I’m not having you leave.” Scorpio tentatively but truthfully explained, “I didn’t want to act on this right when…your…well…when the mother took your children and left…I was tempted to have you to give you relief but I chose not to pursue it. If I wanted you, I had to let you have space and heal and…be open.” Muscleman chose not to press him as to why he used Hi-NRG as a front as he understood it, for now Scorpio had regained the leverage in this interaction. “Fair enough and I respect that.” He said. Although he knew he had regained leverage and power in this moment, Scorpio so desperately didn’t want to ask why he wasn’t kicked out once Muscleman realized what was going on. Just like before, he couldn’t help it and went for it anyway. “When you realized it was happening, you had a chance to end this and you didn’t…oh God…what made you fuck me?”

Muscleman could sense that he was asked the question almost like he was supposed to sabotage the intercourse to prove a point. His answer had Scorpio in near shock. “Why did I fuck you? Once you were on me, I couldn’t resist you. You think it wouldn’t have happened based on what I had as a front at the time and thinking they were the only reasons I do what I do. I fucked you because I wanted to and goddamnit if you didn’t feel so fucking good.” Leverage was the last thing on their minds and Scorpio displayed the same eyebrow-raising vulnerability when he asked Muscleman, “Can you be the big spoon now?”
“On one condition.” Muscleman answered.
“What’s that?” Scorpio asked.
“Promise me that despite you being one bony motherfucker, you’re actually warm too.”
“Jackass. Sleep tight.”
“I love you too. Good night.”

The two of them slept the rest of the night off with Muscleman being the big spoon Scorpio had wanted. Despite the reassurances they exchanged before sharing the bed, they both contemplated the very first words out of the others’ mouths in the morning. “He’s thinking I did this shit to take advantage of him.” Scorpio thought. “Yeah I wanted that dick of his, but not when he’s in a bad place mentally or even…emotionally…for him.” Muscleman wondered, “He probably thinks I’m about to deny this ever happening the minute he walks out the door. That’s not the case and it should be obvious to him.” Perhaps it was their self-imposed mental anguish, but they did end up making the bed warmer. Faint moans of “mmm” acted as sweet nothings which looked to ruin the moment they had created with each other.

Before they knew it, Muscleman’s 9:00 AM alarm woke the two of them up and they wondered how quick they would have to face each other once the afterglow wore off. Once out of the bed and in their clothes from last night, they faced each other and then desperately wanted the other to break the silence in the room. They locked eyes in a post-coital standoff wanting the other to feel safe to bare their soul again.
“I don’t mind you making the first move again.” Muscleman thought.
“You know how to take control of me. Do it.” Scorpio mentally countered.
“If it wasn’t for you…”
“…I wouldn’t be happy right now.”
“Speak up. You’ve done it before.”
“Don’t be scared of me. You weren’t last night.”
Minutes were adding up and the both of them were still idle and wanting the other to break the silence first. Scorpio jingled his keys in a nervous twitch which prompted Muscleman to ask him, “You want to talk about this over some breakfast?” “Sounds nice.” He replied.

The two of them stepped out of the house and let the sun’s rays at 9:14 AM soak in. Unbeknownst to the other, they agreed to meet up at the restaurant 15 minutes away so they could calculate their next moves. Scorpio and Muscleman each took their time but eventually pulled up to the restaurant only minutes apart from each other. Scorpio’s red Kia Soul and Muscleman’s gray Chevrolet Tahoe had assumed another role; a war room with power windows for each of them to work out any kinks they had previously calculated on the drive to the restaurant. Each of them breathed deep, left their cars and managed to lock eyes again before setting foot in the restaurant.

Once seated in a booth, the two of them ordered coffee and opted not to let breakfast distract them from anything else they had to address. Muscleman simply asked, “How did we go from friends to fuck buddies in a matter of a night?” Scorpio answered again, “I needed release but I didn’t want you feeling like I used you.” He was assuming Scorpio wasn’t lying but asked, “Now that I think of that, who were you planning on using?” Realizing his message was being distorted, Scorpio explained some pertinent details that had previously been omitted. The look on his face was enough for Muscleman to detect that perhaps Hi-NRG was who he was using. “You two used to date, but I didn’t think you’d let him ride you again.” He said.

Scorpio clarified, “Not with him. Once I got tired of his high energy 24/7/365, I broke it off. That and every Gemini is fucking crazy.” Then, he explained that a new relationship with a supportive man from Corpus Christi was who he had been using for release. “Shit was going left between him and I. Even Dave knew about him before anybody else did. I think he showed up on some of the few nights you weren’t working.” Not wanting to cause potential conflict but to gain the answer he was looking for, Muscleman cautiously queried, “Again, why me? Is it that you always wanted me? Even when I was with Catherine’s mother trying to raise the kids?”
Scorpio responded, “I did always have a thing for you. Even with you being sort of…not ‘guarded’ or ‘closed off’ but very self-policing, I thought you were beautiful from the first day I laid eyes all over you.” Muscleman realized that no other explanation was given that didn’t have its roots in timing and impulse. “That’s all I wanted to know.” He began. “What do you want to eat? Sex that good deserves a nice meal to fill you up.” Once they placed their order, Scorpio’s phone was ringing. “I thought I had this on vibrate. Sorry.” He said. “Take the call here, I don’t mind.” Muscleman responded. On the other end was Hi-NRG.

“Hey, what’s going on? I’m at the restaurant down the street with our ol’ muscle man here.” He said. Hi-NRG urgently replied, “I’m meeting you guys there with Jamie and Alejandro. Something big is up.” “Oh shit.” Scorpio began. “We’ll still be here. See you in a few.” Muscleman wondered what could be up. “Type A isn’t supposed to be back for another week or something. He can’t be back already.” He said to Scorpio. His reply was, “Worst case scenario, he’s back and revitalized to fuck up our hustles.” A few minutes later, Hi-NRG, Jamie and Alejandro showed up and had the others move to a table that could seat them all. “Sorry for sounding jittery but we got a problem here.” Hi-NRG started. Jamie added, “Type A isn’t back yet, so that’s the good news.” Alejandro finished, “The bad news? We’re facing a drought because all of the next three theme nights are back to back starting with tonight.”

Muscleman nearly spat out his coffee while Scorpio asked and illustrated for the both of them, “What the fuck?! There won’t be another theme night to make money and hustle from for another month and a half!” Alejandro explained, “Once Blue Ball Night got screwed with, I knew it was going to suck for all of us. We’re facing a paycheck to paycheck dilemma because someone can’t organize the events better.” Jamie was the most upset about this. “First I faced a fucking pay cut on BBN and now this back to back bullshit? Fuck that!” He exclaimed.
Muscleman rhetorically posed, “There’s no way I can hustle the difference for you this time, huh?” Jamie replied, “Even if I wanted you to this time, there’s no telling how much of a hole I’m in this time.” Scorpio ended up proposing a potential exit strategy to all those involved. “What if we work hard all three theme nights and then walk out on Core the start of the drought?” Hi-NRG responded, “I know you call me stupid a lot, but that sounds really fucking stupid.” “Hear me out.” Scorpio began.

However, a rare but poignant moment came courtesy of Hi-NRG. “Even if we agreed to this, 1. We don’t face the same pay cuts across the board. You, me and stud muffin over there make way less than Jamie and Alejandro anyway. How do we come to an agreement as to how much equals walking out? 2. If us three dancers quit, guess what; Core can replace us, lickety split. We’re the most expendable part of that place and you know it. 3. What the fuck else do we have that’s easy money? Stud muffin’s got personal training, I barely have graphic design, but ‘No T, No Shade’, what do you have outside of community college? What does Jamie have outside of bartending? What does Alejandro have outside of manning the door? Not all of us are lucky to have something of an end game let alone whatever exit strategy you envision.” Jamie remarked in unwittingly shady concurrence, “Dude, you realize he of all people just told you off with facts, right?” Scorpio was stunned silent at Hi-NRG’s surprisingly deep insight into their current states of being.

Muscleman then asked Hi-NRG, “If you know that much about what could fail, what do you think could have us come out of this drought alive?” His reply was just as poignant, proving that verbal shutdown of Scorpio was not merely a fluke. “It’s one of those ‘see what happens’ along the way cases. Some of us will seem to crack sooner than the others but believe me, we can get out of this if we just go with it.” Once done discussing the urgent matter at hand, Jamie couldn’t help but finally address the salacious elephant in the room; that being why faint afterglow was around Muscleman and Scorpio to begin with. “Not like you two were playing footsies when we got here, but what gives with the glow?” Inadvertently shielding Scorpio from potential criticism, Muscleman answered him in half serious/half mocking fashion, “Well, when a bony horn dog with red hair and green eyes calls you to settle ‘unresolved issues’, mounts you and offers to fuck like rabid animals, how can you say no?” Jamie, Alejandro and Hi-NRG each spat out their coffee before Alejandro asked, “How the hell did that happen? I thought you were nothing but a rather nice though still skirt thirsty pussyhound!” Muscleman answered succinctly, “He just felt right and let me on top of that.”

Hi-NRG rightfully called out his nonchalant and almost flippant response despite the fact he looked rather uncouth in doing so. “I can’t let something that blasé slide dude. Make with the story and the minute I hear you sugarcoating anything, I let you have it.” Muscleman obliged and explained that Scorpio called him once he was off work, wanted to talk and that he made the first move on him. The sex in Muscleman’s words was, “…completely of his plotting if you will and honestly, it was the only time to date I’ve fucked a guy without having to hustle him out of money. I liked it a lot before you ask that question.” Hi-NRG countered, “Having been there, done that with him of what I can guess was him in his car sounding vulnerable and then it started with a kiss…you’re literally another notch in his belt.” Muscleman was stunned at Hi-NRG’s recanting being exactly what happened to him. “When was the last time he did this to you?” he asked. “About a week and a half ago.” Hi-NRG began. “Let me guess; he said something about needing release and not wanting to ‘use you’, right? He did that same shit with me.”

Muscleman looked at Scorpio and judging by his antsy body language, Hi-NRG was telling the truth. “You and I need to talk back at my place and this time it will be verbal.” He sternly told him. Wrapping up breakfast by paying for the entire ticket, Muscleman asked Alejandro to refresh his memory on the upcoming theme nights. “Just so I know for sure what’s going on this time, what are the theme nights and what is tonight in particular?” Alejandro replied, “Tonight is Rock Hard…Drinks Night, tomorrow is Joystick Night, then we brace for the drought after Pop Goes the Playlist again. It was a hot ticket, remember?” Muscleman thanked him and added, “Yeah, that night was certainly one to remember. Most of the music didn’t totally suck but hey; something out of impulse can’t be too bad, right?” Jamie, Alejandro and Hi-NRG took this as the much needed cue to head off and ready themselves for Rock Hard…Drinks Night. Muscleman told Scorpio, “Like I told you, come back to my place and this time, it’s verbal.”

Heading to his car, Muscleman began to break down. “He said he didn’t use me, but he’s done this shit before with God knows how many others. That son of a bitch played me!” he thought. Driving through the scant but still reeling tears, he pulled up to his driveway to see that Scorpio had yet to pull up by the mailbox. He waited only five minutes longer, until he saw the red Kia Soul, knowing Scorpio couldn’t stomach being found out about his impulse laden proclivities. He stepped out of the car before Muscleman could tap on his window. “Whoa.” Muscleman began to think. “Maybe he didn’t use me, but I can’t assume he didn’t. Not until I get to the bottom of what had him play me like he did.” He stepped out of the car and then let Scorpio back inside. They had gone from an unexpected, delightful tryst to actually having unresolved issues; thus Muscleman began questioning him about his motives.

“How did he know you did the same shit in pretty much the same way?” he asked nearly choking on tears. “How did he figure out that you do this to other guys on the regular?” Scorpio was yet to figure out how to answer the question without setting him off further. “How do you expect me to answer that without sounding heartless about it?” he queried. “How can you act like you want the honest to God truth about what happened when you’re acting like I lied to you about anything?” Muscleman countered, “You said you weren’t using me that night!” to which Scorpio retorted in turn, “You didn’t ask me if I had been fucked by anyone else, let alone him. Again, I didn’t lie to you and on top of that, I didn’t use you.” Muscleman angrily replied, “That’s not fair! How the fuck did you expect me to ask you about that when you faked being in a bad place emotionally?” Their conversation turned nasty soon after that.
“Don’t you have some smartass answer for me, motherfucker?!”
“Like I ever said I was in a bad place!”
“So you were using me!”
“No I wasn’t and you can’t prove that!”
“You probably think this was your chance to out me or something!”
“You might fuck a lot of bimbos but even they can see you’re hiding behind this front!”
Muscleman had reached his breaking point. “You still played me! You took advantage of me! Get out of my house.” Scorpio knew he had set off a time-bomb but still countered, “I didn’t take advantage…” “Get. out. of. my house. now!” Muscleman shouted.

Scorpio left Muscleman’s house in tears before deciding to call out Hi-NRG for exposing him out of what seemed like calculated malice. Once a safe distance from the house, he found a parking lot and called up Hi-NRG. “That son of a bitch has a lot to answer for.” He thought as he conspired to verbally tear him apart. He dialed his number and after the first ring, he had him where he wanted him. “Why the fuck did you bring up what happened between us at the restaurant?” Hi-NRG wasn’t about to take this defeat on the first exchange. “How come he thinks you’re actually invested in him emotionally?” “Quit stalling, bitch.” Scorpio replied.
Hi-NRG countered, “Stop doing this vulnerable shit with guys thinking that their hearts are something to fuck with, dude.” “You don’t know what he and I developed in that night.” Scorpio retorted. Hi-NRG then began his savage countering of Scorpio. “Save that shit for the next guy you play, ‘Arcade Firecrotch’. Last time I checked with you and me before our turn, you swore you wouldn’t have my ass again but lo and behold, I made you cum like old times. Now you have someone else who actually bared themselves to you, and you don’t even see how this is the same shit you pull almost every other day when you fuck someone and near pray you can get ghost on them.” Scorpio replied to Hi-NRG’s claims carefully knowing some of the wool had been removed from Muscleman’s eyes. “Yes, I let impulse and a fantasy come to life with him last night and he is damn good. What you fail to understand is that if given the chance, I would have begun to explain to him that I have done these things but don’t want to with him. Unlike you, he knows exactly what to do for me in bed.” Then he assured him that retribution would be had, if he ever pulled a stunt like this again. “Now leave me and him the fuck alone. Air my business out again and I’ll have you biting a pillow through an iron lung.”

Meanwhile, Muscleman was contemplating whether or not Scorpio might have had actual feelings for him as he was showering for work. Remembering that he was alone in the house, he voiced his thoughts out loud as therapy again. “Even if he did play me, he let me fuck him like we were actually an item. I can’t stand that he lied to me but then again, I didn’t ask him if he pulled this with other guys. After all, I only asked him what he meant when there were ‘unresolved issues’ and in turn…kept it about us.” Once he felt hygienically absolved again, he toweled off and called Scorpio hoping to mend fences before Rock Hard…Drinks Night. The phone rang and every second it went unanswered, he feared the happiness he had attained had been for nothing. “Please pick up.” He thought. “I’m not mad anymore and I’m sorry.” Four rings later, Scorpio answered and surprised Muscleman by saying sorry first. “I was wrong for not telling you about him even though you didn’t ask. It didn’t matter and in that regard, I see how you felt I played you. I’m sorry.” Muscleman forgave him and replied, “I shouldn’t have let that petty shit he pulled affect me like it did. I’m sorry too. Can we take whatever we are slowly?” Scorpio said yes and playfully reminded him in turn, “Of course. I’ll see you tonight. Remember; rock night means a red or black thong for you tonight.” Laughing it off, Muscleman reminded Scorpio, “And in your case, some black underwear that passes the smell test. See you tonight.” With the air cleared, all he and the others had to do was prepare for whichever drag queen that was the host of Rock Hard…Drinks Night and her brand of predictable but stable humor.

Rock Hard…Drinks Night was another theme night that didn’t outright require hustling on Muscleman’s part although that was hardly on his mind now. The night calls for anything pop/rock or anything that can be considered alternative or indie that patrons of Core could dance to in the midst of taking in the sight of the dancers and buying drinks at low prices. Once in his special red and black thong under his tracksuit, he got in his car and was ready to make the most of a lackluster theme night. Speed limits guided him to a relatively sparse turnout though to his surprise, Dave was in attendance. He hugged him and reminded him “I haven’t seen you in ages!” before remembering to be polite in asking how he had been. “You doing OK, baby?” Dave replied, “Yeah I’m fine. Better seeing you. Taking it easy again.” Playfully teasing him, Muscleman added, “I need to see you more regularly, baby. Not every two weeks, I miss you.” “You’re so sweet when begging for my money.” Dave playfully replied back. “Now go hustle. I’ll let you know when I want you.”

Scorpio entered the club next and to Muscleman’s surprise, he and Dave were relatively chummy as well. “Relax.” Dave began. “I’m not cheating on you.” Once satisfied and on the bar tip beginning his shift, Dave and Scorpio began to talk about what had happened in the meantime since he last visited. “Last time I checked, you’re booed up.” Dave said. Scorpio replied, “I am, but he’s causing a little bit of drama in my life.” “Yikes, forget I mentioned him.” Dave playfully retracted. “It’s OK.” Scorpio assured. “Besides, I kind of like seeing you and your favorite up there whenever you show up.” The two of them ended their conversation as he too was instructed by Dave to hustle in the name of validation. Having to change first, he headed to the changing area where he then received a text message from Hi-NRG saying that he wasn’t working Rock Hard…Drinks Night after all. It read, “Schedule says I’m not working tonight. That blonde dude from Austin is covering my shift tonight.”

“That sucks for him.” He thought. “Having to travel from Austin to its try hard little brother San Antonio just to cover another dancer’s shift? That really does blow chunks.” Just as he put his phone down, he saw Blondie walk through the door and start chatting with Dave. Scorpio had one last thought for the night when thinking, “I’ll give that little player credit. He certainly knows how to chat up guys when he wants to.” As for Blondie and Dave’s interaction that time, it was another simple but very hands on game of catch up. “You getting used to dancing?” Dave asked him. “A little bit at a time, but I’m used to it from guys who are respectful like you.” Blondie replied. Dave finished their interaction by reaffirming his identity among Core patrons. “I’m a pervert with a soul. Go loosen up. I’ll let you know if I want you tonight.” Muscleman came up from behind, hugged Dave and asked yet again, “You cheating on me?” “Oh relax, honey.” He replied. “We’re not an item and I know the score. Here; $1 for you to hold off. Support the arts!” Of course, this resulted in $1 being tipped to Scorpio and Blondie as well. “Mmm, I like you.” He said to each of them.

Rock Hard…Drinks Night brought out a mostly generous crowd at least to Jamie and his pre-ordained offerings of Whisky, Bourbon and tolerable though not acclaimed North American beer. As for Muscleman, Scorpio and Blondie, the money for them would wait until devotees of theirs would come in clusters that could tolerate the playlist for the night. However, Blondie proved to be competition for Muscleman that night as his moves would prove to be enticing the scant populous thus far. Using his toned legs and subtle hip gyrations, he developed and showed off his signature move; getting on all fours and crawling on the limited but intimate space of the bar top brought out tips in scant but Washington and Lincoln clad droves. “Shit, I didn’t think this bony motherfucker was anything to reckon with either.” Muscleman thought.

Once the playlist started to become more friendly with his moves, other patrons lined up and started tipping him, Scorpio and Blondie far more generously. The night seemed to go like any other sudden theme night until Type A walked in the door. “Oh shit.” Muscleman thought. “Dave doesn’t totally know him if at all. I’ve got to warn him.” He got down from the bar top to find Dave seated and keeping to himself like does whenever visiting Core. He tapped him on the shoulder and told him, “Hey, let’s have a quick chat outside.” Dave obliged him but knew this was letting him know about a potential complication for tonight. Once outside, Muscleman asked Dave if he knew who just stepped in. “You know who just showed up, right?” Dave replied, “Yeah, he’s usually the dude who makes sure nothing freaky goes on when people are getting lap dances. Wait, what’s up?” Muscleman reminded him that because of Type A, the $5 deduction from dancers for lap dances happens. “I don’t think tonight’s a good night for dances and I’m telling the others too. I’ll let you know when it’s safe to come back for more of me.”

Dave obliged and thanked him for the honesty. “That other Austin dancer in the cowboy boots told me about this before. Let me know if anything different happens.” He slinked away as
Muscleman went to warn the others about Type A. Once in the changing room, fronting like he was counting money, Scorpio and Blondie were wondering about Dave. Scorpio asked Muscleman, “What happened to Dave? He usually gets at least a lap dance from one of us? Something come up?” “Type A came up and I don’t want Dave’s money involved in this.” He replied. Blondie wondered how much of his tips made at Core were being dipped into. “Wait, that dude steals from dancers?” he queried. “Not ‘steal’ as in he’s lazy about it.” Muscleman explained. “$5 is taken from every lap dance…err…’private’ dance we do here. It’s fucked and for as long as he was gone, I could actually make ends meet better than I had.” Blondie pointed out, “Well if that’s the case, how come he’s barely been on the floor or ever peering in our changing area letting us know what’s going on?” Almost on cue, Type A peered in and had all three of them step into the office not two feet from the entrance. “I have to let you three know something.” He said. “Shit.” Muscleman thought as he feared every bad outcome he could think of. “Does he know about the money I had to stash because of his shitty managing or poor fiscal sense? Either way, this is about to suck.”

Type A began and ended the meeting by bluntly telling all three dancers, “I’m not working here anymore. I’ll be working in a club in Houston and if any of you work in Houston and end up in club I’m at, cool. If not, nice knowing you.” Muscleman was stunned but still able to ask, “So who mans the Inner Core? Handles payroll? The stuff you did?” Type A replied, “Alejandro here mans the Inner Core for at least the next two theme nights in a row. My replacement; whoever that is, starts in about two weeks with stuff like organized payroll and the other behind the scenes stuff I did.” Scorpio carefully but rightfully pointed out, “That means up to two weeks after these theme nights we might not get paid on top of the impending drought we face because of the fact there’s three theme nights back to back.”
Type A showed a rare empathy to the group of people considered expendable in the eyes of Hi-NRG. “I don’t like how this is ending either. Believe me, with knowing you have to hustle with…whatever you do in the Inner Core, I can’t blame any of you if you do such things.” Muscleman could sense that Type A was setting up a trap until the latter added, “I’m not stupid; I’m damn near heartless because I have to treat this like a business of selling flesh encased dreams and fantasies…but I know any dancer has to hustle because for all of our cheap drink prices that screw over Jamie and the hard working bartenders, people are still fucking cheap.” He hugged the dancers and then exited but not before saying, “The cost of living keeps going up. That’s the first thing I learned and that’s the piece of advice I’m passing onto you.”

Once out of the office and back on the bar tops, Rock Hard…Drinks Night proved to be a nadir Muscleman hadn’t experienced in years. “Goddamnit. I barely made $25 in tips.” He thought. “I shouldn’t have shooed Dave off. He understood why, but goddamnit I let easy money walk away.” Scorpio tapped Muscleman on the shoulder and told him, “Meet up with me and him over at the fast food joint. We have to talk about what to do now and have to get you know who in on this too.” Once changed into his tracksuit, Muscleman got in his car and met up with Scorpio and Blondie at the fast food joint. Once inside, he spotted them in a booth with Scorpio on the phone. Seated, he asked Blondie if Scorpio told him about any pending ideas the latter had. “Has he thought of anything yet?” Blondie replied, “He said he wouldn’t conspire or plot without that high energy dude in on this.”

Then, Scorpio had Hi-NRG on the other line. “Hey, I know you might still be pissed off at me but I need you to meet me, our stud muffin over here and blondie from Austin at the fast food joint.” Hi-NRG flippantly complied saying, “Sure thing. Let me figure what I can’t say before I head out.” Scorpio broke the news to him, “Type A just bailed on us and our pay is screwed with. Get your sweaty ass to the fast food joint before I knock your teeth in.” Rightfully defeated, Hi-NRG replied, “I’m on my way.” Seeing Scorpio hang up the phone and in turn his boxing gloves, Blondie took it upon himself to ask about the nature of Muscleman’s relationship with the head conspirator. “You two look like you’re way more than friends. I’m blonde but I’m not stupid. What happened between you two?” Almost forgetting the nature of their relationship, Muscleman saved a tongue-tied Scorpio by replying, “He and I just kind of happened. Not ‘complicated’ but just something that happened…naturally.” Blondie playfully asked, “Was the sex good?” Scorpio jumped in and answered, “A happy man does not totally brag about wonderful things that happened to them.” A suspiciously timed sip of his drink was the only action Blondie made, letting the two of them know he had a clear understanding of their relationship as it stood.

Hi-NRG then walked through the entrance of the fast food joint and spotted the three of them at their booth. He seated himself next to Blondie and apologized for not being there earlier. “Sorry it took me a little bit. What the fuck happened with Type A at Core?” Scorpio explained everything from Type A moving to Houston, the two weeks of uncertain payroll and reminded him of the two theme nights to go before the drought. “So in short, we’re dealing with a deck stacked against us because this business sucks for us.” Hi-NRG exhaled in near defeatist fashion. “Ugh, what the fuck happens now? The drought was supposed to be the only thing to worry about and now this too? What do we do?” Blondie ended up offering the only sound solution to the others. “Ranger works more at that new multi-purpose club up the street from where you guys are. Sometimes I work at Fuego which is roughly the same distance from Core as that multi-purpose club. Working the circuit is probably the only safe bet we have.”

Muscleman was understandably resistant to the idea as was Scorpio. As the former first explained, “I can hustle inside Core. Fuego and that other place you mention can’t give me the side hustles I live off of.” Blondie countered, “Well, Fuego and…I just remembered…Uppercut; they’re side hustles but without fear of getting arrested and in turn suspended from dancing.” Hearing that much thought out, Muscleman explained, “I understand, but marks for me in Core are way easier to read than anyone or anything in Fuego, Uppercut, or any other bar/club that has guys like us dance for tips.” Scorpio concurred, “It isn’t like I could balance Core, community college and another club at the same time.”

Blondie in turn sternly countered, “I’m a goddamn med student, working between Austin’s clubs and having to commute to San Antonio at times and working another club. Travel and career wise, I simply say this much; quit your bitching, bitch. At least all the hats you hang are in one city.” Muscleman was amazed to see more of Scorpio’s armor take such devastating hits. Looking at Scorpio and Hi-NRG he said to them, “Well, we have until after Pop Goes the Playlist to have Fuego and Uppercut as solid backups. God knows how long Core could be open so let’s agree with at least considering these options.” They complied and Muscleman thanked Blondie for opening the door on an exit strategy. “You didn’t have to save our asses like that, dude.” “It’s only a thought that makes sense. Plus, I need more friends down here anyway.” Blondie replied. Once done with their meeting, they proceeded to head off into the night. Blondie in his blue Ford Focus, Hi-NRG in his green Subaru Forester and Scorpio asking Muscleman to let him follow him back to his house. “Can I spend the night again?” Muscleman was unable to feign like he was buying his act. “You just want this dick again don’t you?”
“Am I that predictable by now?”
“I love you.”
“I love you too. Now fuck my lights out when we get home.”

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