Innocent woke up covered in sweat. She couldn't remember the nightmare she just had but she knew trying to go back to sleep would be futile. She got out of her bed and slid on her house robe. She walked into the living room and saw her cat Matilda sitting on the window seal looking outside. It was raining.
She sat on the couch and grabbed a joint off of the coffee table. It was early. It was about six o clock in the morning. She still had heard anything from Vincent. She wondered what was the problem. It said he had seen her message on Facebook but he hadn't called. She had given up. Vincent obviously didn't have the time for her. But it was messing up all of her plans.
The other night a famous rapper had come into the club. He was a dope boy rapper. He rapped about cocaine all of the time. For some reason though he was in the VIP doing cocaine. He was very high and his manager had to stop him from snorting several times. The other strippers seemed not to care. They all wanted a shot at him. He was throwing a lot of money the entire night. Her friend Skipper was crestfallen.
" I swear Innocent he is in love with me. He said he would make it rain on me. He showed me a stack of hundreds. This could be your night but it's mine. Mine! You're afraid to approach him," Skipper said to Innocent as Innocent sat backstage in front of her vanity mirror.
It wasn't that Innocent was scared but out of all the nights to show up her favorite dope boy rapper shows up when she hasn't handled her situation with Vincent yet. She couldn't commit to anyone when Vincent knew the truth. The rapper had already sent a bottle of Cristal to her and she had to deny it. She had waited it felt like her whole life for that moment and her nightmares plagued her. Now it seemed that the rapper was into Skipper. Innocent was not jealous but she was angry. She was angry at herself for failing to get Vincent's attention.
Skipper ended up leaving with the rapper and his entourage. The rapper stayed true to his word. He made it "rain" on her. Innocent watched sitting at the bar with one of her regulars that at that exact moment was requesting her phone number. She playfully pushed him away and walked backstage. At this time of the night she was the only one backstage. The room was empty. Everyone was attracted to the coke addict rapper. Begging for his attention. She sat in front of her mirror and looked at her face. She didn't recognize the woman as the little girl she once was. She felt she looked different. She pouted. Maybe she should make her lips bigger. She grabbed her fake breast. To her they looked very real....she felt like something was wrong with her.
She heard footsteps. She turned to see the bouncer Malcom and the owner the "Joker" himself Mr. Lennon entering the room with her. Mr. Lennon had on a cheap business suit. Innocent didn't understand why he wore such cheesy clothes. He made plenty of money. The strip club was probably one of the most lucrative in Atlanta. She guessed he spent his money on other stuff.
" What are you doing back here Innocent? I don't pay you to be back here when we got Snow Cone in here. You bitches need to be out there doing what I pay you to do. What the hell is your problem," Mr. Lennon asked.
" I don't feel good," Innocent said and put a hand over her stomach as if she felt she was sick.
" I heard from his manager you turned down a bottle of Cristal. Are you mad? You bitches need to cater to him. He's got the number nine rap record in the country right now. This is my night!"
Innocent shook her head. The bouncer glared at her. Her and Malcom were good friends. She had him kick out several stalkers before. But the look in his eyes scared her.
" I'm feeling sick. I just throw up a few minutes ago. I think I ate some bad sushi or something earlier," She said and turned back to the mirror. Maybe she should buy a new wig...maybe she should...
She turned and a folded chair was flying towards her head. Malcom had thrown it. She quickly ducked and the chair hit the mirror and her make up, perfume, and other beauty products were scattered everywhere with glass. She tumbled backwards out of her chair and rolled to avoid any shards. She landed on her knees and was on her feet before the chair hit the ground. She stood up with her fist balled.
Mr. Lennon stared at Malcom as if to say continue to attack her. But Malcom stood frozen with his mouth open.
The tension in the room was thick. Innocent slowly rose to the tips of her toes and slowly began bouncing. Her balled fist were shaking angrily.
Malcom turned to leave and Mr. Lennon grabbed him by the arm. " What the hell do you think you're doing?"
" Not tonight boss....I think she's learned her lesson," Malcom responded.
" I will tell you when she's learned her lesson! Now-"
" He's right," Innocent said interupting. She exhaled and forced herself to relax. She smiled a painful grin and began heading back to the club floor. " I'm sorry boss. It won't happen again."
She strolled past the two men and as she did her and Malcom locked eyes. She winked at him.
Two Days Later
It was early morning about 4 AM. Walking down the streets of Atlanta was a crackhead named Pain. Pain was a fifty year old woman that had been smoking since she was thirty. She had been to prison twice. She just couldn't shake the habit. She was dressed in her musty sweats walking down Broad street to the corner store. He wig crooked on her head. She was already sweating. It had been two days since she had gotten high.
It was Sunday. She and her fellow crackhead friends were about to collect the Sunday newspapers and sell them on the corner for a higher fee. Then they would take the money and go get high. It was an all day task but it was worth it. Together they could gather almost five hundred. Scrambling for twenty dollars each a day by panhandling was time consuming. Boosting was risky especially when most of their team had been strung out for a few days. They slept at the salvation army but when it came to choices like washing your clothes or saving to buy some more crack, choices were easy sometimes.
As she approached the corner store she saw a young male sitting outside of the business. He had on a trench coat and slacks. He smiled as she approached.
" You here for the papers right," the young male said.
" No use of lying. Why do you care? You trying to sell papers or some shit. You look like you got better shit to do."
The young male looked at his Rolex and his smile grew " I respect your hustle. You've got to do what you've got to do right? But please leave these papers alone today. I want to city to see today's front page story."
Pain looked confused. " What's the big deal? I got a team snatching these shits up everywhere in the city. They'll get sold either way. Why you want to take money out of my mouth?"
The man sighed. " I got guys at several other newspaper stands as well. It's not just here."
He adjusted his tie and approached the woman. He held his hand out. In it was three hundred dollars. " I want the people to get that old feeling of getting it from the stand. Today is special."
Pain looked at the money for a half a second then snatched it out of his hand. " So that's it? I leave the papers alone now?"
" Yes that's it."
Pain walked away from Vincent McArthur The Third with a joyous laugh.
Vincent shook his head as he approached the Newsstand. He put some change in it and grabbed one of the papers. The headline read:
FAMOUS RAPPER AND STRIPPER FOUND DEAD IN HOTEL.
The Prince would be proud. They had overdosed on the cocaine The Prince had purchased. Now the whole city would want a taste. If it was too pure for Snow Cone then the average fiend was going to be sky high. Snow Cone was the biggest addict in the industry.
He walked to his Benz and opened the door. He sat in the driver seat, put on his glasses, and began reading. After reading the first few paragraphs a chill ran down his spine.
" No," He said loudly. " No!"
It wasn't Mildred. It was some girl named Vanessa. He shook his head in disdain. What had went wrong? He sighed.
Innocent got the news of Skipper's death via Facebook. All of her co-workers were talking about it. Jokes were being told. No one really was friends in her business. The tears were fake. Behind closed doors they all considered her stupid for getting too high. Her inbox was filled with laughter her timeline full of fake despair. Her opinion....she was frightened.
No reader she wasn't reconsidering her line of work. She didn't feel sorry for Skipper either. She was scared because she knew something the other dancers didn't. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Skipper didn't do any drugs at all.