They say you don't get a job at Sugar Shack 'less you ain't got nowhere else to go.
Now, the place used to be called Sally's Sugar Shack, an' that's when I first got a job there ten years back. I'd been five years out of Desert Storm, only thing it left me was a bad knee from the combat boots, an' a real nasty scar that ran across my neck I'd show off when I had a bit too much to drink. That man Clinton went off and cut benefits for Veterans, so I had to find myself a job. I worked the aluminum factory out of Alcoa for a few years, but with the knee and my agin' back, it started to be a bit too much.
The Sally behind Sally's Sugar Shack got me a job bouncin' out front. Easy enough job. Make sure homeless stay out of Sally's home, make sure everybody puts down the cover fee, an' if anyone touches the dancers, they get thrown out. Considerin' I've always been more than a little big for my age, and even now with near all grey in my hair I ain't someone you wanna be tryin' to intimidate. Like I said, easy enough job.
"Jus' don't let my boys get hurt, Jake," she says, "An' I'll pay you fine an' treat you right an' well."
Strip joint for queeries, but that's their business, not mine. I was taught quick by Uncle Sam that we don't ask an' we don't tell an' that's the way it works. Usually get a group of bachelorettes a night, bunch of yuppies ain't got nowhere to go, an' a lot of really strange men.
None of 'em were quite as strange as the Doctor.
But I ain't there yet, let me give you a bit more of the backstory.
So, I get used to the way things work at Sally's Sugar Shack, and I figure out how things get run, and things figure out me. She's got her girls, and they work bar here to be left alone, so I do. The dancers---Sally's Boys, they're still called that to this day---they learn right quick I ain't interested, an' my nickname starts changin' from "Blue Eyes Jake" to "Big Jake", and Big Jake kind of sticks an' that's all right, cause when the girls behind the bar say it, they usually give me a wink, an' after my second divorce it's right flatterin' to have some young thing tell you that you're "Big Jake".
So, eventually the 'ly' neon goes out above the 'Sugar Shack' an' for the next six years it's 'Sal's Sugar Shack', 'til I come in the back room one night to find Sally's done a few lines too many an' she ain't breathin'. Everythin's left to me. I ain't Sally, and I ain't pretendin' I am, but I sure as hell ain't attachin' my name to the Shack, so I just call it "Sugar Shack". Get it open, get a co-owner, start the boys dancin' an' get myself a few new bouncers. Even have an open-dance night where a few men can come in, wait tables and dance for free. Real kick with the amateur lovers in the audience.
So we're havin' one of those nights when he shows up. I'd just got through hiring a new bouncer and a bartender, and the bartender's a bit too friendly with the Boys, but she'll do, and the bouncer is eighteen levels of stupid, and I'm thinking I made a really big mistake in not making a written part of the application.
So the fourth ass-drunk amateur dancer's done his set, and I'm counting the rent when I hear a commotion outside. The line's being held up by someone, and Donnie can't quite figure out how to get this guy past.
So I walk up. And, like I said, I'm big. The line gets all quiet, except this skinny-ass Brit, standin' in line and arguing that he's got to get in. Donnie tries tellin' him that there's a cover, but he keeps flashing this wallet, saying he's authorized to get in without payment, that it's a matter of emergency or some such shit.
"So, what's goin' on?" I say.
Donnie's all befuddled, and he turns around, pointing at the guy like you don't do unless you want him to take that finger and snap it back. "Says he's with the silencing beureau. His ID looks legit, but you told me ain't nobody goin' in 'thout cover."
Like I said, stupid, right? So I take a look at this ID and it's just a piece of white paper in a wallet. I turn to this guy and tell him so.
'Less you ain't figured it out, this guy? He's the Doctor. All skin and bones, and spiked up hair makes me think he's a yuppie fool, 'cept he's got that accent. His suit's all muddied up, and he looks like he's just stopped runnin', which is a warnin' sign for a convict runnin' from the cops, but there ain't nobody runnin' behind him. And he's cute. Now, I'm straight as a Robin Hood's arrow, and I'm tellin' you, the boy's cute. Boys that cute don't come bargin' into Sugar Shack, they go up the street to Diva, and get better dancin' for higher prices.
I hand him back the wallet and tell him it ain't a valid ID, cause it's just a white piece of paper. Donnie tries tellin' me otherwise, but I shut him up quick.
Surprisingly, me tellin' the Doctor that his ID ain't legit impresses him or something, cause he starts lookin' me up and down like…I dunno, not like he's lookin' me up and down, but…well, like I’m a smart student back in school or something.
"Right," he says, suddenly all manners of reasonable that he wasn't a minute ago, "Right, so, I haven't got any money, how do I get in?"
So, that's how he ended up working one shift at the Sugar Shack.
Mary Lou fixed him up with a pair of black jeans and a tank with one of those little indestructible name tags. Can't break them, can't melt them---believe me, I've tried. He wouldn't give a name other than "Doctor", so Mary Lou fashioned his with "Doctor Love", and he looked less than impressed, which probably made the whole thing that much better.
He wasn't bad at table waiting, or greeting. He had that obnoxiously humongous smile that charmed or startled pretty much everyone, and he was weird, but he didn't seem crazy, you know? For a guy flashing a white piece of paper at a bouncer and telling him it was an ID, he seemed like all right stuff.
"Hey, Jake, the guy at table four wants a double-split sundae. Is it too inappropriate to tell him that he doesn't need the 4,564 calories?"
"Yeah, Doc Love, it probably ain't entirely proper."
"All right. I'll get Gracie to add a banana, though. Make it healthy, at least."
See what I'm saying? Completely sane. But then he'd start asking weird questions. Questions about the staff, about where they're from and such, which is usually the sign of a creep, and that means they get kicked out. But the Doctor brushed people off when I tried to describe them, like bein' from Wisconsin or Baltimore just ain't good enough. Lookin' for more exotic flesh or something. You could hear the hearts of the Alcoa girls breakin'.
Now, like I said before, the guy was cute. Girls workin' the tables and bars with better gaydar than me said that he had to be really unavailable or asexual, which meant they all took bets as to who could get this guy in the dressing room first. Everyone 'cept Fat Nancy, but she's so stiff a dyke she could hold up water if you put her against a river. All the other girls called him Brown Eyes Doctor Love, and that's because nobody in the Sugar Shack is original anymore.
"Are they dancing to 'Love Shack'," Brown Eyes asks me as he walks the tables, "In the 'Sugar Shack'? That's really, really tacky. And not particularly original."
"Tell me about it, bud."
"'Bud'? Bud. Huh. I like that. I'll have to use that."
He gets off waiting tables with a wallet full of tips, and went right on to greeting. He didn't seem to like it, but the night was getting late, and everyone who was in was pretty much plannin' on stayin' in and watchin' the rest of the amateur night.
One of the girls, a pretty little redheaded thing named Rosie, with legs from here to there, she took a special shine to him. She was a little shy 'til you got her in the right position (or so the rumor goes, Big Jake don't mess with the girls). When Brown Eyes walked into the back, she pulled her hair out of its ponytail, applied a fresh coat of fuck-me-red lipstick and followed him, a bit of a saunter to her hips.
The bartending girls started on their gossiping, figuring that if anybody could get Brown Eyes Doctor Love to relax, it'd have to be Rosie. And me, well, I figure everybody deserves a little love, even in the Sugar Shack. 'Course, ten minutes later she comes running out of the back with teared-up mascara, so no love for Doctor Love, I guess.
"What's the matter, Brown Eyes," I asked, stickin' my head in the men's room where he's washin' his face, "Rosie's sweet enough, an' you ain't got the look of a married man."
"You know all about that sort of thing, then?" he replied, givin' me a cheeky half-smirk that means he's tryin' to change the subject.
"Married three times," I said, "I'm an expert. Seriously, Doc, what's so bad about Rosie?"
He looked away, all nostalgic-like, and shook his head, "She's not the right Rose."
When a man looks like that, it means you don't ask him anything else. I get the same way when someone mentions Angie, the girl that picked the big school in the city over the Army-bound kid from Tennessee. So I leave him to that misery or whatever, and remind him that he's up on stage in twenty.
Now, if you want to see the most hysterical thing ever, you gotta see Brown Eyes when Jason and Mary Lou are trying to get him on stage. Most people pick the part-time work at the Sugar Shack for the stripping only, and get bitchy when the waiting tables and greeting part comes up, but this kid, he starts wailing and moaning that he doesn't feel "comfortable" getting naked in front of a room of people.
And then he gets weird. Like he wasn't weird enough. He says he can't be naked, because he's got to carry around this little thing, looks like a pen or something. That it's a detector.
"Detectin' what?" Mary Lou asked, "We usually keep our radar in our brains."
"You have Slitheen radar? In your brain?" From the way his eyes were bulgin', I was pretty sure he was about twenty seconds from exploding.
But the two of them get him into our generic professor's outfit (he's got that teacherly-look to him), shove his glasses on his face (for prop), and toss him out on stage to 'Don't Stop Believing'. The poor guy looks really, really insulted by the music choice, but he steps out on stage with as much confidence as a skinny Englishman can when surrounded by a room full of horny, drunk gay guys.
He sighs, and scans the room, and makes a move to untie his tie. He gives it one jerk to the music, then another, and the crowd starts to go nuts---cute guy, really shy, this reaction's pretty normal. Then Brown Eyes' eyebrows go up, and he points at the bar, right to Fat Nancy.
I ain't never seen Fat Nancy run before, but I'm tellin' you, the fat girl could run like she was that Olympic runner with the long-ass nails or somethin', and Brown Eyes leaps off stage over Homeless Barney who wasn't homeless but wore smelly clothes like we didn't know he was a politician or somethin'.
Fat Nancy screams, and then she growls, an' then next thing I know her skin's all ripped off, and there's this thing, this big green thing that sort of explodes outta her. It turns and makes a run towards the Doctor, who's still got that pen thing. He points the pen at the green thing and it explodes. Just fucking explodes all over the Shack and the patrons and my bar.
And then it gets all sorts of silence, 'cept for the sounds of Journey echoing through the building. The Doctor turns back to the stage, picks up his tie, and walks on out, straightening it as he's walkin' out the door.
After my dumbstruck idiocy wore off, I made a move to run after him, down the street, ask what the fuck Fat Nancy was, but all I heard was this weird engine noise, echoin' down the road.
You know, we still get requests for him to dance to this day.