She was told to arrive at the club around four pm. Emily thought she would be the only one but there was another woman there. She was standing outside the door. The Knock, Knock club sign hung high about her head. She was beautiful, with porcelain skin and a finely formed figure beneath the black t shirt and khaki trousers she wore. She was far prettier than Emily. Emily never saw herself as anything special. Her fair hair was brittle and no matter how many bottles of dye she put over it she could never get it the shade of honey blonde she had as a girl. It just made it even more brittle.
She was nothing special but when she danced she turned heads. She was trained in ballet and tap. She could be dancing at some of the biggest theatres in the city but when the recession hit the theatres were shut down. She had to find her bread somehow so she answered a mysterious ad at the back of the Coldford Daily. ‘Dancers wanted’ it said. It didn’t specify which type of dance but Emily was sure it wouldn’t be ballet. She called the number given. The man she spoke to didn’t give her much information. He just asked her what experience she had, gave her an address and asked her to come by the club at four pm. Looking at the exterior of Knock, Knock nerves began to flutter in her stomach like opening night jitters. If she hadn’t been so desperate she would never have gone through with it.
“Do you work here?” Emily asked the other.
“Not yet,” she replied with a friendly smile. “I assume you are here for the dancer job?”
Emily felt more at ease. If she had to bring herself to this sordid club to pay her well overdue bills then at least she would have a friend.
“The manager will be round in a minute to let us in,” she explained. The other woman’s choppy, black hair was luscious and had a playful hint of blue through it. “My name is Lydia”
She took Emily’s hand and shook it. “Are you sure you want to be in a place like this?” she asked.
“I have to get the work where I can,” replied Emily. The nerves returned.
Lydia was going to say something but before she could get the words out the door was pulled open. A tall, lean man inspected them both from the door way.
“Dancers?” he asked.
“That’s right,” Lydia answered for them both. Emily found herself nodding stupidly.
“Come on in,” he beckoned.
The inside of the club was even grottier than the exterior made it seem. The tables on the club floor had their chairs piled on top of them, not yet ready for that evening’s performance. On one of the vacant tables sat a pile of money. The man lifted the money and slipped it into a white bag. Lydia watched him closely.
“I’m Dennis. I manage this place,” he said when the money was stored away. “We’re in a bit of a bind. Our last dancer didn’t get on with our main act. To cut a long story short we need dancers to start right away.”
He pulled one of the chairs down and took a seat. The women remained standing.
“I’m free to start,” Emily managed to get the words out.
Dennis flicked the black hat he wore to the back of his head and leaned forward.
“I don’t have much time so let me see what you got.”
Emily looked to Lydia.
“Look,” he said reaching into his shirt pocket and producing a cigarette. “I can’t have you getting shy on me. I’m not running a kid’s club here. If you are going to dance you are going to have to please the customer. Now strip.”
Lydia raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips. She pulled off her t shirt revealing a black brazier underneath. She unclipped the brazier and dropped the floor. She stood straight, bare breasted.
Dennis gave a sardonic smile.
“That a girl,” he commented.
He turned to Emily.
“So are you going to play the game or am I going to have to look elsewhere?”
Emily still hesitated. Dennis tapped his wrist.
“Time is money, sweetness. Either you get the girls out or there is no work here for you.”
That day Emily peeled the clothes from her body under the leering stare of the club manager. The Knock, Knock club expected a lot from her. What else was she to do?
The Knock, Knock graphic novel is coming August 2018.
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