I work in the town’s biggest club for the town’s fattest bastard, Frankie. My life belongs to him now, mine and many other lost souls of Oceanside. I thought running away to California would open up so many opportunities, not my belt. I thought, things would be... better.
My father died when I was 14, I know it’s bad, but I never cared that much. He was never there for me, so when he died, nothing really changed. My mom however, she meant a lot more. Her leaving the world made me leave my old life. I left Kansas; I left my friends, any other family I had- everything. I went to California to see if I could do something with my life, anything.
But what really happened wasn’t in my big plan. I was homeless; I had no money or no where to stay, it never occurred to me before hand to actually think about this kind of stuff. That’s when Frankie found me. The Town’s biggest, fattest, lamest excuse of a man. At first I thought he was a nice, generous guy, he took me in and offered me a job. The job however was working in his club, Frankie’s Jungle, the town’s most renowned strip joint. The sign says Jungle, but it was really a zoo, and we were the animals locked in cages. Frankie’s Jungle was a unique place, he had girls and guys working the poles, and he gave us all our names, based on what animals suited us to tie in with the whole jungle theme he wanted going on.
Within a week of meeting Frankie, he pushed me into the club. He moved me out of the hotel he paid for me to stay in and moved me in the club quarters with all the other “animals”. He named me Bambi after my lean body, big brown eyes and “cute” face. He said people go crazy for the cute ones. I guess I was slightly flattered, but it was drowned out by the disgust I felt.
It was easy to make friends with everyone else, I was the one there at 16, and Frankie was the most powerful guy in Oceanview so any illegal or explicit activities that went on could be dealt with. I became friends with Bunni, she was a year older than me, and we were basically on the same boat, ran away, didn’t think it through, and got caught by Frankie.
Right before you go out there, the speakers would shout out your “name” and start to play your song and it never failed to get me scared. I remember the first time I had to do it the speakers blasted out
“LADIES ANDDDDDDDDDDD GENTLEMEN PLEASE WELCOME THE NEWEST AND CUTEST MEMBER TO THE JUNGLE, IT’S... BAMBI!”
I was so nervous I ran back to the dressing room, grabbed some of Bunni’s Vodka and it all went down. I needed something to get out there. After that it became a sort of good luck ritual to take at least a shot before I got out. Doing it fully sober would have killed me.
It’s 14th of February, Valentine’s Day, and for me, my biggest business days yet. It’s also Bunni’s birthday she’s 18, finally legal to do what she’s doing, I was still underage being only 17 and still the youngest...performer.
It was 12 noon, I was getting my costume ,or “fur” as Frankie calls it, on He made me keep with a themed outfit , exploiting my youth, making me wear skin tight trousers , bare chest with braces and a dickey bow. I hated it, but I had no choice. I saw Bunni leave her dressing room and I ran to hug her on her birthday, her face lit up as no one else seemed to remember, but I did. I couldn’t forget; she was my best friend here. She came into my Dressing room where we laughed and joked about, I was able to save up and buy her a cake with the little money I was able to sneak, Frankie took everything else, and with 16 animals in his Zoo making shit loads of cash, It didn’t take long to see why he was the richest guy in Oceanview.
I lit a match and set alight the single candle I had in the middle of the cake. It was vanilla with strawberry frosting; Bunni had told me how it was her favourite as a child, so when it came to buying a cake I had to get the right one. She was so happy, which made me happy, I loved to see her smile, it was nice that we could still smile; being in the situation we were in. But all good things come for an end; some bastard must have heard the sound of joy and ratted us out, one of Frankie’s dogs probably. He stormed into us and screamed “What the fuck do you think you lot are doing in here!”
I was about to answer when Bunni yelled out
“Oh God Frankie, just back off for once, It’s my birthday and I’m having a fucking cake.”
“Bitch, who the fuck do think you are, don’t you dare speak to me like that.” Frankie moved closer, he looked into Bunni’s wide blue eyes he raised his arm and hit her across her face. Her head fell; her full fringed long blonde hair fell with it.
“Now, get the fucking hell out there, and dance your fucking ass off!” Frankie managed to move his supersized form out of the room.
Bunni didn’t say anything, she kept her head down. I could see the red mark slammed on her face through her hair. Her eyes, her beautiful blue eyes, they were holding back countless tears, but Bunni was strong and she wasn’t gonna let some fucker like Frankie bring her down. She looked at me and smiled. She stood up, flicked back her blonde locks, turned round towards the mirror and powdered up the mark, she cat walked out of the dressing room and onto the stage to start her shift.
After spending so much time with Bunni, the whole sexuality about her dancing went away, I saw the pain she felt. I saw her dancing round the pole, because she had to.