Jen…Jen, Jen.  Jen.  Jen.


My safe haven has been compromised.  Where else was I going to work?  I could not for the life of me find the strength to will myself into accepting her as my boss.  It would be too much of a bruise to my ego.  I had to save face and get the hell out of dodge.  But I couldn’t.  I slowed my packing and resorted to just shifting stuff around like I was looking for something.

Don’t panic.
  See how it goes.
But she’s female.  Can they do that?
You’re already dressed anyway.
It would be a shame to waste the effort you put into getting ready.
And you need the money.
You always need the money.
Fuck, she looks hot. 

The GM kept talking, but I could only decipher blubber.  Everything was kind of hazy and the air was stifling.  I wanted to get on the floor.  Now.  Perhaps if she spends all of her time in the back office, I’ll forget she’s even there.  He finished talking, ending with a welcoming applause to Jen.  Only a few half-hearted claps joined him and, of course, he noticed.  The sparkle in his eyes petered out as he surveyed the room of women – most of whom were well aware of the evening I almost bit the dust.  No smiles.  No nods of encouragement.  Stone faces all around.  On that note, they left the dressing room.

There was an instant rush of noise, quite a bit directed at me:

Are you okay?  
     I can’t believe that bitch is here.  Fuck her.
Don’t leave.
 Are you going to leave?  You shouldn’t leave.  Fuck that bitch.
Are you going to talk to her? 
She was fired from across the street.  
She’s a ho.  
‘Nate’ is an idiot.  
She won’t last.  
Dollhouse is hiring.  It’s pretty nice.  
What are you going to do?

What was I going to do?  I knew that if I wanted to keep working there, I would have to speak to her at some point.  But I wasn’t ready.  All of that anger that escaped me the morning after that dreadful night came surging out of me at that exact moment.  I wanted to hurt her.  I wanted to slap her, yell and shake her until she understood that what she did was poorly handled and almost cost me my life.  I took a deep breath, explained that I would figure out how to handle it, but it was best we maintained our distance.

I hit the floor, determined not to wear my emotions right on my sleeve – or my bra strap, rather.  But my mind wandered right back to that night and its repercussions.  I thought I had already purged this from my system, forgiven her and moved on, counted it among the top 5 lessons learned in my life.  Paying the hospital bills from that evening was supposed to have been the final closure on all of it.  I hadn’t even been back across the street very often since then.  The few times I had, I knew to make sure it wasn’t during her shift.  I counted her as a loss.  Finite.

I kept my eyes glued to the crowd, searching for a weak link where I could easily dissolve into the role I was there to play.  I had to get out of my own head for a while.  There were a few prospects.  I made my move toward the one man who was sitting solo.  No sooner had I taken a step, Jen blocked my path.

Can we talk?

I followed her past the bar toward the back office.  What else could I do?  She was the boss.

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