I could, if I wanted to, blame it all on Trevor. He came to stay with me a few months after the divorce, determined to cheer me up. I wasn’t sure I wanted cheering up. I quite enjoyed wallowing in my misery, thank you very much, and the idea of trailing behind Trevor as we went from bar to bar didn’t hold massive appeal.

But there was no stopping Trevor. That was what had made us such good friends over the years, I think. He was all talk and action and energy. And I was the quiet, thoughtful one who actually followed through. We complemented each other well. We had similar senses of humour. Luckily, we had different tastes in women. So although we’d known each other since college days, had roomed together and even shared a house together for a while, we’d never fallen out over a girl. He favoured small, petite, almost skinny girls who would shyly adore him. I preferred a healthier, fuller figure and a girl who could give as good as she got.

So out we went. I refused to make an effort to get dressed up, however. Trevor seemed to think we would easily have a harem of hot ladies in thrall to us after the second or third bar, but I was more realistic. We were middle-aged men out for a beer, up against a whole city full of younger, more attractive men. We could talk, I could get a load of stuff of my chest (mainly about how much I now hated my ex-wife), Trevor could make consoling noises and then tell me about how amazing his new girlfriend was, we could drink too much, we’d go home.

Trevor had other plans. We had a beer at the first bar, but Trevor pronounced it “too quiet”. I did speculate that a noisier bar would make it harder for him to listen to my self-absorbed whining, but that seemed a little harsh. He’d come all this way to see me, after all.

A second bar seemed perfectly fine to me, but Trevor was disappointed at the relative scarcity of women. “I think this might be a gay bar!” he bellowed at me over the sound of the juke box.

A number of men standing nearby looked at us a little aggressively.

“I don’t think so,” I said. “And maybe… keep your voice down a bit?”

I didn’t really want to end up in hospital if I could help it.

“Come on,” he said. “Let’s find somewhere else.”

So we headed out to see what else the city had in store for us. I was already wishing I hadn’t agreed to this. Two beers was about my limit these days, and I’d already had those.

“How about going for a meal?” I suggested, hopefully.

Trevor waved a disdainful hand.

“Later,” he said. “Maybe. Ah – that looks like the place we want!”

He pointed. I followed his gaze.

“No way,” I said. “Absolutely no way.”

Of course, I didn’t have a hope.


FULLY NUDE DANCING it said on the sign outside.

Once inside, I was relieved – I think – to see this was totally untrue.

I shuffled into the smoky arena in Trevor’s wake. In the centre of a room was a narrow walkway surrounded by armchairs. About half of these chairs were occupied by a selection of men of all ages, from one who looked barely old to be there to one who looked like he could be carried out in a box at any moment. There was also, I was intrigued to see, one woman sitting there. She was probably mid-thirties, short bobbed hair, quite attractive in a slightly masculine way.

“Well, why not?” I thought. “Live and let live, and all that.”

The woman, like her male companions, were watching a blonde girl in a skimpy outfit march up and down the walkway. Occasionally she would bend over and gyrate her hips in what was presumably meant to be a suggestive manner. She was moderately pretty, probably mid-twenties, and she filled her underwear more than adequately. She was, however, definitely a long way from being FULLY NUDE. But hey, who expects truth in advertising anyway?

As we watched one of the men threw a handful of tokens onto the walkway in front of his chair. She scooped, turned to face him, then stepped off the stage and sat on his lap. She began to twist and writhe on his crotch, and as she did so she reached forward and pulled his head forward so it was snuggled between her breasts.

He seemed to enjoy this very much. I have to say, hand on heart, it did nothing for me.

Trevor was delighted.

“THIS IS MORE LIKE IT,” he bellowed.

We headed over to a couple of vacant chairs. A waitress materialised, and Trevor ordered a couple of bottles of beer. If it had been me, I would have wanted to know the price first. The only thing I knew about places like this was that you could easily end up considerably poorer with nothing to show for it. But Trevor, of course, didn’t care about petty details like that. He lived in the moment, and tomorrow could take care of itself. Good for him. But very much not my style.

I watched with a sense of detachment as the girl on the runway was replaced by another. A black girl this time, even better endowed than her predecessor, still not FULLY NUDE. Trevor shook his head.

“NOT REALLY MY TYPE,” he boomed. This seemed very impolite. I hoped she couldn’t hear him.


I shrugged. “Very nice,” I said. More to redress the balance than anything. Like I said, I was often yin to his yang.

The waitress reappeared with our almost certainly criminally over-priced beers. I took mine while Trevor handed her a large sheaf of bank notes. She also handed him a block of plastic tokens.

Oh no, I thought. He’s not really going to get a lap dance, is he?

Of course he wasn’t. He gestured to the girl on the stage, and threw some tokens down. Right in front of my chair.

Kill me now, I thought, as she bore down on me. Just fucking kill me now.

Before I knew it she had stepped off the stage and was lowering herself onto my lap. She had a faint sweaty smell mixed with cheap perfume. She grinded herself against my crotch. I am all in favour of young women grinding themselves against my crotch, I don’t think it happens nearly often enough, but I’m slightly old-fashioned and I prefer it not to happen with a dozen other grinning men watching me. And one probable lesbian.

She turned and pushed my face down into her ample cleavage. This was supposed to be the highlight of the dance, delivering me into paroxysms of delight. I was mainly wondering what kind of expression would be most polite when she finally released me. Stunned joy, I supposed. Like I couldn’t believe my luck.

I did my best, but I don’t think she bought it. She gave me a slightly contemptuous look as she returned to the stage. But perhaps she gave that look to all men who came in there. I wouldn’t have blamed her.

A hostess had appeared on the other side of Trevor. She was petite and blonde and very much his type, and he was engrossed in conversation with her. Something intellectual, I hoped. Ancient Greek Philosophy. The Weimar Republic. The Impressionist Painters. Stuff like that.

Trevor stood up. Time to go already? I couldn’t say I was sorry. Then I noticed he was holding the girl’s hand. Was she coming with us? Surely not even Trevor’s charm worked that fast.


“Downstairs?” I queried.


I nodded blankly and watched as they made their way across the room. A tall, thickly built man with the obligatory shaved head unhooked a rope and they passed into a stairwell and out of sight.

I wondered how long “the action” took. Hopefully not long. I was uncomfortable and a little bored and all these women only served to remind me that I no longer had one of my own.

On the far side of the room there was a cluster of girls talking. Occasionally one would peel off and come and chat to a customer, doubtless to try and get him to buy her a drink or take her downstairs for some “action.” There was a mixture of types, almost certainly by design. Tall, short, blonde, dark, busty, skinny. Some with tattoos, some without – at least none visible from their tiny outfits.

I saw her about a second before she saw me. She was slightly off to one side, sipping a drink and scanning the room. My eye was drawn to her because she had the best figure – in my opinion – of all the girls there. She was tall, about five eight, and slender but still with a good bust. I confess, I was checking out her figure before I worked my way up to her face and I realised I knew who she was.

Then her eyes met mine and I saw her reaction. She was surprised, of course, but then she looked – intrigued? Disappointed? It was hard to tell. Then she gave me a soft smile and started to make her way around the room towards me.

Well, this was going to be an awkward conversation.

Evie had been our babysitter for about five years. She’d started when she was twelve and my son Jack was six. By the time he was eleven my wife and I hardly ever went out together any more, so our arrangement with Evie just kind of fizzled out. I’d always liked her though. She was a smart kid, quietly confident, and you could see she was going to be a good-looking girl when she was older.

I hadn’t seen her for about a year. I’d been wrong about her being good-looking though, she was way more than that, she was really breathtakingly lovely.

“Mr Cranshaw!”

“Hi Evie… er, how are you?”

“Jess,” she said, smiling. “My name’s Jess here.”

“Right,” I said. “Of course. My name here is… Maximillian.”

She giggled. “Jess is my stage name,” she said. “Nobody uses their real name here.”

“Maximillian is my, er, audience name,” I said. “I’m here undercover.”

“I’m sure you are,” she said. “Let me guess. You’re… doing a snap inspection that we’re following all the health and safety regulations.”

“You’ve got me,” I said. “Please don’t tip the management off. I’ve already seen some sprinklers that I’m very concerned about.”

She mimicked running a zipper along her lips. They were hypnotically lovely lips, too, I noticed.

“You here on your own?” she asked, settling into the chair beside me.

“No. My friend is, er, downstairs with a young lady. He’s… doing a pest control inspection.”

“Of course he is,” she said. “And you’re all alone up here.”

I shrugged. “It’s interesting,” I lied. “I’ve, um, never been in a place like this before.” God, that sounded feeble. How many times had she heard that?

“No,” she said. “I can believe that.”

I wasn’t quite sure if that was a compliment or not, so I took a sip of beer and hoped I looked suave.

“I was sorry to hear about you and Mrs Cranshaw,” she said. “I hope Jack’s OK.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Thanks. He seems to be coping. She’s got him some kind of therapist, I think, but I’m not sure he needs one.”

She nodded. “My parents broke up when I was ten. Honestly – I couldn’t have been happier about it.”


“Really. My dad was a total dick. Best day of my life when he finally left.”

Interesting. I’d never heard her use anything approaching bad language before, and I confess it gave me a slight thrill. I was also trying really hard not to gawp at her too obviously. She wore high heels and short red skirt that barely covered the top of her long legs. Then she had a cut off halter top, generously cut at the front to reveal the upper slopes of what looked like a truly lovely pair of breasts. Her hair was tied in a pony tail, just like I remembered her having when she used to come over and watch Jack. That gave her a slight sense of childish vulnerability that I admit I also liked very much.

The conversation paused slightly. I didn’t feel I could enquire too closely about what manner of a dick her father had been. Nor did I feel too much like telling her the sad saga of me and Mrs Cranshaw.

“So,” I said, “been working here long?” So, so lame.

“A few weeks. It’s good money,” she said. “I’m saving up, and I can make more money here than pretty much anywhere else. I’m only going to do it for a few months.”

I wondered to myself how many other girls there that night had said the same thing. Just a few months could turn into a few years so easily.

Evie (or Jess) looked around the room. The man with the bald head seemed to be glaring at her and giving her some kind of signal. She sighed.

“It’s really nice to see you, Mr Cran… Maximillian… but I’m only really supposed to chat with customers for two minutes before I move on.”

“Oh,” I said. “Sure. That’s a shame. It’s really nice to see you.”

“You too,” she said. She seemed to be thinking. “I mean, we could keep on talking, but I’ll need to take you downstairs, and that’s kind of expensive.”

I nodded slowly. I realised I really wanted to keep talking to her. Of course, she was way too young for me, but after this I’d probably never see her again. Certainly there was no way I could ever show my face in this club again now that I knew she was here.

“That’s OK,” I said. “Do you get to keep the money?”

“Most of it,” she said. “The club gets twenty percent, but I keep the rest.”

I shrugged cheerfully. “That’s ok then. You said you’re saving up. I’d like to help a bit with that. It’s not really that much different from when I used to give you your babysitting money, is it?”

She looked at me, a faint smile of amusement flickering across her face. “I think you’ll find it’s a little different,” she said.


She stood up and led the way across the room towards the stairwell where Trevor had disappeared only a few minutes earlier. As she walked I couldn’t help admiring her the way her backside elegantly and deliciously filled out the skirt. You are a dirty old man, I told myself severely.

The bald-headed man unhooked the rope and glared at me as I went past. Perhaps he did that to everybody. It seemed a bit harsh if he didn’t.

Downstairs was a murky maze of small rooms, all set off a dog-legged corridor. Most of them seemed empty, though I got the occasional glimpse of a naked girl grinding away on somebody’s lap. It was too dark to see anything very clearly. To add to the sense of disorientation, there was a relentless thudding soundtrack pumped mercilessly along its length.

“We’ll go to the end booth,” said Evie/Jess in my ear. “It’s a bit more private.”

She led me to the end of the corridor and then turned and pushed her way through a sparsely separated beaded curtain. You could still easily see out, but I suppose it gave a slight impression of intimacy. There was a sofa against one wall. A sign above it said “STRICTLY NO TOUCHING.”

Trying hard not to think about all the various previous occupants of the sofa, and what stains they may have left behind, I settled myself down at the far end of one sofa and gestured to Evie she should sit at the other. I made sure there was plenty of space for her to sit down and still have some distance between us. I really didn’t want to give her the impression I was drooling over her – though actually, inside I couldn’t really claim that I wasn’t.

She looked at me, a little awkward and hesitant.

“Um,” she said, still having to speak loudly so I could hear. “I’m afraid you need to pay me now.”

Of course. Thank goodness Trevor had insisted I take out plenty of cash at the start of the evening. I had several hundred on me, though I hadn’t really thought I’d needed that much. Perhaps Trevor had planned this more carefully than I thought.

“So… how much are you?” I asked. God, that sounded awful.


“I SAID, HOW MUCH ARE YOU?” No, no better the second time. Worse, if anything, for having to shout it into her ear.

She laughed. “How long do you want me for?”

Jesus. That was a question.

“Twenty minutes?” I had no idea what was usual. That seemed quite a sensible, moderate period for a catch-up chat.

“Twenty minutes? Are you sure? I mean… most guys pay for five minutes or ten at most.”

She leaned forward to talk directly into my ear again. “Twenty minutes is actually quite a lot of money! It’s a couple of hundred.”

Ah. Also awkward. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by implying she wasn’t worth it, but two hundred to find out how life was treating my former babysitter, lovely though she was, seemed a bit steep.

Somebody, somewhere, had complained about the noise, because at this point the music mercifully became a little softer.

She sensed my hesitation. “Why don’t you give me fifty for five minutes, and then if you want more, you can pay me another fifty, OK?”

“Sure,” I said, grateful for her taking the lead. I took out my wallet and handed her the money. She popped it into the small purse she was carrying and put it down on the sofa beside me. Then she reached up to start undoing her top.

“Whoah!” I said hastily. “Um… there’s no need to do that.”

She was genuinely surprised.

“You’ve paid me for a lap dance, Mr Cranshaw. Are you sure?”

Ninety-five percent of me was screaming that of course I wasn’t sure. Actually, ninety-five percent of me was totally sure that seeing her with her top off was easily the best thing that would happen to me this year.

Five percent of me, however, was having none of it.

“Call me Ben,” I said. “I feel about a hundred years old as it is. And please Evie – Jess – keep your clothes on.”

She looked at me for a moment in a way that I wasn’t sure I really understood. Then she reached out and softly stroked my cheek.

“I always liked you,” she said. “You were always really nice.”

Perhaps she said things like that to all the guys. But I treasured it anyway.

There was a sound from the corridor outside. Somebody else was coming down this way, I assumed another girl with another willing male participant. But no. It was my friend the bald-headed man.

He stopped outside the doorway and glared at me through the beaded curtain. Then, for good measure, he glared at Evie.

“Everything OK?” he asked. I sensed he was hoping the answer would be no.

“Everything’s cool, Gary,” said Evie. “Thanks.”

Gary seemed unconvinced. “He’s paid you, has he?”

“Fifty,” she said. “It’s all fine.”

Gary nodded. “You’d better get started then,” he said. He gave me a final glare and then stomped off, intending no doubt to spread more good cheer among the other customers.

Evie sighed. “It’s probably best I do this properly,” she said. “I don’t want to get either of us into trouble. I know Gary, he’ll come back and check.”

I didn’t quite get what she meant until with a single movement she reached up and tugged her top off. Then she unhooked her bra, cast it aside, and started sliding her skirt downwards.

I gasped audibly. She was a vision. Her breasts were heavy, firm and round, as only young breasts can be. They were topped with perfect islands of browny pink, and I could see each of her nipples was slightly erect. As I watched she stepped out of her skirt and then peeled her thong downwards.

So, I thought, this is where the FULLY NUDE bit comes into play. I mentally apologised to the management for ever doubting them.

She stood in front of me, seemingly a little shy. She did a mock flourish, kicking up a heel and striking an exaggerated pose. “Ta da.”

“My god,” I said. “You’re really, beautiful Evie. I mean… Jess.”

“Thank you,” she said. “From both of us.”

“You must hear it a lot,” I said. “But I mean… wow!”

She laughed softly. “Well, I guess I hear it fairly often, but it’s especially nice coming from you.”

“Look,” I said hurriedly. “This feels… I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable. Why don’t you keep the money… in fact you should take another fifty… and you get dressed, and I’ll go.”

I stood up and started reaching for my wallet. Evie reached for my hand and held it firmly.