“Tara!” Angel hissed, grabbing my arm and pulling me towards the bathroom. Her brows knotted together and she nodded her head at the door dramatically. I put my head to the door and could barely hear raised voices through the steady thuds of the heavy metal playing in the club. I pushed the door open a couple inches and looked in.
A tall, muscular black girl was holding a tiny pretty Asian girl by the hair and bashing her head off the bathroom stalls.
“Get the bouncer,” I whispered to Angel.
I used to just jump right into these situations, fists flying. I’m a lot more laid back now. A lot less willing to deal with the lost income that comes from a black eye.
“Hey!” I yelled, stepping into the bathroom. It’s a trick I learned working in a biker bar with no bouncers. If you yell “hey” just in the way you would to break up a dog fight everyone will freeze. And they did.
“Get to work,” the big girl told the tiny one, pushing her towards me.
The bouncer came running up behind me. “What the fuck is going on here?!”
“Nothings going on. Passion, tell the man everythings fine.”
Passion, the tiny one, looked up at us with tears running down her face. “It’s fine,” she sobbed.
The bouncer, a sweet kid who’s really never seen anything like this before, looked at me nervously. I looked at the two new girls. Maybe the bigger one was Passion’s pimp?
“I was told there was a fight in here,” he said.
“We gotta get ready to work.” The bigger girl pushed past us, tiny one in tow.
“I’ll get the manager.” She was hard to find. When I finally found her and filled her in on the latest dressing room drama she ran back to the dressing room.
The bigger girl was getting in our bouncer’s face, yelling that nothing was going on, when I dashed back into the dressing room behind the manager. “What the hell is going on here?!” she yelled.
“Tell the lady everything’s fine, Passion.”
The bouncer fidgeted. “I was told they were fighting in the bathroom.”
The big girl stepped up even closer to him. “I told you everything’s fine, fuck face. What the hell is your problem?”
I could see Misty, a rather street smart girl who’s roommates with the bouncer kicking her stripper shoes off.
“All right, just pack up your shit and get out, we don’t need this drama,” the manager announced.
“Oh we don’t mean no disrespect, ma’am, we just lovin your club and we ain’t disrespecting you at all. Passion, tell the lady everythings fine.”
“Everything ain’t fine and I can’t have you talking to my security like that. Now pack up your shit and get out.”
“You can’t make that girl leave with that girl that was beating her up,” I told the manager.
“I don’t need the drama, Tara.”
I glared at her. The girls were almost dressed.
“Look,” the manager announced “you can stay, but we need to get you out of here. Here, my bouncer’s going to walk you out.”
“Passion ain’t staying without me.”
“She’ll make up her own mind, you can wait out front for her.”
The big girl pulled out her phone and started dialing as she walked out of the dressing room with the bouncer.
The manager took a deep breath. “Look, if you wanna stay get your shit outta the car and we’ll lock it up back here, but that’s only if you’re ready to get away from that shit. Now I got a club to run.”
The tiny one looked up at me and asked to use my phone. Sure. She called her pimp. He told her to leave with the big mean girl. She cried and she whined. “Ronny, she’s gonna fuck me up, she was fucking me up in the bathroom.”
Ronny was clicking back and forth between hoes, so I talked to her while she was waiting for him.
She was from Minneapolis, and she wasn’t spilling any of her secrets. I told her I’d hook her up with a place to stay and there were plenty of people here who would help keep her safe. I pulled out my best routine from when I used to volunteer at the womens shelter. It wasn’t working, she was only focused on how to get back to her pimp without riding with the other girl.
The other girl was still out front, on the phone with the pimp.
Finally the manager came back and told her to dump the pimp or leave. She left.
The club was mostly in shock. We don’t have that kind of thing up here. A girl from Florida explained the pimping dynamics to us: Passion must be the new hoe, and the older hoe was the enforcer for the pimp, who wouldn’t do anything uncharming for a few months yet.
I wonder what makes some people so unable to save their own lives. I’ve been there, a little. But I’ve always left. I’ve never been afraid to set off cross country with my dogs and what I could fit in a barely running car to get away from a bad situation. I think that there’s a point, everyone’s gotta have a point, where they’ll get up and do whatever they need to do to save themselves. For me it’s pretty close to the surface, but for some people it’s so buried that they won’t find it until they are half dead, and I only hope they have the strength to save themselves then.
I still have the pimps number in my phone.
10/28/15 – When I wrote this story eight years ago I used words that I now understand are offensive. I’ve removed them and I sincerely apologize for my previous ignorance.