“You need work? I have work for you.” The Punjabi leered toward me as I pumped my gas. He was an older Pakistani man. Short, overweight and not very attractive, but clean and well dressed. He owned the gas station and convenience store that I frequented, but was rarely there.
“No thanks, I have a job.” I was short with him – it usually got the point across.
“Where you work?” He pressed.
“At a shoe store.”
He laughed and sneered “Shoe store? You a pretty girl, but you sell shoes.” He laughed again. “When you want a good job, you call me, I have good money for you. You dance, you make money – very easy.”
I looked at him with disbelief and restated, “No thanks.” Who the hell did he think he was? So, you own a couple gas stations and suddenly you’re better than me? You think you can insult my job, then offer to pay me to get naked – that’s the way to a girl’s heart for sure, call her a whore.
A couple weeks later, I happened to be alone on a Saturday night and stopped in at the store for some cigarettes. Out in the parking lot, he approached me again. “So, Heartbreaker, you think about my deal?”
As it turned out, I had. What’s the big deal anyway? So I’m hot. So people want to see me naked. So they’ll PAY me for it. I was young and I certainly wasn’t a prude, who was I to judge someone who does that for a living?
His eyes lit up, “Oh, yeah? Let’s go talk…get in.”
Against my better judgment, I got in the truck.
As he drove to an area I’d never been to, I started getting nervous. He pulled into the driveway of a big suburban-type home.
“This my brother’s home – his family is in vacation.” He saw the concern in my face and added, “It’s okay, we talk, that is all.”
Inside, I scoped out the house. It looked like you’d imagine a successful Pakistani family’s house to be. Modern American toys mixed in with religious candles and large portraits of Pakistani leaders. It eased my nerves a bit to know it was a family home.
He made me a drink and started talking money, “Other girl who does this, she not pretty as you. You will make much more. My American friends, they like the breasts. Other girl has too many drugs, she is too skinny. She like that crank – the meth? She gross, no breast. And still, she make a lot of money.”
He pulled out his big sack of coke and asked, “You do this?”
“Hell yeah,” I said and he cut my line.
He found a deck of cards and threw me a wad of cash. “Play blackjack.” He instructed. “You keep what you win, just don’t owe me or I’ll make you pay.”
“I’m not a gamblin’ kind of girl.” I said.
“You came here tonight.” He replied.
I placed my bet.
We spent the rest of the night playing blackjack and talking. I tried to be interesting. I tried not to seem as green as I really was to his whole world. But no matter where I steered the conversation, he wouldn’t talk any more about the ‘deal.’
By the time the sun came up, I was burned out and ready to go home. I felt stale from all the alcohol and cocaine. I was embarrassed that I took him so seriously.
“That’s enough for me,” I said, “Should I call a cab or can you take me back to my car?”
It was then that he said, “Heartbreaker, I can’t let you dance for my men. I feel you here,” placing his hand on his heart.
“Oh, yeah?” I laughed, “You don’t even know me.”
He looked at me with a convicting glare. “I will,” he replied.
In my head I thought, ‘Great! I finally decide to do this and now he’s not even going to let me. Love. Blech! He’s probably going to get all obsessive now!’
Little did I know…
The Garden’s announcer says: Will Butrfly become a dancer? Will she tell The Punjabi to shove it? Tune in next week to find out.