I was curious about the position, and the more I thought about it, nights would work with my schedule. I drove to the address that was provided on the printout. The location was in the middle of no where, several minutes outside of the city and even a few miles away from the main highway on a dirt road. The dirt driveway leading up to the building was lined with palm trees. I decided to call the business to find out more about them. Normally, I would look at their website, but there wasn't one listed on the ad. I listened to four rings before someone with a nasal whine answered it, “House phone.”
“Hello,” I said. “I’d like to apply for the vacancy you have listed for a receptionist.”
The woman sniffed and said, “Are you available? Do you have access to a car?”
"Yes, I have a car," I replied.
"Perfect. When are you able to come in for an interview? We are getting a lot of people calling for this position, but no one seems to have a car," The voice on the other end of the phone asked.
"Well, I'm parked outside now."
"Even better, come on in, and I'll see if I can get the manager for an interview. See you inside," the voice on the other end said as the phone clicked off.
As I sat in my car parked outside the building, I was still perplexed at the type of establishment this was. Night shift, driver and receptionist position. Lone standing building outside of the city. Palm trees decorating the driveway, potted plams around the door and lining the area the awning covered leading up to two red doors. One was labeled The Groove, the other, Club Jade. Perhaps this was a night club or a strip club.
A smirk came across my face as I put the clues together, and then thought how I've been wanting a complete change. I was fed up with failing as an actor; I preferred a legitimate position, and this was different. Life was a huge adventure, and I felt like having fun again after the whole miserable separation.
I rang the bell at The Groove, and someone drawled, “What can we do for you, darlin’?”
“Hi,” I said to the speaker. “I'm apply for the receptionist job.”
“Sure, honey, someone will be down in a minute.”
There was a click as the intercom cut off, and I could hear the thud of footsteps down wooden stairs, even through the thick door, that soon swung open.
The women who opened it was a middle-aged and tired looking. She sniffed at me like a dog would who was meeting another dog. She said, “Eamon’s in doing the books, he’ll see you now.”
I followed the woman. It was obvious that she was not one of the working girls since she was wearing sweats and joggers. I was led through an opulent foyer, all maroon walls and mirrors and bad gilt, past doorways to what looked like lounges, and up two flights of stairs.
The second flight of stairs was not carpeted in the same plush chocolate carpet as the rest of the building. I wasn’t sure what color it had once been, but now it was gray and beige, and worn bare across the stairs. The walls were a murky coffee color, none of the deep colors from downstairs, so I figured this was the floor which housed the administration.
The woman said, “Wait here,” and she knocked on a closed door.
A man’s voice called out, “Come in,” and she swung the door open and waved for me to enter.
Her face cracked into what might be an attempt at a smile and she said, “The new boy to see you, Eamon,” as I stepped into the office.
The man behind the desk was mature, perhaps sixty, and dressed, even with his jacket and tie off and his sleeves rolled up, and he came around the desk and held out his hand to me.
I shook his hand and returned his smile. “I’m Eamon, sit down, darling,” he said in the most gorgeous cultured English accent.
I sat. “My name is Sebastian,” I said, handing over my slim CV.
Eamon waved it away. “Don’t bother,” he said. “And I hope Autumn wasn’t rude to you. We’ve had a long day interviewing and are both worn to a frazzle.”
“Interviewing for this position?” I asked, disappointed. Having seen the place, and met Eamon, I wanted to work somewhere like this, with chandeliers and artificial palms in the foyer, and a gay Englishman in charge.
“Not a chance, darling,” Eamon said. “We’ve been interviewing girls and boys for downstairs.” He rolled his eyes. “So dreary. Now, you look like what we want. If you ever decide you want to work downstairs too, I’m sure we could find you lots of bookings.”
I shook my head and laughed, “I can't dance!"
"Dance? You don't have to dance. What kind of place do you think this is?" Eamon asked.
"A strip club?" I replied.
Eamon laughed, as he said, "This is not a strip club darlin'. This is a brotherl."
"A brothel? Isn't that illegal?" I asked.
Eamon replied, "Not in this county. County line is just where the dirt road meets the highway, and prostitution is legal in this county."
"Interesting. Well, in any case, I’m not planning on working down stairs.”
Eamon shrugged and waved a manicured hand at me. “Pity, you look like you might be a movie star. Almost famous even. What sort of work have you done before? Do I know you? Did you used to drive for another company?”
“No,” I said. “I’m an unemployed actor.” Eamon studied me, trying to place my face, and I lied and said, “I’ve done advert work. You might have seen that.”
Eamon smiled. “I can see you selling cars or something. That must be it.”
I had left one of my more conspicuous performances off of my CV. I was hoping to leave my past behind. I wanted to leave behind my life as a dire actor who was so desperate for money that I’d take any role, no matter how bad. Driving a car and answering a phone was a more honest way to make a living.
“Do you think you’ll have any issues with either the prostitutes or the clients? Think you might get freaked out by anything you see?” Eamon asked.
I smiled and shook my head. “I doubt it, I used to be married to the lead singer of a punk band. I went on tour with the band a few times.”
“Sounds like good preparation, you should be fine here. Do you have a car?” Eamon asked. “How big is it?”
“It’s a five-year-old car,” I said. “Seats five.”
“Good. We give you a charge card for petrol, and you’ll use a lot of it driving. I figure if you fill up for your own use, it’s compensation for the wear and tears on your car. I hope you can start tonight, we have no one on downstairs reception for Club Jade tonight.”
“So, I’ve got the job?” I asked, grinning with excitement. I was so used to rejection, going on auditions with every casting director shaking their heads in rejection. I now work in a brothel.
“Definitely darling. Time for you to go home and change clothes before we set up for the night.”
I stared down at my only good pair of slacks and clean shirt. “What should I wear?”
“Let’s see,” Eamon said, glancing at me. “Jeans, plain T-shirt, leather jacket, boots. When you open the door to a client, he needs to understand that you’re not a rentboy, but we nevertheless require you looking tempting.”
I acknowledged, and asked, “Because I’m an actor by trade, I was expecting I could use a different name,” I replied.
“Not an issue,” Eamon said. “All the working girls and boys do, so we’re used to it. Only myself, Autumn, and the owners ever see the pay book, anyhow. Now scoot off home to change, tie your hair up, and then back here; and by then Selene will have arrived, and she can show you what you’ll be doing tonight.”