A Predatory Heart

As a waitress in a gentleman’s club, Susan Baker knew well the base nature of man. With but a few drinks, the kindest of them could forget himself and this said nothing about the fact that few men were truly kind. With a smoky breath growling through their drooling lips, they would fail to request permission for the privileges their rough hands would seek.

At the end of her shift, she would feel dirty as if they had somehow corrupted and infected her. Not even a scalding shower could make her feel clean. Things only got worse as time passed and eventually she felt filthy just for breathing the air or for the sight of the building.

She had no other choice but to endure the leering lechers who ogled her with glassy eyes. Alone in the world, she was estranged from her family and rejected by men who were too jealous to overlook her career. Having no other skills to lift her from her lot, she drifted from one club to another, but she felt trapped as if waiting for her doom.

The relentless ticking of time tapped constantly on her shoulder and whispered from the mirror with each glance. The other girls, who came and went, were younger with each batch. They were friendlier with customers and freer in the liberties they granted. There was no sisterhood to support her, they were childish and self-absorbed, truly as vile as the men.

Her own popularity was shrinking and with it the tips she relied on. She anticipated being fired every time her boss looked at her with his eyebrow raised. Often she wondered how much time was left before they had a little “talk”.

The few men who showed interest were the cast offs, the ones the other girls didn’t want. Fat, ugly, stinking, and repulsive animals, they made her bile rise. Of them, there was one worse than the rest, the creepy Mr. James. It wasn’t that he was bad-looking, on the contrary, he was quite handsome… for an older man, anyway. And by his dress alone it was obvious he was well-off financially. But everything about him filled her with an odd sense of dread.

He would sit in the darkest corner, staring out with piercing eyes. They made her shiver when they fell on her, and sometimes she could feel them even when her back was turned. They seemed to glow, strange and hypnotic, at once daring her to wonder what thoughts stirred behind them while filling her with horror for what they might be.


story by Joe Stanley

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