I wanna thank D and Co. for getting the Bishi Harem riled up with the “Shooters” fanart/fiction idea. That’s what started this nonsense. There’s nothing like having 18 muses throwing in their two cents, all at the same time!
Luckily Quatre came through with an idea to do a humorous spin on “A Bunny’s Tale”, a made for TV movie based on a piece Gloria Steinham wrote about being a Bunny at the Playboy Club in New York. Unfortunately, while the idea was terrific, I estimated it to end up being far too long to be included in the Shooters archives (that Quatre was talking chapters was a big tip-off). But I didn’t want to give up on it, so we changed the name of the club, and made a few adjustments to the uniform (I wanted them to go naked, but the boys suddenly developed a sense of modesty. *rolls eyes*). If anyone wishes to volunteer their artistic talents to illustrate this story, you are more than welcome. The site could use some new visuals.
“She has to be dropping acid! There’s no other explanation!”
I sighed; my eyes rolling back. Animated image of smiley faces beating a dead horse replaying itself over and over in my mind. When WuFel had himself settled into a good rant, it was best to just let it run its course. Resistance is futile’ and all that.
“WuFei,” I began (okay, so I was resisting), “the assignment is to keep a journal for the duration of the course, then writing a paper comparing said journal to an inanimate object. That is hardly ‘acid’ material. If anything I’d say it was more alcohol induced.” I grinned at my attempt to lighten my friend up. We had stood on this crowded bus for twenty minutes and on the Red Line for thirty before, and all the while I was blessed with the pleasure of quietly enduring him complain about the assignment, bellyache about the professor, and bitch about the class. Complete strangers were now looking at me with sympathy.
Naturally, I received a look of appalled shock from my traveling companion. “Are you saying you agree with this insanity?”
“It’s a creative writing course.” I was about to add something about creative writing requiring some use of the imagination but a window sign caught my eye from our current bus stop. “Look!” I pointed. “The 2 of Rods is hiring!”
WuFei glanced at the sign, shrugged and said, “So?” before a look of sudden realization quickly melted into one of mild exasperation. “Dear god! Don’t tell me you still have that silly fantasy of becoming a 2 of Rods ‘Stud Muffin’?”
“It’s not silly!” I defended.
WuFei raised an eyebrow and looked at me sternly.
“Alright! It is silly! But only a bit. In fact its silliness is miniscule.” I held up my hand, with my thumb and forefinger nearly touching, to use as a visual aide. I knew I wasn’t going to convince my friend, but I wasn’t about to drop it, either, as it seemed my inadvertent change in subject had de-railed the Rant Express. “What’s wrong with being silly anyway? It looks like a fun job.”
“Have you forgotten?” he leaned over to ring the bell for our stop, “I have seen you naked. Beefcake you are not.”
“I can hold my own, thank you very much!” I insisted, holding my own for dear life as the bus came to an abrupt stop. “I really wish you would give the driver more notice, WuFei.”
“Back door, please!” he called up to the bus driver. As soon as we were exited and safely on the sidewalk, WuFei turned to pick up our conversation. “You? Hold your own?”
“Yes! In case you forgot I have managed to survive every impromptu football game we’ve participated in.”
“That is because you cheat.”
“Cheat?! Me? I’m offended!” I mocked, playfully.
“Does the new rule ‘No cup no game’ ring any balls?”
A questioning smirk appeared. “Balls?”
“Bells,” corrected WuFei.
“You said ‘balls’.” A snicker slipped out.
“Your perverted ears may have heard ‘balls’, however the word ‘bells’ is what actually left my lips.”
“Sure, sure,” I nodded, failing miserably at suppressing my laughter. WuFei could be stubborn, but as I watched the pillar of strength double over with his own laughter I knew, this time, he was merely trying to bust my, well, balls.
One of the important factors in deciding where we should live, while in school, was that our home be within staggering distance from at least one bus stop. Our apartment’s location proved useful on this occasion as well, as we wiped our eyes dry of laughter upon entering the main complex. WuFei checked the mail while I fought with the lock on the door accessing the lower floor. Mail in hand and I not successful with my task, he traded the mail for my keys and took his turn at it.
“We should speak to the landlord about this,” he said.
I reached around WuFei and pulled the keys out of the lock. Our choice of living space is in one of the oldest apartment complexes in Arlington. The rent is inexpensive, a point our landlord reminds us of when we need a “non-emergency” repair. If it doesn’t cost him more money to do so, he prefers to let it sit. So, with the lock only barring access to those with worn keys or those whose keys were several generations beyond the original (such as ours), it sat. “We should learn to use the other door,” I replied, heading back up the stairs and onto the next floor. WuFei sighed in disgust as he followed.
Finally inside our apartment, I quickly deposited my belongings on the floor, picked up the telephone and dialed the number for Information. Somehow this earned me a glare from my roommate. “What? We’re allowed three free calls a month.” He was about to say something but I had to wave him silent, as just then the pseudo operator answered and asked me for the city and state of the number I was looking for.
“You’re really going to do it?” he asked as I wrote down the number I was given. Or I think he asked. It could have been a statement. Growing euphoria dampened my ability to gauge my surroundings. Had I not been so giddy, I may have acted defensively against what might have been trying to rehash out earlier discussion. Instead I gushed over the prospect of becoming employed by the 2 of Rods.
The following morning I stood before the entrance to one of the finest nightclubs in the area. I suppose taking the day off from classes at the beginning of the year for a job interview may not be one of my brightest ideas, but the thought of what could happen here far outweighed what would happen there. Even WuFei’s bleak impending doom version of it.
“Can I help you?” a husky voice asked.
I started, not having seen the reflection of another young man, now standing to my right, in the glass doors I had pondered my future in. He stood there, rather nicely filling out a T-shirt which read “The Sex Was So Good the Neighbors Had a Cigarette!” and I can believe it. He appeared to be about the same age as me. Same height, too. With long chestnut hair lazily pulled back, leaving wispy, not-so-wispy, and damp tendrils to frame his face, his eyes. Are they really violet?
“Can I help you?”
“Huh?!” I shook myself back into reality.
“I get that response a lot,” he beamed. “So what can I do you for?”
I had to replay his question in my head to be sure I hadn’t heard him incorrectly. “I, um… I’m just waiting to ah, meet someone here, that’s all,” I stammered out, embarrassed by the realization that he really did say what I thought he had.
“What a coincidence! I’m supposed to be meeting someone here, too.”
“Oh? Do you also have an interview?”
He nodded, and I began to wonder if WuFei was right and I might be in this over my head, when the front door opened.
“Mr. Maxwell, would you please stop terrorizing our applicants? How are we supposed to fill these positions if you scare them off before they’re interviewed?”
The gentleman who opened the door offered me his hand. “You must be Quatre Winner.”
“Why yes… Yes, I am… Mr. Yuy?”
He nodded once in affirmation.
I stared. Not because of their youth, mind you (successful young entrepreneurs are not uncommon, especially around here), but the contrast… Mr. Maxwell’s wrinkled T-shirt and denim shorts, and half-laced “Chucks” to the neatly pressed dress shirt and pants, and polished dress shoes of Mr. Yuy. The only thing they shared was the messy hair.
Heat permeated my cheeks as it occurred to me that the Messrs. Yuy and Maxwell may be more than just partners in business.
“Hey, can you make your entire upper body turn that color?” asked a grinning Mr. Maxwell. “It’d sure save us some cash on body paint come lobster night.”
“Mr. Maxwell,” glared Mr. Yuy, before returning his attention to me. “Come this way, Mr. Winner.”
Into the club I followed, staying carefully close behind as the only illumination came in the form of the sunlight barely filtering in through the front doors, making it difficult to see. Mr. Maxwell brought up the rear, quietly enjoying a private joke. The office I was to be interviewed in was on the second level, in the back, and just as there was contrast between the two men who were about to do the interviewing, so was there between this room and the rest of the club. I had to shield my eyes until they readjusted to the brightness. When they had, Mr. Yuy stood behind the desk in front of me, and his partner was offering me the chair in front of it before making himself comfortable against the door frame. The interview had begun.
“So tell us, ” Mr. Yuy began, taking his seat, “why are you interested in working at the 2 of Rods?”
Sitting, I took a deep breath and exhaled, while trying to pick through practiced answers. Why am I interested in working here? For what reasons do I wish to become a scantily-clad, glorified waiter? “It looks like a lot of fun,” was the answer that rolled out of my mouth.
The Messrs. looked hard at me.
“I know, it’s a stupid answer,” I sheepishly smiled, “but it’s the most honest one I can give you. I’ve patronized this club several times with friends and have had a wonderful time, but what I like the most is that it seems your staff genuinely enjoys working here. I feel that’s important. My last job had that kind of atmosphere, and it’s a top priority now that I’m looking for a new one.”
With that, Mr. Maxwell stepped forward. “If your last job was so great then why’d you leave? Or did you get canned?”
“He was laid off,” Mr Yuy answered for me, giving Mr. Maxwell a ‘get with the program’ look. “The town cut its budget. The local politicians don’t think of the library as a vital resource, so it was first in their sights. I believe every part- time position was eliminated. Correct, Mr. Winner?”
“I must ask, then, why you weren’t reinstated when the town realized the library couldn’t function with three-quarters of its staff gone? Certainly four years of employment should have offered you some seniority.”
“Certainly. However given the current economy, I felt there were others who needed the position more than I did, and I declined the offer.”
“You felt there were others who needed the position more?” Mr. Maxwell queried, joining his partner behind the desk. “What are you, like, independently wealthy or something?”
“Not yet,” his eyes not leaving me, Mr. Yuy pointed to a spot on my résumé. “I think it’s safe to assume your first job reference of Winner Enterprise is more than mere coincidence.”
A low whistle burst from Mr. Maxwell. “Wow Heero! I wish you had told me we were going to be in the presence of royalty. I would’ve spiffed up a bit!”
Hope sank to my feet like lead. I could see the direction this conversation was heading. It had taken this route before in other interviews. ‘Rich Brat Syndrome’. Once again I’d been diagnosed with it even though I have none of the symptoms. “Excuse me.” I forced myself out of my seat. “I apologize for wasting your time. I’ll see myself out.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa blondie! Get your ass back here. Interview ain’t over yet.”
But Mr. Maxwell wasn’t listening. Only pointing to the seat I had just vacated. “Park it!”
So I sat.
“The position of ‘Stud Muffin'”, Mr. Yuy paused briefly to roll his eyes and nod in the direction of his partner, who beamingly acknowledged credit for the title. “The position of ‘Stud Muffin’ requires interaction with the public. You would most likely work in both the club main as well as the dining area, waiting tables. Is there anything that would prevent you from accomplishing these tasks?”
“We are hiring due to our soon to be expanding hours to include the afternoon. You would be replacing those who wish to switch to an earlier shift. Your shift would be 7pm to 3am. The nights would vary, but you would be guaranteed hours for at least one weekend night each week. Are these hours you would be able to commit too?”
As Mr. Yuy continued down his list, his associate motioned for me to stand.
“The 2 of Rods is marketed primarily toward women in search of a night out, sans the come ons from the opposite sex. While we do allow male patrons, due to our club’s reputation they are usually gay.”
“Usually,” I smiled politely.
“Usually,” he repeated, understanding. “Would you have a problem with this?”
Mr. Yuy didn’t answer, nor did he give any physical sign of what he thought of my response. However, a circling Mr. Maxwell seemed to be quite pleased with my other ‘qualifications’.
“Do you have any problems performing?”
Mr. Maxwell snickered from beside me, which triggered a not so professional laughed-turned-snort from myself. “That’s kind of a personal question, dontcha think, Heero?”
“It’s the same question I ask every interview.”
“Yeah, but you asked it using different words this time,” he smirked. “I think what my partner is trying to ask is ‘would you have any issues about entertaining our patrons?’ You know, singing, joking around, the
occasional tabletop dance?”
“Good! What about groping? ‘Cause sometimes the ladies get a little friendly once they’ve had a few drinks.”
“I believe I could handle that.”
“And from fellow staff? As part of the entertainment, I mean. Our customers seem to enjoy a little male bonding.” He draped his arm around my shoulders for emphasis.
“As long as it’s kept strictly business, I would foresee no problems. Otherwise, I would have to talk with one of my father’s lawyers.”
Mr. Maxwell feigned hurt feelings. “Even if it was moi?”
“Especially if it’s vous.” I smiled at him, but it wasn’t the same smile I gave his associate, earlier. There is something about Mr. Maxwell, some talent. Maybe he’s an expert at subconscious manipulation, but as uncomfortable as he made me at the beginning of our interview I had to admit he had me feeling at ease before I knew it. My smile was genuine.
“Good answer!” he crowed, slapping my behind as he headed back to his position at the other side of the desk.
“You have the bridge, Number One,” Mr. Maxwell waved dismissively toward Mr. Yuy as he made himself comfortable on the desk’s edge.
With an exasperated sigh Mr. Yuy began to look over the papers in front of him. “Well. I believe I have all the information from you I need, and Mr. Maxwell seems content. All that’s left is for the last of the references you gave us yesterday to return my call and we can make a decision about your potential employment here at the 2 of Rods.”
“Thank you!” I shook the Messrs. hands and offered, once again, to see myself out. Mr. Maxwell counter-offered with walking me to the front door. Quietly we strolled through the club, but as I slipped out the front door he held open, he grabbed my shoulder.
“Listen, we always get a lot of wannabes applying for these positions. Hot shits who think we owe them a job; dweebs who don’t have a clue. Heero’s good with the facts and figures but I’m the one who has the daily contact with the staff. I really hate wannabes, so it’s my job to weed as many out many as possible during the interviews.”
“I understand.” I said, wondering if his words were meant to be more than face value.
“Yeah. That’s why I want to apologize for being a jerk earlier. You did good. No cocky attitude, it doesn’t look like you’re afraid of hard work, and you seem to grasp what being a ‘Stud Muffin’ is about. Unless that last reference comes back saying you’re an axe murderer or something, you got yourself a job.”
“I do?” My mind did a handspring and tooted a horn. “When would you like me to start?”
“I’ll let Heero get back to you on that. It makes him feel important.”
“You’re welcome. See you soon!”
“You will!” As soon as he walked away from the door I allowed my body to join in the mental celebration, not caring how foolish I looked.
I’m a Stud Muffin!!!