closing time at the diamond cabaret
by Aaron Gwyn

MOST NIGHTS, THEY LEAVE IT A MESS. Streaks up the brass, arm and leg prints, every now and then a hair. No one notices. Bathroom's all they care about, whether the floors get mopped. Randall, they'll tell me, sink's clogged. Randall, they yell, someone's spilt beer on the pool felt.

I don't mind. Doesn't take three hours to clean the place front door to stage. I trash the bottles and baskets of chips; wipe the counters; dump the ashtrays. I take Windex to the mirrors, the pinball games, the juke. Lastly, I walk up and give the pole a swipe; once a month, get hard on it with polish and a tube sock. Not that they'd care. I could let it go grease-smeared and blurry-nobody would say a word. Have it standing there Liberty green-Good job, they'd tell me. Smells like a church.

You'd think at least the girls would notice, but the girls don't notice. They don't see anything but all those singles, folded longwise and shoved at their clefts. Not that I would either, carrying out my earnings in a duffle. That kind of stash, I'd have a hard time seeing the sun

It's fine. I don't clean for the credit. Not going to win employee of the month. Not expecting the President to phone. There are times I don't know why I do it. It takes me fifteen minutes; longer when I polish. I have to get a chair to reach the high parts, lie on the stage to get down low.

But some nights, after close, I'll work with the jukebox playing-Aretha Franklin, Johnny Winter, anything with groove. I'll start waxing and polishing, rubbing off the day's smudges, the thousand handstands and shimmies. I'll wipe and wipe until I can see my face gawking back at me, shine until I can read the beer signs reflected from the bar.

There are others I'll put on something a little softer, and after I've buffed it, drained a few beers, I'll give it a go. I'm no dancer, you understand. A lot of them aren't, either.

I'll go up, wrap both legs around, shinny to the top. I'll give a grip, tilt my head, and start to twirl. It's like those toys as a child, spinning cross-legged around the handle, spinning so hard it makes your balls go heavy.

Not that it's so much the spinning. Being up there's the thing, which, besides the cash, must be what keeps them doing it. Hard not to, with all those lights stringing out below. Hard to pass up, with the tables and music strobing past, the smell of ammonia drawn towards you like a fan.

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