THE EAGER BEAVER
WHEN OLIVIA AND KIMMY ARRIVED, the fat man at the door pointed to Kimmy and said, "You left early. You got hours to make up."
Kimmy showed him her arm in a sling. "I'm hurt."
"What, you can't get naked with that?"
"You for real?"
"This." He pointed to his face. "This is me being real. Some guys get turned on by that kinda thing."
"An arm in a cast?"
"Sure. Like the guys who get off on amputees."
"I'm not an amputee."
"Hey, guys get turned on by a strong wind, you know what I'm saying?" The fat man rubbed his hands together. "I used to know a guy who got off on toe jam. Toe jam."
"So who's your friend?"
He shrugged. "Some cop from New Jersey was asking about you."
"I know. It's okay now."
"I want you to go on. With that sling."
Kimmy looked at Olivia. "I might be better able to watch up there, you know. Like I won't be noticed."
Olivia nodded. "Up to you," she said.
Kimmy disappeared into the back room. Olivia sat at a table. She did not see or notice the crowd. She did not look in the dancer's face for her daughter. There was a rushing in her head. Sadness, an overwhelming sadness, weighed her down.
Call it off, she thought. Walk away.
She was pregnant. Her husband was in the hospital. That was where her life was now. This was in the past. She should leave it there.
But she didn't do that.
Olivia thought again about how the abused always take the path of self-destruction. They simply could not stop themselves. They take it no matter what the consequences, no matter what the danger. Or maybe, as in her case, they take it for the opposite reason- because no matter how much life has tried to beat them down, they cannot let go of hope.
Wasn't there still a chance that tonight she'd be reunited with the baby she'd put up for adoption all those years ago?
The waitress came over to the table. "Are you Candace Potter?"
There was no hesitation. "Yes, I am."
"I have a message for you."
She handed Olivia a note and left. The message was short and simple:
Go to backroom B now. Wait ten minutes.
It felt like she was walking on stilts. Her head spun. Her stomach churned. She bumped into a man on the way and said, "Excuse me," and he said, "Hey, baby, my pleasure." The men with him yukked it up. Olivia kept walking. She found the back area. She found the door with the letter B on it, the same one she'd been in just a few hours ago.
She opened it and went inside. Her cell phone rang. She picked it up and said hello.
"Don't hang up."
It was Matt.
"Are you at the club?"
"Get out of there. I think I know what's going on-"
Olivia was crying now. "I love you, Matt."
"Olivia, whatever you're thinking, please, just-"
"I love you more than anything in the world."
"Listen to me. Get out of-"
She closed the phone and turned the power off. She faced the door. Five minutes passed. She stayed standing, not moving, not swaying, not looking around. There was a knock on the door.
"Come in," she said.
And the door opened.