"Oh - My - God. Don't tell me that man works here."
My eye followed her gaze.
Straight into the Classical Room.
I covered for Mandy in the Listening Center. The female before me was early 20's. Blonde, hair piled high. Blue eyeshadow, heavy lashes, dark red lipstick. Snug top, suede jacket, plush scarf. Black leggings. Hot stuff. Built like a snake.
I'd never seen this customer, yet I knew the model.
Within two miles of the store were a half dozen T & A clubs. Illusions, Sinbad's, Rick's Place, New Orleans Nites. We had a steady clientele, from DJ's, to seasoned professionals, to budding amateurs, to giggling coeds. If the girls were fairly predictable, so was their music rotation. 80's metal, electric blues, Southern rock, power country. High decibel, testosterone fueled belters. Girls didn't strut to whispery ballads.
A solitary individual rattled in the Classical Room.
"Yes," I finally answered. "He has worked here two years. Classical Manager."
"Classical, you said?" she shook her head and laughed. "That's priceless."
I tilted my head and flashed the charm. "So how do you know The Professor, Sunshine? You attend his afternoon lectures?"
"Think other way around," she smiled. "I work one of ... I work a couple miles from here."
"Illusions or Sinbad's?" I guessed.
"New Orleans Nites," she answered. "Anyway, that guy over there? Afternoon Regular, big time."
My imagination seized. The Professor killing time at strip clubs. Well, well, well. Our Classical expert had a long, seedy history of peeping at females, tripping as he followed them across the store, babbling incoherently. Apparently, he also had a history of paying hot babes to grind shaved sirloin in his lap. The same gent who pleaded poverty paycheck after paycheck.
Pack of smokes every day, spangled breasts bouncing in his face every week. No wonder he was broke.
I had a dozen questions. Unfortunately, my mouth didn't wait to prioritize.
"Afternoon? Like matinees?"
"Of course. Guys can't drop by evenings because of wife or girlfriend. Business meeting and they want to make some female associate uncomfortable. Guys who enjoy the food. Dozens of excuses. Best thing, most are in a hurry and can't get drunk. You should visit."
"Rock and roll. So ... what about The Professor?"
"Visits every week. Wednesday afternoon, I think. Always suggests we dance to Beethoven or some other dead composer."
I rolled my eyes.
"Usually he just lurks. Sits somewhere and watches. Last week he paid for a lap dance. I start my routine, he started talking."
I shook my head and began laughing.
"Why can't I dance to Bolero? How long had I been dancing? How did I get into the racket? Racket, like this is a gangster business."
"It's too quiet. Club noise would drown it out. Guys have asked before."
"Then he started asking for my real name, which is a huge No-No. He's asked other girls before, as well. This could get him banned from the club. We always worry about stalkers. Obsessive guys. He seemed harmless ... but ... he's not married, is he?"
I shook my head.
"Single lonely guys often turn into stalkers. We're supposed to report him. But he is a steady guest, and he tips," she gestured.
"The Professor," I leaned forward, "does not drive. Does not even own a car."
"Yes!" She made a fist. Underneath the glamour makeup, she was a pretty girl. Quick and funny as well. In another life, I might have wanted to know her better.
"Unless you drive home really, really slow, he's not going to trot after you up Alta Mesa."
"Thank you for telling me. The guy really is ... I mean, sometimes we all feel sorry for ... Oh, hell, he's weird!" she exhaled.
"Tell me about it," I said. "We work with him five days a week."
The girl started laughing.
Mandy came back to the Listening Center and I went up front to cover the Register. When the customer came up front with two CD's I gave her a 10% discount to compensate her for enduring The Professor week after week. She handed me a pass to enter the club without paying a cover charge.
Haven't gone yet.
Don't want to bump into The Professor.