Fall 2010 – Kalen is 25 and Taj is 3
Sometimes Kalen wishes he could be called a decent father or even act like one but it’s not in him. At best, people would call him an absentee father and at the very worse, dead beat, but he’s never cared too much about what people thought. He might not spend his time caring for his son but he always makes sure someone does, only she isn’t there yet and right now Taj is getting on his nerves with his shrieks for attention.
“Stop screaming and use your words, Taj or I’m going to make you sit in there all day.”
The little boy’s body shudders with suppressed tears and he slips his thumb into his mouth as he eyes his father warily. “I wan’ Mama, Baba.”
The cry is plaintive and full of need and Kalen has to bite his tongue to quell the volley of curse that well up. He could kill Janice for walking out on them. He doesn’t care that she left him, his bed hadn’t been empty for long after she slipped away, but Taj has shown signs of distress from the moment she walked away six months ago.
Anger bubbles up and speaks for him, “Unfortunately, she doesn’t want you or she would be here.”
A sharp gasp behind Kalen alerts him that the babysitter has arrived and he almost feels shame at being caught saying such words to the toddler.
He rubs Taj’s back absentmindedly, attempting to ease the hurt his words might have caused as he quickly changes Taj’s clothes. Kalen sometimes wonders if he should have given the boy up too, if he should have taken him over to the orphanage, dropped him off and hope a decent family would grow to love him.
It would have probably been for the best. What child really needs a gambling-addicted, strip club owning parent in their life? However, Kalen’s too selfish to give up the only family he still has claim to no matter how much better his son’s life might be.
He hands Taj over to Tristen, rubbing his bald head. “Baba’s going to work Taj-ee. I’ll be back at 5, Tristen.”
Kalen makes his usual stop at the game hall before going to the club, momentarily distracted from this goal by a beautiful woman. He laughs to himself and wonders when he hasn’t been distracted by a woman. They laugh together and Kalen is drawn to her almond-shaped green eyes and easy going smile. He’s seen her in his club a few times with a few friends and is relieved to not have ease into what he does for a living.
“You ever think about dancing Alana? You certainly have the body for it.” Kalen looks her up and down appreciatively, only half joking about the suggestion. He’s always looking for new girls who know how to have fun and can put their hang-ups to the side.
She laughs, “Never Kal and definitely not for you. There are tons of whispers about you’re girls having ‘side jobs’ and I am not getting arrested when the club get raided.”
“Arrested? None of my girls have ever been arrested and I don’t require the ‘side jobs’, as you put it. If they want to supplement what I pay them, that’s their decision.” Kalen grabs Alana’s hand, pulling her close. “And I can guarantee you’ll never have to do work on the side.”
Someone shouting his name pulls Kalen’s attention away from Alana and he sees a friend signaling for their poker game. He pulls her in for a kiss and grins will self satisfaction when she melts against him. “Come by later, Alana.”
He’s flushed with excitement three hours later when he’s bar tending in his club and $600 richer from an excellent poker game. These were the only times he ever felt relaxed and more like himself. At home, he’s plagued with guilt but here he could be just as hedonistic as he wants to be.
Kalen nods at Sarabeth when she shimmies over to the guys waving around their money. Her and Tae are his best pole dancers and often have a crowd of cheering men around them; while Dana and Chance made money solely through lap dances. He spots Dana waiting near the back door and calls Travis over to bar tend.
He stands close to Dana so that their conversation wouldn’t be overheard. He hadn’t lied to Alana about requiring the girls to do side work but he didn’t stop them and always took a cut.
“Which one Dana?”
She peeks around his shoulder before whispering into his ear. “Corporate guy with the dreads. He wants a bit of fun…$500 worth of fun.”
“Good girl, I’ll be at the poker table if you need me and Travis is at the bar.”
Kalen spends the rest of the night at the poker alternately betting clothes and money. He invites Chance to play with them knowing it will convince the customers to bet a bit more recklessly for the pleasure of her company and he negotiates three more private ‘sessions’ to the tune of two grand.
It had been a slow start four months ago. He couldn’t find girls and despite the reputation of the Hill, people had been hesitant to come on it, but not anymore. His girls are the best, better than the ones dancing in the gentlemen’s club in the Warehouse District, he’s making real money and all he wants to do is win the Best of the Best award.
“You think I can win the award, Gary” Kalen threw a $50 chip onto the table, raising the bet.
Gary laughed, his tone boisterous and obnoxious from the amount of alcohol he’s drank. “For a strip club, Kal? Mayor Feige hates the Hill, she’ll never allow that award to be given to a business up here let alone have the newspapers print anything.”
Kalen grits his teeth and puts his focus back into the game, allowing the thrill of the gamble to take the edge off his anger. He’s going to get that fucking award no matter what he has to do.
He invites Chance home with him on a whim, knowing that physical pleasure will keep away the still simmering anger at Gary’s comments. Kalen knows better than to get involved with one of his dancers but he wants her and her red hair calls to him. Staring at his sleeping son over her bare shoulder, Kalen does make sure she knows the rules. This isn’t a love affair, its mutual pleasure and will never be more than that. He ignores the hesitant way Chance nods her acceptance and instead kisses her doubts away, burying all self recriminations about how much of a bastard he is.
A.N: The wordiness is back and I’m NOT sorry. Sorry about the brevity too but I could not get the shots I wanted. Its was surprisingly hard doing this household because its just Kalen and Taj and Kal barely interacts with the poor kid. I hope this is a good introduction to Kalen’s issues and relationship with those around him. I find his very interesting in a way because he wants this award of prestige but for a business that few would ever dream to award. I wonder if he’ll get it. The next update will be tax season and then the last introduction. I’m kinda embarrassed its taken me so long to get to the last one but oh well. Enjoy!