The Last Dance

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Moe thought it was shaping up to be a good night. The tips were good, and everybody was drinking, and the dancers were getting a lot of trade in lap and table dances.

And Aphrodite's second set was starting. Aphrodite had changed her act without telling anybody, which was pretty standard fare for working with druggies, but at least her new act didn't suck the way it usually did with druggies, and she'd worked out the music with the band somehow.

He came up with a tray of beers and whiskey shots and made his way down the bar passing them out and collecting money. He cast his eyes around the place, caught sight of a nun, and did a double-take.

A burly nun, six and a half feet tall, whose beard protruded six inches from his wimple. Right. The Sisters of Forgiven Debauchery were part of San Francisco's scene, although he'd never seen them inside his club before. A quick eyeball check around the back spotted three more nuns. They must have had some charity event nearby that just got out. Last week's had been "butt plug bingo for AIDS research." Anyway, it looked like they weren't here en masse.

He got three more drinks for various people, and checked out the music Aphrodite had gotten the band to do for her new act. They'd been doing eighties hits, but now they were doing something unidentifiable, wild and polyrhythmic, that Moe had never heard them practicing and would have sworn they didn't have the talent to play. It sounded good, but Moe didn't like it. He was starting to get the feeling that something weird was happening.

He noticed a couple of guys groping each other in the corner, then a couple more in a different corner, then recognized a grinning looney who asked him for a mai tai with an umbrella. That would be the laughing-octopus stealth-queer-bar contingent. Moe cringed inwardly. These guys thought it was fun to get a few dozen of their most outrageously queer friends together and invade a place where straight people went, making it into a queer bar for the night. Moe had seen them before other in places, but he'd never heard of them actually going to a strip club. But he knew exactly what kind of scene they'd make if he shut down their groping without also shutting down the ... other groping that was going on, and that was someplace he didn't want to go.

Okay, nuns and stealth queers. Were they going to fight? He doubted it; The sisters didn't rumble, and the laughing-octopus crew were mostly just in it for fun. They weren't going to do anything that put them on the wrong side of the law. Still, Moe was starting to sweat.

On the stage, Aphrodite danced to the wild music, her taut corded body beating out some kind of primitive trace across the place's mood as she leapt and whirled, playing with scarves and veils but not using them to conceal a damn thing for more than a second or two at a time. The crowd pulsed, in rhythm with her and the wild music, at the edge of the stage.

As his eyes flicked across them, Moe spotted a couple of large guys wearing kilts cut from day-glo Hawaiian floral fabrics. Moe blinked. What the hell? It wasn't the season for highland games, and anyway Clan Surfie didn't usually do clubs as such. A thrill of alarm scraped across the back of Moe's brain. The sisters and the stealth-queers showing up at the same place and the same time ... wasn't likely. But Clan Surfie, at the same club, at the same time as both of the other two? What were the odds? It was getting wild, but how wild was too wild? This was a strip club in San Francisco's tenderloin, after all; certain things you had to make judgment calls about.

Vince, the other bartender, was giving Moe a look that said what the hell do I do, as a gaggle of giggling queers asked him for "foofoo drinks with umbrellas". Moe shrugged and made a pouring motion, trying to assess the situation. There were half-a-dozen more Hawaiian floral fabric kilts standing next to the door where they'd just come in. Two of them were apparently there with nuns as dates. His regular clients were mostly still here, but they looked like they hadn't noticed anything weird going on yet.

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