CINNAMON’S LAST DANCE
She’d been using her given name for over a year, but she still turned her head when she heard him call from across the terminal.
“Cinnamon, hey, Cinnamon.”
Back when her mom had a year left to live, Mandy Wright made one of those pacts that are popular in Lifetime movies and Oprah book picks. She gave up stripping, went back to school, and put Cinnamon to rest at her mother’s request, hoping to get her prime consideration in heaven.
“I know you remember me,” Dave Schianno said. “Dave. From The Saddle Ranch.”
Dave Schianno, biggest tipper, and biggest asshole at The Saddle Ranch, a former steak house turned strip club with no change in décor. It was Schiano that made it easy for her to walk away from the pole and not regret it. If not for her mother’s last request, Mandy would have ended up hacking Schianno’s head off with one of the steak knives still floating around the club, and burning the place down.
She’d made eye contact with him under her former name, so she couldn’t walk away. But she didn’t want to have this conversation.
“In and out here in Detroit. Not a damn good dancer any of the places and who the fuck do I see in the fucking airline terminal but the best goddam pole peeler I ever seen.”
“You’re from here, right? I paid attention when you were talking back then. So why are you here, at fucking Christmas, busiest time of the year?”
“My mom’s from Florida.”
“Going to visit?”
“Oh. Yeah. Sorry. Hey, didn’t I just hear they—”
“Yes, canceled my flight. Canceled all the flights down there.”
“Not just there,” Schianno said. “All the flights everywhere. Well, almost…”
“We got a charter plane, me and a bunch of guys from the firm. You remember the firm, right? You did that party at Christmas for us.”
Which she barely made it out of with her panties intact. She started on the pole and ended up under a pile of sales reps in the corner of an airport Radisson ballroom. They tipped her well enough to forget it, mostly. Now might be the time to collect again on that particular gig.
“The firm was in Florida, right?”
“Orlando. We do a lot with—”
“That’s near Clearwater?”
“Near enough. Hey, you want us to get you on our plane so you can see your mom before she kicks?”
“That would be great.”
“I’m sure the guys would love to see you again.”
The guys. From the party. And the corner of the ballroom.
“I know we were kind of rowdy, but this may be the only way you get to your mom. And we got some new guys who kind of bring us back down to earth.”
“When are you leaving?”
“Planes on the tarmac now. Had to hit up the gift shop one last time though and get Freddy from the can. You remember Freddy?”
Freddy three hands. All of which managed to end up inside her at some point during her career.
“Yeah, I remember Freddy.”
* * *
It was Cinnamon who got them all drinking on the plane. At first she enjoyed the quiet and thought things might work out well. Most of the guys were sleeping. Then the token gay guy, Charles, started asking about her mom.
Three shots, half a bottle of wine, and a joint later, Cinnamon started taking off her clothes. Then she remembered her mom and the promise and tried to stop things. But a plane full of frustrated drunken amusement park software sales reps was not a force easily stopped.
After the third guy, she stopped feeling anything. She knew she wasn’t going to make it to her mom before she died, but she knew she kept her promise. Her clothes were scattered across the plane but she wasn’t the one who took them off. She hoped that counted when her mom hit the gates of heaven.
The guys were getting more aggressive now, alcohol and weed replaced by coke and speed. She didn’t fight it and hoped Cinnamon ran into every one of these motherfuckers in hell for one last dance. Mandy was going to see her mo