Authors: Sylvester Stephens
To my mother, Orabell,
and my daughters, Bria and Simone Stephens
I would like to acknowledge the educators who graciously contributed to the book, Kim Clark-Freeman, Cassandra (San) Horton, Kimberly Phillips and Nic Starr.
y name is Shante Clemmons. I was fifteen years old when my life started to unravel. I was skinny; about six feet tall. I had a medium tone, or caramel skin color. I had light brown eyes, with naturally long eyelashes. I had a cute face, or at least that was what people told me. Because of my height, I looked very mature for my age. I was a foster care child but looking the way I did, foster care wives were not really feeling me being around their husbands.
“Get outta my house!”
“Where am I gonna go?”
“I don't care where you go! Just get outta my house!”
“I ain't got nowhere to go, Mrs. Redmond!”
“You shoulda thought about that before you climbed into bed with my husband!”
“I swear to God! It was him! He climbed into bed with me!”
Mrs. Redmond opened the door and threw my duffle bag with all of my possessions outside on the ground. I did not move, hoping she would have some compassion for me, but she didn't. Mr. Redmond stood at the bottom of the stairs in a robe, still wearing nothing underneath, and watched.
“It's two o'clock in the morning. Can I at least stay until daylight?”
“Shante, please,” Mrs. Redmond said softly. “Just get out my house!”
I walked past Mrs. Redmond and when I got to the door, I stopped in front of her.
“I didn't do nothing with your husband. And you know that!”
Mrs. Redmond looked away, too embarrassed to even try to pretend that she could hide the truth. But as I was closing the door behind me, she grabbed my arm so that Mr. Redmond could not see, and without saying a word, she placed one hundred dollars in my hand. I realized that Mrs. Redmond did not make me leave to hurt me, but to protect me.
As she closed the door, I could see the tears coming from her eyes. I did not know whether to feel sorry for myself for having to leave in the middle of the night, or for her, for having to stay behind with that bastard. I picked up my duffle bag and walked down the dark empty street.
It was two a.m. and I had to find a place to sleep. I didn't want to spend the hundred dollars on a hotel because I would have had only a few hours before check-out. I decided to sleep in back of a nightclub where there was a lot of foot traffic until morning, and then I'd get a cheap room. I put my duffle bag against the building and slept sitting up. It seemed like I had just fallen asleep when some gigantic man kicked my feet.
“Hey!” the man said.
I looked up and saw this big, black humongous man standing over me. He had big red pop-eyes with a bald head and rolls of fat on the back of his neck. I was so sleepy I dozed back off.
“Hey, get up! You can't be sleeping out here like this.”
“Oh, I'm sorry,” I said. “Can I just sleep here until in the morning? I promise I won't ever come back.”
“Naw, I can't do that.”
I stood up and picked up my duffle bag.
“Damn! You slim, but you fine as hell,” he said. “I'm Anthony, but they call me Big Ant. How old are you, babygirl?”
“Fif...” I knew that if I said I was fifteen, Big Ant would have chased me away, so I lied, “Um, I'm eighteen.”
“Yeah, I just turned eighteen.”
“What you doing sleeping out here on the street?”
“I had to get out of my situation at home, man. I can't go back there.”
“You wanna ask questions or do you want a place to sleep?”
I turned around with my arms held out for Big Ant to see my body. “See?”
“Damn, you slim. But I think you might work.”
“Work for what?”
“You wanna make some money?”
“Look, Mr. Big Ant, I just need a place to sleep. I'm not trying to make no money like that.”
“You don't even know what I'm talking about, babygirl.”
“Well, what you talking 'bout then?”
“Dancing? What kind of dancing?”
“The kind of dancing that will keep money in your pocket. You interested?”
“I'm interested, but...”
“Ain't no buts. Get your shit and come on.”
I grabbed my duffle bag and followed Big Ant into the nightclub, which happened to be a strip club. As we entered I saw the big neon sign with the name of the club shining brightly: Emerald City.
Big Ant led me to a small office in the back of the club. Nobody paid any attention to me as I walked by, but I paid close attention to the beautiful women grinding their naked bodies against the
men. When we passed the stage, I nearly tripped watching a lady slide up and down on the pole. Her body was doing things I could not imagine my fifteen-year-old body even attempting to do.
“Mr. Harry, I think I got some new talent for you.”
“Oh yeah,” Mr. Harry said.
Mr. Harry was a round man. I could see his stomach overlapping onto the desk as he counted money. He had rings on every finger. He had very fair skin, balding on top with dark rings around his eyes.
“Check it out,” Big Ant said. “Show him the goods.”
“What you mean âshow him the goods'?”
“Show that ass, girl!”
“Oh,” I said and turned in a circle.
“Naw, take off your clothes so he can see all of that ass.”
“Wait a minute! You ain't said nothing about taking off my clothes.”
“Get this girl out of my office!”
“Hold on, Mr. Harry, let me talk to her.”
Big Ant whispered in my ear, “Look, you can make us a lot of money, and you can make yourself a lot of money, too, so stop acting so damn scary and show the man the goods!”
Although I was scared as hell, I was also tired and sleepy. I pulled my shirt above my head and dropped it to the floor. I placed my hand behind my back, unsnapped my bra and let it drop to the floor.
“She got some ripe-ass little titties. How old are you, darling?”
“Damn, you got some pretty titties to be eighteen!” Mr. Harry stopped counting his money and sat back. “Let me see what else you got.”
I looked at Big Ant and then I unzipped my pants and slowly
pulled them down my leg and stepped out of them. I had on short-cut boxer-briefs that only revealed the bottom part of my ass.
“Drop them draws, girl,” Mr. Harry said.
“I ain't never did nothing like this before, so can I practice before I take everything off?”
“What you think, Big Ant?”
“Hell, we can see what she workin' with right now. She straight!” Big Ant took the back side of his hand and rubbed up and down my thigh. “Look a-here.”
“Yes, Lawd, Big Ant! Look at them damn long legs! Mmm! Mmm! Mmm! We got a star in this one. Can she dance?”
“Dance for the man,” Big Ant paused momentarily to try to think of my name, “uh, what do you call yourself?”
“Uh, I call myself, uh...” I did not know what to say so I said the only name I felt described me at the time. “Butterfly.”
“Butterfly? That's too soft, baby,” Mr. Harry said.
“But I like Butterfly.”
“Naw, that ain't gon' work. How about Climax?” Mr. Harry yelled.
“Hell yeah!” Big Ant smiled and looked at me. “Climax!”
I could not believe they wanted to call me Climax. What the hell did I look like to them? A damn walking orgasm?
“No disrespect, Mr. Harry, but I kinda like Butterfly.”
“It really don't matter to me as long you make me some money. If you want to call yourself Butterfly, Butterfly it is.”
“Thank you,” I said humbly. “Can I go to sleep now?”
“You don't have to worry about nothing from here on out, Butterfly. Mr. Harry gon' take care of you,” Mr. Harry said. “Take care of her, Ant.”
Big Ant took me to a hotel and paid a week's rent. I slept until noon and I would have slept longer than that if Big Ant had
not pounded on my door. I stumbled to the door and opened it.
“Time to get up! You got dancing classes to attend.”
Big Ant walked past me with a bag in his hand and sat in a chair that was way too small for his huge frame.
“Try some of these clothes on,” Big Ant said as he threw the bag of clothes to me.
I opened the bag and pulled the clothes out. “Whose clothes are these?”
“Yours now! Get dressed and let's go. Mr. Harry wants you to start working tonight. He wants you to come dance for him, so he can see what you working with.”
“Why are you and Mr. Harry being so nice to me?”
“Nice? This ain't nice, Babygirl. This business!”
I did not ask what he meant by “business,” but did I have to? When we arrived, the club was not open and there were only a few people in the building. I was nervous and did not know what to expect. It was not a difficult formula to figure out, though. The DJ started playing loud music and Mr. Harry made me go on stage and I began to dance. Mr. Harry was not happy with my dancing when I first started.
“Come on now, Butterfly, pick it up,” Mr. Harry said. “I need more sexy; and less
I moved more seductively and Mr. Harry responded more agreeably. “Yeah, baby, like that. Move them hips. Make me want to give you my money!”
As I watched myself dance in the mirror, I began to turn myself on. I looked like a beautiful, full-grown woman. There were other
strippers in the club who stopped and watched me dance. The more eyes that watched me, the sexier I felt.
“How was that?” I tried to catch my breath.
“That was fantastic!” Mr. Harry said. “I'm giving you a spot tonight.”
“Thank you.” I was enthusiastic about having a “spot,” but to be honest, I didn't really know what the hell having a “spot” meant.
Mr. Harry scheduled me to start at ten o'clock that night and it was a packed house. I sat in the dressing room contemplating if I should go out or not. Not should, but could I go out or not. I put my head in my hands and closed my eyes. When I opened them, there was a lady standing behind me. I could tell that she was much older than me but she was very beautiful. Her skin was dark and smooth, almost without a blemish. Her hair was cut short, but neat. Her eyes were symmetrically oval and light brown. Her body was thin, but toned, even her arms. I think I was most mesmerized by her straight and even teeth.