Kandice and Shondra were becoming fast friends. With both of them in their junior year of college, the tuition was steep and the unpaid bills were piling up on Kandice’s small desk in her dorm room.
The two spoke many times, of the hardships of college tuition and the cost of books and supplies, but Kandice wondered how Shondra afforded the fancy automobile and flashy jewelry she often wore, not to mention the off-campus housing. It contained all the niceties and finery that she could only dream of.
Having their last class together meant that Shondra would give her a ride back to the dorm. Kandice appreciated that her good friend was so caring and generous, and that she didn’t have to hoof it all the way across campus carrying her laden book bag. Shondra looked after her like a mother at times.
Today she climbed into the Chevy and watched her push the keys into the ignition. One key in particular caught her eye. It was very large and resembled an old skeleton key.
“Brass,” Kandice thought, “and looks like it goes to a castle… or a dungeon,” and her heart skipped a beat.
A small shiver ran down her spine but she shook it off and stretched her delicate fingers to fondle the ornate key.
“What’s this go to,” she inquired.
Shondra smiled widely, “You’ll see,” she replied, “It unlocks a secret club,” she said without looking at her.
“Huh?” Kandice asked.
“Shhh,” Shondra shushed her with a smile but said nothing until she rounded the curve and pulled into a parking space.
Kandice sat, wildly curious, waiting and wondering why she had stopped here. Finally she pushed the passenger door open.
“Pull the door shut and roll up the windows,” Shondra instructed as she stayed Kandice with a hand to her shoulder.
Kandice did as Shondra asked and waited pensively.
Finally Shondra took a deep breath and began, “You and I,” “We’re practically sisters. Right?” Her eyes fixed on Kandice’s as though she were trying to look right down into her soul.
“Of course,” Kandice replied, “I tell you things I wouldn’t confess to my priest!”
“Yes well…” Shondra’s voice faded and she cleared her throat to continue, “This place, where we are right now, looks like any other dorm. Actually, it’s a club… of sorts. From here on you are sworn to secrecy,” she added sternly.
Kandice shook her head in agreement, nodding for her to continue.
“You must have wondered how I can pay my tuition and still afford this car,” she stated intuitively, “Haven’t you?”
Again Kandice nodded nervously, but was overcome by curiosity.
“It’s a club of college girls,” she said, “We uhhh… work here,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Work,” Kandice asked, “What work do you do here?”
“We invite certain people to join us… keep them company, fool around a little,” she stated as her eyes settled on a door with a large brass knocker perched beneath a sign.
“Let me ask you something,” Shondra said without waiting for reply, “Do you want to make easy money and pay off that pile of bills in your room,” she inquired holding Kandice’s gaze with her own.
Kandice smiled tentatively, “Yes! You know I’m desperate!”
“Then it’s time for your induction,” Shondra smiled without mirth, “Follow me.”
Kandice followed dutifully, wondering exactly what lay behind that large door.
As Shondra inserted the brass key into the lock, Kandice read the sign posted above the door knocker.
“This is not a brothel.
There are no prostitutes at this address.”
Shondra turned the key in the lock, already knowing that her shy friend had read the sign.
“It’s supposed to look like a sorority prank. You know… college girls goofin’ on the police, the Dean and such.”
Kandice’s stomach gave a lurch as Shondra held the door open for her.
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