The first thing the Dauphin said to me when he entered Gatineau’s second-finest strip club was: “You don’t look like a Wong.”

I didn’t blame him for the confusion. The promise of a man named Wong had been made under false pretenses.

For hours I had been sipping $8 beer and grazing a buffet of questionable fried foods when it dawned on me that my trip to Ottawa had proven fruitless. All I had to show for it was a bunch of taxpayer-funded tar and feathers and a dirty look from the cashier at the bank, so decided it was time to mix things up. 

That was the extent of my scheme when someone deep in the bowels of Langevin Block answered my call. I told them I didn’t have any clean drinking water and they hung up. I tried again and said I was a Chinese businessman, and they must have been expecting my call because an hour later the Dauphin himself waltzed through these seedy doors, lighting a cigarette and smiling reflexively into the many mirrors screwed into the walls. The fact that I didn’t look Chinese and admitted my name wasn’t actually Wong didn’t seem to bother him. He sat down, ripped off his tie and shoved it into his jacket pocket.

“Smoke?” he asked and I waved him off. “Good,” he said. “I don’t smoke either.” He took a long pull on the cigarette and pointed the fiery tip at me. “Now what’s this I hear about a fat cheque?”

The base-heavy techno music distorted my voice and I had to yell to be heard. I tried to explain that I wasn’t Wong or Chinese or anything similar and didn’t have a cheque of any amount for him.

“So you’re a white supremacist,” the Dauphin said convincingly, and not for the first time. This time, however, felt more personal. Everyone I knew hated the Dauphin, even the wife who left me and the boss who fired me half a country away. He was a soulless fiend and why you should never forget that crocodiles can cry. He was corrupt in such a blindingly obvious way that nobody should have trusted him—except maybe for communist China. That was perhaps why his office hadn’t raised any eyebrows to my hasty and seedy invitation…it had been entirely expected and possibly overdue.

“I am here to assassinate you,” I said, perhaps too firmly. I didn’t want to spook the bastard before I figured out the details. I hadn’t actually expected him to show up alone or even at all.

The Dauphin must not have heard me and my thunderous threat, for he turned his attention to the only fully clothed woman in the joint who appeared eagerly at his side. He and the waitress blathered on together in some indecipherable French and expected me to understand. I didn’t and shook my head, and their pitying smiles bathed me in condescension. 

“What the hell is going on? Don’t you know what’s going on!” I snapped at the Dauphin.

“You seem stressed, Wong. Chantal will help with that.”

“Who the fuck is Chantal!”

The Dauphin ignored me again and sent the waitress off with a solid palm on her ass. She skipped away, giggling at the abuse. “Don’t worry, I got her the job,” he said darkly, with the cigarette dangling out of the corner of his mouth. Before I could ask what he meant the waitress returned with a tray overflowing with beer bottles and shot glasses and laid them all before us. Without hesitation the Dauphin chucked his spent cigarette across the room and took off his jacket. He rolled up his shirt sleeves, which I took to mean it was time to get serious, and snatched a shot glass and swallowed its entirety in one greedy gulp, proving that it was indeed time to get serious. 

“Let’s get this fucking fundraiser going, Wong!” he screamed and his arms jutted across the table to grab me by my shirt. He shook me violently and his once amiable expression distorted in a disturbingly excitable way. Right before my eyes he morphed from a politician who would kiss babies to a psycho who would see how many he could fit into a suitcase. I sensed danger and free drinks.

Fuck it, I thought. Time to get political. 

I smacked his arms off me and dove headlong into the table and gobbled up the shots. The Dauphin nodded his approval. Never one to back away from a challenge, he grabbed a beer bottle in each hand and turned them upside down, swallowing half the booze with the other half sloshing off his moisturized face and onto what remained of his three-thousand dollar suit. In unspoken madness, we consumed everything the waitress put before us as fast as she could deliver. One of us flipped over the table to a shattering of glass and wild hoots of joy.

“What a mess,” I said when I gathered myself.

“Don’t worry, somebody will clean it up. I have people, Wong. People for just this sort of occasion.” The Dauphin wrapped a beer-soaked arm around me as he said this. I noticed a shard of broken glass on the sticky strip club floor and thought this was an ideal time to stab him. But I wanted to see how deep and dark this taxpayer-powered ride went, and wrapped my own booze-soaked arm around my new best friend.

“Where’re the whores!” He carried us across the room in a suddenly fraternal desperation, and we ended up squarely at Perv’s Row.

Make no mistake, I knew this was wrong. The crazy bastard deserved a beating at the very least. But even more intoxicating was having the run of the room. The other deadbeats in the strip club shouted at us in French, something about ruining the atmosphere, but my new heroic leader of men countered by hurling greasy insults and beer bottles to shut them down.

“I can find you where you live, you fucking racists!” the Dauphin screamed. “And don’t even think about recording this! My buddy Wong here knows people!” He shoved a bottle in my hand. “Here, Wong. Throw this. They refuse to learn Chinese!”

The bottle was still full and I told the Dauphin as much. He disliked my resistance. “What kind of fundraiser is this?” he admonished me. He took back the full bottle, took a deep swig, and smashed it on the ground.

The strippers had fled when the madness had broken out. They now peaked their glittery noses out from behind the silk curtains. They were used to being the centre of attention and had no dance moves for this sort of frenzy. One stripper in a judge’s gown—complete with a gavel for reasons unclear—twirled her index finger towards the DJ. He took the cue and the music switched to a more sensual rhythm, one less likely to anger someone who was willing to hurl $8 beer, or so one would hope. At first the Dauphin breathed heavily and his head jerked in every which direction, looking for a target. I discovered he does that when provoked. But soon the music worked, and he calmed enough to realize that soon-to-be naked girls were everywhere. I pushed the Dauphin into a seat at Perv’s Row and sat beside him. The calmness did not last long. The judge-stripper—or was she a stripper-judge? The line had been blurred two elections ago—jumped on stage and suddenly bright disco lights and stunningly loud eighties rock remixes swirled around us. The waitress struggled to keep up with our drink orders and had to recruit a second girl to help, nor could the subsequent conga line of strippers keep up with the Dauphin’s demands.

“Wong! I need money! Hard money, none of that IOU shit!” he jabbed an index finger into my chest.

“Don’t you have any?”

“Of course,” he said sharply. “Somebody always has my money. And today that’s you, Wong.”

Like all great predators the Dauphin possessed a highly evolved ability to sense weakness—in my case, my hesitation to give him all my money. Those gentle eyes that always managed to tear up under bright TV lights looked positively vicious when seen under a strip club disco ball. For a moment I didn’t recognize him and with another jab of his finger I had the sense I was being robbed. But he had fed me an incredible amount of free booze so I couldn’t claim innocence…a pimp can’t rob a whore of his own money, can he? Whatever the dynamic, my money was very much in demand and I had no say in the matter.

“Don’t worry,” his face contorted into a big-tooth smile. “I’m good for it. You know I have oil money, you cheap bastard, an entire pipeline full of the stuff.”

I held up my wallet and the Dauphin snatched it out of my hand. He yanked out a pair of twenty dollar bills and riffled through my credit cards. “Where the fuck is my cheque? I know somewhere we can cash it.”

Before I could answer he lost interest and tossed my wallet across the room. The judge-stripper turned out to be a law student named Chantal. “A strong legal mind,” the Dauphin assured me, and leaped on-stage to stuff my twenties in the deepest, darkest regions of the legal code. 

I don’t know how long I sat in Perv’s Row but it was many hours. The Dauphin repeatedly came and went up a flight of stairs in mysteriously frantic ways with one stripper after another, and always seemed to forget he had already taken all my money. Each time he wanted “just a little bit more,” and when I couldn’t oblige, he smacked the drink out of my hand and swore revenge. As frustrating as it was to sit at Perv’s Row surrounded by broken glass, I had more pressing issues. A dark mood had overtaken the rest of the strip-club. The deadbeats we had earlier insulted and scattered from Perv’s Row had regrouped at the back of the club. Now we, or rather the Dauphin, hogged all the stripper’s attention—I had to admit the horny bastard was an absolute magician, he always seemed to find another twenty to piss away. But I did not like having a hoard of equally horny pissed-off deadbeats lurking in my blind spot, especially since in their minds I was now affiliated with the Dauphin…their fists might come for me instead. During one trip to the pisser I stole a glance towards the deadbeats and saw nothing but growing resentment. I couldn’t exactly blame them. The Dauphin was living their own dream: slapping waitresses asses with an impunity they could only dream about when they jerked off in the dark…running up an incredible bar tab without any concept of money…free to engage in all manner of strip club fuckery with an army of lawyers and a nation’s worth of abortion clinics on call. 

The country’s chosen son had his head buried so far between a stripper’s ass-cheeks he didn’t even notice anyone was pissed. I thought about telling the deadbeats I was actually a white supremacist here to assassinate the Dauphin, but I didn’t speak French and doubted they’d believe me anyway—even if I poured gallons of free drinks down their throats. I knew they’d never listen to me in any language. You outbid a lonely man for a stripper and the damage was irreversible. 


“He went out for cigarettes. He’ll be back, he’s never gone for long.” Chantal explained this to me. I had searched the club for the Dauphin but came up empty. Chantal found me stumbling around upstairs past private rooms.

“So he was just here?”

“Of course, he only does one dance per girl. He burns through them after every song.”

“But he had no money,” I said.

Chantal shrugged, “we always get paid.” She turned to a man I hadn’t seen before. He had approached quietly, which was pretty impressive for a six-foot-five, two-hundred-and-fifty pound beast in a purple suit. “Hi Marco,” she said. “This is Wong.”

“I’ve heard you’re The Money,” Marco said. His voice was deeper than the music vibrating the mirrors, which were everywhere and full of smudged hand prints. He wanted to get paid for the services rendered in the private room, which so far had totalled ten-thousand dollars, not including tip.

“Ten-thousand dollars!” I screamed. That spendy bastard! I should have assassinated him ten dances ago!

  I didn’t have anywhere close to that much and when I told Marco this he informed me I was mistaken, and the amount owed—immediately, he emphasized—wasn’t actually a debt but an investment in my future. Two-hundred-and-fifty pound men wearing purple suits in Gatineau strip clubs knew all the hard economic truths, even if you didn’t. 

Any excuse I could offer Marco had certainly been heard a million times before. What I needed was proof I wasn’t Wong…that I wasn’t The Money. What the fuck! I thought. I’m not even Asian! The Truth should matter. But I was within five miles of Parliament Hill so it didn’t, as I soon found out.

“I’m not The Money, I’m the white supremacist,” I said. This was clearly a mistake. Marco was black. But he seemed more interested in money than race relations, so at least he would beat me with efficiency instead of emotion. Marco casually huffed his breath onto a set of giant gold rings on his giant meaty fingers, and polished them on his shirt. Those would certainly hurt, financially and otherwise.

I jumped into a boxer stance and all the strippers fled. Even my dear Chantal disappeared in a puff of perfume and failed LSAT tests. I wanted to join them but between me and the stairs was two-hundred-and-fifty pounds of Marco, plus however much his gold skull-crackers weighed.

The fight, such as it were, lasted one punch and a multitude of kicks. Marco didn’t break a sweat and was more concerned about keeping my blood off his polished shoes. Eventually he picked me up off the floor by my throat and I felt an oxygen-starved darkness approaching from all sides.

“Careful Marco, that’s The Money!” I heard the Dauphin’s annoyed voice. He was standing behind Marco and smoking a cigarette. Some mean-looking woman too old to be a stripper was on his arm, though she carried a similar demeanour. 

“He said he wasn’t going to pay,” Marco said, only slightly relaxing his grip on my life.

“Goddamn it Marco, the Chinese don’t speak French! I know, I talk to them all the time.”

Nothing made sense. I was a white supremacist and didn’t speak French. Marco must’ve been as confused as I was, for he tossed me on the ground and told the Dauphin that I had to come up with ten large by tomorrow. He left us to sort out the details. 

I looked up at the Dauphin. His collar was done up and his tie was knotted in a double Windsor. He donned his jacket with all the distinction and arrogance of a private school graduate. I couldn’t spot even the slightest residue of stripper glitter, though I knew even the weakest black-light would tell a different story. The seedy bastard flicked his cigarette over my body and the ash fell into my eyes. “Goddamn it, Wong. I have to go. Some speech on equality.” He slapped the mean-looking woman’s ass and she giggled only after he threatened to demote her. He turned to leave, but remembered something and stopped. He whispered something into the mean-looking woman’s ear and she pulled out a long strip of paper and dropped it on my beaten corpse.

“That’s the bar tab, Wong. You’d better settle up before you go,” she hissed.

“And make sure Marco’s taken care of by tomorrow, Wong. I don’t want any fucking problems with Chantal.” The Dauphin paused, “and next time don’t forget the fat fucking cheque. I’m not a goddamn charity.” He walked out with the mean-looking woman on his arm, and left me beaten and bloodied and broke on the strip club floor.

Politics just weren’t for me.

March 2022