A short story by LR Forgues
Started Oct 23, 2011
She moves…the deep, pulsing beat her guide through her slinky journey across the wide expanse of raised circular stage. The gleaming brass pole…the centre of her sensual orbit. A slick sheen of warm sweat glistens over her tightly toned body, in no way a turnoff to those who watch enraptured. The soft lights above and below shift and pivot; throwing blues…and reds…and yellows over the performance at hand. Her dark mane of long brown hair sways with her to the beat, framing her beautiful, doll-like visage as she sways and writhes serpent-like through the routine; more felt than remembered. Her eyes…those mesmerizing blue eyes that her father (and so many lovers and admirers) had adored before a heart attack claimed his life, flicker over the shadowy, upturned male faces just beyond the stage’s edge.
Needy boys, fortified with paycheques and too much booze. Occasionally a woman or two, dykes or girlfriends, there to watch that which they secretly wanted…or wanted to be. It didn’t matter. It was all…audience.
She spins, dropping cat-like to the stage; prowling now. Their breath reaches her, at this low level; a warm, sickening mix of alcohol and cigarettes, sometimes weed, sometimes vomit. She masks her revulsion with a coy smile half hidden behind her shroud of brown hair. The progressive thud of the DJs dark trance set is joined be a new, tribal ‘clacking’. His next mix begins sliding in on the current track. She throws a glance back. The concentration on his young features, features nearly too young to legally get him in the door, is impressive; underlit in the sickly green lighting of the cramped DJ booth. He never seems to catch her moves, so intent is he on the spinning disks of black acetate on the Technic 1200’s before him. The only club in the city that still has turntables, the novelty is lost on the patrons who only want cold, cheap beer and the sight of tantilizing female skin. It’s rumored that he’s gay, a ‘fag’ in more ignorant circles. But she likes to think otherwise.
The beat continues to progress as the new track thuds into existence. A shrill whistle of male appreciation echoes out of the darkness around the stage at her. Instinct…she suggestively grinds her shapely pelvis against an imaginary male crotch, her gorgeous thong’d backside an erotic show onto itself. She continues her prowl. The throbbing bass pounds. Centre stage, she rears up in an Oscar-worthy mimic of profound sexual release, gracefully arching her tanned back…running her smooth hands down over her black leather top…along her toned, sinuous belly…sliding down over her skin toward…! Ever the tease, she yanks away as though painfully hot…running her fingers back up her body to the chrome-studded bra. She scans the murky, male shapes before her as her hands find the clasps. The anticipation in palpable, the collective lust heavy in the air. Slurred words of sleazy encouragement reach out to her as the pounding music hits a sharp crescendo. Snap. The clasp seperates and in one, sexy move she shrugs it off dramatically. The stage lights fall across her full, youthful breasts as if to accentuate their inherent femininity. There is an audible pause as the leather garment slides onto the stage top with a faint rustling sound. The crowd then loses it’s collective mind. The explosion of wild applause, shrill whistling and lewd shouts washes over her like an unclean wave as she playfully thumbs a pert nipple to rigid attention. She blows a slow kiss to…no one in particular. A papery flutter of blue settles before her knees, it’s former owner unseen in the maelstrom of attention. The crumpled $5 bill quickly finds a secure home in the tight black thong, held fast at her trim hip by the spaghetti strapping of the erotic panties. Her skin warms with shallow pride at the flood of appreciation.
It’s this adulation that keeps her living like this. The reason for her professional direction. Sure, the money’s good, but this…! Inwardly she beams as she quickly rises to her feet, the stiletto heels of her high black boots no hindrance to her grace as she presses her strong back to the waiting brass pole behind. The cool metal against her spine is a pleasant contrast to the heat pouring from her skin. Seemingly seduced by gravity, she slowly slides down the pole’s phallic length, tantilizingly seperating her knees a moment before bringing them quickly back together; a pantomime of modesty in a place that is anything but.
It’s then that the sound reaches her. That…cackle. Sharp and mean. Oh god. Is…’he’…out there? Somewhere? Again?! For a terrible split second, she’s shoved back into that cramped toilet stall in the dingy MEN’s bathroom at the back of the bar. His rough, calloused hands are on her again, digging cruelly into the pale skin of her arms; stinking of old oil and stale cigarette smoke. The grinning Death’s Head tattoo standing out on the hairy forearm, seeming to mock her protests. His hot, beer-tinged breath as he snarls quietly into her ear; demanding all manner of carnal debauchery…things even the luckiest man in her life wouldn’t get…if there was one.
It had all started with an ill-advised drink and a stinging line of cocaine at a booth after a private dance. A high-tipping customer who felt that his thick wad of bills would grant him carte blanche with the stable of desirable females in the club’s employment. Later, as she’d been recovering from the dislocated jaw and black eye he’d left her with after she’d hit back, she heard that the same son-of-a-bitch had pulled the same cruel shit on some of the other girls. Some had given in, muffling their own screams as he’d had his brutal dirty way with them. The fucker. After Management had pleaded the inability to intervene, she had made her way to the local police detachment. Their condescending round of questioning had nearly given way to her own arrest. Nearly. Even as her inner warning had sounded, she’d dutifully included the cocaine use in her complaint. She’d almost seen the eyes of the female officer taking the statement glaze over at that moment and she knew the cause was lost to her. She walked away with a warning as they chalked her ‘report’ up to a ‘trick gone wrong’…’sex trade road kill’. Once the dislocation had mended and the bruises faded out, she’d returned to the Box Cutter Club with a vengeance…fast becoming a customer favorite as she threw herself head-long into the work to drown out the memory…nearly convincing herself that it was a one-time, unfortunate event that amounted to her ‘earning her spurs’ in the industry. Nearly. Still…she’d taken steps…just in case. She was ready for it this time…if there was one.
Her thoughts danced over the slight bulge against her inner right thigh, nestled behind the high black leather. The cackle had been low…so he can’t be far. Maybe striking distance? The next question would be who would strike who this time.The beat slams in, jerking her back to the routine at hand. Her moves are like fluid, not betraying the icy steel slipping like a whisper into her adrenalized system. She rises with the bass-line to sashay about the stage like a lioness on the prowl, striding through sweeping colored beams of light like a Valkryie. From behind the flow of long, dark hair, her eyes catch a glimpse of…something. An undefined movement. Somehow familiar. Then…it’s gone. A frightening calm settles over her like a child’s blanket. Her trademark mane hides both her rigid determination and her now targetting eyes from the attentive crowd. It’s her supple body they want anyway; any window into her personality shallowly over-looked in favor of the flesh. As the new mix fades smoothly in, her passage around the flashing stage is marked by her gunshot-like footsteps, as though she’s angrily marking the perimeter of her domain. The trek takes her back to the pole at centre stage. Moving in, she deftly grabs the length of rounded brass, gracefully whirling around while lowering herself back to her knees.
Then…she freezes. That tall shadow. Just beyond the lights. Could it be? There’s the belligerent cock of the large head. Wide tradesman shoulders. The perched truckers cap. It HAS to be…’him’. She feels abruptly light…airy. The pounding bass fades off into the far distance of her mind as a murky dimming creeps into her vision; focusing like a rifle-scope on…that shape. ‘His’ shape (it HAS to be!). The comforting weight in her boot calls to her again, the cold metal like the warning rattle of a threatened desert snake, waiting to strike…to taste warm blood. The ferocious image chills her sweat-slickened skin, yanking her rudely back into the ‘now’.
The new beat drops into a low, sinister breakdown sprinkled with 1950’s sci-fi movie samples. The hushed murmer of the captive audience floats to her through the colored beams of hot light. Somewhere an excited shout, fueled by cheap liquid courage, beckons to her…slurringly advocating further titillation…further sexual writhing. She complies, rising again into a rapid spin; smooth arms raised loosely from her side…partly for balance, partly for effect. Her near-black sweep of hair trails quickly after her. Without pause, she marches smartly out of the whirl…making for the stage’s opposite side. The drunken college boys seated there watch with barely concealed awe as her form approaches. A sharp whistle cuts past from the table of burly longshoremen behind. Like robots, the boys necks all crane up in unison as she takes up a dramatic position before them, noting the loose bills awaiting her arrival at the stage’s edge. Showtime. She launches into a particularly provocative routine that she saves for moments like this. As she slinks about before them, she incorporates the claiming of the bills into the movements, ignoring the age-old warnings of the filth of cash money. Money and filth, on many a level, go merrily hand in hand. Regardless…it pays the rent. As she manuevers to reward them with an unrestricted display of taut, thong’d cheek, movement again catches her eye from across the expanse of stage. Her heart feels cold in her chest as it thumps heavily at the sight. His(?)…shape is there. Just beyond the lights. The shadow of a doubt is dim in her mind, slipping quickly away. The silhouette stands poised behind the staring crowd on the ‘meat seats’; watching her every move…studying…calculating. She can almost feel the cruel gaze on her like the touch of unwanted fingers on her body. More filth. Again, her mind turns to her right boot. A loud cat-call from behind slaps at her and she absently shimmies her sexy posterior in response. A customer at the far edge, old enough to be her granddad, gulps back the dregs of his pint of warm, pale beer and then awkwardly stumbles into a hunched standing position…blowing her a revolting wet kiss from shrivelled lips as he turns to gently push past…the shape. The space in the seating at the stage’s edge stands out like a missing tooth. It’s not empty long. ‘He’ saunters arrogantly forward, sliding into the gap while pushing the discarded mug aside. The crooked truckers cap masks his features as he settles in. ‘ToiletstallDeathsHeadcruelhandsPAIN!!!’ snaps through her core like an electric shock. ‘That’ chill washes over her again, fuelling her purpose…her resolve. A young blond server, one of the new girls, approaches ‘him’, sliding a fresh pint of dark beer before him from behind. He leans back, brandishing a thick wad of bills as he peels one off…slipping it onto the bright yellow tray she holds before her. She uncertainly moves to make change but stops as he says…something. Her fresh young face breaks into a bright grin that betrays her naivete’ in response to his quiet words. The change is hers. She lightly brushes his shoulder, giggling as she moves off to new patrons. “He’ turns back, raising the cold drink to his lips. Our dancer robotically moves to the music as she calculates, ponders…targets. ‘His’ eyes, still hidden beneath the shadow of the worn cap, focus in on her again. ‘DeathsHeadCocaineMoneyBloodPAIN!!!’ slams over her again like an ocean wave in the night. She trembles inwardly. Her boot…the bulge. It MUST(!) be him. The monotonous pounding of the trance track thumps through her mind and for an instant, she hates it. It seems to mock the frightened and angry thudding of her heart. A tear threatens to bloom into existence at the corner of one wide, blue eye…threatening to unmask her. She mentally wills it away. ‘DEATH’S HEAD!’ From this angle she can’t see the crude tattoo that she KNOWS is there, emblazened on the meaty forearm out of sight beneath the edge of the raised stage. She blinks the remains of the traitorous tear away and in that instant of darkness ‘FistFlashColdTileBloodPAIN!!!’claws at her. Her mouth goes dry as the salted copper taste of the spilled blood is half remembered. The inebriated men around her hoot and whistle…pushing her on, prodding her forward. Toward…! As she slowly crawls along in display of sensual submissiveness, she catches sight of the young server passing behind ‘him’ again. ‘His’ head cocks arrogantly to the side as he too seems to take in the sight of the passing girl. Oh god. Is that his sick plan? Is she next?! ‘His’ wide shoulders bounce as he quietly chortles at…something. Something cruel (?). Then it happens. The catalyst. The $20 bill appears like magic from below the stage before him, raised up to eye level and used to sleazily beckon her forward.
It was a $20 that lured her into the booth last time. It was a $20 that they’d both inhaled the stinging powder from. It was a $20 that started the waking nightmare of that night so long ago. A dull ache rises in her jaw as she remembers the quick fist. The flash of the impact. The cold hardness of the dirty tile that she came to weakly sprawl on. The dark, coppery blood that ran from her pale lips, smearing beneath her cheek. The stinging tear. Not again, motherfucker. Never again. It ends here.
Fixing her cold gaze on ‘him’, she moves in…her focus eerie. The prey seemingly falling for the bait…it’s that part she plays now as she closes in. The boot…the bulge. She can sense rather than see his nasty grin of triumph as he realizes that he ‘has’ her now. Cash to these whores is like flame to a moth…she can almost hear these cruel words slipping lazily through his mind. It MUST(!) be him!! Then…she’s there. Kneeling before him, running her hands seductively over her tight skin as he glares up at her from behind the rim of his pint. His features are still lost to her but her belief in his identity is absolute…her inner fury sweeping aside any reasonable doubt that may interfere with what she…must do….Must. Do. Closing her eyes, she arches back, running her hands slowly down over her thighs and back behind her…out of his evil sight. Down and back, sliding to the tops of her high leather boots. Two fingers dip in…finding…it. She tilts her head forward again, allowing her eyes to take in the sight before her as they open. The cap, the Kenworth logo faded and worn, hiding the piggish eyes from her scrutiny. The dark stubble of his rounded chin below cruel lips. The broad, brutish shoulders hunched forward as he leans in toward her. The tiny rising bubbles in the pint held in his thick, calloused fingers (it HAS to be him!). The rumpled $20 between them…dancer and patron. The thin strips of surgical tape holding it in her boot gives way after a tiny tug. She slowly draws it out.
She’d seen the pearl-handled straight razor lying amongst a rag-tag collection of old barbers tools in the front window of a pawn shop down the street from the police detachment, after her near disasterous report. She’d wiped an errant tear of frustration away with the back of her hand as the idea came to her. As an antique, it was a harmless curio. As her tool, it was a fearsome and cruel weapon, ‘becoming’ of the scum that had hurt her…humiliated her. Citing the purchase as a birthday present for her father (long since dead), she’d paid the extra $5 to have the still-gleaming blade honed to a razor’s edge. She’d wielded the evil-looking instrument in her cramped apartment later that night; sweeping the blade back and forth before her…imagining ‘him’ again. Only this time, the story came with a different ending. This time, it wasn’t her lying on the tile bleeding.
She drew the razor slowly out, masking its appearance with her hand and arm as she added a touch of extra writhing to her performance…a fitting distraction. She could tell by the slow bob of the cap that his hidden eyes were sweeping over her body, slowly up and down again. Her revulsion caught in her throat as a dirty ball of ice seemed to settle at her core. Her hands came together between her breasts in a mockery of prayer; the nasty tool hidden. The world freezes in her mind and she sees…herself from afar, knelt on the raised stage before this hunched monster that walks as a man, the cold metal of the hidden weapon ready to strike. It’s then that he glances up at her over the half-empty pint clasped in his dirty hand. Her clear blue eyes meet his porcine muddy brown eyes and…he winks… obscenely. ‘FISTBLOODFLASHCOLDCACKLEPAIN!!!!’ The blade seems to flash open on it’s own from between her praying hands, sickeningly eager for violence. Her free hand lashes forward, slamming the hand holding the beer down. The mug explodes on the counter-top before him in a quick geyser of glass and foam, splashing both of them. A drunken chuckle of surprise reaches her from the next customer over as she rears back, the exposed blade clasped in her clenched hand. ‘He’ recoils away with a shout of anger and shock, looking up at her with a fearful grimace. She swings. The blade sweeps through the charged air between them. Tears of fiery anguish blind her as she notes no impact, the razor’s edge meeting no resistance as it flashes through it’s quick arc. Oh god…it missed! She reverses the swing, deftly flipping the sharpened edge around. The muscles in her arm tense in hasty preparation. It’s then that the blood hits her…a warm spatter across her exposed thighs. Her blade hand freezes, poised to strike as she glares down at ‘him’. His eyes bug out as a beer-soaked hand jerks up to the horrifying wound to his neck. Dark red sprays in a pulsing gout from beneath the frantically clutching fingers and he coughs out a desperate, choking gurgle. The razor had found it’s mark, cutting swiftly and deeply. Time seems to grind to a halt as he meets her eyes again. There’s no mischevious wink this time, only a fearful pleading. His mouth gapes like a fish out of water and a crimson drool leaks out, over his chin onto his torn and splattered jeans below. The hand not clutching at the sliced throat rises, the rough palm open to her…trying to ward off another attack. ‘FISTFLASHBLOODPAIN!!!’ She slashes again, knowing that this hand coming at her is attached to the awful Death’s Head tattoo that mocked her that painful time before. This time she feels the razor cut in, slicing a deep rend straight to the bone below. With a wet shriek, ‘he’ stumbles back, tripping in his wounded haste over his own stool. The thick, bloodied body tumbles back, falling heavily away from the stage to crash down on the table behind, scattering the stunned patrons in a burst of splashing booze and breaking glass. A moment later the table keels over, dropping the dying man grotesquely onto the floor. It had happened so quickly. She smoothly stands then, watching as the life runs from the man who had victimized her and so many others like her; the smeared blade held rigidly at her side. Her knife arm is sprayed crimson to the elbow…but she doesn’t notice. She raises her free hand to sweep her hair from her widened eyes, studying the beast she had felled. He lies face down in a mess of splashed beer and twinkling shards of glass, a dark pool forming beneath his limp head. One arm is tucked beneath him, still clutching weakly at the fatal slice while the other lies still at his side; the thick forearm facing her…mocking her. Even through the spilled blood, she can see that the skin is unmarked. No ink. No Death’s Head. No…NO!!! Her pulse pounds in her ears, overshadowing all sound around her…even the hysterical scream of the young blonde server. The lights sway and pivot, sweeping over her still form as she stands watching…sprayed in the innocent man’s blood, his life stolen from him by the dark and damaged fantasy of this delusional avenging angel. She doesn’t hear the needle skip roughly off the spinning record. She doesn’t hear the screams for help. She doesn’t hear the shouts of the running doorman as he approaches. She hears only a vast blankness as her already damaged mind begins to collapse on itself. A single drop of deep red slips from the razor’s edge, falling through the colored lights with a faint gleam to settle soundlessly on the stage, at her booted feet. Then…all hell breaks lose.