I went walking through the city…
With my slip showing a little…
It’s been a long time since before I’ve been touched.
Now I’m getting touched all the time
And its only a matter of who
And a matter of why
Addictions to hands and feet
There’s a meat market down the street..
Dance Anthem Of The 80’s – Regina Spektor
She’s staring at me. At my crotch. I thrust my hips suggestively in time to the pounding trance beat and she blushes and turns away. The little flecks of glitter on my pants catch light from the disco ball and turn me into a human kaleidoscope. The sweat slides down my back and glues my too tight t-shirt to me like second skin. I perform for her, every move exaggerated, larger than life. I ignore the nagging in my belly and the fatigue welling up in my tendons and I dance.
“Would you like a drink?” She whispers in my ear.
She asks for a martini, I ask for a plate of nachos and a litre of coke. She blushes again.
“You don’t drink?”
“I’ve already had far too many.” I lie.
She smiles in relief and asks the waiter to take back her drink and bring her a round of what I’m having. As she opens her purse to fetch her debit card I spot the diet pills. But I know better than to say anything.
“What do you do in real life?” She asks, but she isn’t eager for an answer.
“I’m between gigs right now. Waiting for the new season on broadway.”
“Oh wow! An actor.” She says with almost real enthusiasm. She’s better actor than I’ll ever be.
she holds my gaze for the first time. “Leigh.”
“Leigh, what do you do?”
“I work at a laundromat.”
I put a hand on hers and gently rub the dimpled skin between her thumb and her index finger. She smiles, and puts a pudgy hand on my thigh.
“Leigh, would you like me to come home with you?”
She nods almost childishly. “Yes, I’d like that very much.”
She begs that the lights stay off. I don’t mind. Her home is small but neat and the antique doll collection gives her room a sort of innocence.
“Shhh!” she whispers. “My dad’s asleep upstairs.”
I shimmy out of my trousers, I find it easier to wear nothing underneath. I know she struggles to unzip the back of her ill-fitting dress because the bunk bed groans as she moves. Her heap of clothes land with a thud on the side of the bed and she gropes for me.
“No. Leigh. Not before.”
She pleads. “I promise I’ll give it to you.”
“Please? Just oblige me.”
A night light comes on, it’s one of Snow White in her glass casket with the seven dwarfs all around her. How morbidly appropriate. She rifles through her bedside vanity and fishes out a $20 note. I snatch it out of her hands and stuff it in the inner pocket of my pants.
We kiss. It isn’t glorious or wonderful or even interesting. But it is pleasant and languid and it’s been a long time since I didn’t need to rush. I explore her mouth with my tongue and pace myself to her novice responses. I give a low moan when she straddles me only because I know it’s what she’d expect and I want to please. I inhale deeply and savor her, she is the smell of baby powder and moldy dresses, she is the smell of a child raised by her father. The consistent plop of skin on skin as her pace increases; I like to listen for it, it fascinates me. She grips my arms to steady herself and throws her head back as her grip on reality wanes and the ethereal beckons. With no thought for me, she arrives silently, the powerful shudder that goes through her the only tell of her peak.
“I like you.” She whispers to me and lays her head on my chest. The cold bites at my toes and though I can scrounge for my socks with my foot, I don’t.
“I like you too.” I whisper back.
“Would you stay the night?” She asks, with fawn like eyes.
“What’s your real name?”
We’re huddled together in only our underwear on the lower bunk. We’ve been mumbling contentedly for the last hour.
“And what do you really do?”
“I wanted to be an actor. So bad I dropped out of high school and came here.”
She looks up from the circles she’d been tracing on my chest. “How many years ago?”
“The January before last. I’ve been here two years now.”
“So how old are you, really?”
“I’ll be 17 in November.”
She goes rigid and gives me a pained look. With startling agility she hops off the bed and starts to pull on her clothes, cursing under her breath.
“Shit! Shit! Shit! This isn’t fucking happening to me!”
I can guess why she is so upset but I still ask.
“I can’t go to jail. I can’t be soliciting a minor. You fucking tricked me.” She whispers in a voice hoarse with venom.
She throws my clothes at me.
“Get the fuck out!”
I fall to my knees. “I’ve got nowhere to sleep tonight. I gave up my spot in the shelter for a thirteen year old kid, his dad was fucking him, he ran away. I couldn’t let ’em turn him out into the streets.”
She says nothing. I take it as a good sign.
“Please lemme stay just a coupla hours, I’ll sleep on the floor if you like. I’ll be quiet, you won’t even know I’m here.”
Thwack! The walls spin for a second. She hit hard, I can taste blood.
“‘Fuck do I care? You men are all liars anyways.”
I gather my bundle and make my way to the kitchen door, she doesn’t follow. I slip out noiselessly into the courtyard and pull on my clothes on the sidewalk. I can’t help one glance as I walk away.
The sky is a swirl of fuschia and saffron as the sun chases away the twilight. He sits on the kerb and doodles with a bright blue crayon. But this drawing isn’t beautiful like the ones he makes for his friends, this is disjointed and haphazard like a Basquiat. The noisy chug of a diesel engine distracts him; it is a tow truck grinding to a halt. A figure climbs from the passenger side and gives a mock salute. The horn blasts once in response and the truck pulls away. He saunters to the boy, who is now grinning from ear to ear.
“I stayed up all night Ira, you promised you’d come.”
The reply is smooth, too smooth. “There’s a new show on broadway, showed twice. Spent all night scalping tickets. That guy was a pal, was my wheels.”
A $20 note is put into the boy’s hands, and his fingers are closed firmly around it.
“For Lunch, Kelvin. Go to the Joey’s and have a proper meal.”
The boy begins to cry, he knows he’ll be alone again today.
Gentle fingers wipe away his tears. “I’m here for you Vinny, don’t forget that. No matter what, I’ll never let ’em take you back to Pa.”