Update 4/13/2012: Back in Fort Collins, living in the nicest apartment I’ve ever lived in as an adult or a child. Things are changing, jobs are changing. Still a piercing apprentice, still writing. Said I’d never come back to this town, told people how much I hated it, how fucking stupid it was.
Now look at me. Made a motherfucking liar of myself.
Oh well. Now read what you came here to read.
I never notice her until she brushes passed. Any interaction with her is rare. She keeps to herself. Nightmare in her pewter cloak, shrouded like a figment in the back of the strip club. Ignoring the world, face buried deep in the pages of a mass market paperback about rogue angels and demons who harbor human emotions, she looks as if she’s as comfortable in her lingerie and high heels as she is at home in sweats and a t-shirt. Anytime we make eye contact or I talk to her I feel as if I’m bothering her. Her answers are stunted, her gaze is cold, her voice disinterested. She scares me a little.
“If there’s one girl in here,” Pumpkin says to me one night as we sit at his throne, smoking his menthols, “If there’s one girl in here, if you ever wanted to date one, it’s her.”
“It’s who?” I ask.
“Her,” Pumpkin points his finger to a six foot woman with a pixie haircut wrapped in a cloak model walking to the bathroom.
“Her? What? Why? No way.”
Pumpkin laughs his hearty laugh and shakes his head.
“She’s not my type. Girls like Vanessa and Aurora are.”
“Stay as far a fucking way from them as you can. If you ever decide to go after a girl in this place that’s the one.”
“Not happening. Besides, I’m pretty sure she hates me.”
“I have this knot in my right ankle,” Nightmare tells me, showing me from beneath a long blue dress. It’s the kind of outfit 9th century nobility wore, showing only the shape of her toned shoulders and narrow hips.
“Why not get a massage then?”
“They’re like callouses. If I get a massage it will make it worse.”
On stage Nightmare is a dark liquid. Darkness seems to envelop even the neon underwear she sports. She can be slow and sexual, quick and seductive. Her motions and movements, her choices, her actions, all of it is filled to the brim with forced symbolism, creating imagery to go with her name- the outfits, the songs she dances to. Everything is crafted to make you remember her name. To invoke nightmares. During the song that is her namesake she halts at the end of the chorus, arching her back as she lays across the stage or leans against the pole and while the band sings she lip syncs, reminding us all.
“OOOOOOO, YOUR FUCKING NIGHTMARE!”
“My grandmother made this for my wedding. My ex wore his Air Force uniform,” they were married in Cheyenne. A small ceremony. They had met on the internet through a social network where you rate other people and hopefully get their attention.
As Nightmare walks by me her scent reminds me of childhood. A Macy’s or Victoria’s Secret memory from my mother’s bedroom. I’m taken back to her arrays of perfumes and lotions lined across the white counter top, reflected back by the large mirrors latched to the walls. Memories of when I was young enough to wander in on my mother naked, her breasts hanging down as she hits her forties. Her blonde hair up in a tan towel as she spends hours making herself up to go to the super market or hang out around the house.
What an inappropriate vision to be conjured, especially by a woman in a fucking cloak.
“You have bedroom eyes,” Bailey tells Nightmare across the back table, smiling, teeth showing like a shy concubine.
“I what?” Nightmare wraps her cloak tight around her slender body and takes a drag from her cigarette.
“Bedroom eyes,” Bailey smiles wider.
Vanessa pays no attention to the conversation, drawing a picture of a buffalo out of squiggles and shitty lines.
Nightmare and her ex split in the winter, the divorce itself still floating in the atmosphere and cumulonimbus clouds that stretch from Wyoming to Alaska where she relocated to be with him.
She would find messages and texts between him and old ex’s or women he’d met on dating websites. Exchanges about how he wanted to put his tongue inside their cunts, about pulling their hair while fucking them up against walls.
“One day we went to buy perfume,” she tells me in the same uninterested voice she uses to tell any tale or vocalize any statement. From the tone she might as well be talking about groceries. “[He] tells me he likes how the perfume smells to him, but that he doesn’t need [a scent] because my natural aroma attracted him. I knew it was over then.”
One night the wind is horrendous to the point where they close I-25 and 85 and those of us who live in Colorado wait for news, sit around wondering if we’ll be able to get home or if we’ll be stuck in Cheyenne. The club is slow, most customers already gone. It’s only the girls, the bartender, DJ and myself. Bailey tells me if things stay shitty we can get a room together.
“I don’t have money for a room,” I say, embarrassed.
“It’s okay, dude. Don’t worry about it.”
I sit around, waiting, wondering what will happen and then she comes up out of nowhere.
“Hey,” Nightmare says, hovering over me, five inches taller than me in her heels.
“You can stay at my place if you don’t want to drive home.”
“I don’t know. I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Well, it’s up to you,” she walks off, back to work.
I think it over for about an hour and I’m not sure why I say yes. I find her at the bar.
“Okay, I’ll stay with you.”
“Yeah, why not?”
“Okay,” she tells me her address and tells me to meet her there after the club closes., “But don’t tell anyone. No one.”
“Yeah, dude, I know.”
Fate sealed. Road taken. No going back now.