“Fear Itself”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #5

A Halloween party before Halloween itself. Brooklyn walks around in a correctional officer uniform streaked with blood and red handprints. She sits down in the back by Pumpkin’s Throne, the single table near the pool tables where the girls, myself and Pumpkin congregate to converse and laugh and complain.

“It fucking sucks ass,” Brooklyn says above the crowd, “I want to take everybody’s dick and cut it off and glue it to their [taints] so they always fuck themselves in the ass.”

“Yeah,” I say, my voice rife with sarcasm, “But how do you really feel?”

Tarin shouts over the music and the din of a busy Saturday night to no one in particular and to everyone, whether they wanted to hear or not, “I want to puke in your motherfucking mouth!”

“I feel like making my own Halloween costume out of one of these guys,” Brooklyn confides. A smile stays on her full lips though her eyes show she might be kind of serious.

“With my [tears] running down your nose!” Tarin continues.

“What?” I laugh.

“What’s that movie? ‘It rubs lotion on its skin’?”

“Silence of the Lambs?”

“Silence of the Lambs shit! Imma take one of these guys, I’m gonna skin him [and wear him] and it will definitely win the contest.”

Tarin sits down with us and with a reminiscent fondness in her voice she says, “I love that movie.”

The best way to describe how Brooklyn looks is that she is photogenic. Pictures of her show blonde curls and green eyes as vibrant as summer grass in the sun set into a face that has stayed pretty despite three children and a failed marriage, MMA fighting and stripping since she was eighteen. And toughness abound lives behind those eyes. More than once from the stories she’s told me I imagined Brooklyn standing over some poor bastard with fist reared back and bloody knuckles, breaking noses and splintering bones, the crimson rose tattooed on her hand splattered red. Yet every photograph I see of her, whether she’s simply smiling or making a duck face or posing with her children, I can’t help but see her and think “How pretty”.

“I’m obsessed with numbers,” Brooklyn says. In her mouth is a pink lollipop and dangling from her fingertips is a cigarette. She alternates sucking on both, “And I feel like if I don’t do something in those certain amount of numbers somebodies gonna die in my family.

“I don’t like the number two but I have twins so I try to work in the number two sometimes but if I do something and I walk away and my stomach feels gross, like, I feel like I need to touch it again and [if] I don’t then I [feel] like I’m gonna puke. And then if I don’t go back and touch it and make myself do it, I’m afraid my mom’s gonna die, my kids are gonna die.”

Brooklyn’s lisp shows ever the slightest. She speaks quicker and more professional the deeper she goes into her condition. Excited with tinges of panic soak her vocal chords. A fear of what rests within.

“Odd numbers are even to me. There’s two on each side and one on top. Five. One, two, they’re even.”

“Wait,” says Sadie. She’s been sitting with us, engrossed in the conversation. The woman still doesn’t like me and she acts as my foil, only coming around when she needs to cheer herself by demeaning and degrading me. To this day I have never met someone so proud of being a cunt. And a self proclaimed one, mind you. “You have twins and [a baby], right?”

“Yeah!” Brooklyn shouts. Enthusiasm comes to her in a rapid wave as she feels someone understands her blight.

“That makes sense.”

“Three is my favorite number,” Brooklyn tells me and Sadie, “I do almost everything in threes. “When I get shit from the vending machine, if it’s in the number six spot I will not get it. I will not getting anything with six. If a [cashier] hands me back change that’s ‘666’ I will give her money, say ‘take it’ and if she doesn’t take it I can’t leave until she does because I will feel sick to my stomach because she fucking-,” Brooklyn laughs at herself and smiles, “I know, I’m crazy. See, these are the things you don’t know about me. Now you understand why I am the way I am. Complete torture in my brain at all times.”

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“Motherhood, Part II- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #4”

One night Tarin sat across from me in the black dress that made her seem so professional, her legs crossed. Her hands and arms and legs and torso moved constantly. You would think her the youngest woman in the club.

“[He’s a] big ray of sunshine,” Tarin told me as she spoke of her son, “He’s hilarious and adorable. He keeps it real.”

“Are you teaching him to be a proper little black man?” I joked.

“Um, nah, I think he’s totally white. Effeminate. I love it. He’s five. He’ll be six on the 23rd. Crazy, right? I tried to have him on Mother’s Day and it just wasn’t working,” she laughed.

“He just found out I’m a stripper. He doesn’t say stripper but he said the other day to me, ‘Mom, are you going to go work and dance and make some money?’ and I was like ‘Am I gunna what?’ and he’s like ‘You make dance moves, right? And they pay you for your dance moves.’ And I was like ‘What are you talking about?’ and he’s like ‘I’ve seen your clothes in your work bag.’

“It doesn’t help that when we did the exotic fusion for the first time we videotaped it. When he was three he found that and I caught him one morning watching it. I mean, granted, it’s just girls dancing and taking their clothes off but I’m in that video. So I think he finally just connected the video with the clothes and the money and is like ‘Wait a minute here, this is what my mom is doing’.” The music died with her last words and for a moment Tarin’s bubble broke and the smiles and exuberance faded.

“So it’s kind of horrifying, actually. It was okay when he was younger and oblivious to the concept of [dancing and being paid].” The music picks back up and so does her mood. It’s as if the tunes overhead, the bass and the songs, are some sort of juice to a battery rechargeable, giving her back the facade that keeps her through the night, “So, yeah, I’m ready to quit. Now. I’m, like, ready to go get a job at IHOP because I don’t want him to think I’m a stripper anymore. I mean, I’m serious. It’s horrifying. It is horrifying. What if he goes to school one day and says ‘My mom dances for money’. Like, what? No thank you.”

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“Motherhood, Part I”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #3

Love them. Love women. Love their curves. Watch them sway and bounce their asses and pop out each cheek. Want them. Look them over. Stare from face to stomach to arms to tits to hips to legs to calves to feet to cunt and love them.

If you cannot love them you are already lost and I pity you for this. To understand them you must want them. Any who tell you otherwise lie. They know not women and they know not how sweet they smell or the looks in their eyes when they know they hold you in the palms of their perfumed hands and how they nod, acknowledging they can now take you into their mouth, chew you up and swallow you bones and balls and cum and all.

Once I asked Tarin about being a mother and she gave me a list that involved every adjective imaginable.

“Stressful. Tiring. Amazing. Fun. Hilarious. Hard,” Tarin’s voice grew more upbeat with every word. She smiled wider. The darkness of The Den remained but in the back by the mirrors and the billiard tables light as if reflected from the sun by the snow radiated from the plush armchair she lounged upon. Everything she said accented by the West and the world she had immersed herself within. “You’ve got to be creative sometimes. Pick and choose your battles, you know? You can’t win everything.”

“Do you enjoy it?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she beamed, “It’s amazing!”

“Was he planned?”

“No. He was a total accident. Tried to get an abortion. Texas laws [are] different than Colorado so I was too far along. So,” her mood dropped but she perked up quick, “Oh, kind of had to have him then. It was, like, nine months of making myself believe I had to be a mom. There was no more fuck off time. I am now responsible for another human being and I have to teach him things and-,” Tarin paused and contemplated, drawing in breath.

“It was very stressful. I hated my life. I came up to Colorado when I was thirteen, fourteen weeks pregnant and I moved in with my mom and lived off the money that I had. Yeah. Crazy. Crazy life.

“But it has made me so much stronger and it’s made me open my heart and my mind to so much more of life that I think people without children forget and pass up. It’s the simple things that keep us going every day and that [make] life enjoyable.

“I also think I had him for a reason. I was going down a very destructive path. I was an alcoholic. Bad. I woke up in the morning to drink a drink,” Tarin laughed, nervous and truthful. She repeated the same noise over each time she attempted to make fun of her past. “There was at least a liter of vodka gone a day, easily. I liked to drink.

“So, I think it all happened for a reason.”

I could put the amount of times I’ve seen Tarin act professional, with her back straight and swaying her luscious hips beneath a tight black dress, on one side of Justice’s scale and then take the times I’ve seen her mock jerking off a cock she doesn’t have, shouting out loud that she’s not making any money and that men should stop sword fighting and pay attention to her tits, put them on opposite sides of each other and the apparatus would even out.

Tarin was nearing her thirties but the way she acted with her gamine features and curling blonde hair I would never have knew unless she was so honest about her age. On the best of days or under the worst of circumstances a smile managed to creep across her heart-shaped pixie face. Everything at The Den was a joke. Always she’d tell me she didn’t want to be there, that she’d rather do hair or even serve tables but she’d always be out dancing. With bills to pay, schooling for herself to fund and a son at home, working a job you’ve worked well for almost a decade seems realistic.

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“Redhead Sings the Blues”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #2

I wouldn’t even be writing this novel if it wasn’t for the initial suggestion of one person. Though folks like Christopher Cervelloni, Angie Paxton and Lisa Blandford suggested I turn my writings into something more concrete, it was a specific woman who sat with legs crossed before me in nothing but her underwear and was bold enough to suggest to  me, a down-on-his-luck pizza delivery driver at the time, to “write about this place”.

That place was The Den.

That woman dances by the name Bailey.

Here are bits and pieces of Bailey.

(NOTE: Names have been changed . Pretty sure they aren’t hard to figure out… and so everyone is clear, Riley is just the name I gave Bailey’s current boyfriend who is the same man who she waited to get out of prison and now he is and I wish them the best of luck together.)

(NOTE to the stuck up writer friends: Yes, the tenses switch between present and past because 1. I’m still trying to see which is more effective and 2. I honestly don’t give two or three or four fucks.)

-0-

“Are you going to visit him?” I asked her.

“No, nah,” Bailey laughed, mischief in her voice and face. Her cheeks fill with blood even beneath the black lights.

“Oh.”

“You had sex,” Tessa teased, leaning forward in a pink outfit that offsets her open legged stance and rough voice.

“No!” Bailey exclaimed, “We can’t have sex in visitation. In the visitation room he kissed my hand- he kissed my hand! They dry celled him for two days because they thought we were passing drugs. That he had swallowed a balloon of some sort. Oh!” her voice grew dramatic like an offended socialite and she reclined in the chair, “We were ‘sexually inappropriate at the visitation so it got taken away from us.”

Bailey’s voice dripped with ichor and sarcasm and she searched our faces. There was a pain behind her facade and I wish I would have noticed it then. She wasn’t only searching for our pity. It was our agreement she sought.

Both Tessa and I were silent for a moment until I shrugged my shoulders.

“He’s, uh, he’s in prison,” I stated, trying to be honest.

Tessa took up after me in the same tone, “Prison sucks. I’ve never been there, but…”

-0-

Bailey is a beauty in that way where one must bypass imperfections not because she’s a stripper with a nice ass but because at her stage it’s as if she’s dancing just for you. As she caresses the pole with slender fingers and looks out from beneath auburn eyelashes, she’s no longer a woman dancing for dollar bills. With a tattooed garter on her long legs and the slow, sensual movements of her body, Bailey becomes the blushing bride on her honeymoon. A wife waiting for a soldier coming back from war. The cute girl at the campus bookstore sifting through psychology and law books.

Yet, when she sits down to talk to me the scars of acne mar her face and small lips purse to near nothingness when she becomes serious. And as she opens her mouth and smiles wide and her eyes narrow and I can see how a man sits in jail for years with only the thought of her as his anchor, the illusion is ruined and she becomes her real name, first and last, shouting above Nicki Minaj and Pusifer.

“When Riley[real name changed] would fuck me he would leave a mushroom stamp on my cervix,” she would partially whisper to me with a stale cackle and a grin.

As Hawkeye asked one of the unfortunate souls to be subjected to a Hot Seat to make barnyard animal noise, Bailey cupped her hands over her mouth and shouted like a rooster, “Any-Cock-Will-Doo!”

And up at the bar, with a fur-lined hoodie over her bra and t-bar, she would open up and the laughs would stop and she’d chain smoke with the fire from the cigarettes traveling from the burning tip straight to her honey-colored eyes.

“-but nobodies sitting up at the stages. Nobodies tipping you. Nobodies paying attention to you. But they’re all watching you, they’re all staring at you. It’s awkward just to be stared at.”

Words like that, sometimes humorous and frequently serious, make me think that at any time Bailey is as likely to flash you a smile as to stand up, flip the crowd off, give everyone a Miss America wave and walk out in nothing but her stiletto’s, pale skin and pride.

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“Cowgirl Up”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #1

This is an excerpt from my notes on the life dreams of strippers, on horses and lying. This part of the book is mostly about three women who, in the novel, will be called Tessa, Trouble and Dragonfly… though this excerpt only mentions one of them in passing.

And it will mostly be about horses.

But considering most folks have read the HORSES story and I’ve discovered most of it was fabrication (sorry Shaggy… my bad, dawg), I’ve decided to leave that for another time and instead give y’all a little bit of a view on how a dancer dreams.

-0-

Cowgirl Up

Dancers and their dreams.

One must have aspirations when they see themselves straddling not only the border of the erotic world but the shapes of hard cocks poorly concealed beneath gray sweatpants. It was rare when a girl would tell me she could see herself dancing for a long time. Most spoke of plans for school, plans for families, moving up and onwards and never stopping until any sign of black lights and strobes, stilettos and t-bars up the cracks of their asses, perverted bastards and love-struck paramour dumb fucks were well out of sight around the bends of memory and time.

But when I asked when the time would come that stripping would go the way of the dinosaur for them, a lot of the answers took similar forms.

The money is just so good, they would tell me. I couldn’t make this much at another job. Once I pay for school I’m gone.

Once I have my cosmetology license-

Once I have my paralegal degree-

Once I’m a pharmacy technician-

Once I’m a dental assistant-

Once I get into vet school-

Once my boyfriend gets a job that pays him what he deserves-

Every night they climb that pole, do their floorwork and tell themselves that the guy who just licked my nipple is helping fill the coffers and dreams and ideas and a nagging bug in their brains that screeches “Get out. Get out while you still can,”

Though, when I think back on it, I’m pretty sure most Den girls will throw the money right back at that guy, call him a cocksucking faggot and if they don’t hit him straight off, they’ll at least tell him to right fuck his mother in the most deviant, devious and derelict of ways.

These are How-The-West-Was-Won Girls, afterall. If you ever wondered how you could take your clothes off while drunk dicks heckle you and eighteen year old boys build fantasy kingdoms of you behind their doe eyes and still have respect for yourself, you’ve never talked to a woman from The Den before.

If you’ve ever wondered where the brothel and burlesque girls of the ancient world went, it’s not to those post-modern burlesque shows with showgirls named Carly Cupcake and Raleigh Reveille. No, the true downtrodden belles of the West aren’t spoiled college girls who put garters over gym-toned muscles and tease bros in university auditoriums between study sessions and drinking Barcadi in the kitchens of party houses.

You want to cowgirl up the right way? You go see Bailey dance on stage for you like you’re  her long lost lover and the linoleum is your marriage bed. Watch Nightmare dance to songs with her name hidden within them and let her stare daggers through you. Let Brooklyn show you knuckles bruised and scabbed from punching someone who deserved it.

And out of the Cheyenne girls I can’t think of one who exemplifies being able to take your clothes off in front of friends, family and strangers alike and then come in the next day in street clothes and drink like a sailor without a modicum of shame better than Tessa.

-o-

That’s all for today. More later this week.

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Buffalo & Their Cardboard God

Coyote stalking the hills in the chill and snow and cold and good ol’ Western spirit, one foot lifted as it waits to pounce. Rabbit, weasel, field mouse. It matters not. It will be dead soon.

Buffalo graze to the East beneath a wooden cut out in their likeness. I wonder if they worship it as their god. Probably not.

Coyote carcass. jackrabbit carcass. Coyote carcass. Antelope carcass.

During snowstorms the wildlife ranges wide. They stand by the roads as if watching and waiting for us to slip up. To skid. To crash. Go down, down, down into the dirt and become part of the soil. Back to nature. Those patronizing fucks. Field birds dart towards the sky. Families of buffalo and antelope watch on like tourists. Ice coats the road to Carr in April and I skid and slide and curse and hope I’ll live, knowing I will.

Different day. The snow blows across the interstate. Drifting snow they call it out here. Out West. Grandaddy of them all. Water sticks to the grass, then freezes and makes the plains look as if they’re made of snow instead of just covered in frost.

Winds blow East. Truck carcass. Car carcass. Truck carcass.

Road slick in spots. Advise turn off cruise control.

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So, here it begins. Here it is.

What self respecting writer doesn’t create a blog these days? Who doesn’t want to be read? To be seen? To garner some of the respect and attention we, as artists, all strive for.

Don’t lie, you fucks. You know you want it. We’re writers. We wave our manuscripts and plays, poems and prose, novels and short stories into the starry sky and hope that stars mistaken for stars will see them, publish them and bring us the dough that hack in Arizona has accumulated.

Dough? You know. Scrilla. Green backs. Cheddar.

And I ain’t no different. I ain’t no cowboy or philanthropist.

I ain’t your Robin Hood, nigga.

I’m just here to write and share it and hope some sonovabitch likes what I got to offer.

Be prepared for writing. Short stories, sometimes. Mostly the progress of my non-fiction novel-in-progress and excerpts.

BORDERLANDS. Working title.

Be brutal. Merciless. Love me, hate me. Bite, steal, rob, worship, ignore.

Do what you do best.

Here’s a short story I cooked up in all of 15 minutes earlier today.

Partake. Feast. Swallow. Taste.

The Cemetery

Nico A. Grande

Thinking about the two thousand dollars in cash in a Neruda book jacket at her apartment helped keep her warm on the stone cemetery bench. She picked at the black fishnets and toyed with her septum ring. It was strange with the jewelry down. She wasn’t old enough to feel as old as she did.

What do you want to be called? The guy without the camera had asked her as he pulled his winter coat closer to his thin frame.

Amber.

No, that’s not really the feel we’re going for.

Something darker, added the man with the camera. It wasn’t recording.

Something gothic.

Yeah, something gothic.

Over the tombstones and mausoleums, marble and stone spires of sharp crosses, raising angels with hands held high in hopes of delivering up the long-since-dead to the heavens of wherever they would go, she could see steel frame works and glimmering glass of the city itself. The wind swayed the skeletons of oaks and rode up her skirt. The g-string running up the crack of her ass warmed nothing. All of it was what they had asked her to wear.

Dress as slutty as possible.

Not too slutty, the skinny guy in the coat said. We don’t want you getting arrested.

Good point, Coney, the cameraman concurred.

A leather jacket sheathed her upper half, concealing her corset. The sky warmed nothing. Gray on gray on gray. Even the snow stuck to the grass, shoveled into hardened piles like discarded granite rubble, was gray. For some reason she couldn’t bring herself to shiver.

The slab of marble before her bore a fading name that she thought might be German considering all the u’s and t’s. Each date was before she was born. People lived, people died. Before she was alive. And after. She thought of Coney and wondered how big he was.

One?

Twenty-five.

Hundred?

Yeah.

Fifteen.

Twenty-two fifty.

Damn, bitch.

Twenty. I ain’t made of money, sweetheart.

Their voices carried before their footsteps.

“Perfect place to go goth hunting.”

“Well, you would know. You are the Goth Hunter, my well-hung friend.” Fake laughter. Forced. She lit a cigarette like they had asked her to and the thick cake of black lipstick stuck to the filter immediately.

“Oh man, look at that one,” the cameraman attempted to whisper but it came out loud enough for the microphone to pick up.

“A fine specimen,” Coney had picked up an Australian accent since last she has seen him, “Hey, little lady. What’re you doing in a place like this?”

Make sure you’re cold, Coney had told her.

It’s twenty degrees out.

No, I mean, make sure you’re a bitch.

“It’s none of your business why I’m here,” she stared to the tombstones and blew smoke from her nose.

The cameraman stood a few feet from Coney’s right and kept them both in view. A red light burned on the video recorder.

“Oh, a feisty one.”

“What’s your name, baby?”

Pick something sinister, Coney had said.

But not scary.

Yeah, not scary. Just something that invokes that, that invokes-

Yeah, something gothic.

Perfect. Yeah, gothic.

“Lilith.”

“Sexy name, baby.”

The cameraman was rubbing his cock. She wondered if she would have to fuck them both. They hadn’t discussed that.

“So, you want to have a little fun?”

“Being a little blunt, aren’t you?” she acted.

Act natural, Coney smoked as they had stood outside the cemetery.

And don’t look at the camera.

That too.

“You know you want some, baby.”

She thought of the two grand at home. Of what it could buy. Of the rent and bills and how her shit job didn’t pay and how they hated the way she dressed and made her cover her tattoos and take the rings and barbells from her face. She snuffed the cigarette.

“Sure,” she stood, “Why not?”

Brand New Day/ The Cemetery

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