Tag Archives: BORDERLANDS

“Life Is A Series Of Dogs”- BORDERLAND’s Excerpt #12

Don’t know if this is something that will actually make it into the book, but we’ll see. Felt compelled to write it because I’ve neglected this project and I apologize for that. No excuses.

So, this is for Trouble and “Neil” and Daisy and any of the other girls who have been touched by her and anyone else who has received one of her amazing puppies.

Life Is A Series Of Dogs

My roommate and I drive up Poudre Canyon, soaked in river water with an eight week old puppy curled and shaking in the back seat, silt and mineral-rich water glistening in her black coat. We were turned away from the campsite by the rangers because we refused to pay seventeen dollars for a half hours worth of playing with the puppy by the waterside. We packed up and drove along the water’s edge, looking for a spot with the least amount of rocks to relax by.

The puppy is asleep and I love her, though I’m certain there is less love for me on her side at the moment. Trouble sold her to me. Picked her out for me and everything. She chose right. Always intuitive and knowing beneath her bubbly exterior. No, perhaps it is that very exterior that makes the interior, where that certain spark of understanding comes from. I always believed wisdom came from those who were perpetually serious, callous. Men and women you couldn’t stand to be around unless they were doling out advice you knew was vital. Trouble is nothing like that. Talking to her is like talking to that aunt you can’t help but love and tell all your secrets. In the club she would approach me and hug me and it was never forced, never the fake show of affection I felt so many times from women I’m certain resent me or just men in general. Trouble is genuine through and through and for that many are grateful. Think of her as a rigid spine of steel. The middle. A neutral ground where everyone can rely, everyone can relate. Feel accepted.

The day Zilla brought me to see Trouble’s puppies for the first time, she was dressed in a tank top and shorts. Only a few days before she had helped me finish my piercing apprenticeship by allowing me to pierce her nipples. If there was any sign that anything like the sort had happened between her, my mentor, her husband and I, it was not in her eyes. She walked me into the garage and there in a homemade corral where almost a dozen balls of black and white and faun colored fur. They mewled and crawled and wagged their little tails. Several came to where I stood immediately, arching and standing, whining for attention.

“Which one is she?” I asked Trouble.

“That one,” she replied, pointing to a serene ball of black laying behind the others. Only her toes and a small strip on her stomach were white. “You can go in and pick her up if you want.”

Trouble smiled the entire time and when I took the puppy out and placed her on the lawn to play with her she sat on the cement step before her door and watched and her lips did not uncurl while I remained. Even on her own stoop nothing about Trouble changed. She remained the mother figure, the loving aunt. A tower of warmth and light. You want something dark? Perhaps in her past. Who knows. It no longer remained. Zilla stayed in the car, checking his messages.

When I gave the puppy back to Trouble and clambered into Zilla’s car, I asked him if he had seen her. Seen the dog.

“Yeah,” he answered in his bass voice, not looking over to me, “[The puppy] is fucking adorable.”

“Yeah, she is.”

“Man, I can’t wait to eat that puppy,” he added before pulling off back into the street.

Trouble is a ziggurat of cheerful light that saunters about like a monolith from the times before iPods and earbuds, back when myriad gods were all folks knew. All of that presence stuffed within a five foot and some inches frame. Her uniform is a Budweiser bikini which she wears almost every night. The owners ask her to change into something else but she rarely does and regardless of the fact that she’s a mother and into her thirties, that bright light doesn’t just shine forth, it attracts every poor bastard looking to experience the hometown girl and every dancer who needs an unbiased shoulder to cry and confide upon. A simply beauty who never left the town she went to high school in. Her white toothed smile and cornflower blue eyes. The one girl no one says a damn bad word about and rightfully so. Dirt could be dug and damage done but why mess with the only one who seems devoid of doubt? Why cast down an idol when it’s clear that idol is only giving guidance and love?

The puppy Trouble picked for me is calm and sweet, unlike any other puppy I’ve met. Perhaps it’s because of her amalgamation mutt mix of big breeds or maybe it’s her natural born demeanor. Either/or, it’s who she is. She lays out on the kitchen floor and ignores all goings-on. A stone sphinx, some marble-cast gargoyle guardian. She is precious. I love her.

Trouble and Neil, her husband and one of the DJ’s at the club, stand in my kitchen and unload a glitter-covered gift-bag filled with extra dog food and squeak toys and a miniature braided rope for tug-o-war and her short vet record and even her last deworming shot.

As Trouble feeds my puppy the sweet nectar that will keep her intestines clear, Neil stands barrel chested and serious, intimidating for a man fairly my senior. He wears glasses and a red t-shirt and I want to make him laugh to break the tension that is probably on my side alone. I can never tell if he dislikes me or not.

They say their goodbye’s to the puppy and I thank them and walk them out to their car and wonder what my life would have been like had I not met them both.

Though I have yet to meet him, I’ve seen pictures of my puppy’s older brother. He resembles an enormous black golden retriever. I imagine that Trouble picked him for Daisy in a similar way she picked my puppy for me.

Most recent pictures I see of Daisy are her with the puppy as he grows. Pictures of him sleeping. Pictures of him in the car. Pictures of them both on the bed or couch. A picture of him curled around the toilet, passed out. His entire life documented on the internet for the world to see. Daisy told me more than once that her dog was all the man she needed.

My roommate is passing out on her bed with my puppy by her chest and her own cat bove her head. The puppy looks up at me and I put my face to her face and she breaths tired puppy breathes and I kiss her nose and leave the apartment.

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“Heartbeat”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #11

I wait tables. Customers come, customers go. A dollar, two dollars, more, less, sometimes none. Black pants, polo tucked into a black belt, white t-shirt, black socks. After a group leaves I kneel half way in the booth, half way out, looking out the window. The sun sets into the interstate causeway. Trains bearing the same graffiti I saw months ago pass by, headed west, headed east. Dead flies lay on their backs, black husks arrayed into a dust covered insect graveyard.

 

In another universe we might have met somewhere else. I would have noticed her curves, her eyes, her lips, the way both work together when she wants your attention. She’s not a beauty but there’s something pretty about her. A realism to her. I meet Aurora and it doesn’t take me long to realize I want her. I want her body because I know I shouldn’t. She’s a dancer, a stripper, a mother, she’s someone’s wife, someone else’s girlfriend. Still, I want her.

 

“It’s complicated,” Aurora tells me as we speak of her husband, “It’s a pain.”

“But you guys are technically together,” I inquire.

“We’re separated. That’s about as good as it gets right now. But let’s not talk about him.”

“What about you and Suit?”

“Life is good. He still gets irritated he’s not allowed in here. So.” A few weeks prior Suit was kicked out of the club for his actions regarding a situation with Aurora. Now he’s only allowed in when she’s not there.

“People don’t really seem to like Suit.”

“I would imagine. I don’t care,” Aurora giggles.

“Other people bring their boyfriends in. Autumn and them.”

“I have no idea. Should I know why? Should I care why? When I’m not working it’s time for relationships and- do you have the ashtray?” she asks another girl.

 

Whether she was meant to be or not, Aurora’s crafted herself into a unique sexpot. Five thousand dollars worth pumped to make already impressive breasts larger. Tattoos line her waist and back like ink-jewelry. Microdermal anchors go from her collar bone down to the middle of her sternum. A necklace of sparkling aurora-borealis colors. In the semi-darkness, beneath the black light, the eye might make one believe it is a standard decoration instead of gems punctured into her skin.

 

“How do you feel for these poor assholes who, don’t want to take a stripper home but, genuinely fall for [them]?” I ask Aurora.

“There’s a big difference there. Yeah, I don’t feel bad for guys who come in here expecting to go home with a stripper. I, I think they’re arrogant and have the least chance of getting a dancer, stripper without money outside of the club.

“Now, a guy who comes in with the intention of spending a little bit of money and locking eyes with a girl and going ‘Oh my god, there’s no way in hell I’ll ever have her’, I would feel more sorry for him if he doesn’t get her than I would for a guy who’s like ‘Oh yeah, I’m built, I have a six pack, a twelve pack, I’m bad ass, I’ve got the tips of my hair dyed’.”

“What do you mean ‘feel sorry for them’?”

“It would make me feel bad because it’s-” Aurora pauses, touches her feet in pain, “Stripper shoes.

“It’s sincere. Their feelings are sincere. They’re not in it for the sex. They, you know, they honestly click with the conversation, you know? That makes me feel worse than some guy coming in here and going ‘Oh yeah, I’m taking one of you home tonight’. Fucking no you’re not. I wouldn’t date you if you were the last guy on earth. Simply because of [their] attitude.”

 

Some people would like to demonize strippers, create succubus out of them, say that any woman willing to take her clothes off must be willing to go further for a couple more dollars. Whores, trollops, harlots, sluts, hookers, every term, any term, a human being willing to go to great lengths to remind everyone, including themselves, that someone else is seen as greater trash.

And a dancer will be offended by the mere idea that they’ve ever gone home with a customer. Never meeting for dates. “Only whores do that” and sometimes they imply the “whore” is right across the room. Ask the “whore” the same question and they’ll accuse the real “whore” at the bar. An endless game. There is an animosity towards these “whores” that is as fierce as the misunderstood hatred of those outside the nighttime world.

Yet most of the women meet their male counterparts for life or the moment in the club. When your existence revolves around a place it is bound to happen. Isis, Trouble, Satin, these women all met their husbands in the club- some of the men were co-workers, others customers. Brooklyn, Vanessa, Sadie, Belle, Shie, Tessa, Nightmare and others have met and dated a customer or someone they work with at some point. Some instances result in love, in children, in long term investments. While others burst into proverbial flames, leaving both parties bitter, eager to let loose the injustices they feel were thrown upon them.

For the most part the girls are tight-lipped about these romances. Secrets guarded beneath the plates of their psychological stripper armor. Aurora is an exception. The other dancers look at her situation with up-turned noses and speak of it with disgust. Still married but separated, Aurora dates Suit, a man she met at the club. In a world where their skin is for sale in limited amounts, many of the girls attach great pride to fidelity and monogamy. Prostitution is weeded out, disgraced, put on display and then eradicated. Extra-martial relationships receive similar treatment. And flagrant showings of male-female sexual interaction between the dancers and any male, customer or otherwise, triggers a reaction.

“What they do is their business,” a girl tells me, sitting straight in her chair, “but when [Aurora] is blowing [Suit] out in the parking lot when we all get out of work, that makes us all look bad. Separated or not, that’s fucked up.”

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“Welcome to the Border/ Love & _________”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #8

I come to the border and I know I’m in the West. Sure, in Colorado there were mountains and plains, foxes playing on lawns with the carcasses of rodents, hippy girls on bikes in black leggings, medicinal marijuana and liberal lifestyles that will cost you a fucking fortune- but once I get to the sign with the big blue and the silhouette of the cowboy on the bronco I know I’m someplace else. Wyoming brings an eastward wind that can topple semi trailers, cowboy bars where bastards with guns at their hips and knives in their boots smoke while watching girls in sequins and rhinestones dance to country and buffaloes range only where man says they can roam.

The sky opens up. I see everything. I see nothing. Blue skies and clouds and plains that stretch on. The rails run north to south, south to north, the box cars filled with coal and lumber, cars and cattle, graffiti and engineers.

Cheyenne is a city that can’t decide what it wants to be. You enter town either on the outskirts or the ghetto and both are one in the same. The buildings are all worn by wind, nothing pristine. Everything looks as if the pioneer city planners took wood, gunpowder and grit and tried to instill it into the architecture for years to come. Still the downtown area appears to be trying in failed attempts to retain the Ol’ West that mankind built.

The first day I spend in Cheyenne Nightmare and I go out to breakfast. She orders a burrito filled with bacon and eggs she doesn’t finish and fruit drinks with over preserved strawberries at the bottom which she spoons into her mouth and brandishes at me in an immature fashion, letting the red chunks sit on her tongue. I shake my head and laugh and eat my pancakes, realizing for the first time how blue her eyes really are and how something about her beauty is missing in the darkness and bathed in black light and smoke residue.

***

It’s an interesting feeling, falling in love for the first time as an adult. I don’t want to accept it, I deny it and beat around the bush and when she doesn’t bring it up I let myself lay next to her and take in the smell of her perfume, a scent that will haunt me for who knows how long. An aroma that will live on in my nightmares and dreams alike.

I lay next to her. It’s about two or three or four in the morning. I’m not sure. I can’t sleep. All moments with her are surreal. Half the time I’m so happy all I want to do is kiss her awake and the other half I’m so scared it will all be gone when I awaken I don’t dare slumber. Every time I try to pass out I turn over and see the curves of her body, the pristine shape of her hips, the bubble of her ass that fits just right in my hands. She’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen and with her asleep in my arms I know that every woman that comes after this I’ll have to lie to. I’ll tell them they’re beautiful, but as I lay with them I’ll think of her. As I enter the warmth of their cunts her name will enter my mind and visions of her smiling wider than I’ve ever seen her on stage will fill the space behind my eyes only my subconscious sees. I’m naïve enough to think that I’m the only person who has ever seen her look so happy, so content.

And then in her sleep she turns over and grapples me, holding me around the waist and pulling herself close. She puts her forehead against my chest. I freeze. I don’t know what to do because I don’t want to wake her, so I put my arms around her and even now I don’t want to admit I love her. With my fingers I stroke her back, the feel of her skin against me making me tired. I don’t want this to end. Not ever. Please, don’t let it end.

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“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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“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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