Tag Archives: nonfiction

“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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In Fort Collins & “Never Ever Did”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #10

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.

 

CSU Campus outside my balcony.

———-

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.

“Nightmare?”

“Yeah, dude.”

“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.

“Hey.”

“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.”

“You sure?”

“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.

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“Naked Nights”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #9

Her name is Heidi and in her face and body I see remnants of whatever genetic strain courses through Bailey’s veins. There is something sweeter in her face and in her voice. Harshness has not set in. She is all smiles. Bitterness against where she works has had no time to settle into her mind and bones and beating heart. Her words bounce from a throat she tells me she uses to sing opera. Her pearly whites look so unused. I imagine braces coming off them only days before.

She works at A Hunt Club, a ‘no touch’ gentleman’s club in Fort Collins. College boys and out of place Mexican workers slobber over girls they can’t have. Not even the illusion is complete, a bastardized monster that will haunt and torture them as they lay awake, surfing the internet for porn that tickles that spot they can’t find a woman to caress. The girls are all young in the way only females in college are young. Inexperience veiled in the varied uniforms of what they perceive as maturity.

“I like their no touch policy,” Heidi tells me from across the high table, “I don’t think I could work anywhere that didn’t have that.”

“Where you have to touch on the guys?” I ask.

“Yeah, where you have to touch or the guys touch you. So,” Heidi pauses, “Yeah, I think I’d be really bad at lap dances. I’m a really awkward person. Like, when I started here I was the worst dancer ever. So, if I had to, like, learn how to lap dance it would be bad.”

“I would never tell anyone at school I work here.”

“Is that a personal decision or are you ashamed?”

“I’m not ashamed,” she squeaks, quick to the trigger, “Like, if they asked I’d be like ‘yeah, it’s just a job’. It’s just a job, that’s how I look at it.”

A Hunt Club

*****

Nude Night. Though all-nude strip clubs are illegal in Wyoming, The Den manages to get away with it by only having one night every couple weeks where the girls strip down to nothing but their skin and subconscious. Though any girl can work in any amount of clothing, most decide to shed it all and make the extra money with their cunts exposed, splaying for strangers and raking in the greenbacks,

Daisy plants herself on my lap and vents. I don’t mind this. Usually I do but I don’t with her. This isn’t romance though we connect or a crush though she is attractive. It’s almost a sibling-like feeling. An understanding. A pretty girl who doesn’t feel pretty finding safety in a boy who realize tthis and wants nothing more than to let her talk. She tells me about some asshole taking pictures of Nightmare while she dances. I try not to care. It’s not my place to care.

There is an innocence that floods from every pore of Daisy’s body. From her white outfits to her eyes that always look shut and bothered by the cigarette smoke to the sweet soprano of her voice. She is all legs and hips and backside, an archetype of what I should want but that isn’t there for either of us. She moves to a seat of her own and begins to let it out.

“There’s just a certain level of nakedness that shouldn’t be shared with the general public,” Daisy tells me, “I mean, like, boobs are okay. Boobs are fun. Like, I like my boobs.” she stutters a bit, bending her head to the side like a curious bird and corrects the motion with another avian movement, “Granted they’re-they’re small but they’re fun. I-I just feel like that’s a very private area that gives life, that-”

Daisy changes courses as if her first explanation wasn’t appropriate, “Have you ever seen that commercial where it’s, like, ‘It gives birth.’ It can, like, bring down nations. I think it’s for, like, a vaginal care thing.”

“Douches?” I offer.

“Yeah! It’s a stupid commercial.”

“I didn’t even know douches had commercials.”

“Yeah and then, like, two men , like, are battling and then there’s a picture of a woman. It’s, like, ‘Wars are fought over it’. And- and it’s all about the vagina. And so, but, I feel like there’s a level of nakedness I’m not okay with.

“And, you know, I feel like if you’re sharing, if you work here and you’re sharing a certain part of yourself, like, if you’re sharing a certain part of yourself like you’re lap dancing and putting your tits in someones face, you’re having fake romances, maybe, like, ten a night. So you should [keep your vagina] for yourself and if you are in a relationship, for [your partner]. It’s like your two, three inches of dignity, depending on how big your thong is.”

“Do you feel there’s a hypocrisy in what you’re saying?” I ask.

“No,” her answer is quick and adamant. Offended, “I mean, it’s my opinion on it, I guess. Sure, I may show one part of my body but that doesn’t mean that my body isn’t sacred to me. Like, I personally like to save something for myself. That part of my body is completely different from the top part of my body. Like, men play sports topless. Like, the penis and the vagina have always been sacred. They’ve always covered it, look at the statue of Adam. Is it Adam? The dude with the leaf covering.”

“I don’t know who that is.”

“But, like, in, like, sculptures and what not, and in- and in, like, books, they’ve always had to censor out those parts. So I feel like boobs aren’t that big of an issue.”

“But it wasn’t always like that. Wasn’t it the Catholic church that made them cover up?”

“Yeah, well, that’s what I feel,” Daisy says, her voice dejected and dismissive, “I don’t care.”

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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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“Ain’t No Barbie”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #7

I see Madison and she is beautiful. Not beautiful in the way where I fall in love with her at first sight but in the way where I want to avoid eye contact and creep to the other side of a room so I don’t embarrass myself before her. Beautiful in that way where if she were pushing a carriage down the street with an infant I’d stop and tell her “Your baby is going to be lovely,” knowing I can’t tell shit from the lump of new pink flesh swaddled in blankets.

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Though, I did make the mistake of calling her a Barbie. It’s not that she’s got long blonde hair or a body that defies physics. Her hair is colored shades of artificial but spectacular gold. When we stand face to face without her heels we’re even, a few inches above the average man or woman. You can see where children drained her in the stomach and breasts, loose skin showing beneath the black light. What makes me think of Barbie is how her lips pout and the arch of her impressive eyebrows. It’s not what Barbie is, but what Barbie means- you want her for a few minutes? Well, ain’t no way in hell unless you’re willing to spend the cash.

Fuck off.

When Madison climbs the stage people crowd the plush seats. A man who seems a cross between a hippy and a lumberjack sits and puts twenty dollars bills on the padded tip rail like they’re Washingtons.

“The girls like me because of the poetry I write her,” the Hipjack tells me, alcohol wafting from his throat to my nose. He stares out from thick rimmed black glasses with bulging eyes behind.

Madison removes her top to reveal nipples hard and erect on small breasts, the flesh responding as if it knows that it is time to work.

“What do you mean I’m a Barbie?” Madison says while a drunken dancer who tells me to ‘call her Sparkles’ and Hipjack heckle me. I fumble for words and have no real response but half-assed reasoning. I falter. I fail.

“What is this?” Hipjack asks me, drunk and smiling, “Gonzo journalism?”

“You ain’t no Thompson,” Sparkles shouts over the bass, “You ain’t no Thompson.”

I float around the club, embarrassed. Sparkles. What a cunt. All I want to do is leave. To run. Why stay? Such a stupid idea? Who do I think I am, anyway? They’re right. This isn’t my world. I ain’t no Thompson and this isn’t Gonzo journalism. I should go home.

“And now to the stage is the beautiful Sadie,” the DJ drawls. Sparkles prances up onto the stage and dances to “Pretty Fly For A White Guy”, twirling her dyed red hair.

Liar.

Sadie reminds me of porn stars the way her facial expressions form for customers. Her teeth remind me of Europeans. She’s wrapped in leg warmers and lace as her g-string sinks into her hips, camouflaged in flesh. Hipjack comes to the stage and drops a twenty.

“I was hoping you’d come sooner,” Sadie says as she moves from some Mexicans to the drunken amalgamation, nuzzling and dancing against his aging, flannel-clad body.

I end up sitting with Aurora and Suit in the back by the pool tables, sulking and talking with less heart than earlier. As the night wanes Madison comes and finds me and sits down. Aurora makes room and is quick to leave, looking the two of us over, telling me she’s going to dress out. Madison apologizes for Sadie and Hipjack. All that’s left is her and I, four inches from each other, and it all feels too close. I want to be on the other side of bullet proof, prison-grade glass with guards and shackles and then I’ll feel as if we’re separated enough. She intimidates me.

Articulating my Barbie comment comes out even worse with us one on one, but Madison waves it away with a manicured hand and tells me she understands. Her own words are broken. I can tell she wants to be clear, but everything comes out chopped up. She fishes for words and starts one sentence only to begin a new one half way through. Regardless, she lets me know she’s never seen herself as some unapproachable beauty.

“Well, yeah, but I’ve always hated the girls who sat in the mirror [and were like] ‘I’m so hot’,” she tells me as she moves her hair from her face, “I don’t see myself that way and I never have, nor will I ever view myself that way.

“I kind of prided myself in a way too, like, to seclude myself. I always had a lot going on as a kid and I was not involved. I don’t know, really, I’ve always be an individualist. And for the most part I look the same as I did when I was [younger].”

Hipjack comes up while the other girls are up on stage doing Platter, where most of the girls dance as a singular organism, vying for tips and interacting to get the last bits of cash from the pockets of drunkards and number-one fans. Madison excludes herself. The older girls tend to do so on occasion, though some are willing to slither in the pile for a few extra dollars.

“Hey,” Hipjack interrupts, “I got- I threw out a bunch of ones up there,” his voice gets quiet, tones of inebriation overtaking him.

“Do you ever,” he pauses, “dance?”

“I don’t ever [do platter]. I let them do platter,” she motions to the stage and smiles at Hipjack, using his real name. It sounds so proper, so out of place here on the ripped leather with cigarette smoke filling our ears and eyes and noses. “Go home.”

“They broke my eardrums with their tits.”

“Oh yeah?”

Madison ignores Hipjack’s presence and lets her words form into sentences more concrete than before. In her little black dress with her tangles of golden hair she looks tired, disinterested, only here with me to clarify her existence.

“I never really, uh- I know this sounds funny but I’m good at this. It’s something that I was good at from the get go, so I kind of, I dunno, when you’re good at something you stick with it.

“It’s not really socially acceptable. It’s very age sensitive, but-” she let’s the words linger, disappearing into wisps of smoke as if whatever the ‘but’ is she expects me to get. To just know.

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“The King What Sits On His Throne”- BORDERLANDS Excerpt #6

“I love this place,” Pumpkin says. His voice is sincere. It is hard not to believe words that come out of this behemoth of a man. Something in his voice holds the remnants of an east coast accent though from what I know he’s been out west most of his life., “ If I could I’d own [The Den] and I tried. I tried. If it wasn’t two-point-four million dollars I would be the owner.”

“You already seem like you are,” I joke. I give an anxious smile. He doesn’t smile back, “Mayor of the place.”

“Yeah, well, you know, I mean, I already told ya guys come in here all the time and they see me, ya know, not doing what a normal customer does and they automatically assume I’m the bouncer or I work here. And for the sake of, for the sake of, them having an eye out and to behave, I’ll tell em ‘Yeah, I’m the bouncer. I have my eye on you tonight.

“Really, I’m just here to have fun, man. Sit down, relax. That’s what keeps my head level for the week, ya know. Like, when I’m working I come out on Sunday night, I spend four hours here and it gives me a peaceful sense for the work week.”

Other than the owners and male employees and sycophantic boyfriends who hawk in the dark corners while their women bare their skin, Pumpkin is at The Den more than any other man I’ve met. Most of the week he spends hour upon hour in the back at what I dub his throne.

Twice as wide as the average man, taller than most and covered in tattoos of angels of death and skeletal outlining on his hands, Pumpkin could look the part of a disgruntled bouncer or an obsessive paramour but he is none of those and it pains him to know that. I see it in his face, in the way he smokes cigarettes under the black lights. It might as well pour from him like a noxious liquid, dark and frothing and foul.

“What keeps you coming back?” I ask him and the question seems to change his mood. Though never bright or happy, somehow Pumpkin grows more discontented. He slumps into his chair and plays with his cigarette lighter and ponders for a moment in his own mind. The silence is intimidating. A frown furrows his face.

“I don’t know,” he answers after a moment, “I fucking hate this place.”

The first time Pumpkin even acknowledged me was the night I met Nightmare. While the pale ice queen beauty and myself sat in awkward silence near the front of the club, Pumpkin lumbers in with his behemoth waddle, un-geled mohawk and dressed in his usual uniform of all black. That night he stopped and nodded to Nightmare and when I think back on this how strange it seems. Knowing them both now makes me ponder how uncharacteristic they both acted that night. Almost coincidental that these two people who would play such a huge part in my life for both better and worse would stand parallel but that evening Nightmare was still only a tall and lanky blue eyed beauty with a pixie cut who I was sure as hell was annoyed with me and Pumpkin a sort of scary tattooed mass of flesh who looked at me as if I were the biggest douche bag in the world.

Looking at those two I imagined they came from a familiar cut of cloth. Both in dark colors, black upon black upon black. I pictured them at home listening to angry mainstream hard rock pretty boys with long hair who were all angry at their fathers and every attractive woman who ever turned her cheek on them. Yet Nightmare and Pumpkin are opposites, one sitting on the side of wanted and the other, unwanted. And they are similar, wrapped in shadows and black light, quiet and to themselves, one saying forget the world and the other saying fuck it to hell.

Nightmare looked up to Pumpkin with her legs crossed and speaking in bored tones she pointed to me, “I like this guy.”

Pumpkin shrugged his shoulders and walked away without a word.

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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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