He watched me from the back corner of the club. It was dead. He left a pile of money on my rack.
“You’re dancing is so elegant and sophisticated,” he said. “You’re my favorite.” He ascended the stairs before I could thank him.
I sat in his office with my notebooks and writings I printed from email on the guest computer across from his. I was his court jester, but instead of a cap-and-bells I wore blood-red hair in a messy half-bun. Instead of pointed shoes, I tilted about in 8-inch black Pleaser heels. I held my latest freshly printed poems and stories in both hands as the paper tailed onto the carpeted office floor. I leaned back in the chair and put my feet up on the oak desk.
Big Hands puffed on his zillionth cigarette of the night. His eyes conveyed the eagerness of his ears. His fuzzy face grinned. He ashed his cigarette.
“Let’s hear it,” he said.
“I’ll start with this poem,” I said.
“You’re SO fake! You laugh so fake and your sighs are contrived. Your voice brings blood lust impulses to my ears. As you caress my limbs, I cut off your hands, leaving bloody stumps, gushing with ooze, popping chunks of muscle and flesh. Then your oh-so-frail legs, I dismember them, and your facades, by severing your appendages. A hopeless heap of your cheap defeat—red pools soak the room and I say: Off with your desperate head! Your neck especially embodies your defiled ways. Veins and flesh mangled and squirming; drip, drip, dripping blood; a sea of red fills the space. As you lie still slightly squirming, a soul trapped in a decrepit corpse. Deceived, deceiving—dead you lie, in repose: A deviant’s delight. So falsely fragile and feeble minded. As you writhe and choke, I laugh a hectic hellish scream.”
Big Hands stood up, and the permanent cigarette dangled from his mouth. He clapped with sincerity then sat down.
“I love it. Morbid. Chilling,” he said. “Who’s it about?”
“A gothic, vegan cock-tease,” I said.
We laughed. He offered me a cigarette and lit it for me with an engraved Zippo. I took a few drags before the DJ called me to the stage. I folded up my scroll and left the pile of rantings on the desk.
I gave a few dances and the night ended. I put on my jeans and t-shirt in the dressing room. I packed my make-up, outfits, weed, and CDs, then went back into the office to grab my stories.
“Sorry I didn’t come back and hang out like usual, but—”
“Don’t worry,” he said. “You did good tonight. I saw you got a lot of dances.” He gestured to the security screen monitoring multiple cameras in the club.
I smiled at him as we stood in front of his desk.
Gorgeous cover girls peered at me from behind glass. Their transcendental beauty immortalized on glossy 8x10s, framed, dusted, and admired.
He raised his arms and wrapped his hands around my neck. I froze. Years of friendship and a working relationship that was never flirty or sexualized, despite the atmosphere, questioned. Down the tubes.
He held my pale neck in his thick fingers. They curled around my throat and squeezed ever so slightly. Not enough to hurt me physically, but plenty to violate me emotionally.
His chipmunk face lunged toward me. I stood still. Poised against my inner panic. Statuesque in my fear. Mortified. Every millisecond-movement dragged in a heaviness that paused each frame of space and time in a live-action Eadweard Muybridge motion photo sequence. An underwater nightmare. Then his full lips pressed against mine. His big hands tightened ever so slightly. I couldn’t pull away because I was immovable stone. His fat tongue forged its way passed my lips and licked across my teeth, prying them open.
Time caught up with motion and I snapped out of my frozen hell and jumped back. His hands still clenched my neck. He let go. His saucer eyes stared at me, hungry and confused.
“Why would you do that?” I asked, tears falling.
“I thought that’s what you wanted,” he said, his face loose and stunned.
I regained composure, grabbed my papers and bags, unlocked the door from the inside, and left.
He called me at home and apologized. I cried. I screamed. I cried some more.
“Please, come in tomorrow,” he said over the phone. “Let me make it up to you.”
I needed money for bills, so, I did. I forgave him.
This story originally appeared in Exotic Magazine, December 2017.