I am seated on a chair. Generic and made in mass, a square seat cushion and rounded back padding are bolted to its frame of cheap folded metal. It has no arms. Dozens more are scattered around the room between faux wood tables, some wet with stale beer. My chair bears a rigid tear in its seat cushion. I sit in such a way as to hold the tear sealed under me. I am comfortable enough. I do not intend to stay long. I will have to remember to wash my jeans as soon as I get home.
A handful of other men find open chairs. None of them hurry. They are seated like me, unimpeded, facing the elevated stage an arm’s length away. We all have found our way to doing the same thing independent to one another. Without kind exchange of a glance, we all know not to be social.
I only see a few of the other men’s faces, and only by accident. They all look over thirty, most look over fifty. Most wear clothes that are cheap and dirty. Music, far too youthful and upbeat for this crowd, bounces around the windowless walls.
Where we sit is low lit. It is not difficult to see in the dark room, but the atmosphere allows me to feel hidden, unnoticed. This is intentional. We are not here to be seen. I want to feel hidden. The stage lights and flashing neon strobe lights are bright, but their light only trickles into the audience. The stage is walled with mirrors and dawns two separate silver poles. There are vertical, installed solid in permanence, and reach from floor to ceiling.
My right pocket feels tight on my thy. It is thick with a stack of cash. One hundred dollars in singles, folded over in half, secured inside a rubber band. It was embarrassing making the request from the teller at the bank down the street. She understood my purpose. Her judgmental stares had done the damage she’d intended. Next time I will not use a bank that is so close.
My body brought me to this place, my mind only feigned resistance, formed justification. I presume the other men feel the same. Or maybe I just hope they are as pathetic. I hate that I am here.
Most are here alone, sitting in darkness during the early afternoon on this warm summer week day. I wonder what would happen if they turned on the house lights. Would we all scamper out like cockroaches, our shame exposed? Maybe some have fallen past such shame, maybe some never had it. I cannot relate, but I would understand.
The song changes abruptly. Out struts a young girl onto the stage. She is pretty. Although most girls are, even many who think they are not. She begins to dance, swinging her hips, sporadically dropping into a squat. She does not smile, and only glances at some of us, and only in a way to assess who is watching. Her motions are seductive and sexually excessive. None are genuine. She is doing a job, feeling no joy.
The pink of her G-string flashes from under her tight plastic black outfit as she spreads her legs into splits and bounces her hips. There is no mystery to her outfit, but that is the point. It is short on material, and imagination. As soon as I realize she is wearing no bra, she has already ripped off the black outfit. The tap of her transparent stiletto heels cut through the pounding music when they stamp into the hard, scuffed stage. I am impressed with her ability to maneuver so gracefully in them.
She looks down at the man seated closest to her. I glance at him in my peripheral. He is staring intently at her. He understands that he will be first. She kneels in front of him, leans forward and presses her breasts together with her hands. Her eyes wander randomly past him into the distant parts of the room. She relaxes her hands and her breasts part. He places a dollar between them and she squeezes them back together to grab the money. She leans forward and moves her head next to his. The kind of thing a lover does when kissing her man’s cheek. But, she says nothing, delivers no kiss. The man sits still. He knows there is no touching, no caress, no embrace.
The next visit will be to the man sitting next to me. She stands back up, dances a bit more then kneels in front of him. I reach into my pocket and remove my stack of crisp singles. She turns around to show him her ass. She spanks herself a few times and bounces her hips violently up and down in thrust. Her eyes continue to roam randomly around the room. He sits still, like the one prior, like all of us, dollar bills in hand. She turns, pulls the string of her panty waist from her hip with her thumb. She is ready for payment. He places a few bills under the waist of her panties and she lets it snap down on the bills. Again, she leans her body forward and places her cheek next to his. She says no words, he makes no movement. They do not touch.
She backs up and begins dancing as before. I glance over at the two men who she has already serviced. They remain seated, ready for another visit. More desperate for a fix, than expecting relief.
I hold the entire stack of dollars in my hand. She looks towards me, I meet her eyes. The signal has been sent, I am next. She breaks from my eyes, and they find my hand holding the stack. She lingers for a moment. She looks at me again, smiles, then approaches.
She drops to her knees in front of me amidst aggressive gyrations. She continues to smile and looks at me more than she did the others. It is clear what she wants, so I unfurl a small stack from within the rubber band to let her know she will get it. The other men notice her extra attention towards me. I feel them look at me. She plays with her breasts, bends over to present me her ass. This time with more vigor and enthusiasm. She then smiles and pulls her panty waist off her hip. She seems genuine, but I cannot be sure. I do nothing for a moment. At my hesitation, her smile decays into an irritated stare. All the right signals had been sent and received and I wasn’t following through. I did not plan to do this, but I came to this place sick. I have done here what there is to do, and I am not well.
I collect myself a moment later and place the small stack of about twenty dollars in the opened gap. She looks away then begins to lean in to put her cheek next to mine.
She places her cheek next to mine and whispers.
“I’ll come back for you.”
Before she can retract back onto her feet, I place the wad of rubber banded bills on the stage between her knees and stand up.
“Sorry.” I say.
She pulls back and looks at me again, fearful, confused. I have scared her. I wish I had not.
I drop my head and briskly walk out. The heavy thumping music drowns out the confused bellows from some of the other men. Bewildered looks press into the back of my neck and escort me out in a fit of embarrassment. I nod to the bouncer, he does not nod back, but watches me close. He opens the door and I walk out into the bright light. I will go home. I hope I don’t come back to such a place.