It smelled hot and muggy, like pussy and August as I hauled my duffel bag of heavy heels through the dark, empty club. I found the dressing room and pushed the doors open.
“French fries! For everyone!” I opened the McDonald’s sack and arranged napkins and ketchup on the smeared formica counter of the vanity. I stepped back, hoping for the best.
The scent of grease was thick in the air. Women served me eyelined stink-eye, sizing me up. Then, a thin dancer barged in the dressing-room, wasted, swaying and sweaty. She went straight for the fries.
They all edged closer, attacked and surrounded the vanity, gnawing on cheap potatoes like pigeons pecking bread on stained sidewalks. They clawed at the salt with manicures, forgetting their ritual diets. Like ravenous beasts, in sequins. With stretch-marks.
I didn’t eat any of the fries. It seemed like a good idea to give an offering. I heard this club would be good money, but rough money. I needed money — a lot of money — so I patched up some change and made an offering.
I had been warned for years to stay away, that I wasn’t tough enough to work there. But I was desperate to find a new place to dance, and the club was located near the airport’s steady stream of men who didn’t live in my city; exactly the type of men I preferred to dance for.
Men with other lives, wives in a half-empty bed, men with miles and miles between their homes and mine. No chance to be seen on the street, in the grocery aisles, as I smelled the ugly bottom of a pineapple, tugging on its leaf. No detection, no harm done; just a passing stranger in the wingspan of sky and metal birds.
The empty end to a good shift, with the sonic goodbye of planes flying overhead, blasting the darkness. Money in my pocket. The kind of emptiness that makes me full.
No one stole my money, pissed in my purse or fucked with my customers there.
Maybe I was lucky.
Or maybe it’s just hard to resist the smell of french fries.
Image Credit: Shane Turner