Tuesday, October 13, 2015

#183: "Famous" by Allison Williams

~This essay was previously published in Pivo (2003).

“So what do you do?” I ask, because he already knows what I do, we’re at my work.
“I’m a musician,” he says, and we both know that’s not all, that the twelve people in the private room and the tension in the dressing room on his arrival don’t have a lot to do with music. But we pretend it is, pretend we can have a normal conversation, pretend there’s lots to find out about each other and that we both care.
He’s nearly forty now, or perhaps on the far side, it’s hard to tell grey from blond. In the poster on the wall of my rented one-bedroom, over where the funky part of Dallas becomes a bad neighborhood, he’s thirty, or maybe a drugged-out twenty-five, fronting a band that will be famous always but always a little less famous than him. He’s drinking brand name gin and tonic, three green olives on a plastic sword balanced on the edge. I’m drinking champale, which is house code for a six dollar cranberry juice and ginger ale. I’m underage, my Poloroid’s on the Do Not Serve board in the back hall, but I don’t drink anyway. He’s either a boobs man or a brains man, because if he was an ass man, I wouldn’t be here, being a little softer around the backside than the rest of the Dallas girls. My bet is on brains. I’m hoping it’s brains. I figured out pretty quickly I wasn’t a Barbie body, was never going to be the tightest girl in the bar no matter how many reps I did, my money comes from conversation and climbing – they’ll pay twenty bucks for the fun of watching me climb two stories up, wrap my high boots around one of the cage bars, lean back and slide down, squeezing my thighs to stop short when my hair brushes the platform. Sometimes thirty.
We’re supposed to do two sets in the cages after two songs on stage, but he’s had a word with the manager, or rather, his manager’s had a word with my manager, and a girl who never liked me to begin with and now is into full-blown hate is taking my sets. Lock my locker for sure tonight, or better yet, take everything home, shoes, dresses, makeup, anything that can be ripped or cut with nail scissors or smashed on the tile floor. I learned in Florida never to leave money in a locker, as fast as you can make a hundred and eighty bucks it still burns to lose it. Dallas is better, there are house mothers who police the dressing room and iron and bandage and pass out cups of liquid latex in the clubs inside the city limits, where if the cops come in, your fake nipples have to peel off in one piece and be opaque to a dollar bill. Here outside the city limits, we’re bare up top, but in the Cabaret we’re also in dresses “appropriate for street wear” when we sit with the customers and we don’t cross the invisible wall in front of their knees, the barrier between us and their groins.

Monday, October 5, 2015

#182: "Danish Modern" by Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson

~This story was previously published in Little Patuxent Review (2013).

Isabelle wondered how long it would take for the police to arrive.
Five minutes?
It depended on the store’s security system, she supposed. A silent alarm would be nice because then the racket wouldn’t disturb her (although she’d become quite adept at tuning out noise: conversation, TV, crying.)
What she wanted was right there in the window, a mere six feet away. She could scramble through the wreckage and have a few quiet moments before the cops shuffled her off in handcuffs. She would get caught, of that she was certain, but at least there would be no eyewitness to testify against her. This town shut down on weeknights, making it easy to stand here, undisturbed, at 11 p.m. on a Tuesday, with a cinder block cradled in her arms and a diaper bag spilling its contents on the ground a few feet away. She’d abandoned the bag—an oversized Vera Bradley with kitschy flowers and quilted material—after discovering the cinderblocks next to the warehouse. All that stuffing puckered between thick stitches reminded her of cellulite. When her mother-in-law gave her the bag, it had overflowed with poop-related paraphernalia including a bottle of something called Jr. Lil’ Stinker Spray Poo-Pourri.
“You spritz it on the diaper before it goes in the trash so it doesn’t smell as much!” her mother-in-law had said.
“Wow,” Isabelle had replied. “Who knew crap required so much crap?” and her mother-in-law had cocked her head and blinked the way she does when Isabelle mentions politics.