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STARBOUND (fifth)

February 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Marnie unlocked the door at the top of the long stairway and entered the large loft.  Sylvia followed her in and slipped off her coat while Marnie closed and locked the door behind them.  The space was a huge open area with a line of square pillars down the centre to support the high ceiling.  Originally meant to be an industrial space, the black woman had converted it into a vast living space.

In a corner near the floor-to-ceiling window was a kitchen area with a food preparation island that separated it from a dining area.  Six matching chairs upholstered in faux leopard skin surrounded a glass-topped metal table.  A cluster of illuminated balls hung suspended above the table.  In a corner far back from the window a king-sized bed hung near the ceiling, high above the floor.  In another corner was a work area set up with a large worktable, a sewing machine, and a variety of bolts of fabrics stored on several levels of deep shelves.

In the other corner near the tall, wide window was a comfortable lounging area.  A pale green overstuffed sofa faced a pair of matching easy chair with a glass-topped coffee table in the midst of them.  The large centre area of the loft was open and empty except for a magnificent oriental carpet that was also in the pale green of the overstuffed furniture.

          “How about a drink”, said Marnie as she hung her coat on a rack near the door.

          “No thanks”, said Sylvia.  “I never drink when I’ve been smoking”.  Marnie opened a glossy black-lacquered cabinet and took out a small wooden box.

          “Then let’s share some more smoke”, Marnie said.  She walked to the sofa and placed the box on the coffee table.  “I have some really terrific Thai Stick here.  Come here.  Sit.  Get comfortable”.

          “What’s the big secret information you have for me”, Sylvia said.  She joined Marnie on the large sofa.  Marnie took the marijuana out of the box, crumbled a bit of it on the glass tabletop and deftly rolled a neat, slender joint.  She held it out to Sylvia who took it to her lips.

          “Remember I told you I know one of the girls in The Bitches pop group?” Marnie said as she held a flame to the joint while Sylvia sucked on it.

          “Yeah”, said Sylvia, squeezing the word out while holding the smoke in her lungs.  “But I never really believed you, to tell you the truth”.

          “Well”, said Marnie, taking the joint from Sylvia, “the truth is that I really do know her.  We were kids together in the north end.  Of course, I was still a boy then, and Shawna was very supportive during my changeover”.

          “I really can’t imagine you as a boy”, said Sylvia.  She took the joint back from Marnie and sucked a big drag down into her lungs.  “You’re such a beautiful woman”.

          “I was a pretty good looking boy, too, Sweetie, but I was always a woman on the inside,” Marnie said.  “Anyway… Shawna told me she’s leaving the group.  She’s getting married, and she’s fed up with touring and all that crap.  She really plans to settle down, be a good girl and raise a family.  I don’t get it, but different strokes for different folks, as you know”.

          “That’s amazing”, Sylvia said.  She handed the joint back to Marnie, who finished it with one long toke and dropped the roach into a silver ashtray on the coffee table.  “I’d give anything to be in a group like that”.  Marnie expelled a long stream of pungent smoke from between her full, red lips.

          “I know”, Marnie said.  “I’m gonna make some coffee.  How’s it going with your singing lessons”?

          “Good”, Sylvia said, going to the kitchen area with Marnie.  “Walter’s a great teacher, and he says if I keep practicing as much as I do, I’ll be good enough to try it as a pro”.

STARBOUND (fourth)

February 22, 2014 Leave a comment

“Come to my place after work”, she said before taking a long pull of smoke and dropping the small butt into an ashtray.  Sylvia exhaled a long stream of bluish-white smoke into the air before she responded.

          “What’s up?” Sylvia asked.  “I’m pretty tired after running back and forth from this place to the Ziggidy Bar.  Two sets an hour, with a run up and down the street in between really takes it out of me”.

          “For one thing, sweetie”, Marisa said as she prepared for her own on-stage set, “I finished the slave girl costume you wanted me to make for you.  I must say, it looks great.  It’s a good idea you have for it.  The idiots in the audience will love it”.

          “For another thing?” asked Sylvia, checking her make up in the mirror.

          “I have a bit of special information for you that I think you’ll find interesting”, Marisa said, deliberately teasing Sylvia.

          “So tell me now”, said Sylvia.

          “No way… not around here.  You won’t want anybody else to know about it”, she said.  The other girls at the make up counter stopped talking together.

          “Hey!” said Princess, a young girl with a muscular body. “What’s with the secrets here?  Share, ladies… share if you care”.

          “It wouldn’t help you to know, Princess”, said Marisa with an arrogant toss of her blond mane.

          “Fuck you”, said Princess.  “You fag-broads make me sick the way you hang together”.

          “Eat your heart out, bitch!” said Marisa.  She turned back to Sylvia.  “So come over, Sweetie.  I want to check the fit of the slave girl outfit before I do the final sewing”.

          “Wait for me then, after your show.  We can share a cab”.

Sylvia Vichnorski was in her loose-fitting street clothes, resting in her chair in the dressing room of the Paris Paradise strip club.  She read the entertainment pages of the newspaper while she waited for Marisa to finish her last show.  It was the last show of the night for the club, so the dressing room was empty except for Sylvia.  Marisa’s music came through the wall, and Sylvia knew the show was coming to its conclusion.  The final song ended, and there was a smattering of unenthusiastic applause from the few members of the audience that were still there.  These were usually the loneliest men.  The men with no other place to go except empty apartments, boarding house rooms, or suburban homes where indifferent wives are already in bed, grateful for the absence of the husbands they don’t like.

Marisa strolled into the dressing room holding her costume layers balled up in front of her muscled abdomen, her milk chocolate coloured skin glistening with perspiration.

          “Another day, another three hundred dollars”, she said with a toss of her head.  “Hang on, sweetie, while I wash the stink of this dump off me”.

In the back seat of the taxi the girlfriends discussed how much money they made at the club, and how they could earn more when they danced at bars.  They commiserated about the comparative ease of performing at the club, with its admission-paying audience as opposed to the bar scene, where they were an attraction added to the drinking.  The bar owners hated having the strippers because of the expenses, including their salaries, their dressing rooms, and the general problems caused by the rowdy behaviour of the clientele.  As a result, the bar owners and managers were aggressive and insulting toward the girls.  In the end, the two girls agreed that it was worth the smaller pay to work at Paris Paradise.  But Sylvia was ambitious, and worked at bars while she worked at the club.  The dancers had an hour between shows, and that was often enough time to get to a nearby bar, dress, perform, dress, return to the club, and dress again in time to undress on stage.  The club featured the generally more pleasant and more appreciative audience, club owner and manager.

The cab pulled up in front of a large car wash building, silent in the late night darkness.  Marisa paid the driver and both girls climbed out of the car and entered a narrow stairwell through an obscure doorway beside the large exit door from the car wash.

          “This is a really cool place you have, Marisa”, Sylvia said as they climbed the long, straight staircase.

          “Thanks, Sweetie”, said Marisa.  “I love it because it’s huge and cheap, and the noise of the car wash is never a problem since I put down the thick broadloom.  It’s always closed at night, and this downtown street is silent during the late hours when I’m here.  And I’m only Marisa when I’m workin’, Sweetie.  Remember that.  At home, I’m simply Marnie”.

          “Yeah, sorry Marnie.  I forgot”.

STARBOUND (third)

February 18, 2014 Leave a comment

The audience applauded appreciatively.  Sylvia, whose appearance fitted well with her stage name ‘Angel’, was a favourite with the ‘regulars’ at Paris Paradise.  Unlike any of the other girls, Sylvia looked into the faces of her audience during her performances.  The audiences were accustomed to the sulky, resentful expressions usually shown by the dancers.  But Sylvia liked showing herself, and she liked the easy money that stripping brought her.  The lonely, rejected men in the audience were made to feel warm toward Sylvia.  They saw her as a real person who existed in places not connected with her nude dancing in Paris Paradise.

Not until the song ended did Sylvia remove the outer layer of her costume.  The audience didn’t object.  She danced beautifully, and her warm, friendly personality extended out of the red spotlight, over the footlights, and into the hearts of the men in the audience.

The second song came on, and offered a change of pace.  Frank Sinatra’s voice filled the room with ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’, and Sylvia swung and spun as if the lyrics were guiding her.  Her long, well-shaped legs swept her from one side of the stage to the other, affording all members of the audience a close look at her muscled body.  This, too, endeared her to the audience.  Most often, the dancers kept to the centre of the stage, robbing those on the extreme left and right sides of the audience of a clear view of what they’d paid to see.

Sylvia’s routine unfolded like a flower, shedding petals.  Songs by Neil Diamond and Lou Rawls provided the balance of her music.  The audience applauded enthusiastically, whistled, and called for more… more… as Sylvia gathered up her costume and ducked backstage and into the dressing room.

After she showered in the small stall at the back of the dressing room, Sylvia came out to her place in front of the mirror.  She relaxed for a few minutes before dressing in her street clothes.  Marisa, a tall, lean black girl sucked on a joint and handed it to Sylvia.  Marisa was a transsexual in her twenties.  She was born male, and by the time she had turned nineteen, she’d had several operations to become the woman she always felt she should have been.  Her own father was the surgeon who helped her make the transition because he couldn’t bear to see her suffering as she did when she wore the male body that felt to her like a prison.  She had been a female in every way but physically and never knew a happy moment until she became a woman.  Finally, she took great joy and satisfaction in earning her living exhibiting her altered body.

Marisa was beautiful, with long, golden hair that looked stunning against her chocolate coloured skin.  Marisa’s real name was Caroline Shaw.  She had been Carl Shaw before her transformation, and she was the closest thing to a friend that Sylvia had among her associates in the small universe of exotic dancers and club workers.  Marisa was still big as a man.  For the more observant, her large hands and feet, and her height of almost six feet would tell of her original gender.  Sylvia held the pungent smoke in her lungs and handed the joint back to Marisa, who lifted it carefully to her full, red lips.

STARBOUND (second)

February 14, 2014 Leave a comment

As Sylvia passed, each man suddenly became aware of her, and turned to watch her hurry into the dressing room at the opposite side of the dimly lit theater.  The rows of seats were filled with men who were eagerly staring at Duchess, waiting for the magic moment when she would snap off her G-string and reveal her shaved pubic area.  It was not mandatory for the girls to reveal their privates, but Duchess always did.  She needed the extra ten dollars that Borden, the manager, paid for any show in which the girl showed it all.  In truth, Duchess also enjoyed the thrill she got from showing everything.

Inside the long, narrow dressing room, girls sat at the counter that ran the length of the room.  Large mirrors were mounted on the wall over the counter, each illuminated with glaring bulbs.  The counter was littered with a variety of cosmetic bottles, jars, and occasionally, pieces of costume;  A red feather here, a crumpled G-string there, breast pasties and other of the strippers’ paraphernalia.  Of the eight small chairs that sat at the counter, three were empty.  One was Sylvia’s, one was for Duchess who was nearing the end of her on-stage stint, and one was for Rickie, a girl who had the day off.  Other dancers, in various stages of undress, occupied the other five places.  One of the other dancers, a woman who looked a bit too old and bulky to show herself nude for a living, sucked on a small brass pipe and expelled a stream of fragrant smoke toward the ceiling.  She looked over at Sylvia who was undressing hurriedly and putting on her costume in layers in the reverse order which she would remove them.

          “Better hurry, Angel.  Sounds like Duchess’s music is about to end”, she said.  At that moment, appreciative shouts and applause were heard from the audience.  “There goes her g-string”, the woman said as she put the small pipe to her lips.  Sylvia didn’t answer, but calmly continues to dress in her layered costume, checking each garment in the mirror before her.  The door from the stage swung open and closed again as Duchess entered carrying her discarded costume in a bundle held to her chest.  Her very white skin glistened with sweat.  The sound of a Red Foxx comedy recording could be heard through the door.  It filled the intermission between acts.  Within a few minutes Sylvia was ready, touching up her makeup in the mirror.  An intercom phone rang on the wall.  She reached for it and held it to her ear.  Tony, who was on duty in the control room, said it was time to go on.

          “Ready”, Sylvia said.  She hung up phone, stood and waited at the stage door.  The Red Foxx recording stopped abruptly in the middle of a dirty joke and Tony’s voice echoed flatly in the auditorium.

          “Now ladies and gentlemen, the always exciting, sweet and slender ‘Angel”.  A ripple of applause was drowned out by the opening strains of Rod Stewart’s version of ‘Tonight’s The Night’.  Sylvia pushed the stage door open and strode proudly into the red spotlight, which followed her to centre stage.  She swung into her improvised routine, moving with slow, gentle grace to the sensual music.

STARBOUND (first)

February 11, 2014 Leave a comment

          Yonge Street was teeming with traffic.  Downtown sidewalks were crowded with young men who lived in the inner-city core, lounging in front of the bars and clubs that line the broad street.  Other young men from the suburbs walked up and down, obviously out of their element, visiting the hectic downtown area looking for excitement.  It was the usual Friday night scene, typical of a warm summer night.  Cars lined up, patiently creeping from traffic signal to traffic signal, curb cruising as the young occupants gawked at the characters on the sidewalks.  The festive atmosphere permeated the entire scene.  It was always so – summer Friday nights, with high-school youths enjoying an after-school adventure, mixing together with urban sophists, drug dealers and users.

 Even in her street clothes, which consisted of loose, baggy, faded jeans and an old cotton top with crudely stitched repairs on several of the seams, Sylvia Vichnorski did not go unnoticed.  Even as she scurried down the street hauling her gym bag, the sensual movements of her walk attracted unwanted attention.  Some young men tried to see her face as she passed.  There could be no eye contact.  She kept her face tilted down and to the side, avoiding any possibility of connection.

 She hurried across Dundas Square, past a giant, brightly-lit music store.  Deftly side-stepping some boys who tumbled out onto the sidewalk, excited about their acquisitions of the latest popular music discs.  A few more steps and she turned into a narrow doorway between a pawnshop and a pizza parlour.  A small marquee with blazing bulbs declared this entrance to “Paris Paradise – GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS – Toronto’s most beautiful nude dancers”.

 Barely slowing her pace, Sylvia hurried up the steep, narrow stairs, struggling with the heavy gym bag.  The pounding sound of bump and grind music poured down the stairs.  She heard some men enter behind her at the bottom of the stairs and almost ran the rest of the way to the top.  She thrust open the door and hurried into the darkened theatre amid the deafening music.  She glanced at the stage where a red spotlight was following a semi-naked girl who was writhing with bored repetitiveness.  She felt a moment of relief, knowing she had not missed her show.  Duchess was on stage, and Sylvia knew that her music track had another six or seven minutes to go.  It meant Sylvia had enough time to get ready to go on.

 Head down, walking faster, Sylvia scuttled past the line of men who stood against the back wall, staring at Duchess as she dropped her sequinned top onto an on-stage sofa, revealing bold, unnatural silicone breasts.

THE SZENTENDRE TRAIN – [12]

February 9, 2014 Leave a comment

After a while, Ati said I should take a break.  We made love then, for the rest of the day.  At suppertime, Ati packed some things in a bag that he carried with him while we walked slowly back to my place.

I made a light pasta supper for us at my place, which we ate on the gallery overlooking the garden.  We went to bed early and made love before we fell asleep.  In the morning, we walked to the Szentendre station together, waited for the train together, boarded it together and rode into the heart of Budapest together.  During the ride, we spoke softly together, and declared our love for each other in the clear light of a normal Monday morning.

Attila and I each changed our lives that weekend, and I will always be grateful to him for letting it happen.  For making it happen, in fact.  He claims that it was I who brought about our happiness by having the courage to overlook society’s prejudices and follow my heart.

Ever since then, Attila Nagy and Piroska Szabo are a recognised couple, and our love for each other is obvious whenever we are together.  Nobody would question the validity of our relationship if they saw for a moment the way we look at each other.  I really never knew it could be this way.  This is the way a loving relationship should be.

We ride to Szentendre together every Friday evening.  In Szentendre we make love and have meals and sleep and bathe together, at Ati’s studio or my home, depending how we feel.  Monday mornings we leave Szentendre together and ride into Budapest.  We part for the day in the city and meet again for supper.  Sometimes we eat, make love, and sleep at my flat, sometimes at his, now that his roommate has moved on.

I don’t know how long this love will last, and I’m not going to dwell upon that question.  Each day is happier than ever before in my life.  I can see that Attila is happy with me, too.  If my life ends tomorrow, I will be satisfied that I have had enough love to keep me happy through eternity.

~o~

THE SZENTENDRE TRAIN – [11]

February 6, 2014 Leave a comment

          “Sit there,” I said.  “Get comfortable, because it will be a while.”  He slouched back in the chair and peeled back the towel.  He was half reclining, looking relaxed and confident.  I began to sketch.  He really was a work of art.  His face had cleanly defined features.  His shoulders were broad, as was his solid chest.  His stomach had neat squares of muscle like a body builder, and it had a profound effect on me to have him there like that.  To think about what it was like to have him as a lover made my head spin.  For weeks I had noticed him and tried to ignore the rush it gave me to see him.  My confusion about his apparent notice of me was not yet past.  I didn’t understand why he chose me.

He admired the sketches I’d made of him, and I’m sure he was just being kind.  Afterward, he insisted that we go to his place so he could make supper for us.  I acquiesced, and while the sun was setting over the green hills around us we walked through the gentle, fragrant evening air to his studio.

The walk took about an hour, but it was an easy walk, and he talked much of the time, telling interesting stories about his life, his family, his studies and his ambitions.  Finally he led me along a narrow path that branched off a small residential street.  The path was surrounded on both sides by high, ivy-covered fences.  We emerged out of the canyon of ivy into a clearing of grass and large trees.  An obscure black wrought-iron gate stood at the edge of the clearing.  Ati unlocked the gate and locked it again behind us.

The meal Attila prepared was a wonderful blend of flavours.  Chicken thighs were tender and spicy, fried potatoes were good and greasy, and a green salad with vinegar and oil dressing.

We went to bed early and made love for three hours before we slept.  We used our mouths, our hands, our genitalia, and explored every opening in both our bodies.  Sunday morning he served me a bowl of granola and milk before he made me pose for him.  He convinced me to lie on a sofa totally naked, and instructed me to just relax.  I tried to, but it wasn’t easy lying there totally exposed in front of my gorgeous young lover.

He set up an armature and began building an image in clay.  I could see that he was serious about me by the way he looked at me.  He really did love me.  Why not, I asked myself.  I look good.  I’m interesting enough to a younger man.  I love him, so why shouldn’t he love me?