Ships in the Night.
For a club named after synthetic heroin it was ridiculously slow. The day beds seemed to sag with the accumulated sweat and dirt of countless nights, and the bright cushions layered around in a plethora of symbolic excess seemed cheap and tawdry even in the dim lighting. Yet he forced himself to relax, to lay back in the dark against the opulent silk of the VIP alcove and watch the gyrating forms of the two dancers on the stage as they bent and flowed in time to the thrumming music, making alluring play with Chinese fans. He was not surprised that his bed gave him an uninterrupted view up the skirts of the two girls, but his eyes turned instead to the throng of people on the dance floor, where in the occasional brilliance of the strobe lights, he could just make out the features of an interesting silhouette or two.
A hand moved slowly in his peripheral vision and a glass was placed on the low table beside him. He acknowledged it with a barely there smile and motioned for solitude. A rolled joint was placed in a silver platter next to him and the waitress withdrew, but not before whispering 'A china white sir?'
He looked lazily down at the thin, innocuous flute of white fluid beside his elbow: a lethal concoction of white spirits, egg white and hashish that could fell an ox.
Sighing, he remembered the days of his youth when he would have downed a couple of them and still found room to corrupt a dozen virgins. Now he was constrained by owning a business and having to make a success of it, the whole spiel of challenging patriarchy, only this time in a more constructive fashion-with mortar and brick and resolve that did not include waking up in a pool of his own vomit.
He concentrated instead on the rhythm of the music, so loud that he could feel the vibrations in his bones; the sexual tension so tangible that it cloaked the darkness with the potential of a wet dream; the hormones raging through the music and into the liquid limbs of the dancers.
Then he saw it-that sudden flick of the head, the rhythm of full hips on slender body, the brazen hollowing of cheeks as she sucked up a cocktail proffered by an admirer. The hair was different, the body too. She had aged, become knowing and jaded at eighteen, and he recognized a kindred spirit. But he refrained from going over, making himself known, bringing danger like a pathogen to her, infecting her fragile cloud of anonymity.
Where did she live, this orphan? Who monitored her forays into decadent clubs now that she was all alone? Who comforted her in the lonely nights? Was that why she was here in this pulsating darkness, to seek something, anything to hold on to?
He wanted to know-- a part of him before Judas, a part of him that was different-- wanted to take the risk. He sighed and rose elegantly off the day bed and left a wad of notes in his wake. The tall figure in the long leather coat bowed his head in acknowledgement as he made his way to the stone flagged exit. His car was idling at the entrance when he reached the cool of the pre-dawn, and it was almost easy to drive away.
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