Fire By Andrew Mondry

August 13, 2015 Comments Off on Fire By Andrew Mondry

Missy liked the way the girls smiled when they danced. They looked like they were having fun, all powdery and shining. She liked the way the light caught the glitter on their skin as they twirled on the stage.

It started as something to do after a few drinks on empty winter nights. She sees her father’s old friends in the joint, but she doesn’t mind. Everyone needs love. “No stretch marks,” one of them told her once, “I like you ‘cause you got no stretch marks.” Most of the girls who work here are ghosts — a bunch of snakes slithering around in sweaty crotches.

In Southbridge, there are no titty joints, just the usual urban scabs: tattoo parlors, pawnshops, foreclosed homes, dollar stores. Palmer is no different, but they have The Magic Lantern — all yellow and folding like the edges of an old, bad book. Greek don’t charge her nothing for the DJ. It’s covered. She painted a star on the bathroom door one night after Hector Ramirez ran a finger a little too close and whispered something in Spanish she thought meant THIS IS WHERE STARS ARE BORN AROUND HERE.

In the bathroom, Missy sprays herself. Smells like the dressing rooms at the American Eagle Outfitters she worked at in the mall. That closed down ‘round the time Dad lost the house, but this wasn’t work, this was fun she was paid for. Everything under the table. Anything you wanted under the table.

Jess Williams called her a slut the first night Missy took it all off. Said, get this little slut off my stage; let mama show her what an angel looks like. Then Jess danced to Fire by The Pointer Sisters and put a couple fingers in and twisted around for a few extra bucks from Mr. No Stretch Marks.

“Amateur,” Jess whispered to Missy.

Mr. No Stretch Marks looked at Missy funny one night. Death at the edge of his eye. Cancer in his lungs like black velvet. He had pills, the good ones. She swallowed them up, and it reminded her of the one time she went to the Cape: Auntie Sarah won five bills on a two-dollar scratch. Auntie’s boyfriend brought Missy to the beach and fed a seagull antacid. The two of them watched the bird foam at the mouth and keel into the ocean.

That night, Missy danced passed last call — her veins all purple and wormy from the pills — her eyes all squinty from the glitter and the dank dream clouds of cigar smoke that float up like a magic curtain before the last dance. In the parking lot, she heard footsteps kissing the p-stone. She heard Mr. No Stretch Marks whistling through the holes in his lungs and she clenched herself. The next day they found Jess Williams’ body all bubbly and white on the banks of Turtle Pond, but Jess had stretch marks.

© 2015 Andrew Mondry

Andrew Mondry is an MFA Student at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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