I dance with my eyes closed, sliding my hips back and forth to the rock ‘n’ roll beat, moving my shoulders and my head and letting my long, black hair flick wildly around me. Some of the girls watch themselves in the mirror, look beyond the drooling crowd to lock eyes with their own reflection. They’re the posers and the least popular. Other girls choose one particular man to dance for. Whatever makes it easier, I guess, whatever helps pass the time. For me, though, I like to dance alone. The men can watch if they’d like, it’s nothing to me either way.
When I finish my set, I pull on a shorty robe, hold on to one of the poles, and swing off the edge of the stage. Tyra is up next and she begins to grind to my favorite Aerosmith song, Walk This Way. Tyra’s a poser, but she’s popular anyway — with those breasts, she’d be popular if she stood still for the whole song and did nothing.
I help Joe serve drinks during my break. Most of the customers want a shot and a beer — easy enough — but the one at the far corner asks for a glass of ice water. Strange. When I set it down on the counter, he leans forward on his bar stool so that we’re face to face.
“Eli,” he says, pointing to himself with a callused hand. He waits for my response.
“What’s your name?”
“Why?” That’s not the way to get tips, I know, but this man gives me the creeps. I don’t need his buck.
I look him over. He’s past sun-tanned, burned a deep woody color, and his eyes stand out against that walnut skin, eyes that are the calm, clear blue of a desert sky. They watch me intently.
“No reason’s not much good, is it?”
“I’d like to know,” he says. “‘Cause I feel like we’re birds of a feather.”
I look at myself in the mirror behind him, meeting Tyra’s questioning glance for a second before she goes back to staring at herself. I’ve got skin as dark as his, but mine’s hereditary — and my eyes are as black as an evil heart.
“Why do you think we’re alike?” I ask him.
He doesn’t answer with words, but instead rolls up the sleeve of his faded shirt to show me a tattoo on his corded biceps. It resembles an eagle with an outstreatched wingspan, the feathers dyed in shades of gold and scarlet. I’ve got a similar design on my back, larger, more ornate. It’s one of the things that turns the customers on, a tattoo that covers almost ever square inch of my back, the hooked talons disappearing in flames that shoot from my waist up.
“Phoenix.” He’s not asking.
“I’ve waited a long time.”
I nodded again, not able to answer verbally. My heart is pounding so hard that I’m sure others can hear it. I’m even surprised that Tyra doesn’t start dancing to the beat radiating from my chest, rather than the drums blaring from the jukebox.
Eli takes my hand and leads me from the joint. His skin against mine is hot, but I shiver anyway.
As we leave the bar, I think to myself, “Good-bye.” As we stand in the sunlight, waiting for a break in traffic, that word echoes again in my head, “Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye.”
Eli takes me to a studio in the apartment building across the street. We are silent in the elevator on the ride up, and I concentrate on the sound of his breathing to steady myself.
“Here,” he says, as we leave the elevator and cross the nondescript hallway to a black door. He unlocks it and holds it open for me. I walk in, looking around the sparsely decorated room.
“I’m sorry,” he says, shrugging at the blandness of the decor. There’s little furniture, and what he does have is colored beige and tan. “I knew it would only be temporary.”
I think of my own rooms, of the prisms in the windows that cut ordinary sunshine into myriads of rainbows, of the shelves of plished stones and sea shells shimmering in mother of pearl. I have always surrounded myself in fire and light.
“This way,” Eli tells me, and takes my hand again. I’m surprised when he leads me to an average bedroom with a large, four-poster bed standing in the center. I’d expected a nest of crist brances, a pyre built just for me.
“Here?” I’ts the first thing I’ve said since the bar, and although I’m frightened, I’m proud that my voice doesn’t catch or give me away. It’s as deep and sultry as always.
“What do we do?” I ask.
“This.” He puts one hand gently on my shoulder and turns me toward him. Then he cups his hands around my chin and tilts my head back so that he can look down into my eyes. I imagine what he must see, black light glowing back at him as if lit up from behind. It’s hard to find the pupils in my eyes, hard to see anything but dark. He bends to kiss me, but just brushes my lips with his. I taste pepper on his skin and I feel sparks tingling in my fingertips, running up and down my spine.
Slowly, he peels my robe away from my shoulders and turns me around again so that he can see my tattoo. For a second I’m embarrassed that I’d walked outside wearing next to nothing — strip-dancing for a living doesn’t make it any easier to expose yourself in public. Then I chinde myself for caring. It doesn’t matter now.
Eli traces his fingers along the lines of the wings and I hear him intake his breath at the beauty of it. My birthmark.
He reaches infront of me to pull down my G-string. I feel helpless, and let him do all the work. He pulls the black lace down my legs, and when he gets to my ankles, I step out, away from the naughty panties.
“Lovely,” he whispers.
I remain silent.
Now he takes my hand again and leads me to the imposing bed. I climb onto it and face him, waiting for him to undress. He does while I watch, and I feel lighthearted at his peacefulness with his body. You don’t see that type of freedom too often.
He’s built the way I’ve always liked my men, lean and strong, with well-defined muscles. He lets his hair down, and I realize that he’d had it tucked into the collar of his shirt. His curls are as dark as mine, but with a red highlight, like the black cherry sodas at Pete’s.
“Hold onto the slats of the bed,” he tells me, and I start to obey without thinking. Then I ask, “Why…” but he shakes his head and waits for me to follow his directions. I lay back against the pillows, feeling exposed with my arms raised above me, my body shuddering like one long, electrical wire.
Eli spreads my legs and goes right for the center of my heat. His mouth against me is warm and soothing, his tongue like an animal’s, rough and soft at the same time. I will myself to relax as he forces my legs wider apart and begins to licka round my clitoris in fine circles. He’s in charge, he sets the rhythm, but I can’t help it as my hips begin to shift in response to his beat, sway like I’m dancing with my eyes closed on the worn boards of Old Joe’s.
Eli holds onto my waist to slow me down, and I can feel that fire spreading through the rest of my body. It laps, like his tongue, up my calves and along my inner thighs. I feel it in the pit of my flat belly, and charging, crackling along my ribs, over my collarbones. Eli has me on the verge of climax in moments, and though I thrash against him, I don’t let go of the bed frame.
“Shhh,” he whispers, and he moves away from the V of my legs, stroking my body to calm me.
“Please,” I say, not begging but close.
He leans over to brush my hair away from my eyes, and then he kisses me again. This kiss is nothing like his first one which was just lips on lips. This kiss is probing, delving, and I can taste my own cinnamon flavor mingled with his peppery scent. It’s like kissing fire. I want more, and he knows it.
He straddles me and I feel his hardness against my naked belly, that part of him is insistent as the part in me. But while I allow myself to be overwhelmed with need, he’s taking his time. When he kisses
me again, I am lost in the swirling of his tongue, lost in the pressure of his body moving rhythmically on mine, and then I’m found again as he thrusts his cock
I open my eyes once to look into his.
“I know you,” I say as we rock together.
He answers by pounding into me, moving with me, letting that fire rage through my body and capture his. I see sparks flash off our skin, tiny bursts of orange flame that wink to life and then flare out like fireflies. Instead of getting sweaty, I feel my skin grow dryer and dryer, start to crackle like old parchment. Eli reaches down between our bodies and presses with two fingers on my clit, rubbing me there while he fills me with his cock. It’s too much, I’m on fire inside — so close to coming. I realize now that he insisted I hold onto the wooden slats to slow me down. He knew that if I could touch him I’d have ignited us both in an instant.
He leans down to suckle my breasts, and the moist warmth of his mouth takes me to my limits. Purple and red flames lick at the mattress while his tongue licks long and lovingly at my nipples. When he kisses my lips again I taste honey and pepper, sweet and spice, life and death.
Then he slows the rhythm down, grabbing me around the waist and holding me up so that he’s on his knees and my legs are tight around him. He fucks me with aching deliberation, teasing me with the head of his cock, bestowing it upon me like a precious gift. He holds me in his arms, completely supporting my weight on his strong thighs, and he watches as his cock thrusts into me. I feel him grow bigger, he stretches me so that I accommodate his size.
We sound like animals, low moans escaping through clenched teeth. I close my eyes and picture the two of us, wild, ancient, our bodies slick with sweat, my ebony hair whipping against my face as I throw my head back with pleasure. We’re in front of a fire, the flames crackling, all-consuming. Then I see the fire inside us, engulfing us, our bones charred, our lust too powerful to be extinguished.
I think that we will fuck in the red hot fires of hell.
((-The officers survey the scene, confused by the fact that only one room is burned, that there is no electric blanket, no space heater, nothing that might have started the blaze. The bed is a smoldering hulk, surrounded by ashes and multicolored feathers.-))
((-Less then than three miles away, a younge woman walks nude along a dirty road. She appears to be of mixed decent, her skin as dark as an Aztec’s, but her eyes the blue of a cloudless summer sky. She is startling, both in her beauty and her nakedness, and when she turns off the road to run through a grassy field, the fiery tattoo that covers her back seems to beat its wings in flight.-))
Copyright, Desolation – 2003.
No portions of The Phoenix may be used without expressed, writen permission.