Monday, August 15, 2011

Invisible Light

“Claudia-you’re up next!” It’s time. I finish applying my dark-eye shadow. I look at myself. Great! The new concealer hides the dark circles perfectly. I unzip the navy outfit down a little, so the top of my cleavage is showing. I walk to the stage, thumbs up to the DJ. The sirens start, and the strobe lights flicker blue and red. I hear men starting to wolf whistle. From what I’ve learnt in my time - it’s that classics are always best.
I dance around the pole - moving closer and closer to it. The tempo of the song speeds up. I wrap my leg around the pole and spin around it. I step to the right of it and start pulling at my zipper. I hear raucous noise from the crowd. I turn around with my back towards them. I unzip the rest. The dress falls to the ground. I turn back around and kick it with my heels. It goes straight into the crowd of men; more raucous noise. Down to bra and g-string I dance around the stage. Looking out towards the bar - I see that Tommy serves him a drink. I jump up on the pole slide my legs up - I can feel my thigh muscles tighten - I place my head down, I put my hand around my back and unclasp my bra. I hop down, get down on my knees and crawl around on all fours towards centre stage. I get up and rest on my knees, rolling my stomach and squishing my breasts together. I stare right over the crowd to him. Men start grabbing at my g-string, placing the scrunched plastic notes under the elastic, the sharpness of the scrunched notes scratch my arse. Some men’s hands purposely glide over my cheeks. I roll across the stage, back towards the pole. I strut around the stage and grab the pole with both hands-pulling myself up. Wrapping my ankles around and my thighs grasping tight; I roll my stomach against it, then slide myself up and down. Hearing a slight squeaking sound from the friction of skin on metal, the tempo quickly picks up. Letting my thighs go and just holding on with my ankles and hands. I spin around the pole - faster and faster. Til finally the music stops and the lights dim. I can hear loud clapping and wolf whistling as I walk off stage and I’m alone again.

I get changed into another set of underwear - this time a black and red bra and matching g-string. I wrap a black kimono around myself. Sitting down, I fix my eyeliner and add some red lipstick. I walk out of the dressing room. He is still sitting at the bar.
“Hey Tommy, what’s up?”
“Not much sweetheart.”
I could feel him looking at me. Tommy passed my scotch.
“And how are you?” Asked Tommy.
“Fine,” I quickly lied.

I grabbed my scotch and walked towards the room at the back. I knew he was following me. I turned the CD player on. He entered behind the velvet drapes. He sat down on the lounge. I started dancing, rolling my stomach, and I ran my hands over my whole body. Looking down at him, I could see the familiar glint in his eye. I pulled my kimono off slowly - one shoulder at a time. It fell to the floor. He grabbed it and ran his hands through the silky material. He lifted it to his face and smelled it, the familiarity of it. Dancing and flaunting it to him was different. It almost felt special - but I knew it wasn’t - it was just work. Touching my breasts, so that they basically fell out of my bra, I turned around and shook my arse, and then turned on my heel. I walked over to him, and straddled his lap. I could feel the heat of his groin. I unclasped my bra and I massaged my nipples. I slid off his lap, then crouching down, I then rolled around on the floor, his eyes searing into mine. I then stood up, my arse in his face; he pulled my g-string down; gently and slowly; the elastic pulling on the back of my thighs. I moved for a little longer. Then the music stopped. I wrapped my kimono around me again, and picked up my lingerie. He put the money on the side table, near the door; with the usual big tip. He came over, giving me a kiss on the cheek, whispering in my ear, “Thank you.” I shivered, as his breath reached my ear lobe. I opened my eyes and he was gone.

With another night of work finished for me, I returned back to the bar after getting changed again. Tommy had a scotch already waiting for me. A couple of the other ladies came over. Rachel pulled up a stool next to me.
“Babe. How was your night?” Rachel asked.
“Good. He was here again.”
“Really, wow! He must really like the service.”
 The girls continued to gossip about the night, I sit back, staring at my glass; waiting for someone to notice me… but I’m invisible.

It’s a thirty-minute train ride to home from the city. It’s a quiet ride, apart from the odd drunk struggler. I look out the window at the city lights dancing on the river. The moon is glowing against the skyscrapers. There are a few stars - the city lights blocking the rest. I still prefer it during the daytime, but I don’t really get the chance to come into the city by day. The train came to a halt; I waited impatiently for the doors to open. The doors jerked and I stepped onto the platform. I took off my heels walking on the grass and got my phone out to light up the inside of my bag. I didn’t want to wake up Jess fiddling with my keys. Inside now, I went to the kitchen bar - grabbed the rest of the bottle and poured it into a glass and took it to bed. I felt the night was starting to disappear.

The sunlight is creeping in through the wavering curtain. It flickers on the wall, and rests it’s warmth on my face for a second. The light stirs me awake. I look at my watch. It’s three-thirty. I can’t believe I managed to sleep all day. Do I have to get up? I reach over and grab last night’s glass of bourbon; half empty. It slightly burns as it passes down my throat; I taste the reflux. I don’t have to work til ten. Walking to the shower I notice how still the house is. Jess must have gone to work. I can feel the silence surrounding me. The cold hard droplets sting my back - I can feel my skin going red raw. Wake up Claudia. You have to go. You need money. You’ll get screamed at by Jim if you call in sick again. The dread filled my stomach.
“Hmm… Great! Just fucking great! So Samantha will have to cover your shift. Who do you fucking think you are? Its work Claudia, if you don’t like it you can fucking leave…! But you won’t get the thousand bucks from this half of the week…So you better bloody be here tomorrow at eight pm sharp!”
He won…His sickening chuckle echoed through my brain.
I got changed and dialled Sophia and Rachel’s home number…
“Yo! Who’s calling?” Sophia answered.
“Hey! Dinner? Before work…?”
“Sure. How about the Sling Bar? We can have a drink as well. Then cab it to work.”
“Awesome. Is seven good for you two?”
“Sure is. See ya there hon.”

Now…breakfast. I looked in the cupboard.
“What do we have?  No cereal. Aarghh… bread! Toast it is.”
Scraping the vegemite on, I could hear the deafening silence. I grabbed my toast and sat down on the couch. Turning the TV on, the news came on blaring. I clicked the volume button down; I noticed what the newswoman was saying now, “A man aged twenty-three was found in his car by a woman from the community… Police believe it to be a suicide.” I switched it off. Silence again.

“Oh my god! I saw my mother the other day. She still thinks I work in just an everyday nightclub.” Rachel laughed.
“I know parents are pretty gullible. But I don’t talk to mine every month, ya know. It makes it easier for my work not even to come up in conversation,” Sophia claimed.
The whiskey cocktail was warming my chest. What did Sophia just say? Something about her mother. Mother. I wish I still knew mine. Why? Eww…I swallowed hard…a little reflux. I realised the chattering and giggling stopped; and I the girls were looking at me.
“What about your parents? What did you tell them when you got into the industry?” Asked Sophia.
“Oh umm…yeah that I worked at a nightclub.” I lied.
“Yep. Sounds about right doesn’t it…?” Rachel chimed in.

We took the last sips of our drinks. The waiter came over and gave us our bill. Paying them, we left a twenty-dollar tip; knowing how it feels to be appreciated. We walked towards the cab rank outside. Grabbing ones attention is easy with big tits on all three of us. A cab pulls up right next to us; we hop in.
“The valley, please,” Rachel prompts the driver.”

Five minutes and we’re there. I looked at the clock tower in the distance. Nine, Fifty-five.
I walk past the bar.
“Hey Tommy!”
“Hey sweetie. You better see Jim. He’s in the office. And he’s in a shit of a mood, aye. Good luck!”
Shit. What now. My stomach feels all of a sudden light and all I want to do is throw up. I knocked on the door.
“Piss off!
“It’s me Claud,” I stated hesitantly.
“Get in here!”
I pulled the door shut behind me as I walked into the small office.
“Have you been giving ten per cent out of all your tips?”
“Yes of course,” I lied.
“Well a few girls have noticed a regular…”
“Well I have a few.”
“Apparently this one comes particularly to see you.”
“Well how come I haven’t seen the money from this guy visiting you?” Jim’s voice starts rising.
“Fucking why Claudia?”
My body started quivering, “because…umm…I need the money.”
“Okay well you can fucking forget this job! I’m over your needy shit Claudia.” He glared at me. “Get the fuck out!”
I felt a warm wetness run down my cheek, touching my top lip. I put my fingers up to my face to wipe it away - black mascara was all over my fingernails. No one ever asks why. I walked out of the office - I could hear Jim continuing to rant. I’m over it, over this shittiness. I walked past the bar; Tommy is serving someone. I’m invisible.

It was five to ten. I was on time. I walked up to the bar; the same tall sharp looking guy with the colourings of an Islander was serving a big-breasted blonde. I think I’ve seen her working before. She put on a good show - but not as good as Claudia.
“What will it be mate?”
I scanned the decent drops of scotch behind the counter. “Scotch on the rocks, cheers mate.”
The bartender pulled together my drink, while the blonde continued to chat.
“Jesus. I can’t believe Jim! What an arsehole! I mean first Kacey, now Claud…in the same month.”
My ears pricked up at the name. “Sorry to interrupt Miss.” I turned towards the blonde. “What were you saying about Claudia? Claudia Thomas?”
The blonde shocked at the sudden inquiry from a perfect stranger. She stopped looking at the bartender; turning on her barstool to face me. Her face suddenly lit with recognition.
“Oh. Umm…Jim the boss fired her.”
“Why?” I pursued.
“For taking the ten per cent of the tips from a regular she had.” She stated matter-of-factly, giving me a knowing smile.
“Oh shit!”
And before the blonde’s words left her mouth I grabbed fifteen bucks from out of my wallet; and left the bar. Walking out I realised I didn’t have her number on me. Not knowing where else to go; I went home.

“Fuck this shit!”
“I know Claud. It’s unfair of Jim,” Jess stated calmly.
“I fucking hate him. He can go to hell!”
“You will find another job - I know it. You’re a great dancer babe. It’ll be all good.”
I saw Jess’ eyes squinting at the time on the microwave. She sat up suddenly.
“Shit Claud. I better get on it. Or otherwise I’ll be fired from the bar. You’ll be okay I promise. Just watch some TV and I’ll be home before you know it. If you’re still awake by the time I get home. Round two-ish - I’ll borrow a bottle of something from work and make you cocktails, aye.”
She waved and was suddenly gone and the house when suddenly still and quiet. She doesn’t get it. She doesn’t know how it feels - her life is normal -she still has parents who care. No one does get it. Ever. I don’t want to be here anymore. I just can’t. I could feel the drops of water, fall down my face. I got up off the couch. I walked into the kitchen, went into the draws near the sink, and pulled out the weed that Jess and I have stored in the third draw down - in some utensil we haven’t used for awhile. Grabbing a half-empty bottle of scotch towards the back of the liquor cupboard, I went out onto the balcony. The cool breeze dried the fresh tears as soon as I opened the glass door. I leaned over the railing and knocked a gulp back. I could feel it numb my insides as it travelled down. Then I lit up.

I’m invisible. Numb. No-one fucking cares. Not one fucking person. I’m alone; Lonely; Invisible. In this big city – no one would notice? The darkness of the night was inviting; the city lights were dancing around with the clouds. I stood up on the end of the deckchair. The breeze blew my eyes shut. I kept them closed. I felt light as the wind. I am invisible.

It was 3:00am. I was on call. Tim the Senior Constable put a call-out on the radio – “Detective O’Connor I need you over at a unit complex at Eagle Farm…It’s a suicide….*beep*” I sped off with the sirens wailing.
“Her roommate came home from work, and saw that she must have been out on the balcony - she’s a bit of a mess”
I looked at the body closer; that face, those lips and hair. It was her. Suddenly the world around him seemed invisible.

I entered this story into this year's Young Writers Award competition - which is run annually around the time of the Brisbane Writers Festival. Good luck to all of this year's entrants, can't wait to read the winning story.

No comments:

Post a Comment