I posted this to the list I’m on at ERWA and it got so many comments you wouldn’t believe it. The story is set in the early 80’s, in the era when disco ended and Punk Rock began. xxoo!
It was inspired by this song, from the era.
The Man Eaters
by Valentine Bonnaire c. March 2013 email@example.com
“You are nobody, and I might have been somebody, and the road to each of us is love.”
————- John Fante, Ask the Dust
The road to love was a twisted gold horn on a necklace while the beat thrummed and the sweaty dancers approached each other. The little tables were filled with expectant girls looking for love, the kind of love that lasted. The kind of love that was going to make babies and make families as if this generation, the Lost generation, was ever going to be able to pull that off. There was never a chance. Not even for a minute was there ever a chance.
It was the generation of the talisman and the Tarot card.
It was possible to interpret anything by mysticism, or by the tossing of coins. We looked for oracles around their necks as if the fates had something to do with jewelry.
“Augie’s leaving me.” Serin said, as she picked up her glass of whitest, white wine. She was there to dance and grind up the last of what had been them against the throttle that was another guy’s cock. Were there tears?
“Augie is leaving me, Loretta.”
“That cocksucker,” Brin chimed in. Brin was too smart to fall for anything like a relationship just yet. She was waitressing her way through the university. She was going to get that degree. Men were for tips, and if she leaned over far enough, those doubled.
They were thirty years old to my twenty one. It was a big difference even then — that age gap. They were city girls and they’d been dancing on dance floors just like this one for ten years already.
“God, Brin,” I said.
“That fucking cocksucker.”
We all knew Serin’s hospitalization for endometriosis was for something else. It’s just that we never said anything about it.
The dance floors were bloodbaths. Everybody’s heart was a bloodbath in those years.
Man eaters, that’s what guys like Augie thought. It was good while the blow jobs lasted, as long as the suck was right. Not one of them wanted to be husbands. Not really. That’s what all the men thought about the women in the Lost generation. They were just disposable. They were just there to be fuckable. Or to smile and make some kind of casserole filled with the soft shapes of macaroni in all its various forms. He was wedded to his machine anyway. All he cared about was his job and where technology was taking him. His promotions. Serin was just a little clerk in a department store. She wasn’t ever going to amount to anything.
“You dance,” I said. “I’ll watch your purse Serin.”
There were scores of men. Scores of men trying to score one night stands. You had to carry your diaphragm in your purse just in case. That’s if you weren’t taking the pill, or if you weren’t on the sponge, or an IUD or if you didn’t trust the withdrawal method. You could never assume they’d be cavalier enough to have a rubber at the ready. It was all about the score and the gore, and the bullhorns in the bullring, and the bulge at their crotches, and what they’d seen in porn films, wasn’t it? It was all about the spray as it spewed forth in a great splish-splash of semen.
I was the coat check girl. I was the model. I was the quiet one watching.
“He’s gorgeous,” Serin sighed looking over at the bar at a man. I could tell it was going to be okay. You got through the breakups by having one night stands and it looked like she was going to. Augie had already started to remove his computers and equipment from their apartment, and he was moving back east. He’d gotten a big job offer. He wasn’t looking back and she wasn’t going with him. Ten years. That’s how long they’d been together.
“He is,” I said. “Really gorgeous, Serin.”
“He’s something else,” said Loretta in her hot little red sheath of a dress and her hot little skyscraper heels. She was looking at him herself. “Italian I bet,” she sighed. “Look at his hair.” Loretta was a twisty little snake when she wanted to be.
“Come on, Serin.” Brin was practically pushing her out of the chair. “Let’s go get drinks.”
Brandy Alexanders. Those were Serin’s favorite. She had myopic eyes behind her glasses. Enough drinking and she could end the Augie-pain. Enough fucking and he’d be gone, erased forever like the ten years of hopes and dreams and babies and white picket fences were also gone. Brin tugged her from the chair. They were going to dance all night. She would make sure that Serin got him, not Loretta. She was going to be the lure. That’s what friends are for.
I was the coat check girl and that was fine by me. I sat at the little table watching the pile of purses and jackets. Somebody had to be the guard. I never dressed like a slut. Not like Loretta did, and not like Brin. I didn’t fuck around like that either. I swayed to the music in my seat watching them. One by one guys came by the table trying to get me to dance. “No thank you,” I’d say. “Can I buy you a drink anyway?”
Sometimes they sat down at the empty table. I wasn’t wearing a ring. I wasn’t taken yet. Not all the way. They’d sit down and move closer until they pressed their thighs against mine. The braver ones liked to knee-apart my legs if I had jeans on. The knee was like a big thick cock. It was giving me directions. It was telling me: “I want you splayed.”
He was a quiet man. The one I saw at the far end of the long bar. The one I had my eyes on. I’d seen him four times and I looked at him from across a great distance. He’d seen me, too. It was a dance of glances. That’s the way it goes when you let your eyes dance over a landscape like that. There’s this moment where you pretend you don’t see each other, but that’s a lie.
Oh, fuck, I thought to myself. Fuck.
He was gorgeous.
“I’m dancing,” Loretta told me. “See you later.”
Sometimes she danced all by herself, as a little red spectacle, until a guy came up to her. By the next time I scanned the club there were seven men making a circle around her while she tossed her waist-length hair around. Sequins flew like fish scales as she danced.
I wanted to look at my guy, secretly. It was the first time in weeks I had paid any attention. They weren’t really my type in the club. Besides, it was Serin’s and Brin’s favorite place, not mine.
Loretta was practically fucking her partner on the dance floor the next time I looked. She was on her knees simulating the blow job she planned to give him later. Brin was banging her ass against her partner, bumping up against him. I could see Serin at the bar making eyes at who she’d chosen. Her hand was brushing his arm every so often, signaling yes in the loud thump of the atmosphere. One more Brandy Alexander and she’d be taking off with him. Loretta and Brin liked the after hours places. Sometimes we went, ensemble. We wanted to stay up all night and go to breakfast after dancing all night, and we did. But they were older. They had so much more to lose than I. They had dreams and ticking clocks and eggs that swam in search of lightening and love, real love, the kind of love all of us believed in.
Loretta had a hot little Alfa Romeo, and a hot little mouth, and a racy little pussy. She always got what she wanted and she wanted cock. She wasn’t what you’d call delicate. I watched her touch his pants — running her hands over the bulge she’d conjured, as if no one on the dance floor was looking. She was on her knees bobbing her head just inches from his zipper in time to the music. It was a long song. A song famous for the low back beat underneath. He had one hand on her head. He wanted her to take him in the center of that room, with the crush of bodies all around them. She liked it best in her car, though. She was dramatic when it came to the big unzipping.
Oh fuck. The guy I’d seen was making his way through the crowd towards me. En garde.
I needed a cigarette and I couldn’t leave the table because of the purses. He was looking right at me with a fixed smile. Oh fuck, he was good-looking. Fuck.
He was going to ask me to dance, I knew it. Brin must have seen, because suddenly she materialized and sat down. “I’ll watch the stuff,” she whispered. “Have some fun.”
He was making his way over to the table in a sweep of tanned sandy blonde and he had on boat shoes. He didn’t belong here any more than I did.
I could see Loretta stand up and embrace her partner, the glint of the light glancing off her pearled white smile and vinyl-shiny lip gloss. Her tits were crushed against the fabric of her dress and her nipples were erect. He was brushing his hand against one and I saw her clasp his hand. They were going to sit the next one out. She was leading him back to our table. She’d probably sit on his lap. She always did. She’d want to wiggle on it fully clothed first, feel it harden till he had blue balls probably. Make him beg for her lips. Not that he was going to be shy about things. The guys she chose never were. For five feet tall she had fucked half of the film industry as it was. She wanted a house in the hills. Mount Olympus. She wanted to be one of the gods up there. Or she wanted to marry one. There was no such word as goddess then. His pants were so tight you could see the curve. Her nipples and his big fat curve. She liked the ones with the largest gold horns. They were trying to say, “Baby, I’m the biggest,” with those necklaces.
The guy I liked was coming towards our table, and I could feel myself shift in the seat a little. I crossed my legs the other way as if they could protect what he was coming for. I’d only been with one other man and he wasn’t like Augie. I didn’t want marriage yet. It wasn’t something the two of us discussed on those long nights as boyfriend and girlfriend curved around each other. I was restless. I wanted to learn from my friends and I wanted to be free.
Brin followed my eyes, looking him up and down. I guess we were both staring.
He looked like a writer. He looked like something clipped like a clipper ship, all sandy hair and corded rigging. No jewelry.
“Hey,” he said to me. “Dance?”
It was a slow song. He led me to the floor as the lights dimmed into the harmony. I arched into his curve as his arms went around me, almost too tightly. He smelled of the sea off the Maritimes. He didn’t try to press his cock into me like most of them did.
“Are you from here?” I breathed against his neck.
“I brought a boat in.”
“I didn’t think so.”
“You sailed that far?”
“Around the Horn.”
“And Tierra del Fuego.”
He had one pierced ear and a tiny gold earring. He’d crossed the Equator. He’d crossed the Seven Seas. He’d crossed the room and I was in his golden arms.
“What’s your name?”
“Jacques,” I said. It was short for Jaqueline. It’s as far as I could go, before stammering.
“What are you drinking?” he whispered at my ear.
“Can I get you another?”
He took my hand and led me to the bar. It was seven deep with dancers. “Wait here,” he said. Making our way through the crowd hadn’t been easy.
*Fuck, he’s good looking.* That was running through my head like a tune. So much handsomer than Augie and that guy Loretta had dragged to the table. I scanned the crowd for Serin. She was still on the dance floor gazing up at her partner with the kind of melting eyes she liked to cast. They were like whimpering puppies. There were tears behind her contacts. Big tears, I knew. She always had on ten coats of mascara. Eyes were her trademark. We all had one I guess. Tears only worked sometimes.
“I’ve seen you here the last couple of weeks,” he said to me.
I took the proffered drink. Whitest white wine. There weren’t any brands then really. Everybody said “white wine.” Nice girls drank that.
“I come sometimes with my friends.” I said.
“I wanted to invite you for dinner.”
“My boat’s in the harbor.”
“You can bring your friends if you want.”
I looked at him. He wasn’t going to try. I loved that.
“I’d love to,” I said. “I’d like that.”
“I’ve been writing a book,” he said.
“Little sketches that go with my photographs.”
“I shot a lot of black and whites, all over the world.”
“I’d love to see them.”
“Yeah, I got some great shots there when I was becalmed.”
“I’d love to.”
We talked for a long time standing near the giant potted plants by the door. Every once in a while the fresh ocean breeze drifted up from the pier. It was like we could breathe together. He didn’t even try and touch me. He just looked calmly into my eyes.
“Here’s my number,” he said. “Call me.”
The cool ones kept you at a distance. Handsome people do. They have to. It’s because so many people are all over them all the time. So many people are trying to fuck them it would blow your mind.
“Call me,” he said. “I’ve got to get back to the Marina. A storm is coming and I want to check on her lines.”
I moved slowly through the crowd back to the table. Brin brimmed over as she saw me. She was always bubbling over. “He’s really good looking.”
“Yeah. He invited us down to the boat.”
“He’s a writer.”
“Yeah, they hit it off.”
“They’re gone too.”
“Brin where is my purse?”
“I don’t know.”
“Brin you were watching it.”
“I can’t watch everything.”
“Brin my keys are in it.”
Oh my fucking god.
My purse was gone. It had been swallowed up in the Los Angeles night as if some vampire had swooped down from the rafters and snagged it. What was I going to do? I had trusted them to watch it for me. My driver’s license, my car keys, my cash. All of it gone. Fear clutched at my belly where the knot of pleasure had been growing. I scanned the club, making the rounds. It was nowhere. I went to the bartender to tell him. “Was it this?” he said, lifting the little black embroidered clutch toward me. “Somebody found it in the men’s room.”
“Thank god my keys are still in it.” I thanked him over and over and over. It was a small miracle, in the way that big cities have small miracles sometimes.
All the money was gone and my lipstick was gone too. My driver’s license was still there. They didn’t get my car. I looked around for Brin to tell her. She was already gone. So much for being the hat check girl. The world of women has lessons for everyone. The competition was fierce. So fierce it was a bloodbath. I didn’t want any part of it. I didn’t even like their bar. There was a Punk club down the street. I had a leather jacket. I made up my mind about something that night. We could be friends at arm’s length. Only. That was my favorite lipstick in my bag. My favorite fucking lipstick. I made my way through the club to one of the exits. It was almost last call. It was that late. Brin hadn’t waited for me. She could have cared less whether I got home or not safely.
The parking lot was still packed and I thought I saw Loretta’s Alfa. I hoped she was all right. Of all of us she was the biggest daredevil. I could see two figures at the edge of the parking lot leaning against the wall. It looked like that guy she’d been dancing with. The woman was on her knees and his hand was on her head. Her head bobbed and bobbed against him. His hips were thrusting. I moved along the wall in the shadows, heading toward my car but there was something so fascinating about watching her I didn’t want to stop looking. She was on her knees against that hard cement. Her stockings must have gotten torn against it as she swayed a little, his hand pushing her head against him. Deeper and deeper. I heard him moan, “Baby.”
“Suck me, Baby.”
He bent over and ripped the dress down her shoulders until her tits were hanging out. They were big tits, and she never wore a bra when we went out. I think she wanted guys to salivate over them. When she walked they jiggled and she liked the eyes all over her. I was so different. Sex for me was such a private thing. Once I’d gotten a red silk shirt and I’d worn it without a bra — just the sheerest camisole. There were construction workers all over the street. They started in with the comments and whistles. I tried not to look at them. I had to walk past them to get to my car. I knew they were looking at the way my breasts bounced. My tiny breasts. They were nothing like Loretta’s. Hers were huge, like melons ready to split.
He wasn’t even kissing her. He was just jamming himself down her throat because he’d seen some kind of porn film that said that was how all women liked it. That’s not true is it? All women are different just like all men are different. Loretta liked serving men on her knees. For all her hot little red dress-ness she was nothing but a house frau in the making, depending on how she sucked.
He was in a trance. The kind of trance most women know how to put men in, if they feel like it. He was looking down at her mouth as she swallowed him inch by inch. Right in the parking lot. Right by his Rolls. I saw her little red car parked next to it. He must have been a producer. The whole town was crawling with them. The whole town was crawling with a million Lorettas and they all knew it.
“You little slut,” I heard him cry out. “You fucking little slut.”
He was coming and he pushed her off of him so he could spray all over her dress like he had a fire hose in his hands.
*Cocksucker,* I thought. *You fucking bastard.*
It was experiences like that, that really made me a man eater.
I watched while Loretta stood up and pulled the shoulders of her dress up. It was covered with come. I watched him reach in his pocket. He was handing her a wad of bills. He was handing her a giant handful of cash. That was the only time I ever saw something like that happen. All of a sudden I understood something. I understood that there were two kinds of men and two kinds of women. Then again, those were the years we learned how to be feminists. I lit a cigarette and watched the two of them straighten themselves up. He was zipping his pants. She was fumbling for her keys. He never even opened her car door.
Fucking Hollywood, I thought. There are no gentlemen here.
I watched for a long time as Loretta sat in her car. He was long gone by then. The Rolls Royce soundlessly merged into the long distance of the night. I watched Loretta from the shadows. She was looking at herself for the longest time in her rear-view mirror. I watched until she put her lipstick on, and put the top down. I watched her slide away into the Los Angeles night. A night that eventually swallows everything whole.
Copyright March 2013 Valentine Bonnaire. firstname.lastname@example.org All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.