Michelle is sitting with her back to the dressing room wall. Lipsticks are strewn about like spent machine-gun cartridges. Zippered bras, garter belts, headbands, spiked heels, feather boas, and multi-colored pasties lie haphazardly—colors arguing... while Michelle's burnt sienna eyes are fixed on a pea-green wall... that goes unseen... her stare decidedly vacant... her subtext indistinct...

Linda passes, perspiring heavily; she has just come off. She towels dry, dusts herself with talcum powder, then slips into a polyester shift. With a rush of noise and boozy air, her exit stirs the clutter... which quickly resettles.

The empty space of wall retains its hold.

There's gotta be a better way.

... or

If one more drunk tries to feel me up, I'll scream.

... or

No one's forcing me to do this.

... or

What's the fucking use?

Michelle remains expressionless, her face a nondescript mask; shades of meaning only play across its features... under which she may, indeed, be blank...

 

... or numb to the dull roar (punctuated by clicks and mechanical catches) that emanates from her laundry... in a commercial dryer... circling. From time to time some article of clothing pauses behind the glass: pantyhose... a blouse... a brassiere, hovering like bird in the eye of a tornado... Michelle staring back... her trance (exposed by daylight) flat and unchanged.

The Laundromat is crowded. A child squalls. A crew of six men mix tar on the street outside; heat waves, palpably thick, surround their gummed-up smelter. Its overwhelming odor creepy-crawls her way. The discontented child will not pipe down.

 

Highlights on Michelle's fixed face turn bruised... modulate irregularly... flesh tones bleached by the glow of an incandescent light source...

"I know you won't believe me, but you're my first. I used to make up stories about what it might be like. It always happened in the morning, for some strange reason. Mostly on a beach. Will you please stop!"
"Stop what?"
"What you're doing. I told you I'm not ready. Honestly, you boys!"
"I thought I was your first."
"The first to go 'all the way' with, silly."

"Our late night creature-feature will soon continue after a word from..."

The TV goes dumb; Michelle turns down the volume, avoiding another commercial. She leans against the headboard of her freshly made-up bed, hugging a pillow, burying her face, obscuring its deadpan.

 

 

if i bump...

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