Morgan's lips, in silhouette, move with his account of what transpired:

"I don't know what happened before she came down to the pit, but from that point on, I paid pretty close attention. She was really out of it, doped to the gills; her pupils were so dilated they looked like black holes. And what a costume! I suppose, in any other context, it might have looked absurd, but there it did exactly what she presumed. Stop; don't say it; I'm not defending chauvinism, or stereotypes. All I'm saying is what she wore was sexy, to all concerned: a melon-colored dress split down the side from thigh to ankle..."

"Fish-net stockings, no doubt."

"Stockings, yes—the left held up by a garter; just enough d�colletage to see her bra-less breasts—tinier than yours, by the way."

"Well, that's a switch. No bosom?"

"Flapjack flat. You pleased? Don't interrupt."

"Stiletto heels."

"Shush! An anklet—made of copper; a headband—with a feather in it; earrings—down to here; and make-up—a la femmes at the Moulin Rouge."

"And that looked sexy?"

"You're the one who's always spouting off about 'intention.' Hers was unmistakable; it was absolutely clear."

"Well, fuck me dead."

"Or some such sentiment, yes. Explicit. Honest."

"Natural? Uncontrived, perhaps?"

"I just mean primal, that's all, pure."

"Call it pornographic and be done with it, Morgan. 'Primal?'"

"Some things simply turn a straight man on."

"I beg to differ. Some things simply turn on some straight men, if they stay juveniles."

"Why be so defensive, Gillian? You have sex appeal."

"You're the one, my dear, who needs defending."

"Because I found another woman sexy?"

Morgan's lamp-cast profile, on the bedroom wall, transfigures... masculine features altering... subtly softening... angles blunt; Gillian's lips resume where his left off:

"He's so pathetic. Last night Morgan told this sad, if sordid, little story about a stripper at that awful place he works—The Golden Spur—some Black girl who had zonked herself on drugs then made a spectacle. Owner had to fire her, which she didn't take too well; danced her set, regardless. Except no one cued the music, so she sang her own accompaniment—which, I gather, was a hoot. Can you imagine, Michael, standing in a barroom full of rednecks, with your clothes off, singing a cappella, stoned on who-know-what? Morgan said she fell a few times; people laughed, initially. Then, as time went by, they simply gawked... till she collapsed, when Morgan, Mister Nice-guy, snatched and carried her off, backstage—my sweet, naive, romantic poet-in-residence... Michael?" The bedroom is silent. "Michael, you asleep?" Sheets, beneath the speaker, steadily rise and fall. "Terrific."

Gillian's shadow bends; the light is extinguished.

 

 

Michelle cannot sleep.

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