Story

A dark, independent film investigating one couple’s twisted relationship: a combination of happy and haunting memories. Sometimes being crazy in love just leaves you crazy.

The birth of baby Jesus – that’s what I think about as a stripper smashes my face against her sweaty, sticky tits.

Her name is Chastity, and yes that is her real name.

It’s Christmas Eve, and I’m spending it at another strip club. Giving out tattered dollar bills to misguided, big-breasted girls. I’m their Santa Claus; that is if Santa Claus is on his eighth whiskey and smokes like a gun barrel. One thing I know for certain is that none of us want to be here.

Chastity, the cellulite on her thighs jiggling like a plate of Jell-O set down too hard on a tabletop, begins grinding her ass against my jeans, singing “…and a partridge in a pear tree.”

I wonder what she wished for this year: a real job, an education, someone to love her, or maybe not having to gently caress me with her boobs for the next three songs.

And I’m the epitome of Christmas cheer tonight, drinking straight whiskey, and praying I won’t be here again next year. The reason why I’m at a strip club instead of with someone I care about is because I don’t really have anyone. Not for any special reason, or choice of my own, I just don’t have anyone close to me.

Last year I did, but that’s a long time ago.

I think the light turned on in Chastity’s head, for a brief moment she realizes I’m not just an ATM. She turns to me, running her nicotine-stained hands down my shirt and whispers into my ear, “Why aren’t you somewhere else, its Christmas?”

Avoiding the question, I murmur. “Do you want to know something interesting?”

“Sure.” She recedes back into her mind; her body moves back into autopilot as she buries her face in my crotch.

I lift her chin so our eyes meet before I say, “It’s a scientific fact that female strippers make more money when they’re menstruating.”

Chastity turned around and rubbed herself up and down my torso, “I didn’t know that. Maybe I’ll rearrange my schedule next month.”

“You do that.” I say, while I get up.

Before I leave, I toss a couple dollars her way and pull on my coat. I’m in Denver, in the end of December, and it’s snowing.

When you tell yourself not to think of something, you can’t help but think about it. Maybe that’s why jealous wives always have cheating husbands – these wives spend countless hours each day telling their husbands never to cheat on them. This idea seeps into the husband’s head, deep down into the subconscious, and it’s almost guaranteed that when they’re fucking he’s thinking about some twenty-something with a nice ass.

Eventually the husband will weigh the cost and benefits between marital satisfaction and fantasy achievement, and after the analysis is over he’ll ultimately stop just fantasizing about cheating and start looking for it. Before the wife can even throw out the idea of role playing, he’ll be long gone trying to get a younger woman with bigger boobs and smoother skin.

I told myself not to think about her, about my wife, but it’s impossible. As I make my way to the car in the winter night, I notice some icicles hanging off the back of my bumper. Then, I can’t shake the memory of her.

It was last January when she told me the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. She said that for her it’s watching a teardrop of water run down the slope of an icicle making dimples of rainbow colors each time it moves. That was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen.

I told her mine: right after a fresh snow, when it’s powdery and piled high outside my patio, and I ash my cigarette on top of it. The ash colors the snow like cookies and cream ice cream. That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

My door creaks open, and a sliver of light paints itself on my back wall. I squeeze my body through the door and toss my pack of cigarettes onto the table. Before I twist the top off my bottle of whiskey, I check my phone for any messages. There’s a couple from various people. I take the back off my phone, remove the battery, and step on it.

I could tell you how there is a theological discourse on the relationship between David and Jonathan from the Old Testament of the Bible, on whether their relationship was purely platonic or one of the Bible’s many homosexual couplings, but ask me the definition of “friendship” – I’ll go mute. I have nothing to offer.

At the end of the day I’m 85,000 dollars worth of undergraduate education, had as many majors as the university offered, and could have graduated multiple times. But when it comes down to it, I still know nothing, and it’s this fact that keeps me as far away from any thing resembling the real world as possible. I fear reality like its HIV, like it’s life-threatening cancer, like it’s the end of me.

She used to get pissed at me when I watched her get ready to go out. When she got out of the shower, she’d put on a thong and bra. I would sit on the toilet and watch her put on makeup. She would say, “Don’t look at me right now! I’m not pretty!”

“But you always look pretty to me.” Sycophantically, I declared every time.

She would cover her face, or throw a mascara brush at me, “But I don’t want you to see my like this!”

I just never knew that when she said “like this” it meant seeing anything real. She chose to hide behind caked on dead animal fat and surreptitious lies. If I knew that, it would’ve changed a lot of things.

Through the door, after she pushed me out the bathroom, I would tell her that at the root of the Beat writers’ works was a religious pilgrimage seeking to understand the machine of modern American.

She would say, “Why do you have so many women in your cell phone? You better not be talking to them, or else you’ll be having sex with your hand for the next month!”

Orwell wasn’t completely wrong when he said that thing about absolute power corrupting absolutely. When someone not only has but also strives to maintain power over you, there’s not much you can do about it; especially if you like being dominated.

Because, in the end, there is no difference between love, loneliness, lust, and horniness; they all lead you to the same place, on the front porch pleading to the object of your whatever to take you back through the double bolted door.

I light a cigarette in the darkness of my apartment. The cherry is smoldering, gray tinted ash falling all over my couch. This path of thinking is getting me nowhere, but once you start you can’t stop. It seems to be the same way with most drugs.

She used to wait for me to get home. I would walk through the door and put all my work stuff in its usual place, yearning for some food and possibly a nap. In my bedroom, she would wait for me lying completely naked on the bed. Instantaneously, my conscious mind would shut off, everything completely nonexistent except for that primal desire to copulate.

We would start kissing, and she would tear my clothes off. She pulled our bodies together, while moaning her desire. When I finally got my pants off, about to stick my dick inside her, she would roll over and say, “On second thought, I’m hungry. Do you want to eat anything?”

It was all about the power. She had it, she knew it, and she couldn’t stand to give any of it up. I guess that’s why she did it. Because now, she’ll always have the power over me, even though she’ll never really enjoy it.

I could pontificate on how the problem with post-modern feminism is that through people dismissing it as something already accomplished they are in fact engaging in the same repressive sexist dialogue that people used for centuries, but if you ask me for the definition of “self-value” – I’ll go mute. I guess I never got a hang of that one.

When I wake up, I find myself spread-eagled in the middle of my living room. I guess I didn’t make it back to my bed last night. The cigarette I clutch in my fingers has long since burned itself out.

All around me billows the dank stench of mildew and horrible life decisions. I look for my cologne, but all I find is her old perfume. It signals sexual capacity and launches my thoughts into an existential milieu.

There’s sometimes in your life when you’re forced to reflect on the pointlessness of living. You sort of engage in the whole existential dialogue of modernity. These times could happen anywhere, at any time, example: looking across the sweaty, gyrating drunks at any bar or club in any area of the world – resting their last hopes of finding love on how well they can thrust their hips together in pseudo-sexual positions.

And it’s at this time in my life, holding her perfume bottle, at the edge of tears that I decide to take a drive.

The car engine purrs and the strangely familiar stench of Newports wafts out of the vents. That’s the brand I used to smoke, but now I can’t stand their smell. Whenever I smell a Newport burn, I can’t help but cringe as I remember the poignant smell of singeing flesh.

Before last year, whenever I smoked she would throw a fit. She said I was destroying my body, and by destroying my body I was hurting her. This line of thinking should’ve struck me as odd. But I was in love with being in love, so like any devoted lover I took no interest in understanding the object of my affection.

Our conversations on my cessation took a heated turn one night, when drunkenly she announced if I lit the cigarette in my mouth she would show me how it felt for her to watch me smoke. Being mildly interested in the outcome, and mostly bored, I flicked the lighter and inhaled from the cigarette deeply. She took it from my mouth and stepped out of arms reach. Quickly, she pulled her sleeve up and shoved the blazing cherry into her arm. The smell – it’s not a smell you can shake easily. And she cried; real, thick tears oozed down her face, running mascara down her laughter lines.

I stopped smoking for a while after that night, because she had no problem destroying herself to prove a point.

I could explain how nihilism is pragmatically impossible due to our human nature, the possibility of an average person being stoically acceptable of any fate inflicted on them is remote to nearly impossible, but if you ask me for the definition of “fair” – I’ll go mute. There’s no college class to educate me on that.

It’s Christmas Day, and where am I going? I’m going to my favorite gentlemen’s establishment to spend sweet time with my favorite stripper Chastity.

On the way I can’t help but think about my last Christmas. Our families were coming over for dinner, every person with our genomes, even the ones that no one ever remembers until they look at their family trees. After preparing for the meal we started fooling around, to release some stress. And she pulled out the Christmas present she bought herself, a small, concealable dildo.

It was pink, and I couldn’t help the word submarine from forming in my mind, but I slid it inside her pussy and she started to moan. Her fingertips traced the shape of her boobs and slowly made their circles tighter until she was brushing across her nipples. My eyes were consumed with this image, hands idly moving the dildo around without any real intention. She would’ve normally yelled at me to focus on getting her off, but this time she couldn’t because the doorbell rang.

I jumped to my feet, forgetting what was just happening a few seconds before. Her eyes stretched wide as she said, “You left it inside of me!”

Sweat beaded on my forehead as I tried to pry it out of her, but her muscles contracted, and her Mom was walking up the stairs. She pushed me off and pulled some clothes on, and I did the same as fast as possible. By the time her mother opened our door with an ear-to-ear grin, we at least looked presentable.

Thirty minutes later we were putting on a brave face, sitting at the dinner table with at least fifteen people related to one of us in some way. The dildo was still stuck inside her. When I looked at her, I couldn’t help but smirk, and at that point she would elbow me in the stomach or punch me in the balls.

Then the dildo turned on. A sound like a cell-phone vibrating while lost inside some couch cushions echoed around the dinner table. I looked over at her, a streak of red raced down her cheeks. I saw her shift her weight from left to right and the dildo turned off.

It was a few minutes before anyone spoke again. They probably thought it was just a cell-phone, but I told her they all knew. That earned me another punch in the balls. There is little to no chance that I will ever procreate – which was probably her plan.

Three minutes into my first lap dance, Chastity bends her head and puts her ass directly in front of my face. She proceeds to shake it to the beat. It’s at this moment that I realize why I was thinking about the birth of baby Jesus on Christmas, besides the obvious religious reason.

Jesus in a manger from the Nativity scene is tattooed in color on the small of Chastity’s back. The infantile Jesus, smiles at me from the greasy tramp stamp area of a stripper.

“I need a smoke, want to go outside with me?” Chastity asks me with her head in between her legs.

I tap her on the back and get to my feet, pulling my fleece coat up off the chair and giving it to her, “Do I have to pay for this too?”

She took the coat and wrapped herself tightly with it, using it like a piece of armor, “No. But you can loan me a cigarette.”

Outside, the air is frigid. I never understood the term bone chilling until this moment. Instantly as I step into the Colorado winter, my fingers ache and grow inert. By the time I finish handing her a cigarette and lighting it for her, I can barely move my fingers to grab one for myself.

“You can’t keep coming around here.” Chastity’s breathe billows around her head in a mixture of exhaled smoke and freezing air, it reminds me of car exhaust. “You’re pissing my boss off. He doesn’t like that you show up almost every night, take all of my dances, and hardly tip at all.”

Before I speak, I wrap her tighter in my jacket, “I can’t help it. You look so much like her.”

The pale discs of blue expand in her eyes, “Look. I know what you’re going through. I mean she was my sister.”

“You do you know, you look identical.” I twist the butt until the cherry falls out; slowly it drifts to the ground in the midst of the snowflakes.

“Get out of here. Do something with your self, there’s no use pretending like she’s going to come back.” She passes my jacket back to me, and before she shuts the door behind herself I hear her say, “Pathetic.”

The benefit of living in Colorado is the plentiful amount of bendy roads running through the mountains. They carve their way like concrete serpents, from the top to the bottom, making a way for minivans to ease their socially acceptable families to the top. But at nighttime, it’s only me and the deer. Which is completely fine with me.

I drive toward the mountains, up Morrison Road, which will lead me up to a high elevation. As the city lights dim behind me, I let go of some of its weight, which I never knew clung so tightly to my shoulders.

People pray for things every day. They pray for a better economy, that their families will be safe through the night, they pray to win the lottery, and that when they hit that icy patch on the road they won’t skid off into oncoming traffic. Some of these prayers are answered, I mean, if you want to look at it that way. Just by sheer odds, some things you ask for have to come true, unless you are really really unlucky.

When I prayed, which I did sometimes in the cold whispers of night when my eyelids couldn’t find their weight and let me breathe easily into blissful sleep, I prayed for many things. I figured if I asked for enough things eventually I would get one of them. Mostly I prayed for love, because I think we all do most of the time.

Sometimes I would eavesdrop on her in the night. She spoke in her sleep, hardly ever revealing any information, but sometimes we could carry on a very polite and decent conversation. One night I heard her mumbling, “…do you feel that? That bump…. there’s a bump there…on my breast…. now they’ll have to love me.”

I guess she prayed for cancer. I never asked her about it, but in a sadistic way it made sense.

I can lecture on how pop culture absorbs, synthesizes, and sanitizes fringe cultural ideas and reconfigures them into a facet of pop culture itself, creating pop idols presenting only a little bit of cultural edge and enough commercialization to function as heroes to all. But ask me the definition of “idol worship” and I can speak for ages – to me it’s always been too closely associated with love to ever make a differentiation.

My car putters up Morrison road. It takes the curves slowly, I’m afraid to step on the gas because it might stall. Right now it’s that perfect shade of darkness, the one where serenity seems so close. That if I stay in this moment for a little longer the world might make some sense. But of course, that feeling is ethereal and gone as soon as it registers. Soon I’ll be to my destination. On an upper part of the mountain there’s a curve with no guardrails.

The worst sound a person can hear when they arrive home is their significant other hurriedly moaning from their bedroom. You first hope that they’re alone, but you realize they wouldn’t make that many animal noises if they were.

I rushed into the bedroom and found two people grinding under the covers. Pulling off the sheet with a mixture of resentment and pure hurt, I found the two. One was my wife, and the other was a girl I did not recognize.

The lover was a woman with ginger hair, rust colored hair that grew lighter or darker as she moved her head in the light of my bedroom while trying to pull her clothes on. She said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know she was married” as she ran out of the apartment. Her tone illuminated she was probably being truthful.

“What the hell was that?” I asked my wife, breathlessly, more surprised by the sex of her extramarital affair than for the affair itself.

With her right hand she pulled a pink shirt over her naked torso. She said, “You weren’t supposed to be home yet, what are you doing here?” With more resentment than even I mustered.

I took a step back and clutched my head, “What am I doing here? You’re skipping over the biggest part. You were cheating on me! With a woman! What the hell?”

“It’s pretty simple.” She condescended. “She’s a lesbian. We work together and for ages she’s told me I wasn’t her type. I’m not really into woman, not that much. But when she said she would never be interested in me…well, I couldn’t let that stand now could I? I had to prove her wrong. Everyone’s interested in me.”

For the next hour she looked at me quizzically, head turned to the side like a puppy wondering why the humans are making such a big deal about it shitting on the floor. I packed up my things. Not much of what was in our apartment was mine, but I still packed away what I could sincerely say I bought. When I put the key on the counter and looked to see her reaction, she met my gaze with that same speculative look.

I stared into her powder blue eyes and said, “You know… looking into your eyes is like looking into space and realizing how small and insignificant my entire life is; the fact that nothing I do means anything, that I’ll still be just a little speck of matter meandering around until I dissipate.”

Before I slammed the door behind myself I heard her say in a deadpan monotone, “You’ll regret this.”

I’m nearing the place on the mountain road without guard rails now. In the passenger seat of my car is my notebook. It’s for ideas that I think of, philosophical inquiries, and to construct shopping lists. Glancing at my notebook, it takes my mind back to the day I found her. The exact moment where everything changed.

I forgot the notebook at the apartment when I left her sitting on the couch after I found out about the cheating. A few days later, after an extensive search of my belongings I realized that I must have left it. By the time I made my way over there, there was a foul stench leaking through the door.

Opening the door, I saw her lifeless body hanging from a rope around her neck that was connected to the ceiling fan. She used a permanent marker to write in gigantic ransom type letters on the wall, like a self-penned grave marker, “You’ll think of me forever.”

Nearing the place in the curvy road where the guardrail did not exist, I wished I could have a cigarette. My car maintained a speed of sixty toward the unprotected space that would shoot me out into the canyon below. It was a severe drop, the kind where I could see my life flash before my eyes before the car smashed face down into the cold ground.

There’s a moment where I think this may be a mistake. But it comes too late, my car is already airborne. I feel the hunk of metal sailing with my body effortlessly through the air. Gravity pulls down on us hard, and soon my lungs push against my throat trying to get more air.

“I’m too used to burning.” I say before I sigh. It’s one of those drawn out sighs of complete relaxation, like I finally found my resting place.

Then, before the car collides with the ground I say, “No I won’t.”