I finally knew how it felt.
Home… was with Daddy, wherever we may be. And the Body Shop was the only home… away from home… that I have ever known.
Shimmer was back. She’d parked her chair in the doorway, and I almost bumped into her as I stepped in off the sidewalk.
“Hey Justice. I was wondering if you’d still be here.”
She was playing it humble and sweet, after such a long time away. She’d put on a little weight… which she explained was because she stopped smoking cigarettes. She was only smoking pot now… and that was working better for her. She was doing what she could to stay chill.
“Wow. He’s cute!”
Natalie looked pretty cute herself… sipping her humongous watermelon daiquiri… and I was happy she gave Daddy a high score. I played it cool and waved to him through the window… but once he made his way inside to our table, I jumped up pretty darn quick.
“Come on, you guys. We should go back to the club.”
I wanted him to see my stage show… badly.
We all have our own ideas about perfection. And that day, for me… well, it was.
Daddy was sitting at the end of the stage. The girls were gathered around him, Sunny was practically in his lap… and when I stepped out, I heard her say… I love it when she dances to this song!
He hadn’t been to the club in a while. It was my world, he let me have it… and we shared it together, at home. I’d seen so many men and women… come and go from that very spot. A rising tide of smiling people, moving across the velvet chairs. And there he was. The boy I’d known and loved, since I was just sixteen.
The girls were yelling my name, cheering me on… and when I looked at him, his face beamed with admiration and pride. In that moment, I was ageless. Weightless. Flawless. My wings simply unfolded… and my flight over the stage had the awesome power of a wild creature set free. At ease in her natural world. My energy was magic, my movements were smooth… and when I rolled up onto the counter, naked… I was the sexiest I’d ever been.
He was blown away… and the girls were cool enough to get swept up in the sweetness of it. There were some clusters of other people, sitting at the tables… but they could see we were having our own party and they stayed out of it. I saw their smiles glowing from the dark, distant corners.
We were all riding my high. We kinda hung on Daddy and sloshed around the room together… laughing and saying shit too loudly. Sunny sang him my praises… there was a beautiful chorus of agreement… and I kissed her on the mouth, because I wanted to and I could.
It was glorious. The look in his eyes, the electricity in my body… and the love from the girls washing over us in audible, tactile waves. I live with these moments… and their sweet gift of abandon, found on dark afternoons… tucked away from the sun. They’re a cherished and tangible part of me. He can see them and we both can feel them… and forever, they are ours.
Shimmer’s return, together with Natalie’s arrival… marked somewhat of a Golden Age… of the afternoon. I was really loving the day shift, then. We had a core group and we were in a good zone. Whatever else was going on, I knew I would see my girls… and that’s what I was pumped about. Couldn’t wait to get to the club and see what kind of trouble we might stir up. We were rolling through the days, the weeks… and having a great time together… on someone else’s dime.
We hadn’t even been there an hour, when a numbskull loaded with hundies wandered in. He wore slacks with a belted button-up shirt, he was high as a kite… and not even slightly in control of the situation. I guess that was the whole point.
What a commotion he caused. Right off the bat, he was throwing the hundies at the stage and nobody waited their turn that day. We all just jumped right in. Soon we were wrangling him… in small, happy packs… in and out of the back. No one was counting how many times. It was a frenzyof light-hearted fun. We pulled on his clothes, we threw ours around… and we kindly removed all the green paper from inside his wallet.
We had to pinch ourselves to believe this guy was for real… and it tickled me to watch the girls examining their bills under the light. Did they even know what they were looking for? We took the bills and we spent them… so I guess you could say he checked out all right… and man, we were having a blast.
Lovely was doing especially well. He seemed to like her the most and there was a very pleasant glow… of rainbow happiness... shining all around her face.
Shimmer nodded her head affirmatively as she spoke.
“That’s why I love this place. This just doesn’t happen anywhere else.”
I knew she was having a moment of clarity. She stood close enough that our bodies touched. From our shoulders all the way down to our thighs… leaving a small void of contact only at our waists, where a vigorous act would be needed to fit them together. Shimmer was not girl who touched people accidentally.
She harbored the anger of someone who’s been held back in life. By circumstance, experience… her own perception and mistakes. All the things I might imagine… that’s what conspired against her. And any hand that touched her, ran the risk of being confused with the one that would push her down. The drugs and the booze, the innate goodness of her nature… kept her sedated for the most part, but there was no telling who or what might trigger this sequestered rage.
To look at her was to indulge in a dream. The sweet thing you saw was not to be had. You could touch her, but you would have to pay… and then you’d best be on your way. Given time, no amount of money or kindness would spare you… from becoming the focal point of her indignation. To hold her, was something only the bravest should attempt. Someone who was down for the whole treacherous struggle.
I felt special when her shoulder brushed so casually against mine. I felt included in something which was personal and rare… and I knew this was the closest we would ever be. I absorbed the scent and feel of her skin, letting her seep into my soul… where she remains until this day. Rolling her eyes and tugging gently… at the corners of my thoughts.
“It’s good to have you back.”
She took in my words, as a child might accept an exotic candy. Quietly contemplating the nice thing offered… and her own speculative wariness of it. Then she flashed me that priceless smile of hers.
“You know, Justice… you look like you gained some weight, too. Maybe just a little in your legs.”
I loved it. What a perfect fucking thing to say. I looked down at my thigh, the one still touching hers… and laughed.
“Yeah. I you’re probably right.”
We would often wink and smile at each other across the booths, while we were giving our lap dances. Sometime we even held hands or touched fingertips over the little walls… while gyrating separately, but together… over the nameless guys beneath us. Though they were comical on the surface, these moments were very meaningful to me. Later, at home… I would remember the long nights at my grandparents’ house… and how lonely I was. How I had wished for someone who knew how it was. A sister, maybe… a soft hand to hold in the dark.
It may sound corny, but I’m going to say it anyway… I felt sincere love for every one of the other girls. They were my heroes, simply for being there… and though we would never speak about certain things, just knowing them was enough to inspire me endlessly… because they were the unforeseen answer to my childhood wish.
In my mind, they all deserve to have their attributes championed, their lies overlooked… their idiosyncrasies, forgiven. Even the troublemakers. Even if they didn’t like me.