A Visit to the Titty Bar

The first girl that came out was a lava lamp. As if her arms moved through water. Her warm motion prac­ticed and secure. Shad­ows gath­ered under her breasts. Cop­per light ovaled across her bel­ly, licked down her thigh. Her eyes nev­er focused. Not once. I thought she'd look at some­one, per­haps the lawyer with the court­room voice and glint­ing watch. Maybe the bounc­er with the rough knuck­les and thatch­work stub­ble. But no. She was aloof. Unat­tain­able. Full of the dis­tance ten­dered by pow­er. The pale head of a scar wrig­gled out the top of her red g‑string and plunged back under with her motions. A quick, scabrous expo­sure. I sat there and watched the scar, hop­ing it'd reap­pear. Those glimpses of the real are precious.

This was years ago. Back when I worked at a tech­nol­o­gy shop in Dal­las, when I com­mut­ed three hours a day and read books about UNIX and drove back home weari­ly, delight­ed in the dust of the road that weaved to our house. Lunch at the strip joint was T's idea. He'd appeared in my office door around 10am, shirt­sleeves rolled up, his hairy fore­arms thick and pur­pled with veins.

—Tit­ty bar for lunch?

I hes­i­tat­ed. I always did.

—Don't be a pussy. It's only 8 bucks. All you can eat buf­fet. Tons of tit­ty to look at. You'll want to go home and bang your wife after. T held up his fin­gers in a V and slith­ered his tongue through the ges­ture. —No bet­ter way to spend lunch. Let's go. We're all going.

All was a group of geeks that I worked with. The UNIX team. Ter­mi­nal users. Com­mand-line kung-fu. Thick, stub­by fin­gers on most of them, made for pound­ing key­boards and fondling plas­tic pens with chewed tips. Bel­lies that had nev­er known flat. Mouths ripe with tech­ni­cal acronym. Our faces glowed in the oper­ose jihad of com­put­er mon­i­tor radi­a­tion. We were all bet­ter than our cubi­cles, smarter and big­ger than our jobs. Right? None of us resem­bled our walls. None of us were aver­age grey men. This was always the fear in the hive, the mum­bled rumor of the farm. We'd look around at the white­boards, at our droop­ing plants, at the office dust glint­ing in the hair on our arms and think that sure­ly there must be a mis­take. Sure­ly we have just been overlooked.

The bar was shad­owed and loud. Some men were stiff in their seats. Sweat­ing glass­es squeaked under their fin­gers. Oth­ers so relaxed they might have been on a couch in their house, their hands mov­ing con­ver­sa­tion­al­ly in the air, their faces open in a very human, mas­cu­line way. Some had a dark, des­per­ate look and huffed their hot breath into the clink­ing ice of their emp­ty glass. A few women as well, with thin arms draped over broad shoul­ders in suits. Naked knees at eye lev­el. Clench­ing ten­dons, an etch­ing of mus­cle along a calf. Goose­flesh around a nip­ple. Bel­lies wet with light. Music that thumped in the gut. A scar of some sort in everyone.

The UNIX team was qui­et. Stu­dious in their eat­ing for the most part. Chick­en ripped from bone with bared teeth. Gelati­nous sauce quiv­er­ing on the tines of forks. The reflec­tion of a breast swelled in the cold hol­low of my spoon. T wan­ton­ly gazed at the women, punched those of us in the shoul­der sit­ting next to him. —Imag­ine pin­ning those legs back behind her ears, he said. —God, I'm going to fuck my wife so hard tonight. With his eyes, he ges­tured down at a bulge in his pants as a dancer moved past. She nev­er focused. —I think it scared her, he said to every­one on the way back.

The boss was wait­ing for us when we returned to the office, tap­ping his pen on the desk. —The Kansas City upgrade needs to be reap­plied. It was messed up last night. His eyes focused on T. —They're run­ning on half-capac­i­ty with no back­up. You've got to watch this shit. No more screw-ups!

We retired to our chairs and grey walls, the thrum of the machines around us. A cool hiss of recy­cled air. The light in the office was unre­lent­ing, harsh in its expo­sure. T worked his fin­gers into his dry scalp, scratch­ing. He shrugged his shoul­ders at the rest of us. —Wasn't that last bitch hot? We should go again. Some­time real soon.

I thought he was going to put up the V sign again, but his hands slid into his pock­ets and he slid into his cube out of our sight. Mon­i­tors flick­ered on. Gray walls rose around every­one. Our thoughts ren­dered into stran­gling wires. We approached our lives and work with the same lack of focus that the strip­per offered us. Our fin­gers thick­ened and blunt­ed to our tasks the way her body curved into hers. We manip­u­lat­ed that which doesn't exist. At least the strip­per worked in the realm of the phys­i­cal, in the cur­rents of deep need and that which is inescapable. Our toil was con­tained in a screen. A plas­tic, hum­ming square, only able to endure as long as the black cord wasn't yanked from the wall.


Brad Green's fic­tion has appeared or soon will in The Blue Earth Review, Sto­ry­glos­sia, eli­mae, Word Riot, Thieves Jar­gon and sev­er­al oth­er jour­nals. He's cur­rent­ly at work on a nov­el. Read his blog at http://​ele​vateth​e​o​r​di​nary​.blogspot​.com.

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