You Only Die Once
She gave me the money, so I went down on her.
Her friends watched from the pillows.
This was the farthest North I’d ever been. I knew Pretty People paid for sex (everyone does, one way or another), but had little desire to service them.
A good brain goes where the money is. A smart whore never follows her heart, and always follows her head.
These girls were gorgeous. They would have surely tortured me in high school had they not been shipped off to boarding schools in Switzerland. Boney, manicured nails screamed glitter and decadence. Fat, shiny wallets made for promising tips.
Every eyelash could have set a castle on fire.
These girls were the bane of my pseudo-feminist existence, and here I was, literally on my hands and knees to please them.
Irony’s a bitch.
My nose suffocated on her squirt sack. One of the prettier Pretties sat on my back and dragged her alligator claws down my spine.
Obediently, my skin bled.
My customer faked an orgasm; I pretended I couldn’t tell. As I wiped my mouth I wondered,
Why pay for a pleasure that’s not real?
Hot blood danced on my skin. The roof party was a mess of loose pearls, writhing girls, gaudy diamonds and ripped skirts; a blur of plastic, pawing perfection; mewing kittens flushed down the maw of a porcelain sink.
Drugs came and went like a politician’s promises. Mucous membranes: glutted. Pretty pills and mountains of powder were huffed, puffed, sucked, blown, parachuted, swallowed, shot home.
My eyes carelessly combed the streets below. Pavement sneered up at me, reflecting old bursts of blood and beer. Little ants (allegedly humans) skittered on the concrete. Wind rustled bits of dust (that were really plastic bags).
A line of taxis waited on the road: yellow cabs bleeding black on the sidewalk.
I trolled about, asked if anyone else wanted a go or a show. None were sober enough to answer. Jewelled eyes rocked in their skulls, sexy skeletons condemned.
Where went their dreams? Where were their parents?
I pitied them. At least the poor are honest in our poverty.
The sun went down, the sins ran out, my hours were almost up. I was the only one with a head on my shoulders instead of in outer space.
One last lady was lucid enough to thwart my escape. Raccoon eyes (thanks to cancerous paraffins) spasmed (thanks to all the drugs) on her diamond-bitten face (thanks to genetics, good nutrition, and a little surgery.)
Her little, lithe limbs were dumb as jelly. Her hair was red hot. Its embers coiled around her face, reflecting the magma of her eyes.
“Leaving already?” she crooned. “Party’s not over yet.”
Gently, cautiously, I wove around her.
“I go where the money is, darling. No one else is willing to pay.”
“I’ll pay!” she fumbled in her bra for bills.
Funny how girls can arouse and exasperate you simultaneously. Wrists shaking, lip gloss flaking, she pressed several hundred dollar bills upon my gawking lips.
“What do I have to do for this?”
“Nothing. I just want you to stay.”
My dress (thanks to a thrift-store raid) was somewhere around my ankles (thanks to her friend who thought it’d be funny to fuck me with a champagne bottle. Thank god the glass didn’t break.)
What did this part-time model with a head full of flame hope to find in me?
“Right.” I grinned. “I’m your conversational whore, m’lady.”
She grabbed my elbow, kissed my eyes, dragged me to the velvet beds. She said she wanted to kill me and bathe in my skin “like the Spartans did.”
I liked her.
We talked until dawn. More accurately, she did. I listened as much as I could and spent the rest of the time admiring her hair.
Her lips made curious shapes against fading city lights.
The cabs left bloody trails of oil behind. The city went rowdy, then still. Later, in the dimmest morning light, stray pedestrians loitered in their loneliness. We witnessed the world upside-down, from the wrong side of the dawn.
It was strange going a whole night without hearing any sirens.
The girls were calm in the aftermath. They had aimed to get as fucked up as humanly possible, and in this they succeeded. Now they appeared appallingly Zen blowing snot into fifty dollar bills.
I thought of the money I’d make from bottling their sweat. Kids would be desperate for a spritz of these silky pheromones.
The redhead kept touching me. Her hands hurt, but not nearly as much as starving. I wondered where I could go to spend my night’s (and morning’s) earnings.
Ms. Red kept talking. She’d recite poetry, get high, kiss me, apologise. I was down for whatever, but preferred to hear her talk.
It’s better to be molested with thought.
The zenith spat twilight, purple, pink. The girls rose in unison, entranced by the twinkling sun. I realized they weren’t on top of a building, but the world. Their daddies were kings, they princesses by proxy. They were the glue that stopped society from crumbling.
“Alright girls,” the blondest Blonde declared, “Time to call it a day, wouldn’t you say?”
I expected them to file out with wagging heads and coming hangovers, but should have known these girls would go out with a bang.
One by one, they jumped. Their dresses became tails streaking far-off cloud. The whole sky was a rainbow of fabric, a flag of demise. A cover-worthy mass suicide.
High fashion briefly became literal.
I said one of those dumb things people say in the face of surreal tragedies:
My ankles snapped. I clamoured off the cum-stained silk to catch skirts as I might grab the wings of birds.
“What the hell are they doing?!”
Red smiled, which considering the circumstances I found inappropriate.
Several kamikaze kill-joys remained on the roof, and try as I did to impede their flighty suicides, they too jumped to make Pretty Pancakes for breakfast.
Soon, it was only us two.
I spun. Sick in brain, wet in skull. There was an odd disease in me, the plague of mortality, one I hadn’t noticed until surrounded by fatal woes.
Lady Red cracked her neck.
“Don’t fret, my dear. You’re prettier when you smile.”
“How would you know? I haven’t smiled once tonite!” I leaned over the edge and winced. “It’s awful.”
“No,” she corrected, “it’s wonderful!”
Her toes dabbled in a pirouette; she must have taken ballet as a kid.
“Don’t!” I lunged for one of her knees. “Please. Don’t leave me all alone.”
“You sweet thing! If only I could explain. Dying is fabulous! We make a point of doing it as often as possible.”
Had they slipped something into my drink?
“It started with cocaine. So many good stories start with coke, don’t you think? We were convinced that if we jumped, we’d fly off and lay waste to the tar sands.” her grin was nostalgic, and eerily wise. “Of course, no girls grow wings. We fell and died, like anyone else. But... we woke up. New faces. New bodies. New lives to waste.”
Screams from early risers erupted from the street.
“Of course,” she admitted, “like anything worth doing, jumping is a gamble. All jump, but not all are reborn. Who knows!” she craned her fantastic jaw-line. “This leap could be my last!”
I kissed her. Hands wild, passion useless, I hoped to find truth beneath sex.
For once I tried to think with my heart instead of my head.
“Forget this.” my nails pulled at her, but couldn’t reach within. “Come live with me.”
She grabbed both my hands like she wanted to dance.
“Why don’t you come die with me?”
The strongest temptations are also strangest.
Despite my heart, her head, her lips, I wouldn’t play Russian Roulette with gravity.
When she jumped, she jumped all alone: red clashing with blue.
All I could dare to do was look down.