The Curtained Doorway

By Travis Loose

The air smells sweet and slightly perfumed.

Red lights illuminate the areas that aren’t already glowing from the black lights.

The music vibrates the floor, the walls, the chairs, the stage — spotlights of varying colors swirl around the large room in dizzying circles.

The reflection in the mirrors that line the walls on the South side of the room wiggle with every deep bass thump of the subwoofer.

The vibrating reflections display the backs of the men who are lined up along the bar top on the North side of the room.

Most of them are wearing flat-billed baseball caps and baggy clothing.

Spaced out intermittently among them are women — scantily clad women who are wearing only lingerie and glitter.

The woman behind the counter is dressed in bright orange skinny jeans that radiate whenever she passes under one of the black lights. She’s wearing boots that extend up to her mid-calf and a white top covered by a black jacket, the sleeves pulled up about her forearms.

Her hair appears to change color as she walks back and forth underneath the many colored lights behind the bar.

A man in business attire sits all by himself at the main stage in the center of the room.

He alone has the attention of the bare breasted woman dancing slowly to the Outkast hit, “Ms. Jackson.”

She speaks to him, but her voice is drowned out by the sweet, solemn singing of Andre 3000: “I’m sorry, Ms. Jackson / I am for real…”

Suddenly, he rises and the two begin to walk toward the stage’s small staircase. She dismounts the catwalk, and he follows her to the other end of the room where they both disappear through a curtained doorway.

The music changes. Another dancer takes the pole.

A solitary 40 inch flat screen TV hangs in the Northwest corner of the room. ESPN is airing a profile on a surfer.

One man sitting at the bar seems genuinely interested. He doesn’t even take notice of the woman sitting beside him.

This is surprising because her only defense against the elements are a bra and the smallest pair of female underwear ever conceived.

Perhaps his disinterest stems from the fact that clothing on women is somewhat of an anomaly here. Or maybe he just really likes surfing stories.

Either way, the music continues to play to the rhythmic movements of the woman onstage.

Her swaying varies from fast to slow.

The tattoos on her arms shimmer underneath the swirling spotlights.

Her rustled blonde hair whips around as she spins on the golden pole.

Occasionally, she raises her eyes and leans in to whisper to the man watching her. Her words are known only to him. A little secret they share. He smiles with a closed mouth.

He’s a big man. His head connects to his shoulders, bypassing any discernible neck.

His flat-billed baseball cap rests lazily on top of his enormous cranium.

She throws her head back laughing. Her hair flies wildly about her. As she calms her laugh to a seductive giggle, he stares at her with intense eyes, unmoving.

It’s hard to tell if he’s happy or not. His gaze is somewhat disturbing.

As she walks away, he stands and follows to the end of the catwalk, the little staircase and down the hall — another through the curtained doorway.

The next dancer takes the stage.

“How’s it going?” she says.

Her words cut through a break in the music.

The woman in the neon orange bra leans in as the music swells again and hides her voice within its undulations.

The man to whom she is speaking wears a black flannel jacket (despite the warmth of the room), a blue polo and jeans.

Beneath his mustache, his mouth is a beaming smile — all teeth.

He anxiously twists and folds a bill in his hands.

Its denomination dictates the value of the show he’ll get to enjoy.

It must be enough; sans neon bra, she leads him through the curtained doorway.

What happens beyond this mysterious, fabric barrier? What wonders reside therein?

For the right price, all may be revealed.

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