“Lovers For Real” by Xtasorcery
Joey walked the gray streets of Mississauga, looking past the glassy colorful buildings, looking around with his enhanced eyes. He zoomed in on a couple having a verbal fight. The guy wanted an open relationship where he got to sleep around and play the field. She didn’t. He was good-looking — making their relationship unstable. She was mildly a looker, but nothing special. Joey truzoomed a little deeper. Yet, he loved her a little. Enough. She had captured her boy’s heart and just didn’t know how to use the lasso in her hand. Instead of a lasso, she was wielding a whip, which wasn’t effective in this case.
Joey looked over at a neon sign that suddenly turned on, blinding his Truzone Effect. When he blinked and cleared his eyes it was nighttime. People had been passing by him all that time. It was incredible to think. He just had been standing there in his early winter, Lake Ontario, five-lakes trenchcoat, hands in his pockets, and no one had stooped to ask Joey if he was alright. Anyway. What was this sign? He slid on hydrostatic wet sidewalk to the right, coming to a halt in front of
There was a picture of a gorgeous woman in a slinky black sheer bodysuit. Her eyes were closed and her mouth was slightly parted.
ONLY THE BEST WOMEN
TRUST US! COME ON IN!
ADMISSION FEE $15
Jon took out his debit card and ran it through the hands of a tall, severe-looking man with vacant brown eyes. The man nodded and stepped aside for Joey. Joey walked in.
There was good lightning here. Soft on the eyes, but as brilliant as could be. Joey shouldered his way through quite a crowd (this place had been open less than a week and word-of-mouth had gotten it this much already?) and found a seat right by the stage.
The stage was a giant hexagon in glossy black. There were four poles set far apart from the center. Joey hummed to the eurodance ’90s music that was playing on the wall. Snap!’s “Rhythm Is A Dancer” was coming through powerful quad speakers. Joey bounced his knees. Then the first dancer came out and it was lust at first sight.
He had to have her. She was the best-looking woman he had ever seen. She wore a pink sheer outfit that exposed only her legs. Her arms were sheer as well. Her hair was naturally reddish with freckles around her cheek muscles. She wore a sash that said BRITON. Cries of Whoo Briton take it off! were ignored by her. She raised her nose disdainfully, then slid to a pole and reached out one hand to wrap around it. She hunched down the pole then slid up.
Joey began to get the principle. The best looking women won’t strip for men. If you want to get a bevy of real heat, you have to reduce the porn and whoring aspect of dancing. Now that he remembered it, he glanced over at the white plastic sign over the women’s entrance point. It said:
EXOTIC DANCERS’ HOME
Not strippers. Exotic dancers. As Briton spread from pole to pole, dancing, head back, Joey appreciated how she didn’t touch her erogenous zones at all, especially not her chest. She was clearly a C-cup woman, and was wearing a sports bar to cut the jiggling to a minimum. Now she did the splits. Pushing herself up off the floor, she spun around. Joey reached into his wallet to extract a ten dollar bill for her to come crawling to him, then caught another sign over the bar:
DJ’S, WAITRESSES, OR DANCERS
Just then an Exotica waitress — a cute girl-next-door type (it seemed they all were that; dancers sexy, waitresses cute — the eternal divide) — came by to ask if he wanted something.
“A Coke in a tall glass with a slice of lime,” Jon said in his excellent radio jock-quality voice. “Who is that girl?” They were clapping now and Briton was retreating to EXOTIC DANCERS’ HOME’s black space.
The waitress smiled quirkily, adorably. “Oh, that? Briton? She’s new here. She’s what we call a ‘bomb’. She drops here, explodes, then in two weeks it’s like she’s gone, never to come back. She just needs the money for the redecoration of her apartment.”
“She moved into Pacific Palisades. It’s a nice end of the Dragon, though I prefer my Yaletown apartment. She’s got a 2-bedroom place with a study. Really nice, but she needed a cash infusion, fast, stat, so she signed up for this. I knew she’d be spectacular. She is spectacular,” the waitress said with a wistful sense of sisterly respect and near envy.
I want her, Joey thought, his fingers clenching the edge of the stage as the waitress weaved her way away and the music began thumping for the next exotic dancer on the lineup. Sexy, but no Briton.
There was a set of fire escape stairs — old ones — on the rear of the building. The metal was attached deep in the brick. Jon had jumped high, caught the lowest level of the metal platforms that zigzagged up and above, and knelt to his lower level. There was a rule that exotic dancers lived at the Exotica. When they were ready to depart, they got a small sack of gold coins and a small pink amethyst finger ring that testified to their sexiness. Like being in a club.
Joey could see the shadows of two girls above him, chatting in quiet voices. He walked up, wrapping his trenchcoat around himself like a raven himself. He’d learned from another waitress (who’d been making eyes at him) that Briton often shared smoke breaks with a girl who, unlike her, partook in the poison delight. Briton was a health freak, eating granola trail mix, eating lean chicken breast, and all that. Joey approved. He was on a paleo diet himself — that, plus the constant exercising — made him the male version of Briton.
Joey & Briton. There was even a rhyme to it. Beautiful.
He knew the club wouldn’t approve of what he was doing. There was a strict no-inclusion policy between customers and exotic dancers. Braver men than most had tried, and gotten banned for life, in addition to being thrown on their ass on the wet and slush-wet winter sidewalks of Dragon’s Ass. Tomorrow it would rain and the sidewalk snow futilities would vanish and the boys with hurt feelings would move on in their lives from the embarrassment — but Joey didn’t intend to lose. His hazel eyes looked sharply up, locked in and got an epiphany.
Briton doesn’t trust the girl. Mandy. Briton doesn’t trust Mandy one bit.
Then why was she talking to her?
There was a complex web of favors and half-forgotten gossips withdrawn in the gray shadows here. Mandy had a kind of hammerlock on Briton. Joey felt like just going up, kicking out his foot heel side on Mandy’s leg and watching her flip out effortlessly into open space. But no. He had done things like that in the past; no sense in selecting to go that violent way now. Besides, Briton would see Joey — and girls could be scared. He had the feeling this girl wouldn’t be (one of the spectacular personality features of her) but now was not the time to test that li’l theory.
Joey kept climbing. They were all 30 feet up now. Joey reached up the side edge of the upper platform and pulled himself up like a giant bird.
Mandy shrieked and clutched Briton. Briton moved to wrap her fur coat more tightly around herself.
Briton was standing with Mandy clutching her, the former wearing a loose too-small white mink coat with pink-dyed fox edges. She was a message in illegality. Hell, her body was illegal enough. Gently, but forcefully, pushing Mandy aside, Briton took a step back toward the door (she sensed this was about her) and questioned the air, “Do I know you?”
Joey came into the triangle of yellow accidental light spilling from that level of the Exotica building. “I’ve looked for you all my life.”
Briton bit her lower lip. “Am I supposed to say ‘I’ve waited for you all my life’?”
Joey blew out a breath. “Climb down the stairs to the street. The Street of Brokenhearted Dreams.”
Briton nodded a few times. Mandy ran inside. Briton reached back and grabbed her hair without really trying. “Keep it private, Mandy,” Briton insisted. “Don’t tell Mr. Big.”
When they reached the street, the Street of Brokenhearted Dreams, Briton tripped and fell into Joey’s arms. The sensation of soft furs and sheer skin-tight material made him get hard, but he turned his body away from her. Not out of embarrassment or to spare her feelings. He wanted to appear in control at all times. Not tight control, but commando-level control.
This was a 1-way street. It headed toward the 30-story blocks of Palisades and was several blocks east of Elite Vektor’s furthermost perimeters. The moon was not visible. Often, it seemed, the moon was hidden, while in summer the sun blazed clearly.
Perched on the rim of the Five Seas, the city was rich. Many immigrants came already established with money and connections. The newest ones crossed the ocean, the older ones crossed the continent. By railroad or plane, they came, and came, and came.
Joey’s background was as a punk kid from Calgary who fought his way up in life. He lived in a gray zone where nothing was clear about what was allowed and what you weren’t supposed to do. His truzoom allowed him to thrive where others fell by the wayside. It was some kind of mutation. In a world of 8 billion people, constantly turning over, with constant churn, you’d figure somebody would get it right, courtesy of nature. Joey was the first one — a Proof of Concept you might say.
Joey looked with his established eyes at this new variable. A girl.
She wasn’t scared of him. She knew her looks protected her. She was intrigued by him. And that was where the truzoom petered off. Three or four was typically as deep as he could go on one single thread with one separate person.
Holding her by the shoulders, Joey said in a low, sexy voice, “If I told you I loved you before I met you — like that sappy song — would you believe me?”
“Savage Garden,” Briton said, nodding her head — not to answer his question but to confirm the memory-jump in her own head.
“Chicks irritate me,” Joey said. “I might be able to keep one around on a leash if I could not be bored and put-off by them all. There’s something about you. Maybe most important, you know when to keep your mouth shut.”
As she proved now.
“I’ve dated more than anyone I know, and I give it time. Not a lot of time — there’s always the next girl to move onto — but time. Now answer me a question. Have you ever been satisfied with the guys you’ve dated? Answer honestly.”
Her replying voice was soft and she flicked her eyes away and down where a dead bird’s corpse had lain unnoticed during their entire talk. A dove.
“Neither have I,” Joey said. “Neither — have — I.”
He grabbed her by the arm and they began running — no, sprinting — through the city, down the Street of Brokenhearted Dreams, also known as Knifeedge Street, also known as . . .
Mr. Big’s Road.