The beat of the subway was so pervading that Daphne turned off her i-pod and listened to the train rattle like an appreciative music critic. They were above ground, going over the river from Manhattan into Brooklyn and the train car was swaying with wind and movement and keeping such excellent time that the image of James Brown crept into Daphne's mind. He used to cut five dollars off of his band's salary every time they went off rhythm. There would be no deductions on this N train. Get up off that thing, she thought. Dance till you feel better.
Outside the subway Daphne pulled the jacket around her neck. It was cold, the kind of cold that she liked. It energized her, as if she needed energy. There was a buzz in the back of her brain that she new would require a sacrifice of dancing, drinks, drugs, loud music, and she was feeling particularly fervent. The whole night felt holy. She wasn't religious, but she believed in the confluence of forces, the invisible movements of the world, the rivulets and streams of energy that occasionally found each other and turned into a river, a rapids, a forceful flow that was undeniable. Maybe it was rhythm, aligning ones internal movements with the beat of the world. Whatever it was, it was there, then, in the moment, and when Stacy came down when Daphne rang her apartment bell she could see in Stacy's eyes that she felt it too.
The two walked down the small street, their feet in step, their asses shaking in that way that they knew drew stares. They didn't talk because they didn't have to. Stacy pulled out a packet of cigarettes and Daphne bummed one. They lit the tobacco sticks without their pace faltering. Daphne had quite three months ago, but Stacy didn't question this indiscretion. It was one of those nights, and more likely than not they'd be doing a lot of things tonight they'd previously swore would never happen again.
In the bodega the two prowled the aisles, stocking up on ammunition. Sugar, caffeine, cigarettes, gum. They shared a pizza bagel to fuel their stomachs. Onward.
Their heels clicked staccato on the sidewalk. Janice was waiting outside the club. Now the trio was complete. Inside they went, giving the bouncer a nod and slinking past the line. They put their coats in coat check, the small fee well worth the not having to think about their possessions. Tonight wasn't for thinking. Tonight was for instinct.
The music was loud, its bass line vibrating Daphne from within like a second heartbeat. She pulled her shoulders in, collapsing her chest, causing her back to pop. She rolled her shoulders back, posturing herself for the hunt. She caught the eye of a man near the bar. His hair was styled, but not overly so, not in so obnoxious or typical a way as most of the men here. He wore a suit whose purple color was so dark it almost looked black, with a bright red interior lining that shone in the instances it caught light. His eyes were dark and his smile was cold but inviting. Walking towards him she shamelessly adjusted her bra from the front of her low-cut shirt, further accenting her already displayed cleavage. The man had the bartender waiting by the time she arrived. She didn't make him wait, telling him her order before he even asked. He tried asking her name, but she shook her head. She took his hand and held it flat and level with his collar bone. Find the rhythm of the music, she told him. When he didn't understand, she took his hand in hers and bounced it up and down in the air to the rhythm of the music. She let go and the man continued keeping the rhythm. The girl nodded along with the bouncing hand and the pulsing music. When her drink came the man reached into his pocket with one hand and fished out a credit card and kept the other in time. Daphne raised the glass to him, then emptied it in one smooth go, never breaking eye contact. When she finished she placed the glass back on the bar. The man had watched her intently and his hand was now off time. Daphne reached up and took his hand again, reestablishing the beat. Then she took his hand and lowered it slowly onto her hip, which was now pulsing in time as well. The man's hands slid down over Daphne's ass and she moved in closer, her mouth now just below the man's ear at the joint of his jaw, her favorite place on a man's body. She got close enough that her breasts touched his chest, her hips moved against his, her lips grazed his stubble. She wanted to grab him, pull him onto her, lick him, suck on his ear lobe, whisper dirty, demanding orders into his ear. She calmed herself down. There was an order to this, there was a musicality to be obeyed, a crescendo to build to. A cheap denouement would leave her strung out the next morning, itchy, raw and unsatisfied as a glutton after an appetizer.
Instead she snaked two fingers into two belt loops and pulled herself close, feeling the weight of herself against him, feeling him push back, feeling her face nuzzling all the way up his in a provocative, unearned intimacy, and then she was away, out onto the dance floor.
This was the reason they came here, the three women. It was one of the few places left where you could actually get out on the floor and dance, free and easy. The boys knew here, they were informed somehow. Wherever else they went they were constantly accosted, men easing up to them, unwanted and yet assurance of a written invitation. They were despised, they were rejected, and yet they also seemed omnipresent. Here, however, they were respected. They were assessed correctly, viewed to be women apart, the three of them gathering in the center of the dance floor, together in a triangle of unabashed feminine unity. It was never cheapened with insincere displays of bisexuality-chic. They never danced on each other, for each other, or for anyone else. They danced with each other, truly with each other. They were a trinity, simple and pure. The only interruptions allowed were offerings to the slinky, swerving demigods in the form of alcohol and, on occasion, recreational chemicals.
The union was only broken by one of its own members. Stacy was the first to go, gliding over to a stocky businessman in a nice suit who looked five years beyond the expiration date for a place like this. Daphne watched and laughed, constantly amused by Stacy's fascination for such men. She said it was their desperation she loved, their wild clawing, grabbing veracity as they tried to retain the slightest hold on youth. You will never find a more eager and attentive lover, Stacy had told Daphne. Be that as it may, thought Daphne, rolling her eyes and her attention turning away from Stacy and the businessman and back to the music. She didn't even notice Janice grab a young hipster with tight jeans and a laughable haircut and begin working him over, moving a leg between his, rubbing her thigh against his crotch so hard that he visibly shuddered. Daphne kept moving, kept striving for that moment where her mind would divorce itself from her body, her natural prowess taking over. It was close, it was so close and it was all she wanted. Drink after drink came and went, her body warm with alcohol and movement, a glistening layer of sweat making her entire form shine under the flashing lights. She was on her own now, but never without a partner. She moved around the floor, taking on whoever was available; man, woman, older, younger, she took them all on. She didn't touch them, she barely looked at them, but she connected with them, and for a moment the room was just the two of them, then it was off to another partner. A trail of electric sensuality followed her, making a circuit around the dance floor. In her wake was a frenzied mass of clustering partnerships, men and women reaching out in headless desire to fill the void created when she'd gone.
Abruptly she stopped. In front of her stood the man with the cold smile. Though no longer a storm of movement Daphne's body still gyrated in small little eddies along with the music. The man saw, and with his hand flat at the level of his collarbone he matched Daphne's movements. She gave a broad smile that poked out from behind her damp strands of hair that hung unruly and primal around her face. She moved her head so that the man's hand ran a long trail down her face, her neck, her shoulder. Standing straight in her high heels she was a strikingly tall woman. Eye to eye with the man she breathed in his breath, followed his eyes with hers, moved her body with his, waiting to see where he would go, what liberties he might try and take. His hand hovered at her shoulder, unsure of where to go. Daphne snaked her hands underneath his arms, between his shirt and his jacket. She ran her hands up his back, feeling the sweat sticking to his shirt, noting his muscles and broad shoulders. Her hands climbed out of the neck of jacket, weaving their fingers into the man's hair. She held him close with her arms, keeping his head at a distance from hers. She knew he wanted to kiss her, but no. She moved with him in slow, simple movements. She put her head on his shoulder, like she was slow dancing at a high school prom. Her mind was still present, unrelenting in its insistence to shadow every moment with thought and analysis. She imagined that she held the man almost like a ventriloquist dummy, her arm up his back, her hand controlling her head. She thought of asking him a question, asking if she was the most beautiful girl in the room. She gave his hair a couple of tugs, causing his head to nod up and down, which made her giggle into the lapel of his jacket.
A hand pulled her away from her embrace by the shoulder strap of her shirt. Daphne didn't even need to turn around to know it was Stacy. She moved backwards, keeping her eyes on the man, giving him a parting smile and a wave as he watched her go, his cold smile growing a little colder.
Stacy dragged Daphne into the bathroom and through the door to the third stall in. Janice was already there, bouncing up and down in quick little movements, grinning from ear to ear.
"Wayne has coke," Stacy said.
"The business guy. Wayne. Has coke," Stacy repeated.
"It's really good," added Janice, still bouncing.
"I got him to give us some."
"You know he's going to want something for this," said Daphne, looking at the little white lines cordoned out on Stacy's compact mirror.
"Maybe he'll get it," said Stacy, winking.
"Well then..." Daphne took a rolled up dollar bill from Janice, bobbed her head down, took in two lines, then came back up.
"It's good," said Stacy, her eyes adjusting to the new chemical view.
"It's really good," said Janice.
"I fucking love businessmen," said Stacy, reappearing after taking a couple hits herself.
Back on the floor Daphne danced like a woman possessed. She positioned herself in the middle of the room because she wanted to take it all in. She wanted so much. She wanted someone to fall in love with her, she wanted more coke, she wanted a hostile take-over of the DJ booth, she wanted to fuck, she wanted to scream through the streets while shedding her clothes, she wanted two beers, one for each hand, and she told a boy as much. Moments later she stared down at the two beers in her hands. "These are the least of my concerns," she heard herself say out loud. She tipped her head back and held her arms above her, pouring both beers at the same time. The stream came steady into her mouth, sometimes splashing over the side, running down her neck and chest, dampening her shirt and cooling her skin. When she was done she simply held her arms out until someone took the bottles away. Her head remained staring at the ceiling, hypnotized by the lights, their movements and the patterns of their blinking, almost like a code, almost as though they were trying to tell her something.
She wasn't sure how long she'd been staring at the ceiling, long enough for someone to tap her on the shoulder and ask if she was all right. She assured him that she was fine, then worked her way over to a booth on the edge of the club. Beside her sat a boy, young, probably too young to be in here. He was looking at her, but clumsily trying to hide it. She wasn't sure what it was, the drugs in her system, the feel of the music, the hypnosis of the lights, but for some reason in that moment the sexiest, most arousing thing she could imagine was a shy wallflower guiltily attempting to look down her shirt. She feigned an interest in something on the other side of the club, giving him plenty of room to look, then turned her head quickly, catching him in full stare. The boy turned away, but Daphne held her gaze. After a moment the boy's eyes darted over, feeling Daphne's stare, finding her eyes still holding strong onto his. This time he didn't look away. Daphne brought a hand up to her neck, then casually flicked one of her shirt straps off her shoulder. It fell, and took some of her shirt front with it, exposing a generous portion of her breast. The boy tried to keep his focus on her eyes, but Daphne could see them being pulled towards her exposure. She moved a hand across the boy to touch the side of his face, then grabbed his neck and pulled herself over on top of him. She took one of his hands and pulled it up to her breast, placing it underneath the shirt. His hand felt cool and thrilling on her warm body. She was worried that he would remain tentative, but the hand gripped her firmly, kneading her breast, playing with her nipple, pawing at her in a way that turned her on, like a man in need. Daphne kissed the boy, a slow, languid kiss. At first the boy brought up his other hand to handle the remaining breast, but quickly placed his arms around her, wrapping her in an embrace. Suddenly she felt trapped, pulled in, too enclosed. She backed away slightly and looked down at the boy. His eyes plead with her, his body moved underneath her, his hands pulled at her. Then her hands were pulling at him to, pulling at his belt, pulling down his zipper, reaching inside his pants and grabbing hold of his cock. The boy's movements stopped and he froze. He already felt out of his league, this was entirely beyond him. Daphne took his cock out of his pants and began stroking it slowly, secretly, not letting any of the people around them see the game she was playing. She admired the boy's penis in her hand. She liked penises, and this one was surprisingly nice. She held it in position with one hand, then turned around on his lap so that she faced outward. She reached another hand underneath her skirt, pulled her g-string over to the side, then put the boy inside her.
It felt incredible. It felt right. She stared out at the crowd, probably two hundred people or so dancing, moving, forgetting their lives for a few hours and letting go. She felt the boy's cock move inside her as she worked her pelvis, angling him just right so that he hit her spot exactly. Regardless of its utility in this particular instance, this was one of her favorite positions. The warm, flushed feeling of a good fuck began to overcome her, putting her squarely in her own body, and yet she also felt apart from herself, a part of the mass, the whole, the organism of the moment. She looked around the room and felt that it wasn't just her. The music had risen and taken everyone with it. They were moving as one now, the crowd had found the rhythm, the rhythm she'd been looking for all night. She turned back to the boy. "On the count of three, we're standing up," she said.
"What?!" the boy asked, knocked out of his foggy head of sex.
"On the count of three I'm standing up, and if you still want to have your cock inside me, you'd better stand up right along with me, got it? One… two… three."
The boy caught her drift and pushed himself up crotch first, keeping himself inside her. Thank god she'd worn heels, she thought. Her hips were at the right height to keep the boy inside her, and now they were standing, his cock still deep inside her. She put his hands on her hips and had him follow her closely out a few paces so they were at the edge of the dance floor. Then she began to move her hips, side to side, back to front, what would appear to the casual observer as simple grind, unless they looked closer. Unless they saw the back of her skirt hiked up a little too far. Unless they saw the distinct lack of space or movement between them. Unless they took their eyes off the girl's mesmerizing movements and noticed that the boy looked as though he was working extraordinarily hard to hold something back. And someone did notice. In the midst of her sexual throes Daphne caught eyes with the man with the cold smile. He was staring at her, a look of hurt mixed with disgust had taken over his previously cool exterior. Daphne smiled at him. Did he think that she was his? Did he think he was irresistible, that there was only one logical choice for a girl like her in a place like this? Did he think that she wouldn't take exactly what she wanted, or had he just assumed that she could only want him? Whatever he had thought, he had been wrong. If he could only see what she saw, if he could only feel the desire to become caught up in the moment, to give over to the unpredictability, the wild tide of the music. But he couldn't, and now he was livid with cheap emotions that he'd purchased on credit and been unable to cover, no matter how big his bank statement. She leaned back, nuzzling her face in the space right below the boy's ear, her space, and whispered an order to him to look at the man to his left, the man who was watching them, the man who was red with jealousy and thought he should be the one to fuck her. When the boy saw the man with the cold smile Daphne felt his cock get even harder inside her. "I chose you," she whispered to him. "Show him why."
The boy throbbed within her. She knew he would come soon, and looked out to the crowd. Perhaps it was her own body building to climax, but as the boy made his final thrusts into her she felt the whole room come together, felt them all reach out to each other, felt the lights brighten and the music become pure until it was no longer coming out of speakers but of themselves, out of the desire to give over to the rhythm, until finally, with his arms wrapped around her from behind, one across her chest and one across her waist, the boy pushed himself deep inside her and came. Feeling his semen coat her insides pushed her over the edge and Daphne's last thought was a thankful prayer that the boy had been holding onto her so tightly as the lights blurred into soft hues and her knees buckled beneath her in consciousness-shattering orgasm.
When it was over, when she had finally come down, the boy had already withdrawn himself and redone his pants. He was trying to say something but Daphne couldn't hear it, didn't want to hear it, and simply leaned over to kiss him on the cheek and then walked away. She stumbled into the bathroom and walked into the stall, the same stall that had previously been their little drug den. She pulled out a bit of toilet paper and pulled up her skirt, staring down at the trail of cum that had started to dribble down her leg. She smiled to herself, wishing she could hug the inventor of the pill. Hopefully she'd be feeling the same about the inventor of the STD screening she'd have to schedule soon, but that was for another day. For the moment she felt beautiful, ethereal. She wished the people at her job could see her now, fucked and filthy in a bathroom stall wiping the semen of a man whose name she didn't know off of her leg. This was how she felt all day, wanting to ask her boss if he had any idea how far his head had worked its way up his own ass, wanting to punch that bitch in accounting in the face, wanting to pull delivery men into utility closets and go down on them, wanting to take that bullshit muzac off the office speakers, throw on The Clash and break some shit, wanting to set fire to the photocopier and make it an altar to a pagan god where they would sacrifice their five year plans and phone etiquette manuals.
In the club the music had changed. It wasn't doing it for her anymore, her rhythm had altered. One demon had been appeased, there were more to go. Stacy wanted to stay with her businessman, so the trio became a duo as Daphne and Janice left the club. On the street Daphne pulled a cigarette from her bag and lit up with her cheap Bic lighter, breathing the smoke deep inside her. She held it for a minute before exhaling. Time to change the rhythm, she thought. Time to get that new beat, something darker, something smokier.
As she began to walk away she heard a voice calling out from behind her. She and Janice turned and saw the man with the cold smile coming after them.
"Thought you could get away?" said the man, jogging to them. Daphne smiled with the cigarette loose between her lips.
"Other songs to sing, my friend," she smiled, then turned and continued to walk. The man reached out and grabbed her arm. Daphne pulled but he held tighter. She turned to face him, her smile fading.
"I've got a nice record collection back at my place, we could go there, do some of that dancing you like so much," he said, his eyes barely hiding the menace that crept out underneath the tone of his voice. "You could even bring your friend along." The man looked at Janice. "She like to dance too?" Janice shot him a look of contempt. The man kept his smile.
"Look, buddy, we're heading out, so why don't you just let go of my arm, go back inside and find some other nice lady to creep out."
Daphne tried to walk away but the man pulled her back. "Hey, asshole," said Janice. "You don't stop this bullshit we'll get some cops involved."
"You try anything like that and neither of you are going to be this pretty for long." Daphne saw Janice grow more confused and scared by the second. She saw the man leer at her in a way she had never been leered at before. Only moments ago everything had been so good, had aligned so well, and now she felt frightened and alone. There was danger here, she felt it in her stomach. It was a sickness she'd felt before, a familiar nausea that she couldn't quite place.
"I don't like being played around with," the man was saying. "It makes my blood just fucking boil. And when my blood boils, I need someone to cool it down, ease that pressure, you understand me?"
"Sure, I understand you," said Daphne, talking through clenched lips to keep the cigarette from falling to the ground. The man noticed and grabbed the cigarette from her lips.
"So what's it going to be?" asked the man. Daphne stared at the cigarette in his hand. She placed the nausea. It was the same pain she felt when she was talked down to at work, when she was belittled by her boss or condescended to by the men in her office or when she was the particular focus of the ever-circulating gossip pool at work. It was that feeling of helplessness she carried with her all through the week. It was the feeling that drove her here in the first place. She felt the rhythm return to her head. A new rhythm. A dark rhythm.
"Why not?" she said.
Janice balked. "What, are you crazy?" she yelled. "This guy's a psycho!"
"I'm always up for a little fun," said Daphne, giving the man a sly smile. "Of course I am, a girl like me." She mover her free arm to his hip, grabbing his ass. "Fuck going all the way to your place, why don't we just do it in the alley down the block?"
"Dirty little slut," the man smiled. "Why not?" The man began leading her down towards the alley. "See you soon," the man said as he passed Janice, giving her a wink. Daphne caught Janice's eye and mouthed the words "get a cab," putting up her hands to signal "wait." Janice nodded, still somewhat dazed.
In the alley the man pulled Daphne behind a dumpster. Daphne reached her hands down and grabbed the man's cock through his pants. The man moaned, then undid himself and pulled out his cock. Daphne began stroking it hard.
"Oh yeah," said the man. "Let's do it. Come on, let's fuck."
"Uh uh, baby," said Daphne, increasing her speed. "You know I like to tease, don't you? You know why I do it?" The man shook his head, not really paying attention. "I do it cause I like getting you riled up. I want you to get all hot and bothered so that you fuck me as hard as you can. That's what a tease is all about, right?"
"I knew it," said the man, his head tilted back in pleasure. "I knew you wanted it, you little whore."
"Oh I do," she said, getting down on her knees. She put her face right next to his cock, continuing to jerk him off. Her other hand reached into her purse and pulled out her lighter. "I don't just want your blood to boil, baby." She reached her hand up behind him, positioning the lighter at the bottom of the man's untucked silk shirt. "I want you to burn." Her thumb flicked the lighter twice, and then the shirt caught fire. It spread up and out, setting the jacket on fire as well. Daphne crouched beneath the flames, pulling the still-lit Bic around front to quickly set the man's pubic hair on fire, then backed away.
The man was screaming, attempting to pat himself out. That failing he struggled to take off the jacket, but the shirt itself was still on fire, melting into the man's skin. He started to run to the street but Daphne stuck her leg out, causing the man to trip and collapse against the dumpster. On her feet now Daphne watched as the man scrambled to find footing in the slick alleyway. Daphne raised her leg and brought it down hard, driving her heel deep into the man's calf. His scream grew louder as he writhed on the ground, caught between trying to put out the remains of the flames and attending to the puncture wound on his calf that now bled profusely. Daphne took the man's leg and dragged him into a large puddle of stagnant rainwater, putting out the fire. The man lay there, his upper body severely burnt, his calf bleeding. He curled into a ball, his body shaking with shock.
"Don't get up," Daphne said. "Someone'll come get you. And when they do I want you to remember what little girls like me are capable of. I want you to tell all your asshole friends. Because I'm going to start carrying around a can of lighter fluid, and then next one of you that gets lit up, I ain't putting out, you hear me?"
Back out on the street Daphne took out a cigarette and lit it. She saw Janice waiting in a cab down the block. As she made her way there she passed two college kids walking out of the club. "Hey, I think I heard some guy getting mugged or something in the alley over there, could you guys check it out or call the cops or something?" The guys said sure and went to check it out. Daphne got in the cab.
"I was about to call the cops!?" said Janice. "What the hell happened?"
"No smoking in the cab, please!" yelled the driver.
"I've got a permit," said Daphne, pulling down her shirt and showing the driver her tits.
"Do as you like," said the driver, putting the car in gear.
"Did you actually fuck that guy?" asked Janice.
"Just put out his fire," said Daphne. Janice wanted to ask more questions, but didn't. Daphne cracked the window open and let her smoke waft out into night. She leaned her head against the glass and shut her eyes, listening to the thumping of the tires on the pavement, heading through a straight shot of green lights, pounding out a rhythm, dark and expectant.