Dear Catastrophe

I wrote this short story long ago. Re-edited it since the other short story isn’t done yet. I may cut this blog down to a M-W-F schedule. 5 times a week is kinda draining.

Dear Catstrophe

It was a typical day at the club. The cigarette smoke rose high and anticipation rose even higher. Everyone hurried and got their drinks and headed towards the front. They didn’t want to miss a single second of the show. They all knew what was coming and by the perverse grins gracing their faces, they knew it was going to be good. Friends and old chums guzzle down their beers and clink the bottles together as a salute to the spectacle they are about to witness. The lights of the dingy hovel dim. Cheers from the masses, encouragement from the darkness echo throughout the walls of their hallowed grounds. That was all she needed, that and the right choice of music. The bass started to rumble. It was pumping into the ears of the attentive drunkards. It energized them. It turned their cheers into howls of adoration. She takes her first step onto the stage. She looks at her crowd, her fans, her audience.

As she steps up the stairs to the stage, her knees knock together in fear. She looks out and can hear the chatter of everyone. Each word holds heavy on her body like sand bags on her shoulders. But nonetheless, she takes step after step and leaves the trail of clacks as her high heels distinguish the stage. Her smile is deceiving in too many ways but her eyes, now that is her weakness. Inside, you can see the loss of childhood innocence. The type of innocence that is easy to fake but impossible to gain once lost. She struts her stuff on stage but she looks out to find a bit of humanity among her to no avail. She, at this moment, feels alone in the universe. While she’s keeping her audience preoccupied with the provocative position she has placed herself in while all she can think about is how she’s going to drink herself into a stupor when she gets back home.

A man throws a dollar coin at her. She graciously smiles while behind that smile of hers, she is imagining gouging his eye out with the damned thing. She’s not happy but you wouldn’t see it with the way she swings around that pole like a child on a playground. She does a final lap around the stage enticing the incompetents to drain their last bit of money into her pocket. With no success, she picks up her garb strewn on the stage. She bends down to pick up a brassiere covered in rhinestones and glitter and as soon as it touches her hand she feels a pinch. Embarrassed and insulted by the grab, she hurries into the back room. She cries her eyes out. She does it so much that it’s become routine for her. None of the other girls give it a second look. With mascara running down her face she gets dressed in her clothes and slings on her long black coat. She doesn’t want anyone to see anymore than she has to showoff.

The owner of the club sees her leaving and yells across the club, “Good job tonight!” She cringes on the inside but like before, puts on a happy face. She leaves through the back door so that she doesn’t have to face any of her “audience” again. She steps out into the alleyway. She unzips her purse and opens it. Her hand fumbles inside trying to find the pack of cigarettes that remained unopened for far too long. The pack finds her hand and she shreds the wrapping off. The paper slides in between her fingers and places it in her mouth. The filter puts the familiar taste in her mouth. The taste makes her want to vomit but it doesn’t matter, to her it is the sweetest thing she has had in long while. The lighter reaches the tip and it lights up like a child’s face on Christmas. She takes a drag and that is exactly what it does. It drags on and on. Sucking it deeper. She feels her lungs fill with the cancerous venom. Her mouth opens slowly to let the smoke out. She blows it out in one cathartic moment. She glances behind her to see a man with a cigarette looking directly at her.
“I saw you in the club.” The man said as he took a short puff.

“Oh…um…thanks.” She said shyly.

“It wasn’t a compliment.” He dropped his half finished cigarette and walked away. The woman swallowed the lump in her throat. She dropped the smoldering butt into a nearby puddle, only leaving the reminiscent lipstick mark on the filter.

A sign from across the street shone brightly. It was the sign of the local neighborhood liquor vendor. To her, that sign shone the brightest than any other sigh along the street. It was like a beacon to her. It called like the Siren’s Song. She trudged her way across the street and put her hand on the door to the vendor. A slight push and the door opened. The clerk that she had recognized from the night before and the night before that came to the front from the back room. He smiles as a formality. She smiles back as not to seem rude, as she does on the stage. She takes the same path as she always does and makes her way to her desired poison. She sighs and thinks, “Some things will never change.” A bottle of Absolut Vodka touches her hand. It feels cold as she brings it to the till.
“Hi. That all for ya?” the clerk said cheerily.

“Yes. That should be it.” She said as trying not to make eye contact. The bottle passes by the scanner and releases a little beep.

“So…um…I see you in here a lot and was wondering,” she thought to herself, ‘Here is comes.’ “Would you like to go to coffee or something…I dunno…sometime?”

That wasn’t what she was expecting. She looks up at him and their eyes meet. A tiny smile graces her face.

“I’m flattered but these aren’t good time for me, right now.” Her voice was quiet.

“Oh. Okay. Well, I hope things go better for you. If you change your mind I’m always here.”

“Thank you. I appreciate it a lot—“ She took a quick glance at his name tag. “—Wesley.

“Not a problem. I do what I can.” Wesley smiled his familiar warm smile, bagged the cold bottle, took her money and said his goodbyes.

She left the store and proceeded down the street to her apartment building. She approached the lifeless building with certain dismay as she searched for her keys and unlocked the front door. The old door creaked letting a squeal echo throughout the hallway as if it was an alarm to tell everyone that she was there. Quietly, the door creaked back into place once again. A man came out from his apartment and gave a look towards her and shook his head.
“My son, he say he see you at club again.”
“Yes. I was there, Mr. Popowicz.”
“Why you no find good job? Your mother, she must be disappoint.”
“You know that my mother is dead. I tell you that every time we have this discussion.”
“Your mother, she watch from above.”
“Somehow, I doubt it.”
“She there. Trust me. If you at that club again, my son, he tell me.”
“He shouldn’t be there anyways. It’s not a place for gentlemen.”
Mr. Popowicz waved his hand to tell her to go on down the hallways as he stepped back from the dirty hallways and into his apartment.
She reached her apartment door with the familiar ‘7A’ hung by small nails. Her hand guided the door open slowly. The light from the hallways filtered into her private living area. She closed the door behind her and then proceeded to lock the handle, then the padlock, and finally, the chain. She walked over to the couch and sat down and put the bottle on the coffee table. She curled up into a fetal position on the couch. Tears slowly formed in her eyes and she pressed her face into a throw pillow and screamed until all the air in her lungs was spent. She sat up with streams of tears along her face. Her shaky hand reached out for the bottle but she resisted. Suddenly, the alarm on her watch went off to tell her it was time to take her medication. She wiped the tears away and trekked to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. With trembling hands, she opened the cabinet and popped the lid to the pill bottle. She tapped out tow pills into her hand and slammed them back. One quick gulp later and they were gone but her feelings still lingered. More tears were forming. She could see the tears growing in her own eyes within the mirror. Faster and faster they were forming. Like rivers from her eyes, the flow, unstoppable. Anger soon overcame her and with a quick right jab she broke the mirror. Blood was pouring from her knuckles. She then noticed the pill bottle she had placed on the counter. Her hand was weak but still clutched it with an intense ferocity. She thought to herself how it didn’t matter anymore. With that last thought, she guzzled down the whole bottle of anti-depressants. Her walk was staggered as she made her way back to the couch. She viciously grabs the bottle from the coffee table and downs more that half of it. She then sat there waiting to die.

She thought of her life. Of happiness. Of desperation. She thought of everyone she has ever loved and even of the ones she said she did but truly did not. She thought of the man in the alley. Of Mr. Popowicz. And even Wesley. With disgust, she even remembered the darkness that she performed for, for much too long. She thought back to her childhood. How happy she was. Again, she thought of Wesley and how things could have been different if they had met differently. Finally, the darkness had caught up to her and with consciousness faded, she was gone.

The next day at the club, the stage seemed cold. Of all the time she spent on stage, it seemed now, that she was only a ghost before. They were witness to the murder upon that stage. A murder that took years of degradation to achieve. But the show must go on, and different woman stepped up on stage and any remorse that they have felt, lost in that instance. They cheered. Showtime.
At the liquor store, a man tried to buy the last bottle of Absolut Vodka. Wesley took it and said that he couldn’t sell it. After a few harsh words, the man left empty handed. As the night went on, Wesley got worried. There was no sign of her. It was dark out and closing time was nigh. He went to the door and looked out side in hopes that she’d be coming. He looked down the street. Then looked the other way. Not a soul to be seen. Never had the street looked so cold to him. Wesley sighed and closed the door. His hand motioned the lock closed. He reached up and pulled the rope. The bright ‘Open’ sign turned off. Wesley took the last bottle and kept it under the counter in the dark where no one could see it. He let out a sigh.
“Maybe she’ll be in tomorrow.”

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