Stories

Strip Club Train Station – Dale Brett

*****

     We are all actors. This is what we know. We aspire to be other versions of ourselves. Looking down at ourselves and hoping, wishing we were someone else. Anyone else. Anything else but what we are. We want life to be like a sequence of Instagram images. We crave a carefully constructed reality that doesn’t exist and never will. I am at the strip club train station tonight. I feel like I am Bill Murray’s character in Lost in Translation, waiting for my Charlotte/Scarlet to show up so we can go to karaoke. I don’t really want to be here, I would rather someone whisk me away. But I know that won’t be happening. I will remain here, alone, staring into the void of beautiful pussies until I decide to leave and become conjoined with the streets of ice again.

     The strip club train station is not called that. I don’t know the name of it, but this is what I termed it. I found out about it when a wealthy buddy from Chicago met up with me while he was on a weekly sojourn to Japan. Being a stock broker, he and his sick mineral water imbibing Patrick Bateman crew knew all the gaudy tricks. You entered a slim building in the red-light district and, as you do in Japan, dive into a tiny elevator to ascend to a space that is astoundingly different to what one envisions from the façade. There is a small reception area, nothing spectacular, at first. Past the diaphanous curtains though, once you slip through the wet membrane of this bounded area, lies an exact replica of a metro train carriage. When I say exact, I don’t mince the mayo. The seats, the handrails, the hanging straps – it was all there. Full formation. Solid, not gelatinous. My lurid compatriot from Chicago even went so far as to say it was a real carriage that had been decommissioned, deconstructed and somehow re-compiled in this seventh-floor high-rise building in the red-light district. To add to the simulacrum, there is a soundtrack that accompanies the carriage. The soundtrack has been compiled from recordings taken from trains moving between stations. Joints squeaking and jostling, brakes retching and shuttering, hydraulics hissing and suffering. For a large price, that’s if you’re super-pasta-creepy, you can pay to grope the replica of a real- life Japanese school girl in a real-life setting. Art mimicking life. A safe space for the cosmopolitan city’s chikan purveyors. A space to act out their fantasies without losing face, without guilt forcing them to jump in front of the next speeding carriage that looks exactly the same as the one the act is committed in.

     That was all a little too morbid for me, perhaps interesting as a sociological experiment for my affluent American friend, but not for everyone. After all, I didn’t want to act out some absurd fetish fantasy, I was only here because I felt a little lonely. Same as usual, same as always. Luckily for me, there was a more cost-effective and less disturbing room behind the facsimile carriage. This space wasn’t even really a room, it was a kind of miniature butterfly house and garden. It was basically a normal strip club, except women danced on podiums obscured by living ferns and vines. It was a pornographic green house for the down and out and disheartened. Butterflies would flit about, casually landing on the exposed flesh of the employees, images of mesmerising vibrant wings contrasted against the soft honeyed skin of the nubile hosts. To add to the already bizarre setting, the space was tiny. Only two girls and two clients could fit inside at any one time. It was like being in one of those miniscule aquariums for Siamese fighting fish, the ones they sell at the pet shop that invoke sadness, the beautiful creature dancing hypnotically in a diminutive mass of water. The whole thing was immaculate. It was a microscopic Eden on steroids. As time went on, I developed a dreary addiction to the contaminated plants and emotional trip wires of this exotic memory garden.

     Tonight, I wait in line with the rest of the fallen warriors, slurping up the aroma of cheap suits reeking of rice-based liquor. There is always a line, but I’m happy to wait. I need a fix from the confines of the locket terrarium. I want to breathe in the rotten air of the perverted masses and hold it tightly, let it marinate in me until I am dizzy and can’t go on. This will maximise the ecstasy of the moment when I enter the crystal-encrusted chamber to experience the divine. The stagnant breath of society temporarily vanquished when I fall under the spell of the vivarium queens. Only then will I be released from this version of reality. Version3.7, the most recent software update. It hasn’t made things better. There are still several bugs and glitches that need to be overridden. I need to hold steadfast though as subsequent versions may never come. The development team responsible for system improvements to my soul have come to an oppressive halt.

     It is now my turn. I enter the hot-box. The air consumes me. The gossamer leaves caress my turbid form. Shades of emerald, neon-green infect my sight. Trails of pulsating violet beguile my core. I am an insect stuck in the treacle of a tropical pitcher plant. I hear the dim intimation of vaguely tribal music. I get high off the sap that lines the calyx as her nebulous form begins to dance. Taken completely in by the host’s waxy scales and cuticular folds, every aqueous move ensures I cannot climb out of her infinite pitcher. And I don’t want to. I am content to die here. Asphyxiated by the beauty of her lunate cells. Mesmerised by my very own mandatory glass serpent.

     Our figures move in rhythm. My skin is gently provoked by her inward and downward pointing retrorse hairs. Her skin is dewy and warm. I am being drowned in amniotic fluid. My body is gradually being dissolved. Protruding aldehyde crystals shimmer down on my shoulders, my back, like stars being shaken from the sky. I look up through the noxious canopy clouds arrested with her eyes. They tell stories of coral patterns in lunar tides. Our bodies moving, life and landform loops glowing outside of time, I become submerged by the waves of her crescendo. It is time for my private moon to rise.

     There is a crystal hymn transmission reverberating in my hollow bones. The urge to terraform my body is avid, real. To submit and become another victim of the passive pitfall of carnal desire. This is what I am doing. Engorging myself on water saturated enzymes secreted from the hairy purple-white striped lid, the tone comes at me in sonar whitecaps. Her movement modifying the hostile atmosphere as the dancing and music swells, grows increasingly faster. I yearn to be ever- transformed. As the jungle dance reaches its conclusion, my inner topography becomes entirely warped. My time is up. I blink and wipe away the sweat. I bat several incandescent butterflies out of my line of sight as I wobble towards the terminus, my deepest cavity filled with hot liquid.

     I push my way through the lengthy line-up of odds and sods awaiting the temptations of the Goddess’ greenhouse. I pass the gauzy curtain to exit the strip club train station and don’t look back. My pants are wet and soiled. I descend floors, numbed and electrically-charged. When the elevator reaches street level, I practically collapse. Head whirling, I tilt it to take in the pantheon of flashing lights. Translucent ghosts bathed in the glow of faux neon signs approach me from both sides. Like them, I must force myself to begin to walk. Aimless, directionless, motionless. Somewhere. There’s somewhere I’ve just gotta go. I stop at the entrance to the nearest metro station. There are no stars or darkness in the sky. It is apparent this reality doesn’t exist. We are all actors, but not the Bill Murray kind. The skin of our faces represents a mask. Clinging to whatever surface it can adhere to in order to slip by.