I’ve always liked it dirty. Dirt under my nails, grease on my knuckles and blood streaming from my nose. I guess that’s why I ended up working at a strip club. I’m no Patrick Swayze, so I worked behind the bar. The pay was shitty, the clientele were even worse, but the girls were sweethearts. They called me Daddy, ironic as I was at least 7 years younger than most of the dancers, and their constant flirting gave me a complex. I drank so much coffee to stay awake during the odd hours of the night that as soon as I left work all I wanted to do was crash. Too bad my neighbor didn’t understand the meaning of sleep.
I lived in an illegal basement apartment in East Boston. My neighbor was always making noise. Not the unf-unf-unf of a good lay, but the bang-krzzt-ziiiip of electrical tools and saws. I didn’t own a TV, so instead of reaching for my dog-eared copy of Bukowski’s Women, I reached for a pen and started to write in my journal. There was something inspiring about the streaming hammering, but maybe it had more to do with the pints I’d downed at work than a creative frenzy enhanced by an amateur’s constant commotion. I woke up with ink on my face, drool pooling around the few lines I’d managed to get down before passing out. It was going to be a long day. My neighbor was already at it. It was noon and I was supposed to be at work in a couple hours. I decided to dig deeper. I needed to know what he was doing in there for all those months. It was something that plagued my mind while I poured beers and ignored the thrash metal the girls favored for today’s pop hits. I didn’t get it, but it wasn’t my job to be the creative director to a couple of girls past their prime.
I wanted to fall back asleep, so instead, I walked down Saratoga to grab a Dunks. Black and hot like God intended. It jolted me instantly. I craved a shower, but my landlord wasn’t home, so it would be day 3 of Axe deodorant overkill. It was the only stuff strong enough to mask my scent: coffee, cigarettes and desperation for laundry quarters.
I knocked on my neighbor’s door. Why not? I was a friendly guy in need of a shower. The sawing stopped, heavy footsteps brought him to the peephole.
“Who is it?”
It was a woman. Too easy.
“Hi, my name is Todd. I was wondering if…”
She opened the door before I finished my sentence.
“Come in, come in.”
She was dressed in a scuba suit, fins slapping the carpet, as she led me into her apartment. It was bare except for a yellow kayak, and a five foot long aquarium full of exotic fish. She must have caught me staring, because she gestured and said, “My babies.”
I was starting to have second thoughts, but she cut me off.
“The bathroom is in there. No shower, huh? That used to be me. Please, use.”
English wasn’t her first language, but I couldn’t tell where she was from and I liked that. I liked a little mystery with my women and she certainly had me going with the wetsuit. I quickly surveyed the place before stepping into the bathroom. I knew I wouldn’t be long.
I jerked off in the toilet in under five minutes, took a shit and then hopped in the shower. Her bathroom was full of fancy soaps and I managed to use every single one in attempt to rid myself of stink. I toweled off and got dressed in the same clothes I’d been wearing for the past week. When I stepped out of the bathroom, she was wearing nothing but a pair of swim fins on her feet and holding a harpoon.
“Want to fuck?”