Dance With the Devil, April 2012

Part 1, by Marian of runaway sentence

He stood there, shivering, cursing himself and weaving just a little as a train rushed by behind him. Leather pants were not warm, he was learning just now. In fact, they seemed to embrace the cold like a beer coozie wrapped around an ice-cold PBR, and he was fucking freezing. This was what they meant when guys said they were freezing their nuts off, he guessed. They meant past-their-prime assholes in leather pants and cowboy hats standing on a train platform in fucking Boise, Idaho.

How did he get here? The better question was, assuming he had any capacity for self-reflection, how did he get to be such a laughable caricature of his former self? He could explain the bus from Reno to the three-week stint at the Oasis in Las Vegas, and the bus that had brought him to a gig in Boise that had brought him to his knees. But how had he crossed over, from Lord of the Dance to his gut overhanging tight leather pants, floundering around on the third-tier Vegas circuit?

What he needed was to go anywhere, away from the stage and the smack and the skanks and the booze flowing in the motel rooms of his flabby existence. Forever Dancing In Our Hearts, still, and vomiting in your bed if you get too close. He tugged his wan blonde hair from its ponytail in the hopes that it might warm the back of his neck just a little. Fingering a knot, pulling it through, his hand found the spot under his formerly white, long-ago starched collar where the skin still throbbed with the burn of a thousand needles. Man, you know you’re on a bad trip when you find yourself with a new tattoo and no memory of getting it.

The train approached, slowly, his train to anywhere. Truly, this train was headed to New York City by way of every mofo train station in between, so he could go wherever he fancied. At least it felt that way, having found a one-way train ticket to NYC tucked in amongst the tubes and tiny bottles of the ziploc bag that doubled as his dopp kit. Like the obtuse tattoo, he did not remember procuring the ticket, and he sure as hell knew he couldn’t afford to buy it himself. But it was gonna get him on this train to parts East, and so he was grateful for it. Very grateful. Epic gratitude, even.

As he boarded the train, he weaved again and had to grasp a pole to steady himself. He closed his eyes and felt the train start to move. Opening his eyes again, he was instantly struck with a feeling of deja-vu, a weird feeling in his stomach that was not pleasant at all. What on earth had happened? It was like the scene had shifted and he was somewhere else, on a different train, in different surroundings, with people who looked dated, somehow. This had been a crazy couple of days, for sure. Now what was going to happen?

“Young man, there’s a seat here. Would you like to sit down?” He looked around, and then realized that the elderly gentleman with the briefcase was addressing him.

“Huh, me?” His voice came out high and squeaky.

“Yes, young man. You should sit. It’s a good many hours to Wichita.” Wichita? He shuffled toward the seat just past the man, aware that his feet fell lightly on the sticky floor. Looking down, he noted black shoes with flames on them, white knee socks, and knobby knees above that.

He sat, completely discombobulated. What the hell had he taken that was lasting this long? The tattoo, the train ticket, now hallucinations on the train. It was going to be a long, strange trip, as they say.

“Why are you headed to Wichita, young man?” The older man peered at him, making him feel uncomfortable, though he couldn’t put a finger on exactly why. He shrugged back at the man and looked down, noticing for the first time the heavy three-ring binder he carried, black naugahyde with a ballet-shoes logo on the front.

“Looks like I’m going to the Mid-West Dance Champions Series Two Conference.” He opened the binder and something clicked in his brain.

Part 2, by Lance of My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

Her legs were long and athletic, like the kind he’d stare at when he watched the Olympics on television. The way she moved on the dance floor looked like horses running a steeplechase. Her body was precise, wheels in perfect motion, and he’d stand against the mirrored practice floor admiring her bends and dips.

“You’re the only man who looks at me likes he cares for my dancing as well as what I might be like in bed.”

That was the first damn thing Myra Valentine, the dancing pride of Cherry Creek, Colorado, ever said to him. Three hours of practice, with sweat coming out of every pore of their overworked bodies, and she just threw it out. He was disarmed, turned on, and challenged.
They both came from nowhere and it was bound to throw them together. Practice, competition, eating dinner out of a box in a car three hours later than everybody else then they’d end up in each other’s bed.

Most mornings after their nights together in some cheap motel, Myra would get up as the sun yellowed over their room and stretch, stark naked, working out the muscles in her thighs, calves, and butt. He’d turn on whatever clock radio or music playing device they’d have in the room and they’d warm up together. Her eyes were blueish green, like Florida sea water, and she’d guide their dance movements by rolling them from left to right and back again. Myra Valentine was about dancing and sex and he agreed with every bit of it. Then one morning, dancing naked and the vodka from the night before still tapping her brain, she asked the question that changed everything.

“You ever think about a real life, you know, teaching or running a studio, having kids, and being normal. Whatever the fuck that is?”

His reaction was pathetic, like he should have just left the room and never looked back, but he was just as drunk, and twice as dysfunctional.

“This is the life. We’re out of cigarettes. You want anything.”

The wail of the train brakes and the upward motion of his body thrown into the seat in front of him pissed him off. Trains made him pissed off all the time, real dance champions flew in planes, he selfishly thought.

Looking down at the naugahyde binder, he turned back to page fourteen and saw Myra Valentine’s legs, still long, still athletic, and he wanted to see them naked in a motel room. Wichita might be better than he’d first thought, so he stood up and got the hell off the train.

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