Our fingers are entwined and I can feel his sweat in my palm. It’s hot and muggy today, and I need money. 

 

He wears an ill-fitting suit and a sad tie around a sloppy collar. A collar soaked in fresh cologne he pulled out of the glove compartment of his reasonably priced economy vehicle, probably in dark blue. He’s sprayed himself to cover the day’s leftovers, but there are tears in the mist, and the day seeps through. He smells old. 

 

His round eyes are behind his round glasses on his round face. His hair is even round, round about. I get an odd feeling from him. Him and his friends are awfully quiet, unnervingly quiet. A quiet posse.

 

He has taken my hand. He wants me to dance for him.  

 

We sit down in the little booth tucked to the side of the VIP room and he asks me my name. He smirks, like he has a secret. I give him a name to hide my other fake name, because, I know he has a secret. 

 

“Stephanie, what’s yours?”

 

“I’ll tell you my name later, I’m gonna be here for a while. Right now, I wanna talk about you.” 

 

My hair is pulled back today and I’m wearing a little black and white dress, feeling just the tiniest bit pretty. I’m also sweating like an animal because it’s sweltering hot back here. It’s a pit, thick. You can feel every breath fill your mouth, like a backwards bubble gum bubble. The bubble sliding down your throat and popping in your belly. 

 

The mystery man lifts his coat away from his body.

 

“Let me move my gun.” 

 

He pushes the gun attached to his hip back a little, un snaps his badge, and drops it in his inside coat pocket. Now I understand the odd feeling, and all the silence. A table full of cops. He whispers, and winks at me...

 

“I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”

 

I smile at him sweetly.

 

“Awww, thank you officer.”

 

I say this with a cheeky smirk, flirty, girly, and soft. Letting him know his message has been received. He likes that, and smiles. He knows, that I know, and a new working manual kicks in. The cop manual… 

 

He reaches out and pets my ponytail.

 

“You’re so fuckin hot Stephanie”

 

He takes a hair clump, leans in, and sniffs it.

 

“You smell clean. Mmm, so fucking hot.”

 

Dirty…

 

Cops don’t come in here unless they’re called. And if they’re coming to shake hands with someone, they do it outside, in a car in the parking lot, like grown-ups. 

 

There’s dirty, then there’s dirty. Cops come in all shapes and sizes and in all degrees of honor and deception. Even if these guys join the force for the right reasons, it’s hard to stay out of the institution of criminality within the institution. The police force is a mess. Even good cops do bad shit, but they don’t get lap dances from strippers. Only Pigs do.

 

He’s just staring at me, smiling. He rubs my stomach like a Christmas ornament and groans. He lifts up my skirt and looks under it like a child searching for the footsteps of Reindeer, and proof that Santa does exist.

 

There’s no connection to my seeing him, or, a need to care if I care about what he’s doing. I’m a rug hanging in Ikea, and he’s touching my pile, and studying my print. He’s examining the thing he wants, thinking about where he wants it, and knowing his badge will afford him the privilege to steal it. If he chooses, that gun and badge gives way to his being able to invade your choices, your rights, and your ability to fight back.  And this guy chooses to do just that. You can fight, you can almost always fight, in some way or another. But there are consequences to everything we do. Even for fighting for what’s rightfully yours. Your body.

 

A badge is a rite of passage. It gives him keys into my life, into my world, both inside, and outside these doors. A key cops like him will use. He knows that, I know that, and he knows that I know that. I’m a stripper. He’s a cop. He took an oath...

 

“To protect and serve”

 

I work in my underwear and get paid to serve ideas buried in sin. Through the roots of branding and affiliation… 

 

He wins.

 

I need to lock all my feelings far, far, away. I need to stuff all my ideas about right and wrong, about choice, freedom, and self. I need to separate myself from the skin I’m in and live between the gaps and spaces in my breathing. I need to silence any voice or whispers of noise, and I need to let go. What’s coming, is coming. 

 

My joints now buttons, and my stomach now bunting, the stuffing of a doll, to some. 

 

Become, numb…

 

Moments hang, drifting, so slow life becomes when you are waiting for torment.

 

The smirk on his face, and the movement in his lap, beneath his pants, a panting wolf is breathing. 

 

The song begins and I begin, to numb. I float up from the booth and he immediately wraps his hands around my waist, turns me away from him, and pulls me down to sit on his lap, and, onto his uniformed erection.

 

Breathe little girl, just breathe…

 

Instinctually, my weight keeps lifting, I’m trying to stand back up. But he pulls me and holds me tight.

 

“Don’t move Stephanie, that feels so good… I’m so hard.” 

 

I look at my face in the mirror across the room. A face, past another face, beside yet another face. Girls, everywhere, bowing. I can feel vomit in the bottom of my ribs, but there’s a plug, holding everything at bay.

 

He pushes into me, grinding himself, and using his hands to push my hips back, and forth. Like he’s on a rowing machine. I can see my face bouncing in the mirror. 

 

“I want you to make me cum. Will you be the dirty little whore that you are, and make daddy come?”

 

He takes one hand off my hip and reaches down to adjust himself, he’s unhappy with the angle, I know this because he tells me. While he’s down there he pulls my underwear to the side, and sticks his finger inside me. Without thought I grab his wrist and pull his hand back to my waist. The lesser of two evils.

 

“Okay, we’ll do that next time. You wanna be a good girl, I get it.”

 

I’m dizzy, confused, and want to die. I’m just letting this happen…

 

What am I going to do? Get a police officer, and the eight other police officers with him thrown out? No, I’m not, and they know that.

 

“Turn around!”

 

He turns me around, my hips like the reins of a horse, he tugs at them. He pulls me back down to his lap, and now, I have to look at him. I put my hands up against the wall behind his head to stay balanced while he grinds away on me. And while he whispers in my face.

 

“You’re gonna make me cum Stephanie…” 

A fake name is a life jacket when you're drowning in times like these. That's not my name, so this can't be happening to me.

 

Tears well up in my eyes, but they’re ashamed to fall. They just sit in my lids, blurring my vision. His hands move down to my ass and he grips it tight while he ejaculates between my legs, and into his pants. He holds me down and I can feel him, ripple. He pushes into me and grunts like he’s dropping dumbbells at the gym, exhausted. 

I am left completely empty also.

 

“Sit with me a minute while I calm down.” 

 

He’s breathing heavy, and smiling. He looks like a man after a good run. He’s flushed, feeling accomplished, and happy… 

 

I, am sick. Sick with life, sick with the weight of life. Sick with the weight of so many men, taking. I want to cut my pussy out of me and keep it on a plate in the fridge. Then offer it warm, with cloth napkins, and a nice Shiraz. Perhaps I’ll serve it with steamed Asparagus, carrots, or a bike pump. Sides that can be devoured while also torturing the meal. One cannot enjoy meat without killing it first. 

 

He keeps pushing on his dick. Trying to impress his left-over erection to leave.

 

“You know, some girls get nervous when I tell them I’m a cop.”

 

I look at him, trying to find a human.

 

“Oh, really?” 

 

Oh, really? Is all I can muster. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a newspaper clipping, like it’s 1945. 

 

“Do you want to read an article?” 

 

No, I don’t want to read an article. I want you to be satisfied assaulting me, and coming in your pants. And I want you to  walk away.

“Sure.” 

 

I say this as the vomit is raising in my belly and saliva is pouring into my mouth. He hands me the clipping and slides a hand up between my legs, his fingers, crawling. 

Please, stop, feeding on me...

I put my hand down and stop the path he’s headed down and curl my fingers into his. Like we’re going steady, and holding hands after the drive in. 

 

I can’t pay attention to the article enough to read it. But I don’t have to, because he tells me about it. It’s a tiny blip about a robbery, and his heroic capture of the “criminals” I pretend to read it, looking at the paper, but in a haze.

 

“That’ll give you an idea of some of the shit I have to put up with.” 

 

He says this straight faced, wearing a gold band around his finger, a silver badge on his hip, and after committing a felony sexual assault on a girl he has never met, in public.

 

We both stand up and he grabs me again, pulling me close to him, like lovers on a train platform in a black and white movie. He pushes what’s left of him into my hip bone, and smiles at me.

 

 “Come grab me a little later, I want more of you.” 

 

He kisses me on the corner of my mouth, wet, and I have a vision of grabbing his gun and blowing his head off. Watching his face explode into pieces leaving only his suit and tired tie. But I don’t. He leaves without paying me, and I head back to the dressing room to spread the word, collect my things, my thoughts, and go home. 

 

I need to take a shower, I need to cry out loud, and I need to be alone. I need to thaw, and store today in a file along with other days, just like it. Faces and hands with bands of gold carrying weapons of war.

Battles lost, battles won, numb.

NUMB

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