Cherry went to the strip club just because. Just because she had heard things about strip clubs. Just because the strip club belonged to fathomless caves and Cherry was motivated to spelunk.
Cherry, new-old upon this earth, would bring with her new-old eyes. Engaging vision not entirely divorced from its starry origins. First thing Cherry did was to go into the restroom. The floor was sticky. Paper towels strewn about. The walls a corroded lime color, algae in a dreamless cave kind of greendark. Cherry looked at herself in the mirror. Reflection cast in dying bronze light. As if the world were ending inside the bathroom.
Cherry smiled. Her smile snapped back at her, a lively boomerang with wanderlust. The strip club is going to be fun, Cherry spoke aloud. It is going to be fun, she repeated a dozen times, knowing this was how reality worked. Chantlike vibrations assumed precedence. Sprouted fertile antennas. Things happened because they had to happen. Insistence was a magic spell that didn’t discriminate.
Cherry exited the bathroom, right after flushing the toilet, wanting to hear the legendary whoosh of a toilet in a stall, echoes of an old man’s phlegmatic cough ground up in a compactor.
The stage was a wooden plank, its perimeters adorned by white bulbs, the stage functioning like a runway of about twelve feet upon which a voluptuous woman with blue-dark braided hair and monumental breasts strutted back and forth back and forth with feet squishily packed into glitter-frosted heels, backed by disco music apocryphally in sync with steampunk dolphins.
Cherry watched the men watching the woman on stage. Their eyes … the whole thing a glazed-over gluetrap. Heads on a ticktock swivel. Cherry wondered what they saw. She felt certain they couldn’t all be seeing the same thing. That wasn’t possible. Cherry saw what she saw. And wondered. Why? What was it? How was it? Was there sincere passion provoked by this ritual, or was it rigged, a simulacrum of passion that generated its cause and effect from an unspoken agreement that, if doing A. you should feel B. Whether or not you felt B. didn’t matter. B. belonged to the preceding A., they were part of a standardized package, an inarguable equation. Cherry wondered how many B.’s were dangling fruitless and hollow in a void, stunned and ashamed to admit that A. had left them disillusioned.
Cherry wished she could interview the eyes of the men staring, listen to each set of eyes speak honestly and autonomously about what they were taking in, what it meant, or what its relationship was to the braincast of shadows. Cherry watched the men watching the woman. The song ended. Applause broke out. The woman waved, jellied fingers, as if saying goodbye to children leaving for war. Her smile is pure candy. The woman leaves the stage. Another woman takes her place.
Cherry sees Cherry on stage, calibrating A. every woman she’s never been, with B. every woman she’s ever been, nameless radiant bodies constellating splintered symmetry.