Our Voices Matter

"Up Next" by Anonymous

Drawn by the globed lights' heat, tiny beads formed over her upper lip. She tried to wipe a streak of mascara off the mirror, left a purplish smudge instead, then finished glossing. Pulling the door snug, she hurriedly made her way to the darkened backstage.

Her upper lip tingled from evaporating sweat. He would be there. Grazing her tail bone, her fingers smoothed a swatch of satin covering the small of her back.

She stood erect now. Waiting.

Startled by a noise, her head darted over her shoulder. While the exit door slammed, she quickly faced forward again blinking away the glare reverberating inside her eyelids from headlights waiting outside. As freezing cold air gushed at the backs of her knees and inner thighs, a shiver ran up her spine. She straightened and noticed her nipples harden.

What happened this night should be spoken about for generations. Like so many other nights, she ran through her moves in her head. This night was different. Up next, she knew this time mattered more than any other.

The act on stage was just ending. As the two women strutted, coming and going, the skin on their thighs touched--heat, sweat and cold sent lightning through them both.

Before the stagelights came back up and the houselights went down, she spotted him: front row direct center stage. She'd seen him murder a woman before--right infront of her eyes--telling her the whole time she'd be next if she ever told.

No, she'd never tell, never told. Never. Not then, not now. Wouldn't later.

She had no proof. Though proof there was--he must realize this somewhere inside himself. But because he sat at the top of his field in law enforcement, any door out in her mind's eye slammed solidly shut.

No one cared--there wasn't anything they could do anyway. They didn't want to be next, either.

Afterward, he'd called her insane even while the images flashed, as he pumped, grabbing her hand to "help" him and watch "with him" the movies he and his "buddies" so "enjoyed." Each of them had their turn--her hand held around and under theirs. Eventually they all got off. She'd seen them fight, heard the threats made to them when they wouldn't bend for him. He always ended with the upper hand somehow.

Later, laughing with his buddies, he'd typically send a smirk her way while turning the ring on his finger round and round; then, with a solemnly whistful look--away from them yet at nothing she could ever identify--he'd adjust the cross on his neck and swallow hard.

She knew what would happen to her once she did it, but decided it was worth it. It didn't even send a second thought through her "pretty little head"--that phrase he used to minimize her intellect.

Self-assured of his playing piece, he was proud of what he'd gotten her to do for his friends including how she moved on stage. His security rose with her rising thighs.

Tonight was different from all other nights. Her inspiration came from another actor; her target, however, was completely--diametrically--different. She wanted him to feel pride.

Part of the routine he planned for her, it was on her ankle; she'd held its coldness and adjusted its safety in the dressing room before returning it to its holster. "A toy," she told the other dancer. "A very real looking toy." He'd had it made special like the other "toys" he used on her. If it didn't look real, it wouldn't get him and his boys off; that's what he told her. He explained this detail as if it should really matter to her. It occurred to her that what was crazy was that it did matter. It mattered more than anything else in the entire world mattered. It mattered more than life itself. She hadn't said this to the other dancer; instead, she'd just nodded, accepting a compliment given about her routine, and swallowed hard while sensing her eyes bulge a little.

When he and she were alone, the toy was not a toy--it was real, and it was loaded. "Just lick it," he said. "Just suck on the end of it how I taught you. Then make sure the boys see or at least smell the juice between your legs before you push it in." He told her she better feel the gun's coldness inside her "p_". He told her to keep her other hand kind of over it, so that only the men in front could tell exactly what was happening--that it wasn't just an act. The cold steel was really penetrating. She was always to pull the trigger. "Never, never not pull that trigger, bitch." His boys knew, as part of their game, that after the show it would be real--not a toy. After all, she was expendable. He loved them, and they could pull the trigger if they wanted. There could always be another to replace her.

Each night she never knew: would it be tonight, would it be next time? Would they make her do it? Deep throat or in her vagina or up her ass? At her head? What day or night would be her last? Would anyone anywhere care? Could anyone do anything to stop him? She didn't think so. One time, they tried. He put an end to that very quickly calling them wusses and putting a gun to each of their heads.

She was sure they couldn't/wouldn't stop him--especially not now with how much they learned to enjoy the game even with the occasional struggles. Now those skirmishes just seemed to fuel his overriding affection for them. After all, they were "his boys" and would "cover" for him or else they might not be alive anymore. And he would cover for them, unless, of course, they made a "wrong" move. She'd seen it with her own eyes.

She was sure they wouldn't/couldn't stop him; this certainty--and that tonight he gave the gun to her loaded--was what fueled her this night. Knowing it wouldn't matter to anyone anywhere anyway, except, finally, to her, she didn't even know why it finally mattered. Just knew that it did. And tonight was it. Never again.

The men were hooting now. They liked what they were seeing. He'd stationed fans behind the stage to make her long hair billow during certain moves, and also, he snorted, "so they smell the pussy."

They sure were smelling hers, and could she hear grunts. Her finale was getting her very wet and hot, as he always wanted and got her to be. He could get her to "come on the gun." Tonight would be a wonderful surprise--she felt insane. The look on their faces would be reward enough. Would she get to see it? Or would she again end up asking herself when would it all be over? She never knew. It didn't matter anymore. The only thing that mattered was getting him off. That's all that ever mattered. Even to his buddies, that's all that eventually ever mattered.

Sweating heavily now, even with the fans billowing her hair, she felt beads fly off her body, and bending low, caught sight of a glistening drop angling down before it sank to the wooden floor below. She swiveled back up and around. She didn't want to slip.

Her last move was bent over spread eagle--head between her thighs looking out--then she'd pull the trigger. It didn't matter anyway. It wouldn't matter. He wanted it deep inside her, then the lights would dim from the ceiling down in a fade. He spent alot of money on the lights. Another detail planned for his boys in the front row, so they would see what was happening and get hard and pay more later--when pulling the trigger was available to them for a fee or sometimes, just for love. Didn't matter to him what happened to her body if they pulled the trigger. Someone else would learn the routine for the next week. They'd "cover" for him. He assured her of that. SHE WAS assured of THAT. If she'd only known all of this when she first met him. He was so powerful and clean cut to her then. She'd never even stripped before that night when he first took her here.

She was squatting facing them now. Her hips tilted as she propelled her body back up making use of the force of her hand pushing down on the floor first, then reaching high. Her body moved upward in a wave from her heels, to her knees, hips, nipples, shoulders, neck--then ending with her lips pouting just like her taught her. Pivoting 180 degrees, she positioned her feet solidly and dropped her head while flaring her left hand to brace the floor between her feet. She knew it would be over for good in moments.

Pulling the gun one last time from its holster, she was spread eagle now, bent over peering through her legs. He and the other men in front would be seeing her "p_" clearly--seeing the gun enter her vagina. She spotted his face, wrapped one arm around to her tail bone to pull her behind up and then kind of cover the area. With her right hand, she reached to push the cold steel deep inside the wet heat between her thighs just like he demanded. As the dimmer started, she waited, and then, giving him one last--now genuinely happy--grin, pulled her trigger.

The shot rang out. The gun reverberated.

In the darkness, something splattered over his cheek. Touching his face, he felt cold and wet. Instinctively, he put his hand to his lips and tasted blood. Turning his cheek, he stretched his hand out to his best buddy.

Some minutes passed before the stage and house lights finally came back up. Murmurs. Shocked disbelief.

"His boys" used rage to hide terror which--to their astonished surprise--held limen with glimmering relief electrically fluttering within like ripples underwater signalling the wake of escape.

The headlights at the back exit were long gone.

The person in the front row direct center seat slumped dead in his chair.

For a split second, she felt safe. That's all that mattered, finally, finally to her. Her own life finally mattered more than his orgasm and simultaneous need to quell his insecurities. Sensing an uncertain kinship easily denied, she realized the remoteness of her wagering the possibility that the same finally would hold for his buddies.

Until what just happened, he hadn't truly had anything to fear from her about his security. She hadn't told and wouldn't still. What was crazy was how much he outwardly hated and feared men who simply displayed kindness, warmth, and friendly affection for other men and reviled openly gay men.

Others lived their lives openly and with respect. She had no reason to talk about his preference for his buddies--his desire to love one or another of his buddies--i.e., to not love her or any other woman. She wasn't completely sure, but knew his secret was a large part of what created the hell she was at this very moment trying to escape.

She'd told the driver when she ran to the car that someone in her family had died--she needed to leave right from work to go comfort her devasted mother. Blinking back tears that blurred the headlights of oncoming cars, she knew the rest would know her wager but wasn't sure the papers would.

Gripping the wheel and blinking back tears blurring headlights of oncoming cars, she knew the men would know her wager but wasn't sure the papers would.

Author's note: This piece is dedicated to the memory of Andrea Dworkin.

Back to Art Gallery