Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Imaginary Lives/Week 2

I am a taxi-dancer. It's the 1920's, the Jazz age is in full swing, and I've just gotten off the bus in a bright and dangerously new city that is always being written about in the back pages of my hometown newspaper. I ran away from home. My mom will miss me and I do feel bad for her. I'll call her at the end of the week if I can scrape up enough for the phone booth. I have exactly ten dollars in my purse. It's all the money I managed to bring with me. I didn't realize the bus ticket would be so much. I tried not to eat too much but after a day and a half on a crowded bus I finally had to put something in my stomach. I've got exactly one nice dress and a pair of high-heeled shoes in my bag. I saw the ad in the newspaper as I sat in a diner drinking watery coffee and eating a slice of stale toast. Now here I am in a dancehall dancing every night for ten cents a dance.

I started out at a nickel but because I was willing to stay the extra hours my boss gave me a raise. It's not too bad. My legs and feet are swollen by the time I get home at 3am but at least I have a clean room and my own private bathroom. My boss fixed that up for me. I can sleep until 2, get a bite down at the corner deli, and be at work by 6. The men aren't too bad. I've gotten used to the smell of whiskey on their breaths and old cigarette smoke in their clothes. I just hate the ones who don't shave when they rub their scratchy faces against mine. They leave my skin raw. At first it was really annoying but now with one look to Henry, the dance-hall keeper, he comes over and pulls the guys back by their collars. It chokes them some but after a while they get the idea.

I've made a few friends. Henry is great but I don't like him that way and I've told him this many times. Shirley and Bonnie are quite a pair but they allow the men to do other things and I don't want to even though it might mean less hours on my feet and more money in my pocket. I save every dime I can. When I have enough I'll move on to New York City. I want to be a real dancer on the stage, and sing, and act. I have to act every night now as it is. I have to pretend I like these men that come in and dance with me. I have to pretend that I'm their girlfriend every night. I've come up with at least ten different names that I know they like. It's tiring. You have to keep it all straight in your head. Luckily I have a good memory. So I know I would make a good actress because they have to memorize all those lines. Yeah, when I get to New York I'm going to be a star.

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