THE SMELL OF SIN by Tammy Pieterson
I've learned to love the smell of sin on a warm summer's evening. Laced with notes of rustic ambience and cheap cigarette smoke that hangs thick and heavy in the already stale air. Where, for the next few hours, you can become whoever you want to be, where everyone is the star in their own movie, and reality is left at the door. Where you really can afford the car you drive and your business really is a success and you are as confident as everyone thinks you are and you really do love your wife and she's not cheating on you with her younger more attractive colleague that buys her flowers every week. Aah… there's nothing quite like it.
An infestation of unrhythmic cockroaches congest the black mini dancefloor. Dim lighting reveals dark, almost sinister figures adorned with stolen gold chains, bushes of humidified hair, smudged mascara on gleaming innocent eyes and stretch marks on ass cheeks dressed to the nines. Lost in the hypnosis of urban ruckus and filthy lyrics. The short walk to the bar feels like a stroll through the city as you take it all in, and the faces are always the same. They drink the same liquor, sit in the same spot and talk about the same garbage as the week before. Before you know it you're on a first name basis. The coins on the snooker table stacked high as the more mature groups take turns flexing their skills and using their wits to win and gamble their competitors to the last cent, it's a rather entertaining sight and only for the brave. I take great fascination in how the crowds manage to be so different, yet so much alike, coexisting and thriving off the same chaos. Often single or miserable or without direction but looking for something - anything - to make them feel alive, to make them feel whole again, before the world gnawed at their souls and left them as empty carcasses. Makes you wonder why I'm here doesn't it? Perhaps I'm different, the exception, the one who got dragged into this world and has been trying to find her way back ever since.
I check my watch. I'm early. Might as well grab a drink. They've already spotted me - whoever they are - waiting to pounce on the fresh prey. Good looks never go unnoticed to the thirsty. They sniff you out and drink your blood without a fragment of shame or remorse. But this is not new to me, it doesn't startle nor intimidate me. Feeling like a piece of meat is somewhat irrelevant to me as of late. I casually pull out one of the tall bar stools that probably weighs more than I do. My short legs dangle off the edge. The brown varnished wooden bar has seen better days, made to look authentic with sporty branded mats to hide the spills and stickiness from sweet smelling cocktails and bad decisions, with creeks in certain places, dents and burns, not to mention the occasional "Brian was here" carved into the pillars. A welcoming smile in silky black leggings and a fitted top approaches me to ask for my order. She has a compass tattoo on her left breast peeping out of her push up bra. It looks rather provocative on her bright yellow skin, you can't miss it. She's pretty, innocent looking - but I know better, and smart. She shouldn't work here, she's better than this, better than this place, but she doesn't know it yet, she hasn't learned enough...but one day she will. One day she'll wake up and want more out of life, she won't believe what she has become and she'll walk away and never go back. I often wish I could walk away and never go back... "I shouldn't be waiting long, so I'll go for a small beer and a clean shot of vodka" as I look at my watch again.
I gulp my shot and wash it down with a cold beer like a champ! I drink it straight from the bottle,it makes me dangerous and cool. Admiring how the delicate bubbles play tag through the green glass. The perfect shade of golden courage - one needs it on nights like this. Only a few minutes have passed,but my beer is on it's last quarter. As I'm contemplating getting another drink, I lose my train of thought, "Maybe I should just go home, like a good girl, and snuggle up with a glass of wine and a romantic movie. Maybe I can go back to school, pick up where I left off. Or I could run away! Start over in a new town where nobody knows me. I could stop the lies, the secrecy, and lose the guilt. I could look my mother in the eye without bursting into tears and tell my sister why I won't let her visit me anymore. Maybe…" There's a tap on my shoulder, bringing me back, back to the bar, to the noise, to the night and all that it devours, to what I truly am, and back to the drug I cannot quit. I turn around, then I look at my watch again. "You're late." " I know, and I'm sorry. I got you your favourite bottle of vodka and downloaded that movie you've been dying to watch all month. Am I forgiven? " Smirking, I reply, "You don't have to do all of this you know. It's not part of the contract. You don't get special treatment or discounts for it." "I know. But I want it to feel real - even though I know it's not. You put the hubby to bed? He still doesn't know - what you do for a living - does he?" "No he doesn't, and I told you not to talk about him. I sent him off for the weekend with the boys." "Perfect...and I'm sorry, I won't mention him again. You ready?" I guzzled down the last bit of beer I had left, "For my favorite client...always." I've learned to love the smell of sin on a warm summer's evening.