In The Bordello
I was blasted off the streets by the icy winter wind and buffeted through the heavy swing doors, tumbling down the steps into the warm seedy cellar bar, a dive amongst dives, a hotbed of crime and confusion – The Bordello.
Sympathy for the Devil was bouncing off the walls, the tiny dark low-ceilinged room was crowded, a buzzing market place of the illicit.
I was in my element and swimming in with the tide. I ordered a coffee, in a glass cup with extra sugar at the bar. While I’m waiting a good-looking young man in a skirt sweeps over to me claps me on the back and hands me some huge shocking-pink lozenges, which we wash down with hastily ordered cheap sherry. “Nice one, Dolly” I say and we begin to talk. But we’re just distracting ourselves until we feel the tabs make something happen.
I turn away to view the bar, looking to see if I know anyone to help me with what I need.
Mimi, Mary-Jane and Sonja, the three wise women, street revolutionaries, all-round sympathisers, bachelor girls, are huddled together in a corner, in a sort of booth or snug, constructed from aluminium beer barrels stacked against the pinball machine. Their voices drift to me over the rumble of the bar, “Fair is foul and foul is fair hover through the fog and filthy air”. They’re engrossed in a game of poker, writing out their stakes on blank NHS scrips. I know they’re waiting for Sylv St. Satan and Daisy, her ugly sister. I think about the rumours that they’re going to form a group, doing Stooges, New York Dolls and Nirvana covers. But, I’ll believe it when I see the T-shirts.
Daisy St. Satan herself is dawdling by the door, Daisy has the typical St. Satan family hair, less straw blonde than nylon jaundice chinchilla and it lies across her head and face limply, almost obscuring her leather eyepatch. She doesn’t notice Mimi, Mary-Jane or Sonja, and they’re ignoring her too.
Daisy is talking to the Bigman, but the Bigman is animated, coming on manic in full flow, recounting the tale of the multiple orgasm bungee jump and how many angels fit on the head of a pin “Legions, geezer, legions”.
Centre stage Frankie is illuminated in his own personal spotlight, like an aura glaring off his slick black quiff, see Frankie Fucked-Up sit on a stool of pink satin, slurping expensive liqueurs from a battered altar chalice. He’s out in orbit, reading the situations vacant and plotting his next negotiations.
Solid woody tables and benches were huddled against the far wall, and in the shadows the Wye Twins are lurking. Florence and Drearia Wye conspire in hushed echoey voices, mynah bird repetitions and poison dart mutterings. They’re exchanging suicide tips, comparing scars, swapping habits and asking “why me?”. They’re shuffling small squares of folded paper and I just know they’ve got pockets of tamazies and Prozac. But they won’t be giving any to me, not since I trod on Florence’s poor broken heart when she showed it to me some time last summer.
Over in the corner of the bar, languishing in deep shadows the Marquessa was enthroned on a bar stool. Smooth like well oiled machinery, she lifted a champagne glass to her blood red lips and downed the lot in one sweeping movement, gulping and belching effortlessly. She jiggled her voluptuous curvature in time to the music. She was in the process of a conning a Jack Daniel’s out of an acolyte in her own inimitable style “Buy me a Jack Daniel’s and I’ll tell you one of my stories” She demanded, drawing an Art Deco compact and mirror from the sleeve of her well-cut white silk shirt. She posed in the mirror’s circle, sweeping a dancing light spectrum from the head of a concealed pustule. And snapping the compact shut, she downed yet another champagne. Her victim began lining up the whiskeys. “Three wise women were sitting on a coach journey from Northampton to Sheffield ” She began “Probably on a shopping trip, taking advantage of their senior citizen’s bus passes, I should think, And one wise woman turns to the others and says ‘which part of your body is really you, the place where you live and experience and be you?’ So the second wise woman says ‘Whadaya mean?’ and the first says ‘which part of …’…” The Marquessa arched her eyebrows to me and I joined her, partly to hear the story and partly to get my hands on the free drinks. “‘Where you live and experience and BE, which part of your body?’ repeats the first. ‘I don’t understand’ simpers the third wise woman and so the second begins to repeat what the first woman said ‘which part of your body..’ “. The story was beginning to swamp me, like the times when the memories come back at me, or it could have been the pink pill. A sharp focus vision searing through the gaping hole in reality. Madrid backstreets superimposed over physical vision, glowing specks of light hovering, and I crashed my way to the lavatory.
Oh look I’m vomiting gloriously! I think, watching the brown and pink liquid eject itself from my stomach. I lean back against the cubicle wall, spinning, the wall dips down suddenly suddenly down down a hole, like a wall of light, so suddenly that I had not a moment to think I found myself falling down past all those memories clouding my blind mind falling down down down a very deep well hell hole down down down a hole down a rabbit hole. Images shift sense under the scissors images to sound to smell images to sight sound to sound kinaesthetic. Staircases and landings leading to others, doors secreted behind heavy damask arrasses, keys that creak in long locked doors, skeletons that rattle in long-forgotten closets.