Joyland

Montreal |

A Girl With A Dragon Tattoo

by John Goldbach

edited by David McGimpsey

“Mark Phillips.”

“What? Sorry?” 

“Mark Phillips.” 

“How do you know my name?” 

“You don’t remember me.” 

“I’m sorry, no I don’t.” 

“Think.” 

“I am.” 

“Think harder.” 

“Yeah.  Well, I’m thinking hard.”  

“Right. Think hard.” 

“Give me a clue.” 

“This is too fun.” 

“Nothing?” 

“Come with me.” 

“I don’t know.” 

“You’re safe.” 

“I hope so.” 

“Come.”  

“This is slightly awkward.” 

“What?” 

“Well, you know, you know my name and I don’t know yours and …” 

“And …” 

“Well …” 

“Just relax and enjoy.” 

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this.” 

“Me too.” 

“But seriously, how do you know my name?” 

“Do you think I’m hot?” 

“Yes, extremely, of course.  And that’s some tattoo.” 

“You like it?” 

“I do.  It’s long.” 

“I know—it goes all the way from the tip of my right butt-cheek to the tip of my left shoulder-blade.” 

“I can see that.” 

“And you like it?” 

“I do.” 

“It’s hot, right?” 

“Very.” 

“I like you.” 

“Thanks.  I like you too.” 

“I’ve always thought you were nice and cute.” 

“Thanks but always?  Seriously, how do you know me?” 

“You have no idea.” 

“I don’t.  I really don’t.” 

“You want a clue?” 

“Yes—please!” 

“All right.  But this might make it too obvious …” 

“Okay.” 

“We went to high school together.” 

“Sunnyside?” 

“Yep.” 

“Wow! Really?  You went to Sunnyside … What year … ?” 

“Same as you.” 

“No way.” 

“Way.” 

“How come I can’t place you?” 

“I look different.” 

“You look amazing.” 

“I look a lot different.” 

"So you weren’t a blonde.” 

“No, I wasn’t.  But my hair was dyed then, too.” 

“What color?” 

“Black.  Jet-black.” 

“So you had jet-black hair and we were in the same year.” 

“Yes.” 

“Were you sort of a Goth?” 

“Yes.  I wore black twenty-eye Doc Martens and torn fishnets.” 

“Anything else?” 

“We used to smoke in the pit together sometimes.”  

“When?” 

“After grade ten math.” 

“Erin Blake!” 

“You got it!” 

“Holy shit.” 

“I’ve lost a lot of weight.” 

“I can’t believe it …” 

“I know.  Sorry for playing with you—I couldn’t resist.” 

“It’s okay.  Wow.” 

“Don’t feel weird.” 

“No, just … How long have you been dancing?” 

“A year or so.” 

“Do you like it?” 

“I love it.” 

“Why?” 

“Well, first off, I make about thirty-five hundred dollars a week and I only work three or four shifts.” 

“That’s great.  Wow.  Erin Blake.” 

“Yeah.  By the way, though, my name here’s Pamela.” 

“Right.  What else do you like about it?” 

“I like the power I have over men now.  I feel like I understand them better.  I feel like I can get them to do almost anything.” 

“Does it ever get creepy?” 

“Oh yeah, of course.” 

“Like how, for instance?” 

“Like a couple of weeks ago I was dancing with my back turned to this guy, bending over, and I looked between my legs, while holding my ankles, and he had his cock in his hand and was beating off, like really aggressively, and that was fucked up.” 

“What did you do?” 

“I called for Jerry, one of the bouncers, and he was in here in a second and dragged him out into the street with his dick in his hand and kicked the shit out of him.” 

“Holy shit!” 

“Yeah.” 

“That’s fucked up.” 

“Yeah.  But most of the time guys are respectful and know that the bouncers will kill them if they fuck with the girls.” 

“That makes sense.” 

“Men are really simple, or at least they are when they come in here.  They want to drink and they want to see naked women.” 

“Right.” 

“I mean, a lot of guys will ask me what I’m doing later, like after my shift, but I don’t date guys I meet here and I’m not a whore.” 

“So you have guys offer you money for sex?” 

“All the time.  Some old guy once offered me a thousand bucks to give him a hand-job in his BMW.” 

“What did you say?” 

“Hey!” 

“Ouch!” 

“Did that actually hurt?” 

“No, not really.” 

“Okay, good.  But I can’t believe you’d ask that—of course I said no!” 

“Well, sorry, but I haven’t seen you in like eight years and you used to be a Goth and you wore twenty-eye Docs and now you’re blonde and wearing stilettos and a g-string, you know, and you’ve got this very large dragon tattoo … So I don’t know what you’d say …” 

“I’m not a whore.” 

“I never said you were!” 

“I know but I’m not.  So you know.  Never.” 

“Okay, cool.  Good.” 

“…”    

“How did you know it was a BMW?” 

“What?” 

“His car.” 

“He told me.  This isn’t a bordello.  I’m sure some of the girls make a little extra money on the side but I’m not one of them.”  

“What were you doing before dancing, after high school?” 

“Well you probably don’t remember but I left Sunnyside in grade eleven—basically  dropped out—because I was bullied so much so I got the fuck out of that shit hole.”  

“You were bullied?” 

“Mercilessly.” 

“Why?” 

“It’s a long story, kind of … But do you remember Heather Waller … ?” 

“Well, yes, sort of … You mean the girl who died of a brain tumor … ?” 

“Yes, her.” 

"She actually died the year I got to high school.  I remember because there was an assembly in memoriam of her but I’d never met her but nevertheless there seemed something holy about her to me, you know, because she died so young and people were so upset, of course.” 

“I was best friends with Alex Waller, her younger sister.  I was friends with Heather, too.  And when she got really sick, when she had no hair anymore and everyone was pretty much certain she was going to die, I was at a friend’s house in Thorndale, not far from the Waller’s, and Alex was there and one of the girls didn’t like me—this bitch, Julie Pitt—” 

“I remember her …” 

“Well she’s a fucking cunt … Anyway, Julie tells Alex and the other girls that I'd been making fun of Heather’s hair loss.  She said I was making fun of Heather for being bald. Heather was my friend and Alex was my best friend and Julie tells this awful lie about me and for some reason everyone believes her … I still don’t know why—I told Alex it was a lie—I told everyone it was a lie—but no one believed me and a couple of weeks later Heather was dead—and you’re right, then high school started and this vicious, just plain stupid lie follows me there and made my life a living hell.” 

“I had no idea.  Really.  That’s a terrible story.  Were you in touch with Alex again?” 

“Not really.  I tried and then she moved to Sarnia with her family, who were devastated, and it seemed like there was no point, in a way, after a while.” 

"So who bullied you?” 

“Everybody, pretty much.” 

“I didn’t know, really, like at all.” 

“I know.  That’s one of the reasons I liked you.  We talked in math class a bit and we’d smoke out in the pit and you were nice and always stoned and totally oblivious to my rep as someone who makes fun of friends dying of cancer.” 

“Yeah, that’s certainly not how I thought of you.  So what happened when you left high school?” 

“I moved to the States, lived in Detroit briefly, after staying with my aunt in Windsor, then started hitchhiking, at first on my own and then I met a guy in Florida.” 

“You hitchhiked to Florida?” 

“Well, yes, and took some Greyhounds but I ended up in Tampa for about a year.  I met my boyfriend Jeff there and we lived together for a year or so.  He’s the one who gave me the dragon tattoo.” 

“He’s a tattoo artist.” 

“Yeah.  When we broke up I made my way back here.  Back to London.  I lost all my weight during my transient years.”             

“I don’t remember you as being particularly fat.” 

“Ha!  Don’t be ridiculous!  I was a whale.” 

“You aren’t a whale now.” 

“No, no I’m not.  Do you like watching me dance?” 

“I do.” 

“I’m hot, aren’t I?” 

“Very.” 

“You can touch me a little, you know.” 

“That wouldn’t be weird?” 

“No, not at all.” 

“Are you sure?” 

“I want you to.  Give me your hands … Do you like that … ?” 

“I do.  Yes.  Do you?” 

“I do, a lot.” 

“We’ve been in here for a few songs … How much do I owe you … ?” 

“Don’t worry about that for now.  Just enjoy.  It’s nice to see you again, Mark Phillips.”

“Thanks.  It’s a pleasure to meet you, Pamela.”