Smoke and Mirrors, prose sketch from Darion Wilson


Smoke and Mirrors

Time is slow here and reality evades me quickly. Surrounded by angels to sinister for God’s grace, they conjugate here. Intentions to get back from where they have fallen, this place is just a stepping stone. I meet them here. Have a seat if it is affordable or stand where you can see the show is about to start. A smoke screen floods the building, dim lights cast a luster upon the stage and my eyes are immediately drawn to it. Cylindrical poles grow from the stage and make their ascension towards the heavens. A voice comes over the microphone, I never see him because he is stationed behind the audience, but he is just as vital to the show as the talent is.

Ladies and Gentlemen we have a magical show case prepared for you all today” says the voice over the microphone.

I didn’t come here for David Blaine, but there are Doves and Rabbits. It is never quiet here music plays as people chatter over drinks in anticipation of the show. Waitresses dressed in black pants, white button downs, and little black vests with bowties fill the floor all at once in an effort to serve bottles of alcohol to the guests. Some prevail and others fall by the wayside in an effort to make their tips before the main attractions start to attract. I see this place in its entirety.

It is too late for the waitresses now, that the talent has been summoned to the floor. Four at a time they occupy the stage. They approach from the right and one by one they start their summit up stairs that lead them to the Promised Land. Six inch heels tap the floor as they find their place on stage. The voice over the microphone introduces them by their stage names and drops a song for them to become lucrative to. They dance, but it’s not for the audience. They dance for themselves. They dance for M3 Beamers. They dance for Christian Louboutins and designer bags. Mascots in their own sense they dance for Georgia State, Clark Atlanta, and Spellman. Tuition isn’t cheap and this money is tax free, so I never judge them. Dollars are thrown high and they plummet from the air like snow flurries from the sky. They break sweats and necks with their acrobatic antics. Ascending towards the heavens I wonder where they fell from. Were their fathers ever there to guide them and give them their first glimpse at affection? Probably not if they were there to catch them then these girls would probably have too much self-worth for this place. As beautiful as this place is, it fails in comparison to them. They dance to multiples songs, their hair swings and legs suspend. Who taught them that? They could have joined the Dance team for the Atlanta Hawks, but this money is better. As the first group of girls’ time on stage comes to an end, a man in janitorial attire hands them a trash bag for the dollars that they just acquired. Money is hand racked into large piles and stuffed into white standard sized garbage bags. Every spectator in the room happily watches their money leave them behind, never to return.

The next group takes the stage built like they are ready to compete in an Olympic 4 x 400 meter race. With tight calf muscles and manicured toes they own the ground that they walk on. I can’t help but wonder what landed them here. It’s probably the same thing that landed me here. An avid admirer of the craft I’m here because I lack something. The spectators and the dancers are synonymous in that we all lack. They long for dollars like I long for attention. We all have dreams that we are in constant pursuit of, be it dreams of a Ferrari or just real love. I cannot get mad at them and they are not mad at me. When I’m here I know exactly what to expect, nothing more and nothing less. I can’t remove myself from this place they stand up on a pedestal and work hard for my residuals. Light bill, phone bill, stripper bill; I could have paid back a loan, but instead I spend it here. Young and dumb I have an obsession with good times. My eyes never leave the ladies the graceful, flawless, effortless, flexible, and extremely talented ladies. I wonder if they know that they are appreciated. Too many camp town ladies singing their songs solo, their baby’s fathers have probably never been in a family photo. I commend the ones that take the stage for their beautiful daughters and respectable sons. The hour glass dwindles and times up. This group’s show is complete, the money is hand racked and bagged and moseyed off to the place where the goddesses submerge from.

I go to the bar to get a drink and its Hennessy of course. It’s always Hennessey. The voice comes over the microphone and I hear her name. Kitty she’s who I’ve come to see. She is who I always come to see. I go back and take my place. She has already made her way up the stairs. I didn’t even get to watch her walk. She cut her hair and it looks perfect, I wish I was the first to let her know. Her confidence fills a glass and overflows; this is what attracts me to her. Always talking with her body I let my eyes listen. I can empathize with Paris. I would have taken Helen too. How does she manage to stand out? She clouds my vision and she is all that I see. Infatuated with her perfection I wish I could save her from this place, but she belongs here. A fish out of water if I were to ever bring her around my mother this is her natural habitat. Money motivated, she is an avid exhibitionist. Tattoos on her lower arm and upper left thigh, I wonder if she sleeps alone. What could I offer her? Love and affection maybe, but that doesn’t pay the bills. Nothing more than a broke college student showering her with dollars that I can’t afford to lose. I lose, but I love to watch her dance, so I continue to watch her dance. I notice every inch of her. I have trouble distinguishing if this masterpiece is mom-given or doctor-made, but I don’t care art is art. The smart money is on her, she just made what I make in a week in thirty minutes. We are both twenty two, but she is about to purchase a house and I’m about to take out another loan. That is crazy, yet I’m still here tipping her. She won’t stop until I hand it all over. She pretends to care and I know this, but she pretends so well that I fall for it every time. She asks questions and I answer. I wouldn’t dare ask her to regurgitate my answers because I would be ashamed of the response so I go with the flow and she inevitably breaks me with a grin. Who knows which part of heaven she fell from, I don’t. I just wish I wasn’t addicted to her company.

Their innocence gets pummeled in traffic so where along the way. Then the pretty girls that they are, they are transformed into temptresses and they prey on the feeble minded. Addicted to the plethora of dollars that come in every night, they do what has to be done in order to make ends meet. If they want for anything, there are no worries because they can afford it on their own. Who’s to blame for tainting them? Not me, but I must admit I do contribute to their excessive desires. I don’t make the mistake of taking it personally. They use me, but they use everyone. Who am I to judge they satisfy my lust, so in a way I use them as well. Neither of us is any more wrong than the other. I just ask that the Lord has mercy on our souls.

 Piece by Darion Wilson of Georgia Southern University, author may be reached here: