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SoMa

soma

Excerpt from
SoMa
By Kemble Scott

Kensington Books
320 pages
ISBN 0-7582-1549-5
Amazon
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“Whaddaya mean twelve bucks? The sign says seven!” Lauren screamed through the opening in the ticket window. The music from the club seemed as loud as the highest setting on her Bose, and they weren’t even inside.

“Sliding scale,” yelled back the sleepy-eyed attendant who scratched at the scab around her cheek piercing. “It’s seven if you’re dressed according to the theme. Ten if you’re in club clothes. Twelve for street clothes.”

“I don’t remember reading that on the web site.” It wasn’t a ton of money, but Lauren hated feeling cheated. The posting said seven, so there was no reason it should be anything other than seven.

“Sorry,” the attendant yawned. “You coming in or what? You’re holding up the line.”

“This is our first time,” Jessica said as she stepped up beside Lauren at the window. “What do you mean according to the theme?”

The attendant rattled off the list like a bored waiter reading the day’s specials. “Leather, boots, teddies, whips, chains, tit clamps, vinyl, hoods, nudity, Goth….”

“Nudity? People are naked in there?” Jessica gasped.

“Honey, this is Bondage-a-Go-Go. The less you wear, the less you pay. You want something else, go try Bimbos in North Beach.”

Lauren squinted. Who was this skanky bitch to act like they were in the wrong place? She knew it was Bondage-a-Go-Go. They drove in all the way from Concord for it! Lauren leaned over and whispered into her friend’s ear.

“No way, Lolly,” Jessica frowned. “I’m just gonna pay the extra five bucks.”

“Fuck that, Jes. I’m not letting this bitch push us around.”

“Lolly, I, uh…”

“Do it!”

Jessica shut her eyes, as if not witnessing the scene made it somehow OK. In unison, the two women lifted up their shirts. The attendant’s eyes finally opened wide as she confronted two sets of firm round breasts.

Lauren smiled, noting as always that hers were bigger — if Jes hadn’t been such a nancy about surgery, she could have had the same.

Lauren shoved a twenty through the ticket window opening. “That’ll be two for seven each, please.”

As soon as they made their way past the thick dark drape that obscured the door they pulled their shirts back down. Jessica yelped. “Why do I let you talk me into this shit?”

“Relax, will ya?”

“Relax? Just what the hell are we doing here? We’re not into this. And it’s Wednesday night, for god’s sake. We’ve got work in the morning!”

“Look, Jes. They only run this club one night a week. It’s supposed to be the most bizarre in Frisco.”

“So?”

“So? Let’s put it this way. What are we supposed to do this Saturday night?”

“Uh, that party?”

“Right. And who will be the only two women there who have ever been to Bondage-a-Go-Go?”

“Us?”

“We’ll have the undivided attention of every guy.”

“I thought you said the boys back home were boring.”

“Gotta keep ‘em interested, Jes. Don’t want any of my followers to stray.”

Jessica grinned uneasily. She’d known Lauren to have boys wrapped around her finger ever since they were in junior high. When they were kids, Jessica wanted to be more like that, wishing a little of Lauren’s brassy nature would rub off. She was hardly alone. Back then, Lauren was the envy of all the girls. Lately, Lauren snubbed the local guys. The more they wanted her, the less interested she seemed in them.

“Lolly, I just thought of something. What if someone wants to… you know… that whips and chains stuff.”

“Fine by me. As long as we do the whipping,” Lauren laughed.

The bartender smirked when the two pushed their way up through the three-deep crowd and asked for Cosmos. He filled their order, a heavy hand on the vodka. “Newbies,” he whispered to the barback.

The barback sized up the two women. “Blonde. Pretty. Young. Think they’re sisters?”

“Fuck if I know,” the bartender rolled his eyes. “Chicks from the sticks. They all look alike.”

Jessica glanced around the room as she took her first sip. It seemed like any other club, except most of the people looked like characters from an old Prince video. At the end of the room she noticed a ramp that led up to another doorway and what looked like a second large cavern in the back. She could see distant images of wild dancing, smoke and lasers.

“Look over there,” Lauren whispered as she tugged on Jessica’s shirt. To the left side of the ramp a large crowd gathered in the corner.

“What is it?”

“I dunno. Whatever it is, people can’t stop staring. Come on!”

Lauren spilled her drink on the buttcrack of a man in backless chaps as she pushed her way to the front of the mob. She yanked Jessica along by her sleeve. Without ever making a polite remark for their intrusion, the two managed to get up to a thick black rope that sectioned off the corner like a boxing ring.

The space held a small group of women and men, all in various degrees of nudity or leather. A topless woman stood apart from the others, skillfully applying what appeared to be excruciatingly painful clamps on her nipples. Some in the crowd winced as the sharp metal teeth of the vice bit into the rose-colored flesh.

Beyond her a man stood with his back to the room, his forehead pressed against the wall. He was naked, except for black shorts dropped around his ankles. Beside him a woman wearing only panties and garter belt took a big swing with a paddle to connect with the man’s exposed behind. Snap!

“That must hurt,” Lauren said as she raised her eyebrow at Jessica.

“Look at how red his ass is.” Jessica grimaced.

An obese woman got down on all fours in front of them, while another came over and playfully brushed a cat-o’-nine-tails up and down her spine. She turned it around and took the knob of the handle and rubbed it between the woman’s legs. When she moaned with pleasure the dominatrix flipped the whip around and cracked it across the woman’s back. The routine of teasing and punishing went on for several minutes.

Sitting on a stool just outside the rope stanchion was a man in his twenties, dressed in leather from head to toe. He wore a spiked dog collar around his neck, but his light brown hair was cut short, only slightly mussed. Lauren thought he looked like Mel Gibson in The Road Warrior. He was the best looking guy in the place, even if he was a bit seedy.

“Hey you!” Even through the music, she spoke loudly enough to get him to turn and look. “How come you get the front row seat?”

“Well, missy, don’t you see? I’m part of the show,” he said with an unmistakably thick Texas accent.

“All I see is you sitting on your ass, instead of getting it beaten!” Lauren took a playful sip from her drink, already feeling the buzz.

“I play a very important role, darlin’.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m the recruiter.”

“Recruiter? I got a news flash for you, this ain’t exactly the army.”

“Ah, but we are looking for a few good men. And especially a few good women,” he said with a wide smile.

Lauren would find out later his name was Putt, short for Putnam, originally from Texas. “Midland, Texas, to be exact.”

Putt brought Lauren and Jessica up the ramp and down a corridor across from the bathrooms. He unlocked a door that opened to a staircase up to an office, his office – assistant manager. When they got upstairs Lauren took note of a large skylight that allowed anyone in the apartment building next door to see everything.

“You girls sure you want to do this?” Putt asked.

“Do what?” Jessica looked panicked. “Lolly, I never said…”

“Not her, babe. Just me.”

“Where you from?”

“Concord.”

“Oh, a bridge and tunnel girl.”

“Hmmm, I don’t know about the bridge,” Lauren giggled, now realizing she was already plastered after just one drink. How much vodka was in this?

“Just so you know, there are a few ground rules before you can get into that ring.”

“Like?”

“I want to tell you, but those secrets are only for people who get on the other side of the black rope.” Putt stared over at Jessica.

“Lolly, I thought we came here to…”

“Don’t worry, Jes. Putt and I are just gonna have a little chat. Okay?”

“You sure?”

“I’m fine, honey.”

“Well, then I’m going to get in line for the Ladies’ Room. Meet you over at the ropes?”

“Sure thing, babe,” Lauren said as she used the door to push Jessica out of the office. Doesn’t that girl know when she’s not wanted?

“My, my, my,” Putt grinned. “Darlin’, those are a beautiful pair of titties.”

“Well, the ticket girl sure seemed impressed.” Lauren pulled her shirt down, so it wrapped snug on her chest. Without a bra, the slight raise of her areolas emerged through the cotton. Lauren looked down at herself with approval. It was a nice rack.

Putt reached over and began to gently caress. “They’re perfect,” he said. “God doesn’t make ‘em this round in Texas.”

“Well, gawd is not completely responsible,” Lauren mimicked Putt’s drawl.

“I do love you California girls. So adventurous with your bodies.” Putt pinched the left nipple, making Lauren wince — a sensation of pain, yet somehow enjoyable. “You know, I’ve had a little reconstructive surgery of my own. Not at a plastic surgeon. Had it done over at The Gauntlet.”

“What is it? A tattoo?”

“No, it’s a little more personal than that.”

“What is it? Lemme see!”

Putt leaned back against his desk and began the slow process of unbuttoning his black leather pants. He never looked down, but kept his eyes on Lauren as she watched his hands at work. When he got to the final metal stud, he tugged at the two sides until a tuft of black hair surfaced. He shoved his hand down the opening and carefully pulled himself out.

Lauren stared, her fingers instinctually moving to cover her mouth. She’d heard of such things, of course, but had never actually seen one in person. The men back in Concord were too dull and conservative to even think of it. Through the head of Putt’s penis was a metal loop, like the hoop of an earring. Dangling precariously from the ring was a small, precious little gold charm in the shape of Texas.

“It’s called a P.A. Short for Prince Albert.”

“I know what it is… I’ve just never come face to face with one.” Lauren couldn’t stop staring, fascinated by the decadence of it. “Does it hurt?”

“No way, girl. Just a pinch when it happened. It hurts a lot more to have a nipple pierced. Tit pain lasts for months.”

“But… why?” Lauren thought the impracticality astonishing. Could you fuck with it? What about wearing a condom? Would it get stuck in your tonsils?

“Sensitivity. I feel things now that I never could have imagined before.” He explained how the P.A. made even the most mundane motions cause intense stimulation. Pulling up his trousers would almost always cause him to throb. He didn’t dare put on tight-fitting underwear anymore. Once, while riding the crowded MUNI subway car, the constant stir of people brushing up against him caused him to climax and drench himself — it was over before he realized it had started.

“Can I…?” Lauren paused. “Can I touch it?”

“I was hoping you would,” Putt smirked.

Lauren got down on her knees, at first just tentatively tapping with her forefinger. It was odd, yet strangely beautiful. She’d never dreamed that jewelry could be so sleazy. She remembered when she was eleven and had her ears pierced at the mall, without her parents’ permission. Her father was so furious he slapped her across the face. No child of mine is going to look like a slut! The words still stung. They were just earrings, innocent little heart-shaped studs. Her father acted as if she’d been tainted, painted up like a prostitute, no longer a virginal child. Lauren stared at the loop and the little gold charm that seemed to hang by a thread. Dad didn’t know anything. This was dangerous jewelry.

The touch was enough to stir a reaction, and Putt motioned for Lauren to bring her lips closer and take him inside. In moments, he screamed, violently pulling her head until her face was pressed to his abdomen. Now all the way down her throat, she choked for air. After two brutal jolts, and one deep groan, he released her. Lauren gasped for air, annoyed she’d been forced to swallow. In Concord, she’d berate a guy for being so quick on the trigger and not meeting her needs. A damned two-pump bandit! Yet here, in this strange place, being taken so hard was weirdly erotic. That he climaxed so soon had to mean he thought she was hot, right? Raunchy, yes, but exciting. After a few awkward moments of small talk, Putt ushered Lauren back into the club.

***

It took Lauren a few minutes to figure out which song she was dancing to. Then it hit her. The tune was “Love to Love You Baby,” but instead of Donna Summer this version featured a group of screaming men and blaring guitars tearing through a house music thump. Lauren liked the disco version better.

She and Jessica danced with each other for nearly two hours, in between rounds of drinks they had to buy for themselves. No guys ever approached to cut in. Instead, they were surrounded by a perpetual empty space of at least two feet that seemed to follow wherever they went. They were alone in a crowded room, treated as outcasts in a world where leather and metal was the norm. J. Crew wasn’t welcome here.

Fuck ‘em, Lauren thought. None of them had been invited upstairs with Putt. Her mind drifted back to what happened. She knew if she ever told Jessica the details her friend would say she’d been “used.” Lauren didn’t feel used. Instead, it felt like a conquest to mess around with someone like Putt. So what if she barely knew him. Who knows? Maybe there could be more someday.

As the next song started to play, a rap metal version of “You Light Up My Life,” Lauren felt suddenly nauseous. Must be cheap booze. She’d asked for top shelf, but in a dive like this she couldn’t be sure what they actually poured. Maybe her stomach was upset from what happened with Putt. It was pretty abrupt.

“I feel like I’m going to yack,” Lauren declared. “Let’s split.”

In the car headed up Harrison Street to the highway entrance, Jessica pointed out the open window. “Hey, isn’t that Putt?”

Putt was on the opposite side of the street, walking back to toward the club. He held a flimsy white paper plate up to his mouth with both hands and munched on a gooey slice of pizza. Lauren screeched her car into a mid-block U-turn on the one-way street, pulling onto the sidewalk facing the wrong direction. She narrowly missed hitting a young man in red leather on a neon pink Vespa. He cursed her, but she ignored him and left the lights on with the engine running as she jumped out of the car and raced up to Putt. “Hey, give me a bite of that,” she said playfully.

“What?” Putt mumbled through a mouthful of pesto with sausage.

“Give me a bite of that.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Putt, it’s me — Lauren. From the club? Remember?”

“Yeah, I know who you are.” He took another bite and spoke with his mouth full. “What do you want?”

“I want a bite of that pizza.” Lauren smiled wide, still a little light-headed from the drinks. What a coincidence to run into Putt again. She didn’t want to read too much into it, but—

“Fuck off.” Putt kept walking.

Lauren caught up to him, suddenly jolted back into sobriety by anger. “What do you mean, fuck off?”

“I mean, get lost. I don’t want your dirty mouth on my pizza.”

“Dirty?” Lauren yelled. “It wasn’t so dirty two hours ago! Now I can’t even have a bite of your pizza!”

“Darling, it’s what we did that made your mouth so dirty.” Putt swallowed. “Can’t hardly believe you’re still hungry.”

“Asshole!”

“Yeah, yeah. Go home to Concord. I reckon there must be a TGI Fridays or something there that’s more your speed.”

Lauren tried to scream again. Nothing came out. Suddenly she had an uncontrollable urge to spit. Her stomach. The nausea again. At first, little drops washed up. Then she hocked up thick phlegm from the back of her throat. The sudden confrontation on the street, mixed with too much booze — the contents of her stomach violently surged. But it was blocked. She hacked to the point of hyperventilation, then dropped to her knees and vomited.

“Stupid bitch. Gimme that back!” Putt knelt down next to the spill. He used two fingers to carefully reach into the puddle and fish out a small shiny gold object.

It was the tiny Texas charm from his P.A.

The drive back to Concord went in silence until the two women got to Jessica’s home. The whole trip Jessica tried to think of something to say to console her friend, but knew that anything would come out wrong. In Concord, nothing like this would ever happen. Men there loved Lauren. She was the one who dumped them when they’d served their purpose. Why couldn’t she be content with a normal, nice guy? To Jessica, it seemed like these days all Lauren wanted were men who would never work out. It was like Lauren was on a mission to convert the hardcore cases, the ones who could never really be bent to her will. It made no sense. Jessica worried where these antics would lead her best friend. She silently vowed to keep an eye on Lauren, to intervene if she could. Much good it would do, she knew, since Lauren rarely — if ever — listened to others.

“Thanks honey,” Jessica said as they pulled up to her apartment. She spoke softly as she opened the door, not wanting to wake her neighbors. “Try to cheer up, Lolly. Just think… we’ll be the life of the party on Saturday when we tell people we’ve been to Bondage-a-Go-Go. For twelve bucks, it was an interesting place.”

Lauren looked straight ahead, her face expressionless. “Seven, Jes. We paid seven.”

Copyright © 2007 Kemble Scott