The Strip

By Amy Clark

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People make too much of dissociation—it’s a wonderful coping skill. Time honored, really.  I’m not a multiple, mind you.  It is just that if you need to touch my body, don’t worry; I have some place to go where I can’t be bothered.

Let me pause here, while I undress. I’m going to do this carefully, seductively even, although you’re sitting there on the mattress; all ramped up for something more. 

Here is a bit of collarbone.  Not as fine as when I was younger but still enough to catch an eye or two.  I’m leaving my hair down for now. Later, I’ll pull it back and let you glimpse more of my neck.      

So, let’s talk about my cashier job when I was a kid.  That was the beginning or nearly the beginning. This is not every woman’s story, and mine doesn’t begin in childhood, but as a teen. Believe me, there are much sadder lives.  If you were staying longer, I could share those too, but this was meant to be a brief transaction unless you’re willing to cough up more cheese.   

I ‘m getting away from the story… When the register from the night before didn’t balance, the manager asked me to work longer so he and the other cashier could find the error.  I didn’t think much about walking alone into the parking lot after they let me go.  Perhaps I was more tired than usual. Nor did I notice much other than the January air whipping through the trees. There’s something about the ugly bones of trees in winter that makes me sick even now.  I can’t tell you if it was a moonless night, or how many cars were parked back by the back fence, or why I didn’t hear the footsteps until it was too late.

Those details aren’t important. Here, let me unbutton my shirt further and release my arms.  I’ve never had a great rack, and I hope you’re not disappointed, but my breasts are still perky, upright, and pink-nippled.

So, let me return to the parking lot.  I don’t know what made me turn around, but when I did, two men stood there just a foot away. Now, here’s the thing, today, you could never get that close to me. Not on your life—is that how it goes?  I found my voice that night, or some would say I lost it—but I definitely possess a scream now. It’s full-bodied with just the right tinge of hysteria.  It’s frightened many a man.

But I was a younger then and made not a squeak.

I am going to ease out of this bra, one shoulder at a time, unfurling my attributes. I know that you want to touch and taste them, but that comes later. For now, just look. These are breasts that an infant once pulled on, but I’m not going to discuss my child with you, not tonight, not ever.

Do you understand that the men meant me harm?  One of them held a revolver.  I had never seen a gun. Later, people told me that it was probably a snub-nosed .38, but those are technical matters, not central to the heart of things.

You’re perhaps wondering what else I have to show. Okay, I’m willing to slip the zipper on my skirt and let the fabric flutter to the ground, where it will land with a gentle slap. I’m wearing lacey panties. I hope that you like them. I’m a clean woman, but like all our sex, they betray a faint musk. 

My body is not the best, but I’m good with my hands and my tongue.  Sometimes, you fuckers have to take what you get.  

Oh, and the men in the parking lot? They pushed me onto the back seat of my car and drove me for miles.  I couldn’t tell where, only that we were stopping and starting and turning in the dark.  Perhaps I imagined seeing streetlights filtering through the window, but it is all blurry to me now.

Before I remove my heels, I’m going to walk around once slowly in just my thong, my nipples turning cold from the air—not from excitement, mind you.  But you don’t know the difference.  At this point, you’re slack-jawed and touching yourself, which makes me hate you a little, and if you really want to know, pity you a little too. 

So, those men taught me something in the back of that car.  Not just sex, mind you, but more. They made me understand life.  Not the life you imagine as a kid, watching TV or curled up in bed reading books; but more how it really is.

Can I tell you a secret?  I couldn’t help myself from crying and shaking like a little girl, which was the wrong thing to do.  It made one of the men begin to yell over and over again—“Let’s shoot the bitch.”  But I only sobbed louder then until the other man whispered in my ear—“I won’t let him hurt you.”

I see you staring at my calves. Men say my legs are my best feature; they’re long and still slender. I can wrap them around you or kick them straight up in the air, whichever you prefer.

I hope that you are enjoying them because that is why I am still wearing the damn heels.  But I am going to slip them off too in a second.  But let me spin around and if you promise not to touch anything else for the moment, I am going to let you tug down the lace covering my lady bits, pull them over my strong thighs, and let them drop to the floor. Oh, and yes, for your pleasure, I have made myself completely hairless, so that you can imagine that you’re pumping your load into an innocent child.

And the men. Did they jerk off inside me over and over? Did they curse me when I didn’t know how to do it right?  Of course, you and I both know the answer to those questions.  But, I learned how to blow a man that night and I’m actually pretty accomplished now.  In time, you’ll be writhing with pleasure.    

So, what about my neck.  Let me pull my hair back and show you.  It’s long and lovely.  When I finally married, my husband would grab it and choke me.  Not to the point of unconsciousness, but just enough, so I knew who was boss.  Why is this so important to men?

Let me tell you about being tied up on a hook in the basement of a burned out house. Oh, I know you aren’t interested, but I’m going to lower myself down to lick the inside of your thighs, while my hands work over you.  I’m still wearing the heels, and the right one is uncomfortable as shit.  When I pause for a second, my mouth just centimeters from your smelly dick, I’m going to give you that dirty, naughty girl look like I can’t get enough, even though I want to gag and vomit all over your crotch.  And, I’m going to finish my story.

The bottom line—I got away.  In the dark, they couldn’t see well enough to tie my hands tight.  I was skinny then with little wrists. I escaped or didn’t escape, depending upon your interpretation, into the night by crawling through a basement window.  Although I should’ve let them kill me and not brought shame to my family—who can’t look me in the face even to this day.

And, to tell you the truth, I don’t much care what they did to me.  Just like now, I’ve crawled somewhere inside myself.  When I even pay any attention at all, it is like I’m looking down, hovering somewhere near the light dome on the ceiling of the car, just watching.

Could I have healed myself somehow?  Did I really need to drink and use smack in order to cope? Am I rationalizing my choice of profession? Sure, but that’s fucking hindsight baby—twenty—twenty.

 What about the man that promised not to hurt me?  I am hopelessly grateful.  Even while he defiled me with come and sweat, I felt gratitude.  Really, I did.  Still do till this day.

Or maybe I hate him. I get confused sometimes. 

My tongue and the pressure of my lips are working you up.  My hair is brushing over your sweaty body, but I’m careful not to let you wrap your hands around those strands.  We’re not done, because you paid for a half and half.

But, I have something in my hand that I took out of my shoe.  Maybe it’s a condom.  Maybe it’s a shank. You’ve got some praying to do and getting right with Jesus. You’d better pray that I’m at least a little bit healed.

– Amy Clark