These Kind Faces
Jane wrinkled her nose, knowing that the bar’s smoke would stay on her skin even after she’d showered. Still, she wandered further into the bar, letting her eyes adjust to the shadows. The walls were a classic black; she wondered if it was due to a lack of imagination or a need to showcase a hard outer shell, to prove its authenticity. Some of the wallpaper was peeling and exposed a light brown paint. A scratched mirror hung near the hallway that lead to the bathrooms, and a pool table sat under one of the few lights, unoccupied. Budweiser flashed in red, seemingly timed with the alternative rock. She had heard of this place, but had never been, and she knew she was overdressed. It was a dive bar, not a cocktail lounge, and yet there she was in her lacy white cotton dress. The tear in her black fishnets felt blaringly obvious, and suddenly made her feel self-conscious. She resisted the urge to adjust the lining of her tights under her dress. She sat at the bar, ordered a Shirley temple with vodka, unsure of what to do by herself. This is what lonely people do, she thought, Wait in bars hoping someone will notice them. And of course she knew they would notice someone like her, but as a try-hard. Black ankle boots and white frilly socks, like she couldn’t decide if she wanted to be innocent or adventurous. She tucked her brown hair behind her ear, a nervous tick despite her short chin bob keeping hair out of her face. She scanned the room quickly, looking for some hint of light, of something special, and finding none. This was not the kind of place good girls went to find lovers. She neared the end of her cocktail and noticed a black shape shift out of the corner of her eye. A man in a clichéd black leather jacket, t-shirt, and jeans, an empty highball glass clutched in his palm. His curly hair was slick with grease, and she was unable to tell if it was styled or unwashed. He tipped his glass towards her.
“Care for another?” he asked.
Why not? she thought. Who else would she find? It was nearing midnight, and there were only six people in the bar, including the bartender.
“Thanks,” she said. “I’m Jane.”
He scooted closer, adjusted his hips in the seat next to her, keeping his hands aimed away from her. He seemed to want to tempt her forward, but not pressure her; it was almost as if he slithered, careful movements meant to entrap her. “Manny,” he said. “You’re new around here?”
She knew she looked the part of a young student, but she wanted to feign an air of maturity. An edge of experience. She didn’t know this man, nor did she know this side of town. “I just graduated”, she nodded, “from the college.”
“Ah, college girl.” He smiled. His eye twinkled in the light, like a wink, and she felt her stomach flutter. He could prey on her innocence, or he could be making simple conversation. She realized she could smell his cologne, a deep scent that reminded her of pine and campfires. She wondered if his skin smelled like that, if he could smell her own scent. “Such an experimental time in your life.” He lifted his head, looking at the top shelf behind the counter. There were bags under his eyes, dark and rigid, and it made her wonder how old he was. “What’s one thing you wish you would’ve done while you were in school?”
It was obviously a sexual question, meant to entice her. Or was it? Was she the kind of girl that jumped to sexual conclusions? She hesitated, and thought honestly for a moment. Use a stranger in a public restroom, cum and writhe and moan until I know everyone can hear us. While she knew what she was after, she was still impulsively coy. She was a shy girl, a good girl, the respectable kind of girl that didn’t sleep with men that made advances towards women decades younger than themselves. She still wanted to play pretend. Like a spider weaves its web, silky and shiny and invisible and a goddamn trap, so did Jane play the game she knew they were entwined with. “I don’t know,” she said. “Sky-diving.” She rolled her eyes, letting the mask slip.
He chuckled. “I’ve been,” he said. She fought her facial expressions, trying to seem impressed. “Twice,” he added. Good for you, she thought, then shook her head.
“I wish I had done bad things,” she said, quietly, soft enough she was almost sure he wouldn’t hear it. It was a seed; if he was paying attention, if he really wanted to fuck her, he would hear it, would know what she meant, would take it as the signal to take her.
He put his arm around her back and spun her stool so that she was facing him, put his hands on her thighs, pushing them apart slightly. Fabric fell between her legs, covering the curve of her sex. She could feel bar’s hot air like a warm mouth. Goosebumps erupted all over her body, her nervous system overwhelmed by this touch. She had been with lovers before, but never this quickly, and never with such intentions.
“You’re not a good girl,” he said. She had half expected him to continue, to tack on a confirmation: Are you? But it was an observation, not a question. He had seen through her schemes, and known that she was a saccharine darling who craved debasement, who wanted to be anything other than what she was.
“Does that make me bad?” she whispered.
His finger gently touched her chin, pulled her up so that she was looking into his eyes. Her hair fell back slightly, and those brown eyes sparkled like she could give him the life he always wanted, even if she had to pay a price. The way he stared at her then, she knew he wanted to fuck her, and she wanted to give that to him, this stranger, this man she would never see again.
He stood up, gestured with his hand for her to do the same. His hand lingered over a twenty on the counter as he glanced at the back of the bar. His hand grasped hers, pulling her towards the hallway, a door at the end that must’ve lead to an alley. Out of fear or adrenaline or excitement, she opened the bathroom door to her left and slammed herself inside, locking it, nearly giddy with laughter, her heart pounding. The bathroom reeked of piss and bleach, but she gasped, the solitude was the fresh air she dreaded and needed at the same time. She leaned back on the door, faced the mirror, saw herself: slender shoulders, the dip in her collar bones, tight breasts, freckled skin, and dark eyes, hollowed out by the lights. She wondered how long it would take him to finally give up, to beg for her. The thought filled her with a deep power, a compulsion, a need.
“Sweetheart,” he said, dragging out the two syllables like they were dipped in syrup. The door muffled the sound, and it made him seem like he was off in another universe, chipping away at a cave, an endless task that could lead to a black hole, somewhere else.
“Wait for me,” Jane whispered. She stared at herself, unzipped her dress, watched it fall to the ground. Dug out of her purse, she took a razor in her palm, a thin blade from one of the disposable razors she had purchased for her legs, what her friend from high school had said she used on her arms. It was thin, really, less deliberate than scissors. Still, she watched herself, one hand feeling her breasts and the other gripping the blade, tempting herself with it.
“Sweetheart.” Had he already forgotten her name, or did he think sweet nothings would be enough venom for a girl like her? She tickled the blade near her areolas, watched a white line form on her skin, similar to the lines paperclips made on her skin when she was a schoolgirl. “I know you’re in there,” he said.
And soon you will be too. Bad girls know what they want, she thought.
She pressed the blade hard between her breasts, a straight line down, searching between like she could cut herself in two. Enough to make her bleed, but not enough to harm her. She wanted to see what it’d feel like, to see what would happen, to know what a bad man would do to a girl like her. Drops of blood pooled on the sides of the cut, rippling out, filling so full that one dropped down, traced her stomach. She was entranced by it, seeing herself come to the surface, leaving her body like it never belonged to her, like she didn’t really exist. She parted her legs, feeling her moisture string between her thighs.
“Sweetheart,” he said. “If you don’t give it to me, who will? Who will I break tonight?”
The door clicked to unlock, the sound inviting him in. He turned the knob slowly and saw her there: short hair curled around her face, parted lips, wearing only fishnets, the band tight around her waist with unruly tears, and a red line drawn down her middle like a target. It didn’t take long for him to unzip his jeans, pull out his hard cock, and shove it inside her wet slit; a little psycho wouldn’t stop him. Fuck, fuck, fuck, he thought, lifting her up and resting her ass on the sink, and she gasped too, the blood staining his t-shirt and the sleeves of his jacket sticking to his sweating arms. He gripped her ass, pulling her cheeks apart, spreading her wide to give her every offering he could imagine, his little sacrificial lamb. But she was no lamb, not with what she was hiding beneath her exterior, tempting men like him, beckoning them on and deep down the rabbit hole, and he was so helpless, wasn’t he, offering his services to her. She put the blade in his hand.
“Cut me,” she said. “Cut me. I know you want to.” And he did want to. He took the blade to her neck and forced himself, deep enough that he could taste her, the metallic fear and feeling and fucking that made his dick hard and made it almost unbearable not to destroy her like this. His finger trailed over her ass, tickling the ridges, and he would hurt her there too. He would show her what bad men did to girls like her.