Saturday, May 10, 2008


"Tickets!" the old woman shouts. Her hair is a dull gray mess of tangled curls which bob placidly just above her shoulders. Her bold lipstick contrasts glaringly with her faded sweatshirt and dirty jeans. She winds her way around the aluminum picnic benches, eyeing everyone, aged penny loafers sifting dust up from the dirt floor. "Tickets!", she demands. No one escapes her vulture like gaze, no worm or grub will crawl through this carcass and escape her greedy maw. Once received, she tears them with her withered hands. Maroon polished finger tips separate the serrated edges, breaking through the matte red paper board like beastly talons. Relishing the moment, she hands back the stubs with calculated sloth. Those without tickets scatter from her path and make their way to the ticket counter. It is a tiny shanty built of aluminum paneling, cardboard, and scrap.
A younger woman, hair pulled back in a boorish chestnut pony tale, sells the tickets from within, peering out the window of a door removed from a white pickup truck. The raised bucket seat upon which she sits has also been salvaged from a gutted wreck. She wears no make up and avoids eye contact and chit chat with the patrons. When forced to answer a question her voice conveys an apocalyptic lack of enthusiasm. Her dull blue eyes are like mirrored surveillance glass; she sees right through everything and everyone, but none can see behind their perpetually bored glare.
Beyond the ticketing area, the stage is no more than a generous patch of dirt surrounded by private boxes which resemble chicken coops. Each coop contains a queen sized bed. Huddled upon one, a group of teenage girls chatter and chew gum. Their hair is long, their earrings dangly and fashioned in neon colors. They wear hoodies of gray and black. Some don patches sewn or tacked on with safety pins. Squeezed into tight fitting denim cigarette pants, they giggle and gossip about the occupants of other boxes while painting their fingernails a whitchy shade of metallic purple.
In another box, a man and woman lie on their sides making love half under the sheets. Their down tempo thrusting and wiggling is in plain view. The woman, a waif like blonde, murmurs and moans volubly as her companion slowly presses his erect penis into her glistening slit, then just as slowly pulls it all of the way out again.
Yet another box holds an elderly Asian couple. They sit with impeccably upright posture, glancing furtively over at the passionate lovers. The woman’s hair is cut in a short black bob. The crisp collar of her blouse is visible over the v neck of an apple red sweater. The man’s face is flecked with sun spots folded into his wrinkles. He wears a powder blue fisherman’s cap to conceal his bald head. Both wear white socks under their sandals. They look from the lovers to their own bed with its tacky flowered comforter anxiously, trying to occupy the least amount of space possible, while wondering how often the sheets are washed. They speak to one another occasionally in short hurried snippets of Chinese, affirming their mutual concern and disgust.
Some elders share a box with a bedraggled pack of punks and street kids. The top dog is an older man with a sandy colored beard. He wears tattered blue jeans and a faded red tee shirt to reveal arms adorned with dull green tattoos. A single petite gold hoop hangs from one stretched looking earlobe. He is well recognized by everyone in his box, and among many of the spectators in other boxes. He holds a smoking cigarette in his left hand while gesturing with it towards a red record held in his right hand as he tells a "story of the time when…" with great conviction in its relevance. The younger boys look on with admiration and nod their hooded heads approvingly.
White Christmas lights, strung from coop to coop, provide some scant illumination. The pit at the center of the ring of boxes is lit by a handful of stage lights. Their haunting glow is cast over the dirt and extends into the boxes so that the shabby motel quality beds cast eerie shadows.

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