Little Feet (‘80) by Giacomo Lee

I can smell guns in the club tonight.

I’m on roller skates as carefree as can be though, lollipop the colour of cherry on my tongue, cocktail in a milkshake glass.

My black skirt sways above my blue cool leggings and strawberry patterned skates under a white dotted black belt. My top is also dark, lightened by a ruby diamond hanging from my neck. I have a thick yellow hoop round one wrist and more dots on my blue headband, which I’ll swap for a red one later cos of the heat from the bass and bodies, lightened by a repeated synth line which glistens around and within us.

Will it spin?

Will it soar…

I show off my thighs on wheels like all the girls, while the men hide theirs in dark trousers with same coloured suits and hair, in threes or more on benches around the perimeter of the club, the rink. This is the Bathhouse in Roma, and tonight I circle one man in particular because he’s new and stood by a bar table alone, a lost look in his eyes though he’s a killer like the rest, must be.

Working the machine…

On my fourth spin he reaches out for me, pulling me by the elbow to his side.

‘Federica.’

He nods and looks away without letting go of my arm. He pulls out cigarettes from a breast pocket, offers me one. I take and smile, and he still hasn’t smiled once.

‘Dear, where are your manners?’

‘What do you want?’

‘I meant your name, not a drink.’

‘…Murderer’ he finally offers.

Soon,

like a wave

I tell him I do bar work, that I want to see a giallo with him, just to keep up a pretence, just to get him to talk, but all he does is linger on my made-up pale face and black lined eyes with half-shut eyes. I see a little sweat beneath his slicked black fringe. I guess he’s a few years younger, round 25. Finely kempt stubble lines his face.

‘I also model’ but he already knows, everyone knows, cos everyone’s a model, going round and round, like the 12 inch mix.

‘I know what you do’ I continue.

He nods.

‘But I don’t care’ and I let him kiss my neck as I loll my head back, just too lost in the synths, a yellow taxi lost in purple at night.

Little memories memories memories memories…

Hm.

Our little dreams…

We’re now on the roller rink and I’m taking him round by the waist, blindly careering backwards as we stare each other out. We spin in an embrace but still he shows no emotion at all, a cool character.

Little memories

marching on…

We lock lips for a little while then halt as the song fades out, changes to Gay Time Latin Lover. Together we charge for the private room, pass a drunk try-hard who would die of shame if he knew what he was actually dancing to at the top of the stairs. I undo my skates and lead him inside.

The indigo room holds a make-up desk, the mirror of which we push ourselves against as we kiss. A mini-bar stands opposite, a violet couch behind us beside a pine wood turntable, but we leave everything untouched.

I blindly unbutton his suit and reach under his shirt, feel something warm and damp. We freeze and without breaking eye contact I pull away from his face. His stare is daring me on, and I look down to see the left side of his white shirt drenched in blood, a deep red patch hidden by the suit for who knows how long.

‘What happened?’

Looking down at his feet, he explains it happened before he staggered to the Bathhouse.

He explains in staggered speech how he knows he’s dying but he doesn’t care that we’re here, in this room, as opposed to anywhere else. Tonight’s his last night no matter what.

‘Do you…care?’ he intones, finally looking up to my eyes with that damp brow.

And I kiss him again, and take off his shirt, and keep kissing, always pressing onto his bullet wound, then reaching round his back as he does the same, using the last of his strength to do so as I push back the bottles and seat him on the make-up desk, then sit upon him and whisper how I want him to come inside me.

Kissing me from the collarbone down, he finally breathes his name into my chest, but I don’t care anymore, lolling my head back with mouth agape.

‘…Our little dreams, working the machine’ I sing.

How can I return to the Bathhouse after this?

This,

a freedom.

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