Tipping the Velvet

The room was old. 100+ years old, and situated on the third floor of a five-story historic building in the forgotten section of downtown. Light bathed the mattress on the floor, and the man about to be laying on it, like a piss-yellow spotlight. It wasn’t a 100-watt bulb, more like a 40, but it did the trick. It helped him see things in a darker light. Like the paint on the walls still peeling, and the night stealing the man from his senses. That room was her.

The woman who just sauntered in like she owned the place, did so as he flipped the mirror around to face the wall. Like it was a mischievous little boy in a classroom tasked to sit in the corner. Some things don’t need to be seen in a light such as hers. Comfortable and warm. It may have shone quiet and lonely, but that’s all she had to give in this context. It was a good match, because that’s all he could receive. We all do our best with what we’ve got, and Billy and Linda made the best of it on quite a few occasions.

A light breeze rustled the thinned, city-stained curtains, and the smell of rain followed it in like a faithful shadow. Tipping the velvet as she positioned herself over him and in tune with the weather. It followed her when it was needed to give rise to her senses, which elevated his as well, as the stale, musty air ceded to the smell of rain. It has always been like this. If it wasn’t ghetto in aesthetics and purpose, you could see it close-up from there.

Stealing away the subtle promise of more, she comes with a quick cloud swell. He lies still, seeing only her shadow on the north wall while feeling the shudder in her thighs. Nothing changes in her eyes. Just the glow getting brighter—two fireflies. This is what he looks forward to. There is something more beautiful in the shadow than in the flesh, and when they mesh, he can see the dark angel. Proud to be out, while anxious to get back in. Some angels need—but don’t want—this sin.

Their hugs are tender and innocent in their strength. She gives what he needs and no more. Predetermined arrangements made by their mutual and natural abilities. We all do our best with what we’ve got.

The whore bath is quick and to the point. Reapplying and readjusting her old-school, downtown clothing, soft words are spoken. Her lips as tender as southern-spun satin, then she’s gone.

He leans against the window, striking a match to fire the cigarette, watching her walk. Three stories up, looking down on dark angels. Under the EL train she goes, twirling once with arms outstretched, as if embracing the light mist illuminated by the streetlamp.

Caught in her grip like dying butterflies, he spies her as she smiles up at him like a crow with a new soul. She makes him smile. She makes him see the art in life. “Bin I verliebt?” he asks himself, his senses out of sync with time.

He turns and makes his way to the mirror on the north wall, beside the window and opposite the door. It hangs on a thin wire, like the light. Like him. He flips it around and sees himself turning away. Dark, quiet feelings are vampires. No need to reflect on anything but their own murky love, living at home.

Another episode of a currently trending sci-fi series accompanies him into the night. He doesn’t want to lose her. There’s not much there, but it’s all he’s got. All she has is the promise of a soul. Billy has lived a few lifetimes in one, and dedicated his life to none. What little identity one could say he has, is one of many in his world.

They meet in that room because they could always see each other deep in that ghetto ambiance.

They could elsewhere, surely, but they are maturing their superstitions of life and love in a way that is comfortable for them. Two shadows in a hidden mirror.