Dancing to the Death of Beauty

dancers_again

Drug dealers only ever offer me cocaine. We are in Portugal, an old man grabs my arm, he smiles, his teeth are black.

“What?”

“Cocaine-ah?”

“Why would you offer me cocaine? You have offered everyone else here Hashish but yet you offer me cocaine? I don’t think I look like I like cocaine.”

“You do kind of look like you like cocaine,” Hank says, standing back.

“Why cause I’m skinny and white? Maybe I like Hashish, you’re skinny and white but they still offer you Hashish!”

“Hashish?”

“What?” I turn back to the old man. He had replaced the bag of cocaine with what looked like a balled up brownie.

“What is that?”

“Hashish.”

I sigh. “No, no–thank you.”

He frowns, looking hurt. He reaches in his pocket, pulls back out the bag of cocaine. “Cocaine-ah?” he asks, sheepish.

“No! Thanks,” I tell him. He sighs, shuffling over to a group of French girls nearby. “Hashish?” he asks them.

Hank and I walk on. We find a half-circled row of steps at the end, leading into the sea. A crowd has formed there. Below, a band, a couple flamenco dancers are getting ready to perform.

“Why can’t people just offer me some pot for once?” I ask. But, Hank isn’t listening. He is one of those people always looking for beauty behind every corner. So, anytime someone does something, claiming beauty, he plays close attention–hopeful. If it is beautiful, he gets annoyed at his own short-comings, if it isn’t, he gets annoyed at the short-comings of the rest of the world.

What happens next makes “beautiful” look like a truly dull and worthless word. They are all over the platform–clapping, stomping, hollering. The guitarist narrates in Portuguese as the man and woman dance. We can’t understand; it doesn’t matter. It is like watching two storms make love. The woman, wearing red–violent. The man, his white shirt open; his whole chest beating. There is something about it, something sexual–no, the word “sexual” is a party-cracker to the napalm that is their dance.

I try to imagine the pair having sex and all I see is a building being demolished. I try to picture myself, brazen, following the pair to bed; my mind backs away, scared as a puppy following the scent of steak into a fire.

When it ends, the woman sets her foot down with such force it cracks the cobble-stone. Finally, I take a breath.

“Good lord,” I say, turning to Hank. He is looking down at his own hands, he is weeping.

“I’m worthless!” he cries at them.

I reach out and pat him on the back, gently.

 

 

 

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41 comments

  1. Absolutely Brilliant! Apologies I have not been reading more of your work lately, I have a stack of uni texts to get through – obvs I’m keeping up to date with Frank lol! Great writing, really great – see ya on Saturday 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, thanks. I’m glad you’ve been keeping up with Frank. Almost done. I think only six or seven stories left to go for him. But I’m glad you liked this piece. Just wrote it a bit ago and decided I liked it better than the other story I had planned for today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love reading as much as I love writing and when a piece compels me to write some form of response then I’m happiest. I love that feeling when you close a book and think wow! well it’s the same with blogs, sometime you haven’t the words to tell someone how their piece moves you and most of the time ‘lovely’ or an emoji is all you can type yet you know it means much much more and stays with you … I love how rich your short stories are, I have no problem passing this onto you as they thoroughly entertain me

        Liked by 2 people

  2. You have a lot of humorous moments flash, but also thoughtful moments. The humorous refer to your typical phrases … hmm, why they always offer you the harder drugs, no idea.
    The beauty dies here in history, I find at least as much to the howl as Hank.
    I wondered how Hank was conscious of it? Because he certainly does not have the clarified idea that these couple were only actors, at best show their show in a dream world and then land after the final Fustritt in the real world, which is unbearable…poor Hank!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think it depends how you see Hank’s character. He is, slightly, insane and out of touch with reality but in a way sometimes more in touch than the other characters. Something for me to think about, thanks. And it is true, for some reason I always, always get offered cocaine. I was just traveling with my mom and brother and even in America people do it. No idea why.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks Flash for the answer …. Ui, with which cocaine must be your look or behavior? … you get a Rasta-peruke and then perhaps this is not any more? … .. I think of a joke:
        Three men sit in jail for drugs and think about how to break out.
        The heroin-dependent thinks: “Quite simple, we’ll get a shot and we’ll fly like the angels through the bars.”
        Then my cocaine-dependent is excited: “nonsense, we take a line and wouuuushhhh, we speed between the bars through”
        The pothead takes his time and thinks, “Do you know what guys, we smoke a joint first and then we just wait until tomorrow!”
        …… I realized already, that Hank is a bit crazy and that he has a very honest heart. Why should he not have contact with reality, I do not quite understand. I would adopt him, if that is possible …; )

        Liked by 2 people

      • I´m really the badest narrator of jokes…this one was at least nice, as I heard it….yes, you are right adopting adults is not possible….hmm, I really would have loved to meet in person….and I hope that he will contact reality soon!!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that’s an excellent short story, Flash. There is, perhaps, an implied equivalence between the beauty of art (flamenco in this case) and drugs. You are “offered cocaine” because your response is so vivid, while those around you are only offered hashish – their response is less keenly felt. And Hank, of course, is a long-term beauty addict, who no longer gains pleasure from the drug, but craves it, and suffers when he can’t get it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ohhh, Penny this is very interresting. I understood why Cocaine is offered instead of dope. But I want still fight for Hank! He is addicted to beauty you say, but how did he realize that the beauty is lost for him.
    For me Hank is not somebody looking around and thinking oh nice face, beautiful boobs, I´m in love…..I thought he was more about sincerely love, that he found his soulmate? He would never ever have doupt in his love….he would perhaps wish to dance with his soulmate like this, but he also knew, that afterwards there is still the same love, after removing makeup, with all the odor of sweat, and all these things……

    Liked by 1 person

      • He is obsessed with beauty. In this case the beauty of the dance, the couple or the harmony of the couple. He is endlessly sad because he thinks, that he is not able to keep up with this beauty. Also you could confirm that this demonstration goes beyond the scope of eroticism and I find the already mentioned sentence very interressting: “scared as a puppy following the scent of steak into a fire.” … it smells so seductive, but even the puppy knows that it does not get the steak from the fire without burning its muzzle. Just a little remark from my pantasie: Hank, yes look at your hands, your body and your brain, you can do the same beauty. I´m sure. And Flash, a lot of people love dogs, and who can resist puppies? Go for the steak it´s yours!

        Liked by 1 person

      • haha yes. And yes, I think this is a good perspective on it. Beauty and sex are not connected for Hank like they are for the main character. I think Hank is seeing the beauty far more than the narrator understands.

        Liked by 1 person

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