Based on a Real Dancer
Driving down Burnside that time of night had become a part of my routine. It had gotten so she didn’t have to call. I just went there. Right around when I passed the Doug Fir, I always expected to see neon lights or a spotlight. I expected the building to tower over the others and be covered entirely with flashing lights. I wanted people lined up next to a velvet rope leading to a three-hundred pound bouncer with a ponytail and his arms crossed. Every night, for a split second, my mind filled in all those images. Then, my eyes replaced them with track lighting, decrepit pillars and a dingy overhang. Nobody outside. Just pavement leading up to that frozen black silhouette strutting on that red door.
“Based on a real dancer,” she’d told me that night she wasn’t ready to go home and had paid me to drive her along Marine Pkwy, so she could watch the planes gliding in to land.
And every time I saw the place for what it was, well, I guess you could say that I wanted more for her.
I pulled into the lot, parked, and lit up a cigarette to give her time to come out. I fiddled with the radio and reset the meter as I waited. No matter how routine going there had become, I couldn’t keep my heart from racing in that parking lot. I knew there were cameras watching the lot, and drunks that might stumble over to my cab and try to get in, and a driver had been robbed at knifepoint by a phony fare a month ago just a block away. None of these is the reason why I could never sit still.
Fifteen minutes and two cigarettes dragged by before I couldn’t take it anymore and I went inside. The bouncer—the fat, five-foot-three, bald one—didn’t recognize me and shook his head.
“Done for the night.”
I told him I was there for her.
The last time when I’d had to go inside—that time because the bartender had made her wait to trade in her ones. She’d called over to him, and said, “That’s my driver.” I don’t know why it had mattered to me or why I still remember it. Maybe because she’d looked at me for a second after she’d said it and smiled. Then, as I’d walked past second stage and up to the bar, she’d hugged me with one arm, the one not holding the grip of cash.
He said he thought she’d left already. I shook my head.
“I’m her driver,” I said.
He yelled over to the bar.
“Hey, did Destiny leave yet?”
Someone yelled back. But I couldn’t hear. He turned to me and shrugged.
Then, another girl appeared from behind him.
“Destiny’s boyfriend picked her up already. But I need a ride. Hang on.”
I shook my head.
But then I took her home, because I needed the money.
| COPYRIGHT 2006-2011
Portland Fiction Project
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED