A FRIGGIN’ STAR • by Joel Willans

I’m a friggin’ star, I tell Bev in a telephone call from Istanbul. She laughs just like I knew she would and I ask her to please wait for me. I’m coming back to you, doll, soon as I can. I need you. You’re my muse. You’re my everything. She hangs up. I stare up at the ceiling and lose myself in the intricacy of the design. I wish I had my pad so I could sketch it down, store it away, use it someday.

“Spy, spy the pretty one,” the girl says from the foot of my bed. I look down between my toes and chuckle.

She’s a beauty. Italian, I think, or Greek maybe. Her hair’s blonde, though, and she has blue-green eyes that look all the more amazing sitting in her caramel-coloured face. I wonder whether her hair is really that light. It looks a cert that I’ll find out soon enough.

She stands up and starts gyrating, teasing me with a slow motion belly dance. She is still wearing her bikini and I can just make out my scrawl on the top of her breast.

“Sign me. Sign my titties,” she said as I rocked into the hotel. “They’re the finest in Turkey.”

“I’d rather not, Madam,” I said all pompous, which made the lads laugh because they knew I was at my weakest after a gig.

It’s all that adoration, waves and waves and waves of it. It has its own smell. A mix of perfume and sweat, panties and smoke. It smells sweet even when it doesn’t.

“Please sign them, just one. I dare you!”

I snatched her pen.

The lads cheered.

And now she’s in my bedroom doing this thing with her belly and I’m so close to screwing her on these pink silk sheets, I might as well get up now and flush my wedding ring down the pan.

“You want me to dance different?” She puts one finger on her lip and tilts her head and I wonder if she makes her living seducing weak-willed minor rock stars. “I have so many moves you don’t believe.”

I want to say yes so bad. My body is screaming at me like a manic groupie. Give it to her, Jacko, give it to her. I get up and swagger towards her, doing the hips thing that always gets the phalanx of babes crushed at the front howling like hounds, and she nods. She nods because she has me.

I sigh, stroke her face and hold her hand.

“I only want you for your voice. You know that, right?” She laughs. “Kiss me with that special mouth.”

Funny and flirty. I take a deep breath, filling my head with her scent, coconut, sunshine and whiskey. I close my eyes and imagine her with me and it looks so, so good.

When I open them, she’s still there, lingering like a saucy dream.

“Come on, kiss me.”

I hesitate for a second and then with a shake of my head, I pass her my coat. “I wish I could, babe. You’re a real beauty, but the only thing I’m kissing tonight is this.”

I clench my fist, bring it to my mouth and kiss the gold band Bev gave me when I was still battling barmaids and gambling machines for my audience’s attention. The girl looks confused, strokes the coat I’ve put around her shoulders and, with a shrug, slips out the door.

I feel great. Better than I have for weeks. I replay those final words in my head. A cinema moment. Fucking poetry in motion. Bowie couldn’t have done it better. I thank Bev and grab a hotel pen. It’s small and plastic, but when I write those opening lyrics, magic flows from the nib.

Englishman Joel Willans currently lives in Helsinki, Finland, where he edits a travel blog and works as an ad agency copywriter. A Pushcart Prize nominee, his stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio, and published in many anthologies and magazines, including First Edition, Pen Pusher, Brand, Southword, Riptide and Route. Online, his work can be found at places like Pank, Word Riot and Boston Literary Magazine. In 2008, he won the Yeovil Literary Prize and Global Short Story Award.

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