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Issue number eleven




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Lounge Lizards by Sandra Ramos O'Briant

The reason we ended up in the only strip club in Beverly Hills at the uncool hour of 9:00 p.m. was that my husband had decided to run for the school board without discussing it with me first. "Politics are nasty in this town," I argued. "Venomous."

He picked up the last California Roll with his chopsticks and offered it to me. I didn't want to make a scene in the restaurant, but he needed to come to his senses. We were out on the street, still debating, when he pointed out the club across the street.

"The city council is trying to close it down."†† We stared at the discreet green awning with the words, Amazon Nights, written in white cursive along the border. I headed for it, tugging at his sleeve.

"Someone might see us," he squirmed, and glanced over his shoulder. "The electionó"

"That does it," I said. "We're going in."

The entrance was nondescript and on street level, but the club was two floors down a dimly-lit staircase.† Signs posted in the stairwell read Slippery When Wet and No Scales, No Tails, No Service.† The volume of the music and the humidity increased as we reached a small foyer decorated with palm and giant ferns.

"Five dollars for gents, ladies are always free," a deep, lethargic voice informed us.

Turning, we almost fell over a giant humpbacked tortoise, its lidless eyes watching us, while its long reptilian neck strained toward the overhanging foliage.† My husband removed a five-dollar bill from his wallet and held it with stiffly outstretched arm.† The tortoise took the money between his jaws and chewed it to a pulp.

A shiny green lizard with a pencil thin moustache darted past us. "Welcome, welcome, two stages of delight for your entertainment tonight. Take the left or take the right, don't worry we won't bite!"† He moved in a zigzag pattern on dainty feet, his skin iridescent under the mirrored disco ball hanging from the ceiling.† We followed him and sat in high-backed chairs in front of a small circular stage with a tall wooden pole growing out of the middle of it.

The pulsating music slowed.† The sibilant sound of the D.J. hissed an introduction of the first dancer: "Presenting the Galapagos Gamine. For twenty-five dollars a lap dance is yours, performed with ease and l'amour by Angelique."

The most beautiful marine iguana I'd ever seen climbed the stairs, slow and sinuous, to the stage. Angelique was big, with thick powerful legs the way some men like.† Her yellow skin was moist, alluring and bumpy in all the right places.† She strutted around the pole, keeping to the pounding beat of the base, her heavy tail dragging suggestively behind.

Taking her time, she approached the edge of the stage. With the spotlight focused hotly on her, Angelique stood on all fours and raised and lowered her mid-section obscenely to the throbbing music.† She gazed unblinking at my husband, who cleared his throat and glanced my way.† Sensing the chain of command, Angelique turned toward the pole, pausing only to cast a kinky look of invitation over her shoulder at me.

She sank her claws into that pole and climbed it for all she was worth. Angelique flexed her plump back legs to enhance their curve. Occasionally, she raised her tail for a flash of dry vulva. I hated it when she did that.

Parallel to the pole, she returned to her previous wanton push-ups.† Her control was flawless.† My husband stared with half-open lips as Angelique slid to the floor, gripping the pole between her muscular thighs, leaving a trail of exotic scratches.

The stage went black. With only spots before our eyes, we heard the silken swish of Angelique's tail gracefully departing.

Outside, the night air chilled our damp clothes, and we clutched each other's shoulders at the top of the stairs.† A couple approached, a local tycoon and his civic-minded wife.† The woman laughed, tossing her hair back.† Delicate gill slits beneath her earrings winked and then were gone.† The man shook our hands.† He led his wife down the stairs with an awkward sway, adjusting his trousers at the crotch.† The tip of a serpentine tail peeked out beneath the cuff of his pants.

"I think you have their vote, dear," I said.

Sandra Ramos O'Briant's views on local politics were influenced by her husband's successful bid for election to the Beverly Hills school board.† Her views on marine iguanas were influenced by the Discovery Channel.† Angelique (not her real name) no longer performs locally. An excerpt from Sandra's novel in-progresss, The Sandoval Chronicles:† The Secret of Old Blood, was published by LA HERENCIA. Her fiction has appeared or is scheduled to appear in Whistling Shade, AIM Magazine, and NFG Journal. In addition, her short stories have been anthologized in Best Lesbian Love Stories of 2004, and Hell Hath No Fury (summer, 2004). A nonfiction piece is currently at www.flashquake.org.

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