Pride Vignettes — Beth

Tabea Blumenschein by Ulrike Ottinger

Stumbling into the darkened bedroom she shared with her younger sister, Beth turned on a table lamp and gasped in shock. It was one of the ‘beauties’. Right there in her sister Alice’s bed. Not just one of them, in fact, but ‘her’ beauty, the girl Beth had been fascinated with for months, ever since the young woman had started showing up at Rumours, the town’s only gay bar, where Beth worked the door.

“What the fuck?!” Beth muttered, leaning in to get a closer look at the girl’s long eyelashes resting on her alabaster cheek.

While Beth knew the girl’s name was Tanya, or Tracey, or something similar, she had nicknamed her ‘Dollface’ because of her big eyes, tiny red mouth and pale skin, and when asleep, Dollface actually resembled one of those sleeping dolls. Beth wanted to pull her up to a sitting position to see if her eyelids flipped open. Her face was devoid of makeup now, only some smudges of eyeliner still apparent across one lid. At the club, Dollface resembled a composition of all the members of that band, The Human League, with too much blush, gobs of rainbow-shaded eye shadow and a weird asymmetrical haircut that went from shoulder-length on one side to shaved near-bald on the other. Occasionally she even sported a fake beauty mark. Or two.

Beth could not explain her fascination with the girl. It wasn’t as if they were each other’s type and Beth was fairly sure Dollface wasn’t even gay. She hung out with a bunch of fashionable gay men, the crew of them dressed to the nines and clamouring onto the dance floor when any of the more alternative or new wave songs came on. They all wore too much make-up, trying to look as much like David Bowie or Robert Smith or Boy George as possible, and they galloped around the tiny club posing and dancing like they belonged in a music video.

Beth should have hated them. She did hate them, in a way. Beth liked her gays to be femme and her lesbians to be butch, that way you knew where everybody stood. But the ‘beauties’, as weirdly androgynous and pretentious as they were, drank like sailors, and they put on enough of a show on the dancefloor that everyone stood around watching them, even if it was just to make disparaging remarks.

It didn’t hurt that they often came accompanied by a collection of pretty, underage punk kids, who, while often broke, still managed to also drink their fair share, with regulars sending trays of cocktails to their table, just for the fun of it. And since they brought in business, didn’t get into trouble, and generally disappeared en masse just before midnight when the last buses of the night left the downtown core for the suburbs, the owner had no problem with them being there. He’s not the one who would have to deal with the cops raiding the place, Beth thought to herself, but she admitted that they made the place a lot more interesting.

When the beauties were not at Rumours, they were a few blocks away at Cabbagetown, the town’s only punk/new wave dance club. That’s where Dollface would have met Alice, Beth was sure of it.

She went to the hall and picked up the phone, knowing Jocelyn would still be up.

“You’re not gonna believe this shit. You know who’s here, in Alice’s bed? Dollface! Yes, from the club!” Beth hissed into the phone as she paced near the doorway, which was as far as the cord would stretch.

“I don’t know, she’s friends with Alice, I guess. I mean, I’ve been after this girl for months and she comes home with my sister!

“Well, no… it doesn’t look like they did anything. And I’m pretty sure they’re both straight. But still, she’s here in my room! How am I supposed to sleep now?” Beth’s voice rose to a pitch and she looked over to see if either Alice or the girl had moved.

She thought of all the times she had wanted to flirt, encountering Dollface in the washroom of the club, or taking her cover charge at the door, letting her fingers lightly brush across whatever garish colour the girl’s nails were that night.

“It’s just… not fair, y’know?”

On Jocelyn’s advice to just forget about it and go to sleep, Beth hung up the phone and readied herself for bed. She chose her nicest pyjamas, anxious about that uncomfortable moment in the morning when they all got up.

She sat down on the edge of the bed and as she reached up to turn off the light she saw Dollface, awake, and watching her carefully.

Her voice was rough and sexy with sleep. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I missed the last bus and Alice let me crash. I’ll be gone in the morning. I didn’t mean to be a bother.”

This story is part of a week-long series of Pride-themed flash fiction. Check out the full schedule here.