THEY SELL THEIR SOULS TO STRANGERS
by Wendra Colleen
When the Women of Bourbon Street become ghosts, they are the last to realize it. They’ve been tossed out and forgotten, yet when darkness returns to the street, so do they.
The ghosts can’t resist the lure of yesterday. The daylight hours feel like shadows compared to this life in black and red leather, feathers, hot oil, tight straps, the most exquisite pain.
This street is still home to them, but as ghosts they are not welcome. The hawkers at the Gentlemen’s Clubs turn away when they approach, the customers look past them.
One ghost pauses in front of a cabaret, her bare feet floating above the dirty sidewalk. Painted nails and sagging eyes, long, silver-tinged tresses hanging limply down her back. A bright dress flows around her like water. Her 100-yard stare bores through everything, straight into her past.
She recalls leaning back against the black painted frame of the doorway, a reprieve she earned after reaching her evening quota. She never told anyone that she enjoyed luring in customers the most. All expectation and promise, all because of her silky long legs, her full breasts, her long dark hair. She could caress and grind in a way that held men spellbound. Sometimes she tortured them with her large eyes, her lips parted, beads of sweat on her upper lip, pinning them, transfixed, as she let her hand trail between her breasts. Lower and lower, her chest heaving, her cheeks flushed, her fingers brushing her inner thighs, coming closer, closer. Sometimes she closed her eyes and shivered, awash in so much power.
The ghost does whatever it takes to feel alive again, when she reigned as Queen of the Night.
Lost in her memories, she doesn’t see the man who was once her customer. Where he lingers, hawkers approach, women invite. He’s alive and welcome in her former home.
Like her, his face is worn and his hair streaked with grey. As a wealthy regular, however, he’s whisked to a private room for a parade of the club’s wares. He watches each young woman, the broken heart, pride, or carelessness of her father. He drums his fingers on his seal-skin wallet, savoring the rich, oily feel, and each moment he can buy. Oblivious to the ghost hovering nearby, he signals for another shot of the100-year old Scotch that they keep on hand just for him.
He invests every spare penny and moment on Bourbon Street. He lifelessly plods through daylight hours, his dreary family routine, waiting to come alive at night in the sweaty, glaring venues. The music blares so loud he blissfully cannot think beyond commanding attention, where a word, a gesture, a handful of bills can transform him, once more, into a King of the Night.
About the Author:
As a psychologist by day and writer by night, Wendra Chambers has published young adult short stories in The Passed Note (October, 2017) and in anthologies such as Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations. She is currently pitching and querying her young adult urban fantasy, Evil Was a Child Once. Wendra has also published adult pieces in literary magazines such as Lunch Ticket(Winter/Spring 2018), in addition to political op-eds and academic articles. Lastly, Women in Film and Video selected her comedic screen musical, A MUSICAL FOR OUTCASTS, for their first Spotlight on Screenwriters Spec-Catalogue for distribution to select producers. “They Sell Their Souls to Strangers” was inspired by a Bourbon Street glance she’ll never forget.