Darkness falls on the Boulevard de Clichy. Traffic is noisy, the cafes

Pablo Picasso, "Bather"
and bars are crowded. I walk past a porno theater, then a sex shop, and another and another. They are neon-lit, filled with bizarre sex toys, lingerie, DVDs, dirty magazines. A sign advertising LIVE NUDE GIRLS. I pass a stairwell. It drops down to a red door covered with posters of half-naked women stuck all over it.

         I feel a hand underneath my arm.

         "Oui oui..." He is behind me. He's unshaven and drunk and I focus on his sharp little rodent teeth.

         "C'mon... I show you..." He tugs on my arm.

         "Not right now," I say.

         "Don't you like pussy?


         "Just have a look..."

         I keep walking. He retreats into a dark corner. Lights a cigarette.

         More sex shops. Dildos in the windows, cock rings, chains, mannequins in leather biker's apparel.

         An old madam in furs.

         She spots me from the curb, says something in French. I don't understand. But I understand. She wants me to follow her.

         "I can't," I say. "Just got in town."

         "It's okay, just come for a look. You come back later." She moves around me, blocks my passage. There's something pleading in her expression, something sweet. I can tell she was once quite beautiful. Now she's old, somewhat haggard. She moves a little closer, touches my chest with her fingers and makes something like a figure eight. Says something in French, sexy French. It weakens me.

         "Just a look..." She takes my hand. "First time in Paree?"

         "Yes. Been here two hours. In from Cologne..."


         I follow her off the sidewalk, down the steps through a door along a dark hallway and into a glassed-in area where two girls are dancing to bad hair-metal music. A fat guy is sitting on a fold-out chair, taking it all in.

         My escort waves a stringy blond over. She is not very pretty. Her spirit is gone. Poor girl. I really only came to look, to see what a Parisian brothel looks like on the inside.

         "You like?" asks my guide.

         "She's nice, but I'm just not ready yet."

         "You want a drink?

         "No, I really gotta go...."

         "You stay for one drink..." She tickles my chest, another figure eight, something else in French. I feel almost faint. I am getting aroused.

         "Can't..." I bolt for the door.


         I meander five or six blocks down, up past the Cemetery Montmartre and back down to a little cafe on the Boulevard de Batignolles. I take my map, spread it out on the table. Get a glass of beer. I think about all the places I am going to see. Shakespeare and Co., the Van Gogh exhibit at the Musee d'Orsey, all of Napoleon's old haunts. I think about it and then I pay my bill, take to the streets again. Who am I kidding? Two hours in town. The seedy underbelly is beckoning.


         I march up the hill.

         A neatly-dressed, tall young brunette. She says something in French, forcefully takes my hand. I let her drag me across the street and into her cave.

         It looks like any other old dive bar, except all the women are in lingerie, and there are curtains in front of the booths along the far wall. They look like the kind of dreary curtains you might see hanging in a hearse. These ugly purple things. I sit down on the sofa, order a Heineken. A blond brings it to me, does a little dance. Her lingerie is luminescent under the black lights, hair wild, tight body, beautiful smooth skin. I notice the pimp just on the other side of her, leering.

         "Yes?" he asks.

         "Yes, but not yet," is what I want to tell him. I say nothing. The music's too loud anyway. He sends another girl over. She looks just as good. She jigs and shoves in all around me.


         "Yes, but I am still just soaking up the sights, the ambiance. Still too sober. The night is too early. I've been in Paris, what, three hours? Besides, I was lured in here. I didn't seek your spiderhole out," is what I want to tell him. I say nothing. Can't. I take a deep swig. He sends another over. She is short, busty. She takes off her thin transparent blouse and grooves a little. She doesn't seem very into it. All, stock moves. Purely robotic. There really is no song going through her, I notice. She is only doing her job. She is a waitress clearing the plates off the counter at a greasy spoon, an exterminator spraying for ants and roaches in your kitchen cabinetry. I actually feel a little sorry for her. My god! What's wrong with me?

         "Well," I say,"that's it..."


         I drain my beer, put it on the table. The pimp scowls. Good for him. I mosey down the aisle and past the bar. There's a gorgeous Russian girl near the door. Silky black hair. She's barely wearing anything, and oh my GOD, the curves...

         "I shall return," I tell her.

         "Danko," she says.

         "Should be pretty quick."

         "Gud, I vill prepare my pussy fer you..."


         Right when I step out the door, a cute little Frenchie in tight jeans and high leather boots slips her arm under mine. I ask no questions. I follow her to the next door and scurry inside. I pass all the whores at the bar and she brings me to a booth in back. The pimp emerges through the curtains. He is Turkish, young, balding. How did he luck into this gig? I mean, a brothel in Montmartre? Lucky sonovabitch. He has no idea. Any other number on the wheel and he'd be slapping submarine sandwiches together at a gas station in Opa-locka, Fl.

         I order a beer.

         It is brought to me by a young African woman with thick juicy thighs and a nice round ass, big tits and little bit of a beer belly. She's got kind of a gooey, dumb-looking face, but most of the rest trumps it. She sits down next to me.

         "Do you want me to dance for you?"

         The pimp is hovering around. Always a pimp hovering around. He, too, is waiting for an answer. I nod, he nods, disappears, comes back with a pink drink with a big flamingo straw in it. He gives it to her. She sucks, stands up over me. She puts her hands on my thighs and rubs up and down. Then slowly, ever so skillfully, she gyrates her belly and her hips and turns around. She sticks her ass in my face, looks back at me, smacks it. I take a swig.

         "You like when I do that?"

         "Yeah, it's alright."

         She turns around and starts moving in close, her hands touching her belly touching her hips, her thighs, her belly again, closer, closer. Her whole body wiggles. When the song ends, she throws her head back and smiles. Sucks on her flamingo straw.

         "So," she says, "where are you from?"


         "Tell me about Miami."

         "Oh, I don't know... beaches, the ocean."

         She puts her finger up, trots off to the other room. What? Why? The pimp and the madam are in there. All three huddle together for a second and she comes back.

         "You were saying... Miami?"

         "Yes, Miami... beaches, the ocean."

         She moves in between my thighs and presses down.

         "Tell me about the ocean," she says, smiling.

         "It waves."

         She stands up, shakes her mammaries around. "Yeah?"

         "Uh huh..."

         You want me to take my top off?" She's wearing a silver sequined bra.

         "Go ahead."

         She reaches behind her back, unhitches it.


         I reach up and take hold. They are big, ripe, heavy. Cantaloupes. She arches her back and my hands fall away. She does a little jig, swerves from side to side and I can see her bubble-butt grooving in the mirror behind her. She turns around, smacks it, turns back again. Then in comes the knee. It swiftly finds my crotch area, grinding, wedging until the song is over. She gets up and trots off again, returns with the pimp. He's got another pink drink. He shows it to me, gives it to her.

         "Would you like another dance?" she asks.

         "I don't know..."

         "You don't want one more song?"

         "Alright, one more..."

         She straddles me, wiggles around and grinds and nudges and holds her breasts from underneath and bounces them and squeezes them together and I'm getting hard. She whispers in my ear, stands up, puts her hands on my thighs. Then the knee, crashing into my balls. She moves it around and up and down and shoves in harder.

         "You love that..."


         I can feel her breath on my face, neck, ears. I can see her backside in the mirror. Her jiggling bubonic ass going to town. There is song in her ass, moving all through it. She jerks back, starts leaping and frolicking and whirling her hips. The song ends. The pimp appears. Fucking creep!

         "Another drink?" he asks.

         "Nah, this is my last."


         "How much do I owe you?" I ask my African dancer.

         "Not sure... he does the bills."

         She nods to him. He raises an eyebrow, eases in behind the bar and comes out with a pad of paper and pen. Starts scribbling.

         I finish my beer off.

         A few minutes later, I look over to see what's going on. He's still writing.


         It happened at the bar. It was taking way too long, so I went up to the bar to find out my fate - his chicken scratch.

         "You're fucking crazy," I said. "I'm not paying three hundred euros for that shit."

         "You saying you not gonna pay?"

         "I'm saying, three hundred euros for whatever that was is fucking ridiculous."

         "So you're not gonna pay?"

         He slips his cellphone out of his pocket and pecks away at his little neon keys.

         "I have some people that will help you pay," he says. He turns his shoulder and moves a couple steps over. Then he hangs up and turns back to me.

         "You felt her tits, you think that's free?"

         "Listen, I'm willing to pay what I rightfully owe, but three hundred euros is highway robbery. I don't have that kind of money."

         "I don't understand..."

         "I'm saying, you need to get real."


         The conversation goes around like this for about ten minutes. Me arguing, him pretending he doesn't understand English, threatening with his cellphone. A friend of his showing up, both of them blocking the door. Finally we settle on three hundred dollars instead of euros. I only settle so I can get out the door.

         But I don't go very far.

         I set up camp just to the left of their front door, watching at all the people sauntering by.


         The door opens.

         "What do you want?" asks the madam.

         "I need to get some money back."

         "Well that's not gonna happen..."

         The door closes.

         I wait.

         Across the street I can see the Moulin Rouge, Toulouse-Lautrec's old haunt. There's a long line of tourists outside of it, people gathering. I like that there are people gathering. Gathering people will keep me from getting myself murdered.

         The door opens, the pimp comes out.

         "You need to leave," he says.

         "No," I say,"actually I don't. I can do whatever I want. That's how I operate."

         He pulls his cellphone out of his pocket.

         "I don't give a fuck about your stupid fucking cellphone."


         "I said I'll rip your fucking skull off your neck and slam it into the ground and kick you in the fucking nuts... you dick."


         "Yeah, that's right... Gimme a hundred bucks back and I'll leave."

         "It's just not going to happen."

         "It's not?"



         He goes inside. I move in front of the door again, wait. A carload of Turks approaches. They slow down right in front. The driver looks at me, shakes his head as if to say "Don't mess with them..." Then he speeds up a little and turns the corner.

         I pace, up down, back forth, to fro.

         The door opens.

         A hand appears with ten dollars in it. I take it.

         The door closes.

         It opens again. The madam of the tight jeans and high leather boots walks out to the corner where she solicits passers-by. I watch her for a few minutes. One attempt, two attempts, finally she snags a couple Englishmen. Perfect! She slips her arms underneath their arms and escorts them across the street and in my general direction. They are all smiles, especially the two Englishmen. Wonderful! I approach. They stop.

         "Don't go in there," I say. "The place is a total ripoff. I just got robbed out of three hundred bucks."

         They look at each other, look back at me.

         "You'll regret it," I say. "Trust me."

         They squirm out of her arms and beeline up the street.

         "You FOCKING OSSHOLE!" she screams. You FOCK! GO! OSSHOLE!"

         She charges me and throws all her weight in my side. I stumble. She pushes me. "GO! GET OUT OF HERE! GO!" More shoving, more stumbling on my part. She pushes me all the way to the cafe on the corner. I end up next to a tableful of pretty young Americans, probably college girls, and they all have their little wine glasses in front of them. Gay Paree!

         "Go! Get out of here, focker!"

         She looks at all the girls. "He's crazy! GO!" she shouts. She turns around and scampers back to her hole. I creep a few steps behind her, set up shop outside the door again. The beautiful Russian who was going to prepare her pussy for me peers out her door.

         "See," she says. "Y' should've kom to mee."

         "I know..."

         Finally the pimp comes out.

         "Follow me," he says.

         I follow a couple steps. He slides me $100. I bolt across the street and head down the Boulevard de Clichy, heart pumping, legs drained, nothing but nerves and feeling and fear ripping through me. They could've lied. They could've framed me somehow. Maybe I WAS crazy for hanging around. I don't know how things work in Paris. The whole thing was just one big embarrassment. If it had gone the way it was supposed to, if I had been sucked into an HONEST BROTHEL, then, then maybe I'd have a real story to tell. I'd have poems to write, songs to sing, bedbugs that bit, bees in people's bonnets.

         I got NOTHING, and got raped in the process. Feels like it anyway, my legs walking without me, head on fire, throat parched. I move through the crowds, every now and then looking over my shoulder.

         I need a beer is what I need.

         I don't think I've ever needed a beer so bad in my life.

         I walk four blocks up the hill, go over two. I come to a little cafe with a bar right under the overhang.

         "Beer," I tell the waiter. I don't even tell him what kind. It's a European thing. He understands. He pours me a Leffe. I grab a chair by the street. Sit down, decompress, take a sip.


         I almost spit it all over the table.

         But I don't.

         I swallow the hogwash somehow and proceed to polish off the whole glass.


         Worst beer I've ever had.

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