The New Generation of Classic Short Stories

Vol. 9, No. 2

The Body Shop

by Lisa Glatt

The Body Shop

There are facts, certainly: that in April my husband carried the stripper off the stage and sobbed in her arms; that it's mid-May now and we're separated; and that months ago, just after her twentieth birthday, our daughter Tessa broke out of rehab with a man more than three times her age, drove with him across the country, and now lives with him in a shack in Maine—no phone, no electricity, and no running water. I'll see you when I see you, she said from a pay phone in Arizona. I've got my own life to live, she told us from Texas. And from Kentucky, Do you think your lives are any better?
     In addition to the facts, there are the scenes I imagine, like my girl climbing on the man's feeble back and hoisting herself out a window, though it's most likely the two of them just left that hospital on a hill, walked out the front door holding hands, Tessa and her old man, and into the bright day.
     And when I think of that night in April, that night I've only heard about and pieced together, the details are sharp, even if inaccurate. I see the stripper's arms wrapped around my husband; when, in fact, she was unwillingly there, and those arms hung impotently at her sides until she made use of them and pushed my husband away. He carried her off the stage in front of all of them: the other patrons; the bartender, who froze with his bottle tilted in the air above a glass; and the other strippers too, who'd heard the commotion and risen from their stools and mirrors, who traveled in a curious group over to the curtain and stood behind it, whispering to each other about Robert, one of the regulars, an ordinary guy really, or so they thought. Scarlet was bent over his shoulder and slapping at his back with open palms. Someone in the audience called for the bouncer, who at that very moment was reclining on a cot in the back of the club after four hours of oral surgery. My husband was a spectacle. He fell into that stripper's reluctant arms, her appalled arms, her arms that gave him a brief respite, two minutes tops—more out of shock than sympathy—and then those arms rightfully pushed him away. It was midnight when, only halfway through his crying jag, he was tossed out of the place finally like so much trash.

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