April, 20-, somewhere in southern Florida
She'd been known as Salome, sometimes Semiramis, and occasionally Cleopatra when it wasn't Jezebel - names which followed her through time, losing meaning with each passing century - after all, men hadn't changed all that much in all that time, so any name would do.
Really, neither had music, it all came up from the balls, be it Lil' Wayne (Oh, puh-leeez, she'd seen more talented things floating down a Roman sewer!) or Benny Goodman (Squeaky clean, easy to dance to.) or even further back to some guy who squatted behind her pounding on a goatskin drum on some street corner in... had that been Thebes or Babylon?- when it wasn't some Temple of Inanna or Artemis or otherwise sacred brothel where the fringe of her yellow shawl swayed to the drone and rattle of sistrum and flute. Really, the only difference was that the current crop of music blasted out of a pile of speakers, and most of the other dancers (if you could call 'em that) settled for shaking whatever they had in the general direction of whatever currency was in vogue, rather than actual skill.
Not that skill mattered, tonight's biker-trucker-cracker audience didn't know the difference between an Egyptian shimmy and their own assholes, so why bother? Still, Sable, sometimes Mata when it wasn't Lilith, threw in a full body undulation followed by a series of intricate hip drops, as the DJ revved up a little Rob Zombie, who grated and ground his way through the fetid April night somewhere in southern Florida where the Interstate roared practically on the Boobie Bungalow's doorstep and rutting bull 'gators bellowed in the swamp out back as she marked the night's meal in the middle of a bump and grind, some middle-aged balding type with a bad comb-over and a big belly straining the buttons of his cheap short-sleeved white shirt - typical out of town townie with big sweat stains in his pits and mustard stains on his K-Mart tie, insurance or by the look of horror mingled with lust, a Bible-thumpin' Holy Roller.
Sable, occasionally Zonah, voted Roller- Rollers were easy: all it took was a note delivered by a waitress, and a 'gator-gnawed body would be found face down in the swamp a few days later if it wasn't rats in Brooklyn. Hell, dumpsters would do if you dumped em deep enough: for Sable, or Semiramis, or Jezebel, disposal was never an issue - what's one missing customer when there's sixteen lined up behind clamoring to get in?
Bump. Grind. Pop-lock-strut. A glove here, a g-string there in the flattering purple neon -business as usual in the Boobie Bungalow in its fifth incarnation since 1962 - just one more nondescript former Stuckey's on the side of the Interstate, one half strip club, the other half adult novelties and DVDs with fun and games in the back for those who didn't care what hole they stuck it in thriving deliberately unseen in the shadow of one of the world's biggest family fun parks in other words, invisible as Sable, who paused, catching a whiff of someone who was anything but invisible to a nose like hers even as her meal blotted his balding forehead with a frayed handkerchief clutched in thick, pudgy fingers, mouth open - to make things easier later on, she leaned down from the catwalk and shook her breasts in his red, sweat-coated face. He fell back into his chair, powder blue polyester crotch bulging.
The other was right behind him.
Sable, or possibly Little Egypt, hissed over one pale shoulder at the intruder, long, black hair rippling as she did a full back bend - her set was nearly over, tips bristled from her g-string, a meal already selected, and here was some amateur, some prissy little girl complete with white lace dress and a pink hair bow, clutching a big doll with blindfolded eyes- fingering Sable's meal!
Sable hissed louder; the other blew her an insolent kiss, large blue eyes daring her to do something about it in front of all these men in a fug of testosterone and stale cigarettes.
Sable's dinner, oblivious to the mouth which lipped at the side of his thick neck from behind, small, kept his watery eyes glued to her breasts with their swinging tassel pasties - rhinestone carryovers from her Burlesque days. With a contemptuous, practiced twitch, she started them spinning, first in one direction, then the other, before making them go in two different directions at once - mouthing, "Mine!"
"No, mine!" the other mouthed back slowly, long, pale tongue flicking at the mark's fat-buried jugular.
"I saw him first, little miss!" Sable hissed through the Black Eyed Peas, strutting in a tight circle, only pausing to let a greasy, acne-scarred man in a faded t-shirt which read, "The only important person in this room is me!" shove a sweaty buck down her g-string before leaning back over the object of their dispute and shaking her tassels in his face "Get lost!"
"Mine!" The youngster mouthed at Sable, walking her long-nailed fingers up and down the man's hairy sweating arm.
"Not here, not now, not ever." Sable casually reached across the tiny stage with its dented brass pole, and pulled the fire alarm.
The house lights came up, killing the purple neon as bellowing and sweating, bodies surged towards the exits, trampling Tamar or perhaps Lilitu's rival underfoot, carrying her out into the parking lot in the force of their panic.
Sable, possibly Carmen, grinned, face reptilian in the cheap green fluorescent lighting which replaced the purple strobes and spots which had bathed her earlier before strutting out behind them in her six-inch plexi-glass stilettos, pasties and g-string, pausing only to pick up any dropped cash she came across on the sticky floor to where in the usual mixture of denial, lust, and piety, the Roller was waiting by her big white Escalade in the back parking lot confusion of fleeing customers.
Sable let him shove her against her Escalade with its heavily tinted windows - his kind made it so easy: they'd come in to save the souls of fallen women, and one fallen woman, had she'd ever fallen, would make a meal of him without ever opening his trousers.
Even his sermon was the same, random honks of "Jezebel", "Jeeeeeeeeeeesuuuuuuuuuuusssss." and "Whoooooorrrrrre of Babylon." Her mouth closed down upon the side of his neck between sweaty gropes as cars, trucks and semis milled around them, razor sharp teeth easily slicing through the fat of his neck and into his jugular, the door handle of Escalade pressing into her back as his big belly pressed against her front - only to be ripped away with a scream of, "MINE!"
The poacher in Sable's hunting ground was back, dark hair lankly hanging over her face, dress torn and stained, the big blindfolded doll still clutched in one arm, while the other gripped Sable's meal by what little hair middle age had left him.
The thumper squealed, blood staining his cheap shirt even as the other dragged him heavily beside her like a rag doll, hissing, "MINE, we saw him first!"
Face to face, Semiramis or was it Sable? slightly shorter, wrestled silently as a fire truck pulled up to the back door, firefighters running into the building as rutting 'gators roared in the black, swamp water on three sides.
"It's my hunting ground, little girl, go back to your Sire and whine about it!" Sable snapped back as she clawed at the other's eyes.
On the nearby Interstate semis and family types in mini-vans full of whiny kids fresh from one of the world's largest family fun parks roared past oblivious as the full moon rose.
"Mine!" screamed the taller huntress in the flashing strobe of the idling fire truck, dropping Sable's meal to the crushed oyster shells of the parking lot, reaching for the other's long, loose hair with rapidly elongating nails.
"Oh yeah?" screamed the shorter stripper as she dodged the talons of the other, grabbed the doll from her, and hurled it out into the dark swamp, where it landed with a distant splash. "Fetch, bitch!"
The intruder screamed, "Miss Edith!" and splashed off into the gator darkness, wailing.
Sable, occasionally Naamah, laughed, hands on hips, true face revealed, "You're ten centuries too young to deal with the likes of me, kitten. Next time you smell me on the wind, bitch? Run!" She strutted over to where her meal lay face down in a fragrant puddle of of his own piss- dead; one of them had snapped his neck in the scuffle.
Sable, or possibly Zenunium, tossed her hair back. Even dead he'd be enough until the next truck stop somewhere before dawn, perhaps Georgia, maybe East Texas - it was still early - then she'd lure some truck tart at one of the big trucker's plazas behind a dumpster with the flash of a fifty and get her fill. She bit down, sucking hard, forcing the Roller's rich, cholesterol-laden blood into her mouth from his rapidly cooling veins, East Texas, then on to Vegas.
Vegas was always good to Salome, occasionally Athaliah, sometimes Cleopatra, and right now, Sable.
After emptying the thumper's wallet, she dropped it and his empty carcass into the swamp which lapped at the parking lot as the firefighters pulled away in their big truck, lights no longer flashing. A few bull 'gators paused in their love songs long enough to pull it from her hands. She paused grinning razor-mouthed at the moon, keys to the Escalade jingling in one clawed hand, yeah, Vegas'd be a nice place to take a break from it all, as somewhere in the sweltering darkness someone wailed, "Miss Edith, where are you?"