Jennifer Belle

(prose action)


It’s a shitty night. Not shitty in the way that everything seems to be going wrong – No, it’s more of a shitty weather thing. There is blackish slush that barely passes for dirt in the gutters. The peat-soil is diluted enough to be damaging to everything it touches, but still thick enough to stick to all of those same substances. Moreover, it’s ninety-three degrees outside.

Rainy summer evenings here in Tampa are downers. The rain is supposed to cool everything off, yet it still seems like god is pouring boiling water down on us. Everything just gets hotter. Drizzling summer nights in Tampa are frustrating in that regard. It’s January 27, by the way.


My name is Dexter Cochran. I’m tearing through a pack of Marlboros, it’s raining, and I hate the south.


Walking down 7th street here in Ybor City on a Friday night is supposed to be an exercise in molestation from hundreds of drunks. However, it’s raining, and hot as hell, and all those drunks are still inside their bars, getting sufficiently hammered. Everyone is piss-ass-drunk as they slush their way around bars, groping each other in what vaguely passes for dancing. Genitalia rubbing against their opposites and sometimes their counterparts in swirling motions; make shift dry humping arousing anyone within a fifteen foot radius.


I’d kill for a shot of Wild Turkey right now.


I’m struggling as I try to find the right club. Ybor, as I understand it, has degenerated in the past few years to the point that it accommodates nothing but bars, clubs, and one lonely ATM machine. Therefore, looking for this place is mildly frustrating.

I grab a reveler from a table just outside of the James Joyce, and ask him if he’s lucid enough to answer some questions. He gives me the kind of stare that says, “You kick puppies.” The drunk in the cowboy hat asks for a cigarette, and I oblige him. In between drags, he relates to me.


“You’re looking for the Castle?”

“Yes. I was supposed to meet someone there 10 minutes ago.”

“Alright, just go back down 7th like 4 blocks. Turn right through Centro Ybor, and its right there.”

“It’s not on 7th avenue?”


“Have fun with the freaks, man.”


I thanked him. He trolled his way back up the stairs to the James Joyce, and I turned and went on my way. The sky had finally cleared up enough for sweat soaked morons to stumble out of the clubs into the street. A particularly “tough” looking young man throws up in a trashcan as I stroll by.

The scent of pot, beer, and sex dance around my head as I move through the street. Paid sign girls tout the greatness of their establishments with lines like “No cover ‘til 12!”, and I press on. It’s a bit overwhelming at first. This place is everything I always told myself I hate. Innocuous bars line a street that feels like a cage holding the last party before the rapture. Its acts of hedonism that aren’t my own.

The Castle is a Goth club nestled between buildings owned by a college. It’s a degenerated building nestled between what city council members call “The New Ybor City.” The entrance is as expected – double wooden doors decorated with ornate ironwork. A bouncer asks for my I.D. and I can’t help but laugh.

I climb the stairs, and around the corner, I find home. I’ve never quite felt happy in normal locales. The atmosphere – it’s a decorative death thing. Elitists in latex and vinyl litter the place. A bar runs its way around the auditorium; wallflowers looking too high class for each other hold it up as if it’s a mudslide.


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Mike Black is…

A writer, reader, commentator, music lover, art lover, futurist, tech lover, pragmatist, romantic, DepDecoist, and a bastard. Hopefully you enjoy.

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