you were never good at paying attention. guess that’s how you ended up in the ring.
they lock the doors before you can turn around.
“your name?” they ask.
you tell them. they type it into their little tablet. these giant metal shields come from the scaffolding to the ground & cover your exit. your ribs squish your lungs as you try to breathe. someone in front of you has an exquisite coat. very zoë kravitz in high fidelity. ah, now you’re thinking of zoë kravitz in high fidelity.
anyway, black-tie tuxed waiters carry these sharp royal blue devices that people tap their phones onto. your gut tells you there is wager afoot.
you tap someone's shoulder but as you’re about to ask you spot, out of the corner of your homosexual tendencies, a butch daddy in suspenders smoking a fat cigar. you decide you’d do anything for them. you silence all other questions.
“yes?” says the person you tapped, after probably seven lesbian years of silence on your part. “who’s that?” you ask.
“you don’t know tiger?” they seem shocked.
you decide soon you will know tiger; tooth and claw.
you figure where there is black-tie there is a bar. you find it.
you love the complete presence of a bartender the moment before you order. the lingering need for what you desire to be put into words. the bartender looks like a steampunk gamer boi & they seem sweet. or at least until you say,
“& one drink for them.” & their face changes.
“you want to send tiger a drink?” they ask.
“yes, whatever they like.”
“bold.” they say and walk away to make what you presume is tiger’s drink and your G&T. they bring back some whisky thing with a fancy ice cube. it’s circular and has a vermillion hibiscus flower inside it. tiger is a fancy butch daddy and you fucking love it.
you laugh when you pay. good thing you paid the credit card bill yesterday. let’s just say it’ll be a minute before it gets paid in full again. you resign that you will buy tiger more drinks if they let you, too.
“i like bold.” the bartender says. “what’s your name & pronouns?”
you tell them.
“wicked. i’m eli, he/they.”
“sick.” you say as you bump your fist to his.
this morning you knew today would be lilac. you put on that silky pale sapphire shirt your titties look incredible in. wow. you are prepared.
this is not the first time you’ve walked into a strange building because you were twittering & blindly following bodies in front of you; but it is the first time doors closed you in. you’re not mad. you strut right on over to tiger, bold & be-tittied, drinks in hand. you smile at them, coy-ly and put the drink on the table in front of them.
“eli doesn’t usually give other people my drinks.” tiger says as they ash their cigar into the tray on the table. they look you up & all over. they stop for a satisfactory moment on the titties. you smile.
“i don’t blame them.” you say.
tiger gestures to the seat next to them, which someone was sitting in. they move immediately and you sit down. if you didn’t have the sense before, now you know, tiger runs this shit. you’re so turned on.
“your name & pronouns?” tiger asks.
you tell them.
“i’m tiger, they/them.” they look into your brain for a minute. you reach out your hand to shake theirs. you let your fingers linger.
“you’re new here.” tiger says. you nod. “what brings you into the ring?”
“fate.” you say. you’re not wrong. tiger laughs.
“ah, our old friend fate.” they say.
“one of my favorite friends.” you reply.
“mine too.” they reach into a tin in their pocket. it’s full of their cigars. you don’t know everything about cigars, but you know enough to know this is good shit. you take one. you are even more grateful for your saturn in virgo placement, because just in case a butch daddy ever offered you a cigar, you watched videos and learned how to smoke one. tiger watches you take a puff, gracefully. you like how their eyes feel on you. you want more of it. you want more than their eyes too.
“you know newbies go first today, yeah?” tiger says. their eyes still on your mouth. “i didn’t but sounds good to me.” you look over at the ring. the ropes around it are a very pretty mint green. the lights are a soft pink. it’s very inviting. you’re happy to wait for your name to be called with tiger.
“i like that energy.” tiger says.
“i like yours.” you say. you will tell them until the moon is blue.
you lean back on the seat and people watch. tiger continues their conversation with their friends. you don’t really want to meet them. you just want to watch. tiger picks up on this and lets you be, which is also very hot of them.
some names are called and those people stop what they are doing and move into the ring. you see a lot of hot femmes in here, way more femmes than you’ve seen in one place in awhile. every time you’ve gone out lately you’ve been approached by every basic cis-man in the room. you’re used to it, but you just want time to yourself these days. you only approach when you’re really interested. you haven’t been this interested in someone like you are with tiger in a long time.
tiger is still talking with their friends and puts their hand on your thigh. you are salivating. they look over to make sure it’s okay and you nod cooly. gosh you love a butch daddy. tigers suspenders are certainly vintage. you can tell they were worn by someone on wall-street in the 50’s. you’re positive tiger wears them better.
those people leave the ring. the black-tie waiters with the devices come back over and everyone at the table but you taps their phone to the device. yes, there is certainly a wager afoot. tiger looks over at you.
“what is your favorite meal?” they ask.
you tell them about lobster bisque you had in maine with a good beer. it was a lager from a local brewing company, and you don’t normally like lagers that much but you were called by its label design. you tell them how often you think about it and how you’re planning on going to the east coast again soon just for the same meal. they laugh.
“sounds rad.” they say.
“yours?” you ask.
“i love a burger and fries. the truth is, all this bougie shit is good, but there’s nothing like getting a good burger somewhere. a classic with tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, pickles, you know. the works.” they are so charming.
“totally. there is nothing like a good burger. we should get one sometime.” you say. “how’s later tonight?” they ask.
“fuck yeah.” you say and take a puff of the cigar.
“cancel all my meetings tonight.” tiger says to the person on the other side of them. you realize they must be an assistant of some sort. they have been typing things into a tablet all night, and you thought they might be an influencer or something.
“you want another drink?” you ask.
tiger considers this. “sure.” they say. they look surprised. you get the feeling they normally buy the drinks.
you approach eli. they look impressed.
“tiger is letting you get them another drink?”
“they sure are.” you triumph.
eli makes the drinks.
“you must have game. i had a feeling about you.” eli hands you the drinks. you hand them your card and they push it away. “on me.”
“omg thanks dude.” you won’t have too much to pay off on the credit card after all!
“hey your names on the list for the ring yeah?” he asks.
“yeah.” you say.
“tonight looks tough. good luck. rooting for you, babe.” eli winks at you.
“much appreciated.” you take the drinks back to your tiger.
“i like that ice cube.” you tell them.
“i fucking love it. hibiscus is my favorite flower.” they say.
“writing that down. not that i’d forget.” you take out your phone and put it into your notes app.
“what’s yours?” they ask.
you tell them about buttercups. you prefer the orange-ish creamy colored ones, but you love them all. about how your best friend brings you them when you’re sad.
“what a nice flower & a good friend.” they say. they lean to their assistant and tell them to write down creamy orange buttercup flowers. their assistant nods and does this task very seriously. you think their assistant must be a capricorn.
more people step out of the ring. you wonder when they will call your name.
you look over to see tiger looking at you in the most lesbian way. you lean in and kiss them. they kiss back, so warmly, you feel like a blanket was wrapped around you.
you are still kissing them and you fight every urge to get right into their lap. you hear your name.
tiger pulls back.
“it sounds like it’s your turn.” they say.
you take a sip of your drink. and then you get up.
you step into the ring.
S. Fey is a Lesbian and Non-Binary writer living in LA. Currently, they are the founder of the Luminaries Poetry workshop, and poetry editor at Hooligan Magazine. They love to beat their friends at Mario Party. They tweet @sfeycreates.