Orange Girls by Tim Frank
The orange girls hit the tanning salon then went to Lacey’s flat and smeared fake tan lotion on top just to be sure. They crammed into her bathroom, their bodies wrapped around each other like snakes in a cardboard box and then wrestled to gain a glimpse of themselves in the mirror. They slapped on foundation, blusher, eye shadow, eyeliner and fake eyelashes making sure not to swamp the almost bruised orangeness pasted across their thighs, cleavages and a multitude of other unmentionable crevices. They filled their bottles with vodka and orange, taking gulps like thirsty construction workers as they rode the train into town. Lacey lit a fag in the carriage on the way and then the rest followed suit. Soon the windows went foggy. Other passengers fake-coughed in protest and the orange girls turned brown in the dim light.
It took a lot of bullying before Karen fell into line and took a puff. “Wallflower!” the group all yelled at her face. So, she caved and sparked up too. She was weak. It was inevitable. Regardless, they were all going to get fucked up and break the law that night. It was the weekend.
At dawn, the outing ended with Lacey and the rest of the girls dragging Karen by her hair along the cobblestone Soho streets, vomit flying here and there and everywhere. The trouble began earlier in the evening because Karen had wiped some sweat from her brow with her fingerless glove, erasing a square patch of orange from her forehead, revealing a block of lemon shaded skin.
“Something’s wrong with your head,” said Lacey, poking an elongated glitter-encrusted fingernail into Karen’s nose, “and I don’t like it. Fix it. Now.”
Karen’s shoulders slumped.
“Oh, snap out of it,” said Lacey, before she clouted Karen across the cheek, removing another layer of fake tan. Karen pressed her palm against her face, stunned.
“Fuck… You,” growled Karen.
“That’s the spirit, now come on, let’s find some cock.”
Swirling through the streets like luminescent orange peacocks the girls pillaged and plundered. Lacey lit a flare, waved it above her head as she ran back and forth up the main street. She handcuffed men that took her fancy and lined them up in front of the Four Seasons Chinese restaurant for a debrief.
“You, lucky men,” she bellowed, strutting back and forth before them, “have been selected to satisfy our needs.”
Those who seemed agile were paired off with each of the girls. The men who cowered were set free. That’s when Karen spotted Samuel, slinking off with a diffident expression on his face. She went a deep shade of red under her deep shade of orange. Her loins ached. She battled her bashful nature and cornered him.
“I’m Karen. I can make you cum out of your nostrils. That is, if you want me to.”
“I’m sorry, I’m just not that kind of guy. Goodbye.”
“Wait, wait. Maybe let’s just find a quiet spot to chat, OK? This scene, it’s not me either.”
“Yeah, OK. I’d like that.”
Two hours later Karen and Samuel were staring into each other’s eyes forensically and Samuel gently slid his hand across her knee, removing another layer of tan. Samuel wiped his soiled palm against his white chinos and left a stain. He smelled his finger, gagging a little. They were in a strangely subdued dive bar, munching Bombay mix and drinking craft beer.
“I can see the real you,” he said, as they glided out of the bar and into a clearing in a park, swamped in a haze of pheromones. They sat on the long grass near the outdoor ping-pong table.
“No, that’s impossible, because I don’t even know myself.”
“It’s not hard to see,” he said
“You!” someone shrieked. Karen and Samuel turned. It was Lacey with a pack of girls behind her, gathered like Power Rangers, who then disassembled, circled a giant oak tree, squatted and proceeded to urinate.
“This soldier doesn’t pass muster,” barked Lacey.
“But I like him,” pleaded Karen.
“This is a democracy; he has to be voted in.”
“This is not a democracy at all, it’s a fascist dictatorship.”
“Semantics. You know I like to think our philosophy is based on the aphorisms of Kierkegaard and if you don’t see that there’s no way I can help you. And what’s with your tan?”
One of the urinating girls, stood, yanked down her skirt, tottered over to Lacey and whispered in her ear. Lacey nodded solemnly as she listened.
“Right,” said Lacey, clapping her hands once. “Converge!”
The orange girls pounced on Karen in a pincer movement while a couple of others restrained Samuel as he struggled to help Karen. But he was helpless.
“I don’t want this; I don’t want this anymore!” Karen cried.
Lacey dragged Karen across the sticky grass by her ginger roots. More of her tanning lotion rubbed off onto the soil as Karen screeched and dug her nails into the earth. Her hair extensions were ripped out and left in a trail on the grass in clumps like dead mice. Samuel had escaped and Karen was defeated. The girls sat her down on a bench along a side street, calmed her nerves and dabbed her cuts and bruises with cotton pads.
“He was the one,” Karen muttered in a daze, wincing as Lacey applied vodka orange to the bloody lesions beneath her eyes.
“Don’t be a plonker,” said Lacey. “He was a drip. Stick with the team and you’ll always win.”
Lacey dipped into her purse and came up empty handed. “Anyone got some spray?”
All sixteen girls rifled through their bags and every one of them whipped out a can of bronzer. Lacey took one and sprayed it all over the pallid parts of Karen’s skin.
“Now,” said Lacey, “you are one of us again. Welcome back.”.
“Yes,” said Karen, like an automaton, burying her head in her hands. “I’m an Orange Girl.”