Ch 51. The Dancer
Jesus Josephovich and the Oligarch came out of the Russian banya feeling like new men. The Oligarch was refreshed and rejuvenated. Jesus Josephovich was exhausted. He felt like he had just been dry-cleaned or cooked like steamed vegetables. The only thing he wanted was to lay down for a few minutes to regain his strength.
Even in his weakened state, however, the Oligarch couldn’t make Jesus Josephovich agree to work with him and be his political puppet. The foreigner seemed oblivious to all material desires. Money and fame didn’t tempt him. It was as if his mind was in a different place than his body.
The Oligarch led Jesus Josephovich into a lavishly decorated guest room. It had large ornate wooden dressers and beautiful imported chairs with tacky animal fur designs. In the center of the room was a large bed with tiger-striped blankets. Jesus Josephovich looked up and noticed a large mirror on the ceiling. The room dripped with the feeling of excess.
“Your clothes are in there,” the Oligarch said pointing to a large standing closet. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Jesus Josephovich looked around the room and finally found his clothes. They were neatly folded and hung up in one of the wardrobes. As he got dressed, he had a strange feeling that he was being watched.
The door opened and Jesus Josephovich turned around to greet the Oligarch, but instead of the proud businessman there was a beautiful young woman standing in the doorway. She looked at the foreigner with dull eyes and closed the door behind her as if it was her job to be there.
“Hello, I’m Jesus Josephovich,” the foreigner said pleasantly. “Am I in the wrong room?”
“No,” the young woman said. She walked over to the foreigner and sat down on the bed.
Jesus Josephovich was surprised that such a forward person would come into the room without a warm greeting. Perhaps she was also a guest here. Her face held an untouchable arrogance. It was as if she was afraid to smile, because a smile would crack the cosmetic armor hiding her real personality from the outside world.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“My name is Pamela,” she said, which was clearly not her real name.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“I’m a model,” she said simply, but meaning much more.
“What’s a model?” the foreigner wondered.
The woman stared at him as if he was telling a bad joke, but she soon realized that he was serious. “You know. A model. I pose for pictures and videos. Men pay money to look at me,” she teased.
“We don’t have that kind of job where I’m from,” Jesus Josephovich explained. “If a man pays to look at a woman, we have a different name for it.”
The model laughed. “Don’t worry,” she said. “You can look at me for free.”
Jesus Josephovich frowned in confusion.
“I’m also a dancer,” she said.
“That’s nice,” Jesus Josephovich said. “What style is your specialty? Ballet? National Ukrainian dances?”
She laughed out loud and shook her head. “Pole dancing,” she said mischievously.
She stood up on the bed and began stroking the long wooden columns that ran up almost all the way to the ceiling from the four corners of the bed. She spun around on the wooden posts and slid seductively onto the bed.
Jesus Josephovich was shocked by her talent. “That looks very dangerous,” he said.
The model spread herself out on the bed and looked the foreigner in the eyes temptingly, yet coldly.
“Can I help you with something?” he asked.
She nodded and motioned with her finger for him to come closer to her.
“You can help me dance,” she said as she stood up next to the column and began undulated her body against it.
“Can you do a different dance?” Jesus Josephovich asked politely.
“I can do anything you want,” she said seductively.
“Maybe something a little more traditional,” he said.
“A tango?” she teased. “It takes two of us for that.”
“I’m not a professional dancer like you,” the foreigner admitted.
The model smiled and slowly rolled around the bed. Then she began slowly taking off her clothes. Jesus Josephovich quickly put his hands up for her to stop when he recognized what she was doing.
“If you need to change clothes I will leave,” he said immediately.
“I’m here for you,” she explained as she grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the bed. “I can do anything you want me to do.”
Jesus paused and sighed as he understood why the girl has been sent. “Can you talk?” he asked.
The dancer frowned and sat down heavily on the bed.
Jesus Josephovich sat down next to her. “Tell me about yourself,” he asked. “What’s your real name?”
She sighed sorely as she realized that the foreigner was not going to sleep with her. It meant she wasn’t going to make much money today. “My name is Dasha,” she answered hastily, like an angry child denied a treat.
“Where are you from?” he asked.
“From a small town outside of Kiev,” she said.
“Why did you become a…model,” he asked.
The girl frowned. “What should I do? Work in a restaurant? Be a secretary?”
“Do you want to be a secretary or work in a restaurant?”Jesus Josephovich asked.
“No,” she replied.
“Then don’t.” Jesus Josephovich said simply.
“I can make much more money modeling and dancing,” she said.
“Money is important to you?” Jesus Josephovich asked.
“It is necessary,” she said. “It lets me do what I want to do.”
“And is this what you want to do?” he asked, looking at the bed.
The girl sulked. “Not always.”
“I think you should do what you really want to do,” Jesus Josephovich said. “What did you want to be when you were young?”
Dasha sat and thought for a moment and then smiled. “I wanted to be a princess. And a ballerina.”
“Why didn’t you become a ballerina?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “I didn’t really try. Life just sort of happened.”
“Are you proud of your beauty?” he asked.
She stared at him, unsure of what he meant. “Yes,” she said weakly.
“You are very beautiful, but physical beauty doesn’t last very long.” He looked into her eyes and stared at her for several seconds. “You have about 15 years left.”
“15 years for what?” she asked frightfully.
“15 years until your physical beauty is gone.”
The girl froze. She wanted to be angry, but she couldn’t be. She knew that the foreigner was not trying to insult her. He was telling her the truth, and the truth terrified her.
“You have 15 years to use your beauty to your advantage, but after that you will only have what you have built for yourself.”
“What do you mean?” she asked nervously.
“When your beauty is gone, people will treat you differently. Whatever is built upon your beauty will disappear with your beauty. Life will not be as simple and easy. You will have to rely on other talents to live a successful life, but you must build those talents now.”
She swallowed anxiously. “What can I build?” she wondered.
“Many things,” Jesus Josephovich said enthusiastically. “You should build your character, you should make yourself strong emotionally, physically, and mentally. You should be able to work hard at any task and to be happy and content in any situation. But the most important thing will be your relationships. You must build strong friendships with people that you trust, with people who will give you good advice and help you through difficult times, and you must do the same for them. You need to build a strong, loving family. For that you must find a man of good character with whom you can build the greatest of all treasures: true love.”
The girl hardly breathed as she listened to the strange foreigner. She was completely overwhelmed by all of the work she needed to do in her life. It seemed impossible. She had spent her entire life thinking only about her beauty and what it could get her here and now. She’d never realized that it would disappear so quickly and she would be left with nothing.
She put her head in her hands and started to cry. She wanted to change her life, but she didn’t know where to begin. She felt ugly, as if her beauty had already left her.
Jesus Josephovich put a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Physical beauty is nothing compared to what is inside of you. If you build these good things in your life, you will be more beautiful in 50 years from now than you are today.”
“How is that possible?” she asked. “You said I’ll be ugly in 15 years.”
“No,” Jesus Josephovich comforted her. “I said your physical beauty will disappear. But something better than that can replace it. A beauty that radiates from the goodness within you. Believe me, the goodness inside of you is far more beautiful than your skin. I can see it.”
The girl stared into the foreigner’s eyes and believed him. She smiled and hugged the strange man, feeling an inner strength inside of her that she hadn’t felt since she was young.
“Do you still want me to dance for you?” she asked.
“Only if it’s ballet,” Jesus Josephovich answered.