We drove through the country, past dense forests of deep green and fields of tobacco, all pasted against the bluest sky I ever saw, a backdrop to the drama about to unfold. The club was lackluster, mud stains crawling up the faded white siding, weeds growing in sparse clumps in the dirt and gravel parking lot. The tires crunched through the gravel, announcing our presence to those waiting inside. We walked in, the dark welcoming us to the wantonness concealed from the day. She interviewed quick, verbally. I knew what they wanted to see for her qualifications. Posturing up like a good sentry, my eyes narrowed to slits, not smiling at anyone, being sure to let them know this was “my” angel, I was not coy about expressing my concern. I saw several girls milling around, asking for drinks from the pitiful few customers that were scattered like debris across the club. All typical things, the only thing not typical, was the look on my angels face, and her knight, faithfully by her side. My imagination was wild, things ugly and uncontrollable fleshing out my limited understanding. Every violent movie, crime drama, news report, every violent and perverse concoction I ever heard and saw, all weighed heavily on me. My heart, now beating with sickening thuds, girded on by bursts of adrenaline, felt ready to explode. I knew something was about to happen. The dim interior, with its moon and stars of black lights and liquor neons, and mirrors reflecting their entrancing light, created a hypnotism that affected even me. Through a slight haze of smoke, I walked through the foreboding gauntlet to the edge of the stage. Sticky carpets, a memoir of drinks spilled night after night, created a smell that was oppressive on its own. My angels eyes were wide with excitement, her innocence was obvious to all there, exciting the few mangy patrons like the smell of blood excites the pack. Feeling them undress her with their eyes, hearing them lick their lips in anticipation, fidgeting in their chairs, ordering fresh drinks for the unveiling of the new talent, my mind and heart throbbed. The sound of blood rushed through my ears accompanying music that boomed from the speakers, both mercifully loud enough to cover the conversations whispered from hedonistic men to the objects they desired. A couple dancers, with well rehearsed moves, their eyes vacant, staring off into space, went through their sets. They were all beautiful, except for blank stare in their eyes. Finally it was my angels turn, she looked so, cute, coming onto the stage, her moves very unpracticed and hesitant. Her eyes, like doe eyes, so innocent. She pranced childlike to the front of the stage, stopped, then swaying with the music, looked me directly in the eye and began her descent. Inside I heard a voice, urgent, and by the second, louder in its instance, STOP!!! I could scarcely restrain myself, the knight, caught between doing what she wanted and trying to wrestle a way out of this most helpless of circumstances, all of me under the sword of concern, all of her on the precipice of her dream. I held her look while she peeled off her shirt, my angel, her silken skin, her glorious curves, my skin, my curves. The shirt covered her eyes on its way off to oblivion, and when it fell from her hands, falling past her gentle eyes, I watched the purity leave her. It went from her like the sun falls from the sky, she growing darker on the sunset of her innocence. I sat stunned. My angel was no longer an angel, she was something that I had never seen before, her visage marred by an unseen hand. I felt my stomach ache, a deep, growing pit forming, nausea slapping me like a bully. I knew little of what was to become of the wildness that was birthed in her that night, little of what her desire for escape would drive her too, little of what it would do to my innocence, my soul.