Passing through its massive portal into the chilly gloom of the dormitory's entrance hall, Babe pauses to savor the smoky, sex-stained atmosphere of her home. No one is immediately about, although to either side, among the first floor suites, sound systems throb in dissonant convulsions, and quick footsteps echo in the stairwell above. The central hall and staircase divide the building's two enormous wings; there is another set of stairs at the end of each long hallway, and Babe decides to ascend by the right wing stairs, having been accosted twice during the past ten days on the central stair by a fourth-floor Brazilian who claims to have been maddened by her charms. Babe pushes at the swinging door leading to the hallway on her right; meeting some resistance, she shoves; suddenly the door gives way and Babe, starting somewhat precipitately down the hall, nearly collides with a blowsy young first floor girl wearing a stained kimono, unsashed. Babe perceives that she has interrupted the girl's bestowal of lewd caresses upon a young man who plays some varsity sport at the local college. Under her dispassionate blue gaze the swelling at his crotch subsides like thawing frost. "Look what you've done, you filthy lesbian!," cries the disappointed girl with bosom-flushing petulance. Babe moves away with a shrug. She dislikes male interlopers but understands their importance to Damnation's economy, especially now that the drug trade is down, and she understands their place in its history as well. In return for their disproportionate contribution to Damnation's common stock of food and clothes, girls who enjoy lucrative pleasures with boys have always been suffered to remain on the lower floors by girls like Babe, who prefer to barter goods in kind for the favors of their peers; but in fact a very great deal is just given away in all the abandonment of the place.
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