Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Fool's Errand

Another unedited excerpt of Wrecking Ball

A Fool’s Errand

The early 20th Century short story writer O. Henry has long been one of my favorites. One work, entitled “The Green Door”, relays a descriptive account of a hopeless romantic salesman with a desire for adventure. He finds himself in an unusual situation based upon his own exaggerated sense of drama, his own purposeful striving for the different and the novel. That ethos influenced my own decision-making. Had I been afraid of taking risks, I would have never ended up where I did, how I did.

Another relationship had run its course. In its place, I was looking for something else. Quite familiar with the feeling of absence and loss, along with the emotions that followed, the vacuum left behind begged to be replaced by something substantive. This time, I was feeling depressed, desperate to escape myself and my current condition, however I could manage it. In times past, random hookups with strangers had provided the excitement and change of pace needed to distract me from my misery.

The Craigslist ad I viewed, while on my search for distraction, was worded rather vaguely. The term “Quickie” was used. I assumed this meant that she wanted, to be blunt, a quick lay, then wished to depart immediately afterward. After calling the phone number posted on the ad, she and I briefly spoke, making arrangements. I agreed to pick her up at a place downtown in thirty minutes. She would be waiting outside a busy restaurant in the tourist trap, older area of the city. Because of traffic, it took me a long time to get there and even longer to find her.

Parking in this part of town wasn’t cheap. A person could easily choose the wrong lot and come back with a boot attached to his or her ride home. This is why I never came down here very much. She looked impatient and annoyed while I successfully confirmed her identity. Entering my car, she began to talk animatedly. It turns out that my initial interpretation had been very wrong. “Quickie” had a very different connotation to it than I was expecting.

You can have me for 80 dollars, she said. That’s what “Quickie” means.

My first thought, and probably the wisest one, was to leave immediately and cut my losses. But instead I agreed to pay the price upon which she’d insisted. I’d arrived anticipating sex and didn’t want to go home disappointed and empty handed. She went with me to the ATM as I took out the money, even though something about this felt very wrong and very sketchy.

When we arrived back at my place, she stated that intercourse would cost extra. That was like adding injury to insult. Frustrated, I performed and received what my 80 dollars would cover. None of it was especially satisfying. Everything was over and done much too soon, making me wonder if I’d really gotten much of anything out of this deal. I then assumed that our business arrangement had concluded. We would now part ways.

She asked me if I would drop her off at the place she was staying temporarily. According to her, she was in the process of relocating elsewhere. She’d previously been living with her brother and his partner. In her words, she was unhappy because gay men were fussy about little things that didn’t matter. She never felt comfortable in their presence because they were needlessly meticulous about being neat and tidy. She wanted a new living arrangement.

As I turned onto the boulevard, then crossed the train tracks, she pointed out the location of each and every crack house in the area. There were several. Though I knew I’d moved into a recently gentrified area, I would have rather not known how close I was to a high crime part of town. It now made sense as to why each of the units of the complex where I lived had been built so close together. There is strength in numbers.

She told me to stop, to park along the curve next to a series of dilapidated houses. I was told to turn my lights out and wait in silence. I tried not to think about the number of laws we were breaking. This excursion kept getting stranger and stranger. After around ten minutes, she emerged.

Don’t worry, she said. I keep the rock in my pussy. They never look for it there.

I was desperate to get rid of her. She said she wanted to be dropped off at the place where she was currently living. I was only too happy to oblige. But when we arrived, she asked me to accompany her inside for protection’s sake. She had a knapsack inside the house along with her W2, and needed the money from the tax return. She was fearful it would be stolen.

Once more, I defied common sense and put myself in a dangerous position. Upon arrival, I was instantly ushered into a room with two small televisions showing pornographic movies. They rested upon a wooden dresser in what seemed to be a bedroom. Two women and a man were present. He was suspiciously nice, in a way that was too forced to be genuine. I knew now, without even needing to see a weapon for proof, that I was in a potentially violent and out-of-control situation.

He told me I could select either of the women. I wasn’t sure what he was angling for, truthfully. I was afraid to say no, so I chose one at random. For a little while, events offscreen mimicked those happening onscreen. I performed cunnilingus on one of the women. It felt colossally awkward performing a sex act on someone with an audience in the background. These sorts of experiences had always been private matters before that instant. But the fear I felt motivated me to do what I was told.

I did a good job, apparently. The woman was quite pleased and the man was impressed with my technique. This hadn’t been for free, of course. I was told that I now needed to fork out $100 as payment for what I'd just done. What I was dealing with was extortion, though coercion and manipulation had been prominent throughout the whole of this crazy day. He wasn’t done. I was told to drive to an ATM and told to take out another $50 to pay for a watch that he wanted to purchase.

The woman I’d first contacted, now hours ago, managed to distract him long enough for us to get away. He'd been attempting to force me to buy a large automatic drill for which I had no use. Her knapsack had been successful removed from the residence. She now rested it on the floorboard of the front passenger side of my car. She begged to go to my place. It was fortunate that my roommate had already gone to bed.

She smoked crack outside on the balcony, but not before offering me some. I declined. Instead, I chain smoked cigarettes, fearful that the cops were going to show up at any moment. After she was finished, I stressed to her that this was an experience never to be repeated, at any time, for any reason. Despite her protests, I informed her that I was dropping her off at the place we’d been earlier that night. And as she slammed the door, I saw her scurry off into the night, looking disappointed and a little desperate.

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