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My name is a secret. A very well kept secret. Names bring along with them preconceptions of the owners: innocence, sweetness, formality, promiscuity. So naturally if asked my name I’d answer with one suited to my current needs. By not supplying a name I force people to make their misconceptions based solely on what they see. So this story begins simply with me.
I am standing on a street corner. I’m a very pretty white girl, shoulder length blonde hair. My eyes are blue-grey. I have a petite frame. I like that word: petite. I’m curvy but not overly so — slight hips, small breast — the build of an athlete, but more of a casual one: strong but not someone who works too hard at it. I’m wearing cut-off, faded blue-jean shorts. The shorts ride low on my hips and cut off high on my legs. I’m wearing a faded yellow top with spaghetti straps. The shirt comes down maybe a couple inches above the top of the shorts, showing just a hint of my stomach. The shirt has a sewn on pink flower between the breast. To be honest it’s hideous. If the spaghetti straps are supposed to be daring, then the straps of the clearly seen sports bra ruin the look. I show a lot of flesh, but looking more youthful than sexual. I am carrying a small red bead-work purse. On first sight the purse might seem expensive. It isn’t. I bought it for a buck fifty in a Good Will thrift store. I like it ‘cause the strap lies flat against me, and the bag is small enough to be fairly inconspicuous yet still holds the things I need to carry. Currently it holds some condoms and lube, some money and an id (my driver’s license), the key to my safe deposit box (the poor man’s version). And most importantly it holds my little notebook, with a little pen attached to it by yarn.
I look innocent. A little girl playing dress up. Only this is real — Protect me. It’s an act. I’m not innocent. It’s a good act too and I’m good at it. And it’s working. A silver Honda Accord just passes me by but then abruptly hits the breaks and turns the corner. He’ll head around the block — maybe more than once, but he’ll stop. He’s a regular customer. His name is Ray — sort of. I’m glad it’s gonna be Ray. I like him.
When the Accord stops, I gingerly walk to the passenger door. When I see Ray’s face I give my biggest brightest smile. Of course, this is all theater. I know it’s Ray all along. I get into the car and he drives off.
“I thought that was your car,” I say.
Ray Smiles. Ray will drive us to a nearby, nearly abandoned parking lot by some warehouses. People are working in the warehouses but we park with some other cars at the edge of the parking lot. It’s one of those city parking lots which nobody quite owns. People who live nearby park their cars there and nobody seems to care. I take most of my regulars here. It’s secluded and no one bothers you.
“I’m not very good with cars,” I say as Ray parks, “I just know it’s silver, but sometimes the color’s hard to tell in the dark.” And then I giggle for no particular reason.
Ray laughs. This isn’t true by the way. I like cars actually. I can tell most cars, year, make model from the the tail lights. I can tell Ray’s coming and going. The driver’s side headlight burnt out and has been replaced. The replacement light shines slightly less yellow than the original. Ray drives a two generations ago, ten plus year old Honda Accord with cloth seats. He has an after market radio which doesn’t fit with the rest of the dash. He’s worked hard to make the car look good. It’s nice and clean. It has original Honda Accord floor mats that don’t quite match the color of the carpeting. He replaced the plastic hubcaps that came on it with decent quality fake chrome ones. The paint is a bit faded but is washed and waxed. It has One hundred and eighty six thousand miles and change, but is well maintained. No out of date little Jiffy lube sticker in his window. Ray does his own oil changes. He even brings the used oil to the city dump for proper disposal.
I like Ray. He’s an average looking white guy with curly brown hair and a pleasant round face. He’s a bit over weight but not what anyone would call fat. He’s thirty-six. If you had to guess his age just by looking, you’d say he’s thirty-six. He has clean finger nails and hands, which are a little rough as though he works with them. He does. His clothes are not expensive but are nice quality, and they’re well taken care of and neat.
If asked what he was doing here with me Ray would deny that he was with me at all. No really, he’s devised contingency plans if a cop should stops us. I was hitchhiking and Ray picked me up. Ray is very nervous about being caught with a prostitute, and for that matter an underaged prostitute. I told him I was eighteen, and he only wishes he could really believe it. Ray suspects that I’m thirteen. He doesn’t need to be so nervous. I can read minds and would know instantly if anyone had the slightest interest in what we are doing. No really I can read minds. I’ve learned a lot about Ray from reading his mind. If pressed and he was being honest, Ray would admit, that he is lonely and that I, a prostitute, am the only woman he has a decent relationship with. He would also say that he genuinely likes me — which he does. And that it really isn’t about the sex. And it isn’t. It’s about lying to me.
Ray has invented an entire world. What he does for a living. How much money he has. His name. It’s all a lie. And he loves to tells me all about it in great detail. He likes to complain about the people he works with. In his story Ray’s a technical writer, whatever that is. Ray only has a vague idea himself. In Ray’s mind it’s kinda a supervisor of the computer programers who work at Ray’s office. He regularly tells me about how he has to manipulate the programers, getting them to do things in a certain way without looking like he’s doing it. It’s fascinating really.
There really is a technical writer at Ray’s office named Ray. My Ray’s actual name is John, unfortunate but true. John is both awed and repulsed by the actual Ray. The real Ray is one of those great looking go getter types that really does manipulate everyone in the office. He’s the type that everyone at first tells you what a great guy he is, but when they’re being honest they all admit that they really hate the man and that he makes the place horrible to work in. My Ray thinks he’s some sort of stud with the ladies ‘cause they’re always smiling and giggling when he makes inappropriate comments. In fact they’re just embarrassed, and people really don’t know how to respond to an asshole. John, my Ray, is better in every way then his role model. John’s the janitor by the way.
After he’s done with the office gossip he’ll tell me how he’d much rather be with me than be married again. Actually John wishes more than anything that his marriage had worked out. He was needy and possessive and relentlessly terrified that his wife was going to leave him — naturally it drove her away. No way is he getting involved with anyone at his office. He doesn’t think he has a chance with them. He’s probably right but they all like him. It’s all very elaborate actually.
I am the only other person John tells this fantasy to. It’s flattering really. I mean it would be, if John didn’t also think I was a compete idiot. But as they say, it takes a lot of brains to play dumb. And I’m very good at. And I do actually help with this perception of me whenever I can. John tells me, inaccurately, about some aspect of computer programming and I respond how I’d one day like to get one of those “smart type phones … I mean if he showed me how to use it.” I know, but it’s John’s fantasy. In reality, I’ve never used a cell phone in my life, and if I can get away with it — probably never will. For reasons that should be clear in a moment, I can actually program an app on the things, debug it, hack the little finger print reader and steal your iTunes music library — I even know the lingo.
John caresses my leg. This is my cue, the talking is over and we’re gonna have sex. I unbutton my shorts, open the zipper. He reaches his hand between my legs and touches me gently though through my underwear. I smile and giggle like I see the women in his office do when the other Ray embarrasses them. I slide the pants down and step out of them. John likes me completely naked, so I’ll remove my underwear next, then my shirt and bra.
“Oh,” I say as if I forgot. Then I pick up my bead bag and take out the condoms.
John uses the opportunity to take out the money he has in his shirt pocket and hands it over.
“Ray, You don’t have to” I say, because he gives me fifty when he knows I only charge forty.
“I know, I want to,” he says.
I throw my arms around him. He laughs. I go back to removing my clothes. I pretend to try to be seductive but the persona I’m in, can’t quite pull it off.
Although John likes to make me think he’s rich and a big spender, he also does not like to think about the fact that he gives me money. So it’s a bit odd trying to both acknowledge that he’s generous and get the whole money thing out of the way as soon as possible. If he did think about it, he would reasonably assume that it is the reason why I am here. He’d be wrong. I’m here to feed. John being my trick is incidental. What he really is, is my meal. It’s his energy that I will take. It’s what I live on. Every time John has come to me I have fed upon him — lightly. Today I will feed deeply.
Sex is good. I need the person to be preoccupied, otherwise they’ll notice me feeding. They'll feel it. They might lash out or be violent. He’ll be disoriented, it’s instinctual, self preservation and all. A blow job’s ok for small feeding but I have to pay too much attention to the physical aspects of what I’m doing to take large amounts of his energy. It’s better with Sex. Safer and easier. I can follow his energy with the the rhythm and the building and feed as much as I want with the crescendo. The disorienting, the draining of his energy, he’ll think it’s the aftermath of sex. He might pass out for a second, but he won’t remember doing so. I’ll even help the illusion with a nice “wow.” John will like that. They all like that.
Because it’s almost certainly the last time I will ever see John I decide to give him a little treat. Chicago has become unsafe for me and I’ll need to leave it for the next several years.
“Oh Dang,” I say.
“These condoms are old.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well you see how it curls back like that. It got heated or frozen or something.” Of course he can’t see any of this ‘cause my head is blocking the view. And there’s nothing wrong with the condom anyway.
“Do you have…”
“No. I,” I begin but then I hesitate a second or two before pleading, “Well I’m on birth control and I’ve just been tested. I mean, if you don’t mind we could — you know — without a condom. Or I could give you ah — a you know.”
“No — I — I think it will be ok.”
No kidding I’ve never seen him so hard. I know how men work. Why they work that way, I can’t even begin to fathom. Let’s have unprotected sex and suddenly zing: statue of liberty. Whatever. I can’t get pregnant, and don’t get diseases. I can’t pass them on either, but even if I could, that would be his problem. He’s wanted it for months. He’s even fantasized about asking me but the idea that I might reject him scares him too much. The idea of stealthing, or inconspicuously removing the condom, has gone through his head, but he’s not the type that would do that.
John usually only takes one leg out of his pants. He’s always worried about police and wants to be able to get his pants back on quickly. Today he throws caution to the wind. Because John tends to have a bit of a problem caused by nervousness and is — too shy — to touch my vagina I usually guide him into me with my hand. Today the man is hard as a rock. I feel him still hard and very hot as he climes on top of me. I moan appropriately as he pushes into me — more theater of course. The anticipation of the energy makes me wet, which is good because foreplay really isn’t on the agenda.
I can feel the energy build with each thrust. For it to feel natural I must time it just right, take just a bit, just a bit, just a bit. It’s building and I feel it. And when he comes, he’ll be completely open and at that moment I will take it all. As though he comes twice but at the exact same time. I gasp as I take in everything, not just his life force, but his memories — all of them, things he wishes he could forget and things he did forget and every emotion he’s ever felt. Not as he felt it or feels it still, all at once — rushing over me, consuming me.
Sadness — Heartbreak — Love — Happiness — such self loathing — John hates himself — He thinks he’s ugly — An over dose of pain meds — crying — crying — crying — protection — He wants to protect me — He wants to marry me — He could do it if I was really eighteen — Heartache — such loneliness.
I’m crying. I’m sobbing. My mind is a muddle. Where do my memories start and John’s end. I was suppose to say something. I can’t remember. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just fed the day before. I don’t think I was supposed to feed so deeply. John’s out. Am I still feeding. No. If I was I might have killed him. Natural causes, heart attack. John would’ve been so embarrassed. Found dead and naked in a parking lot frequented by Hookers. He’s not dead. He’s breathing. I’m still crying; he’s so sad. And so sweet. I squeeze him to me. I’m supposed to do something. Oh God he’s stirring. I’m not together. I’ll play vacuous. There’s nothing coherent in my head now. Can’t; it takes brains to play dumb and I don’t have it. He looks at me. I smile, but there are still tears. It’s a nice smile. God I need a drink. He knows something’s wrong. Whisky usually kick starts my brain. As soon as I can, I’m going to the bar. Maybe some coke; there’s always a guy in the back room selling. What the hell was I thinking. Feeding this deeply twice in a row. Now I remember. The other guy. He’s in my head too — a lot of him has come to the foreground. I couldn’t take any more of that guy. He was disgusting —
Hate — Hate — Hate — Just Hate — He hated men, who he thought were better than him —he hated everyone — he hated women. God did he hate women — all women — every women — specific women— There was some woman he thought whose name was Jane but it was Elaine. One moment fetish — all sex pretending I was her. Next, Fucking Whore. — I should throw acid in her face — fucking whore — Her fuckin boyfriend. And I knew it was her fiancé — I should throw acid in his fuckin’ face — Fuckin’ whore would drop him in a second — Then I should strangle this fuckin’ whore — look at her, meaning me — And he hated me.
“Fucking whore,” goes through the minds of mean ones, all the time. They get rough and the power makes them hard. It didn’t make this guy hard. Just the opposite, and it scared the hell out me. When he finally faked his orgasm he was completely flaccid. I got the hell out of there. He was all in my head but it was like there was nothing to feed on. His mind, his creativity, his very life’s energy was just consumed by his own hate for others and his own self-loathing. I got a drink — a big one. I only wish I could’ve gotten drunk — I don’t really get drunk. There’s still too much of that asshole in my head. Feeding on John brought it all back, vividly. I need a drink now.
I don’t talk much as John get’s dressed. Ray that’s the name. I’m so out of it. I have trouble getting dressed but manage somehow. We drive in silence back to my street corner.
“Wow, that was amazing,” I say when I’m finally able to get a coherent thought out.
John laughs. Good he’s been worried. Now he thinks he shocked me with amazing — guys are easy. And I want John to feel good about this. I like John.
When you read someone fully, all the nasty comes out. The horrors they share with no one. The moments of weakness. The things they would hide from even themselves if they could. With John, it’s me. His feelings for a thirteen year old girl. He thinks he’s a pedophile. Only I’m not thirteen. John has a fantasy about us setting up house somewhere. He’d pretend to be my uncle. At moments he tells himself we could really do it. He figures I’m so dumb I’d give it away — that he’d end up in prison for a million years. Although John does sorta believe this, the real reason he can’t take me home is because he’d have to confess about his lies: the world he invents and tells me all about. Sometimes he thinks, “maybe just the name.” He could get away with that, telling a hooker a false name is ok. It’s true. They all do that.
I contemplate spilling my purse. Let John see my driver’s license. Andrea MacDonald, twenty-two years old. It’s legit too. Issued by the state of Illinois. It even has my picture on it. Well, sorta legit. I look enough like the real Andrea MacDonald that the nice overworked folk at Motor Vehicles didn’t question it when I got it renewed. I don’t spill my purse. I don’t want to set up house keeping in the burbs. That’s John’s fantasy.
I turn in my seat and give him as full and complete a hug as possible while sitting in a car and I leave. The intensity of the hug catches him be surprise — me too actually.
I make a bee line for the bar.