by Susan Lloy
Oh … the word falls from her lips as her reflection stares back. It’s as if she’s encountering herself for the very first time instead of after forty-two years of presentation. She’s invested in her trade with nips here and injections there; what little body fat she once had has been harvested and replanted in problematic areas. Thighs and abdomen sculpted. Breasts enhanced and resurrected to salute the heavens. Though today, as she inspects herself, she suddenly realizes that it’s all over.
She started as a ripe teen working as a stripper. Earning extra cash while studying anthropology at university. Gradually she thought; ‘What’s the use of a degree like this’? finding it more lucrative to strut her young bones and make a pile of money. The money was good, so good that she transitioned from stripper to escort. And although she had generous clients throughout her career, even one or two who promised to take her away from this, she likes her work and holds no wish to be dependent upon a man. There’s no denying that she’s kept her looks with the aid of costly expenditures, but if someone’s paying for sex; let’s face it, they want the fresh ones.
She’s never been good at planning and doesn’t have bundles tucked away, yet she owns a cottage in the hipster part of town with a lovely garden overflowing with crimson roses and hollyhocks. There’s enough money to last six months without worry supplemented by the odd Tom, Dick or Harry, but she can’t count on ‘johns’ anymore and must devise a plan. She’s disciplined when it comes to maintenance. For the most part she eats raw, with the exception of grilled fish or chicken for the necessary protein. She does hot yoga three times a week, swims every day and never ate gluten, even before it became fashionable. It is a boring regime, though necessary to keep her lean body, the currency of this firm.
She looks around her space and picks up her agenda. It’s without a single entry for the weeks stretching ahead. She isn’t skilled at anything other than great sexual performances. A few years back, a friend was at a crossroads and progressed from sexual contortionist to a writer of erotic literature and screenplays. This friend has done well for herself and so she picks up the phone and gives her a call.
“Hello, Vivian here.”
“Vivian, it’s Annie.”
“Oh, hi! Haven’t heard from you in some time.”
“Yeah, you know how it is. Something always comes up.”
“Speaking of up, how goes business?”
“Well, it’s practically nonexistent, which is why I’m calling. I need to pick your ear.”
“How easy, or should I say how difficult, was it for you to obtain the success of erotic bard?”
“It took some time, however, I have friends in the business and so I had an in so to speak. Why? Thinking of trying yourself?”
“I am actually.”
“Well, I can give you some contacts. Have you ever done any film porn?”
“Listen, Thursday afternoon I’m sitting in on a closed set. Actually, it’s a script that I’ve written. Do you feel like observing?”
“That would be great!”
“OK, then. I’ll pick you up at eleven.”
When Vivian arrived she was considerably heavier than Annie recalled. It had been nearly one year since they had seen each other, as two passing ladies of the night at an expensive downtown restaurant. They had been there with their respective gentleman callers who didn’t behave like gentlemen. Annie and Vivian had caught up in the ladies room where they had both complained about their clients who drank too much, talked too loudly and ogled every woman who walked. Both made passes at the waitress who tolerated it all with the hope of good tip. Then and there they had mutually agreed, “We gotta get out of this business.”
Vivian had done some hard porn in her youth; a rising starlet in the adult film industry, but due to a car accident had to quit the camera, because the scar on her torso which was too difficult to camouflage. She had acquired a substantial fan following in her short career and some of her devotees enjoyed caressing this imperfection within the confines of her atmospheric boudoir when she flipped to private escort.
They arrived at the set where everyone made Annie feel welcome and Vivian introduced her to the director, actors and camera crew. Following the shoot, the crew and cast headed for lunch. Vivian and Annie were guided by two young Romeos, who flirted, stroked their arms, all the while discussing various parts of the script. They were led to a banquet table that was bursting with everything one could dream of tasting. Corks popped and bubbly poured as if it was the premier instead of an afternoon wrap.
As it turned out this was a celebration for two of the main characters, for this was to be their twenty-fifth production together, titled Swallow Me; about a guy who picks up a girl at a wine tasting soirée. Vivian mentioned it didn’t have much of a plot, however featured a lot of steamy love scenes, which were precisely what the viewers expect.
Vivian made a lunge towards the table and quickly piled her plate with delights. Followed by chowing down on a French Horn pastry, which oozed with cream and possessed a rather phallic semblance itself.
“What the hell,” announced Vivian. “I’m sick of starving myself for my figure.”
Annie remained controlled and sparingly arranged the raw vegetables around a piece of grilled sole, solemnly chewing on a carrot. She had to admit control, although a life choice, is often monotonous.
Following the shoot Vivian dropped off Annie and provided some contacts: names of a few directors and editors. She stressed, “Don’t think too much about it, just let your previous experiences run out, you’ll see.” Annie sat in the salon and put her feet up, which were swollen from her six-inch heels. Her reflections turned to Vivian and her newfound freedom she envied. Vivian too had once governed her body like a fierce dictator, though now her rule seemed to have exiled to parts unknown.
Overcome with an overwhelming urge for forbidden delicacies Annie surrendered to her whims ordering several take-outs: Pad Thai, deep fried chicken with gravy and fries. Banana cream pie. Abandoning the regiment she has so long adhered to.
The breeze from the open doors nudged the linen curtains and the hollyhocks danced beyond, permitting the scent of rose to circle the room. She picked up a pen jotting down working titles such as, Oversize Me, Mister Big and Dude, Don’t Stop, allowing her thoughts to perform like well-seasoned lovers and words to dominate the page.