A flurry of fists hurried my retirement from a life of whoring
Old whores never die. They just fuck off. Actually, I think that phrase — old whore — is redundant . N NBreathe. NMy palm is sweating around a small black revolver as I raise it up to the light. Quickly, I shove the barrel into my mouth and…
Bite it off.
Tricks, illusions, sleight-of-hand — it’s my business. I stole this licorice gun bit from Adam’s Rib, that movie where Katharine Hepburn plays a lawyer defending Judy Holliday, potential husband-killer and fully realized addled-brained blond.
I was just that sort of platinum fool when I became a hooker. Young and not as bright as my uniform: my turning-heads-then-turning-tricks lipstick-red dress with the white polka dots sprinkled all over it like confetti strawberry lip gloss blood-red Carmen Miranda shoes.
I have always loved outrageous shoes, like the ones I’m wearing, black as licorice, shiny as lip gloss, 3-inch gold heels, quite simply the oddest and most elegant shoes I’ve ever seen. Bought them at Fluevog in Vancouver.
Vancouver. Where I met a stranger at English Bay who had eyes like Omar Sharif’s. At the far end of the beach, we embraced on the sun-warmed back of a giant boulder, then slid into its cool granite shadow. As the sun went down, so did I. I thought I was in love, so when I found out he was in trouble with the law I told him I’d sell my soul to save his ass. He said: “How ’bout just your ass to save my ass?”
The Vancouver Hotel, the Dev, the Georgia, these became my places of work. And my favourite, the Marine Lounge in the Bayshore Inn, where from the plush low-lit interior I could keep one eye on the action and the other on the ocean.
I was certain the Pacific held my soul, rocked it gently in its salt-water embrace while I sold my body to the first suit who winked at me over the salty rim of his margarita.
A matter of weeks after meeting Zhivago, I’d made a few thousand dollars, but the money, which was supposed to be for a good lawyer to get him off the cocaine rap, disappeared up his nose. What did I know? I was a body, not a brain. But before I was a-body-not-a-brain, I went to university, only to quit after a year. I was broke, and all my life all I ever really wanted was to be an actress.
Now I’m getting nervous. Breathe. I’ve chosen an Irma la Douce look for this VIP I’m seeing today. He’ll only give me a few minutes — if he doesn’t like me right away, I’m outta there. What a business! Why couldn’t I have been a secretary or a waitress?
Came the night I propositioned a plainclothes cop. Civic elections were on, and I was 19 and naive. I wobbled on my huge platform shoes and shivered under the polka dots as they read me my rights. At the station, they grilled me, wanted to know who my pimp was. I told them I didn’t have a pimp, just a lover who loved me. And I believed it even if they didn’t.
I spent the night in jail, smoking and pacing, then in the bleary-eyed morning I was released on my own recognizance when a friend of Zhivago’s showed up to spring me. I rushed home to the one who had turned me into his red-and-white-polka-dot slave and who now beat me black-and-blue as punishment for getting busted. I’d sold my soul wholesale, and now the angry waves came crashing down, dragging me relentlessly into the undertow.
The word pimp didn’t vanish with time from my brain as the bruises did from my body. But I had nowhere to go. I had to lie low while the election heat died down, but Zhivago’s coke supply was running out and his court case coming up, so I phoned a regular and copped an all-night gig.
This was the tongue that spoiled me — so unlike other tricks of the general lick variety that I dubbed him “serial thriller.” Passion, pressure, precision. In the morning, I found a note on his pillow saying he’d gone out and that I should make myself at home.
I took a long operatic shower, then stepped out into the midmorning sunshine, certain that this money would win back the love I’d lost by getting arrested.
But when I got home, a fist met me in the face. Blood gushed from my nose and spilled onto my dress, obliterating all that confetti. “Having too much fun with the trick to come home in the morning?! Where’s the money for that?!” my Sharif Ali yelled, and hit me so hard I flew across the room.
He flicked his cigarette ashes onto my blood-spattered uniform, then told me to go wash my face.
And that’s when I made my break.
I ran through the tree-lined streets of the west end with him hot on my heels.
But I know that area like the back of my hand, and I lost him cutting through alleyways. I crossed the Burrard Street Bridge, then wended my way through oily sunbathers till I came to Jericho Beach, where I walked into the water and splashed my face.
Through the blood and salt water I saw a sky the colour of baby’s breath, and the loss of my soul to the sea rot of the ocean floor made me cry.
I got a year’s probation and a train ticket east.
Damn! I wish I’d dressed more like Shanghai Lily, “the notorious white flower of China.” But I thought her cool elegance would clash with my licorice-chomping monologue. I mean, if this director likes me today and casts me as his streetwalker, I could be on my way.
It’s been a long journey from my checkered past — or should that be polka-dotted past? Now, here I am at the 11th hour wishing I were Blanche Dubois — that is, portraying Blanche — instead of my own line of work.”Old whores never….” Now I’m forgetting my lines! And I’m not even sure of my character’s motivation any more.
Why, for instance, is she eating confectionary weaponry?
There is a reason.