Pagan Moss' Peep Show Stories

Thursday, November 11, 2004

NaNoWriMo: Chapter Two



The road takes a sharp left and I can see a slant of yellow light off in the distance, streaming down from a tall lamp post on the side of the road. There's a car parked underneath and I can barely make out the outline of a tall figure walking towards me. As the figure comes into view, I can see it's a woman--an incredibly thin woman with shoulder length wavy brown hair, wearing an odd fur coat, which makes her upper body look like a gorilla. She catches sight of me and speeds up.

We finally meet up and the woman asks me in a soft low voice if I happen to have a light, while she tries to manage a cigarette between her brightly painted-on lips. She's a strange looking woman with a rather large sharp nose and small dark beady eyes and after studying her for a moment, I wonder if she's really a woman at all. I look for the lump on her throat as I pat down my pockets, knowing I don't have a lighter. In the light, I can't make out the lump.

"I'm sorry," I say, "I don't have one on me."

She plucks the cigarette from her lips with a rather large hand and stuffs it back into her jacket pocket. "That's OK," she says, "I've got one in the car. Me and my girlfriend just got in a fight and I ran off without it. I needed to blow off a little steam. You know how it gets around the holidays."

I smile and nod and start walking again. She starts walking with me. "That's your car up there?" I ask.

"Yeah . . . well, I mean it's my girlfriend's car. She's waiting for me to come back." "What are you doing out here?" she asks.

"I'm heading toward town," I say.

She looks at me like I'm out of my mind. "Your wallking? The closest town's five miles down the freeway and you can't walk down the freeway this time of night with all those drunks on the road. Come with us," she says. "We're going that way, anyway."

I normally don't go off with strangers, especially freakish ones that offer rides at night in the middle of nowhere. But I didn't have much choice. She was right, I would surely freeze to death or get hit by a car before I made it, and I sure as hell wasn't going back. I'd choose death over that for sure. "That would be great," I say, "as long as it's OK with your girlfriend.

"She won't mind," she says, "we pick up people all the time."

We get up to the car. It's a dark green Maverick, late 70's I presume, and all the windows are fogged. The driver's side window rolls down and a suprisingly young woman leans out and gives me the once over. She barely looks old enough to drive, but there's a toughness about her that might ruse you to think she's older. She looks over at the other woman and I can tell there's still tension. "Who's this?" she asks.

The tall woman looks puzzled for a moment, realizing she never caught my name. I chime in: "My name's Martha."

She points to the young woman in the car and says, "That's Tuesday and I'm Cindy." I nod and smile. "Martha needs a ride to town," Cindy says.

Tuesday cocks her head. "Come on, then," she says, "let's get the fuck out of this place." Cindy leans against the car and muscles off the bright red cowboy boots she's wearing and tells me to jump in front-- she's gonna stretch out in back. We get in and Tuesday lights up a cigarette and starts the engine. She blows a thick cloud of smoke out the window and says, "We're headed to Seattle, you goin' that way?"

I live far from Seattle. Everyone I know lives far away from Seattle. "Seattle sounds good," I say. Tuesday reaches down and cranks the volume, filling the car with a funky vibe.

The ride is long and quiet. I catch a glimpse of Cindy fast asleep in the back seat. Tuesday grabs for another cigarette, but the pack is empty. She crumples it and tosses it behind her, hitting Cindy on the forehead. Cindy stirs, but doesn't wake. She pulls a joint from her pocket and lights up. "I hope you don't mind," she says, "I actually drive better with this stuff." I shake my head. She takes a long hit and then motions for me to take it. I take a small hit and start coughing immediately. I'm certainly no prude, but it's been a while. Tuesday starts laughing. "Good shit, huh?" she says. "That's Texada Timewarp. It's very cerebral, especially in the frontal lobes. My parents grow it in Oregon and they're vegan so it's totally organic." We finish the joint and we're both feeling pretty good. "So where do you live in Seattle?" she asks.

"Oh . . . I just moved there . . . I'm stayin' in a motel downtown until I find a place."

"You by yourself?" she asks.

"Yeah, it's just me," I tell her.

She raises a finely shaped brow and says, "There's a vacancy in our building. It's actually been vacant for almost a year now. It's not much, but the landlord's real cool--laid back. She owns the place and the rent's super cheap. If you want, you can stay at our place tonight and check it out. We just dropped Cindy's kid off at the ex's so it's just the two of us."

"I appreciate the offer, but I don't want to intrude on your Christmas."

Tuesday starts laughing so hard I'm afraid she's gonna fly off he road. "Baby Jesus and Santa Claus," she says. "You don't believe in that crap do you?"

"No, no, of course not," I say.

"Me and Cindy, we're pagans," she says, "so we won't be trimmin' the tree or any of that other shit."

I look at my watch and the little hand's inching toward 1:00 a.m. and I know my options for decent housing will be limited at this hour. "OK," I say, "I'll stay." She smiles and she doesn't seem so tough anymore.

We roll into Seattle about thirty minutes later. The apartment is just off the freeway on a hill that looks over the city. We pull into a parking spot right in front of a large house. Tuesday looks over at me with heavy lids. "We're here," she says. She turns around and shakes Cindy: "Wake up!" We get out of the car and it's dark so I can't see much--just the outline of things. We stand huddled on the stoop as Tuesday fumbles with the key. The front door is magnificently ornate with two stainglass panels on each side. Tuesday finally gets the door open and I follow them up the old creaky stairs to the second floor. We walk into the apartment and it's suprisingly homey and nicely furnished. It is also relatively tidy, except for the unmade hideabed in the middle of the living room, which is covered with toys and clothes. Tuesday sees the mess and immediately walks over to clean it up. "Sorry about the mess," she says. "We were running late this morning."

"Don't worry," I say.

Tuesday gives me the low down--where the kitchen and bathroom are, et al--and with eyes barely open, they both retire to the bedroom.

The nice marijuana buzz has faded so I go into the kitchen to pour myself a glass of water so I can take a Xanax to help me sleep. The kitchen is old and quaint--right out of Leave It To Beaver Land. I imagine Cindy wearing an apron, sweating over the stove while Tuesday has her feet up at the table, reading the newspaper.

I down the water and pill and the warm buzz sets in. I strip out of everything except for my cropped tee and panties. I turn off the main light and walk over to the bed. There's a small child's light on the end table. It's the kind that casts colorful shapes on the walls as it rotates. I turn it on and watch the revolving sailboats, sand castles, and starfish until they lul me to sleep.

I'm somewhere in the dream world, when something draws me out. It's a sound. I'm disoriented and at first I don't hear it again so I think maybe the sound was just part of my dream. But just when I start drifting off, I hear it again and this time there's no doubt that I'm awake and I'm hearing it. It sounds like scratching. I stay perfectly still and hold my breath so I can tell where it's coming from. It comes again, this time louder, and it's coming from across the room. I sit up in bed and look, but there's nothing over there except for a large picture hanging on the wall. I'm feeling brave so I crawl to the end of the bed. It comes again and it sounds like something's scratching from the other side of the wall, starting from the ceiling and scratching all the way down to the floor. The hair on my arms sticks up and I scramble back and pull the covers up over my head. The scratching continues and gets louder and louder each time like something's trying to claw its way through the wall. I tell myself it must be a rat. Yeah, a rat. I'm sure this place is full of them, living in the walls away from the cats. Just when I think I'm going to pass out in fear, the scratching stops and somehow I manage to fall back asleep.


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