Something from the archives.
Note: This is a short story taken from The Souls of Hood Folk (2010), now available at www.lulu.com.
I must say I like all the girls on your website but if I could only be in a room with one of them it would have to be Ms. Hershey’s Kiss, so baby this letter is for you. I love your style, your presence in the bedroom, and the way you carry yourself like you’re not the slut that you are. You’re the type of broad that I would be willing to spend a lot of money on- even more than I do now. I am a member of every website you regularly appear on, I have all your magazine shots on my wall, and I own all your movies including Wet Monkey, Cocoa Abyss, Ghetto Action 4, and your first leading role Melts in your Mouth. I feel like I have a good knowledge of your character on camera but I want to know how you are off screen. I want to know how good sex feels to you and why you can’t get enough, I mean what makes a whore like you tick? I plan on hooking up with you one day so guide me through a day in your life and let me know every slutty detail so the letter will get me through a lot of lonely nights. Also be sure to let me know the title and release date of your next film.
I have to admit when I first read your letter I wanted to put it down but I couldn’t. I have never read anything from any fan before I read what you sent me. I normally would have ripped it to pieces after the second sentence however something empowered me and allowed me to get through it. When I think about it, what happened to me yesterday gave me the strength to endure you. So you want to know what makes me tick? You want me to take you through a day in my life? I hope you’re ready baby because I’m about to purge.
When I woke up yesterday I was very sore because I had been shooting the previous day for about an hour. I don’t know why they make us film for so long when after the edit the scenes are never longer than eight minutes. I think it is so all the fools behind the camera can get off. I hate that because I have to make all these punk ass noises and act like I’m having the time of my life when in actuality I think about everything else in my life except what I’m doing. Like the song in the background, how much I’m going to get paid, how many people will see this movie, the good people I used to know, how I remember when I was still a virgin, and how much I must be letting my mother down.
After a while they turned the cameras off to change positions. They asked me if I wanted to do a facial for $300 extra. So I said hell yeah- the guys got a kick out of that. During the climactic scene my mind started drifting. I started thinking about this field trip I went on in the 5th grade to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. It was exciting for me; even at the age of eleven I could appreciate Picasso and Monet. I think I held up the whole class for ten minutes when I first saw Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge. It tripped me out how it seemed so enchanted but real at the same time. When I saw that painting I didn’t want to leave –it was really talking to me. Besides that I had been a good girl the whole day- until it was time to get back on the bus. When we got outside it was so foggy that all you could see were the tires on the bus. It looked like the clouds had descended upon the earth so we could walk through them. So I said to my best friend Taylor who lived down the street from me and caught the bus to school with me everyday “Let’s run through the sky.” So with that we ran through the parking lot until Mrs. Jackson screamed after us. Taylor got scared and ran back but I didn’t I turned my face up toward the sky and smiled. Then out of nowhere drops of rain began pelting my face.
After I took a shower and got dressed I walked as fast as I could to my car, by the time I got to the parking lot however some of the actors were already outside waiting on me. Some fool was smiling talking about “What’s up Ms. Hershey’s Kiss. Later on tonight the fellas and some of your home girls are going to rent a hotel room and have a party. We figured we’d do some practicing for our scene tomorrow. I got pills, drank, smoke, powder, whatever you do we got it— so what’s hapnin?” I told him straight up, “First off them bitches ain’t my home girls, I don’t kick it with them hoes. Secondly hell naw I aint kickin it with you. You don’t even know my name.” Then I smashed off.
I can’t remember the last time I had sex off camera. I was about to get down a few weeks ago with Will this dude I’ve been dating for six months, I guess you can say we’re in a relationship, well technically we are but it just sounds awkward saying that. Well at any rate I was hella bored and hella drunk one night so I decided to call him over. So he came through and he was acting like he didn’t know why I called him over so I decided to get things crackin then he started pulling away like I was the dude and he was the woman. After that he started talking about this is just the wrong situation and our first time should reflect our feelings for each other. Finally he gave me a kiss on the cheek and left. Yeah right I heard that game before all he is trying to do is get me sprung before things get serious so when they do he’ll have the upper hand. That’s the same shit Taylor tried to pull when we started talking in the 10th grade. I was a virgin then and he was acting like he didn’t want to be my first. He would say he was waiting for the right time, and I was too smart for him, and I deserved better than him- like we wasn’t from the same hood. We had been together for a year when Junior Prom came around and he said that would be the night. But the week before the Prom he got in an argument with someone during a dice game and they shot him through the heart. The prom was the day of his funeral so needless to say I didn’t go.
The funeral was full of crying pretty girls one of whom claimed to be pregnant with his child. I guess she wasn’t too good for him. Everyone there was crying, males and females alike. Everyone except me because I didn’t give a fuck, or at least I was trying to convince myself that I didn’t. Anyways, that’s why I tried not to bother with dudes unless money was involved because they are raised to lie. Deceiving women is part of being a man so I decided to flip the script and have the actor in the scene with me and all the people watching at home believe I am in ecstasy when the truth is if I could commit suicide and still go to heaven I would have done that shit right after my mother had that stroke and passed away my first year in college
I was on my own after that so I had to get the bills paid and to be truthfully honest going back to school was the last thing on my mind. I have always been an artist at heart so I auditioned for every ballet in the area but for whatever reason I couldn’t get on with any of them. I think it was because I couldn’t erase the death of my mother from my mind, which made my dancing look really forced and unnatural. A few of my friends at the time were strippers so I justified it by saying to myself it was dancing and dancing is an art form. I auditioned and got a job. I hated it but the money was good. Every night there would be recruiters from various magazines, websites, and adult film companies. I never even accepted a business card until the club got shut down because a few girls were engaging in illegal activity on the job. By then my credit card bills were sky high so I told myself I would just do one movie to pay them off. But after I did it a few times I came to the realization that no other job would pay me as much as I was getting paid so I kept doing it. That was two years ago. I ain’t slept with a man off camera since.
I met Will in a library. He was a librarian and while checking out my books he noticed I chose America, and The Trial. He said, “So you like Kafka huh?” At first I thought he was a fan trying to make small talk and then ask for my number real smooth like you guys always do. That was until he started talking about existentialism like a college professor or something. He was going on about the battle between the individual and an oppressive society and everything, and I responded to every idea he threw out there which shocked the shit out of him I’m sure, but then it worked pretty well because I like shocking people. We ended up talking for almost an hour and it turned out he had to drop out of college for financial reasons too. The connection was so intense it scared me. So without him even asking I gave him my real number and my real name.
Through our many conversations it occurred to me that he had no idea who I was or what I did. So one night during the third hour of our telephone conversation I blurted out “You know I’m a porn star right?” At first he thought I was joking, then he was disappointed that I waited so long to tell him, then as strange as it may sound he accepted it and he accepted me. He is the only person in my life right now that accepts me. And I swear I didn’t even believe him until I got off work yesterday. We had planned to meet up for dinner at 8:00 and when I got to the restaurant he was already there— early as usual. But something was very peculiar; he was sitting at the table sweaty and nervous looking.
He looked as if he were about to vomit. So I sat down and we began talking but he was stuttering and mispronouncing his words so I asked him what was wrong. Then as if that were his cue he got down on one knee and proposed, and I said damn. I wanted to cry so bad but I couldn’t. All I could manage to say was yes. We’re getting married in May.
So to answer your question my next movie should be coming out in a few months I don’t know what the title will be nor do I care because it will be the last movie I will ever appear on. I figure with his library job and if I get a nice quiet office job we will make out just fine. Hell, I might even be able to go back to school and get my BA in Art History. I know that it would be naïve to think that I will ever be able to leave that life completely behind because of loyal fans such as yourself, however I am now truly ready to live. I’m not trying to be a celebrity and I’m not about to run anymore.
Mrs. Hershey’s Kiss
P.S. I hope this gets your rocks off.
The Busted Fighter
Dorian lay awake on the couch gazing up at the ceiling like a fallen fighter looking up from the canvass into the eyes of the referee who is counting him out. Dorian couldn’t smoke weed anymore since his urine was being tested every month and he was never much of a drinker, which left sleep as the one high that he could enjoy in his solitude. If he was asleep, he reasoned, he wouldn’t have to keep looking at his cell phone and checking his emails hourly to see if he had been hired at that construction site. All manhood is is a feeling, he thought, and it’s hard to feel like a man when you don’t have any income coming in. To make matters worse, he had been cleaning all day in an attempt to stay busy. He washed the dishes, waxed and mopped the floors, cleaned the toilet, vacuumed the house, and did laundry. All the while awaiting a phone call that he knew would never come.
He knew he wouldn’t get the position as soon as he saw the smirk on the face of the white boy who interviewed him. He was a chubby little guy who looked to be about 19 years old with a cluster of freckles on the bridge of his nose. When Dorian shook his hand he was taken aback by how soft it was, as if he had never worked a day in his life.
But Dorian didn’t panic, nor did he show any other sign of discomfort. He answered every question with a quick response and a bright grin. In fact Dorian was doing so well that he surprised himself. Everything was going exactly how he prayed it would go the previous night until the young interviewer paused. He looked at one page on the clipboard then at the next one with a puzzled expression on his face. Then after several torturous seconds he asked Dorian about the prolonged gap in his employment history. He responded to the inquiry by looking the young interviewer dead in the eyes and telling him without hesitation, or shame, that he had been incarcerated for ten months of his life. But, Dorian added, while in jail he had managed to earn his GED and during the three months he’d been out he had already began making regular payments on his restitution, and in addition to all that he was very qualified for the position. He knew how to work the machinery and he knew how to deal with the people because he had done it for the two years preceding his arrest at another site.
As Dorian spoke the interviewer nodded as if he was impressed but Dorian couldn’t help but to notice him lean back further into his seat creating the maximum distance between the two of them, however Dorian continued as if he hadn’t noticed at all. The whole felony thing was a mistake, a misunderstanding, his life had temporarily gone off track but that didn’t explain who he was as a person. Dorian smiled while the manager pursed his lips together even tighter.
The rest of the interview seemed to be a mere formality and Dorian felt as though he was being patronized for his time. He felt as though the interviewer was looking at him like he had a big “C” on his head—a “C” that could have stood for criminal, convict, or coon. It didn’t matter which one because as he sat there in his black cotton button up shirt, cheap tie, and five year old gray slacks that he was surprised he could still fit, he felt like an equal mixture of all three.
After the last question he shook the man’s limp hand and was once again repulsed by it being so smooth and without callus. Dorian continued with the empty formalities playing the naive optimist until the very end, feeling somewhat empowered by the increasing discomfort that his presence was causing this white man who now refused to look up from his clipboard.
“So when should I be hearing from you?” Dorian asked.
“Uh, we’ll make a decision by no later than Friday.”
It was a Thursday afternoon and Dorian knew better than to get his hopes up but they seemed to rise up naturally.
After a few more moments of self pity he logged onto Craigslist and applied for two more jobs that he was certain he would never get. As he glanced at the time in the lower right hand corner of the screen he noticed that Nicole was half an hour late coming home and then his mind flooded with shame for even noticing. Lately Dorian had been completely consumed with his girlfriend Nicole, which troubled him because he didn’t know if it was because of his love for her or because of his unemployment. There was no doubt that for the whole ten months he was incarcerated and the entire three months since he had gotten out, she had been the only positive thing in his life and he told her that as often as once a day. When he first got out this made her smile but for the past few weeks whenever he told her it almost seemed to agitate her, as if she wanted to say something in return but couldn’t find the words. He needed to get a job, not for himself, but to make her feel proud of him.
He slung himself back on the couch, turned on the television, and flipped through the channels until he saw a classic boxing match, then he stopped. He immediately recognized the bout as Oscar De La Hoya vs. Ike Quartey and smiled genuinely. It was his favorite welterweight fight of all time. It was De La Hoya’s left hook Vs. Quartey’s straight right; it was Quartey dancing around the ring Vs. De La Hoya’s come forward style; it was flashy Vs. consistent; it was heart Vs. heart with each man falling to the canvass and each man getting up again. To Dorian the fight symbolized what manhood was all about, you always get back up.
He watched the fight up until about the tenth round, dozing in and out of consciousness as each man tried to land his big shot, until he finally went to sleep. He dreamed of being a professional fighter himself and Nicole sitting ringside at all of his fights with about three, maybe four children sitting around her. After he won his third belt and unified the title she came into the ring with the children for the post fight interview and Dorian dedicated his victory to her. As the cameraman zoomed in on her she blushed and looked down at the bright blue canvass beneath her feet. As he leaned in to kiss his wife in the dream he heard Nicole, in real life, unlocking the screen door to the apartment.
He sat up just in time to see her dark silhouette in the doorway. Nicole took a few steps into the house, her heels lightly slapped against the white tiles in front of the door, then she stopped abruptly as if each step was causing her great pain. Dorian could now see from the glow of the television being cast onto Nicole’s face that her eyes were a deep red which meant that she had been drinking, but he could also tell from her still erect posture that she was not drunk. Her reluctance to come all the way inside the house took away Dorian’s wind like a right uppercut landed underneath the heart. He gasped for air then stood up, still woozy from his nap, still stinging from the blow but somehow he managed to ask;
She turned around and shut the screen door before shutting the wooden one, taking just as much time as she pleased. She turned on the light and said rather mournfully but with steady tone;
“We need to talk.”
A left hook landed to the ribs that nearly doubled him over and she was still coming forward.
“About what?” he shot back but he knew exactly what she meant.
Nicole took a deep breath and stepped into the middle of the living room.
“I just can’t put up with this shit no more,” she cried. “I mean I work way too hard to be supporting a grown ass man…”
“Wait hold on you act like I ain’t tryin…”
It was a fight that Dorian should have seen coming but he didn’t. He could tell that she had been emboldened by the alcohol but he also knew that it was not the alcohol speaking for her, on the contrary, she was using the alcohol to help release three months of pressure, perhaps even thirteen months of pressure, perhaps even more.
“Well god damn it you need to try harder! I mean how is it that I can get two jobs but you can’t get one? You don’t be applying yourself that’s the problem. You think just because you been in the pen the world supposed to feel sorry for your ass? Why? You the one that did what you did to get in there and it ain’t nobody fault but yours.”
He was hurt. She caught him with a straight right to the cheek that buckled his knees but he was too proud to clench. He loaded up a desperate punch, put his head down and let it fly.
“It’s a recession going on! It ain’t that easy!”
The blow landed but there wasn’t enough power behind it to back Nicole up. She went in for the kill.
“I’m sorry Dorian. I just need some space right now. I can’t do it. I need you to move out.”
Dorian was looking for another right but she dropped him with a left hook to the jaw. He fell forward onto his face and his body shook on the canvass. There was no need for the referee to even count—he was out cold. He would never be the same fighter, he would never be the same man, and the only positive thing that ringside observers could say about his performance was that he showed a lot of heart but he just didn’t have what it takes to be a champion.