(a short story that blurs the line between fiction and reality)
My name is John, no matter what he calls me, I remind myself as I stand in the dimly lit hallway, preparing to knock. His name is John, no matter what he calls himself.
My fist carefully raps against the dark brown door. No answer, so I knock again. Finally I hear his commanding voice.
I obey, opening the door to a long, severely orange room. Deep orange shag carpeting cushions my every step. The equally deep orange curtains slightly sway as I shut the door, which is orange on this side. I gingerly walk forward, a moving blood stain gliding along the muted orange walls until I stop six feet away from him as he stands before his deep orange desk..
He is dressed all in orange, literally from head to toe. Neon orange platform shoes, a large belt and a wide-brimmed hat accentuate a disturbingly tight, orange juice-hued jumpsuit which flares at the cuffs. Even though it is out of my view, I know his Book Pimp name is sewn in diamonds on the back of his neon orange half-cape draped over his shoulders. A sleek, neon orange cane is held with both hands in front of him, it's tip digging into the garish carpeting. He is Freshly Squeezed.
I start to speak but I barely pronounce a syllable before he clears his throat and taps his cane into the deep orange shag surrounding us. He's reminding me that I've forgotten the rule of enering his orange domain. A Book Whore must first pay respect to Freshly Squeezed before speaking.
We make eye contact, his brown so much like my own, and he slightly nods his head. This indicates his acceptance of my offer and I step closer to him. I silently fall to my knees before him, my eyes focused on the orange shag below. He adjusts his cane as my nervous eyes follow the long, sleek orange shaft up to its misshapen protrusion.
Both hands still gripping the cane, he coaxingly pushes the curved handle towards me. My distorted reflection stares mockingly at me from the shiny, bulbous end. Trying to hide my dread at the degrading, humiliating act, I open my mouth and slide my lips over my reflected self.
"Like you want it."
His voice is a commanding whisper. I look up at him as I slide the cane's handle as far into my mouth as I can. His satisfied expression indicates his approval of my offer of respect. I slide the metallic curvature out of my mouth, but remain on my knees. He gestures with his cane to rise and I obey.
"Now what brings you here today, my Ho-J?" His voice, to the unknowing ear, sounds casual, but I hear the unspoken accusatory conclusion to his query, ...instead of being out there plugging my book?
"You requested my presence, Freshly Squeezed," I remind him, fully aware he remembers.
"Ah, yes. Yes I did." He strokes his orange cane with apparent absent-mindedness. "Do you know why I requested to see you today?"
"Your book," I respond, figuratively biting my tongue. My book. Your book. His book. It's all the same. He knows it. I know it.
"Correct, my Ho-J." He smiles at me as if he's about to pat me on the head. I want to rip that gaudy, orange wide-brimmed hat off his smug head and stomp it flat.
"Is there a problem, sir?" I inquire to keep my desire from manifesting into action.
His smile becomes gritty as he stretches and twists his neck, cracking it in an attempt to crack my resolve. "Oh my, my Ho-J, we do have a problem, and that problem is you."
"Me?" I ask incredulously. "What have I done, sir?"
His gritty smile becomes grittier as he answers in emotionless honesty, "Your book sales have been abysmal so far this year. Even worse than last year's atrocious numbers."
"I've been trying real hard to generate interest, sir." This sounds lame as soon as it leaves my lips.
"Not hard enough, or so it would seem."
"What do you suggest I do?" I hate myself for stroking his ego, but I'm in the orange domain of Freshly Squeezed. Leaving unjuiced is key.
His brown eyes meticulously move from my face downwards and back up again. "Remove your top."
"My shirt?" I whisper, instinctively placing a hand on my red garment. Freshly Squeezed nods his head, the orange wide-brimmed hat defies gravity by not falling off..
I want to shout that taking off my shirt is not in my job description, but I'm a Book Whore. I must obey a Book Pimp's every whim, so I begin unbuttoning my short-sleeve, red shirt.
He watches with a lascivious grin as each button is unfastened. I slip out of my shirt and hold it in front of me to hold onto a bit of dignity.
I obey, releasing my red onto the orange shag at my black shoes. I let my arms fall to my side while attempting to keep my breathing calm and steady. His eyes maneuver from my neck all the way down to the waistband of my black shorts and back up again.
With a swishing of his half-cape, he turns to his desk, his diamond-studded name reflecting so much orange that it's nearly invisible. A buzzing sound fills the room as he faces me with a determined look and an electric razor in one hand. I want to throw my arms in front of my chest for protection from the razor and his eyes. Those brown circles roam over my bare chest as he steps closer.
Then, as suddenly as it started, the buzzing stops. He quickly deposits the razor back on the desk and retrieves a different object. Facing my half-nakedness again, he steps uncomfortably close and presses the curved orange cane handle, warm and moist, against my chest.
"Ive decided to let your chest be, my hairy Ho-J," he states as if doing me the biggest favor ever. He continues, slowly running the handle down to my shorts, "I imagine potential readers making a correlation between following your trail to unseen treasure and reading my book to discover literary pleasure."
I'm now fully aware of his new advertising campaign. Inwardly. I cringe, but I dare not say anything negative. "You are very wise, Freshly Squeezed."
He smiles almost warmly at my forced compliment. "Do you have your orange on?" His protruding cane handle lingers at my waistband.
He readjusts his cane and casually slips a finger down my shorts. Pulling out and down a bit, he glances in approval. "Very good, my Ho-J." He hands me the object from his other hand and dismisses me, "Now get out there and plug my book."
"Yes, sir. I won't disappoint you again." Freshly Squeezed turns away and I bend down to pick up my red shirt.
"Leave it," he commands and I once again obey, leaving my red shirt and the orange room.
Within the illusionary safety of the dimly-lit hallway, I look at what he handed me. It is a copy of his book...my book...our book. I stare at it's dark cover and then glance back at the door.
One day, I promise myself, he and I will discard our pimp-whore role when readers find our book strictly on the merit of our ability to tell an entertaining tale. Until that day, a Book Whore's gotta do what a Book Whore's gotta do.
I hold my head up unashamed and stroll into the cool, night air, gently pressing my book against my naked chest.
Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind short story, which was inspired by the realization I am both pimp & whore to my book.
For a good time...
Pick up a copy of DARK EXCURSIONS at an Amazon near you!