Walking down Yucca Street at one a.m. in search of meaning and more alcohol was not out of the norm for Gwendolyn Revere (a stage name, obviously). What was out of the ordinary, however, was that she actually came across Pla-Boy Liquor. In all her years of living near Yucca Street, and randomly stumbling home to The Fontenoy apartments, she had never encountered it before. Yet Whitley Street was certainly close enough to have done so. Maybe it was just fate, pure and simple. She was meant to happen upon the liquor store that particular night so that she might help the girl–well, prostitute–who was being shoved out like a sack of bubonic plague-ridden trash. At the time of this vision of hate, Gwendolyn had been living near Yucca as an undiscovered actress for the past two years.
Maybe those 730 days of invisibility were what kept her going back for more of the drugs. Mainly alcohol, but she couldn’t deny her fondness for OxyContin…when it presented itself. Somehow it frequently did. Mainly from her shyster agent, a mid-fifties British man who always offered her an injection of it. Yes, an injection. He said there was no other way to fully appreciate the effects. Gwendolyn went along with it, he was the agent after all. Surely he knew best. In fact, she had just come from her apartment where he was waiting for her (who said you couldn’t mix business with pleasure?), and had taken a wrong turn somewhere in her inebriated mode of functioning. Which made her wonder why she was going to get more alcohol in the first place. She typically careened over to the Station Food Market, but somehow turned down Yucca in her state of incapacitation. Where, lo and behold, there was this stunning Mary Magdalene figure. Well, apparently only stunning to her eyes, which saw the light of the liquor store cascading down upon her like angel rays or some shit.
Maybe she needed another drink after all. But before she could go in, she had to tend to this bedraggled girl, this broken spirit. She couldn’t have been any older than seventeen. She was too young. But then, you were never too young to be corrupted–least of all in Los Angeles. Gwendolyn had already been learning that the hard way. She was twenty-four, yet two years here had suddenly made her feel at least a decade older. She hoped that didn’t come across in any of her auditions. Because casting agents don’t like to detect any form of “old” in a girl–not even an “old soul.”
The girl was on her knees, sort of crying, but also just allowing her mouth to be frozen in the horrified expression that connoted crying. Gwendolyn was almost afraid to approach her, but she would have felt too guilty not to. She didn’t presume to touch the girl as a means of comfort, but rather, asked her, “Is there anything I can do to help you?”
The girl looked up at her in something resembling shock. Then, all at once, she clung to Gwendolyn’s leg and started bawling. Gwendolyn could feel the tears streaming down her skin and it should have made her shudder, but it didn’t. Instead, she placed her hand beneath the girl’s chin and angled it toward her so she could look in Gwendolyn’s eyes. “Would you like to come home with me?”
She stopped sobbing and nodded slowly, as though a revelation was washing over her. Gwendolyn added, “I just need to buy a handle of vodka and we can leave.” She began to walk in, but then decided against it. “What the fuck am I thinking? I’m not going to give my business to a place that just treated you like that. Let’s go to the Station. That’s where I meant to go anyway…but then I guess I wouldn’t have seen you.” Gwendolyn failed to remember that the Station closed at around ten anyway, so she probably would have ended up at Pla-Boy regardless in her quest for the bottle. The girl blinked at her, prompting Gwendolyn to ask, “What’s your name, by the way?”
“Sh-Sh-Shiree,” she stuttered. Not in a manner that suggested she stuttered all the time, but one that seemed to indicate she was strung out and uncertain of just about everything.
Gwendolyn, emboldened by their tacit connection, reached out and took her by the hand. “Let’s go, Shiree.”
Back at the apartment, Allistair was waiting. Well, injecting more OxyContin and waiting. When he glanced up to see that Gwendolyn had returned with a guest and no alcohol he hissed, “What the fuck is this then? Where’s the drink?”
Gwendolyn appeared briefly flabbergasted by his greeting before realizing that, yes, she had, indeed, forgotten the vodka. She supposed she had been so distracted by propping Shiree up on her shoulder that remembering to go to the Station had slipped her mind completely. “Fuck! I’m so sorry. I can go back out now and get it.”
“What? And leave me here with this random bitch?”
“Don’t call her that. This is Shiree, and she’s having a rough night.”
Allistair rolled his eyes and lit a cigarette. “Looks like she’s having a rough fuckin’ life.”
Shiree seemed oblivious to this entire exchange, having allowed herself to be “placed” against the kitchen counter, where her primary focus appeared to be not slumping over. “Don’t talk about her like she’s not here!” Gwendolyn shouted as she walked over to the coffee table and pulled her own cigarette from the pack of Camels that were on it. As she lit it, she reminded, “Don’t forget: you’re a fucking guest here. I can kick you out and keep Shiree as my company instead.”
“Oh Jesus, why don’t you just get your little lesbian tryst over with and I’ll pay the bitch. You can pay me back with whatever your next shitty gig is.”
Gwendolyn huffed smoke in his face and returned, “This has nothing to do with sexuality, Allistair. The girl is in trouble. I couldn’t leave her out on the street.”
“Being on the street is literally her fuckin’ job, dumbshit. You’re making her lose money right now with your ‘kindness.’ So unless you want me to slip her a goddamn twenty to eat you out, I suggest you turn her loose.”
Gwendolyn sat down and shook the empty wine bottle on the table in the hope that there would still be some dregs inside. “Pas du tout! I am her custodian tonight, and if she feels she wants to leave in the morning, she can.”
“I rue the fuckin’ day you auditioned for the part of French Maid.”
Gwendolyn exhaled a plume of smoke. “Yeah? Well I don’t. It proves how cultural being an actress is.”
Allistair ran his hand through his hair in exasperation. “Why don’t you try pullin’ that line the next time you see Harvey?”
“I don’t see Harvey. That would mean you got me into the kind of parties that a good agent could.”
He backhanded her on the spot for that comment, which sent a brief shockwave of alarm through Shiree. Gwendolyn turned to glare at Allistair as she clutched her cheek. “Really? Like actually, you did that?”
“You can still feel, cantcha? Yeah, I fuckin’ did that. ‘Cause you need to know your fuckin’ place apparently. I don’t need ya. I really don’t. It’s you who needs me.” He chortled as he looked at Shiree tripping out of her gourd. “Even she don’t need you as much as you need her right now.” He got up from the couch as he stubbed his cig out in the ashtray. “I hope you two are very happy together for the night. Meanwhile I’m gonna go find some proper pussy for the rest of mine.”
As he walked out the door, he looked at Shiree and chuckled to himself. “Damn bitch, you picked the wrong street to be on tonight.”
When the door closed, Gwendolyn called out, “Yucca is never the wrong street! It’s you that’s wrong.” Her voice faded out a bit at the end, realizing how lame she sounded. She sighed and stared at Shiree, who, as of yet, had vocalized nothing other than her name during their time together. Was she catatonic? Shy? Simply too incoherent on whatever her pimp had filled her up with? It was then that it occurred to Gwendolyn that her pimp might be looking for her, and that might get her into more trouble. She didn’t want Allistair to be right, but she was beginning to think maybe it had been ill-advised to take her out of her “natural” environment.
“Ah, fuck,” she said aloud. This seemed to get Shiree’s attention. Like it was some code word she responded to. And then, all at once, she really came to life, smiling like a lascivious hyena in heat as she sauntered over to Gwendolyn and started taking off her already nonexistent crop top, which looked like it had been borrowed from the “…Baby One More Time” video. “Um…what are you doing?” Gwendolyn asked, as though she didn’t already know.
Shiree, in full “activation” mode, sultrily (while slurring) responded, “I’m giving you what you want, baby.” She then proceeded to take off her skintight skirt, now down to just her fishnets and white ankle boots. “Isn’t this what you picked me up for?”
“Not…quite,” Gwendolyn semi-assured. Then again, she had to question why she did pick Shiree up. Had it been “fate,” as she originally told herself, or was this what she was trying to get out of the evening all along? She supposed she had been a bit fed up with the “sausage scene” in L.A., especially Allistair’s. And he was always going on about how she didn’t need to pretend with him that she was actually interested in men. It might even help her land more acting jobs if she could parade the lesbian angle. Fucking Allistair. Such a goddamn toad, she thought before refocusing her attention back to the underage naked girl in front of her. The very hot underage naked girl in front of her. Even if you could see the track marks up and down her arms. It was fine, she told herself. Gia Carangi had track marks too.
Before she knew it, she found herself giving in to the temptation, letting herself be fondled in her bedroom by this strange Yucca Street vision. Why not? I’ve got no auditions tomorrow. Shiree ate her out like no man ever had, and she wondered how a girl with her skills could have acquired them at still so young an age. Shiree’s tongue seemed to be everywhere at once, also randomly licking her nipples in between orgasms as an added bonus to the ecstasy effect. After seeing God all night long, Gwendolyn awoke to find her apartment deserted. It was about ten a.m. and the sunlight was flooding in through her small window. Was it all a dream? One vivid, fantastic wet dream? Had Shiree truly been some kind of sex angel brought down to Earth to force Gwendolyn to get more in touch with her sapphic side? Turning over to see that her purse had been pilfered of its cash, she reckoned it was all real.
As she kept pondering the implications of her tryst with Shiree while making herself a pot of coffee, her phone rang, indicating Allistair on the caller ID. “What the fuck do you want, douchebag?” she answered.
“Have you seen the news this morning?”
She poured herself some of the coffee into her Gone With the Wind mug. “Uh no, Allistair. I’m barely cognizant.”
“Well whatever you did last night with that whore, I hope it was worth it.”
“What are you talking about?”
At that moment, the ominous, invasive knock that only the police can deliver came pounding on Gwendolyn’s door. Allistair had hung up the phone, leaving Gwendolyn to find out too late what the news headline had been: “Prostitute Found Dead in Alley, Aspiring Actress Suspected.”
It was true, Gwendolyn was very much suspected when police found Shiree’s mutilated body in a dumpster back near Yucca Street. And since Gwendolyn had been the last documented person to communicate with her, very clearly taking her somewhere on the security footage provided by Pla-Boy Liquor, she was the LAPD’s number one suspect.
As Gwendolyn kept trying to tell them Shiree’s pimp must have done it, she experienced brief flashes to that glorious night of orgasmic bliss. Was she now being punished for it?–just as her God-fearing mother back in Pennsylvania had always warned her she would be the instant Gwendolyn started showing “dykey” tendencies.
“Oh God, forgive me,” she said aloud, out of rote habit. As though all those years of early indoctrination got the better of her. It was this little slip of the tongue (as slippery as Shiree’s darting in and out of Gwendolyn’s gash) that further solidified the police’s belief in their suspect’s guilt. She wondered how it could possibly be that the one time a woman needed sexism to work in her favor in terms of the police not thinking her “strong enough” to mutilate and carry a corpse the distance to Yucca Street, they seemed dead-set on feminism. Believing that a woman is just as capable of violent murder as a man.
By the end of the day, the scandal was all over the news. And, Gwendolyn had to be honest, she couldn’t have gotten better publicity if she had been in an actual movie. She had to wonder if perhaps Shiree was an angel in the end, sent to her by sheer serendipity to get her name out in L.A. Gwendolyn was sure she would soon be cast in plenty of “bad girl”/villainess roles when this was all over. That is, if she wasn’t actually convicted…