Human Pony Girl: A Missing Teenager, A Sex Shop, and The Manuscript
Back in the day I worked at the Pleasure Center. For those not in Humboldt County, the Pleasure Center, before it went corporate, was this little shop that catered to people's various sexual desires. The owner at the time, Bill, designed it to appeal to women ... mainly because he called himself a lesbian trapped in a man's body who routinely sexually harassed the women who worked for him and the female customers who stopped in. (He's dead. I found his body. For the shit he, or to be more fair -- his corpse -- put me through that day, I think I can fairly call him that. I'm not exaggerating. I witnessed him hit on women on a regular basis. I occasionally said something, but most of his attempts were so lame and weak that they were far more pitiful than menacing.) One of the items we carried was this dildo-like object where one end of it resembled a horse's tail.
You can imagine where it was to be inserted. You'd be right.
It was while working at this place that the seeds for the manuscript I'm currently working on really started to germinate. At the time a teen girl went missing, and while there was plenty of speculation on her whereabouts, nobody really had a clue as to what happened to her. The most that could be figured was that she got into a white car and was never seen from again.
Humboldt, for those of you who don't know, has a pretty open sexual community. There's the Imps, regular wife swapping, bestiality, and plenty of fetish-based prostitution. There's also an undercurrent of the dangerous, though. Many places have this. Humboldt has it in spades, and I got to see plenty of it. People who wouldn't/couldn't associate with the more open people because even the most open-minded wouldn't accept them. Then there were the ones who just didn't care to associate with the sexual counterculture because, like most countercultures, you have to wade through a lot of crap to get to the gems.
The Pleasure Center branch in Eureka, where I started working, attracted those who traveled below the underground ... as well as the more prominent citizens. One of those customers was someone involved in the investigation of the missing girl. His sleaze of choice? S&M videos. At that point I started to wonder if the missing girl were tied up in his basement, a bucket to the side for bodily functions, a camera on a tripod before her. That idea bounced around in my head without a home until about a year ago, when I started the manuscript.
Walking around with that image popping up from time to time can be distracting at best. I knew it was a good image, and I knew I would use it eventually. (To be quite honest, however, it merely inspired this manuscript. The actual story I want to tell about that will probably be next after this book is written.) The image sort of made it into the manuscript in passing. (Some of you have read some scenes from it. The feedback has been generally good. I've been doling it out piecemeal, though, so a complete picture cannot be formed.) It is a strong image. Strong enough to inspire a totally different story. You have to respect that power.
Working at the Pleasure Center had its moments. Great characters. Strange pornography. Solid co-workers. The inspiration that came from the place cannot be undervalued. I learned more about Humboldt County working there than I have ever learned from our local news station or newspaper. I met newscasters whose toy of choice was Jenna's Twat Twister, and men who liked to be tied up and urinated on. I met girls who thought they were being dirty by buying pretty little vibrators, and men who bought videos where the cover girls resembled their daughters. (Yeah, Humboldt County has plenty of perverts that are borderline dangerous.) It served as a spring point for many story ideas, including one I've been toying with that involved finding Bill dead.
The missing girl has never been found. Some say she ran away. There was a rumor she was being held captive by meth addicts for whatever sick games they had devised. Others said she was working a carnival up in Oregon. Me? I had my ideas. I never really believed her disappearance was anything other than a crime of opportunity, and for some reason I think she got buried out in Samoa someplace. Not by meth addicts, or twisted cops, but by a kindly stranger who convinced her to get in his car and maybe party a little bit. She was game, and soon she found herself in over her head, regretting taking a ride from that proverbial stranger. And when she found his fingers in her mouth, she really knew she was not going to make it out alive. She fought, and he had to explain those scratches on his arm and face to his wife, kids and co-workers ... maybe his brother or something. For weeks he worried. What if someone saw him? They got the car color wrong in the media, but what if someone remembered? What if someone put two and two together? The missing time and the scratches? What if a dog dug her up? After a few months, though, when there was no loud knock at the door -- the type that cops are trained to do -- he realized he got away with it. Clean away. Free. And the thought scared him. He wasn't going to it originally. Just wanted to cop a feel. Things got out of hand, and he had to kill her. He had no choice. She would tell. There would go his job, his marriage, his family. He would lose everything. He felt bad about it, for sure. He even threw up. When he realized he got away with it, he wasn't relieved. He was scared. What if he did it again? No. That wouldn't happen. But now, when he's alone driving, and he sees a teenage girl walking, he inadvertently slows down his car. He fiddles with the crotch of his jeans. They are tighter. He drives by, his eyes going to the rearview mirror. He sees those headphones all the kids wear. Her head tilted down as she watches the sidewalk. For a moment he wonders if he looks like her, and he remembers the fingers in the mouth. He goes home and kisses his wife. The kids are gone now. Off to college. His wife never suspected. He will never stop for the walking girl ... or so he tells himself.
A missing girl. A porno store. And a single video rental. It set off a string of thoughts that hasn't ended to this day. Funny how those things work.
FTC Disclaimer: Clicking on my affiliate link, which is actually my Kindle short story, will net me a commission. This is not the manuscript I'm talking about. It was not inspired by the Pleasure Center, either, but is kind of twisted in its own way.