The Story of a Sex Worker

September 07, 2004

Cough Syrup

The next morning I woke up early because Far Out was coughing loud and repeatedly for most of the morning. I walked into the living room and found her looking at the battered carpet like it was a sea on fire. Her eyes were red and tired. She coughed loud and hard like it had come from some place deep.

"Are you sick?" I asked.

"I think I made myself sick with worry over Kirk," she said. "Fucking hell, like I need this. You'd think if there was one thing I could count on it's my body."

"Do you need anything?"

"I don't know."

She coughed again. It sounded like sandpaper on the back of her throat.

"Jesus, let me get you some medicine."

"You don't have to do that. I feel stupid. You've already put me up."

"Don't worry about it. You need medicine."

"Please don't," she said. She coughed again and looked at me sadly.

Part of the reason I wanted to get her medicine was that the sound of her coughing reminded me of Zowie, her thin frame, coughing deeply and looking at me like I was an alien, and my mother, her frail hands, smiling at how I may have caused her mother's illness. I wanted to get far away from those memories.

When I was in the pharmacy aisle, holding juice in one hand and Maximum Strength cough syrup in the other, I felt a person looking at me. I was used enough to that. All men were girl-watchers, married, widowed or single. Throughout my life men were always looking at me. That was part of the reason I was able to do videos. I was used to being watched. Recently I'd got more and more men who recognized me. Most men would glance, smirk, and move on. These eyes at the pharmacy stayed all the way down the cough syrup aisle.

I was at the vitamin shelves picking up some vitamin C when I felt him behind me. I was a little worried because some of the guys who watched porn weren't the most savory or gentle of men. I was about to turn around and say fuck off when he said, "May I talk to you," in a soft voice.

I turned and found myself standing in front of a decent-looking guy with brown hair and strange gray eyes. He didn't look like a pervert, although I knew better than that, perverts usually didn't wear raincoats but looked as respectable as the president or a priest. This guy's strange gray eyes were warm so I trusted him.

"What do you need?" I said.

"I wanted to talk to you."

"You want an autograph?" I'd given out an autograph maybe three times.

"An autograph. No. Why, should I know you? This might sound bad but I've never seen you before."

"I'm an actress," I said. "Some people have seen me before."

"Oh really? What have you been in?"

"I've been in a few commercials."


He looked confused, and rightly, because who the fuck asks for an autograph of someone who's been in a few commercials. But I wasn't going to tell him the truth. Some people didn't want to know the truth and he was so nervous and eager, picking up a jar of multi-vitamins and absently turning it around in his hands, that I didn't want to break him the news.

"I wanted to talk to you because I thought you were beautiful," he said. That last word trailed off and disappeared.

"Well, thank you."

"I'm not usually one to do this, but I wanted to say that you're one of the prettiest women I've ever seen."

For some reason my heart started beating hard and I began to get warm. Maybe because he was so sad and sincere. Sort of like looking at a great and massive polar bear at the zoo, trapped in a glass cage.

"Thank you," I said again.

"Maybe it's because I haven't left the house in a while and I've forgotten how to deal with people."


"Could I have your phone number?" he said.

"My phone number?"

He shook his head.

"All right," I replied.

I had to borrow a pen from the woman at the pharmacy counter. We exchanged numbers. There were a few reasons I did this. The guy, his name was Andrew, seemed harmless. I knew there was horror brewing under everything, but I trusted him on first impression. And he wasn't a fan. He didn't know about my movies. There was something enticing about meeting somebody from the real world. I knew I had Far Out lying in my apartment sick and fearing life over an outside relationship, but I hadn't had a date since I started working. Not in the industry or outside. I was too worn out when I got home. For some people, they needed the security of another actor. Like minds thought alike. For me, I was at a point where I needed a breath of air, a vacation back to the straight world. The trip to Florida had deflated some of my earlier drive. I liked the work and it had treated me well but I needed some time away. Besides, and I think you'll agree with me, dating in the office was a bad idea. So I was happy to have a stranger's phone number again. It made me feel human. Maybe I'd get a taste of how regular people led their lives.

Looking back, I think it's strange how something so insignificant as cough syrup could change a person's life. But it did. Cough syrup changed me for the rest of my life.


  • At 3:58 PM, Blogger Vadergrrrl said…

    Very awesome and well written post. I would love to hear more about "cough syrup man". Sounds like another very interesting story.


  • At 12:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    GIMME SOME MORE!!!!!!!

    This is great, shirl.

  • At 3:28 PM, Blogger darling maggot said…

    i dig this blog so much.

    how far back were these incidents? sometimes i get the feeling you're talking about stuff that happened during the week, sometimes it feels like they happened long ago:

    Looking back, I think it's strange how something so insignificant as cough syrup could change a person's life. But it did. Cough syrup changed me for the rest of my life.is this a journal or are these your memoirs?

  • At 9:57 AM, Blogger Linda Rae said…

    good luck, strangers are fun.

  • At 4:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am starting to lose my grip on this cliff. Did Far Out ever get her cough syrup? Was there codeine in the syrup?

    Was the stranger tall, dark and handsome? Is this going to be the end of blog after the life changing change is revealed?


  • At 6:46 AM, Blogger 'Bitchen' Ric said…

    I just finished reading your whole blog over the last week. This is really good stuff. I especially liked how you foreshadowed the upcoming date about two or three posts back.

    Very well done.

    Please don't stop.

  • At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So let me get this right, all you have to do is not come off creepy and be honest with a beautiful woman and she may be interested in you. I so have to try that sometime. :)
    Who knows, he may be a great guy.

  • At 5:28 PM, Blogger jiri said…

    Nice Blog!!! It looks like you've spent a fair amount of time setting it up and keeping the content fresh. I'll be sure to come back.

    I have a online dating blog. It pretty much covers any dating eharmony has href marriage match more online per service than related stuff.

    Thanks again and keep up the good work.

  • At 9:33 AM, Blogger kalisekj said…

    This is a excellent blog. Keep it going.

    This may be of interest to you I have a free online dating service. It pretty much covers dating stuff.

    I'll be sure to come back.


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