The Customer

She’d married young, at an age when most people thought she was crazy to be marrying her very first boyfriend. Their first night together as man and wife was the first time she’d ever even seen a man naked below the waist, let alone done anything with what she found there. It was over quickly and had been every time since.

Rebecca reminded herself of these facts repeatedly as she sat in her parked car, gripping the steering wheel so tightly the blood left her fingers. I am a good wife. It’s not like I’m cheating on him, she thought, trying to slow her heart to a reasonable pace. A red Volkswagen bus pulled up and a man with shaggy gray hair hopped out and strolled into the adult book store in front of her without a step of hesitation. I have needs; that’s all.

She’d already turned the car on and off half a dozen times. Twice she even slid the car into reverse and checked her mirrors to clear her escape. But each time, she had killed the engine again, reminding herself that this would be her only chance all week. She was about to turn the key in the ignition again, when there was a knock on the window. Rebecca nearly jumped out of her skin, sure it was her husband to take her straight to church to beg for forgiveness. Instead, she looked up to an older man smiling through the glass. She turned the key partially over and rolled down the window.

“Hey there!” said the stranger, “You having some car trouble? Heard you starting her up a few times, and I thought maybe you needed some help.”

Rebecca was mortified. She hadn’t realized how suspicious she must seem to anybody passing by; she’d been parked for half an hour.

“Oh. Oh, no,” she stammered, “I’m…just waiting on somebody.”

The man furrowed his brow, “Waiting on somebody…in there?” he asked, pointing to the book store.

“God, no!” she yelled, making the man flinch, “I would never. I mean, they would never. I mean…”

The man raised his hands defensively, and smiled “Hey, I’m not judging. Just thought I’d ask.”

“I couldn’t find anywhere else to park,” she rambled.

The man stood up and turned to study the mostly empty parking lot.

“Well, as long as you’re ok. You have a good day then.”

He began walking away, laughing to himself, before turning back towards her.

“You have fun now, little lady,” he said with a big wink.

She burned bright red, cursing herself for not thinking more quickly. The man’s wink infuriated her; she was not that type of woman, and who was he to judge if she was. Looking at the bar-covered windows and neon signs in front of her, she again considered running away. Instead she snatched the keys out of the ignition, slammed the door behind her and marched toward the entrance. To hell with his wink.

She immediately regretted her courage.  Inside the door, she was met with row after row of rubber horrors and magazines unfit to print. Along the far wall there were monitors playing muted smut. Briefly, Rebecca watched complete strangers doing things to each other she’d never even dreamed possible. Overwhelmed, she started to retreat, but the clerk – a small, pale girl with a ring through her nose – had noticed her and waved a small hello. There would be no turning back.

Trying to remain calm, Rebecca picked an aisle at random and walked its length. There weren’t many other customers, and the ones she did see were consumed in their own lusts. She breathed slower as it appeared she had picked one of the tamer sections. But when she reached the end, she turned and was greeted by an enormous cardboard cutout of a naked Asian woman woman doing something unspeakable. In panicked modesty, she shielded her eyes and turned blindly to go around it. In her hurry, she ran directly into a display stand – the type typically reserved for new kinds of snack food at the grocery store. This display was not filled with snacks.

Rebecca shrieked with horror as the rack fell to the floor, sending a wave of phallic rubber cascading down the aisle. Some were enormous and fell with a sickening thud, while others bounced and wobbled freely across the floor. It was a Freudian nightmare, played out in every color and shape you could think of. The woman at the counter was standing on a chair, trying to see where the commotion was coming from. Other customers were beginning to circle around her, laughing as Rebecca grew more and more hysterical.

Finally, seeing no alternative, she made a lunge for the nearest one – a moderately-sized purple number – shoved it in her purse, and ran for the door. She was nearly out when she stopped to throw a wad of cash at the cashier who was yelling for her to come back, dammit.

A week later, she buried the hideous thing in the backyard, too embarrassed to even look at it.


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