“Can you keep a secret?” Candice asked me. I was eighteen years old; of course I could keep a secret. I didn’t even know what a secret was.
“Sure.” I told Candice as she strolled around the pond. The high summer sun danced off the water and made Candice seem that much more golden.
“OK, I’ll tell you. But you have to tell me one.” Candice said to me. I nodded that I would. “I used to be a whore.” She told me point blank.
“Really?” I made a mental decision to not make a big deal out of her admission. I’d play it cool. My actual reaction was the opposite. I was an eighteen-year-old virgin and that was the sexiest thing anybody had ever said to me. My girlfriend at the time, Felicia, had promised me that we would do it before I left for college. I believed her. Felicia had promised me that we would do it before senior year started. I believed her then, too.
“Yeah, last summer.” Candice told me. Candice was a year older than I was. She had graduated from Marshall the previous year. She went to Europe that summer before her first semester at San Louis Obispo. Candice wanted to be a marine biologist.
“What happened?” I asked her.
“It was weird. I ran out of money in Italy and I really wanted to stay. This man let me live with him.” She paused, unsure of what to tell me next.
“That doesn’t make you a whore.” I told Candice. I was so naïve back then.
“I had to sleep with his friends.” She told me.
“Oh.” That made Candice a whore.
“It wasn’t bad.” She said.
“No,” I agreed. “You just did what you had to do.”
“I didn’t have to do it. I think I wanted to do it. I liked it.” I could have said several things to Candice right then. I could have been cruel. I could have asked why she just didn’t come home. Or why she simply didn’t get a job, or ask her folks for money. I didn’t say anything of the sort, though.
“You want to hear my secret?” I asked Candice.
“Yeah.” She replied.
“I’m a virgin.” Candice burst out laughing. For a moment I was hurt. Why would she laugh, I thought. My young mind reeled at her mockery. I felt angry until I realized Candice wasn’t laughing at me. Rather, she was laughing at us.
“That’s just, I mean, I don’t know. Think about it, your darkest secret is that you’ve never slept with anybody, and mine is that I used to do it for money.” It was absurd, but we didn’t know that word.
“Ironic, huh?” I asked, relieved to know where her laughter was coming from. I lost my virginity to Candice a few hours later at her parent’s house on St. George, across the street from the high school. I never did have sex with Felicia.
“What are you laughing at?” Janie asked me. Janie was reading a book in my chair, wearing my shirt. I had gotten Janie’s number from a friend. This was the third time I’d seen her.
“Oh, I’m just thinking back to the first whore I knew.” I told Janie as I rolled onto my back. I was totally nude and smoking.
“That’s a horrible word.” Janie scolded me.
“Don’t worry, she was a college grad, too.” Janie flipped her hair away from her face so that she was looking at me. I could see the fold of her breasts where my shirt wasn’t buttoned. Janie had studied acting, she told me. She actually struck me as the kind of woman who was definitely smart enough to go to school, but who could never be bothered to do so. Janie seemed coarse and had large holes in her academic background. Like when she told me that Catholics practiced transubstantiation because explorers had observed Aztecs drinking human blood. I didn’t press it because I didn’t care.
“What about her?” Janie asked me. I flopped my hand around on the nightstand without taking my eyes off of Janie. I found my glass.
“Do you think you could get me some of that whisky?” I asked her. Janie stood and went to the kitchen area. I lived in a loft/studio downtown. It was a nice place, but I could still see the toaster from my bed. I watched as she walked towards the sink, the tail of my shirt ending midway down her thighs. I liked Janie. True, I was paying for the time I spent with her, but that particular hang up had stopped bothering me at some point. Whores seemed normal. Janie brought the bottle back. “Thanks.” I said as she rolled the Beam up to me from the foot of the bed.
“So, what about your first whore?” Janie asked as she fell back into my chair. I saw that Janie was holding a cigarette. She was looking around. I threw her my lighter.
“She wasn’t my first whore,” I told Janie as I snubbed out my cigarette and unscrewed the bottle. “She was just the first whore I knew, and she was the first girl I slept with.”
“Really,” Janie replied. She seemed interested. “How old were you?”
“I had just turned eighteen and graduated from high school. I guess I was a bit of a late bloomer.” I said.
“Not really. I lost mine when I was seventeen.”
“What’s that, like three years ago?” I joked.
“Fuck you, Matt.”
“I’m only kidding.” I told her. Janie held her middle finger up at me. In truth, Janie was closer to my age. I was a few months past thirty. I think she told me she was twenty-six. “No, anyway, her name was Candice. Really cool girl. We went to the same high school, but she was a year ahead. I ran into her the summer I graduated and she told me that she had started hooking, I guess, when she was in Europe the summer before.”
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