Every workplace has its characters, folks condensed into stories and trotted out for laughs: that drunk guy. Bald Becky. Pig-Face Man. I met my first one in Texas, at Lingerie Dreams—Mr. Horny, we called him. His name was, like, Hornig, but it sounded like “horny,” and given the context….
Lingerie Dreams was what you might call a whack shack. Out front, we had lingerie, sad dusty garters and edible pants, bras that fit no-one, white lace turned beige. In back were two rooms, forty bucks for twenty minutes. In these rooms, you got a show, some tired girl gyrating while you beat your meat. You could touch if you wanted, but not between the legs, and not with your dick. Mr. Horny touched with his mouth. He held you in his lap and engulfed you like a slug. You sank into his thighs as he swallowed your head, just…understand he didn’t kiss you. He opened his mouth as wide as it would go and limpeted to your face, dripped slime down your cheek. He did this with a terrible, deliberate slowness, twenty minutes turning to forty, sixty, two hours, your whole day. You got drunk off the whisky fumes blowing up your beak. All this, and he tipped for shit.
The two things I remember best about Mr. Horny are as follows:
- That feeling when his white van with its broken taillight swung past the gap in the blackout curtains, and you had three minutes to fuck yourself up—smudge your mascara, muss your hair, make him pick the other girl;
- That time I was at Miller’s Blueprint buying oil paints, and I saw him out of context, and he saw me, and we knew each other.
So that was Mr. Horny, and twenty years later, there was Star Wars Lady. It’s not fair of me to mention them together, not fair at all, but it’s important I don’t come off well here, because Star Wars Lady’s just died, and I was mean to her.
I met Star Wars Lady on that psychic show, back when I was a charlatan. She never called the live line, but she texted a lot, and I made fun of her a lot, and it sort of went like this:
The first time I talked to her, I didn’t know she was Star Wars Lady. She was like any customer, really, asking about tomorrow but wanting advice for today, and the advice she wanted was on her boyfriend. he runs hot and cold. he doesn’t come home. he’s scaring me—and I followed up on that, ready to pounce if she needed the crisis line. But her fear was for him, not herself: he tended toward self-injury, and he had awful friends. He put himself in harm’s way with suicidal abandon. His name was Armitage Hux, and I noted that down (we kept notes on everything), but it wasn’t till our fourth or fifth session I thought to Google him, and that’s when I knew she was Star Wars Lady. Because Armitage Hux is from Star Wars. He’s a bad guy.
She showed me her fanfiction, which was explosively violent, usually in a sexual way. It was strange to read because she couldn’t write people, or dialogue, or sex, anything wet, you might say, but her descriptions of starship life leapt off the page. Her settings kind of sang. I was reading these stories, these mad rape vignettes, but the pictures in my head were white and cool and clean…orderly. Professional. Nestled in absolute zero.
I went on Facebook and made fun of this. Someone had to remind me to put it on private, make sure she wouldn’t see. (I thought I had, actually, but no. No. I hadn’t.)
One day, I went to look at Star Wars Lady’s fanfiction and it was gone. I asked, and she said there’d been trolls. She didn’t want to deal with them, but if I wanted, she had a new one in the works. I didn’t want, not really, but my job was to want (or to listen, at least), so I said I did. And for months, she kept texting this story, line by line—and because we billed for responses, not incoming messages, the system demanded a comment on each line.
—Hux stood still on the sagged splinter boards of the cellar stairs. The door was open with yellow light stabbing out!
—Ohhh! I kind of guessed this was coming, but the suspense is unbearable. Good foreshadowing, though, with the way Obi-Wan was looking at him at the freak show. My theory? It’s Ben Solo. He’s the aggrieved party, after all…though, I guess he’s no longer the only one. The suspect pool keeps expanding. Good tension-building!
Note the length of my response: while incoming texts were capped at 120 characters, each of my replies had to fall between 320 and 340.
So this story, this story I spent ten months interacting with, I’m not sure it had a title, but I called it Jedi Juggalo Jerkfest. I called it that because it was about the entire cast of Star Wars, minus Jar Jar Binks, living in an American trailer park, and they were all Juggalos. Or they were all Juggalos but Mr. Hux, who owned the trailer park and ran a freak show out back. And he collected human penises, which he stole from their owners in their sleep. The cocks were all sentient, and reacted with horror. But, again, it was hard to pay mind to that, because the interesting part was the trailer park. I wouldn’t say she described it well, exactly. Her writing was wordy, tumbled out in a rush. But the imagery was striking. I could see it in my head, the bare bits in the grass where feet had trod, puddles where tyres had sunk into the dirt. Weeds with bent stalks from growing around cinderblocks. I’ve never been to an American trailer park, but she made me see one. Made me feel it. It felt true.
(I made fun of it on Facebook, the penis part.)
She was British, Star Wars Lady. She’d never been to America. I’ve been to America.
She was about my age—a little older, a little younger, I forget. She lived with her parents, then her boyfriend (not Armitage Hux), then her parents again.
I still keep in touch with a couple of folks from that job. One of them spotted her obituary and let me know, me being her favourite psychic. It didn’t say how she died, just that she had, and who was mourning her.
She’d have been a good writer. She was, maybe. You can’t judge by online stuff—like, I’m better than this. With an editor, I mean, and time to think. When I’m not just indulging myself.
I’m sorry I made fun of Star Wars Lady. I feel ashamed.
I’m not sorry I made fun of Mr. Horny. He sucked eggs.