This story is by Bart Mann and won an honorable mention in our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
Bart is an aspiring novelist currently living in Los Angeles. A former music and entertainment journalist, Bart spent 15 years interviewing countless famous figures of pop culture, ranging from legendary film maker Robert Altman to notorious musician Frank Zappa. A five time NaNoWriMo winner, Bart is currently editing Admiration Tortoise, the first installment of his epic fantasy trilogy.
Arthur finally decided to go in. Having never been inside the adult toy store, this was going to be the day.
Arthur was twenty-two, in college … and still a virgin. He had a lean body, a headful of thick raven black hair, and a warm and inviting smile. He had a quick wit and sparkling blue eyes. By the simple odds alone Arthur should have already gotten laid. Unfortunately Arthur lacked self-confidence. As such he was painfully shy and inhibited beyond measure and that’s what did him in.
Being unlaid, the issue at hand became self-satisfaction. Eventually Arthur’s reliance on the basic procedure left him feeling unsatisfied. He yearned for something besides internet porn to help him finish the job.
Thus he often found himself parked in the lot of The Pink Cherry adult toy store, too timid to go in. Arthur looked at the dash and saw it was two o’clock. He had sat there for thirty minutes. He groaned, wrenched his fingers off of the steering wheel and finally got out of the car.
Crossing the parking lot he kept imagining running into people he knew inside. People like his father or that cute girl from English Lit, or … his mother. Never mind whatever reason they’d have for being inside the sex shop; it was his masturbatory proclivities that would be broadcast to the world.
He opened the door and was hit by a reek of latex thick enough to slice. He saw walls of faux genitals—male and female, boxed, bagged or just hanging free. A row of very large rubber penises immediately made him feel inadequate.
“Close the door dude, you’re letting the heat in,” said a reedy voice from somewhere deep in the store. Arthur looked up and saw a network of mirrors. They lined the upper corners of the red walls and the tops of the chrome shelves. He squinted and saw a small reflected image of a cashier station in the back of the store behind the aisles. He couldn’t make out the figure sitting there beyond a red flannel shirt.
He entered, the door shutting behind him with a jangle of dangling bells. He was inside at last. It took a second for his eyes to adjust to the dim red lighting. He walked past the sales bins of dildos and prostate massagers. He walked past a display case of potency pills and delay creams. He felt his inhibitions being crushed under the weight of sexual promise.
As he penetrated the store’s interior, Arthur’s head began to swim with colors and shapes. He could taste strawberry candy on his tongue. Something was wrong in a confusing and uncomfortable way, yet he was enjoying himself.
He found the lubricant aisle. Various sized cylinders lined up like soldiers in a war against friction. He imagined stepping naked into a hot tub full of lubricant. A tub with walls lined with female hands, their lithe fingers grasping and stoking at every inch of him. Arthur had a good imagination but this sensation felt almost real.
“Wow dude, if looking at lube is gonna spring your tent like that you must be horny! When was the last time you got laid?” asked the slender figure standing at the end of the aisle.
Arthur gasped and instinctively moved his hands over his obvious erection.
“Uh, uh …” is all he could mutter. He saw that it was the cashier, a girl of all things. She was slight but well built; at least it appeared so despite the loose flannel shirt and bulky jeans she wore. Straight dark hair ran down almost to her waist. Her cute “girl next door” face contrasted with her severe make-up. It all added up to hotness.
“Uh, uh …” Arthur repeated.
“Well whatever,” the girl said, “When you find what you want I’ll ring you up … oh and dude, ask me if you need a hand with anything.” She smiled then popped around the corner and was gone. Arthur couldn’t tell if that was sarcasm or a come on.
He rushed away in the other direction cursing and pressing down on his hard-on. His first thought was it was all over. He could envision dealing with some greasy old man at the cash register but not an attractive girl.
Stopping in the “Boy’s Toys” aisle he saw something called the Turbo-Twister. What was he expected to do? Just hand it to this pretty girl like it was no big deal? Like she wouldn’t picture him with his Turbo-Twister and what he’d be doing with it and laugh?
That potential laugh was a dilemma all right. But since he had finally crossed the store’s threshold he decided he’d be damned if he was going to walk out empty handed. So girl or no girl, he had to go for it.
He stared in awe at the variety of devices. There were the squeezers, the strokers, the vibrators, and the rotators. There were the wet, the dry and the oily. Something called a “Robo-Suck” sat next to something called the “Master Thruster,” (which, according to the gold star on the box, was recommended by the big time porn star Lance Thruster).
Next he came to the collection of latex toys molded directly from porn stars’ vaginas. He recognized a few names such as Cherry Poppins, Vadgelina Holie, and Diamond Foxx. The boxes featured close-up photos of the real thing next to photos of the imitations. Arthur was shocked by the amazing reproduction of wrinkles and creases and ridges.
Glancing into the mirror above him he saw the cashier, her elbows resting on the counter, her head in her hands. It looked like she was staring right at him and smiling. He fell into a deep fantasy about her. While she was watching him her hand dipped below the counter and into her jeans. He imagined her exploring the wrinkles and creases and ridges of her own sex. He imagined her watching him stroke himself while watching her.
He shook his head to clear away the image and realized he had actually begun touching himself. He looked into the mirror but the girl was no longer there. Had she seen his hand caressing the swollen front of his pants?
That was it. Things were going too far and he knew he needed to get out of there. He could come back another day. On a different shift he might find the withered old pervert he had expected behind the counter.
He spun around to head back to the exit and realized he wasn’t sure where it was. His heart started pounding, but he knew it wasn’t a huge store so finding the exit couldn’t take that long. His only true aim was to avoid the cashier station, and more importantly the cashier.
He hoped to retrace his steps to the exit. But on turning back he found himself in a section featuring glossy magazines with titles like “Juggs” and “Barely Legal.” He was confused because he hadn’t come past the magazines earlier. After that it seemed like whenever he moved in any direction he’d be in an aisle he hadn’t seen. It just didn’t make sense. The store wasn’t that big, At least not on the outside, he thought.
He looked up at the mirror and saw that the girl was back. This time he could swear she was wearing a sheer, see-through teddy. Her pert breasts, adorned with bright pink nipples, hovered above the countertop. He looked down quickly as if he had seen them by accident. With his head down he walked forward. He wasn’t sure if that had actually happened or not, but his erection was back.
He finally found a wall. There was basket there loaded with ball gags. He considered grabbing a handful to drop them like breadcrumbs to avoid going in circles. He didn’t want the cashier to take notice so he dropped the idea instead.
Along the wall he found an open doorway with some gauzy curtains hanging down. He parted the curtains and saw a room with rows of curtained booths. Outside each were little tables with bottles of lubricants and boxes of tissues. He knew porn videos were playing in the booths, but the mélange of sex sounds he heard sounded more than a little real.
That strictly pent up, never had sex, hormone saturated part of him became aroused. He fantasized jumping into a booth and getting off on a video of the cashier having sex.
He gasped as beads of sweat formed on his forehead. Past the curtained doorway the wall stretched far ahead, row after row of aisles lining the way. It’s an illusion, he thought … something done with lights and mirrors. Like Vegas casinos that want to entrap their customers for as long as they can.
He walked past aisle after aisle, faster and faster until he was almost jogging. He was still searching thirty minutes later when he finally saw the front door. It was at the end of the “Electro-sex” aisle. He ran past wired nipple clips and electrode cock rings towards the exit. Sunlight was streaming in through a window display of mannequins having rough sex.
As he got closer he could see through the window and saw his car parked in the lot outside. Something was wrong. There was someone stealing the car. The idea of having a dangerous confrontation with a car thief startled him. But he had found a new sense of courage. Facing down a car thief seemed like nothing when considering the alternative, which meant being stranded at the sex shop. An impossible shop that he was finally about to get out of. A freaky shop he wanted to get away from.
At the window he paused to see who he had to deal with. He saw the face of the thief only it wasn’t a thief’s face, it was Arthur’s face. He reeled backwards a step. He saw himself sitting in his car, saw himself debating whether to venture into the store and deciding to go for it. He watched himself get out of the car and start crossing the lot.
A powerful epiphany struck Arthur. He was certain that to save himself from getting lost inside, he must stop himself from entering in the first place. He tried locking the door but it wouldn’t work. He instinctively looked up into the mirror for help. He saw the cashier was having sex with someone. He looked closer and realized that he was the someone. He saw himself having sex with the cashier.
He spun back to look outside and saw himself still walking towards the door. He turned to the mirrors once more and saw himself getting fellated by the cashier.
Arthur fell to his knees closing his eyes in horrified confusion. He couldn’t comprehend what was happening. When he reopened his eyes he was sitting in his car outside the sex shop. He saw that it was only two o’clock. He hadn’t even gone into the shop yet. He ran his hands through his hair concluding that he must have fallen asleep while trying to work up the nerve to go in. He laughed nervously as he decided that it’d be stupid to chicken out yet again because of a crazy dream. Besides, maybe because of the dream, he felt braver than ever.
Stepping out of his car he watched as someone came out of the store to empty a small trash can into a dumpster outside. It was a girl, a cute girl with long dark hair, wearing a flannel shirt and torn jeans. She looked back at him and smiled then she went back in. Arthur paused and swallowed.
He knew it had only been a dream and the Pink Cherry was just a store. Meanwhile he couldn’t get the image of a Venus fly trap out of his head.
He considered the implications.
Then he shrugged.
Then Arthur went in.