Tag Archives: trauma in fiction

Have you ever been with…?


She rolled her head slightly, like she was lining me up in her crosshairs. “You are shitting me”, she began hotly. “I know what you’re saying, but it’s not even the same. Man, I’d like to see you walk in a prostitute’s shoes. Only then would you know how lonely and scary it can be. Tell me you know what it’s like to work knowing your life is at risk: that you could be killed, jumped at any time because you carry cash; jumped in your own home if that’s where you do business; that no one will protect you unless you pay them; that no one would even care what happens to you cuz they think you’re nothing. Tell me you know what it’s like to give up your body everyday, to men who barely think of you as human, knowing that you’re giving away that part of yourself, every night.”

I gazed upwards, studiously contemplating sky and stars, life on Venus and Mars, alien yet pure of love and hate. “Well, I don’t know about the getting killed part. But the rest I can compare with, roughly.”

“Uh-huh?” she scoffed. “So you think you relate to prostitutes. How many have you been with?”

“Wait, I never said I’d been with a prostitute. I mean—”

She laughed back. “Yeah, I bet you haven’t.”

“I haven’t,” I replied adamantly. She relented.

“Alright. I’ll believe that, I guess, but it shows you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Well I’ve listened to quite a few—had them as patients.”

“Uh-huh.” She sat quietly for another few moments, letting her amusement subside. Then her voice turned somber, almost reverent.

“You ever cheat on your wife?”

“No,” I said flatly. She nodded inertly. “You believe me?” I followed up.

“I guess.” I uttered a noise which she took as a rebuke. “What do you want, a medal?”

I paused upon feeling aggrieved. “Sort of,” I replied.

“What?” she asked laughing.

“I should get a medal, actually. Any man who manages to avoid temptation should get a medal.”

“Any man? How about women?”

“Okay, women too, but it’s not the same for them.”

It got better. Soon I was expounding upon all the disadvantages men feel in the realm of sex.

–a passage from Venus Looks Down On A Prairie Vole

So a character poses a question, “have you ever been with a prostitute?” In doing so, the female antagonist is half-shaming the everymale of my story, and half-challenging his social critic credentials. Because he claims to know something. Daniel Pierce, my jaded psychologist, alcoholic widower, has a few thoughts on the subject of prostitution: like the chestnut leftist argument that all occupations in the western world entail prostitution. Therefore he doesn’t wring his hands on behalf of women, especially not women like Lira, who hardly seem like victims. Objectified? As in treated as, or thought of as an object? Sure, he concedes. But so is everyone to one degree or another, he retorts. Has she been subjectified, as in abused, or discarded. Not really, she admits, though she’s had close calls, and felt a constant risk. But she’s also profited considerably from her illicit business, spared herself the financial uphill that many of her same-age peers, male and female, face in today’s world. Above all, like any natural survivor or leader, this alpha prostitute has been nobody’s waif, but rather a cool, even dominant figure in the quasi intimate transactions of her past. In those dark, clammy pairings who has been more vulnerable, more ashamed, more consistently?

Her? Daniel Pierce writes a different script

** rendering by Philip Lawson






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Crystal takes it on the chin

Pardon the deflection. Actually, it’s me that’s taking the hits, the most important ones from sources yet to be revealed. But I’ll tell you what they’re saying, and why it stings.

I’ve asked people to put their thoughts down in writing so that I can track feedback. With Crystal From The Hills I’ve given them 140,000 words, or thereabouts. I’m getting about 250 back, on average–not that they should write more–but it isn’t fair is it? Where’s the balance? The triage of my not-so-picaresque (according to my harshest critics) yarn has yielded some of the following: words like “muddled”, “unwieldy” (referring to prose), and “not making sense”. With respect to certain elements, such as those calling for psychological terms, a passing knowledge of psychoanalysis, I’d agree that a perceptive, though not necessarily learned reading is required if one is to fully appreciate my tale of trauma, disordered identity, and social conscience.

Action? This brings me to the biggest complaint: what’s happening? some ask. Or worse, where’s the happy ending? Where’s the hope? What am I doing? I wonder: d’ya think I’m gettin’ the wrong people to read my stuff. D’ya think? I know. Try not to be defensive, right? These people are telling me what’s out there; what the average reader is looking for. Do I want you, average reader? do I need you?

Apparently, but maybe I can help…just a bit. Just a nudge, a hint here and there to clue you in as to what I’m doing, and why? Please.

So, first of all, with respect to my much maligned “flurries” of exposition, with respect to workplaces, memories related to fire, make-overs, terrorism, ruminations on women’s opinions, telecommunications: it’s all necessary. It’s all a story, the aggregate of these fragments. Believe me, I worked hard to make all these pieces add up and lodge in the reader’s mind. They are referenced circularly, but not repetitively, and the story of CFTH–it’s plot–runs alongside this collage of reality. Sorry, fans of the unfettered narrative flow, if I’m making life difficult.

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