by Ellaraine Lockie
The phone rings before I lift the receiver to cancel
credit cards and replace driver’s license. A woman’s
voice: “I found this number in a wallet. Are you missing

Yes! Is there anything else in the wallet?”

“There is now. I stuffed everything back in.” She does a
name check and says, “Contents were strewn over the
floor in a public restroom by where I work.”

“Did you see a driver’s license and any credit cards?” I

“Couple of credit cards and a license, yes.” “No money.”

I can handle the $500 cash loss for the husband’s
birthday leather jacket. I say, “Thank you doesn’t come
close to my gratitude. Where are you? I’ll leave right
now. And what’s your name?”

" she says. “No rush. I’ll be at Eve’s in the
alley behind the strip mall on Fremont.”

The two mannequins in negligee and peignoir in Eve’s
front window make me think Jackie Kennedy and Queen
Elizabeth. Until I see the pink dildo on the bedside stand
responding in a manly way to the lingerie.

I walk through the door and into the Garden of Eden.

The two dozen roses I carry will be right at home in
ylang ylang/jasmine air with Monet’s flowers blooming
on the walls.

A woman welcomes me in a voice that might announce a
London tour.

I’m in a dollhouse version of Victoria’s Secret. Except
there’s a lot more secrets. The shelf with cans of Lube
for Love. Tubes of Anal-Ease. Books that bring blushes.

“Are you Francine?” I ask.

“I’m Clare, the proprietor. This is my associate, Fran.”
Fran stops folding crotchless panties so lacy they could
be cobwebs.

After noticing the pastel leather whips and handcuffs
with heart-shaped locks, I say and almost mean it,
“What an intriguingly charming store. But why are you
hiding in a back alley?”

Fran gives Clare an I-told-you-so look.

“I live eight blocks away and didn’t know you existed,” I

“Well yes,” Clare says, “We’ve been chatting up about
more exposure.” A hint of giggle. “I mean
publicity of

After exchanging flowers, wallet and niceties, Fran says,
“Do have a look around.”

I’ve already had a look at the black patent stilettos that

skyscrape the others. I pick one up and say, “These are
stunning. But I could never walk in them.”

Clare pats my shoulder
. “Love, you don’t WALK in them.”

A pair of crotchless tights appeals to the sensible side of
me. The not having to pull them down in the bathroom
ten times a day. As I pay with a retrieved credit card,
Clare asks, “What do you do, dear, if I may ask?”

“I’m a writer. Mostly poetry.”

She gasps, hand over mouth. Looks at Fran. Then, “Oh

this is kismet!” You’re just what we’re looking for. You
must have a spot of tea with us
.She produces Royal
Doulton cups and saucers from under the counter. Pours
hot water over Sainsbury tea bags.

“We want a website that describes our unique products,"
she begins as Fran nods. "No need for vulgarity. We
want classy . . . but seductive. Poetic. You’re perfect for
the job!”

“How do you know?” I ask.

“Right,” says Fran. “We could do a test run. Give you a
few products, and you can bring back descriptions.”

“AND you can keep all the products, plus pay of course,”
Clare adds.

I leave with a tongue-shaped, flesh-colored vibrator, a
book titled Cosmo’s Little Big Book of Sex Games, a
package of Numbing Fun Throat Spray and a box that
says Ben Wa balls (that I swear I’ve seen in a medical
supply store).

I begin with the book, looking for the foundation that
supports this vaguely familiar world. I’ll not look at
closets, washing machines, skateboards or electric
toothbrushes the same way again. In the kitchen, I find
myself smiling at black licorice whips, Lifesavers, ice
cubes, peanut butter and plastic wrap. My husband’s ties
take on new meaning. He likes this modernized
dictionary. I hide the vibrator though until one of his
business trips, wherein research was never so gratifying.

I don’t hide the Numbing Fun Throat Spray. My
daughter, home sick from school, says she thinks she’ll
go after all. Says, “That numbing spray in your medicine
chest worked great . . . but I wouldn’t call it fun.”

After days of circling the box of oversized metal marbles
like an animal doing a predator inspection, I go to the
root of all knowledge. Google Ben Wa balls and learn
their split personalities. One, as exercise vehicles for
pelvic muscle tone. Two, as sex enhancers inserted into
the vagina.

My description compares them to an exciting game of
internal pool. It does not include how stubborn they are.
How they can decide to stay indoors. To eventually enter
the external world the following day by dribbling from
loose sweat pants and onto the floor of Starbucks.

With increasing enthusiasm for my new career, the
husband suggests I wear the crotchless tights to REI and
help him in the fitting room find the correct fit of jeans.
They’ll match the new leather jacket I’ve afforded him
with my first paycheck. Many more paychecks enrich my
budget, and I can now add
technical writer to my resume.

Ellaraine Lockie’s recent work has won the 2019 Poetry Super
Highway Contest, the Nebraska Writers Guild’s Women of the Fur
Trade Poetry Contest and New Millennium’s Monthly Musepaper
Poetry Contest. Her fourteenth chapbook, Sex and Other
Slapsticks, has been released from Presa Press. Earlier collections
won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley
Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications
Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from
Purple Patch magazine in England, and the Aurorean’s Chapbook
Choice Award. Her poems have found their way onto broadsides,
buses, rented cars, bicycles, cabins, greeting cards, key chains,
bookmarks, mugs, coffee sack labels, church bulletins, radio
shows and cable TV as well as into hundreds of national and
international journals, magazines and anthologies. Ellaraine
teaches writing workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the
lifestyles magazine, LILIPOH.