fiction, poetry & more

Second Prize
$100 Award


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 yours?”

“Yes, 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 ask.

“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?”

“Francine,” 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 continue.

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

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.

December 2019