Sodom Road Exit by Amber Dawn. Published by Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018. Excerpted printed with permission from the publisher.
The following is an excerpt from Chapter1: Running a Balance (found on print pages 13-16)
The anonymous woman in bed beside me adamantly shakes my shoulder. She had a name last night. She must have; as part of my hook-and-line, I complimented her “pretty name” and said, “It suits you.” Unless a woman’s name is Mavis, I normally compliment her pretty name.
“Your phone keeps ringing. Four times in a row. Maybe it’s an emergency?” Not-Mavis is still naked. I, evidently, pulled a nightshirt on backward before completely passing out.
I don’t have to look at my call display to know it’s a 1-800 number. Debt collection agencies call early in the morning, and repeatedly. They’re not supposed to call before nine a.m., or at least that’s what other flunkies and bums tell me, but so far I’ve failed to convince the telephone goon squad to stop.
“I can’t believe you slept right through it,” she says. “I took a sleeping pill.” “You took a sleeping pill? Are you crazy? We drank two bottles of wine last night.”
Who said you could sleep over? What’s wrong with your own bed? That’s how I want to respond. But it’s a bad idea to aggravate a naked woman. There are only two reasons for a woman to sleep naked next to someone she just met. One—she is extremely comfortable with herself. Two—she has hastily decided that she is comfortable with you. Either way, she is not a woman I want to fight with at the crack-of-my-ass in the morning.
“May as well seize the day,” I say, slowly sitting up. I have an eyeball-socket headache. “Coffee? I know a cute place on DuPont.”
In the elevator I get the feeling her name could be Tabatha or Tammy or Tiffany. Tatiana? I don’t dare address her by any of these, as I’m likely wrong. Not-Mavis is wearing the perfect day-to-night dress. Was she anticipating doing the walk of shame this morning? It’s leopard print, but, like, business leopard, with a mid-thigh hem and three-quarter sleeves. Her leather oxford shoes have been recently polished. I figure she’s got five years on me. Or more. Might be pushing thirty. Knees are how I tell age. She’s got beginner kninkles—knee wrinkles—frowning under each knee. I picture a cartoon eyes and a nose on her kneecaps. Sad-faced clowns. We reach my lobby and both put on sunglasses. Ha! She was prepared to spend the night. Who carries sunglasses in an evening bag?
I take her to Gigi’s Bakery because counter service will make this whole thanks-and-goodbye bit go more quickly. “Their Nutella croissants are divine. Let me buy you one,” I offer. We sit outside on wobbly bistro chairs sipping espresso. Not-Mavis breaks off a piece of her croissant and tosses it to a nearby pigeon. “I won’t bother leaving my number,” she says.
“Enjoyed yourself that much, eh?” Bitch, buy your own croissant from now on.
“No, no. I had a lot of fun.” Not-Mavis squeezes my arm. I pull away, pretending to take a last sip from my already empty cup. “Josie and Zed warned me not to try to get a second date out of you.”
“Josie and Zed?”
“You know. Your friends who set us up.”
“I know who Josie and Zed are,” I say, quietly, hoping that if I speak quietly she’ll lower her volume too. “I’m just … surprised they said that.”
“I was looking for a discreet thing. Remember, I’m married.”
This is exactly why I don’t go to breakfast diners with one-night stands. If I had to wait for a waitress to take care of the bill right now, I’d die. The extra five minutes would kill me. I’d clunk Not-Mavis over the head with her tiny espresso cup and kill her too. And where do Josie and Zed get off? What am I, the dregs of casual sex, bottom-feeder of blind dates? I swear I’m never having another threesome with those two again.
I refuse to watch Not-Mavis walk away in her business leopard dress, and that’s one of my favourite parts. The walking away part. Women’s hips are spellbinding after they’ve been fucked. Men too, actually. Except there’s often less hip and more shoulder sway with a guy’s goodbye march. Weak moment, I turn to see Not-Mavis hail a cab as she reaches Spadina.
Amber Dawn is a writer and creative facilitator living on unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, Canada). Her debut novel Sub Rosa (2010) won the Lambda Literary Award for Debut Lesbian Fiction and the Writers’ Trust of Canada Dayne Ogilvie Prize. Her memoir How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir (2013) won the Vancouver Book Award. Her poetry collection Where the words end and my body begins (2015) was a finalist for BC Book Award’s Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. She is the editor of two queer anthologies Fist of the Spider Women: Fear and Queer Desire (2009) and With A Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn (2005).