It's been a full week without Oz, and my search has hit a dead end. No one at the porn shops has seen her, and she's unknown to the peep shows and strip joints. Maybe she's found a real job and a place to live, but why wouldn't she leave word at the hotel desk? So I keep heading off to Times Square, pretending it serves a purpose, but when the Scotch runs out, the panic fills its place, and I know I'm just looking for a way to spend my days. Without Romaya, without a job, without the Internet or even my companions, I have become too aware of time.
But this morning, I found something that could consume hours. Maybe even days. It's a high end porn club, secretly catering to the basest and most craven sexual displays. Things that would make even a German search engine blush. It's called Rule 34, and it makes every effort to honor that Internet axiom. In front, it looks like one of several upscale N.Y. steakhouses, and, indeed, it is an upscale N.Y. steakhouse. That's part of the appeal: you have a legit reason for being there. But the interior descends into a darkened segmented circle on multiple levels. Each segment holds a room of about forty spectators and a brightly lit stage that keeps the rest of the audience in total anonymous darkness. But that's not all. Just like porn sites, or even YouTube, there is additional suggested viewing. Each of the side walls has two windowed cut outs giving soundless sneak peeks of the action at the rooms above and below. For an entrance fee, (plus each room's additional fee,) you can enter and sample fully from the well-stocked perversion.
I don't know why it took me all day before I realized I could request neo-punk Australian porn. Maybe I was distracted by the horse, or the twins, or, so help me, was that Screech from Saved by the Bell getting dominated by Small Wonder? But eventually, I asked, and they did have it. It wasn't Oz. Just a skank from Queensland, getting double-teamed by two guys with Mohawks. I went home disappointed and vowed never to return to Rule 34 where I spent all day staring so intently at things I never wanted to see.
Day 49: OLD SCHOOL PEEP SHOW
I have spent every day of the last week at Rule 34. If I weren't drinking so heavily I don't think I could live with myself. A full week with nothing but alcohol and head-shakingly awful pornographic displays has left me numb. Numb even to the pain that kept me company. I haven't had a real conversation with anyone since being interrogated by Rowsdower two weeks ago. And I haven't spoken at all since yesterday afternoon at Rule 34 when I asked if they had a room with Agent Scully and Lt. Uhura getting bi-curious. (They did).
So today I stayed close to home and went to the store I first visited. I bought a rubber mask that only covered the nose and eyes so I could still drink and headed for the peep show. I'd never been before, but I assumed nothing much had changed in the Apocalypse. No need to considering there was little difference from web cam girls. The room was small and dark, and reeked of what I hoped was bleach. I had passed a mop and bucket on the way in. I took a seat in front of the window, and a young woman with brown hair and glasses sat in a kimono on the other side. She was too pretty to be here.
"What do you want?" she asked.
"I'm not sure."
"Well, what do you like?" She reached over to the small table by her side to crush out a cigarette. "Do you want me to give you some choices?"
I thought for a moment. "I'd prefer not to," I heard myself say.
"Well, my name's Maya," she said, and uncrossed her legs. Her kimono opened slightly, still holding to her breast, but revealing a dolphin tattoo below her waist.
"Hello, Maya," I said. "Will you just sit here with me for a minute?"
"It's your money," she said and let the kimono open further. "So what should I call you?"
At this point, I couldn't think of a reason not to give my real name.
"Call me, Gladstone," I said, and took off my mask.
Maya jumped off her chair and closed her Kimono. "For fucks sake! Gladstone!"
I didn't understand. She banged up against the glass.
"It's me! Oz!"
Continued in part SEVEN