The Diary of Mistress X-bysoppingwetpanties|
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, merchandise, companies, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. All characters in sexual situations are 18 years or older.
My life could be encapsulated in two words - frustrated journalist.
As long as I could remember I'd always wanted to be a newspaper reporter. Writing feature stories for the New York Times, Sunday edition. The Holy Grail. I pictured myself with thousands of followers on social media and maybe an occasional appearance on a national news show, to be questioned by a high-profile anchor. I often looked in the mirror, putting on my glasses for a more scholarly look (I usually wear contacts), and took my beyond shoulder length dirty blonde hair and put it up in a French twist, pretending to be interviewed about my latest investigative piece. It was as close as I'd gotten to the real thing.
I was editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and then with good grades and a glowing recommendation from my journalism teacher, I attended Northwestern University and secured my ticket to fame - a B.A. in journalism. Everybody warned me that there might not be a job waiting for me when I graduated, so I followed my father's advice (the only time I can recall doing so) and minored in accounting.
I hated accounting. It was everything journalism was not. It was all numbers. It was dry. It was boring. It was impersonal. It literally sucked the creative gene right out of me. Unfortunately, it also paid the bills. And I was good at it. I ended up in New Orleans (following my now ex-girlfriend, who grew up in New Orleans - our relationship and break-up is yet another story) and found permanent employment with a regional accounting firm. I'd been there about five years, long enough to know what needed to be done to do the heavy lifting on an audit, but not long enough to earn the big bucks. It was long hours during the busy season and abject boredom the remainder of the time.
My work life pretty much ruled out a real life, so after I broke up with my girlfriend, I didn't have much of a social life, and aside from an occasional date (usually set up by one of my friends), my downtime consisted of binge watching a series on Netflix or trying to make a new recipe from the latest copy of Cooks Illustrated.
Don't get me wrong. I haven't surrendered my dream, just sort of put it on life support.
There's an "alternative" newspaper in New Orleans, The New Orleans Intelligencer, that became my second career. The grandeur of the name of the newspaper belied its modest credentials. It was a free newspaper that had a weekly circulation of about 20,000, and was based on the second floor of a warehouse located in an industrial park on the outskirts of the city. It was one step up from my high school newspaper and about four steps down from the New York Times.
About a year ago, I approached the editor, Benjamin Broussard, with an idea for a feature story. At that time I'd been relegated to editing other people's work, and was anxious to get an opportunity to write my own piece. As part of my accounting firm's local outreach program, I prepared tax returns free of charge for persons who couldn't afford a retail accountant. I met a number of people that lived in a homeless encampment under a freeway overpass that was not far from the newspaper's offices. I told Ben that I wanted to spend a few days in the homeless encampment to understand how they came to be homeless and what their issues were living in the encampment. I would also interview nearby local business owners.
Ben thought it a bit dangerous for me, being a woman on her own, so I recruited one of my roommates, Craig, to stay with me in my father's old hunting tent. Mind you, Craig was not my favorite person. He was available and willing, something none of my other male friends were. He was actually the roommate of someone else that we invited to live in our house (the house has six bedrooms) and he was brought in to take an empty bedroom, so I really didn't know him until he moved in.
Craig was a slob. He routinely left his dirty dishes, smelly clothes, and sophomoric comic books strewn around the house. He told me that he did something computer related (he told me, but my eyes glazed over after about fifteen seconds of his bullshit) and generally stayed in his room with the door shut. My guess is that he was either playing Call of Duty or watching internet porn with his dick in his hand. He wore clothes that looked like they came out of the Goodwill bin.
I'm a bit of a neat freak, so spending time in a tent under a freeway was not one of my top choices for a vacation, especially with Craig. But I reminded myself it was my idea, and set off with Craig, backpacks filled with food and a couple changes of clothes. At least it occurred me to buy one of those granny carts, the ones that are made with a thin wire metal frame and had a canvas bottom and sides. I loaded it with water, two books I'd been meaning to read, my sleeping bag and foam pad, a flashlight, and a bag of toiletries. Craig and I drove in my ten year old Honda Civic to the encampment, parking about a block away.
Well-scrubbed and freshly bathed, I rolled my shiny new cart to the overpass for the main highway out of town. I shaded my eyes from the bright afternoon sunlight and peered into the relative darkness of the underpass. The first thing that hit me was the smell - the noxious odors of alcohol and piss that made my eyes tear and my nose crinkle. The second thing that assaulted my senses was the noise - vehicles travelling overhead at high speeds, with the ground shaking each time a big rig drove over the concrete structure. I held my breath and ventured into, literally, a pit of despair.
Shadowy figures with sallow complexions and sunken eyes followed my every movement as I tried to find a clear patch on which to pitch our tent. Craig followed close behind me as I walked around tents arranged helter-skelter, overflowing shopping carts, and many small mounds of rotting garbage. I found only one suitable spot, and had to spend ten minutes hauling away the trash and the weeds to clear enough space for the footprint of the tent. Craig watch in amusement (he said he'd keep me company but that was after I told him that he wouldn't have to lift a finger) as I got down on my hands and knees, dirtying my jeans on the rock strewn patch of uneven ground. I was thoroughly dirty and dusty by the time I got the tent up and ready for habitation. I crawled in first and staked out the least rocky part for my foam pad and sleeping bag. Craig grumbled as he rolled out his foam pad on the rockier side of the tent. I'm sure he was questioning why he agreed to accompany me.
Like a na?ve doofus (that I still am), I got out of the tent with a pad of paper, a pen, and a small stack of business cards. Homeless men and women, and even children, flocked around me. They must have sensed a rube when they saw me, a relatively well-dressed white woman (though a bit dirty), brimming with enthusiasm and likely carrying a fat wallet. Arriving first was a homeless man with two small boys. Soon, two teenage girls and an older man were standing next to me. Within a few minutes there must have been twenty people crowded around me. They mostly asked for money, which I gave it to them, and some asked for my help. I must not have been the first reporter to try this stunt. I ended up giving away most of my money and all of the business cards I had brought. The experience was a blur, and I didn't have the presence of mind to take notes or to remember a name or a face. Craig pulled his nose out of his comic book when I staggered back into the tent, frazzled, and about $200 poorer.
"How come you didn't tell me you were going to leave the tent?" he asked me, as if he were my father, which of course he isn't. That didn't sit well with me.
"I didn't want to disturb you. You were reading your comic book." I jabbed him where it hurt.
"Adult comic book," he said, making sure to emphasize the first word. He showed me the cover. It looked like it depicted a three-headed monster eating a person, you know, a real adult topic.
"Whatever," I responded, to try to put him back in his place. I doubt my indifference mattered to him when he was sitting on rocky ground with the smell of piss filling the air.
"Look," he said, feeling my attitude and sensing an opportunity, "I didn't have to come with you, you know. I was supposed to go to a gaming convention tomorrow."
So Call of Duty it was. I doubted his dick was big enough to jack off.
I'm impulsive at times. I admit it. Sometimes Craig got on my nerves with his slovenly appearance in the house (look, I really don't want to see your butt crack), so being in close quarters in a tense situation put me on edge. "Well then fucking go if you want to. It wasn't my idea for you to come anyway."
Permission granted, he quickly grabbed his stuff and bolted out of the tent without even saying goodbye. Needless to say, Craig and I have not stayed close since then.
I don't know if it was good fortune, but not more than five minutes after Craig left a woman stuck her head in the tent. In the relative darkness of the underpass she appeared to be an attractive blonde, a thirty something housewife who got lost and stumbled into this encampment by mistake.
"Can I come in?" she asked, her voice surprisingly raspy.
I nodded my head, my eyes transfixed on this woman, as she opened the flaps of the tent, wearing only a bathrobe trimmed in fake fur and platform heels. She crawled into my tent. Her overpowering perfume masked all of the unpleasant odors in the tent. She had lipstick on, but it was poorly applied. She was clearly a beauty at one time but the crush of years as a homeless person had creased her perfect complexion, chipped a few of her front teeth, and created a permanent hollow in her cheeks from her poor nutrition. I didn't mean to pry, but a robe can only cover so much, and I could see her breasts, full and real, hanging forward as she leaned over to kiss me on the cheek.
"I'm Francine." I could tell where her gravelly voice came from. A lifetime of drinking cheap booze. That's what my dad did. And his voice sounded just like hers. "What's your name, fish bait?"
"Cassandra ... Cassandra Nicholson. My friends call me Cassie."
I was sitting on my sleeping bag and didn't move when she crawled in. The center of the tent was about four feet tall. Francine knelt on the floor of the tent. I'm sure she needed a drink. She probably always needed a drink.
"I'm sorry. I've already given away most of my money," I told her, trying to foreclose her inevitable question. But my ill-thought out remark simply told her that I still had some money.
"You like girls?" The raspy voice became sultry.
I'd only had a few girlfriends. Not a tattoo or piercing among all of them. Mostly nerds like me. No one had ever come on to me like this. Her tits were practically swinging out of her robe. Suddenly the air inside the tent felt hot. I had a thick wool sweater on and was starting to sweat. I leaned back on my hands. She was reading my face.
"So you do," she observed correctly. "I like girls too." She leaned forward and used her bright red polished nails to scratch along the top of my thigh. My legs closed involuntarily. She laughed at my reaction.
"But Mommy doesn't know that her baby is a lesbian, does she?"
Maybe she was guessing but she was right. My mother didn't know I was a lesbian. I had been meaning to tell her, but the time never seemed to be right. I broke eye contact and looked down.
"So I'm right," she declared. "A little closeted lesbian. Give me $20 and I'll lick your pussy like no one else has." Her fingernail scraped against the crotch of my jeans. I think I let out a little squeal when she touched me there.
"You want some?" Her face got closer. I could smell the alcohol on her breath. Her imperfections were now more pronounced at close range. I pulled back, the setting not exactly conducive to intimate relations. In fact, it was the furthest thing from my mind. But for Francine, this is where she plied her trade.
"No ... no ..." I protested. "I'm a journalist. I only want a story, not sex." But then the thought occurred to me that she might be useful. "Maybe you could help me with the story."
Her watery eyes cleared for a moment as she assessed this opportunity. "Is there money in it for me?"
"I'll give you a $100 if I get a story I can write about." I wanted to get her off of me, and I didn't care that I was shading professional ethics by offering her money. I rationalized to myself that it was just helping her out. God knows she needed it.
"I thought you said you were almost out of money. Show me."
"I don't have it now. But I'll go to an ATM once I have the story."
"Give me something now."
I went through my wallet and gave her my last twenty dollar bill. She snatched it out of my hand and put it in the pocket of her robe.
"I'll have something for you tonight. Something you won't forget." She left as quickly as she came, leaving me wondering what I had gotten myself into ... again.
* * *
I spent the day talking with my neighbors and listening to their tales of woe. It was heartbreaking hearing all the different paths that led to this final dead end. One person was sexually abused as a child. Another had a mother who was a crack addict. Two were runaways from a foster home. Each person deserved their own story. Then there was Francine. She found me in the early evening and brought an old pillow with her to sit on in my tent. This time she was dressed a bit better, pink hot pants and a white tube top. She had a full bag from a nearby fast food restaurant and gave a burger and drink to me. I'm not a big fan of junk food, but I was thirsty and hungry, and wolfed down the burger and washed it down with the jumbo drink.
While we were eating Francine told me more about herself. She was raised in a wealthy suburb of Atlanta and was played in multiple sports in high school, including cross country and field hockey. She suffered a catastrophic injury playing field hockey, blowing out her right knee. She became addicted to the pain killers she was given after the surgery and eventually dropped out of school and ended up on the streets after becoming an addict. She soon discovered that heroin was a cheaper and better high, and spent the next ten years as a prostitute and junkie. One of her pimps had taken her to New Orleans to work. She ran away from him, and had been living in this encampment to hide from him. She had a few regular customers, and used that money, along with whatever she could raise from petty larceny and panhandling to support her various habits.
I felt sorry for her, but had to remind myself to keep up my guard because she probably saw me as nothing more than a mark. Apropos of that last thought, she asked me, "So, have you got the rest of my money?"
I needed to draw a line in the sand, otherwise she'd fleece me of my money before I got what I wanted. "Francine, I promised you the rest of the money when I had a story. I haven't gotten it yet."
She backed off. "Yeah ... yeah ... that's right. I've got a date tonight. You can come with me and watch. You'll have your story."
I was pretty sure my twenty dollars was gone and that I'd have to look elsewhere for my story. I wasn't really that interested in Franny's "date" or in going out at night. I sighed and told her OK, not having any expectations. She left and closed the flap on my tent.
I decided to make the best of the time I had left and went across the street to a small commercial area. I spotted a convenience store, and couldn't help but notice the steel bars protecting the door and windows. I ended up interviewing the owner, an elderly man of Pakistani descent, who had owned the store for over twenty years. He told me that the neighborhood had had its ups and downs, and that it was mostly down now. The crime had gotten worse, and with the homeless encampment across the street, most of his regulars went elsewhere for their business. He complained that the smell of the encampment often drifted his direction, and that when he opened his store he'd find people passed out on the sidewalk, or in his entranceway. He said that he would occasionally find a used syringe in front of his store. I bought a burrito for later and thanked him. On the way out I noticed he had an ATM in his store, so I withdrew $100 in the faint hope that Francine would actually come through on her promise.
The sun was setting, and the lengthening shadows gave the encampment an even more eerie feeling. I said hello to a few people I recognized and crawled into my tent. I couldn't believe I was still hungry after the burger and peeled back the aluminum foil on the burrito (which was piping hot) and was happily munching on it when Franny stuck her head in.
"Ready to go?" She was still wearing the white tube top (that was at least a size too small), and had changed into a purple miniskirt and matching candy sandals with four inch heels. All she was missing was a neon sign.
"Sure," I replied, replacing the wrapper around my dinner and leaving it on top of my sleeping bag. I was now wearing an old baggy sweatshirt, jeans, and canvas tennis shoes. We were quite the unmatched pair.
We went out to the street and waited.
"She picks me up here," Francine said confidently.
The late afternoon rush hour was in full swing, and the traffic was heavy. I watched the people walking by, and when that became boring I started watching the cars driving by. I checked my phone. It had already been fifteen minutes, and it was starting to get cold. I couldn't believe that Franny wasn't shivering.
"Is she coming?" I'm sure there was impatience in my voice. I'm not very good at waiting.
"Yes, yes, she'll be here. She's never missed a date."
After five more minutes I was just about to leave when a sleek black, late model German sedan pulled up the curb. The passenger side window rolled down. I could see a smartly dressed woman, probably in her forties, leaning over towards the window. She had short, lustrous white hair, immaculately coiffed, and what looked like professionally applied make-up.
"Who's she?" the woman asked, suspicion in her voice.
Franny leaned on the frame of the open car window. "A friend," Franny responded. "She just wants to watch."
The woman looked at me. I felt like her steel blue eyes were cutting through me to see who I really was. My eyes dipped down to the pavement. "Are you sure she doesn't want to join us?"
Franny looked at me. I shook my head. "No, I think she just wants to watch."
The woman paused for a moment. "OK, get in the back."
Franny opened the back door and slid all the way across the black leather bench seat. The smell of new car leather sure beat the odors that still clung to me from the underpass. I got in and closed the door. I felt like I was instantly transported to a much nicer place. I slipped off one of my shoes and sunk my toes into the deep pile carpeting. It did seem a bit strange, sitting next to a woman who was dressed liked a hooker being chauffeured by an elegant woman who was clearly out of both of our leagues.
We drove for about twenty minutes, in silence, before we entered an upscale neighborhood. By that time it was dark and the streetlights were on. We pulled into a driveway of a brick, Tudor style house, with ivy covered walls. The woman parked the car in the garage, out of the sight of prying neighbors. I anxiously at Franny. I certainly wasn't expecting to be taken to a ritzy neighborhood. Somehow the underpass was less threatening. She put her hand on top of mine. "It'll be fine," she whispered.