Maura walked up and down the aisles with her shopping list in hand. She hadn’t imagined a sex shop would have wide aisles. She imagined cubbyholes where men darted about like mice. She thought the lights would have been low like in a mortuary. The store’s glaring cheeriness surprised her. Its size reminded Maura of a dollar like a dollar store, and the syrupy voice of the spiky haired man behind the counter might have come from a fashionable boutique. She consulted her list written by Easy in a scrawl full of misspellings. A list! When was the last time she had used a handwritten list for shopping? Not since the days Big Mama Mamie sent her and Myesha to the store. Her Grandmother’s handwriting had been easy to read, simple, and innocent:
Pound of Stew meat
loaf of bread
“Check them eggs and make sure none of them are broke. And I want red onions, not them hot yella things you brought last time. And make sure they count out my change before you walk out that store or somebody’s going to get their butt whipped.”
Any deviation from the written list and Mamie’s favorite brands, earned the old lady’s wrath. “You don’t pay attention to nothing I say. But you’ll learn after this,” the old lady hollered as she wielded her strap.
It had taken a lot of courage for Maura to enter the doors of Adult Bazaar. On her first attempt she sat in the parking lot with Easy’s list balled in her fist. She had parked as far from the front door as possible and sat gazing at the red theatre marque lights in the window circling the two mannequins dressed in sheer tops, bikinis, and shiny thigh high boots. She watched couples enter and meander up and down the aisles as if they were shopping for snacks and paper towels. A group of teens had stood at the window peering in and giggling at the colorful jockstraps hanging from the ceiling. One took pictures. They snickered and jostled each other until the clerk chased them off. Maura unnerved, started her car and drove away.
This second night two weeks later was much easier. Perhaps it had been the glass of wine she had at dinnertime with her boss and team members that had boosted her courage, that Maura found herself standing under the Adult Bazaar’s bright lights staring at Easy’s list:
Tow headed dildo
strop on dido with a little end that go in your pussy
elbo greese lube
Whip 4 feet long
gage fro mouth
pantys you eat
a thing that hole your mouf open to suck dick
big box condums
A perplexed and woozy Maura approached the clerk. He glanced at her list, frowned, and looked at her. Then like a tour guide in a museum, he guided Maura through the aisles to shelves of carnal wares. He checked items off her list with a click of his pen.
“Okay, honey, here are all of our dildos over here. I don’t suggest any of our monster sizes if this is your first time. You or your significant other might not sit too well--no pun intended—after a night with the Eggplant. Now this nice leather whip has tiny beads at the end of each braid. The leather is soft, but if you’re really into extreme pain, let the beads do their thing. Ooh wee! Talk about fun on the plantation.” He looked at Maura. “Oh sorrree,” he winced at his bad joke. “Now let’s see. Here’s all our lube. We have a new line of scented Elbow Grease--just came in yesterday: Strawberry, chocolate, mango. Now what’s this thing … that hole your mouth…oh that would be our mouth gags. The mouth opening adjusts from small to extra large as you pull on the straps. Here are our blindfolds. Now these handcuffs do have a safety release mechanism in case your boyfriend forces you to swallow the key.” He winked, “It’s a favorite activity in scat circles.” The clerk shuddered and wrinkled his nose. “And here are the edible panties. We have chocolate, strawberry, and mint. Ah! This is new, a chocolate-strawberry combo flavor. What size do you need? You look like a petite.” He threw a pack into Maura’s shopping cart.
The clerk scanned each purchase by calling out the item and price, much to Maura’s embarrassment. She avoided eye contact with other shoppers. The tally totaled nearly three hundred dollars.
“I wish I had brought enough cash,” Maura said fishing around in her purse. She held onto her credit card as the clerk reached for it. “I’m not sure how these things show up on a credit card statement.”
The clerk noted her hesitation and said cheerily, “It’ll show up as Star Retail Stores, Dearie. Neither the authorities or your mother will suspect a thing.”
It took two shopping bags to hold all of this new life. That’s what Easy had called their arrangement when they all three shopped for a King-sized bed at Crate and Barrel a few days later.
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