$500 for $20

I am submitting “$20” as a short story to a local writing contest and have made some new edits. Here is the latest, more polished version.


It’s a little awkward trying to come up with a fake name to protect his identity because I don’t remember his actual name.

I was standing alone on the patio of the gay bar that stays open long after all of the others close. The fags I came with had pumped me full of whiskey and compliments all night, but now were nowhere to be found. I was feeling dejected in Anchorage, recently back from college and missing the kind of queers you find in big cities. I had just ripped off an itchy $9 witch wig and washed an eyeliner moustache off in the bathroom mirror. Maybe that’s why I looked acceptable to him. Let’s call him Henry.

I had made eye contact with Henry between making conversation with the gorgeous old fag from Chile and sipping random drinks I found unattended on the wooden picnic tables. He was pretty unremarkable. Tall, average white dude, crew cut, black hoodie, five o’clock shadow. But I kept catching him looking at me and was curious why. I’m femme enough to give off the straight vibe, sure, but I haven’t been approached by a man in years. So I found myself leaning up against the wall next to him. We talked for a while and he asked me if I wanted to “hang out”. I knew I was too drunk and bored to pass up this potential adventure for going back to the cold van I was living in at the time.

Henry is in the Air Force and very proud of his Irish heritage (maybe I should have named him Liam). He tells me such things while we walk to the gas station so he can buy cigarettes. I grab a bottled water and a gingersnap cookie and he buys. As we walk back towards downtown he says, “You have the most clear green eyes. Make my eyes clear like that. Tell me how to make my eyes clear like yours.” I can’t tell if we’re having a special moment, or if he’s just drunk or high. He says he has a lot of money and would rather get a hotel room than take me to his downtown home. When I question the idea he tells me it’s because he has a pit-bull. I try to explain to him that I work with dogs, a pit-bull isn’t an issue for me (is it for other women???) But he insists, so we ride around and around in a cab looking for a vacancy on a Friday night, and finally end up at a run down motel with holes punched in the head boards.

Henry turned on the cable and I shouted from the bathroom for him to find some porn. There was a jacuzzi tub that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in ten years. Despite that, I craved a hot bath so I started the water, got naked and came out of the bathroom proclaiming that we would have a hot tub together. Henry did not argue. He did whine that the water was too hot though and I told him to “man up, soldier.” We eased into the steaming water, the only light coming from the street through the bars on the windows. I hadn’t told Henry that I was gay yet, so when we were soaking in the tub he put his hand on my knee. I decided I was ok with it. We talked about his wife. Apparently, this was the “pit-bull” he spoke of. He said they hated each other but the Air Force gave them some kind of benefits if they stayed married. I told him he should get a divorce. He put his head back and sighed, agreeing. Henry got too hot and left the tub. I relaxed in it a little longer and when I got out I found him sprawled on the bed. I laid down and closed my eyes, heavy from the heat.

We talked a little more, or I should say he talked more. “You’re really cool,” he said, “you’re so…. chill.” I laughed at him. My eyes were still closed and suddenly I felt him leaning over me. He rested his hand on my stomach and started sucking on my nipples out of nowhere in the middle of our conversation. I don’t know why, but somehow I was ok with this too. I figured if I just kept my eyes closed I could enjoy a little nipple sucking, why not?! I laughed and told him he wasn’t doing it hard enough. He got all timid and I remembered why I don’t like having sex with dudes. But, he was so nervous and kinda dorky that it was almost cute. He grabbed his dick and I decided to start masturbating in front of him. He was mesmerized. I actually got a little turned on by the thought of him watching me and told him he could fuck me, with his hand only. He didn’t get it at first, but with a little direction it turned out ok. “You taste really good,” he said at one point, pulling his fingers from his mouth. It was then I remembered I was still kinda on my period. He tried to fuck me with his dick a few times and I had to push him away and tell him no, like he was a dog or something. At one point, I had a little reality check in which I realized this burly bro could rape me if he wanted to and I was a little nervous for a second. I ended up coming three times and he was in awe watching me ejaculate. “I’ve never seen that in real life,” he said. I made him masturbate to orgasm and he was amazed that two people could have sex without penile penetration. Like it was some new secret trick. Afterward, I watched his face relax and then slowly turn into a grimace as he surely thought about his wife. “It’s alright,” I said touching his shoulder, “you’re human. It’s not the end of the world. Nothing is forever.” He nodded. Where were all these sagely words coming from?

Before we had arrived at the motel he had been saying “I’ll never lie to you, I’m a very honest person.” I didn’t think he was a bad guy and I decided I wanted to be honest with him now that we had been physical. “I should probably tell you that, uh… I’m a lesbian.” I blurted out. He looked confused and I braced myself. “Whoa, you’re like the coolest lesbian I’ve ever met…” He tried to kiss me and awkwardly missed. “You look kinda like Henry Rollins” I said as he pulled away. He didn’t know who that was.

I was starting to sober up and decided that if I was going to have some identity crisis because I just let a dude bro put his hand inside me that I should do it in the safety of my own van. He told me that he should go home, but that I could stay if I promised not to break anything. I told him I would rather just walk back to my van. I think he felt embarrassed to check out only a few hours after he had checked in. We gathered our belongings and I started toward the door. “Wait,” he said. I turned around and saw him shuffling through his wallet. He pulled out a twenty-dollar bill. “Take this,” he said. WTF? I told him “no”. He insisted. “Do you realize what you’re implying?” I asked. He told me it wasn’t like that, he just wanted to make sure I got home safe (even though my van was two blocks away). I wasn’t going to turn down cash. Henry walked me to my van. “Well, maybe I’ll see you around sometime,” he said and smiled. “Yeah.” I lied. “Are you sure you’ll be alright out here?” he said as he watched someone shuffling around behind a dumpster. “I’ll be fine.” I nodded. As he walked away he turned over his shoulder and said, “Well, if anything happens just scream and I’ll come back.”


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