1987. It’s summertime on Victory Boulevard, a hundred-and-one degrees, dry and windy. I’m in the Camaro with the air conditioner on, playing in traffic. I’ve got two hundred dollars and I’m on my way to buy some cocaine. At a light I see a working San Fernando Valley girl. She’s got mean eyes and her hands are fisted in terminal anger. I figure I can brighten up her day so I pull to the curb and zip down the window.
“Hey, How’s it going? Are you for hire?”
“Am I for hire? What do you want? I got no time to talk about things like that. You want to party then you got to tell me how much money you gonna give me.”
“You got big dreams, don’t you?”
“What do you want?”
“I want to take your picture.”
“Nobody ain’t gonna picture my face. You better just go on, I got real business I gotta do.”
She turns to walk away and I should just let her go. “Forty bucks and I got a mask you can wear so nobody knows it’s you.”
“You some kind of freak?”
“Yeah, but that’s beside the point. I just want to take a couple of pictures, forty bucks.”
She comes back and gets into the car and I put my foot on the gas.
She tells me her name is TaTa as in goodbye, so-long motherfucker. She directs me into a residential maze of ugly two-bedroom homes in Van Nuys. She tells me to stop in front of a place I wouldn’t want to live yet better than the place where I’m living. We sit there a while not talking, her watching the house for whatever reason, and me thinking about how good looking I am. Finally she has me drive around to the alley and park in the back. I bring my backpack with camera and accessories and we go through a chain-link gate to the back door which is open and unhinged; looks like someone used a crowbar rather than a key. Through a small kitchen that smells like sour milk and into a living room that smells like incense and sex. I scan the room for a good background and she tells me not to get the camera out before I pay her and don’t forget I can’t photograph her face. I give her the money and the Bedouin mask I carry, in lieu of censor strips, in my backpack. She strips she puts it on.
My Nikon is loaded and the ready light on the flash is green. I stand her on a couch and make a few exposures. She’s uninspired, at best a dutiful model but I got my picture so it doesn’t matter. My dick is also uninspired so I figure my job here is done. She says, “You don’t want nothin else, how bout I suck you off?”
She seems suddenly interested and she gets down on her knees. She still has on the mask on and she starts rubbing my dick through the denim and then unbuckling my belt. I figure I’ve got nothing to lose until she starts tugging down my Levi’s and reaching around the back to lift my wallet at the same time. I retrieve my wallet and tell her she needs to practice her pickpocket techniques and she tells me that’s what she was doing. I ask her if she still wants to blow me and she tells me no fucking way.
I get my pants back in place and I tell her no hard feelings and does she want to stay here or want me to drop her back where I found her. She opts for the latter and asks me to give her a couple of minutes and do I want to buy some pills?
“What kind of pills?”
“You know, pills I don’t know what kind. I’ll show you. Wait till I get dressed.” She takes her clothes and goes into the bathroom.
I go into the kitchen and a few minutes later I'm whistling Sukiyaki and looking in the fridge which is surprisingly well stocked, when TaTa comes racing in telling me we gotta go right now, this very second. She is on her way out the backdoor and I think I hear someone coming in the front door. I'm spooked by her sincerity and realize, as I suspected all along, she doesn’t really live here and I’m an accessory to breaking and entering. I follow her out in a run and get to the car before she does. I crank it up as she jumps into the passenger seat. We zoom away and I take her back to her corner where she shows me a brown prescription bottle of blue oval tabs of Xanax and tells me ten dollars apiece. I give her five for two and then drive back toward Burbank to buy my cocaine.