The Whores in O’Reilly’s Parking Lot

photo by Scot Sothern

photo by Scot Sothern

There is a damp wind coming in from the west and I’ve got my window down. I’m going south on Western below the Hollywood Freeway. A smattering of whores in sparse and suggestive attire are curbside discussing tonight’s menu with men in cars. I pass a couple of cuties then wheel into a strip mall at Lemon Grove Ave. A long-legged dusky babe wearing mostly nothing has her head in the window of some other guy’s car. Her big bare ass jiggles like gelatin on canned ham. She backs from the car and gives the guy the finger and I can see the glint of red on her fingernail. I suppose negotiations have faltered. The guy drives off with a petulant squeak of rubber.

On the corner across the side street is an O’Reilly Auto Parts store with a big green-clover logo and a legend: Professional Parts People. When I was a kid in the Missouri Ozarks, I lived a block from a guy my age whose family owned and operated O’Reilly Auto Parts, which at that time was only a local concern. A few years ago, in a conversation with my brother, I found out it’s the same guy, and he now runs a chain of auto parts stores all across America. The babe from the curb and two other whores are taking a smoke break in O’Reilly’s parking lot and it seems somehow ironic.

A skinny girl in goopy red lipstick, tits and ass under a clingy thin tee, is chewing gum like her teeth are spring loaded. A short nondescript girl stands there, like she is not there at all. The babe with red fingernails wears a blonde wig, a short elastic skirt and long heels. I’m feeling adventurous and it’s a nice night so I collect my Nikon and get out of the car.

I’ve gone a couple of yards when I see a fuck-head on a stingray bicycle peddling under the streetlights, a Dodger’s jersey and hat, a cigarette in his mouth. He’s a pimp or a pusher or the neighborhood watch. He’s young but not a kid and I have no desire to engage him in social intercourse. He rides a circle around the girls in O’Reilly’s lot. He barks at the blonde then flat-hands the back of her head hard enough to make the other girls flinch. She takes off clacking her heels back to Western, back to work. The pimp pops a wheelie and peddles away like a man fortified. I resume forward motion and if I still smoked cigarettes I’d light one now. The gum-chewing girl crosses the street and I think she’s coming to me so I tell her hey, how’s it going?  She stops and looks at me bottom to top. “Oh, hell no,” she says, then walks on by.

Now the short unassuming girl crosses the street. She’s not wearing makeup and it looks like she might have a shiner, like maybe bicycle boy popped her one. I meet her halfway and she asks me do I want a date? She’s as high as I’ve ever been and wobbly on her feet.

I tell her I want to take her picture and I’ve got a twenty for her time.

“Gimmie the twenty and I’m a suck you off.”

“No, thanks. Anyway, sorry, let’s go over here by the car.” I guide her out of the street to my car. “I’ll just take a couple of pictures here.”

I open the back door and give her the twenty and she takes a seat and scowls at me.

“Okay, that’s good.  I get her in position and make an exposure and she tells me that’s all no more.

“Yeah, okay,” I say. “You’re free to go.”

She looks at the ground and she walks away and I’m pretty sure she calls me a fucking asshole.

About a month later, same street, same time of night, I don’t recognize her at first. I pull to the curb and lower the passenger-side window, she walks over, puts her hands on the car door leans in and looks in at me.

“You lookin for a date?”

“Sort of, I photographed you a while back.

“You looking for a date or not?”

I tell her I guess not and then I turn around in O’Reilly’s and head north up to Sunset.

Scot's first book, Lowlife, was released in 2011, and his memoir, Curb Service, is out now. "The Whores in O'Reilly's Parking Lot" is also part of a collection of stories, STREETWALKERS, that will be published by powerHouse Books in January, 2016. You can find more information on his website.

Follow Scot on Twitter: @scotsothern