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A Supernatural Erotic Thriller by Amber Dawn

27 May Posted by in • Guest Writers | Comments Off on A Supernatural Erotic Thriller by Amber Dawn
A Supernatural Erotic Thriller by Amber Dawn

Amber Dawn’s second novel, Sodom Road Exit, is on the surface a supernatural erotic thriller. In the summer of 1990 , under the pressure of overwhelming debt , 23-year-old Star Martin is forced to leave Toronto for her hometown of Crystal Beach, Ont. Her return comes one year after the amusement park that made the town famous has closed for good. Already in decline, Crystal Beach feels haunted – and that’s before Star unwittingly unleashes Etta, the ghost of a professional “screamer” who died in a roller-coaster accident in the early 1940s. 

Beneath this story is another one, please enjoy this excerpt. 

From Chapter 26: Dirty Wine  

Amber Dawn

This is how Tamara Matveev asks me out on a date: Barbara Enrica Martin, 9 Loomis Street, is listed in the phone book. Tamara calls on Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m.—courteously avoiding the dinner hour. My mother’s cordless phone chimes out Beethoven’s Fifth. “Starla?”

“Yes.” I take the phone outside. “Tamara?”

“You got so many callers that you can guess it’s me first try, eh?”

“Just wishful thinking,” I say, easing myself into a yellow plastic Adirondack chair. Smooth one. I pick at the frayed edges of my jean shorts, grinning.

Tamara makes a breathy noise into the phone—not quite a snort or a sigh. “You wear old lady underwear and too much eye makeup in the daytime, but otherwise you are totally a babe.” She sounds like she’s reading from a script. “I don’t get a psychopath vibe from you. You’re not normal either, and I think that’s kinda cute. Weird and cute is my type. I’ve been thinking about you—a lot,” says Tamara. “It’s a pretty big deal that I’m calling you up even after you ran away from me. The movie theatre at the County Fair Mall went bankrupt. Top Gun was the last movie that showed there before it closed. I remember because it was the last time I was out with a guy. Do you catch my meaning? There’s no cinema in town. And no boyfriends on my dance card. So maybe you have some art film we can watch. Together. At my place. Like, on a date?”

I haven’t been asked out on very many dates. Most of my sexual encounters, especially with women, have transpired spontaneously, often drunkenly. Tamara’s is a quality proposition for all I know. I wrap a loose frayed string from my shorts around my index finger until the tip turns purple. “Sure,” I say. “I have Radley Metzger’s grindhouse adaptation of Therese and Isabelle. Or, better yet, we’ll watch some Cassavetes.” Worst lesbian line of all time. I have no idea what I’m doing.

The house where Tamara Matveev was born and raised is an old brick two-storey on Emerick Avenue, where all of the homes are old two-storeys, each set back in a deep front yard, each yard marked by a stately old oak or maple tree. I could live in this neighbourhood, I think. But single women never live in a neighbourhood like this. Not even grandmas who moved in as brides and outlived their husbands; they go to retirement apartments. This is a neighbourhood where men are perpetually seen mowing lawns, shovelling snow, or washing four-door cars.

Tamara appears in her doorway before I reach the end of her drive. “Yum,” she says taking the bottle of wine still wrapped in brown paper from my hand. “You gonna get me drunk and take advantage of me?”

My eyes dart, making sure no neighbours are within earshot. “Good idea. Thanks for suggesting it.”

Her mother’s kitchen is bluebell blue with a country cottage geese motif wallpaper border. Tamara tosses a cup of popcorn into a large saucepan waiting on the stove. “You really do wanna get me drunk,” she jokes as she uncorks the bottle of Ontario Malbec. “Fourteen percent!” She pours and smells a sip. “Leathery. I like a dirty wine.”

“I wasn’t sure if you’d find it too acidic.” Stop talking, I warn myself, she totally knows more about wine than you do. “I brought a couple of films, too”

“Cassa …?”

“Cassavetes, yeah. A Woman Under the Influence. You may not like it.” The first kernels begin to pop.

“What do you like about it?” Tamara looks intently at me. She is no longer wearing the strange artificial aqua-blue contacts she wore at the strip club. It will be a lot easier to make out with her and her natural brown eyes, I think.

“I guess I like the idea that I could lose control, rant and yell, like the leading lady …” Stop talking. “And someone would still love me.” Fuck a duck, I wrote a paper on the film’s aesthetic significance. I have a hundred other things I could say, but no, I have to sound like a needy nutcase. Tamara clamps her lips with her teeth but says nothing. What does that facial expression mean? The kitchen is loud with popping corn. She turns away to shake the pot on the stove. Little sparks shoot from the gas element. I watch her breasts jiggle with the motion and imagine myself running from her house. How long have I been on this date? Ten, twelve minutes, and already I’m choking.

She leads me unceremoniously into her bedroom, bumping her bedroom door open with her hip as she holds the bowl of popcorn in one hand and her wine glass in the other. A Butthole Surfers poster—the one with the three-legged Betty Page—is tacked to Tamara’s bedroom ceiling. “You still hang posters above your bed,” I smirk.

“Old habit.”

“Old? That tour was, like, last year.”“New poster, old habit.” Tamara shrugs. Her entire room is unapologetically teenage. A beat-up shop mannequin wearing a leather jacket stands in the corner. Blue string lights serve as mood lighting. I prop a pillow behind me and am oddly comforted by the PAC-MAN print pillowcases. She doesn’t live in a crystal palace; she’s human, like me. Tamara sets the huge bowl of popcorn between us on the bed. She cocks her head a little at the film’s unrefined, almost vulgar opening piano track. I’ve heard this soundtrack a hundred times—so I listen, as best as I can, to the sound of her chewing popcorn and sipping wine. Our fingers touch in the popcorn bowl, just like fingers are supposed to during a movie date. Gradually, Tamara’s lovely bare feet edge along the bed toward mine. She tucks her hair behind her ear, and her bare neck beckons. I finish the wine in my glass. On the TV set, Peter Falk says, “I don’t mind you being a lunatic.” He blows a kiss at Gena Rowlands from across their dinner table. This scene I’ve memorized, every word. Rowlands says, “Tell me what you want me to be, how you want me to be, I can be that.” Tamara’s eyes widen at that line. I run my hand along her thigh.

Sodom Road Exit by Amber Dawn. Published by Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018.  Excerpted printed with permission from the publisher.

Amber Dawn is a writer and creative facilitator living on unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, Canada). Her debut novel Sub Rosa (2010) won the Lambda Literary Award for Debut Lesbian Fiction and the Writers’ Trust of Canada Dayne Ogilvie Prize. Her memoir How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir (2013) won the Vancouver Book Award. Her poetry collection Where the words end and my body begins (2015) was a finalist for BC Book Award’s Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. She is the editor of two queer anthologies Fist of the Spider Women: Fear and Queer Desire (2009) and With A Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn (2005).

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