I've been on welfare for the past ten years. I look for jobs as much as I can, but when the nearest nine to five's a two hour bus ride away and wants a college degree just to consider you, it's hard. I still look, but let's be honest, the odds are against me.

But a guy's got to have something to do, right? So my thing to do is porn. I got nothing else and I'm a man, right? But my internet connection's shit because fucking Comcast has a monopoly around here, so I can't watch porn online like a normal person. I have to rent it from a shop awhile away.

And the worst part of it is that I can barely afford it. I can't afford to get laid, and that's bad enough, but I can't even afford to buy my own porn. It's like the fuckin' cherry on a pile of horse shit. I pay rent for my shitty studio apartment and I pay for my food and then I've got about a hundred dollars to take me through the month without going insane.

So I rent porn. And not the good stuff, from Evil Angel, Bangbros and all the other big name studios. No, that stuff is top shelf, so it's apparently too good for people like me. I go for the bottom shelf, a dollar-a-day rentals, from the small studios. Half the time, you can tell that they're shot with GoPro and mashed together with Windows Movie Maker. I guess I'm supporting indie artists, but who gives a shit? Most of their stuff sucks. I can't even get hard to it sometimes.

But I can't stop coming back for more. And last month, I got into real trouble, because I didn't have the dollar in my pocket that I needed to rent one of those crap DVDs.

Tried to talk to the clerk. Asked him to cut me a break, since I'm a regular and all that. But he wasn't having any of it. Fuckin' hippie. He's the reason why this country's going to Hell in a handbasket. Anyway, he kept saying no, no and no again, no matter what I said until I finally reached into my pocket, grabbed something and slammed it on the counter. I didn't even know what it was.

"There," I said. "What'll that get me?"

It was a quarter and a dime and that was all. Thirty five fuckin' cents, all I had to my name. At first, I thought he was going to laugh and kick me out of the shop, but then he pointed down at the bottom shelf of a rack of CBT and pissing stuff. I don't usually get that since it's too expensive, but there was one DVD down there that was only thirty cents a night.

You know how they say you get what you pay for? Well, it's true. This movie... when they printed the cover, they must have misaligned the paper sheets, because everything was a little crooked. There were a couple of typos on the back, too, and the title was the most generic title I'd ever seen in my life. Obviously I'm not going to say what it is, but if you guessed something like POV Mexican Blowjob Slut, you'd be pretty close to the money.

The cover photo was of this dark Mexican chick with a really nasty snaggletooth, wearing a bikini and looking at the camera. Now usually, porn cover photos are... exciting, you know? The girl will have an inviting expression on her face like she wants to be there, or she'll be getting fucked, or something. But this one was like... nothing was going on with it. Nothing at all. She was there but she wasn't there. I can't explain it any other way.

Whatever. I took the DVD and told the clerk to keep the change.

It's a long walk home. It always is. But I kind of like it. Drives the anticipation up, you know? Gets the blood flowing. So by the time I got home, I was in the mood, just like always. I dropped my shorts, popped in the DVD, opened up a bag of Cheetos, and started to jerk it.

That's one good thing about the movie. There's no friggin' DVD menu to bother with, it just gets right into it. The movie is shot POV style, so there's this dude kind of laying down in a room of some kind. The chick from the cover walks through a door with a big frosted glass panel, kind of dances a little bit, and then crawls towards the camera. She starts to feel up the guy's shorts, before she unzips 'em and starts to do her thing. No story, no bullshit, nothing. Great, right?

Maybe not. To be honest, she's not really good at the whole blowjob thing. The dude's cock doesn't look that big, but she can't throat it, not even when he puts his hand on the back of her head and helps her out. Even when he slaps her and uses both hands she can't take it all. I guess I got to give her credit for trying, though. Most chicks won't go to the point of crying and puking through their noses like that. 

I got off about halfway through the video, but I kept eating Cheetos and watching anyway. Nothing better to do, I guess. Plus, it was kind of funny seeing that dumb bitch choke like that. But I started to notice something really weird about the video.

She kept looking off-screen. Editing takes care of that in the professional stuff, but even for a homemade porno, she looked off-screen a lot. And not at the dude who was filming, either. She kept looking... above, and to the right of him. And every time she did that, she'd kind of wince and get back to what she was doing like she had something to prove. It was like there was something there that scared her, a lot.

And then I realized something else. The room the film was shot in... I knew where it was. I worked in that building for three years.

The trucking company I used to work for leased it. Now that was ten years ago, and I heard the company shut down after they fired me. Probably because they fired me. But I still remembered where the building was, so I figured, damn, why not check the place out? I'd never been to a porn studio before, and besides, I'd get a kick out of seeing my old office used as a porn set. Hell, if I showed up, maybe they'd give me a job. 

Now, it's a ways to that part of the city. A long ways. Probably eight, nine miles, and I don't got a car or a bike, so I had to walk it. But hey, it's like an adventure, right? So I grabbed my flashlight and a beer and got going.

Bugs were fuckin' everywhere and it was probably eighty degrees, eighty percent humidity, even though it was after eight o'clock at night. Whatever, it's Florida. I'm used to it. Eventually I got to the building, and I got pissed off right away.

The damn thing was shuttered. Probably had been for years. There were plants growing over it and shit and half the windows were busted up and the other half were boarded. I cursed and threw my bottle at the front door, and wouldn't you know it... the damn thing creaked open.

So I went inside. It was dark, so I turned on my flashlight, and I'm glad I did that right away. The floor was covered with needles and shit. Literal, human shit. The place stunk up a storm, but I figured, hey, I've come this far. It'd be a shame to turn back now. So I keep going.

Someone else must have leased the place after my company left it. The layout had changed a lot, and they converted the lobby to even more office rooms and cubicles. There were a lot of corners there, you know? A lot of things I couldn't see. A lot of places where anything might pop out and friggin' kill me. A bum with a knife, a black punk with a gun, a methhead, anything... But fuck it, right? I wasn't going to turn back.

I made my way through the lobby. Or, what was once the lobby. Since I was the only person there and since the whole building is just plain concrete block, my footsteps echoed a lot. At least, I hope they were echoes.

I got to the hallway that led to my office, and that was the worst part of it. My flashlight's not that bright, and the hallway is long, so you can't really see the end of it when it's dark like that. I admit it, I got kind of scared at that point. I walked as quietly as I could, and tried to hold my breath. My flashlight was a dead giveaway, but I figured it was worth it. Going down that hallway in pitch blackness... I dunno if I could've done it.

Eventually I got to my office. The number painted above the door must've faded years ago, but I recognized it anyway. Fifth on the right, and the only one with the glass panel over the door. They took out the solid door after some bitch from HR almost caught me jacking it during my lunch break. My own friggin' lunch break. 

So I opened the door and found... nothing. Just nothing. Not even dust.

That's what tipped me off that something was weird about the place. Didn't take me a minute to realize what. The whole room smelled like laundry. Like bleach. And when I looked real closely at the floor trim, I could see that the bottom edges of it were kind of stained, kind of eaten away at. Like the whole friggin' floor had been doused with bleach. I ran the spot of my flashlight along where the floor met the wall to see if there were any other clues, and that's when I saw it. That ugly yellow snaggletooth, right there on the edge of the floor.

I picked it up and had a look at it. The blood on it was still purple, like it hadn't been out in the air for that long.

I walked out of the room, holding it in my hand. But I kept smelling the bleach, and when I looked down the hallway, I didn't see any dust, or needles, or shit there, either. So I put the tooth in my pocket and kept going.

That clean trail led all the way down the hall. Like, all the way. All the way up to a door that I fuckin' kicked down and then it continued down these old wooden stairs and then it just ended. All of a sudden, the smell of bleach ended. But that was fine. There was a really obvious trail through the dirt and the gravel out toward the woods, and then there was a gap in the bushes, and then there was a creek, and then...

Well, and then is the reason I don't watch porn anymore. Or rent blowup dolls, or any of that shit. It's eight or nine miles to the building and I don't got a car or a bike, but I kind of like it. Drives the anticipation up, you know? Gets the blood flowing.

Written by Alex Ross Writer
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