The idea for this story came to me on a camping trip to Arrowhead Provincial Park, near Huntsville, Ontario. “Red Light 262” was originally set in a provincial park but was moved to Grand Haven, Michigan in later revisions. I was also inspired by my Big Rig Adventure, travelling to California and back through fifteen states.
Moans escaped through the mesh windows—his and hers—but couldn’t be heard by nearby campers above the gurgling and gargling of the waste truck, sucking sludge from of the outhouse up the hill. It was early June, my first-night foray into campground prostitution.
Across the highway from the campground’s main gates was Lola’s, where miscreants, campers, and fishermen gathered. Al owned the bar, as well as five cabins that ran alongside, edging the river behind. I talked a couple of waitresses and one housekeeper into working for me on the side. Most of the johns came through Al. He could spot the kind of guy—The Lonesome Larrys, he called them—who might be interested. I too became adept at spotting potential clients. When there was a lull in business, I’d walk down to the main beach, find frat boys playing Frisbee or single dads watching their kids swim. I turned a few away, telling them that just because they were paying for a service didn’t mean a woman was going to suck a cock that hadn’t been washed in three days—swimming didn’t count.
Note: this story had fifteen rejections from literary magazines and journals before finding a home on the prairie—a reminder of the importance of patience, perseverance, and the belief in one’s work.
“Red Light 262” is included in my untitled second collection of short fiction. My first, Men and the Drink, is under consideration at several publishers.