Coco Darling. Say that name a few times. You probably think it belongs to an exotic dancer. If so, you’re right. How could it not? Notice how your tongue lasciviously licks the back of your front teeth when you say her last name. Ah, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s hard not to fall for a woman with such a name. It’s even harder if you take into account the fact that she earns a living spinning around a pole in a g-string. Well, she used to dance, right up until she had a little accident and two guys threw her in a dumpster. Don’t worry, she woke up in a world full of trash, befriended a fly and went on to become a queen. I know because Constance Ann Fitzgerald wrote all about it in a book titled Trashland A Go-Go.
If you’re familiar with this section, you’re probably wondering why I’m referring to a character from a book as if she was a person. The only thing I can say is this: watch Cool World or Who Framed Roger Rabbit and get off my case. Now allow me to tell you how I was able to talk to, and then more or less get a date with, the woman of my dreams.
About a month ago I spent a few days in California. I’d love to tell you why, but that would most likely ruin the excellent work the good folks at the Witness Protection Program have done recently. In any case, I walked into a bar and ran into Constance. Who hadn’t seen each other since our band, Boys Can Be Riot Grrrls Too!, dissolved. We hadn’t kept in touch, but I’d read her book. Constance was bummed because she’d just put a restraining order against Henry Rollins. I comforted her for a while. Then, when she went to the bathroom, the creep that lives inside me looked through her phone. A name popped up: Coco Darling. I ran outside and dialed. A woman picked up and this is what went down.
GI: Coco? Is that you?”
CD: Yes, it’s me. Who the hell is this?
GI: I’m…I’m a friend of Constance. Could I ask you a few questions…for a magazine? CD: Sure!
GI: Okay…How has life been since you decided to stay in Trashland?
CD: I know it sounds kind of ridiculous to say that living in a trash heap is the best thing that ever happened to me, but it’s true. I’m the queen here. I get to do whatever I like, whenever I like and not a single person questions me. You can’t really beat that, can you?
GI: NO, you certainly can’t. Have other people tried to reach you now that you’re a character in a book?
CD: Oh, sure! Damned internet… Girls I used to work with looking to ride a little coat-tail and some exes here and there pop up just “wondering how things are.” It’s a bore. I didn’t like them then, and chances are I won’t like them now.
GI: And how do you feel about Constance fictionalizing you?
CD: I wish she would have asked my permission first, that’s for damn sure. It’s sort of invasive and awkward. Seeing someone else’s impression of you can be…interesting. Do I really swear that much?
GI: You make drunk truckers blush, gorgeous. Er…since those two douchebags left you in that dumpster, how do you feel toward the opposite sex?
CD: I’m pretty skeptical. I guess I always have been. I try to remember that not all men are terrible pieces of shit like Arnie and Victor. It’s much less of a problem now that I am in charge. Go ahead, TRY and disrespect me. See what it gets you.
GI: Do you miss your…profession?
CD: You know, at first, I really thought I was going to. Not the job itself so much as the attention. But I have more attention here than I could have dreamed of. Now I relish my few hours of solitude and want for nothing. No rent, no sleazy boss or grope-y dirtbags.
Life off the pole is pretty fucking great.
GI: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve found in Trashland?
CD: Amelia Earhart. We have brunch every Tuesday.
GI: Awesome! And what’s Rudy up to these days?
CD: Sadly, he died shortly after I was crowned. We had a nice service for him and buried him in the pornography heap on the west end of Trashland. He would have wanted it that way, the little perv.
GI: Speaking of pervs, what would your perfect prince be like? You know, besides having the common sense to not throw you away like an old hamburger.
CD: Right? That’s kind of a give in. “All I want in life is a guy who’s going to cover me in filth.” Excuse me? It’s funny, because although a lot of ladies don’t come outright and SAY that, they seem to agree on some subconscious level. All I really want is someone I enjoy spending time with and vice versa. Someone interesting, adventurous and filled with great stories. Cute doesn’t hurt though…
GI: I’m not cute, but adventure’s my middle name and I’ve got stories out the wazoo. If I found my way there…would you like to get some coffee or…some Fernet?
CD: You silver tongued bastard. You’re buying.
There you have it, folks. Maybe I dreamed all that in my drunken stupor (Constance can drink an alcoholic Irish powerlifter under the table), but the conversation lives in my heart. Now I only have to find a way to make it to Trashland…
Note: The author would like to thank Constance Ann Fitzgerald for maybe, in an alternate universe, channeling Coco Darling so she could answer some questions.
Gabino Iglesias is a writer and journalist currently living in Austin, Texas. His work has appeared in The New York Times, the Austin Post, Business Today magazine, San Antonio Magazine, Bizarro Central, CultureMap Austin, Divergent Magazine, MicroHorror, El Nuevo Dia and a few anthologies. He’s also a book reviewer for HorrorTalk, Horrorphilia, the Lovecraft eZine and most recently joined Black Heart Magazine as its new Poetry Editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias.