#DarlaPomPom [excerpt] – Suzanne Crain Miller



excerpt of an upcoming novel by Suzanne Crain Miller 


“What pornography is really about, ultimately, isn’t sex but death.”

Susan Sontag






     I will begin by telling you what this isn’t. This isn’t a beach read. It isn’t a tuck yourself into bedtime story. It is not something you’d want your future daughter-in-law to tell you in a private moment when she thinks you know each other well enough to trust you. It isn’t a story you’d ever want your own daughter to confess to you as you’re sitting by her bedside in a psych ward after her failed suicide attempt. The one you’d say you never saw coming, but when you look back you knew was inevitable. It’s certainly not a story my own parents could ever survive hearing.

     It’s an epic sort of tale. A death-defying kind of narrative of two girls – one Southern, one Midwestern. An account of how one DarlaPomPom and Mandy Minnesota made it from point A to point B while narrowly escaping the very clutches of hell. Well, how one of them did, at least…





Way way back …




      “Here. Read this over, then you can ask me a question.” Momma tells me handing me a book.

      “I thought you said we’d go to the toy store?” I whine.

      “We will. We will. Just read this first.” she instructs then scurries out of the room.

      Before today, I can’t remember my Momma ever making me read a certain book. I always get to choose what I read. Daddy does most of the bedtime reading to me before I go to sleep. I’ve never laid eyes on this one before. It’s old and brown, without a glossy cover, the side reads: The Nature of Love.

      Opening it up, the very first picture is of a man and woman standing naked, side by side, holding hands. They look like Adam and Eve what with her holding an apple in one hand, plus there’s a garden in the background. All put together, it’s clear what has got to be a book about s-e-x. The furthest from the thing I want a book to be about, being a third grader and all, but I also know I brought this on myself.

      Last week, Terry Ann, this girl in my class who has an older brother, snuck one of his special magazines in her backpack.  A whole group of us girls slunk behind the coat rack to get a peek at it after everyone else had gone out to recess.

      “This is how you gotta look if you want to make babies.” Terry Ann educated us running her hand over the picture of a red haired woman with huge breasts and a lot of hair down where her pee comes out.

      “This is how they have s-e-x.” she whispered.

      I kept thinking she’d tell more than just how we should look. That if I hung around long enough she’d tell me what exactly s-e-x was. She didn’t though. Everyone else acted like they already knew. I decided I’d ask my Great Gran, Ma we call her, who keeps me after school most days.

       Ma is a worrier. Always has been according to Daddy, and so on that day when I up and asked her out of the clear blue if she ever had s-e-x, her hair looked like it turned ten shades whiter right then and there. We were standing at her kitchen sink. I was helping her with dishes. I quickly stuck my hands out, under the bowl she was drying so it didn’t fall and break.

      “Never!” she nearly shouted.

      My cheeks got hot.  I went on washing the dishes, rinsing them and handing them to her, but I couldn’t quit thinking about how things didn’t add up. 

      “But what about Pa Dean and Uncle Frank? How did you have them then?” I needed to know.

      With this, she looked up, the sun shining through the window down onto her face, closed her eyes like she had to pray on it, and then said, “The good Lord just gave ‘em to us.”

      Even though that answer wouldn’t satisfy any curious kid, I dropped it, went home and made up my mind to forget about it for the time being. Ma and Momma must’ve talked though because now here I stand holding the Nature of Love. I’d gone and asked so I’m about to get answered.

      The drawings inside remind me of Daddy’s wood working books. Diagrams of parts and how they fit into other parts. In most of the pictures, the woman has her eyes closed, but the man has his eyes open. I wonder why he get to see what’s going on and she doesn’t. She looks like somebody’s momma or aunt with a little pudge on her, not like the women in Terry Ann’s magazine with the big boobs and teeny tiny waists.

      One of the biggest drawings is of this thing that looks like a tadpole. The book labels it sperm. It’s trucking across the page straight for what looks like an eyeball. The book labels it an egg. The tadpole comes from the man’s thingy, or what the book names a penis, and swims up through the woman’s hooha, what the book calls a vagina.

      I’m not sure if the book’s trying to make you want to do the s-e-x or not. None of it looks like anything I’d ever want to do. Even the drawings don’t seem too happy to be there on that paper doing what it is they’re doing. So many thoughts whiz through my head and I’m only going to get one question. I have a million! No way can I narrow it down, but I know Momma. One is all I’ll get and I know I should consider myself lucky to get that.

      When I call to her to tell her I’m done, she appears in the doorway, head hung, like she’s being led off to prison.

      “Well?” Momma squeaks.

      Any question will be a sacrifice. I have a mind to ask her how long the man’s penis has to stay in a woman’s vagina but for some reason as soon as she faces me, I change my mind. I suddenly get to thinking about this one television show I’ve seen and make my question about that.

      “Yeah, I’m wondering what do gay people do because they have a penis and a penis or maybe a vagina and a vagina so how do their babies get made?”

      The look on Momma’s face is an expression I’ve never seen and probably never will again. She hurries up, gathers her purse and shoos me out of the house to the toy store. Toys win out over s-e-x talk with any eight-year old.

      I don’t know what will happen to the Nature of Love.  Maybe she borrowed it from a friend and has to return it? The doll I pick out looks great in my bedroom. She has a white sun hat and silky brown hair I can brush. She’s wearing this short yellow checkered sundress. When I chose her Momma said she looks real regal. When I asked her what that meant she said it’s what people say about queens and kings.

      Every day when I see her, I think about how that’s true. My doll does look like a queen, but mostly I think about how she doesn’t look like she belongs to me. She looks like she belongs to a little girl who’s question about the s-e-x book would be about kissing or how you’ll know which boy is the one for you.

      I don’t know why I’m not that kind of girl. I just know I’m not. Know it deep down. Mainly, when I see my doll, I think about how I still don’t have a clue what it is exactly that gay people do.  


Real time…




     There are hours, days, weeks, hell there are years where nothing happens. Everything is boring. You’re just doing your thing. Going through motions in usual places, seeing the same faces, eating the same food. Nothing on the horizon. There those other times, hours, days, weeks and years when everything is coming at you all at once. You’re like Dorothy in that Kansas tornado, clutching little Toto to your chest, fighting whatever nature itself has cooked up for you. You’re trying like anything just to get to that storm cellar and hug your Auntie Em. 

     As soon as I hear Diamond whispering, “Wake up. D, come on. I got somethin you gotta see. Darla, come on!”  My gut tells me I’m due for one of those kind of weeks. Long overdue. I better hunker down and keep away from the windows.

      And it makes total sense. My Daddy always has believed that when you have something good happen, something equally bad is coming. He said it’s the black and the white of things. He isn’t into Asian stuff enough to call it the Yin and the Yang of it, but he just says that good and bad are bedfellows.

     Soon as Randall told me we got invited to have a booth at the A.V.N Expo this year, I was so happy! And when he pulled up the official layout and I saw that I’m going to be right down from my all-time favorite idol, Jenna J., I thought if there’s a God who doesn’t mind porn, he’d picked me to be among his angels.

     That feeling didn’t last long though. I heard Daddy in the back of my head. I heard him loud and clear.

     “Slow down now, lil’ girl. It’s fine to celebrate the good, but you better brace yourself for the bad it’s gonna bring. Cain’t have one without the other.” he reminded.

     So, I know. I know full well, that whatever’s got Diamond up this early is ushering in the bad that’s been due me. At first, I lay in bed hoping if I don’t open my eyes she’ll just go away then I feel her sitting up against my back. I roll over.

     “God! Diamond, I was up til 2:00 with the Monk.” I whine, eyes still closed.

     This should put the guilt on her because it was supposed to be her night to have that asshole, but she needed to go shopping for her son’s birthday so I did her a solid. Damn guy takes forever to even get close to getting his rocks off. Sometimes he just wants to hear your voice. I hate those – the listeners. The loneliest of the lonely who require so much lip service before they even unzip their pants. High maintenance jobs. Almost always bald, inconvenient, and you better believe you’re going to have to imagine Brad Pitt or James Franco are on the other side of that screen to even have a chance of getting yourself off.

     “Forget that limp dick motherfucker. We gotta talk!” Diamond hisses.

          She gives my side a sharp jab with her elbow causing me to hop up, flop my feet onto the floor. She’s right. Time to greet another day. I lean down and pull out my Hello Kitty rolling suitcase from under the bed, hoisting it up beside us. I start packing as Diamond rambles on about something to do with Sam. I’m trying to listen, but as I throw in my t-shirts, jeans and a few thongs, I’m having a flashback of another day – the day I packed this same piece of luggage. I wasn’t headed anywhere like where I’m headed now, but off to college instead.

          There were no thongs to pack that day. Hell, I’d hardly even seen one at that point, well except in the window of Spence’s at the mall. You never could’ve told me then, that this suitcase would see the miles it’s seen. You damn sure couldn’t have told that college girl she would see the miles she’s seen.

         “Are you hearin me?” Diamond demands, jumping up standing between me and the door.

         I finish pulling on my pink pleather mini, throw on a crop top and fluff my hair in the mirror.  No point in wasting any of my makeup. They’ll do my face once we get there.

         “Yeah, sure I do, hon. I get it. Look, I miss her. Me and Sam were tight too, thick as thieves, but todays just not the day. Randall’s driving me to the shoot and then right to the airport. Member I was telling you about having to go home?” I give her the run down, leaning in, kissing her cheek, trying to make my way around her.

         She crosses her arms and stands firm. It must be serious.

         “Look!” she just about shouts, pulling out this small red patent leather photo album and shoving it in my face.

         I lean my suitcase up against the wall. Okay, five minutes. I can give her five minutes.  As soon as I take it in my hands, and flip it open, there’s Sam starring right at me. Hardly a night passed that she wasn’t laying on her bed looking at this book before she went to sleep. There’s Sam with her mom and dad. Sam with her girlfriends from high school, but most of them are of Sam and her boyfriend, Kyle. I know all the stories by heart that go with each and every one of these pictures. Many a night, I’d fall asleep to the sound of her telling them to me. Our very own dysfunctional bedtime stories.

         “Man! She’s got to be looking for this. I’ll text her that we found it. She can send us her mailing address. We’ll Fed Ex it and -”

         “It ain’t even like that! Look! Look back here!” Diamond orders flipping furiously through the pages.

         A door shuts down the hall. Diamond whips around and checks my door’s still shut behind her.

         “Here.” she mutters, turning back around.

            She keeps on, grabbing it from me, opening it to the last page then thrusting it back in my face. The last page has been ripped in half. Smeared across it are big smudges of dark crusty red that can only be one thing – but surely not.

         “D, you coming or what? You’re gonna need at least an hour to prep! You know how things get!” Randall calls from down the hall.

         “Where’d you find this?” I whisper to Diamond.

         “In his room. In his fuckin room! Now why’s Randall gonna have this? Hmmm? Why’s he gonna go an stuff it all the way down where nobody can see it in a bottom drawer?” she rants.

         All I can do is stare. I have no idea. None whatsoever. All I know is this is Sam’s most prized possession. She wouldn’t have left it. If she did, as soon as she realized it was missing she’d have texted one of us so we could look for it. The only thing I do know is I can’t think about this now. It’s selfish, but this girl can only take one fucktastrophy at a time, and right now the one back home wins out. When Momma calls and says she needs to talk, it’s no joke and she hasn’t been picking up the phone when I’ve tried calling back, so there’s no choice but to go in person.

         “I get what you’re saying, but can you just hang on to it? I’ll text her, Snap chat her, Facebook, and all that shit, whatever it takes, while I’m waiting for my flight okay? Hell, I’ll call her again if I have to. I’m sure she’ll get back to me and Sunday when I get home, we’ll wrap it up so I can take it by the post office first thing Monday morning. I’m sure it’s nothing. I’m sure everything’ll be fine.” I assure her.

         She furiously shakes her head, and grabs my shoulders pulling me closer, our noses nearly touching.

         “Somethin’s wrong, D! I know it. I got one a my gnawin feelins I get.” she warns.

         “Diamond! Come on! Seriously. What do you think happened? It’s Randall we’re talking about.” I argue.

         “You don’t know him! Not like I do! You outta your depth, girl, you know that. We go back. He and that sister a his, they crazy! Apeshit crazy. I’m tellin you it’s Tampa all over again. Same kinna shit went on down there. They daddy’s a crazy ass. Daddy B’s one cold hearted motherfucker. You don’t got no idea. See there was this girl name Paula, an she – ”

         The door flies open behind her, hitting her in the back. Amanda peeks her head in. Diamond stuffs Sam’s album in the waist of her shorts pulling her shirt down over it.  She whips around shoving her way past Amanda as she scurries back to her room.

         “Scuse you!” Amanda yells after her, shaking her head then turns to me. “You’re back Sunday right?”

         “Yeah, why?”

         “No reason. Not yet anyway. I’m workin on your next gig. Just need to nail down dates and times. It’s with that Col-ture. You know that director that got Kandy Kayne up to 40 million views on Full Fledge Frontal? After that she got tons of followers on Tumblr. Books private parties now and does those custom shoots. Girl’s on her way to the awards in no time.” she schools me. “She’s clocking those hours and making serious bank.”

         Hopefully she knows I don’t have time for her whole porn’s not so easy anymore and you have to work triple hard discussion. I’d still like to know her definition of easy, I’ll tell you that much. Amanda likes to remind us on a regular basis that in her day, all a girl had to do was keep douched, have a small waist and find a sugar daddy so you could pay for DD tits when the time’s right. Pretty much, after that, all they had to do was show up and spread their legs, but now you have to do all that plus Tweet, Snap chat, use Periscope, Instagram, stalk potential customers on Facebook, keep up your site on your host platform, and do webcam shows plus private appointments to interact with your subscribers online. A lot more hustle for basically the same and sometimes a lot less cash. Leave it to me to get into the biz when the golden age that the old timers, like her, reminisce about is long gone.

         I just nod at her then give my outfit a once over for anything I might’ve forgotten. Mostly, I just try not to look directly at her. Being around Amanda’s like being out in the desert trying not to look right at the sun. No way it won’t scorch your eyes, and you know it will, but it’s there beating down so you can’t help but look. With her outdated tits that she had lifted for a third time last October, her middle aged pot belly and that cotton candy hair that used to be a nice highlighted yellow only now has morphed into some baby chick style fuzz that makes her look like she’s constantly surrounded by bad lighting, she’s the definition of sadness and despair.

         I can’t be sad or depressed before I go home. I have to be all smiles. I have to be on my toes to keep whatever it is Momma’s got planned to talk about from phasing me. If I’m happy go lucky enough, just maybe, she’ll just be so glad to see me she’ll forget to mention whatever it is at all.