By Brigit Kelly Young
“It’s too cold in Russia to masturbate,” said Alex. He was trying to comfort me.
See, I got drunk at this LA actor networking party, and out came a Russian and a camera. He told me he was interviewing people on their reactions to the Lost season premiere. I got real excited. I love Lost (time travel is a particular interest of mine thanks to a childhood of Marty McFly), and am always eager to discuss it. I asked him what the interview was for, and he said a Russian TV show. The guy had on a tight T-Shirt and was working a big nose so I totally believed him. Immediately pumped up at the idea of Russian TV stardom, I was like “Can I reveal spoilers?” and he was like “Go ahead.” I launched into my feelings about Kate and the Smoke Monster and my theory that Sayid is really Jesus. I enjoyed the attention from the camera. I smiled a lot, I flipped my hair. At one point, the Russian asked me which guy I liked better, Sawyer or Jack. He gave me a dirty smile, as if to say “Go ahead, tell me how you really feel”. I took a swig from my rum and coke, giggled, and said, “Well I wouldn’t kick Sawyer out of bed for eating crackers, as we Dharma folk like to say!” At which point I flashed the camera my titties. I hoped that a casting director somewhere near by had seen something he liked. Hopefully JJ Abrams saw it too.
The next morning, looking back on the night’s events, wiping a drop of dried snot-like vomit out of my hair, I was worried. In my sober post-party state, I was concerned the Russian would sell my interview to online pervs, and my nerdy blonde American charm would be whacked off to by Moscowites. Alex assured me that this was not possible.
“Seriously, Brigit, the lube would freeze on their balls.”
“That must be why they kidnap the girls from their country and sell them elsewhere, in warm places,” said I.
“Yes. What sexual frustration will do to an entire culture… It’s a real shame.”
The thought of being put on a Russian sex website filled me with thoughts of evil men becoming obsessed with my beautiful breasts and kidnapping me, selling me to brothels in Calcutta and Tehran. I pictured Gorbachev’s daughter with a head wrap dancing in front of a sheik in a gold bikini. I shivered. To be sold on the sex slave trade was one of my darkest fears. I was frightened that footage of my drunken breast-baring exuberance toward Lost, if discovered, would enhance my candidacy as a kidnap victim. Alex assured me, though, that Russians not only cannot masturbate, they do not like Lost. “Why would they?” He said. “It’s tropical, and it doesn’t have any peasants.”
Now, Alex may have gotten into every law school in the land, but he didn’t know a thing about Russians. The old Ruskies were more my area of expertise. I had studied Chekhov in acting school and knew The Seagull like nobody’s business. I mean, I knew Nina’s last name, and the sensory details of a 19th century train ride to Yeletz. When I cried, “Kostya, I know what my vocation is, and now I am not afraid of life!” the other acting students were in tears. My acting teacher practically had an orgasm. Their claps filled the studio room, echoing off the chipping walls and fold-out metal chairs. I had connected deeply and emotionally to the characters, and began to understand the Russian soul. I knew that Russians fed off drama, human longing, questions of destiny/freewill, and large casts of characters. Lost, therefore, was the perfect Russian cocktail. To Alex, a Barack Obama type that I met in freshman year Spanish class, Russia was just the place you shouldn’t invade in winter. How little he knew of its dangers…
The camera-wielding networking Russians kidnapped me. While perusing Facebook, I heard a pick at my lock.
Looking around for the nearest weapon, I grabbed a nail file. I shook in terror. My cell phone was in my purse by the door, vibrating with the unanswered texts of several losers. If only I had been responding to them like a lady, I thought, the phone would have been in my reach to call el policio. I made a mental note to stop ignoring the good-looking but Republican guy I met at a friend’s wedding. Maybe if I’d picked up his first call and gone on a date with him, he would have been in my apartment at that very moment, massaging my feet and waxing philosophical to me about how the poor should be gassed, and he’d protect me from intruders. Mistakes, mistakes. Sometimes I forget how much I depend upon men for their physical strength.
The turn of the lock made me shiver. I prayed feverishly that Harrison Ford or Liam Neesen was nearby and would save me. But before either of them had a chance, my door creaked open, and in slid a man, shutting the door behind him. He looked just like Barack Obama. Though still afraid, I softened, defenses down. The man reminded me of both Obama, and my best pal Alex, who like I said was very similar to him (biracial, charming, middle-class background). The intruder was wearing all brown, which made him even more convincing. At first I felt hope at the sight of his face, but then it began to change. The president was breaking into my house? I couldn’t figure it out. Had things really gotten that bad? Did Alex or Obama need some money? I’ll admit, I had smoked a bit of weed earlier in the evening. Slowly, and somewhat seductively, the Obama imposter approached me. He took the nail file out of my hand and said “sssh, little babushka.” I smelled alcohol, and then all was darkness.
I awoke in the type of van all girls have nightmares about. The sex-trafficking type. Drunk eyes aflutter, I heard funny European voices and felt the déjà vu of “Lebowski! We need the money!” But instead of two guys peeing on my carpet, I saw an orange-lit van surrounded by men in tight brown leggings, and I saw the big-nosed Russian, whose nose was much bigger without the fuzzy flattering night-vision of a drunk. My worst fears were confirmed.
“It’s you!” I yelled, before swooning onto the van’s shaggy carpet floor.
“We knew if we wore the Obama mask you would trust us,” the Russian said as he picked me up by the arm and stared into my tear-streaked face. “Hahaha,” he laughed evilly. “Stupid actress.” He was right. “Stupid American. Haha.”
“Damn it!” I yelled, jerking out of his grip and pounding my fists on the floor. “Always trust your instincts!” I wept, hearing my Mother’s advice reverberate in my ear. I knew this would happen. I knew that a real live Russian with a camera at a networking party was bad news. Never trust foreigners. Look at Roman Polanski for Gods sakes. “What do you want with me?” I shrieked, sobbing. There were three men surrounding me, seated in a circle in what looked like little-kid chairs. A camera was propped on a tripod behind us, with the Obama mask lying beside it. I was not tied up or handcuffed, which left me free to roll around on the carpeted floor in despair. “I’m not supposed to be a whore!” I yelled. Though if they sold me to someone famous like a governor, I might embrace it.
“You are now ours,” the principal Russian said. In my head I named him Vladimir. He was the skinniest. It was ironic. Or maybe I don’t get what irony is, but it was funny that I called him that.
“Now. Tell us about this Lost show, actress.”
“What?” I responded. He leaned in toward me, threateningly fierce.
“Tell us. Or the consequence will beyond your imagination be,” he said, like an idiot.
“Okay!” I said, unsure as to what I was agreeing to, but very scared of consequence.
As the shock of the Russian’s request grew inside me, I looked about the van and took in its contents more clearly. In every corner of the dark van, lit by an orange glow light, were pasted pictures of Lost characters. There was Kate, looking fly, on the red carpet. I noted her green dress, very dignified. A real looker, that one. Beside her was a photo of Hurley, Sawyer, and Ben at Comic Con. There was one of Jack on the island, leading a group of castaways into the dark of the jungle. There was Daniel Faraday, my favorite, in a promotional shot, looking clairvoyant. A new fear took hold of me. If they sold me into sexual slavery, how would I ever find out what happens on the island?
The Russians, closing in around me, scooching their chairs to me, red light of the camera blinking, brought me back into a gruesome reality… these horny Russians were crazed Lost fans. And I was the sexy American who understood their passion for mysterious ABC sagas. God damn it.
“We love Lost,” said Vladimir. They all murmured in agreement. I sensed excited tears in their Russian eyes.
“There are aspects of this Lost that we simply do not understand, you know? We are mystified.”
The Russians had given me a cup of Arbor Mist to calm me down. I accepted because I was very thirsty. They gave me a cigarette, and we all shot the shit for a while. They explained what the hell I was doing in their creepster van.
“Your English is excellent,” I told him, taking a swig of the sweetness.
“I went to Columbia University, fool!” Vladimir could be scary. I mean, he did kidnap me. And his teeth were sharp. Exactly how one would think a sex-traffickers teeth were like. But the others seemed okay. Vladimir kept talking, “But after…back I go Moscow. My father, the famous maker of beaver-pictures, Ivan Lagoyavich Trevelog, he was dying. Of course, also my student Visa had run out. I live in Moscow once again for many of the years, ordering American TV on the Netflix, missing this place of skin and knowledge. Dexter. Deadwood. Sex and the City. Phenomenal. Your people, they know things. Americans created Lost. They know it, they feel it. Just as we intuitively understand the gift Irina receives on her birthday in Three Sisters and the significance of its extravagance, you understand the significance of the eye blush this Richard wears, and the mythology behind a foot on the beach housing a Messiah-like figure. This I do not understand! All I can understand is Kate’s cursed beauty!” Vladimir was animated. He nearly jumped out of his pre-school sized chair.
His knees were the size of hubcaps and his nose almost hit me in the face. It probably could have given me a black eye. He continued, “Is the Man-in-Black evil? Or is he good? Does he represent the will of man, and Jacob the planned destiny? We cannot decide. And these are important questions! Truly!”
I nodded. The other men nodded. They all stared at me. What would come next? I was hoping Vladimir would drink himself into a stupor of no-ability-to-rape-me-ness, and then I could punch the others, put on the Obama mask, and sneak out of the van. The Obama mask would make me feel powerful.
“One night,” he went on, “after getting Petrov’s American cousin spinning in the head with absinthe,” Petrov nodded at me with a crooked smile. He had the smile of someone who is a bit slow, “…we asked her to explain this Lost. Her answers intrigue us. Additionally, they give us boners. You know… ‘wood.’ We drink, the camera comes out, we demand – speak for the tape! Tell us what you feel! Tell us what will happen on Lost! We know you know, bitch! All Americans know someone who knows someone who knows JJ Abrams! Tell us, woman! Yet she refused. We sold her to Arab king. A punishment.”
“Yowza,” I said.
“We begin website. Several Russian Lost fans feel as we do, that Lost is quite sexual and American and an American female Lost fan is priceless. An American female Lost fan could have made even Tolstoy hard. This website thrives, and now look at us; rich enough, we travel here, we discover this Los Angeles gold mine of silly women with little to do but watch television and show their bosoms at parties like whores. So here is ‘the deal’ as they say. You talk of Lost. You look pretty. We tape you. If you do not participate, to the Arabs you go.”
“You know how bad 9-11 was! How could you send me to them?” I went out on a limb.
“You shut up.”
If I was being nonsensical, it’s because I thought perhaps they’d show me some of that world-wide compassion that once existed for the USA, if only for a brief moment. Alas, the people of New York losing their lives did not bring these Evangeline Lilly fans back to their damn senses.
“The site is called ‘Daddy Sawyer Thinks You Are Pretty. Very Pretty.’ It is for the heterosexual Lost fans of Russia.”
“Catchy. And I figured.”
“Thank you actress. Your breasts will look great on tape. Well, the left one which is not so small.”
“Asshole!” I cursed.
Vladimir went to the camera. He began directing the men in all directions of the van’s porn set. I started to cry like a little boy losing a baseball game.
“I hate you guys!” I whined. They put me in a little chair, and my hands were tied in front of me, my two tiny biceps pushing my breasts together. Petrov put lipstick on me, preparing me for my close-up. In the lighting, I couldn’t see what color it was. I hoped it was a ‘summer’ tone and not ‘winter’ because those look awful on me. He swiped blush across my cheeks. I glanced rapidly around the van for a way out. It’s not as if I wouldn’t do what they asked, because I didn’t want to be sold to an Arab. What could be worse? After all, all Muslims are basically fundamentalist even if Fareed Zakaria claims otherwise. I tried desperately to think of how I felt about Lost, of something unique to say for their camera. Nothing came to me. John Locke was…. Really alive! And he was like… Zeus! No. Juliet was a man! No. Damn it. Sawyer saves everybody and dies and Jack and Kate get together again, and Sawyer ends up with Juliet in some other reality, and good wins over evil, but people have to sacrifice in order to make that happen, with many giving up their children and their lives. No, that was too simple. It was all about the polar bear! Yes…I was getting somewhere…
“Chekhov would have loved Lost,” Vladimir said as he stroked an action figure of Claire, sitting in the corner waiting for me to be made up, like a true freak.
“Pssh. Yeah right,” I said quietly as Petrov stepped back from me, nodding to the camera-Russian that they were ready to begin taping.
“What did you say, little Lost whore?” he shot back at me. I felt brave from the Arbor Mist. Thanks, Russians. I wish people in America just drank all day like those crazy Commys.
“I said yeah right! Chekhov would have hated this shit!” I said.
The camera was ready. A Russian sex-pirate entrepreneur was behind it, nodding at Vladimir that it was time. But I had struck a nerve.
“And what do you know of Chekhov, American?” Big-nose Vladdy looked bemused.
“I know he didn’t infuse his work with mythological reference, or endless saga-like stories of redemption! He presented his characters with a problem, let them live in it, did not resolve it, and ended the damn thing! This brought awareness and empathy to people who cannot escape their own pain or change course! He wrote of the miniscule betrayals of life that like a splinter invade us slightly and leave a great hurt if not taken out! He would have been annoyed by all the hoo-ha on that show, let me assure you!” I was pissed now. Looked like Vladimir was too. My boobs were crushing together like goo, and I wanted to just get this over with, but that guy shouldn’t have questioned my Conservatory-training.
“Chekhov admired questions of the human spirit!” Vladimir yelled. The other Russians tried to shush him. He got up in my face again, and the stupid Russian criminal’s nose actually did hit me this time. It felt like a penis in my face. “You are telling me Sawyer’s newfound emotionality does not demonstrate just that?”
“Chekhov liked the small-scale human drama. The scope of it was in the internal world of the characters, and their places in society. Tolstoy would have jumped right into its questions of free will, its fable of redemption through war leading perhaps to peace. But Chekhov…no. don’t even go there. He would’ve been annoyed by the whole thing. Ya’ know the whole ‘if there’s a gun onstage in the first act it has to go off in the third’ that he said? Well, they never make the gun go off on Lost. It would’ve given him an ulcer.”
“AAAAAH!” yelled the Russian. A ruckus ensued. Vladimir came toward me to strangle me.
“She shouldn’t have brought up the greatest short story writer of all time,” said one of the Russians behind me who’d been primping my hair. “Always a mistake.”
“Greatest playwright here in the US, buddy boy,” I shot out at him.
The men pulled Vladimir away from me. He had veins popping out the sides of his scrawny long Russian neck.
“To the Arab with you,” he said.
I thought of Pakistani food and how much I hate it. Too much clove-like flavoring, too many peas, at least in that one Pakistani restaurant I ate at once in the East Village in NY.
“Wait!” I shouted. They all stared at me. “I will give you some Lost-talk like you’ve never heard before,” I said.
Vladimir lifted a thick Russian brow. “Go ahead,” he said. “Roll camera.” He lay back, watching me. The van quieted. “Tell me. Tell Daddy Sawyer.”
“See, I think it’s a polar bear. I think that the whole thing is about a polar bear kept captive. He is having fantasies about his oppressors. But the polar bear has low self esteem, so he’s only a bit player in the fantasy. When he comes up in the show, it’s really the polar bear entertaining himself by being like ‘oh my I know what would be fun! Then a polar bear comes out!’ and he giggles to himself, and then a human whips him through the cage. In the last episode…it’ll all have been a polar bear’s daydream…”
“Yes yes. Go on. Go on. More.”
“If I had Sawyer alone in a room I’d show him a time-loop in my rear…”
“Yes. Yes. More answers, more answers.”
“Truly, I think Kate represents the lost feminity of Eve on the days following creation in the Genesis.”
I heard a quiet wet whacking in the van’s corner. I dared not look. The Obama mask stared at me with a look of shame.
When I had finished, I asked for more Arbor Mist and if I could go back home because I had an audition for LA Crime Sex bright and early in the AM. As I saw how pathetic these men were (men just get more and more pathetic every day, I swear, I mean look at Elliot Spitzer and Jesse James and the nipple pictures on Huffington Post), I lost much of my fear. I’d handled pathetic sexists before, and I would again. But the Russians would not let me cease. I was tired. I was anxious about my audition.
“But I’m done! That’s all I got! How many mysteries are there to solve?”
“So, so many,” they chanted, eyes a-horny.
“I can’t! I can’t go on!” I yelled, hoping they’d give me a tranquilizer to calm me down, or feel bad for me.
“The girls do not understand us here,” one of them muttered.
“But I have a life!” I yelled, toward Vladimir, hoping he’d pity me. “I have a manager who is really and truly interested in my work in the Clearasil ad campaigns!”
“No! YOU HAVE NOT EXPLAINED THIS SMOKE MONSTER!”
“I CAN’T! I CAN’T!”
“ONLY AMERICANS UNDERSTAND! AND YOU ARE ONE WITH BREASTS!”
“But it’s not me! I’m not the one to help you! Let me give you the numbers for other girls who love Lost even more than me! There are plenty! They wear glasses and corduroys, but still!”
“Take off your bra and top. This is level two. Brothers…. Turn on the green-based overhead lighting.”
I began to cry. As an actress I was used to taking off my shirt. I got naked in plays, in a movie that no one will ever see, in my friends’ hot tubs after a couple Pabsts. Often, I regretted my nudity, particularly in an Off-Off-Off Broadway play directed by a college student where I was forced to sit naked on an old man’s lap and sing “Cabaret.” But this was different. No one was paying me a check for $60 a week or hooking up with me no-strings-attached. I reached behind me. I unclipped. Trembling, I reached down to the bottom of my shirt, ready to lift up, revealing the glorious B-C Cup breasts that had gotten me into this trouble in the first place. Maybe Muslims had the right idea with those burkas. They’re hard to take off when you’re drunk. It’s for women’s own protection. Maybe I would like the life of an Arab’s whore. Better than that of a nude model on a Russian fetish site.
“Now. Tell us more theories. And bounce around.”
I did as I was told. What other choice does a sex slave have?
This is how Alex found me.
He came in with a team of our friends, mostly actresses, law students, trust-fund intellectuals, plus a painter friend of Alex’s that I slept with once in college (I noticed him immediately, he’d gotten quite overweight) and they took the Russians down with karate. Kids these days have a lot of extracurricular activities, so our generation of friends was just what I needed to save my ass.
Several in my American brigade pinned down the Russians and forced them to drink vodka, until they were immobile. “It’s like winning the Cold War twice!” one of the young American men yelled.
“If that’s true, then I’m democracy,” I said to Alex, as he pulled down my shirt and untied me. He grimaced.
“How’d you find me?” I asked my pal.
“I got into Harvard Law School yesterday. And when I came to tell you, I saw this van outside your house. I can’t explain it, it’s just…after receiving that letter of acceptance I just… knew things. I figured the van outside your house might be some Russians taping you more.”
The Russians were passed out in Vodka stupors around me. But I knew I wasn’t safe until the Lost season finale, so I hid. I am in hiding now. I cannot tell you where I am. Hopefully they will answer all the mysteries of the show, or I know the Russians will come looking for me. Luckily, I have the Obama mask. I put it next to my pillow every night, and I read Lost summaries like it’s my vocation. Alex says I have Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I think I just need an acting job.
Ah America. Where breasts are dangerous to have as part of your body, and Lost is crazy, and Russians are menacing, and biracial law students save the world.