Morals Clause

short story about moral lesson
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Short Story


Sophie’s crossover from pornography to reality television had not yet been lucrative enough to afford her a Los Angeles stylist, so she’d cobbled together what she thought was a sexy modern outfit of tiny denim skirt, wooly slipper boots and crop top for what could be the most important day of her career.

Her on-and-off boyfriend, Alberto, sat spread-legged in a chair at the cafe inside the store, near the glass case of cakes and muffins, including one very delectable strawberry tart.

Sophie studied her reflection in the mirrored lenses of Alberto’s aviator sunglasses. The juice cleanse really worked, she thought, admiring how pronounced her cheekbones had become once she dropped five pounds.

“What time is the photographer getting here?” Alberto asked.

“Two pm,” she said,  bringing her smart phone screen to life to check the time. He was late.

“Come here, baby,” Alberto said, patting his thighs like she was some dog he was inviting to his lap.

“Not yet,” she hissed. “It only counts if it is on camera.”  She glanced at the crowd,  a little more than fifteen people scattered at as many tables. Most wore earphones, and stared into laptops or tablets.

Sophie bought the strawberry tart and put it in front of Alberto. He reached for it, but she slapped his hand away.

“For later,” she said. “During. ..maybe, if we are feeling adventurous.”

He sighed and returned to staring at his phone.

The photographer,  carrying his motorcycle helmet and a camera, swaggered his way to the cafe, a full leer on his round face.

Sophie watched him set his helmet down then pop the lens cap off. He glanced up at the recessed lighting, high above them. “It’s going to be dark,” he said. “I should’ve brought lights.”

Sophie shook her head. “No time for lights.  We have five minutes at most.”

The camera guy pointed the lens at them.

Alberto pushed the table out and she hopped on his lap, legs straddling his hips. The skirt rode up so she could feel cold air and the eyes of the cafe customers on her butt cheeks.

Alberto fumbled with his zipper but one thing was clear to Sophie. Engineering this public sex scene was a lot harder than Alberto was right now.

“Something is not working, Alberto,” she hissed in his ear.

She thrust her chest in his face, nearly smothering him with her breasts, but still nothing.

Alberto put his hands on her hips. “I can fake it,” he said. He started to moan and scrunched his face up in a way she’d never seen before, even during actual sex.

“That looks fake,” she said.

“It looks fake,” the photographer repeated.

“Think about me naked,” she said.

“Everyone’s watching,” Alberto said.

“That’s the point, ” she said.

The bookstore employee with a black mole on his upper lip came over.

“I need to ask you to leave, ” he said. “You can’t film in here.”

“Wanna be a star, buddy?” the photographer said. “I think we are casting for a male lead.”

The employee blushed bright red, spreading from the apples of his cheeks to his ears.

“Um…I’ll lose my job,” he said.

“But what a way to go out, right?” the photographer said. He snapped a few more pictures, this time of the bookstore employee.

Sophie swung her leg to the floor, and when standing, she pivoted to face the photographer.

“You’re not in charge of casting,” she said. “I choose my partners now.”

The photog waved his hand in surrender. “Just trying to help.”

Two LA county sheriff’s deputies walked into the store and made a synchronized beeline for the cafe.

Sophie pulled down her skirt and tried to look prim, which was hard to do given her attire and recent activity. She definitely had everyone’s attention now.

“We need you to come with us, ma’am,” one of the deputies said. “And you too, sir.”

“He didn’t do anything, officer,” Sophie said in disgust, emphasizing the word ‘do.’

“You too,” the deputy said to the photographer.

“I’m not with them,” he said. “Just an interested observer.”

The cop took Sophie’s hand and clinked a handcuff around it. Sophie heard the click click of the camera shutter and whirled around.

“Jesus, don’t shoot this!” she said. “I’ve got a morals clause in my reality show contract. I can’t get arrested.”



photograph by David Olkarny


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