(Photo: Paris Bordone [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
I wrote this very short story in response to a call for submissions for a special edition of Overland Magazine, which would explore the theme of “Men’s Idea of Women”, or something along those lines. It wasn’t successful, and I’m the first to admit that it’s not a pretty piece.
Another one. Which would he be? Creep. Nerd. Nice Guy. Poindexter. Sleazebag. Pig. So many to choose from.
A small alarm buzzed briefly as they entered the unadorned verandah space, the men unaware that a concealed camera beamed their image to the waiting girls long before they made it as far as reception. By that time, depending on the approaching client’s image, some of the girls would already have made themselves scarce, or primped themselves up. For the unlucky ugly or fat men, there would always be slim pickings.
It was my pinched smile they had to get past first. At reception, I grilled them for I.D., for ‘special tastes’, for minimum payment, and all along, unbeknownst to them, for extreme intoxication, for extreme demands. My hand was never far from the panic button.
Once past interrogation, the pleasure began. Filing past, the girls winked and twirled, teased and enticed, the men entrapped by invisible honey. These girls, these openly wanting, craving, libidinous girls. My fascination was constant. Did they really only see the wanton harlot? Could they really not see the dead, sneering eyes? Or did they choose not to see?
Brandy. Such a brothel name. Could they not see through her? Apparently not. She was not the most beautiful, she did not have the best body, but she was the most popular. Another source of fascination for me. Night after night, she winked at me as she pulled another slavering idiot down the hallway. Night after night, I watched as the men made their way back down that same hallway, flushed, standing straighter, somehow prouder, and Brandy behind them, mimicking their walk and giving the back of their head the finger. Me trying to control my laughter.
Back in the lounge we sprawled on sofas and the floor, waiting for the alarm between clients. Brandy always regaled us with tales of the weirdest, the ugliest, the fattest, the smelliest, and we rolled around, clutching our sides and mock retching. As the night wore on, she would get tireder, the clients fewer and drunker, and our conversations would reach deeper. How, why, what. It was the ‘what’ that ate away at me. What did they want from her? What did they need? And why from her? Why not from Tiffany – tall, beautiful Tiffany? Why not from any of the friendlier, more beautiful girls? Why not even from me?
She believed they sensed that she was an aberration. They needed to change her, make her what she really should be. How they sensed it was beyond me – long blonde hair, pretty but sort of plain, small waist, big boobs, lots of geisha makeup and sexy evening dresses. The usual stuff of whoredom, so where was the aberration? She told me they often called her slut, whore, bitch. One man held her by the throat and yelled at her to call him master, and so she did. While he was in the shower she stole an extra $100 from his wallet and spat in his jacket pocket.
By four in the morning she was too tired to smile and almost too sore to walk, but as I locked up the cash register she managed a small grimace, throwing an exaggeratedly weary arm around my neck, rubbing herself against my breasts. She nestled her lips in to my collarbone, whispered that it was time for us to go home. In the car I drove with one hand, the other held by hers. The early morning light played on our entwined fingers. Her head was thrown back against the head rest, her profile relaxed in light sleep. An aberration. A woman who did not want a man. A woman who did not fit into men’s idea of women.