Brigit hated that bell.
She had her miso soup & her Anais Nin book. She didn’t want to be disturbed. Her zebra print stilettos were huddled in the corner, whispering mutinous dissent to her bare feet propped up against the wall. Her glasses slid down her nose as she read, her fingernails flicking against her teeth as she searched for seaweed hiding in their crevices.
She wasn’t ready for a customer.
None of the girls were. They pretended not to hear the bell, and tried not to make eye contact as it rang again, longer this time. Damn, he really wanted service. Fucker probably only had his lunch hour, and wanted to be in and out; no pun intended.
Lucy had her Cosmo magazine, Inneke her psychology textbook. Neither looked up, and their battle of the wills was one Brigit didn’t feel able to partake in. Just as she was looking for her bookmark, resigned to being the one headed out to reception, Inneke sighed, and slammed her glass down.
“So you hussies are sending me out there, hey?”
No-one looked up. Two pairs of scarlet lips smiled, but no words fell out of them. Even Inneke grinned as she licked the last of her juice, shaking her head and gathering her limbs. They all knew the routine and barely registered as she stood and slid her hands inside her dress, pulling her breasts up into the cups as she bit her lips and felt the blood swell into them.
They were all so predictable.
The Inneke that swung her legs off the couch was markedly different to the Inneke that strode out the door, and the remaining girls chuckled at the transformation.
“I think it begins at the bookshelf”, Lucy grinned. “That’s generally the time it takes me.”
Brigit snorted as she tossed her book onto the basket of towels, waiting for attention. “Nah, I can still see the TV from there….there’s no way I can purr with seduction when I have Dr Phil in my line of vision.”
They knew the cackling might creep under the door and out to the customer, but it was an hour til close, and neither of them cared much now. They each stretched with languor even as their heads were angled towards the door, torn as always between waiting for the money the bell heralded, and yet dreading the sound of it.
Lucy had strawberry blonde hair and a coating of random freckles. Brigit loved counting them on the dull days when customers turned into brighter hallways, just as Lucy loved tracing the lines of Brigit’s tattoos with a fingernail bitten down below the skin. Inneke said she couldn’t give a fuck about either of them, but took the prickly customers before they could; the ones who stared with predatory coldness, and held their fists tight until she had to wrench the money out of it. The other girls knew it, and left her the plumpest towels, the ones that hadn’t been worn down with the weight of customers, and the need of the girls to be cleansed with rough cotton.
“There was a new one yesterday,” Brigit yawned. “Black hair, strange accent”.
Lucy nodded. “I got him. Pretended not to know much English – what a relief! – but sure as hell knew how to wrangle a discount when he wanted one. Sexy voice though, I have to say…..”
Brigit’s drawl was low and lilting, and lured her colleague closer. “Hell, as long they’re not asking me to pay “special attention’ to their toes, they all have a sexy voice to me!”
Again the snorts threatened to slide under the door and out to reception, but Inneke would surely have escorted him to the room by now. Probably the end room with the bamboo curtain and bottles of clary sage oil; her favourite. Brigit felt her stomach heave each time she caught the scent of it, and only used the room when hers was occupied. Warming the peppermint oil and gazing out over Tattersalls Lane, her favourite part of Chinatown, she found it easier to shut out her customer and let her hands move of their own accord. Amazing what they knew how to do, really, when you thought about it.
Which she didn’t.
Lucy skimmed through Drew Barrymore’s latest marriage, while Brigit reached for her cigarette packet. Martinis tonight, they agreed, and salsa dancing, followed by men with slow smiles and fists free of cash. They would entice Inneke along, who would linger in dark corners and scowl at everyone, and waltz off with men with the smoothest skin and roughest hearts, who had more of a chance of finding her real name than the women who cackled on couches and washed her towels for her.
When the bell rang, Brigit reached for her heels and slid her hands inside her dress without even noticing. A pinch of flesh, a bite of plump lips, a heavy sigh. Another night sliding to a close with chortling wenches and miso soup. A summoning of her strumpet as she strode to the door, her spine lengthening with each step until her heels held a different woman leaving the staff room from the one who had entered it.
Brigit with the lilting voice and peppermint hands.
Ready for anything.
© bellmusker 2008
Inspired by Baubo, who knew that the dirty laughter of wenches could heal even the hardest of hearts.
woman as promiscuous
bawd, besom, biddy, bint, blowzy, concubine, courtesan, delilah, doxy, filly, flapper, floozy, harlot, harridan, hooker, hussy, jade, jezebel, jilt, madam, meretricious, minx, mistress, moll, mount, muff, nymphet, prostitute, scrubber, skirt, slag, slattern, slut, sow, strumpet, succubus, tail, tart, tramp, trollop, wanton, whore, wench
man as promiscuous
Seem fair to you?