The crooning crowd

“Prostitution is a sin. Prostitution is a sin.” The crooning continued.

Ugh. My blood boiled. I thought of ignoring them, but John said they were a persistent bunch. Even when thrown out of saloons they remained outside badgering customers.

“We expose an evil vice. Are you men or are you mice?”

I wanted to yell, “Yes, for an admission price.” They wouldn’t appreciate the humor.

Floyd, the client who had left dissatisfied the night Sadie had gone to the meeting, nudged Lillie off his lap and ambled toward me. “What the hell’s going on out there?”

“Protestors, hon.”

“Cain’t you get rid of them?”

Only one reason these women knew about my bordello. Sadie. And, since Mayor Hicks had sat in on her interrogation, he must have told Mrs. Stoddard where she worked. A sly devil, I’d give him that much. I’d also give him a whack with my broom, maybe shove it up his bloated ass next time I saw him.

Firecrackers popped.

I moved closer to the window and spotted the bocce cap outside to the left.

A woman shrieked. “They’re shooting at us.”

Enough! I smoothed my dress and opened the door. “Ladies, ladies. No one is shooting at you. And Giovanni, stop it this instant.”

“You!” Another woman yelled out to me. “You house prostitutes and liars.”

I stood firm. “Prostitutes, yes. At least that part is correct.”

“That girl of yours took our Marcy’s scarf. She knows more than she’s telling.”

A new client approached and stood next to Floyd, also out of view.

“Madam Fannie,” Floyd whispered behind the door. “We’re gonna skedaddle. We didn’t bargain for an ugly women chant show.”

I trailed my fingers along his cheek. “Floyd, darlin’. They won’t come in. You can do your business and no one will be the wiser. Go back and sit down. Enjoy yourselves. The women outside think all men are ignorant of their wants. But look at the pretty girls you’ve left on the settee. They’ve been waiting all day for you, and they know exactly what you want,” I winked.

“They can’t come in?” his friend asked.

“No, sir. This house is made of stone, my friend.” And a lot of manipulative persuasion. “Now look behind you. See what you’re missing.”

Both men turned. Lillie held a sensuous finger just inside her mouth. Greta rubbed the inside of her thick thigh.

Floyd and his friend returned to the waiting girls who smartly escorted them upstairs. I opened the door wider. “Now, ladies. It’s time for y’all to be mozying along. Obviously, you’re not interested in anything in here. Or are you?” my words flirted.

Reba nudged me. “Tell them maggots to let Jesus calm their storm.”

“Should I wash their feet too, Rebie?” I whispered.

“No need goin’ that far,” she whispered back.

Excerpt from The Last Bordello by C. Dennis-Willingham

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