Meta pretends she’s a prostitute

f0bd1b0118ebd124d619e79c44b32a50

His lips mashed together into a thin line. “Hey, wait just a confounded minute. Did you say…? They didn’t hire you to, you know…”

Retaliation. “Yes! I got a job there, and I know I will love it. The clients can be quite challenging. Last night, when I had to explain that I wasn’t warmed up yet—”

“I don’t want to hear more. Hell, I might be street-smart, but I haven’t even turned fifteen yet. Porca miseria!

“Porca what?”

“Just practicing on not saying ‘shit’ all the time. Ma doesn’t like it, and my little sister thumps me between the eyes when I say it. It’s a little Italian cuss word that means pig misery. Like saying ‘damn.’ Where you off to, anyhow?”

“My Aunt Amelia’s. Would you care to accompany me, Mr. Scallywag? I found a job because of you, did I not?”

He tore the cap off his head and rubbed his greasy black curls of hair. “Stop saying that. I had nothing to do with you getting that job!” He pointed his finger eastward and accelerated his pace.

“Oh, but you did,” I said, hurrying to catch up. “If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t be tingling with avidity for this evening to arrive. That’s why I’m going to visit Aunt Amelia, to tell her the good news.”

“What’s avidity mean? Wait, you’re going to tell your great-aunt about your new job? At Fannie Porter’s?”

“Of course. She’ll be thrilled for me. Besides, she knows I’m good at it. I’ve been doing it for years now.” I muzzled the smile aching to form.

His eyes widened into a dumbfounded glare.

“And avidity means eager, like being Avid about something.”

“I gotta go,” he said, turning away.

One more chance at deception. “Giovanni? You said you were fourteen?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Well, you are too young to be entertained at Miss Fannie’s. However, I’ll ask her if you can watch me perform sometime.”

His jaw dropped, his dander standing taller than his five-foot-five stature. “You want me to…watch?”

“Ah, we’re here. Thanks for the company.” I trotted off with the last laugh.

From The Last Bordello, historical fiction set in 1901

 

 

 

A cranky prostitute

Unknown-4.jpeg
photo credit

Sadie threw her arms around me and buried her face in my shoulder. “I’m so grateful you’re here. Maybe it’s time for me to go out. I think Miss Fannie won’t mind as long as I’m with you. I could take you to Brackenridge Park. It’s supposed to be beautiful. It’s named after one of our citizens, George Brackenridge. You know, the waterworks magnate?”

George Brackenridge, Mary Eleanor’s brother.

“I can’t today, Sadie. I’m going to visit Aunt Amelia. Another time, perhaps?”

Sadie withdrew her hug and narrowed her eyes. “I thought you just saw her. Truly, Meta? A visit every day?”

Her sarcastic wrath unwarranted, I clenched my hands into fists. “She is the reason I came here, Sadie. Did you forget?”

Sadie took a step back and glared at me. “I’ve changed my mind about going downstairs. You don’t like me because I’m a prostitute. I know that now. You’re only here so you can play your precious piano.”

“Sadie—”

“Please, do go down without me.”

Veins pulsed in my neck. “And you are only using me to ameliorate your guilt. Your insouciance for others is heartless.”

“You realize, don’t you, that you rely on your big words to puff yourself up. It’s unbecoming.”

Thoughts of Uncle Dirk reappeared. Why? Because Sadie had spoken to me with arrogance and superiority? Because she questioned my intelligence? My stomach churned.

“Let me know if I should move into Etta’s room.” Bitterness dripped from my tongue. I felt happy to descend the stairs alone.

Excerpt from The Last Bordello

Cranky

When your insides go kablooey

il_570xN.383190895_dibn

Reba stood over the cookstove and wiped a forearm across her brow. “Least the weather’s turning warmer. Time to start planting. Think it might freeze again?”

“How the hell would I know that?”

Reba shifted her stance and glared at me. “Lawd, I just asked a question. Ain’t no need to hatchet my words right when they come out.”

Hatchet. An ironic word choice. From what I’d gathered, the hatcheting Carry Nation currently sat in jail. “And when are you going to stop saying ‘ain’t’?”

Reba slapped a hot pad on the counter. “When I’s too old to fart, is when. Needs some Pape’s Diapepsin?”

“Sorry, Rebie. Things aren’t settling well right now.”

“You knows what your problem is, Fannie Porter? You worries enough to make your insides go kablooey. Now hang them worries on the hat hook and hand me that mason jar.”

“You think I shouldn’t worry? Sadie’s not herself, John knows about the Wild Bunch, the temperance women are coming, and if word gets out that Etta left with Sundance—”

“Who’s gonna tell?”

Good point. Would any of them cave in, spill our beans of Fortune?

Excerpt from The Last Bordello

 

 

The Prostitute takes a position (not on the bed)

f0bd1b0118ebd124d619e79c44b32a50.jpg
photo credit

“What is it, Meta? You seem quiet today,” Sadie <the prostitute> said.

“I’m thinking of Emil. He would love this place.”

“You want to marry this Emil fellow?”

“When the time is right. But I also want to go to college.”

Sadie turned away. “Well, marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It cements a woman’s future and her feet to a kitchen floor.”

I wanted to tell her that some men look at prostitutes as mere fodder for their tumescent phalluses. I held my tongue. “Did you not hear what Miss Fisher said at the meeting? How women need—”

“I do know one thing.” Sadie inhaled a deep, scrappy breath. “I don’t think men care for their wives after they’ve poked them a couple of times. That goal’s already been Conquered. Girls like me? We sleep with money the same way wives do, but we get paid without the bossing.”

Excerpt from The Last Bordello, historical novel set in 1901

 

 

Murmuration Agitation (with a little Bible recitation)

3ef024404abdee652d9a1635c923c75aOn my damn lawn, at least twenty people stood behind Mrs. Stoddard. Some chanted, some murmured. I took in a breath and let it out, trying to appear unruffled and bored. “And I won’t rest until Marcy’s true killer is found. Sadie didn’t do it, Mrs. Stoddard. But I assure you, Sheriff Tobin is doing everything he can to find the killer.”

“Tobin, huh!” Stoddard spat the words. “From what I’ve heard, the big sheriff is only protecting you for personal reasons. How’s he going to help if he’s playing nice with you under the covers?” She looked down as if shamed by her words.

Even so, I clenched the fabric of my dress to keep from smacking her clear across the street.

“We want justice,” the crowd chanted, louder each time.

“Now listen here,” I shouted, my patience waning. “We want justice too. We are all upset. Let’s work together and find the real killer. Now, as I said. Get. Off. My. Property.”

“Tells them to kiss your hiney and go to grass,” Reba whispered beside me, still hidden from view.

Reba’s version of “go to hell” gave me the idea. “Good Christian folk…” I forgot the passage, turned to Reba, and whispered out the side of my mouth. “What’s something good to quote from the Bible? Something about judgment.”

Reba put a hand on her chin and peered down at her feet. “You wants Saint John or Deuteronomy?”

“Whichever’s better.”

“Well, Saint John says—”

“Reba! Give me something.”

“Tell ’em, ‘Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment.’”

Reba tugged at my elbow. “You gotta say it’s from John 7:24.”

“Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment,” I repeated loudly. “John 7:24. Isn’t that what Jesus taught?” I knew I was pushing it. Over the years, only once or twice had I glanced at the Good Book. The Bible never spoke to me like it did for Reba. “You are judging an innocent woman because of her chosen profession. Shame on you. Shame on you all. Now leave before I have you arrested for trespassing.” I lifted Ratchet slower than necessary and heard the gasps of fear. I perched the shotgun over my shoulder like a marching soldier and closed the front door.

Reba and I waited and listened, our backs against the front door. The thrum of mumblings and chanting didn’t stop. “Now what?” I asked my best friend.

“Whiskey slam?”

Excerpt from The Last Bordello, a historical novel

Murmuration

Caught red (yellow)-handed

 

4-prostitute-the-sphinx-1898-Toulouse-Lautrec-Henri-de.jpg
“Prostitute the Sphinx” by Toulouse Lautrec Henri

 

“My God, it’s Marcy’s!” The temperance union president stared rage into Sadie’s eyes.

The restaurant became silent. No clinking of cutlery, no chattering of women.

Sadie frowned and glanced up at Mrs. Stoddard. “Excuse me?”

“I said that’s my Marcy’s scarf. I gave it to her.” With one swift move, Mrs. Stoddard pulled the scarf from Sadie’s neck and examined the fabric. “See, right here.” She pointed to a tiny section of the material where, in faded ink, “M.S.” was printed.

Sadie squinted and folded her arms. “I found it, ma’am.”

“Where! Where did you find it? Where is Marcy? Tell me this instant. Someone find an officer!”

Sadie froze. “An officer? I don’t understand. You can keep it, if you’d like.”

Patrons murmured and buzzed like a Swarm of bees in a hive with no queen.

Sadie turned her frightened gaze away from Mrs. Stoddard. “Meta, I think we should head back.”

“You are going nowhere, young lady. Not until you answer some questions.” The woman’s lip quivered as she held the silk scarf against her cheek.

I searched the restaurant for support. Anyone. If only Sheriff Tobin were here. But the faces around the tables were unfriendly, their eyes condemning.

Excerpt from The Last Bordello