Dear Reader, This story is part of Ruthie's Foursome, in which Jack of All Trades, DrSpin, Mr. Slot and I, all of whom have the privilege of sharing Ruthie as our editor, each wrote stories using a common theme. I hope you'll read and enjoy all four. My thanks, as always, to Ruthie for her editing and assistance. E.Z.
"Are you all right?" I asked, extending a hand to help her.
"Yeah. Thanks," she said, looking around for the street toughs I drove off.
She brushed off her clothes. They looked unwashed and ragged around the edges, as did she.
"You should be home at this hour," I said disapprovingly.
Her pretty, full-lipped face was drawn and tight.
"I don't have a home."
"Why don't I buy you some coffee?" I offered.
"Look, mister. Thanks for helping me, but... tell you what. I need money. I'll give you a blowjob for twenty dollars."
"How old are you?" I asked.
"Old enough to give a damn good blowjob. I'm eighteen, if you must know."
"There's a coffee kiosk a few blocks from here. Let's have coffee and maybe I'll take you up on your offer," I said.
I started walking at a slow pace. In a moment, she was beside me.
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Pearl. Pearl Wisdom."
"Mine's Howard Bloom."
A horn-honk blocks away reverberated through the concrete canyons. The click of our heels echoed in the ensuing silence.
"So, Pearl, you're a hooker?"
"I prefer the word whore. It's more honest."
"Been whoring long?"
I heard a noise behind us. The three toughs were following at a safe distance. I hadn't frightened them. I was six feet tall, but thin and angular. They could easily take me. It was my gun, bought and registered, that kept those rats at bay. I got it after some thugs hospitalized me one sleepless night when I walked the streets. These streets are mean.
She scurried next to me and took my hand, squeezing it tightly. We walked faster and the thugs kept pace. None too soon, we turned the corner. The coffee kiosk was half a block away, near the entrance to a hotel. The bright lights were welcome. When I looked back, her attackers were gone.
We sat on the bus bench to eat the coffee and doughnuts I purchased. She tried to eat slowly, but in minutes, they were gone.
"What do you charge for a fuck?" I asked.
She hesitated. I'd guessed she wasn't a real whore. I'd spent some time with those. She didn't have the toughness, the hard edge a professional whore quickly acquires.
"Too much. I can get laid for $50. The blowjob price is a little high, too. Fifteen dollars is the street rate."
"Well," she said defensively, "I'm better than most."
"It's a commodity business, Pearl."
Something about Pearl reminded me of Cindy, my live-in lover for three years. She'd been voluptuous before she decided to emulate Ally McBeal. Her compulsion to be thin exacerbated a shrewish nature and she harped endlessly. I was ready to end our relationship when I came home unexpectedly one day to find another man in my bed with her. I threw out the skinny slut.
I'd always been embarrassed by my thinness. "Bony," my mother'd said. When Cindy changed, she made nasty comments about my body, knowing they'd cut like a knife. She saved her most acerbic comments for my cock. "It's as skinny as the rest of you," she'd sneered.
Since I'd thrown out Cindy, I'd thought about a new woman in my life. Why God cursed me with a strong sex drive and an appearance that turned women off, I'll never know. Some ironic heavenly joke, I guess.
"Pearl, are you interested in making a deal?"
"What do you have in mind?"
"You don't have any place to live. I've got a brownstone with two bedrooms. You're a whore. I'm a guy that likes sex."
"Go on. I'm listening."
"I'll give you room and board if you cook and clean. I'll pay for the sex, but I want a reduced rate."
"Ten dollars for a blowjob. Twenty-five for a straight fuck."
If I'd guessed correctly, she was a street waif. A home and food were probably the best offer she'd had.
"I don't know," she said. "How long are we going to do this?"
"A day or ten years. Who knows? You can leave any time or I can throw you out any time. One thing you should know."
"What?" she asked.
I slipped the snub-nosed Smith & Wesson.38 out of my pocket, opened the cylinder and clicked it closed. Her eyes narrowed.
"If you steal anything from me, I'll hunt you down."
"I'm a whore, not a thief," she snapped.
A cab sped past and screeched to a halt at the hotel. Two drunks staggered out. A cheap looking woman appeared out of the darkness to proposition them. She looked old and well used.
Pearl watched the woman disappear into the darkness after the men rejected her. She shivered. She didn't look at me when she said, "I'd like to try it for a few days."
"One more question. What's your real name?"
She hesitated, evaluating whether to trust me.
"Betsy Powell," she said softly.
I didn't want to chance the thugs. We got a cab in front of the hotel and, in minutes, were at my home.
I lived in an old, four-story brownstone on the east side. I occupied the first and second floors and the basement. I rented out the top two floors to a gay couple who were quiet and paid the rent on time.
I opened the door, deactivated the alarm, and let Betsy slip past me before I secured the exterior. She slowly turned in the middle of the room.
"This is nice," she said.
"Thanks. Follow me."
I led her to the kitchen and said, "Let me see your driver's license."
"I don't have one."
"I don't have any identification."
Ironic, isn't it? I'd thought of capturing a girl. New York was full of runaways, precious daughters abandoned to the street. I'd schemed about chaining one in the basement to use when I wanted. Now one had dropped into my lap. But real life isn't fantasy. In my fantasy, the girl stayed because she wanted me.
I started unbuttoning my shirt.
"All right, Betsy. House rules. This place has an alarm system. I always leave it on. You can't go out without deactivating it." She nodded as she watched me undress.
"Second rule. You'll do what you're told when you're told. You'll be responsible for cleaning and cooking. Can you cook?"
"Pretty well," she said.
"Glad to hear it," I replied. I removed my shirt and laid it across the counter.
"Why don't you start undressing?"
She reddened and looked away. With leaden hands, she reached for the first button of her blouse. Strange behavior for a street whore.
"Third rule. If you have other customers, you can't bring them here and you can't tell them where you live."
"How often do you want sex?" she asked pensively.
"Once or twice a day."
She shrugged. "Maybe I won't need other customers."
She turned her back to remove her tattered blouse and unfasten her bra. When she turned around, she hid her breasts with her arms.
"You have beautiful breasts," I said, and they were - massive, fleshy, in a light pink with large dusky rose areola and prominent nipples.
"They're a curse," she muttered under her breath.
When I started undoing my trousers, she started on her skirt. Like two children playing a stripping game, we discarded them at the same time.
Betsy was plump. Not fat. In another age, she'd have been called voluptuous and painters would've spent hours reproducing her body on canvas. Her thighs and her ass, like her breasts, were soft and inviting. Her body language said she didn't like her body. I sensed she'd suffered disparaging remarks, but she'd never hear them from me. I liked voluptuous women.
I yanked down my shorts and quickly sat down. Betsy was watching me, smiling gently.
"You're embarrassed, too, aren't you?" she asked softly.
.... There is more of this story ...