Call me Ishmael.
No, I ain't after no damn white whale. My parents just had literary pretensions and a warped sense of humor.
What I was hunting after last night though, was feminine companionship for the evening.
A month of no nookie and I was horny as hell and determined to get laid even if I had to pay for it.
I knew that with the temperature down around zero, the neighborhood bar would be packed with shivering hookers and just a few hard-core drinkers.
I took my time looking around, letting my eyes adjust to the dim light of the bar.
Girls of all shapes and sizes to choose from, ranging from fugly to just passable.
A smorgasbord of rent-a-twat just trying to keep warm.
A hooker faced with a night of freezing her ass off on a corner is likely to be less picky about her tricks.
As homely as I am, this can make all the difference between getting laid and another night of jacking off.
I made my way to the bar and ordered a beer, then looked around for an empty table.
No such luck tonight.
I eased over by the jukebox, nodding a greeting to those working girls that I knew.
Something caught my eye and I turned my head toward the back of the bar.
There was a girl sitting alone at a table. Her arms crossed over her belly and her head bowed.
She was dressed far too thinly for the cold outside, and was shivering as if she had just come indoors.
I saw the bartender talking to one of the waitresses and nodding toward the lone girl. I looked at her again and saw that she didn't have a drink in front of her.
Sure enough, as I moved closer, I heard the waitress talking to her. "You either have to buy a drink or leave. This ain't a charity honey."
The girl sighed and started to stand up.
I saw a golden opportunity and stepped forward. "Sorry I'm late," I said to the girl.
I turned to the waitress and said, "Please bring us some coffee and whatever sandwiches you have back there."
The waitress looked at me for a long moment, then nodded and went back to the bar.
I sat down across from the girl and smiled. "I usually don't interrupt like that, but you looked like you needed a friend."
She looked up at me. "Thank you," she said tiredly. "I really didn't want to go back out there."
"No problem," I replied. "Some hot coffee and something to eat will help warm you up."
She cocked her head to the side and looked me over. "Why me and not one of the other girls here?"
I shrugged. "I dunno," I said. "You just looked tired and cold and I thought that you could use a little help."
She gave me a wan smile. "Do you have a name? Or should I just call you Friend?"
I chuckled. 'My name is Ishmael."
She raised an eyebrow, "I see your folks read Melville."
That earned her points with me. Few people caught the reference to the book these days, and those who did usually had a witty comment or two about Ahab and the whale.
"They did and enjoyed it a bit too much," I said with a grimace. "The next Moby Dick joke I hear, I'm going to harpoon something."
She giggled and her eyes danced. "Well Ishmael, what brings you to O'Bannion's tonight?"
"I was looking for a girl for the night." I said. "I get tired of sleeping alone all the time."
I have no idea why I said all that.
The waitress arrived with the coffee and sandwiches. I paid her and tipped her well.
After the waitress was gone, I watched the girl eat daintily but ravenously, as if she hadn't eaten in a long time.
"You really don't look like you belong here with the others." I said suddenly.
And it was true that she didn't look like the usual street girl.
Her brown hair was relatively long and well cared for, if a bit mussed at the moment. Her skin was clear and showed only a hint of tan. And her green eyes were clear and free of the dulling that habitual drug use inevitably causes.
"I am new to the life," she said. "And I don't seem to be very good at it."
"Trouble with the other girls?" I asked.
She shook her head. "The other girls have mostly been OK as long as I stay off their corners. But the only time I made any money some man came up and said I belonged to him now and took it all from me."
That sounded like Rodney, a small time pimp who preyed only on the young and the seemingly helpless.
"He won't bother you again tonight." I promised. "And I'll spread the word that he's bugging you and someone will warn him off."
"Who are you? Some sort of pimp godfather?" she asked trying for a smile, but the nervousness was once again in her eyes.
I laughed. "No, I am just a guy that has a few friends who owe him some favors."
"So what do you do for a living then?" she asked.
"I work as an electrician down at the docks. And in my spare time I am a writer." I said.
She quirked an eyebrow, "And just what is it that you write?"
"Fantasy adventure mostly," I shrugged. "I have written a few articles for the papers and for magazines, but not enough to call myself a pro."
She looked down at her hands and fidgeted for a moment. Then she took a deep breath and looked up at my face again.
"Listen," she said. "How about we make a deal for a place for me to sleep tonight?"
Someday I was gonna kick myself for this.
"Ok, let me make you a counter offer," I said.
She looked down at the table with her eyes squeezed shut.
"You might want to listen to what I have to say before getting all upset," I chided gently.
She opened her eyes but kept her head down.
"The deal is this. I am tired of my own cooking. You cook supper for me at my place, and you can have the Murphy bed in the living room. No strings attached." I continued.
Her head came up and she blinked away tears. "You just want me to cook for you?"
As if she couldn't quite believe her ears.
I nodded. "Just cook supper and you have a place to sleep warm and safe."
"What?" I asked, momentarily confused.
"My name is Amanda," she repeated.
I stood and bowed to her. "Pleased to meet you Amanda."
Her smile reached her eyes this time and she stood up and made a small curtsy.
She didn't have a warm coat, so I slipped my heavy jacket over her shoulders and she grasped the lapels to snug it around her.
I could take the cold for the few blocks to my apartment.
The walk seemed to take no time at all despite the driving snow as Amanda kept up a stream of cheery chatter.
When we reached my apartment building, I held the door for her and bowed her inside.
We went up the narrow stairs to my floor, then down the hallway to my apartment.
Once inside she looked around approvingly.
I kept my place neat as a pin, a holdover from my days in the navy.
"The kitchen is over this way," I said.
She followed me to the small kitchen.
I love to cook, and it shows in my waistlines stubborn refusal to shrink.
"Make yourself at home and cook whatever you like." I said.
Amanda gave me a bright smile and started to explore the cupboards.
I went back into the living room and logged onto my computer.
Nothing interesting in my e-mail, so I logged back off and decided to shower before supper.
Normally I would never have considered leaving a hooker alone in my apartment, but somehow it never crossed my mind with Amanda.
I was just finishing getting dressed again after the shower when I heard Amanda's voice calling. "Supper's ready!"
I emerged from the bedroom to find the table set and heavenly aromas arising from the various pots and pans on the stove.
"You are a great cook!" I exclaimed as I tasted the various dishes that Amanda had prepared. "For cooking like this, you can stay as long as you like."
Amanda blushed, but she looked pleased.
The rest of the meal went pleasantly. Amanda was full of questions about my Navy days and my current work.
She told me little about her past directly, however I gathered from what she skirted around that she had been married at one time and that it had not ended well at all.
The anecdotes she shared as we cleared the table and washed the dishes told of a happier time when she worked at some department store as a clerk.
I was careful not to pry too deeply. She would share more when she was ready.
After the dishes were done we sat on the couch and talked until the wee hours of the morning.
By the time we noticed the hour, it was time for me to go to work.
"Get some sleep," I told her as I hurried to get ready. "If you're still here when I get home, I'll make us dinner tonight."
Amanda surprised me by going on tiptoe and giving me a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you," was all she said.
Work that day was demanding, but time just flew by.
My crew boss told me that he hadn't seen me work that hard in a long time.
"Must be getting old," I quipped, "I'm losing my touch at goldbricking."
He laughed and waved me on out the door.
I came home to find the apartment empty.
I checked around carefully but nothing seemed to be missing.
Oh well. At least I'd had the most pleasant evening in years.
I had just logged onto the internet when someone knocked on my door.
When I opened the door, Amanda stood there with her arms full of sacks of groceries.
"Sorry I'm running late," she said. "But that pimp was following me again and I didn't want to lead him back here."
I took some of the bags from her and carried them to the kitchen.
.... There is more of this story ...