What a dump, Abraham Russell thought as he glanced around the reception area. It was how he'd expected it, to be honest--naff in a cheap kind of way. They'd made an attempt to make it look sensual and erotic, but overall the effect was more Blackpool than burlesque. Stylish photos of scantily-clad models from the sixties and seventies were placed on the walls. The girls were all on the chubby side. It was a reminder of how hideous the average English woman had been until the advent of silicone implants.
The layout was similar to the other places he'd visited--receptionist counter right in front of him, waiting area with a couple of sofas, coffee table complete with complementary bowl of mints, and a TV to his right. A chavette with long blonde hair sat on one of the sofas and watched the TV with a bored expression. She wasn't wearing much--a gauzy white dressing gown over plain white underwear. Face okay, body not bad. Obviously rough as fuck and probably with a gob on her to make a sailor blush, but fake-tan Pamela would be acceptable. She at least had the sense to turn and give Abraham a smile.
He knew her name was Pamela because he'd picked her out in the gallery of portraits on the wall behind her. It was a common feature shared by most of the upmarket--relative, of course!--massage parlours up North. Their rosters were displayed in the waiting area to help the punter make his choice. The same pictures were displayed online if the parlour had a web page, but with the faces blurred out. Supposedly to protect the girls' privacy. Abraham reckoned it was because they didn't want to frighten the punters away.
"Hello, dear," the receptionist said. She was fat and wore too much makeup. "Welcome to Arabella's. I haven't seen you around before. First time?"
"Yes," Abraham said.
"That's fine," the receptionist said. "Our girls are very good. They'll put you at ease in no time at all."
"I meant first time here," Abraham said. "I'm extremely familiar with massage parlours."
"Oh," the receptionist said. "Then I hope you'll find us to be one of the better ones."
"Maybe," Abraham said.
Doubtful, he thought. He doubted some Northern slapper would have the same willingness to please as an Oriental honey, and he knew for sure they wouldn't be as jaw-droppingly beautiful as the Russian blondes down in London.
"I have very high standards," he stated.
"Then we'll have to do our utmost to please them," the receptionist said. "What brings you to Arabella's, Mister... ?"
"Russell," Abraham filled in. "Abraham Russell."
If the receptionist recognised his name, she didn't show it.
"I'm doing a tour of all the massage parlours in the city," Abraham said.
"Lucky you," the receptionist said.
"I wasn't supposed to visit here until next Tuesday, actually," Abraham said. "The girl I'd booked at Sandy's Lounge was off sick and the others were ... unappealing. You're close by, so I decided to visit and see what's available."
"Who's been the best so far?" the receptionist asked. "I like to know what the competition is up to," she added with a wink.
"Asian Angels," Abraham replied.
The receptionist frowned. "Asian Angels? I thought the police shut that place down ages ago. You want to steer clear of there. The girls aren't always working there out of choice, if you know what I mean."
"So what was it, a win on the lottery or the horses?" the receptionist asked.
Abraham's face creased up in puzzlement. Then he realised what she meant.
"Oh no, no," he said. "This is my job. I review massage parlours."
The receptionist paused.
Here comes the ass-kissing, Abraham thought.
She looked him straight in the eye.
"Bullshit," she said.
Abraham was taken aback. It was not the response he'd expected.
The receptionist chuckled. "Oh don't look so surprised," she said. "Plenty of blokes come in here and run that line. They think it'll motivate the girls to give better service. You've nothing to worry about in that department. We're not one of those city centre rip-off saunas. We have good girls here. They'll do their best to make sure you're fully satisfied."
She looked at Abraham with a knowing twinkle in her eyes.
"'Sides, I can tell you're not a proper reviewer. A proper reviewer wouldn't tell you up front they're a reviewer. They'd want the experience to be authentic, like it would be for any average bloke walking in off the street, and they wouldn't get that if they tipped the girls off beforehand."
"I am a proper massage parlour reviewer," Abraham protested. "I'm the massage parlour reviewer. I'm Abraham Russell. I write for GentlemanPunter. com. I wrote the Massage Parlour Review guide last year."
"Really?" the receptionist said, her face briefly freezing up in an expression of bovine stupidity.
Yes, really, you stupid fat cow, Abraham wanted to say.
"Well that's a bit daft, isn't it," the receptionist said. "How are you going to be able to write about a typical experience now you've tipped us off?"
Abraham couldn't give two shits about the 'typical' experience.
He gave her an unctuous smile. "I have very high standards," he explained. "I think it's only fair to let the girls know this in advance so they can try their best to earn a good review."
And give Abraham an experience that at least approached tolerability.
"I see," the receptionist said. She didn't seem convinced. "Well, we also cater to more specialised needs. We have a number of extra facilities, including a fully stocked BDSM dungeon."
Abraham shook his head and smiled. "Thanks, but no thanks," he said. "A proper BDSM session should be carried out in a proper BDSM dungeon with a proper, trained dominatrix."
"Oh," the receptionist said. Her lips, liberally smeared with greasy red lipstick, formed an 'o'.
"A massage with the usual extras will be quite sufficient," Abraham said.
"Okay then," the receptionist said. "That will be twenty plus whatever you agree with the girl in the room."
Abraham smiled, showing a perfect set of pearly white teeth.
"You know," he said. "Most of the establishments I visit choose to waive the fee or offer a substantive discount."
The receptionist chuckled.
"That's the other thing they try to pull--those blokes claiming to be massage parlour reviewers. The cheeky ones," she said. "Doesn't get them anywhere, mind you."
"That's most disappointing," Abraham said. "I don't suppose you could connect me with one of your superiors. Someone with more authority, maybe even the owner. Someone who'll better understand the business benefits a positive endorsement from me will bring."
He smiled again, showing his teeth.
"Sure," the receptionist said.
She turned around as if she was going to call for someone hidden away in one of the back rooms, but instead turned back around to face Abraham without saying a word.
"Hello. Arabella Colman, owner of Arabella's. How do you do," she said.
"I'm sorry, but we don't offer freebies or discounts. I'm sure--as a professional reviewer--this will not colour your opinion of our establishment in any way or form. After all, it's how the girl performs in the room that's important," the receptionist said.
"Of course," Abraham said.
That's two stars gone for starters, he thought. Better hope you have a real beauty available if you don't want this dump to drop into minus ratings.
He slapped two fifties down on the counter.
"I presume this will be sufficient," he said.
"I know you," the receptionist said, thoughtful. "Yes, Abraham Russell. I've heard that name before."
At last. Finally. Took the stupid cow long enough. Abraham waited for the inevitable grovelling.
"You're the one been going around all the parlours asking for freebies and trying to wheedle extras out of the girls. Threatening them with bad reviews if they don't. Yes, I've read the warnings about you."
Abraham's expression soured.
"Lies," he said. "Spread by establishments after I rightly castigated them for their shoddy standards of service."
He reached for his money.
"I take it my patronage is not welcome here," he said.
The receptionist looked in two minds, but was still fast enough to snatch the notes from the counter before his slowly descending hand reached them.
"Your money's as good as anyone else's," she said.
Abraham smiled. Nothing greedier than a greedy whore.
"That's a better attitude," he said. "So what charming ladies do you have available for my entertainment on this lovely afternoon?"
He held up a wagging finger.
"Don't forget. Thousands of punters read my blog every day."
"In that case, we should make sure you get our best girl. I'll see if Amanda is free."
This was more like it. Some fucking respect, finally.
He looked at the rows of portraits on the walls. None of them had the name Amanda.
"Which one's Amanda?" he asked.
"She's not up there," Arabella replied. "She's our special girl."
Sounded like bullshit to Abraham. Maybe they'd all pooled their cash and she was the one who got the good boob job.
"Very," Arabella said. "I guarantee you won't have had a service from a girl like her before."
"Okay, you've piqued my interest," Abraham said.
Only as prelude to the eventual disappointment, he thought.
"Wait here," Arabella said. "I'll go and see if she's available."
.... There is more of this story ...