Once Anne arrived late at Paul's, delayed by work and in a talkative mood. She was full of herself and loquacious as she removed her shoes; but as she took off her skirt she remembered where she was. And what she was. She cried "Oh". In measured tones Paul directed her to continue disrobing. She removed her blouse and stood humbly while he bound and leashed her.

He said nothing, but she could see he was angry. She did not need to be told why she got no dinner that night; she knelt in the kitchen and stared at the empty feed bowl. He said he would be going away tomorrow to inspect a couple of Swedish girls in another city. He considered giving her the night off, but he had changed his mind. "Here is what you're going to do..."

The next evening shortly after dark, Anne stood in front of a bar in a working-class section of the city. She was wearing high heels, a leather miniskirt, and a low-cut blouse. And a short padded jacket; in view of the cold, Paul allowed her that on condition she leave it open. To complete her ensemble, she had applied a cheap red lipstick she bought that morning.

She tried to seem enticing, but she was petrified with fear of what the night would bring. She was to prostitute herself and not return home until at least four men had used her.

She picked this location from a map. Now that she was here, it looked dangerous; she should have asked Kay, or Maude, or even Mme. Byrne for advice before setting out. But it was too late now.

A man in black pants and a denim shirt came out the front door and motioned for her to follow him around to the side of the building. She stood with her back to the cinder-block wall and raised the hem of her skirt while he took her. He handed her a twenty, said to wait there for his brother, and left.

A minute later, a younger man came out and took her the same way. He handed her a five and she looked at him blankly. He reached in his pocket and gave her another five. Two men, she was halfway there already; this might be easier than she thought. She would earn less for Paul than at Mme. Byrne's, but he knew that. She looked to her side and saw patrons staring at her through a large window.

When no one else emerged to make use of her, she went back to the sidewalk and started to enter the bar. The bartender frowned and pointed to the door. Whores were not allowed inside, she would have to stay on the sidewalk. Stung by his rebuke she moved down the street a couple doors outside a closed storefront.

After about ten minutes, a car passed by on the other side of the street. It slowed down and she saw two men look out. At the end of the block, it turned around and stopped in front of her. A small man - Anne was not tall, but he was undersized - got out and beckoned to her. She sat in front between him and the driver as the car sped away. He said "We got one" and gave a harsh laugh that frightened Anne. The driver said nothing but nodded impassively.

She felt a mounting sense of dread as they traveled to the old part of town. The man slipped his hand under her skirt and up her thigh, and she opened her legs for him. He was just on the point of penetrating her (Would Paul let her count that? Probably not, she figured) when the car stopped. He goosed her and withdrew. They were at the back corner of a parking lot behind a boarded-up factory. Several other cars were already there, and a dozen men were lounging around. They stood up as Anne's car approached.

This was promising; she could make her quota early, maybe even get a ride home. She got out after her two companions; the others congratulated Leo and Shorty and looked Anne over appraisingly.

Leo told her to remove her skirt. The men smiled to see she had no panties on. One reached inside her blouse to show she had no bra either. "A real pro," he said.

Leo ordered her to bend over the front of his car. She had to stand on tiptoe in her high heels and it was hard to avoid slipping off with her legs spread wide; two men grasped her arms and held her fast. She rejoiced in the warmth of the engine as several of them took her.

One of the men who held her arms released it and told her to kneel. When he was done using her mouth, she served five or six others the same way.

Another made her lie on her back. The surface of the lot was rough with gravel and small stones that dug into her as she yielded to his thrusts. They did not let her have her skirt back until all of them had enjoyed her. She put it on and fastened it with half-frozen fingers.

By then the other men had driven off, leaving only her and Leo and Shorty. Her hopes for a ride home faded. She wondered when she would be paid and how much; as if in reply, Leo pointed an automatic in her face and demanded all her money. She handed it over and he tossed it in the car.

Shorty spoke up. His girl friend was about Anne's size and he wanted the padded jacket as a present for her, before Leo put holes in it. Leo waved his pistol and Anne removed her jacket and handed it to Shorty. He took it and got in the car.

Leo ordered her to her knees and put the gun at her head. She began to whimper and prepared to die when the noise of a siren startled them. It may have been a fire engine or an ambulance, Anne never learned. But it alarmed Leo; he gave her a swift kick, jumped in the car and drove away leaving Anne alone in the lot.

She got up off the ground and started to walk home.

She found her way to the street. Her apartment was on the other side of town; she would have to go around the edge, she could not be seen in populated areas.

A light rain began to fall; it wet her blouse which clung to her body revealingly. At least there was no wind, she was grateful for that. Few pedestrians were abroad at this time, especially in this part of the city. Those she met gave her a wide berth and leered after her as she passed. Every time a car approached she shrank into the shadows.

After an hour the pain in her feet was so great that she took off her high heels and left them in a yard. She walked barefoot through the winter night dodging broken glass on the sidewalk.

Some time later, she encountered a gang of teenagers bent on mischief who threw rocks at her. She ran into a wooded area beside the road and hid behind a tree. The boys organized a hunt for the whore and the girls collected stones. She heard them enter the woods; she could not stay here.

She looked around anxiously. A short ways off she saw a narrow valley or deep gully that might offer a place of concealment. She reached the edge unexpectedly and fell, tumbling down into a creek swollen by winter rains. After a moment of lying in the icy water she picked herself up. Nothing broken, but she would be a mass of bruises tomorrow morning. If she lived to see it. She struggled not to let fear overwhelm her.

The sound of the boys drew nearer, they would find her down here and pelt her with stones. Ahead of her the creek entered a culvert beneath the road. Part of her way there was screened by overgrowth, but she would have to travel the last stretch unprotected from above.

She crept beneath the concealing branches and then hobbled as fast as she could in the rocky creek bed. She slipped, stood up unsteadily and continued until she reached the culvert. There she hid wet and cold, like a frightened rabbit from a pack of hungry foxes as the boys fanned out to catch her.

In time they tired of the game. They did not want to go down in the gully; the sides were steep, they would get stuck down there, they would ruin their clothes. The girls called them sissies, but after some more searching they left. Anne heard their laughter fade as they went down the road.

Cautiously she stuck her head out of the culvert; no sign of anyone. She emerged and made her way upstream looking for a way out of the gully. There was none, she was trapped unless she could scramble up the slope.

Twice she fell back bruised and dirty into the creek. Briars scratched her legs. Once she was almost to the top when her metal collar got hooked on a branch; she had to let go and slide back down again. At last by grasping exposed roots and pulling herself up, she made it. She crawled over thick brambles that clawed at her and tore her clothes.

Eventually she reached a narrow path; there she lay in the dirt unable to go any farther. If they found her now, they could have her. She wiped the mud from her face and noticed that her gaudy lipstick stayed in place as advertised. A few minutes later she crawled along the path to the woods' edge and looked down the road. She saw the gang, but at a distance and walking away from her. She retreated back among the trees and waited.

After five minutes she looked out again. No one in sight. She emerged and resumed her homeward journey. At the edge of the road was a pile of stones, egg-sized and larger; they were meant for her. She shuddered and walked on. She tried to close her sodden blouse but it was torn in ribbons from her climb out of the gully. She was essentially naked from the waist up, but modesty was a luxury out of her reach.

The rain began to come down heavily and she looked around for shelter. Ahead of her was a whitewashed house surrounded by a neatly trimmed hedge and a wide lawn. An old wooden tool shed stood a short distance away in a field.

Ignoring the "no trespassing" signs she entered it as quietly as she could on rusty hinges that resisted her, and stood inside while her eyes grew used to the dim light from a dirty window. Garden implements were piled around each of the walls; there was no place for her to lie down or even sit. She squatted on the rough wood floor to wait out the rain.

She imagined the kind of family who lived in the tidy house and she envied them. Their steady conventional lives, dining together at the table from clean plates, sleeping in beds, sending the children off to school each morning brushed and clean; while she huddled half-nude and filthy in a leaky shed driven by an irresistible need to obey the commands of a man she hardly knew.

Then she saw the snake.

It saw her about the same time and raised its head, its tongue flickering. Anne screamed and tried to open the door. It was latched. She fumbled in the dark to unlock it and succeeded, but her cries had aroused the owner. He threw open a window of the house, told his wife to call the police, and fetched his rifle.

Anne tried to escape across the field, but the rain had turned it into a thick gumbo that clung to her feet and slowed her down. She heard a shot and felt the splash of mud on her legs at the same time. A few seconds later, another one passed close by on her left; he had her in range. In a panic she dragged herself into a line of trees out of his sight and threw herself on the ground. She crawled through more briars to a small stream where she washed her feet and scrambled to a road on the far side.

After a half hour of tired progress she saw the lights of a police station ahead. She could not let them see her; if they were not looking for her as a thief, she would be arrested as a common whore. She turned and made a wide detour. As a whore; there was that word again. Everyone called her that; at Mme. Byrne's, at the restaurant, the bar, that gang. And look at her, what else was she now? Was Paul training her for it, or was she already one at heart?

The detour made her lose her bearings. Worse, a large dog began to chase her and she ran for several blocks in terror. She turned corners and was almost at the point of exhaustion when she noticed she was alone again, but without any idea where she was. She plodded on in despair.

Her steps brought her to an overpass of the highway that ringed the city. She had gone farther out of her way in the dark than she intended. Beneath the arch was a homeless encampment where some men gathered around a fire. Heedless by this time of what happened to her - she guessed that was Paul's intention - and perishing from the cold, she headed straight for it and stumbled into the circle.

Two of the men made room for her at the fire. Shivering badly now, she knelt close to the small blaze rubbing her hands and making incoherent sounds. The man to her left was eating a can of beans with an old spoon; he offered it to her. Greedily she took out a heaping spoonful before she remembered it was forbidden. Stifling her reluctance (she was famished) she thanked him and handed it back.

Another man offered to let her lie on a canvas under his blanket. She accepted gratefully and was settling in when he joined her. She could not remove her skirt in this position, so she loosened the waistband and pulled it up to just under her breasts while he took her.

When he was done he left and was replaced by another man; and another, and another, until everyone who wanted to use her had his chance. Their breath in her face reeked of alcohol and decay, but they were gentle with her. She clung tightly to each as long as possible.

Soon she was warm enough to go on. She got up, readjusted her skirt and prepared to leave. They invited her to stay the night but she declined. What would they say if she told them she had to be at work tomorrow? That she had a job downtown with a private office and a personal secretary? They wouldn't believe her. She was lying, whores did that. At that moment she saw she could not keep up her two separate lives much longer. She would have to pick one or the other; and she knew which it had to be.

As she walked the rest of the way, about two hours, the wind rose and she hurried as fast as her tired legs allowed. Toward eleven the rain came back in force, with gusts that almost knocked her down in her weakened state. She hid in the wet grass when she saw people or cars coming, and once she was forced to conceal herself in a garbage bin. She approached her building on unlit back alleys; when she fell, she got back up and continued.

She reached home some time after midnight, chilled to the bone and sore all over. She went to the service door in back and rang the manager's bell.

Martinique appeared a minute later in a beige satin robe. She let Anne inside and looked her over without expression. Instinctively Anne sank down and knelt at her feet.

Martinique turned without a word and walked away. Anne rose slowly, went to her apartment and let herself in. She turned up the heat, grateful that Paul allowed her this comfort, and collapsed on the rug.

An hour later she woke to a toasty apartment, much refreshed and glad to have survived the night's experiences. They were unforgettable. Would Paul let her offer herself to the homeless men occasionally? They couldn't pay anything but they were so appreciative.

She took off her two garments and put the shreds of her blouse in the trash. She kept the leather miniskirt; he might tell her to go out in it again. She cleansed her body of the men's seed as best she could and bathed her wounds. Going to the kitchen she poured herself a large bowl of water and lapped it all up before retiring properly. She was asleep seconds after her head touched the floor.

Pub: 22 Feb 2021 03:19 UTC
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