He was carrying a pleasant smile. Thirty two to thirty five years old, bald, thin, not taller than 5’6″. He would turn out to be one of those occasional faces that appear before her, not more than twice in a year. She reads men so well, even at one glance. He entered into the room and greeted in a shy way. He was a decent one.
“I’m Steve Brown. What should I call you?“
She was lost into the soft romantic song that was playing in background. She didn’t answer but approached him with as usual fake smile.
Quickly, she held his hand, led towards the couch. She kissed him and put her right hand on his crouch. All the following events occurred faster than Steve expected it to be. The actions involved an erotic play including unzipping his slit, pulling her skirt up and the contact. The moment of ecstasy totally surprised him, which she noticed expertly. Steve didn’t make it.
One, two, three – she counted in her mind and definitely made it over. She often considers this skill as one of her talent and uses it only when she needs money but not in a mood to work for it. She stood up, dressed her clothes and walked towards the mirror to clear the stain of messed lipstick from her chin and tied her opened hair. She liked her recent hairstyle – topsy turvy ponytail, and now thats messed up.
“Rebecca“, she said, while zipping up her tunic and took a cigarette from her purse.
“Rebecca! Is that your name?“
“Hmm…got a lighter?”, she asked without looking at him.
“What! N…No“, she heard the response she expected. Changing the conversation from sex to cigarette, she often let her clients know that it’s over. For a minute she was asking for a lighter, finally found that in her purse. Without delaying, she lightened a smoke.
Steve was a non smoker. Even the bitter smell of the cigarette couldn’t brake his astonishment. Few seconds of a premature orgasm seemed to be a long gone for him.
“Hundred bucks mate! as we made the deal“, she said while gulping a smoke, sitting on the bed. Steve was still on the couch with his pants down. The song was still playing.
She approached the corridor door and held it open. Madame Morris, a fifty years old owner of the brothel was rude, loud and clear – talking to a cadet. Though they were certainly not appointed to remove anyone forcefully, but a fear of violated privacy was enough for Steve to recover from shock. He dressed up quickly and took his wallet.
She smiled, came closer to him and took the wallet from his hand. A minute later Steve got that back, with an absence of hundred dollars.
“See you Steve!” she waved with a pair of emotionless eyes and left the room.
Her regular men could count for more, but she didn’t find him one of them. Now she’s 29. She was 15, when a man, much older than her father turned to be her first customer.
Peter Shaw, a fifty three years old shoemaker, was her regular customer. He used to come each time after he earns profit in his business. He brought some good shoes for her last time when he got a good deal cracked. Even though he was one of her regular customer, he didn’t demand more sex from her. For Peter, this was only an additional feature. He always had a great need to raise the toast of cheap wine and anonymous talk.
“I’m telling you Julie, unlike you my wife is a real b**ch.”
Peter was in love with her name, the sound of its pronunciation. She often felt amused by the way Peter used to call her. She knew everything about Peter; his family, his business, profits, losses, arguments on the street for the shop space and every other detail, but only in a very subjective version of narrations. Sometimes she found some contexts quite unbelievable, that convinced her opinions that all men were liars and scums.
“My wife Amanda, demands a divorce. She became stubborn after delivering my second son, Rusty”, Peter continued his yelling while lighting a cigarette for her.
“I don’t like her presence and I told her that. She got another man in her life too. She says, she wants to leave me and stay with him. Thats fine cause I want to stay with you“, he finished his statement and looked at her.
She didn’t react at all. Peter’s wallet was laying on the bed. She kept her glass of wine on the chips trey and held his wallet open, looked at the picture of his wife. Amanda had short curly hair that was the colour of a lemon. No wonder, Peter often plays with her long curly hairdo, may be he didn’t like his wife’s short hair. She was at least sixty pounds overweight. Under the thin layer of her make up, she saw a pair of tired eyes of a woman who finally gave up on a baseless love and found someone worthy. She found Amanda’s clothes ragged, but was very sure that for Peter, they seemed to be normal. She was happy for Amanda. She was feeling peace deep down her heart that a lady got her true companion even during the twilight stage of her life. For a moment and next, she was imagining how she would contribute Amanda for her new wedding gown.
She looked even more into Amanda’s picture. She remembered her mother who left her alcoholic antisocial father. Her mom did everything to provide food and shelter and to protect her daughter from violence, which turned impossible in most cases. She accepted the life’s hardship after her mother passed away before a week she turned 15.
All men are scums – like her father, like Peter, she thought and threw a fake smile at him while finishing the rest wine with one gulp.
“I’m sorry Peter, but prices went up. I’m afraid you have to pay fifty bucks more for a meeting onwards.”
Peter sighed and pretended like he really got affected by hearing this from her.
“You’re breaking my heart Julie. However, now I want my payback for today.”
He put his hand on her lap. His eyes were lusty and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t see any love for her. Not to get depressed, she closed her eyes.
“Hi! I’m Noah Roberts.”
“Nice to meet you. I’ve never seen you before. You often visit this disco?“
Noah was 6’1″ tall. He was having his haircut short, clean shaved and a well built appearance. She gave a smile and accepted the cocktail he offered.
It was a pleasant talk. Noah bought her another drink and they went out for a walk, down the lane. For the first time in her life, a drunk evening ended just with a passionate kiss. A week later Noah offered her for a date. She wore an off-the-shoulder yellow satin piece and clipped her short bob hair nicely. That evening was on her favour. She was happy, so was he. The next fine dinner after few days and on. Caroline and Noah were now a couple.
Noah was 22 and Caroline was 29. He was a Medical student, young and a bit naive. He never asked her what she does. She started liking him. For her, he was nice and different than the men she experienced yet. The place Noah used to choose for the dinner were cheap, so that a student could afford it. She offered to pay for a meal in a better restaurant many times, but Noah was a stubborn kid.
Under the dim blue light, he noticed her pensive face.
“What are you thinking, Caroline?“
“Ummm.. Nothing. I think I like you“, she answered while having one ship from her drink.
“Just like! How about little more than just a like?“
“All right. I love you“, she said with an unblinking look, concentrating on Noah’s beautiful fingers.
“It’s not what I wanted hear tonight. Will you let me walk you home tonight or still a big no?” His voice was commanding and affectionate at the same time.
“Its a No.“
“Oh! Come on, Caroline! Now its too much. Its been 3 months since we’re together. Don’t you trust me that way?“
He looked sad but listened to her and stopped forcing her that evening. But every time they meet, he would ask for the same and get refused. Then one day,
“Why not, Caroline! I’m confused.“
“..because I’m a hooker. Kid! Ciao!” She was sad yet smiled and left the restaurant without looking back. Soon she started forgetting about Noah. She couldn’t afford anymore to get involved into a relationship and breaking up with an emotional kid before he could reject her on her face. Soon, like other chapters, Caroline’s story met an unfinished end.
They say, life is meant to go on. She found many lives inside one dented body. She painted herself as per other’s demand. All these years she was called by many names, some of them she doesn’t even remember. She forgot to notice the fine lines of ageing under layers and layers of make up, all these years and now the lines are hard to be hidden. Madame Morris isn’t anymore commanding on her rather she insists her many times to take the charge of her brothel. Many new customers rush in and out, keeping secret about their identities. Men stopped looking for her anymore. Rose, Jazz and Malissa are the new flowers in Madame Morris’ brothel-garden. Many names are in a row to be concealed behind exotic renames. They’re all respecting her as a senior.
Steve never visited her again after that night. She heard, he got married to an Ethiopian lady and living quite a happy life. She wondered, Steve probably would have forgotten Rebecca long ago. Now it was her turn to forget Rebecca and Steve brown.
Peter would remain as an alive memory for her that she doesn’t want to cherish. She remembers, The very first day Peter came to their brothel, she was not more than 24. He saw her and asked for her to Madame Morris. When he asked her name, before Madame Morris answers, he decided to call her Julie. He never explained why he chose that name and she never wanted to know the reason. Years before she heard from a source that Peter finally gave divorce to his wife Amanda. Amanda is now happy in her new family with her own sons and a step daughter from her new husband. Later, Peter got jailed in charge of smuggling of illegal wine. Peter Shaw would probably find his life again someday, with a younger Julie, somewhere.
She had no contact with Noah after that evening. She left a packet and 700 Dollars inside it, on the dinner table, that evening. All the time she knew the consequence of Noah-Caroline’s love story. So she paid him back everything he spent on her except a bunch of trusts, many beautiful evenings and a sky full of love. He must have done good in his study, probably got settled abroad and might have fallen in love with the lady of his life. Noah Roberts remembers her sometimes or might have forgotten her completely but he would be remembered by her as the beauty and scent of a Caroline flower – forever.
She asked herself, looking into her own reflexion in the mirror, about her own existence. The world only could see her reflection , nobody met the real her. She was more strict than Rebecca, a way more beautiful than Julie and not at all insensitive like Caroline. She’s Murphy, that’s what her mother used to call her and she used to run towards her mother – messed up hair, bare footed. No-one called her by that name after her mother passed away but she responded when men called her by the names they like. Many names – many identities, helped her healing the wounds of words. When society called Julie, a whore, for a moment she thought she isn’t Julie. She isn’t Rebecca or Caroline either and that was less painful. When the noble-charactered society poured curses on her, she always hid behind the name that her mother gave her thats Murphy. She remembered her mother’s wrinkled weary hands on her ears when her father used to scold them.
She looked at her own hands. Wrinkle lines on her hands looks exactly same as her mother’s. Unconsciously, She raised both of her hands near her ears and held them closed. It’s warm, like her mother’s hand woven cap in winter. Suddenly she couldn’t hear anything. No scoldings from her father. No demands from the customers. No taunts, no pain, no curses, no hatred except one tired but sweet, affectionate voice.
And once again, she ran towards her mother, being a small girl, giggling and a pair of pure eyes – wearing an old faded pink frock – messed up hair, bare footed.