Tell me what you thought
Singing For Your Supper
She shivered as a gust of wind blew through the trees rattling the bare branches as it passed. Pulling her shawl closer she walked on looking up numbly at the grey winter sky. If anyone had asked her she would not have been able to say what had happened straight in front of her and she would not have been able to say what she was thinking about, if she was thinking at all. The gust almost blew her on her way and she quickened her step accordingly. She noticed the bleak leafless trees, stark against the sky, breaking the unending monotony of cloud. She decided that the day was somewhere between now and then. Somewhere after time was created but before it started. The day like the winter grey would go on for ever. Nothing ever changing not even her even-treaded trudging. On she plodded down the road. Sylvan Way they called it. There was something nice about the name. There was nothing nice about the road. Bleak brick factories lined the edge. The red of the factory brick long covered in black soot from the spuming chimneys that threw out there muck night and day, day and night, smoke vomiting out for ever. Dark against a dark sky.
If anyone had noticed her they would have seen an attractive, full figured woman, maybe even fat, probably somewhere in her mid thirties. They would have seen her shabby coat covered, like her head, with a large tatty lace shawl that seemed to serve no discernible purpose save some misguided cosmetic intent. She clutched the shawl as if grasping it until her knuckles went white would somehow keep the cold out. The blue grey coat part covered with a grey brown shawl somehow seemed to sent out the message ‘poverty’. At least that was accurate. She thought she felt that there was no point in hiding her status. Wrongly she thought it might get her more customers; the sympathy vote. She lived so much in the real harsh world that she had forgotten that the punters only wanted a dream. They did not want reality. One or two might take pity on her and give her a bit of a tip but, considering her good looks, most avoided her. They went somewhere else.
As she trudged on she did not notice Bee. So called Bee because she was in charge. She kept everyone in order. Organised the lot of them. If she did not like you that was usually it. You were out. You could not work. Bee had beaten her up twice but she had come back both times so the older woman left her alone, as long as she paid some form of homage. Fortunately, Bee too was distracted and did not notice the other pass her. If she had just walked past she would have got her face pushed in again. On she trudged.
Almost without thinking she decided to change her name. Mary, her real one, was no good. She decided on Danielle. Pretty she thought. She had often used it before. She had been arrested twice and had used it both times. Mary was a name that suited her. It went with her brown shoulder length hair, her drab clothes. Danielle somehow seemed to smack of glamorous blondes. The discrepancy sometimes put off customers but by the time they had got talking to her it was usually too late, they were hooked. Her prices were cheap so not many got away. The ones that did usually escaped because she let them. There was no doubting it, she was good, when she got a customer they frequently came back for more. But she did not get many customers. Not as many as the other girls. Almost without thinking she wore drab clothes so that no one noticed her. Maybe she was ashamed of what she did and who she was. No one knew. Her least of all. Some of the customers liked it that way. They thought she was somehow more discrete. But the sort of customers that liked discretion were also the same ones who were usually too shy to ask.
She was so wrapped up in her grey that she walked straight into Peter who was also miles away in a dismal dream land that looked like reality but was not quite the same.
‘Peter!’ she exclaimed, startled by the gentle contact.
‘Jeana’ the other retorted.
‘Danielle tonight’ she said.
‘Oooh, exotic. Good luck’
‘Same to you’ she said as she continued her even pace.
Peter had always interested her. She had known him since they were in school together. She was two years older and when they were very young, in better days, she had looked on him almost as a baby brother. Baby sister now, she thought. She was the only person still allowed to call her Peter. Everyone else had to use Petra. The punters used what they liked. She reached the corner of the factory and stood by a huge gate post that if it half hid her at least sheltered her from the wind. She always stood here. Near the person who on occasion had helped her, protected her, kept her company.
Petra did even worse business than the rest of the girls. This was partly because as a girl she was not very convincing and as a man the proximity of the other girls scared away the closet queens. Once or twice she had been attacked when people found out that she had not always been as she was now. Mostly she was just tall and unattractive. Mary never thought of that. She had always liked the look of him. They had never been to bed, except for a cuddle and then only when one of them was too upset to do anything. Sometimes she wished that the other would make a pass at her. She had always fancied him like mad and that had not changed when Peter had become Petra. She could not tell anyone because Bee, for what ever reason, did not like lesbians or anyone else who might deviate from the narrowest of heterosexual norms. Mary wondered how a woman in the line of work could be so strangely concerned about the desires, inclinations and sex lives of the others. Petra at least was not scared of Bee. In spite of verbal assault and outright rudeness she was either too stubborn or too stupid to care or to move on.
Since Mary had refused to call her by her new name Petra had started to call her Jeana. The name stuck. It was now the name most of the people knew her by. It was a sick joke. Jeana was her mother a woman she felt nothing for as she had only known her briefly before she died of alcohol poisoning. Briefly, in the ten years she had lived with her mother, because she was usually left alone to do as she wanted day and night sometimes for a week at a time.
She was startled by a quiet whistle and her heart sank. It was ‘The Inspector’. All the girls knew of him. They all loathed him but probably none of them would ever dare let him know. She looked up the street to see if Petra had hidden and seeing him duck behind a gate post walked over to the car.
‘Hello, Tony’ she said calmly, not giving away her disgust and disappointment. ‘Do you want me to hop in?’ as she opened the door.
‘All right, if you insist’ he said.
Stupid bastard, she thought. No one would want to hop in to that car. Not willingly. At least Bee would give her a tenner. That was the way it worked. If you kept the Inspector happy you got a bit of something. He started the car.
‘Don’t go far’ she said. ‘I have to work tonight. I have to earn some money to pay the rent’.
‘All right then’ the other assented driving the car through the open gates behind which Petra hid.
Not this one, she thought but it was too late. Before she could say anything he had turned into the factory and parked the car in the forecourt. She thought that he might not notice the other if she kept him busy, distracted. She put her hand on his crotch and went down on him straight away. After a few seconds he pulled her up roughly by the hair and stuck his tongue in her mouth. This was the bit she hated. There was nothing she could do. She had to pretend she liked it. As quickly as she could she pulled away and went back down. She did not mind that as much. In a strange way it was not as intimate. In his fumblings he had knocked the mirror so that she could see in it. Without being too obvious she saw Petra’s silhouette run back through the gates. At least she had got away. After a few minutes the Inspector lived up to his reputation and insisted that she remove all the clothes below her waist. He roughly turned her bum towards him and shone his torch up her crack. Within another minute it was all over. He told her to put her clothes back on and zipped up his flies.
‘What’s business like round here?’ He asked acrimoniously.
‘You should know’ she said a little too quickly.
Almost sympathetically he said ‘Yes, I know, but this isn’t a residential area. You know we will not pick you up half as often round here. I have done you a favour getting you to move and you know that almost anyone coming down here is after you know what’.
‘Yeh. There is that’ she said wearily ‘Come on. Drive me back. I have work to do.’
‘Bloody cold bitch aren’t you?’ growled the inspector. ‘Don’t you have any heart for what you just did?
‘Oh yeh. I enjoyed it. I really did’ she lied as convincingly as she was able. ‘But I do have he rent to pay and it is bloody cold out there. I don’t want to have to stand there all night long.’
‘How much do you owe?’ he asked.
‘£250’ she said blankly.
He looked stunned. ‘Erm.. Well, here is twenty pounds towards it then’ he said quickly, dragging a note out of his pocket and putting it in to her hand.
‘Cor. Blimey! Thanks.’ she said, astonished at the unexpected payment.
‘Stay out of trouble and don’t tell anyone about that’ he said leaning across her to open the door.
Outside the car she felt elated. She had never been paid by him. Probably no one had. She was feeling very pleased with herself when she walked round the corner and through the gate posts of her factory.
Peter was still in hiding and did not come out until she had shouted her name. ‘Petra, Petra, It is safe now he has gone. You can come out now.’
The other stepped out from behind the enormous gate post. ‘Did he inspect you?’
‘Oh yeh. The usual. Torch the lot. He gave me £20. That’s a first’
‘Bloody hell, thanks for keeping him away from me.’ and then after a pause ‘Why did he give you money? He always has it free. It is what keeps him off our backs.’
‘I don’t know. I told him I was broke and had to get the rent money together but I think he had already decided to give me the money. I think if I had said I needed £50 he might have stretched to that. But who knows.’
‘Are you going to tell Bee he paid you?’
‘Well she might not pay me if I told her. You don’t know what to do do you. What’s best?’
‘Dunno. If you think about it, if he is going to pay you then he must like you. Is that good or bad?’
‘Well he might avoid me if he thinks he has to pay for it. Mind you he might want me more if he thinks I’m worth paying for. What do you think?’
He shrugged and seeing a car coming walked out of the gate posts. As it was a BMW she joined him. Not one of the regulars. She knew almost all of there cars. You got a feel for the punters and what they earned. This one looked quite well to do.
Wisely she did the talking. She was lucky he wanted two girls. She asked him to turn into the factory behind her. He refused and said he wanted to take them both back to his hotel. The price went up again and she agreed. He looked OK and Petra was there if there was any funny business.
They walked behind him silently through the hotel hallways. Eventually they arrived at a plush if small room. Then she realised she had been wrong. Almost everyone preferred her to Petra but his was different. You could see the man was in love. It was always like this. If any of them actually did get round to getting Petra in private they always wanted more. She had three or four punters who would ring her every couple of weeks. None of them had any money and no one could live on what they paid. But she did it for the sex life as much as anything.
The man seemed to loose interest in Danielle quickly. He started complimenting Petra on her tits and her hips. You could see the hard-on through his trousers as soon as he touched her silicon breasts. Danielle stood behind him and deftly fondling him she undressed him and took out the money from his wallet so he could see but while he did not care.
Petra had a system. As soon as she had the money she always told the customer she had been a man. It was better than them finding out afterwards. Danielle hid most of the money in a tiny pocket she had sewn into the inside of her top. The rest she put into her purse so the punter could see. She quite liked the look of him. He was about 6 ft tall, bald, thin probably about 40 or 45 and not bad looking. Petra waited until she had seen the money disappear and was about to say her bit when the man staring into her eyes spoke.
‘I am Archie. I think you are gorgeous I live in Bristol and I want you to move in with me. I’ll pay you £500 if you spend a week with me’ before the others had time to speak he gabbled ‘ of course you can bring your friend with you but I can only give her £100. You can have her for company and so you feel safe. Come on, please say yes?’
Petra was stunned. Danielle was not so moved. Probably because she was only worth a fifth of the other but maybe because she had had all these kinds of offer herself at some time. Pretty woman, she thought. Petra strikes it big.
‘Well we will decide afterwards. You may not want us then’ Danielle interrupted wisely. Petra kissed Archie passionately and genuinely. You could see she was attracted. It looked like she had given up her plan to tell him about her sex change. For now anyway.
‘But you can have me if you want me. I’ll say yes now. Danielle can have half of my money so we are both the same if you still want us.’ Petra cooed.
‘Oh I will want you. You can bring your friend along for the company. Its up to you.’