06252017Headline:

Working Girl: If Your Client Doesn’t Pay, Don’t Try to Steal His Wallet

Just a Regular Working Girl: Moralistic Values Gleaned from My Time in Chicago’s Seedy Underworld.

Moral 40: If a Client Doesn’t Pay, Don’t Try to Steal His Wallet

 

Over 20 years of prostitution had left my boss Caroline looking a little rough.

In her sexy ads, she hid her face with her hair, with shadows, big hats, glasses of wine, snazzy jazz hands with bright red nails in a Madonna-like pose over her face, and with sexy shots of herself from behind, where she was doing that almost-looking-over-my-shoulder-but-not-quite-because-I’m-a-seductive-tease pose.

Hiding her face did get her more phone calls from potential clients, but it also meant that she was kind of misrepresenting herself. It meant that when a new client got a look at her in person, there was always the chance that he’d decide to put his hard-earned money–and other hard things–elsewhere.

Sometimes when a client rejected her, Caroline became depressed, withdrawn, and what I worried could be interpreted as suicidal.

Other times, she tried to be prepared, and she fought back. She had developed some kind of escort super-intuition that told her when a guy was likely to reject her. It was eerily accurate.

 

Moral 36: Don’t misrepresent yourself. You won’t like what you get.

 

The magic of photography.Image by MADE ON at Flickr Commons.

The magic of photography.
Image by MADE ON at Flickr Commons.

 

“Don’t go shopping yet,” Caroline said one time. “I want you to be here when this new guy shows up.”

This was rare. And a little alarming. “Why?” I said. As her personal assistant, I usually went out shopping when she was with clients. I was barely 20 years old and had grown up sheltered and Catholic. I’d gone to Catholic schools until college, and was taught by nuns in high school.

Meeting johns made me feel kind of awkward.

I didn’t judge Caroline for being a prostitute, though. I liked to think I was above the whole “judging others” thing. I liked to think I was better than people who thought they were better than other people.

“Don’t go,” Caroline said, “because I think this guy’s going to reject me.”

“What makes you say that?” I asked.

“I don’t know, just the way he sounded on the phone.”

“How’d he sound?” I didn’t think I had a super-intuition, and was curious as to how Caroline’s spoke to her.

Apparently, it shouted a lot. “OH MY GOD!” Caroline said. “I DON’T KNOW! He just sounded like he might try to leave without paying me!”

I shut up and accepted this. Questioning a shouting prostitute is a losing battle. Also:

 

Moral 37: A career prostitute’s intuition is probably more impressive than her life choices.

 

“We can’t let him leave without paying!” Caroline said. “He’ll be here soon and we’re getting at least a percentage of that money.”

I was disturbed by this “we” talk. Since when had collecting payments become part of my duties? I wished I could just go clean the cat box again. “Even if he doesn’t want to . . .”

“OH MY GOD! Can’t you even just say ‘have sex’? YOU ARE SO LAME! Yes, even if he doesn’t want to do me, he still has to pay. Because my time is just as valuable as his, and in that 45 minutes I had set aside for him, I could have gotten a client who would have actually paid. You can’t cancel an appointment at the doctor without some kind of cancellation fee! Why should he be able to just drop our appointment?”

I didn’t think that was quite the same situation, but decided not to bring it up.

If only getting paid were this easy.Image by Rob Boudon at Flickr Commons

If only getting paid were this easy.
Image by Rob Boudon at Flickr Commons

“He’s gonna try to leave, and I’m gonna need you as backup! It’ll be two against one!”

“What?” I said. If the “we” talk had disturbed me, now I was downright alarmed. A prostitute had just told me to be her backup in a fight with a john.

“Hide in the bathroom!” she said. “Then when he tries to leave, you jump out and he’ll see I’m not alone!”

“Um,” I said. “Caroline, I don’t think I’d be good backup. For anything.”

She was about to yell at me again. Then she stopped and considered me. “You’re right,” she said, with a little sigh of defeat. “You look like a candyass push-over.”

It was a sign of how messed up this situation was that I actually felt relieved by that statement.

But Caroline didn’t change her mind. “Hide in the bathroom anyway. You’ll probably just stay in there the whole time. I’ll do my best. But if not, I’ll call your name and then you come out.”

“And do what?”

“Nothing. Don’t do anything, don’t say anything—you’ll look weak. Just stand there. And have that expression, you know, where you look icy cold and stare through people.”

“Icy cold?” I said. I hadn’t been aware that I stared through people with an icy cold glare. Maybe that’s what people meant when they called me aloof?

So it turned out I did have intuition. It was telling me this was a bad plan.

 

Moral 38: You know that feeling of dread you get when a prostitute tells you to be her backup? That’s intuition.

 

But I went in the bathroom, shut the door and turned out the light. I stood there in the dark, my heart pounding and my palms sweaty, listening. Caroline and I hadn’t even discussed what I would do if the client didn’t reject her. I guessed I would just have to stay in the bathroom, listening to them have sex.

There was a knock on Caroline’s door. She opened it, put on her phone sex voice and said, “Hi.”

“Hey,” he said. He had his own phone sex voice.

“Oh,” she said. “You brought flowers, how sweet! Come on in.”

“Oh,” he said, and his phone sex voice faltered. Oh crap. “Hmm, are you Kira?”

“That’s me,” Caroline said.

“Hmm, I got a different impression of you online.” He still sounded polite and educated. But the lust was gone. “You look different.”

This was not going well. I was going to have to come out of the bathroom and glare.

“It’s just an older picture,” she said, but she wasn’t trying to salvage anything. She knew.

“A much older picture,” he said. “I don’t think this is going to work.”

“Wait, you can’t just leave,” Caroline said.

“Yes, I can.”

“No,” she said. “You owe me a cancellation fee and you’re not going anywhere till I get it.”

“What? No way in hell I’m paying you for not —-ing you! It ain’t my fault you’re a old ugly ho!”

Ouch.

“You think you can just take advantage of me and waste my time?” Caroline said. “You think I’m gonna let you walk out of here because I’m all alone?”

I heard scuffling and thumps against the floor and the wall. It had gotten physical, and not in the usual way.

“Get outta my way!” he said. “Let go a’me!” His speech became riddled with four-letter words.

“Leslie!” Caroline yelled.

Crap.

I turned the handle on the bathroom door and sauntered out with what I hoped was an icy don’t-mess-with-me glare.

 

I once had an outhouse and this was still pretty much the most uncomfortable thing to ever happen to me in a bathroom.Image by KellyK at Flickr Commons

I once had an outhouse and this was still pretty much the most uncomfortable thing to ever happen to me in a bathroom.
Image by KellyK at Flickr Commons

 

The client was a trim black man in a sharp gray suit. He probably looked sophisticated and clean cut before he became locked in a physical struggle with Caroline by the door. His smooth and cool voice was long gone, too.

 

Moral 39: Everybody looks bad when they’re haggling with a prostitute.

 

“WHAT!” he said when he saw me. “WHAT THE F—- KIND OF GAME YOU RUNNING? You got your girl in the back the whole time?”

“Leslie!” Caroline said, struggling to keep the door closed with her foot and lock the guy against the wall with her arms. “Get his wallet!”

To my eternal shame, I actually moved toward him.

“Don’t you touch my wallet!” he said. “B—ch don’t you touch my wallet!”

And I realized, Holy crap, I can’t take this guy’s wallet! I can’t get involved in this at all!

I was already on the wrong side of legality—not to mention danger—working this job in the first place. Getting involved in a physical struggle would be a step too far. Call it intuition.

 

I think I know how this is going to end.Image by Paris on Ponce & Le Maison Rouge

I think I know how this is going to end.
Image by Paris on Ponce & Le Maison Rouge

 

I watched Caroline fight with this guy, horrified, waiting for someone to throw a punch. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that. Caroline used her nails, and he basically tried to fight her off and get to the door. It was like he’d walked into an apartment and been attacked by a clawing hissing cat.

Finally, he managed to get away from her and made it out the door. Caroline, in her lingerie and platforms, couldn’t follow.

She stood in her entryway, panting. “Oh my god,” she said, looking at me with wide eyes. “That was wild. Are you okay?”

“Yes,” I said. “Are you okay?”

She nodded vigorously. “Yeah yeah yeah yeah. I’m fine, I’m fine. But wow. Why didn’t you get his wallet?” she didn’t sound angry. She was honestly curious.

“Caroline,” I said. “I can’t get involved in something like that.”

A small frown creased her brows for a moment, but then it smoothed over. “You’re right,” she said, her breasts rising and falling deeply in her lacy top. “You did the right thing.”

 

Moral 40: If the client doesn’t pay, don’t try to steal his wallet.

***

L. Marrick is a historical fantasy writer and freelance copywriter. She waxes poetic about swords and the Renaissance Faire at her author blog. She looks all professional-like at her copywriting site. She eats too much chocolate and still doesn’t believe downward dog is supposed to be a restful yoga pose. You can connect with her at either of her websites, and follow her on Twitter @LMarrick.


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