Wednesday, March 5, 2008

conclusion of serial story, "Losing Deirdre"

Dear readers,

(I have an audience! Bless you!)

Thank you for your patience thus far.

Here is the conclusion of my story, not to be reproduced in any public venue without permission of the author (me). Beware of heavy curses, if not legal consequences.

Losing Deirdre, Part 3

by Jean Roberta, copyright 2008.


“You really going?” she whimpered. I had pulled on my clothes and was slipping my feet into the satin pumps that would look like badges of my profession in the grey light of early morning. All the same, I liked the look of my pale slim legs coming out of sleek black shoes, and I liked the sharp sound they made on the wooden floor, as though my feet meant business.

“Come with me,” I urged. “We have to get out of here, but we don’t have to leave the agency until something happens. Or we could even set up our own.”

“It’s not even light yet, Jackie.”

“My name is Christine,” I reminded her. I ran a comb through my bleached-blonde curls. “If we wait too long, the cops could show up. I’m serious. This has been coming down for a few weeks, and if they got Amanda, they’re likely to come here. You know the cops have everything on computer these days, and Ben and Alexis must have had some reason for splitting Montreal to come to this dump.”

Like a child, Deirdre rolled over and pulled the blankets up to her chin. “I want to sleep,” she muttered. “I’ll call you later.” My stomach lurched as I realized that she really wasn’t coming with me, and I couldn’t make her.

“Sleep tight, baby,” I whispered, squeezing her shoulders through the bedclothes. I kissed her and turned away before my tears could start streaking my mascara.

I got home to my apartment before sunrise. My furniture looked alien to me, as though it belonged to someone else. A part of my life is over, I thought. Much as I always said I hated it, I knew I would miss the excitement of the game. Not to mention the tax-free income.

I told myself I could find an honest job if I looked hard enough. I had done two years at university, and I could type. And if I were lucky, one of the bosses would take an interest in me and then I could make a little on the side. Unless I could find a better gig. I might even be able to support Deirdre.

By late afternoon I was high from lack of sleep and jumpy from lack of news. Jenny had started getting on my nerves as soon as she came home from school, so I parked her in front of the TV and told her to leave me alone. I had been trying to cut down on my smoking, but I was into my second pack of the day when the phone rang.

“Jackie,” breathed a husky voice. It was Charlene, who was christened Carla, one of Ben and Alexis’ other girls. “Ben and Rosie were busted this afternoon.”

“They should have seen it coming,” I told her. My voice sounded too shrill.

“The cops want us all to come down. They got a statement from me.”

“Are you out of your mind?” I screeched. “Unless I’m under arrest, I’m not telling them anything.”

“Jackie, they got the book.”

“Our photos in the album? Those should look good, taped on the walls of the cop shop.” She laughed. “Where’s Deirdre?”

“They’ve got her.”

“Shit. Can they charge her with anything?”

“I don’t know.” She sounded tired and bewildered.

“Thanks for telling me, Carla.” As soon as I hung up, I flipped through my little black book and dialled.

I phoned all the other girls who used to work for Ben and Alexis. Finally I reached Jonelle (Karen), who had been scooped up by the cops along with everyone else in the house at that time. “The cops let us all go,” she said, obviously impressed with their chivalry, “after they asked us questions. I think they want to nail Ben and Alexis. They got Dee’s foster parents to take her home.”

“The Tobaccos?” I asked in dismay. “Those Bible thumpers?”

“They’re not that bad,” she snickered. “They’re really good people and they’ll take care of her.” The same way they did before, I thought, until she moved in with Amanda when she was sixteen.

Karen’s naivete was the last straw. I have always been amazed by the willingness of some whores to believe that the straight world is as squeaky-clean and transparent as the glass in a commercial for window-cleaner, and by the willingness of most johns to believe that wild women never get the blues. The grass, as they say, is always greener on the other side.

“I don’t want you to talk on the phone, Mom,” whined Jenny. I’m not taking care of my girl, I thought. Either of them. Jenny’s naturally-blonde hair caught the light, and the sight almost moved me to tears.

“Be patient, honey,” I told her. There were four Tobaccos listed in the phone book, and my fourth call got results. “You one of them escorts?” The voice was uncouth. I didn’t know how much Deirdre had told them, so I mumbled something under my breath. “You leave Deirdre alone,” growled the man. “You’re the one got her into this whole thing.”

“No. Will you put her on the phone?”

“She’s not a whore like you!” The voice on the other end seemed to be gathering steam. “She’s in a good Christian home now. You leave her alone.” The man hung up.

I made supper for Jenny, feeling numb. I knew Deirdre’s current family would guard her as though she were a novice in a convent. She would try to seduce someone in the household so she could get what she wanted. She wouldn’t need me. I wanted to scream at her: Do I really mean nothing to you? Can’t you distinguish between men and women? Or between johns and lovers?

When I went to bed, I felt as if I were floating near the ceiling. I couldn’t close my eyes. I wanted to be brought back to earth by a warm young body pressed against mine. It’s an addiction, I thought: I need it like a fix. My husband used to call me a born slut before he ever had reason to, which probably wasn’t a sign that he had an uncanny ability to predict the future. Still, he wasn’t completely off. No part of my body seems to hibernate for long.

I consoled myself. I’m still making it with a woman, I thought; I can always have the pleasure of a woman’s touch. When I came, I shuddered all over as though I were cold. Afterwards, I felt feverish.

I made a doctor’s appointment the next day, and had myself thoroughly checked for diseases. I turned out to be clean, and I was not only glad for myself. I lived on welfare for a few weeks until I got the job I have now, waitressing in a nightclub. I still see a few of my old regulars because I need to save money to go back to school. I’m keeping my whoring to a minimum while I’m raising Jenny. I heard from Carla that Ben and Alexis skipped town as soon as they were out of custody.

I got a scrawled postcard from Dee about two weeks after I phoned the Tobaccos. She was writing from the north where her blood relatives live, and said she was planning to go back to school. It was something I had urged her to do. She also said she was pregnant, and looking forward to having the baby. Goddess only knows how much of her message was true, but at least she wrote to me. That’s something. I let her know that if she ever comes back to town, I want to see her.

Saving Deirdre was not the only hopeless mission I’ve ever tried to accomplish, but it’s probably one of the most pathetic. She could seem so innocent when she wasn’t playing a role for an audience, but of course, “young and innocent” was one of the roles she could put on like an outfit requested by a john with a specific taste. We whores are privileged to know from experience that all the world’s a stage.

Listen, Dee, even if I never get to tell you this in person: love exists. It really does. And even though it hurts like hell, it feeds the lover more than it feeds the loved one. For better or worse. Believe it or not.


No comments: