They called her Neuf…. new, unused, and fresh; though she wasn’t any of that now. That had been her name when she first came there. Brown eyes, jet black hair that flowed to just above her hips and the attributes… yes, for the business, the attributes certainly mattered. And that she had no relatives to turn to. Yes, that certainly mattered a lot. It wouldn’t be good for business if someone came looking.
She would sit at the bar, order a Bloody Mary or a Cuba Libre and wait for her client. She would talk with him for a while, maybe dance to one of the tunes from the jukebox, and then go with him to his room. Sometimes, if the hotel was the same, she’d tell him to take her to another one, and check in as a couple on an overnight stay. Not that she was afraid of the policemen. Some of them knew her well enough. And she never disappointed.
Pierre returned to her every time. Though her manager was known to him, and offered him other girls for the same rate, Pierre always asked for Neuf. Other girls had no mystery, but Neuf… she was an enigma for sure. Other girls had been good in bed. They pleasured him, even pretending the expressions so he felt he had pleasured them too. They would leave immediately after the hour, collecting their fee and sometimes, if he was too tired or asleep, even taking something extra from his wallet. But Neuf, she was good with her hands. She stayed a little while longer if needed. She’d talk a little while she worked and never pretend with him. They’d go only to his house, which was away from the city. If anyone asked, he’d say she was his girlfriend.
He hadn’t seen Neuf for a while now. It had been a month but she looked as happy to seem has he had been. When he walked in, she was at the bar, looking ravishing in a simple black sleeveless dress. He knew that was all there was. Her manager demanded that. It was good for business after all. He sat with her at the bar. She ordered mineral water, saying “I’ve already had a drink earlier” to his unasked question. They talked. He told her of his work in Paris, and she the story of her recent bruise. It was still fairly new, the bluish color quite predominant on her upper right arm. “No, nothing serious” she said, again unasked when he looked at her.
He took her home after. He pulled down the shades. And she talked more while they worked. He stood and admired her hands. Small like her, svelte and elegant, she smiled when he saw him looking. She pulled the dress over her head and sat down.
“You must really be making a lot of money,” she asked him.
“What was it like, Paris?”
“A revelation… and people really liked the work. But they keep asking for the face,” he said.
She smiled again.
“What about your work? What are you doing next?” he asked her.
“I’m thinking of leaving, but it depends on you,” she replied.
He smiled, but persisted in his question.
“That’s only the first question. You didn’t answer the second,” he told her.
She reached behind the couch for them, and then took up her position.
She started to work, as he stood at the easel and canvas.
“A pair of booties,” she told him, as her fingers continued to work the knitting needles efficiently while he painted her in the nude for the last time.
He smiled. She wasn’t going back to her world. She was… they were… his world now.
(16th April 2014)