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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chapter 4

Mother Mary wasted no time.  She was a big woman then, before the sickness really got into her, but even big she could move fast when it suited her.  She contacted the customer who sent money and the contract was made.  I was put into a taxi – a glorified rickshaw kind of thing since gas was rationed and reserved for the government and their special friends.  I left the stable yard for the first time in four years, since I’d arrived and it was disorienting; seeing stuff up close is different than seeing them through a small window far away.  And the light was too bright and the sun hot against my exposed skin.  I saw the faces of my “sisters” at every window of the old office complex.  For a brief moment I could swear I even saw Mother Mary from her office window but I’m not sure if it was a trick of my imagination or not. 

I was driven to an area further down the wharf where there were “condominiums” made of old shipping containers where higher priced and supposedly higher classed whores lived.  We had the appearance of a little more freedom and a little more space but the reality was we were still prisoners … the prison just had different guards. 

I was escorted to my “condo,” pushed in, then locked in.  It felt odd.  Compared to the way I had been living – sharing a room with at least ten other girls when we weren’t working or when I wasn’t fetching and carrying for Mother Mary – the shipping container was almost a palace.  Compared to what my life had been like before Mother Mary the “condo” wasn’t much better than a doghouse. 

The furnishings were simple.  A wooden bed with a fairly new mattress supposedly guaranteed to be bug free.  A small table and two chairs.  A closet in the back.  A small window with bars across it to remind you where you were.  That’s it.  Nothing else.  The whole place said that when a visitor came it was for one purpose and one purpose only.   

I was dealing with a wave of self-doubt, second guessing my decision, when the door behind me began to unlock.  Cautiously I turned around and watched it open.  A vaguely familiar figure stepped in and shut the door behind him. 

We stood looking at each other.  I may have decided my own fate this time but I didn’t decide to give up who I was.  No way was I just going to go lay down on the bed like a side of beef.   

Slightly uncomfortable he continued to stare and then blurted, “Is your name really Thorn?” 

I snorted, “You tell me.  Apparently you are renting me for a year.  You can call me whatever you want.” 

I saw his jaw harden.  “I did.  And I expect to be treated with some respect.” 

I shrugged.  “Is it respect when you have to pay to get it?” 

He took a threatening step towards me but didn’t raise his hands.  “Dammit.  Why are you making this so hard?  I thought you would be … be …” 


A little plaintively he said, “Yeah.  Yeah grateful.” 

I sighed.  “I suppose I am.  What is it you want?”  I stopped and rolled my eyes.  “Stupid question.  You’re a man what else would you want.” 

“Well for starters … tell me truthfully … is your name really Thorn?” 

I sighed.  I hated it when they tried to be nice.  It was so much harder to straight up hate them.  “No.” 

“What’s your real name?” 

“Why?  I haven’t used it in a long time.” 


“Why what?” 

“Why haven’t you used your real name?” 

“Because Mother Mary took that away from me and gave me a new name.  If you don’t like Thorn then pick something else.” 

“She named you Thorn?  Why?” 

“She started out calling me Flower.  Thorn suits me better.” 

“Sure as hell does.  But,” then he got a ferocious look on his face. “I own you.  At least for a year, so I want to know what your real name is.” 

Trying to be nonchalant I told him, “Narcissa.” 

He rolled his eyes this time and in a pretty good sized pet snapped, “I said your real name.” 

“Why the heck do you think she decided to call me Flower?” 

He blinked.  “So … that’s your real name.” 

“That’s my real name.” 

He grinned and said, “That’s a hell of a thing to hang on a kid.  Were your parents crazy?” 

Trying to rein in my temper at bringing up a past and memories I tried to protect and keep separate from the life I led I snapped, “Family name.  Pick something else or just stick with Thorn.” 

“Hell yeah.  I’m sure not going to go around calling you Narcissa that’s for damn sure.  Makes you sound like an old woman and that’s not what I want.” 

He finally got down to what he wanted and afterwards he sat a bag on the table.  He didn’t say much beyond he’d know if I tried to run off and to not get stupid since he’d come back around when he was good and ready to and what was in the bag would need to last until then.” 

After he left I cleaned up using the strong soap I preferred that I’d brought with me from my old digs.  It cleaned the smell of him off me.  So what if it took a layer of skin with it at the same time.  The problem was the new was starting to wear off and I began to wonder where and when and how I was supposed to get stuff like soap and toothpaste that Mother Mary had always supplied.  I wondered where and when and how I would get more water and cursed myself for not making sure to have some kind of container around to save what had been in the jug on the table. 

I had just enough time to really get worried when I heard noise at the door and wondered if the man had come back so soon.  “Room service,” a woman’s voice called. 

“I didn’t order anything,” I said back through the locked door. 

“Geez … you really are a newb,” came the cynical reply.  “Stand back and no funny business.  He may be paying for your keep but I’ll still get the guards to beat you if you pull something.” 

I stepped back and the door eventually opened to show a woman past her prime but still kind of handsome if you like that sort of thing.  She looked behind her and said, “Bring it in.” 

Two men brought in a plastic barrel and took it over to the closet space which was actually two closets.  I got my back to the wall and carefully observed them attach a pipe to the top of the barrel then close that section of the closet.  They walked out only to walk back in with a plastic foot locker which they put against the wall and a half barrel that they sat in the middle of the floor.  When they walked out this time they didn’t come back in.  I looked at the woman and she looked at me and then shrugged.  “My name is Emerald.  I hate newbs.  It gets old having to explain things enough so you’ll stay out of trouble.” 

I kept my mouth shut.  She snorted.  “Yeah, I heard.  You’re supposed to be tough.  Well you better hope you are.  Just don’t be a smart ass.”  I continued my silence.  I’ve learned it rattles people and I felt I needed to in some way win this round or my life would become an endless misery.  Emerald was tough and she didn’t rattle, all she did was get annoyed and decide to try and rattle me.  “You see this place?  Consider it solitary confinement.  The men want to make sure you don’t have no extry company to make any side money off of.  Some of the girls here, they go crazy after a while and get pretty damn grateful when the men do come around.” 

I continued to keep my mouth shut.  “Mark my words, no matter what you think you’re really just like all the rest.  And lucky you has a year lease.  You better pray he don’t forget about you or you’ll wind up crazier than most.”  She gave a derisive chuckle then said, “Now for the rest of it.  That barrel in the closet is hooked up to the water system.  What you get is what you get and refills depend on the weather so don’t waste it.  And speaking of weather, during the summer these things can get pretty damn hot and in the winter they get pretty damn cold.  It’s up to your man whether you get any help for either condition.  That container?  Sheets, rations for when your man forgets to feed you, and a few other odds and ends to help you hold off the crazies.  You’ll get restocked every two weeks.  If you run out before then, too bad unless you can talk your man into bringing you something.  The one you got though, don’t expect to get much extry out of him.  He bitched about every penny.  That other thing is a tub.  Use it.  No one wants the place getting stunk up.  I’ll scrub you raw myself if you forget.  Now for the rules … no fighting, no drugs unless your man brings them, no liquor unless your man brings it, no trying to bribe the guards male or female, yada, yada, yada.  If you’re smart you’ll learn the rest of the rules before you break them.  If you’re stupid you’ll break them a couple of times before the beatings sink in.  Your choice to screw this up or not.  You screw up we beat the shit out of you and send you back to Mother Mary … unless she don’t want you then we’ll work you down on the docks until you’ve paid off your contract.  Any questions?” 

I shook my head.  She snorted and then left, locking the door behind her. 

I decided that it was time to investigate what was in the bag the man had left and it was cheese, sausages, some rolls, and some fruit.  Not much different than the crap I ate at Mother Mary’s Boarding House for Wayward Girls. 

I investigated the foot locker and the rest of my cage as well.  When that was done I sat at the table, put my head down, and for the first time in a very long time I cried.

1 comment:

  1. you've never shared a story like this before. Its heartbreaking but real. Thanks