NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT OR SAID, ALLIE LOVED HER WORK. She wished other people, the gray beings she shared the world with, could enjoy what they did as much as she. Her work had a purpose, a rhythm, a routine.
____She established her routine years before. As the appointment time approached she pulled the living room blinds back to sneak a peak. Looks weren't too important but curiosity always got the better of her and she went with it. The fantasies flooded her with overwhelming warmth. 'Will I turn him on? Will he turn me on? Will his kisses make my nipples hard?' It was rare enough for her to encounter such companions in the free world, let alone in the marketplace of for sale encounters. But still, she looked through the blinds.
____She preferred new clients to regulars, making her a bit different from her brethren, her fellow Providers, most of who were drawn to the safety and ease of the repeat customer. That's the best approach, of course; happy customers, coming back for more. Every Wal-Mart knows that. Allie knew she should feel that way and sometimes, less frequently as her career went on, she did: if she was particularly turned on by someone; if they were excited to see each other; if she got wet at the thought of letting him into her apartment. That's the type of repeat client she liked. Sometimes with such a client she'd break her rules, lower the boundaries and invite him over for drinks or a concert –off the clock
____But the norm was she loved the excitement and challenge of meeting new guys to fuck.
Allie turned her attention back inside the living room, studied herself in the mirror, approvingly. It wasn't always that way. Sometimes she could be hard on herself when the subject was her looks. She was the first to notice an extra pound or two, and would attack the invisible enemy with ritualistic vigor. It was part of the job, she'd tell herself, part of her shtick. You have to look the part. In the supermarkets don't they spray the produce? Don't the candy makers coat her fave chocolates with shellac? She examined her own product's appearance with equal dispassion.
____But she'd spent that morning grunting in the gym; her abs were properly flat and her tattoos covered bulging shoulders. It was all part of her persona, the "Pixie Chicksie" she'd dubbed herself: athletic and toned, but with wild child bright red hair tufted in patches and pigtails, and colorful inkwork interspersed over her torso, dominated by the 50s-style image of a juicy pork chop covering her left shoulder. And when her clients weren't admiring her artwork, they were gazing at the relief image of nipple rings poking through a spandex halter and imagining the taste of steel that was to come. It was a sight and even those hobbyists who'd seen scores of pictures on her pixiechicksie.net website still couldn't help but do a stunned double-take the first time they saw the real thing.
____This one was no different. Middle-aged and sweetly shy, he gaped when the door opened. Her midriff bare, a sarong tight around her hips – it was an impressive view. Allie hugged and kissed him like an old friend and motioned for him to sit on the couch. He hesitated and fumbling in his jacket, pulled out a stuffed, unsealed envelope marked "Donation," he said, and placed it on her coffee table. She smiled.
____"What would you like to drink darling? I have some Hefeweizen, a wine cooler, Brandy, Glenlivet if you'd prefer. I don't drink much myself, but friends bring them, the kindness of strangers," she drawled, "and I can't say no."
____Allie served him as one might an honored guest. Perhaps a holdover from the days of the courtesan, it was an important element to establish trust and connection. She was, after all, a GFE Provider (GirlFriend Experience for the uninitiated), and a certain amount of ceremony was required. Besides, she relished it and the so-called Girlfriend Experience, a dance and a pretense where the Provider and Hobbyist tried to connect on more than just a sexual level, was nearly as important to her as to the hobbyist. Animated, she told him how her day was going, about her workout at the gym, the fabulous book comparing Mahayana Buddhism and General Relativity she'd just begun; all the things a woman might tell her lover, home after a day's work. Her adoring eyes never left his.
____The ceremony had purpose and was a nearly foolproof icebreaker. The man, well known in the insulated community of Providers and Hobbyists, who'd never visited Allie before out of an understandable twinge of intimidation, relaxed and smiled. He even spoke a bit –finally. Something about his wife.
____Allie placed her hand on his knee and gave him a hint of a Groucho leer, turning the ordinary conversation into something much more intimate. She leaned over and kissed him, as softly as he had ever been kissed. For several minutes they squirmed and made out like starved teenagers.
____She ended this phase of the session at just the right moment. She always knew how to read the moment. Less time and his nerves would still be in play, longer and he'd grow impatient. She took his hand and led him to the bathroom. He followed like a puppy anticipating a treat. "Here's a towel for you and all the toiletries you'll need. All unscented, darling. Wouldn't want your Significant Other to know you've been playing. Now freshen up for as long as you want. No rush with me. Squeaky clean. Brush your teeth, wash behind those ears, wipe your ass, twice, and follow my lead," she said grinning. "I'll be waiting for you in the playroom. We'll start with the Tour de Tattoo."
He did as he was told –they all did– and scrubbed every inch of his body more thoroughly than had been done since his mother bathed him a lifetime ago.
____While the Hobbyist prepared and calmed his nerves, Allie returned to the living room and gently lifted the donation envelope off the tabled, peaked inside, smiled at the generous tip he'd included in addition to the standard donation and marched happily to her playroom.
____The playroom was what Allie had created from the apartment's second bedroom and she was an artist in the management of the place. Colorful and exotic, displaying a genuine flair, the wainscoting painted in swirling lavender and the ceiling decorated like the sky. It represented the kind of space a married client might come to if he could afford to keep a girlfriend on the side, particularly if the girlfriend was equal parts bohemian and kinky. In this way too she was different from her peers, most of whom kept separate apartments for business, the way a writer or artist rents a small studio, the belief being that separation of work and home was the best policy –safest too. But Allie couldn't perform that way, couldn't split her life in two, and so home and office were one. It was another part of her shtick; no antiseptic, a sterile room with little more than a bed, a cd player and a laptop for her.
____She sat naked and happy on the bed as he entered, still dripping, too anxious to have dried off completely. The playroom was filled with personal items and her favorite movie memorabilia; real stuff she'd gathered through her travels. She loved showing her collection off and used it as another icebreaker. A wig worn by Mae West perched atop a bust of the actress, one of Jean Harlow's perfume bottles sat on a night stand, a silver gelatin portrait of Theda Bara glanced at them from a table across the room, and best of all, Tallulah Bankhead's lace brassiere mounted, framed and hanging from the ceiling over the bed. "Tallulah would approve, don't you think, darling?" she asked.
____The Hobbyist couldn't answer or even comprehend the question. He looked around as if expecting another woman, this Tallulah, to be in the room and Allie laughed. She was used to the effect her nakedness had on her clientele.
____She turned on a John Mayer mix. The 50-something man nodded, feigning recognition and approval, though his musical education had ended with The Stones.
____"Would you like a massage?" she asked.
____"Sure. A massage would be nice." He hesitated for a moment, considering whether to drop the towel from around his waist but kept it on and lay face down on the bed.
____Her notion of what constituted a massage was a bit different than the norm. She poured oil on the man's back and more on her breasts.
"You know the skin is the largest sensory organ we have," Allie said as she began to massage him with her entire body, using torso, thighs and breasts, as well as hands to achieve the objective. And what was that objective? She was a most skilled and extraordinary Provider and merely coaxing her clients into an orgasm was never enough. What separated her from lesser Providers, what made her a true GFE was not just the pleasure she was able to give to her clients, or the so-called 'happy ending' she provided, but how much pleasure she herself took from the experience. 'And why not?' she thought as the man moaned underneath her. ‘A bit of fun, of pleasure, the most human of pleasures. I deserve a little of what I provide.' She began to purr as his moans became more persistent. To not enjoy the moment seemed foolish, a waste of time, a waste of one's life energy. To look at it as just a job, an hour's labor, as she knew many of her peers did was moronic. It would be like a master chef unable to enjoy his own cooking. She believed in partaking as much as she could.
____And then, from out of nowhere, as their heat intensified, his legs trembling, her own skin tingling, a line popped into her head. It was from a book or a movie, she couldn't remember. "Be happy in your work," she recalled and sighed. Again it came at the perfect moment, just in time for the flip.