The International Writers Magazine:
Need a bit of company sir?
Mathew A Kaufman
wet, wintry evening forced Matt Kaufman to up-turn his jacket
collar. He stared blankly at the reflection of a streetlamp on
a puddle. It was here, amid the dank back streets and meandering
alleyways of Soho that he lingered, after his latest and decidedly
final altercation with his landlord in New Barnet.
in which he had been forced to flee his former lodgings were considerably
hasty; he had not been able to recoup his security deposit. He fumbled
through his pockets and produced a card with which he inspected his
bank balance at a convenience store. Not enough for a deposit on new
digs, but enough for another night at the hostel off Piccadilly Circus,
continental breakfast included. He heard the familiar clack
and whirr as his funds dwindled. The teller machine charged
him one pound-fifty for the withdrawal.
Kaufman stuffed the crumpled, worn notes into his wallet and tramped
off down a rain-soaked Great Windmill Street. Ahead, car headlights
glared in the drizzle. To his left, a doorway revealed a long corridor
and a flight of stairs leading underground. The corridor was aglow in
soft red light. A girl seated on a high chair just inside the doorway
introduced herself as Sylvia. She was a peroxide blonde, petite and
nubile, with a fake-fur collar on her tan suede jacket. She listened
to a portable radio for company.
What are the rates? Kaufman enquired. Sylvia told him a
fiver entry then thirty quid for half an hour. He followed her down
the stairs to a room where pissed-up punters were milling around apprehensively.
He handed his money to a gargantuan receptionist who had the complexion
of baked mud and thick black wavy hair scraped over her head into a
ponytail. She assured him that the establishment did not sell liquor;
he was in no danger of being ripped-off. She told him there were no
hidden charges. Sylvia then led him through into a small alcove, where
a paisley curtain was drawn for decency.
She took a seat. Kaufmans eyes followed the shimmering, bronzed
curve of her thigh until it disappeared beneath her tight denim miniskirt.
She caught his eye and as he looked away he noticed a small closed-circuit
camera in the top right-hand corner of the ceiling. He wondered who
was watching him. Sylvia handed him a piece of laminated, yellowed paper
with the word menu printed in bold at the top and asked
him if he was an undercover police officer.
Im not under the covers just yet, he winked. She frowned
and curled her upper lip at him. He quickly added, Im not
Only, she continued, this place was raided last week
and Im only 19; if I get busted Im in trouble. My mumd
kill me. Further small talk revealed that she was a psychology
student at Goldsmiths and that she worked as a hostess to subsidize
her tuition fees. I can make £400 a night here, she
claimed. It beats working at KFC.
There was a sudden commotion from behind the curtain, followed by an
abrupt silence, and then a mans voice, shouting something about
fairness and professional conduct. Then there was calm again.
With elephantine delicacy the receptionist drew the curtain aside and
stepped into the alcove, armed with a clipboard.
Okay, sir, she said to Kaufman. Youll see ten
ladies, one at a time, and you pick one, and she will dance for you.
He grinned eagerly. Youve already paid for the dance,
continued the receptionist. That just leaves two hundred and ninety-five
pounds for your hostesss time, and nodded to Sylvia. Kaufmans
eyes widened; there was no apparent means of escape. He boggled at Sylvia.
His mouth opened and closed a couple of times. A sound like draining
bathwater came up from his throat. Red-faced and panic-stricken, he
managed to squeal: I
I was assured that there were no hidden
Its all on the menu, Sylvia said, indicating the laminated
paper Kaufman was still holding.
Do you have any other method of payment, sir? asked the
receptionist. A beady-faced heavy was silently ushered in behind the
curtain. Pinpricks of sweat glistened on Kaufmans forehead. His
glasses steamed up.
He was asked to turn out his pockets in front of the camera to prove
he had no more money, and then the heavy threw him into the street.
Kaufman blurted: I assume my thirty quid is non-refundable?
Then he staggered and ran the length of Brewer Street. He reached Golden
Square and collapsed, panting and wheezing horribly in front of the
Virgin Radio building.
Matt Kaufman cant even pay for sex.
© Matt Kaufman September 2006
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