Amsterdam, Zeedijk, 1994
Other Jack had rented a large screen and all the guys from the neighbourhood were with him in Countdown Café to watch a World Cup match. I’m not interested in football, so I read a book instead.
The Valhalla was deserted and the streets were quiet. Angela came in. “Jesus Christ, it’s busy here, isn’t it?” she said.
“Quite a crowd, eh?” I replied.
“Pour me a nice little sherry,” Angela said, as she sat down at the habitué’s table.
Inge looked through the window from outside. “No, Harry is not here!” cried Angela. “Come in!”
“Fucking football!” said Inge when she came in. “The streets are deserted!”
“Relax baby, relax,” said Angela. “Here, sit next to Auntie Angela and have a sherry with me.”
Rose had watched Angela and Inge entering the Valhalla, and didn’t want to miss any of the fun. On the way to the pub she plucked Carla away from her window. “You’re coming with me!”
Inge, Angela, Carla and Rose; a nice bunch of girls together. It wouldn’t be long before they would share their stories. A few more sherries would loosen their tongues.
Carla started. “I’ll have a double brandy,” she said. “I only just started being a whore, I was twenty or so. Anyway, an old man comes into my room, a gentleman with a giant bow tie. He said he had been a widower for twenty years and that this visit was a present from his friend.”
“Anyway, I’m being nice to him, because his friend, who’s waiting outside, has asked me to, because he’s a shy guy. So he undresses and I pat him on his little willy. I ask him, “What was your wife’s name?” And he says, “Sadie.”
“Anyway, then he’s ready to do the thing and he is on top of me. After three, four minutes he comes and calls out, “Sadie, oh Sadie!” And after that, he dies on top of me, quietly.”
Rose, who often had heard the story before, confirmed this. “Dead silence,” she said ominously.
“Yup,” Carla went on, “As dead as a doornail. So I roll him off of me and I call the cops. I’ve never been so devastated!”
“Yuck!” said Inge. “Imagine having a dead naked corpse lying on top of you!”
“Terrible,” I said.
“Dear oh dear,” said Angela.
“Wait,” Carla said, “it goes even further. Well, two cops are coming and one of them looks at the condom that is still attached to this man’s penis, and he says quite dryly, “Well, at least the gentleman had value for his money.”
“Give me a death like that any day,” says the other, while he gives me the look.”
I laughed and topped the girls up.
“Yes, I can laugh about it now,” said Carla, “But for three weeks I have been devastated. I couldn’t work, but Billy said, “It’s just like horse riding: if you fall from the horse, you should immediately get in the saddle again, otherwise you never dare to ride again.”
“Oh, Billy,” said Rose. “He is such a considerate husband.”
After I had poured some more sherry, Inge said, “For a long time I had a regular customer, who wanted to be locked in the closet. It had something to do with his childhood, or something. He would pay me thirty quid and then he sat in the closet, very quietly, for fifteen, twenty minutes. When he was ready, he said that he would never be naughty again, and then he just went. Easy customer, right?”
Her colleagues agreed with her, as did the customers who had just arrived.
“Anyway, one day he is back again, and boy, it was busy in the street! Every time I opened my curtains, I needed to close them a minute later. So he comes in, pays thirty quid, and I lock him in the closet. I sit on the bed doing my nails, and I think it’s so busy and he is still at it for another fifteen minutes, so let me just have another client in the mean time.”
The other girls had great fun, they saw what was coming.
“So I get a sailor in,” continued Inge, “and that boy is just getting involved, when the guy in the closet gently knocks on the door: knock, knock, knock, “I will never be a naughty boy again, may I go now?””
So the sailor stops fucking and says, “What is all that about?” I say, “Nothing love, just keep at it, you’re doing good.” And to the guy in the closet, I say, “You’ve been so naughty this time, you have to stay in there for another ten minutes.”
Rose couldn’t stop laughing. The tears streamed down her cheeks, mascara dripped down her chin.
Inge continued, “But the seaman is angry and wants his money back. And all of a sudden the guy in the closet is very back to normal and in a very posh way he says, “Madam, I summate you to open the door immediately!” Well, then I opened the closet door and I said, “Get out and never come back!”
“And did you see the guy from the closet again after that?” asked Carla.
“No,” said Inge regretfully. “Pity, innit?”
Angela wanted to say something, but she hesitated. “I’ve had a regular customer of a thousand guilders,” she said.
“Right, per year I’m sure!” said Rose.
“No, really. Once a month, and he paid me a thousand guilders,” said Angela. “It’s a long time ago though. I was still working at Jane’s place and Jane’s mother was still alive.”
“What did you have to do for all that money?” asked Inge.
Angela blushed. “Well, it’s a bit of a filthy story, I’m afraid. He was so mad about me, he said, that he could eat my shit.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake!” said Carla. “Stop it! I get it!”
“No, go on, go on!” said Rose.
“Well, the first time I surely had to get used to it,” said Angela, “and when he visited me more often, I needed to purchase the appropriate items for the occasion, like a knife, a fork and paper napkins.”
“As you do,” I said.
“So you mean you shit on a plate and then the guy takes a knife and fork and…” Bird asked.
Angela nodded, slightly embarrassed. I shook my head. It takes all sorts…
“But once I had eaten a salmon salad that had gone off,” Angela continued, “so I had diarrhoea …”
Carla anticipated the outcome of the story and howled.
“So you rush to Woolworths for a soup bowl and a spoon,” yelled Inge, who couldn’t control herself any longer.
Angela smiled and bit her lip. “No,” she said, “that would have gone too far.”
“You’re kidding?” I said.
“Shut up, Jack,” said Rose, “We want to hear the rest of the story.”
“So when he arrived that day,” Angela went on, “I said to him, “Darling, I’m a bit nervous today. I don’t think I can do it here. Would you mind if I did it in the toilet, just this once?” “He had no objections, so I went up to Jane and said, “Jane, would you go for me?” “No way!” said Jane. “I don’t need to go, and even if I would have to go desperately, I wouldn’t do it!”
“But Jane’s mother said quietly, “Just give me the plate, child. I will take care of it.”
“Ughh, too much information!”, said Inge.
“So a little later she comes back from the toilet with a beautiful turd on the plate. I go back to my room and the guy says, “Finally, it’s about time,” and he devours the turd.”
I was horrified by the story, but the girls loved it.
“And Rose, do you have a story like that?” Inge said.
“Yes, I’m already thinking,” Rose said. “Well, I still have a regular customer who has false teeth, top and bottom, and then he wants me to use those teeth to bite him in his ass. But is that even a bit special?”
“Oh no dear,” Inge said, “That’s quite normal. I have clients like that every day.”
The girls laughed. They had so much fun that I was afraid they would continue it.
I topped them up again.
“Oh yes!” said Rose. “I have a very sad story. A few years ago an old man visits me. In the beginning there is nothing wrong, he pays twenty quid and I say, “Get undressed,” but as soon as he is naked, he changes completely. He is anxious and says, “I want you to call the police right now! The way you treat people, it’s downright degrading!”
“So I think what the fuck? I say quietly, “Listen, baby, I’ve taken you upstairs, we have agreed to a price and you have stripped. But if you don’t want to fuck, you can get dressed right now and fuck off!”
“But he says, “I want you now call the police, and quick!” So I keep trying, “Mister, just leave now, let us part as good friends,” but he continues. So then I call the police and they arrive pretty soon. So, they talk and talk to that man, but he is completely hysterical and starts screaming, “Cut it off! I’m dead! Fucking fascists! Fucking Nazis!” He refused to get dressed and then a policeman tried to dress him, but he couldn’t do it. The man went crazy. Eventually they put handcuffs on him while he was still naked, and took him over the road to their cars, after which they took him to the station. I later learned from one of the police officers that the man was a war victim. He had been in Auschwitz. Sad, eh?”
“Some people are like that,” said Angela.
“I’ve heard many similar stories from you guys,” I said. “But surely these are exceptions?”
“Sure,” said Carla. “But if you work in a factory and you put nuts on bolts day in, day out, or vice versa, whatever, then when you come home you don’t tell your husband that you’ve put nuts on bolts, do you? You tell him that the machines got stuck, or something like that. Anything exceptional. For us ordinary customers are just like nuts and bolts in a factory.”
“I always like the guys who are having sex for the first time,” said Inge. “So cute. I really take my time with them.”
Rose acknowledged this. “Unfortunately we see less and less of those ordinary blokes. Previously you had lots of guys who saved for a jiffy, but that is rare nowadays. You get more and more guys with special needs.”
“What’s the score of football?” asked Inge.
“What do I care,” said I. “To me you are world champions, all of you.”
Carla always liked compliments and wanted to know what they were for.
“Well,” I said, “I am well aware that you do this work mainly for the money, but in a sense you are also a kind of social workers, therapists even. I have an awfully lot of respect for you, honestly.”
“Indeed,” Inge said, “I can’t see a shrink doing what we are doing, you know.”