Art by Norman E. Masters
and I guess it's pretty dark back there in that booth.'"
Francie walked into the Hideaway as if she owned it and took her usual place at the bar. The regulars looked up at her with respect. Though respect is a helluva word to use for a prostitute, that was what they felt. She had a good body, slightly over-ripe and a nice face, the smile showing a shiny gold tooth. Her jersey dress was just the thing for advertising what was underneath it. No, she looked like an ordinary whore; what they respected was her policy, anything goes. And anything did; but those round, cool blue eyes always stayed cool. Nothing could shake her.
After her first drink she drew out her compact and inspected her face. The lines were coming; hell, let them come. Let the young and pretty ones hustle the virgin soldier boys on leave. She would do anything, anytime, anywhere, provided the price was right. And, of course, it always was.
It was a slow evening. Two queers came in, arm in arm. They didn't usually, their bar being a couple of blocks down. Though you got all types at the Hideaway, as Francie well knew. She looked at the two young men with disgust. But then she looked with disgust on anyone that did anything with love.
Loneliness didn't confine itself to one sex, or one color or one social group; it was a great equalizer and a great moneymaker, as Francie also knew well. She had her eye on a sharp white convertible and only one or two more tricks would do it. She wished someone, anyone would come in. Inaction was making her edgy.
The small man entered almost timidly, as if he were some schoolkid expecting to be tossed right out. There was something about him which was wrong, though it wasn't just that he had no hair and that his suit didn't fit the pear-shaped contours of his body or that he wore a pair of sunglasses that were more like goggles.
Francie didn't bat an eye. She had gone to bed with older types.
"Is, er, this seat occupied?"
When the bartender arrived, the little man looked confused. "I'll have the same as hers," he said awkwardly, pointing to her half empty glass.
"Wanta buy me one too?" she challenged.
"Of course. If that is the custom."
Francie laughed. He was a funny one. She liked men who kidded around. "I ain't seen you around here before."
"I'm new here, very new. I probably seem very strange to you, do I not?"
"I've seen em all," she said. "You're diff'rent maybe but hell, so's everybody. I never let diff'rences stand in the way of friendship... or business."
"Then, it... er... ah... is your business?" he said, choosing his words very carefully but seeming to expect a slap in the face. "We have similar businesses where I... ah... come from. I didn't really expect all the home comforts here."
"I'll make you as comfortable as you please," said Francie, the gold tooth twitching back the light as she grinned. "There's a hotel just two doors down."
"Oh, I'm on a very tight schedule. I have time. I thought perhaps that booth back there --"
"Wha --- you want to -- say, whad you have in mind?"
"Perhaps for you it is somewhat out of the ordinary," he said embarrassedly.
"There ain't nothing I draw the line at, Mister, and I guess it's pretty dark back there in that booth."
"Are you sure?" She was already leading him back into the shadows.
"Mister, you name the game, and I'll bet you I was playing it while you was playing mumbledepeg." She slid into the padded vinyl seat beside him.
"No, you'll have to sit over there, opposite me," he said.
"Huh?" She shook her head as if to clear it but did as he said.
When she was directly across from him, he drew her face forward until their foreheads were only inches apart. "Now you must relax. It is not always good the first time." He took off the glasses and Francie saw that his eyes were entirely white, the pupils shaped like tiny asterisks. But she had little time to notice detail.
She was five years old, hiding in the front room closet while her father (fiery red welts on white skin) was beating (screaming) her mother (sharp snap of leather) with a belt. And he was there inside her mind seeing it, too.
She was 13 and sitting (she was a beautiful army nurse) in a darkened (a handsome young soldier) movie theatre. Now she was on the battlefield (taste of stale popcorn) hit by (technicolor blood) an exploding shell. "Leave me (golden hair gleaming, unmussed) there are others to be saved. I am... dying." But he was there to witness (was he smiling?) her death scene.
She was about 17 she guessed in a musty (taking off her clothes) hotelroom. He was an old geezer and when he (face like a leather pouch full of something soft) climbed on, he could hardly -- All his weight (and the smell) pinned her. He'd died. Rightthere. And the ugly little man watched.
He was inside her head, seeing all the good moments, all the bad, making her see them, hanging them out like underwear on a line, for all the world to see.
She tried to claw at those luminous eyes, but he had control of her hands, and he held them down. She couldn't even scream, though she tried until her throat was ready to split.
She wasn't sure when he left. Memories were so confused and stirred around in her brain. He had put the dark goggles back on, and with a satisfied sigh, he'd got up from the booth and walked out of the bar.
A moment later Francie stumbled from the booth, her dress and hair unrumpled, and her face a shambles as different emotions fought for control. Everyone in the Hideaway immediately looked up. She fell against the bar and leaned against it for support. "I've been raped!" she shrieked.[pp. 53 - 58, NO-EYED MONSTER #18, Summer 1970]