tagNovels and NovellasHarlotsville Ch. 03

Harlotsville Ch. 03


Eugenia sidestepped a lumbering, whiskey-breathed patron standing idly in the doorway.

Slinking into the cacophonous pub, the powerful scent of mold and cheap spirits filled her nostrils. It was an odor she was very familiar with, so much so that it vanished from her perception within seconds.

Tables full of boorish, unkempt men ogled her as she passed by. She knew nearly all of them by now, and knew how to navigate them.

One pinched her bottom as she squeezed past his table, to which she simply conjured an emotionless, placating smile. Another man unsuccessfully tried to grab her wrist, then cursed incomprehensibly at her. She held her smile and averted her eyes, making her way to the bar at an accelerated pace.

A row of shabby railroaders barricaded the counter, so she walked around to its side. She tried to wave at her father from a comfortable distance there, but he was busy scrubbing mugs with intense focus. The waving caught the attention of the railroaders, however, whose predatory eyes quickly fell upon her.

Thinking it wise to lighten the mood, she suddenly curtsied, then stomped her foot loudly on the floor. "Hello, dear ol' dad!" she yelled in an intentionally nasal tone. "I do hope you're keeping these fine gentlemen as sauced as they please!"

Her father did not bother to look up. At first she thought he hadn't heard her, but then he grumbled, glancing at her wearily for the briefest of seconds.

"Folks are sayin' this batch of gin is bathtub raw, Eu. Do a better job next time. I can't afford importin' the good stuff for a few more weeks, so we'll have to make do 'til then."

"Oh. Um. Sorry papa," Eugenia said. "There weren't any fruits left, so I used some of that molasses—"

"Next time, go get more fruits," her father said, clearing his throat and waving her away dismissively. "I don't need any help behind the bar tonight. Just go make some money back there, and tomorrow morning you'll go get as many sacks of juniper as you can carry."

She frowned, and watched him for a moment, noticing that he was beginning to look his age; he had become hunched in recent years, his movements fidgety and imprecise, and his complexion was beginning to take on a particularly leathery look.

She shook her head and left him alone, feeling the railroaders' eyes follow her body as she headed towards the back of the establishment.

Brushing past a few more familiar faces, she ducked under a hanging velvet cloth behind which a stairway descended. A few steps down, she was in darkness. She felt around, finding the large wooden door leading to the back room, and unhinged it, shoving it open.

She clasped around until she found the hanging lightbulb overhead, and switched it on. There she stood in the same small, dingy enclosure she did most nights.

In the argot of place, this room was referred to as the "Easy Hole." This term was also something of a synecdoche, for Eugenia herself was also considered the "hole" in question. Her only job then was to be available.

She dropped her knapsack in the corner and stripped off her dark burlap dress. She then hooked her hand behind her shoulder blade and unlatched her bra.

Her large, untanned breasts fell out, hanging pendulously above her bulky stomach. She then kicked off her shoes and pulled down her underwear, freeing her wooly blonde mound and flat, narrow buttocks.

She waited. There was an unwashed mattress that lay in the center of the den, and she sat upon it, staring at the punctured can of cooking grease sitting beside it.

For a moment she thought about the lies she told her friend Betty, and how easy it was to fool her. Her threats were hollow, of course. Eugenia had no incriminating photos or letters. She knew no firebrand journalists. All she had was her singular talent—the ability to weave and maintain intricate lies.

It wasn't long before she heard the knock. Three times. She knew what that meant, and she groaned.

"I can't do that tonight," she said. "I'm too sore. I can do it regular, though, and give head—"

She heard a grunt from behind the heavy wooden door, and then some profanity-laden mumbling that grew fainter as the anonymous man retreated disappointedly back up the stairs.

A few silent moments passed, the light creaking back and forth above her. She dug her nails into her leg in frustration. She hated her life. She thought of Betty and how easy hers was, and she began to hate her, as well.

A few moments later, she heard footsteps approaching. And then, surprisingly, she heard her father's voice.

"Eu, put some clothes on. You have a visitor. Make it quick though," she heard him say in a tone incrementally more engaged than usual.

Her curiosity was piqued. She didn't bother with her underwear, slipping her dress back on and walking barefoot to the door.

The door swung open, and standing there next to her father was Betty. She was wearing an unshowy, loose-fitting coat, a thick gray headscarf that concealed her profile, and a large pair of dark sunglasses.

When she removed the glasses, the terror in her eyes was clear. Her face was nearly as white as paper. Her lips hung slightly parted in a perpetual expression of disbelief.

"Eugenia," Betty said, her voice trembling, "I-is this...what I think it is?"

Betty felt a heavy pat on her shoulder. "It's good to see you again, Betty. Tell your folks I said hi," Eugenia's father said wistfully, then lumbered back up the stairs to leave the two of them alone.

Eugenia slowly nodded. Her eyes were pink at the edges and she shivered slightly. Betty had never seen her look so vulnerable before.

"I'm so sorry...I had no idea."

"I don't need your bleedin' sympathy, Betty," Eugenia grumbled. "A job's a job. Not that you'd know anything about that."

Betty spotted the pile of underwear on the floor and felt ill. How long had her childhood friend been selling herself?

She quickly thought back to all of the times that Eugenia claimed to be unavailable in the evenings, and how she never seemed to give much of a reason for it. How, shortly after her mother passed away, she began peddling Tijuana bibles to the boys at school, and flirting with nearly anything that moved.

Back then, Betty assumed it was just a phase her friend was going through. Now she realized that she should have rushed the girl to a nunnery. Was it too late?

"I can get you a better job," Betty said, reaching out to touch her scarred arm. "Something you can build a career on. Something better than...this," she said blindly and without thought.

A second later, reality dawned on her: it would reflect quite poorly on the Arbach estate if she referred someone as wild as Eugenia to a prospective employer of any merit. At least without putting her through extensive hypnosis first.

What respectable business would take a girl so impudent and unskilled? Betty wondered. She was passably literate, but otherwise uneducated and immutably crass. Eugenia saw the reluctance and doubt in Betty's eyes, and yanked her arm away.

"Don't bother with that nanny nonsense. I need money. So I hope you brought a good amount, because otherwise Mr. Edgecombe's going to be appearing quite soon, and he'll be delighted to know that I've got so much dirt on your pop."

"My father is a good man," Betty protested, though she sounded unsure of herself.

"I agree, Betty. But do you think the public will agree, when they find out about his lavish indiscretions? Embezzlements, infidelities, gruesome abortions! Perhaps we needn't even get into the fact that his daughter's got her own...deviancies."

"I'm...I-I'm not deviant," Betty said, staring down at the same gold cross around her neck she'd worn for over half her life.

"I know a certain root veggie that thinks otherwise," Eugenia said, sneering.

"You could never prove that! And why do you harp on it?" Betty said, dizzied. She felt a kink in her jaw from clamping her teeth so tightly.

Her will began to crumble. She felt faint again, falling limply towards Eugenia, who caught her in her arms. Eugenia lay the twitching girl across the mattress.

She came to a second later, immediately finding the bedding beneath her repulsively dirty. She could smell the sweat and the funk of sex deeply embedded within it.

Normally this would have caused her to recoil, but she was momentarily too weak to move. She groaned, looking up at Eugenia now with moist eyes.

"Don't do this," she said breathlessly.

"Aw, poor girl. Seems you're pretty bent out of shape, Betty. Maybe you're ready to cough up some cash now?"

Betty slowly pulled herself back up, staggering to her feet, then brushed her clothes free of the germs she imagined were crawling all over her.

With an exasperated look in her eye, she stood as tall as she could, and waved a finger at Eugenia feebly.

"No," she said. "Besides, no one saw it except you. No one!"

"Remember Betty, I don't have to prove everything. Once the news goes public, how hard could it be to start up a nasty rumor or three about his daughter?"

"Why did you do that to me, back then, in my garden?" Betty asked crossly. She remembered the pain of the intrusion almost as vividly as the day it happened. "You violated me. I trusted you, and you violated me! You're just as guilty as anyone!"

Eugenia ignored her, lost in her thickening narrative. "Imagine! Governor Thomas V. Arbach, the most pious of politicians, found bedding with syphilitic trollops every chance he gets. You know, one of those love letters I found even looks like he wasn't far away from drafting a marriage proposal. Maybe you would've had a new stepmother if he could have gotten away with it."

Betty fell silent, her body numbing over as Eugenia continued to jab her with her elaborate fabrications.

"You're still something of a public figure, you know, even if you do stay holed up in that house o' yours. You know what they're saying about this new governor we have?"

"They don't like him, I think..." Betty said with a whisper.

"That's right. They're saying Governor Teague's incumbency is a sham. They think he's out of touch. Meanwhile, they still look to your father as a symbol of the good old days, they do. Mr. Arbach, a real man of God—what a riot, I know, but that's what they think. What a shame it would be to shatter their illusions."

Betty felt defeat sink in, and she nodded her head almost imperceptibly. Eugenia came up very close to her, so close that Betty could smell the girl's sour tobacco breath as she spoke.

"It's a miracle no one in this pub recognized you, Betty. I guess your little getup's a passable disguise for now, but soon no bonnet or mask on earth will keep you hidden from the masses!"

"But wait. I just, I just—"

"And talk about guilty by association? Just the fact that you have history with me, a common tramp, is bad enough. A lot of people know me down here, Betty. They call me Easy Eu. Didn't know that, did you?"

"Eugenia, please—"

"Shh, Betty. Just think what they'd say: a gutter tart like me, having playdates with the governor's daughter, year after year? Able to recall every detail about your family, your house, your possessions?"

"Okay! Okay!" Betty yelled. "Don't talk my ear off. How much money do you need?"

Eugenia's crooked lips inched up to a smirk. "Now that's the spirit, doll face! Well, let's see. Most of our current customers'll be dead of liver failure in a few years. We want to upgrade to something stable. Now that the ban's lifted, basement corn liquor n' moonshine aren't going to cut it anymore. So we need these new import spirits the next generation of customers'll be demandin'. My pappy's business will go under if we don't adapt."

Betty listened, nodding fully now. Eugenia patted her back.

"Understand so far, do you love? Good. So for starters, we're gonna need about $100 a month for the foreseeable future. I know your pockets are deep enough to finance that with nary a dent to your lifestyle. I'm sure you got a lifetime's worth of premium wares for our business in your bank account."

"$100 a month?! That's preposterous!" Betty said. She balled her fists. "That's...$12,000 a decade!"

"Oh, I forgot you were real good at arithmetic. I knew there was a reason why I never paid attention in class, I always had you around. Well anyway, it'll probably be more, you know, since prices tend to go up, not down. But I think $12,000 total should cover it for now. So if you want to get this over quickly, you'll just drop that amount in my hands, and then we'll be even."

"Even for what?!"

"Even for you being a selfish bitch who was too busy studyin' Shakespeare to help her old friend," Eugenia shot back. "And if we're runnin' low in ten years' time, maybe I'll pay you another visit."

"Eugenia...is there any other way I can help you? I may be comfortable, but I'm not as rich as you seem to think...it would be easier if I were already married. I mean, taking care of my parents is costly, they both have severe medical conditions. Even in small payments, $12,000 would be difficult to cover up...my parents would become suspicious of my spending habits. They're ill, not senile."

Eugenia paused, screwing up her eyes. "Well then, dearie. You have only two more options. You can leave, and enjoy being hounded by the press for years to come, or..."

"Or what?"

"Or you can take my place."

Betty choked on her spit and began to cough. Eugenia kept her hand planted on Betty's lower spine, almost consolingly, until the girl stopped hacking, and then she slipped it under her coat, finding skirt.

She shamelessly groped Betty yet again, her stubby digits covetously pinching the doughy flesh of Betty's protrusive backside. This time, she kept her hand planted there.

"W-what? I could never," Betty said tremulously.

She could feel the warmth of the girl's hand radiate to her bottom through the cloth. It sent a tingle up her spine, but she couldn't bring herself to entertain it, and so she stood stiff as a board. Nonetheless, Eugenia still relished how Betty's cheeks slightly jiggled with the momentum of her steady quivering.

"I think you could," Eugenia said, squeezing tighter. "I'm sure all these men would love to have a go at this fat rump of yours. You'd get used to it, I reckon. I technically broke it in already, after all."

"No. I cannot do that," Betty said, gripping her tiny crucifix.


"Don't you understand?! It's fast approaching the time when I'm expected to find an appropriate suitor. Men of good breeding and status court only virgins; I've heard they're trained to discern their authenticity, especially on the wedding night..."

"Oh, bollocks! You really don't think men are that smart—"

"Eugenia, I simply cannot risk it. A-and also, it's just against my principles..."

"You and your principles. Who says you have to lose your virginity, doll face?" Eugenia said with a smile, finally removing her hand from Betty's rear end. "There's nothin' in the Bible about taking it in the arse. Not for women, at least."

"Eugenia!" Betty gasped. "That's filthy! What kind of girl do you think I am?"

Running her fingers through her ratty, mustard-colored hair, Eugenia give Betty a hard stare, then pointed her finger to the metal can of grease sitting on the floor. "Know what that's for?"

"No," Betty said.

"My arsehole," she said plainly. "Though I'm out of commission right now in that regard. Some lout with a real monstrous prick came in here and buggered me bad, took 'im forever to finish too. Don't think I'll be sellin' it much for a while."

"My word! I'm so sorry to hear that...I-I can pay for you to see a very good doctor—"

"Save it, Betty. I've made my bed, and I'm lyin' in it."

Betty wincingly stared at the can again. "S-so, wait. You use that to...prepare?" she stammered, sounding as if she didn't actually want to hear the answer.

"Yep, the grease is to slick up your bum. But, the can itself's got a purpose too. Sit on it long enough, and takin' it in the rear isn't so hard. When I'm able, I'll sit on it for hours, to keep my arsehole open. Makes my job much easier."

Betty was now thoroughly horrified. That can was far wider than her fingers were even able to wrap around. She couldn't imagine it fitting into any of her bodily ports, let alone her anus.

She thought to run out the door now. But would running away really help her? She believed everything Eugenia said to her. She really did think her father's entire estate could face the kind of blemish that lasts generations. The magnitude of this decision couldn't be any bigger, in her mind.

Eugenia sucked her teeth. "So are y'gonna do it, or what?"

She looked up at Eugenia, clutching her cross so tightly that it stung her palm. While she was worried she might twist it, she couldn't help herself.

The girl looked back at her, blankly, coldly.

Betty nodded her head up, then down.

Eugenia smiled.

"Good decision, love."

To be continued...

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