In a Little While Ch. 02bybarabajagal001©
Fred returned to Jenny's flat - or The Cat House, as he heard other boys say - a number of times in the short weeks that followed. The girls were insistent that they were not prostitutes, but they enjoyed the company of soldiers, whose passion and fear fueled some pleasurable nights. Some of the girls also felt they were doing a sort of civic duty, giving boys this experience before they left for the front lines - for some, it would be their last good time they would ever have. Jenny in particular threw herself into it, never turning down a soldier on his last night in London. She cried when word came back that a young man she'd been with had died.
He knew he had fallen in love just a little with Jenny, even though he had been with most of the other girls in the flat. Each time he visited, he felt a little more guilt thinking of poor Alice and how she would feel if she knew. He did write her - not every day, but often - and cherished her return letters. He tried not to have hopes about their future, but a little voice inside told him that it wouldn't be long, and they could be together. Still, she wasn't here, and the girls were, and even to have another warm body to lie beside and hold in these lonely evenings was nice. He knew that his friends thought he was crazy for returning to Jenny's so often, especially since he often gave the girls a little of his pocket money - not in exchange for the sex, he assured them, but because times were tough, and they needed the money more than he did.
By the end of July, word had been passed down that they were being shipped out to France within days. Fred made one last visit to Jenny, this time with Terrance and Jim in tow, both of whom had since lost their virginity. He held her trembling body close to him that sunny afternoon, and let himself feel the fear he kept stuffed in the back of his head. He knew that Jenny would understand. She cried a little and bid him the sweetest farewell he could have asked for.
As for the war, there truly wasn't much to say. Or rather, there was always too much to say. Fred's letters home became increasingly sparse on details, as he couldn't bring himself to jot down the absolute horrors he saw daily. His regiment fought all through France. In later years, he would recall this time through a haze. He would remember the beautiful countryside, ravaged by thousands of stomping boots. He would remember gunfire exploding around him, while overhead the skies were blue and clear. He would remember birds and butterflies fluttering in moments of silence right before his world would seem to end, and one of his comrades had fallen at his feet.
He suffered no major injuries of the body. It was his heart and mind that were damaged by the things he saw, the boys he grew to love fallen on the battlefields without anyone to bury them. The worst day of his life, he was scrabbling along the ground with Terrance at his side, and over a small rise when they were fired upon. He watched Terrance topple over with horror, and called frantically for the medic. He wouldn't know until months later that it hadn't been a mortal wound, but it had been close, and Terrance never regained the full use of his left arm.
His battalion had moved across France and he was in Paris for its liberation in August of that year. Their respite there was very brief, however. The remainder of the year they spent pushing across into Germany. Things were even more horrible than he could have imagined, but finally, finally, the war was over in Europe. Some of his company had been sent away to the Pacific to try and expedite the effort over there, but Fred was with those who had been assigned to US-occupied Germany. Initially, he was in the US quarter of Berlin, doing border patrol or walking the streets after the civilian curfew at night.
One evening, he strolled the blocks near base on his way to his patrol area. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flicker of movement. Turning to inspect, he saw a figure disappear around the corner. He dashed after them, quietly to avoid alarming them, and grabbed their arm just above the elbow. He spun them around, and found himself face to face with a beautiful woman. She wore a trench coat, so it was impossible to gauge her figure, but he was transfixed at the sight of her short, fashionably cut red hair.
"Who are you doing, and what are you out in curfew?" he asked her in his fumbling German.
When she answered, however, it was in English, and a heavily-French-accented English at that. "I'm very sorry, I was made late for an appointment."
"What kind of an appointment so late?"
"I was going to see a friend," she said evasively.
"Who are you?" he repeated.
She twisted her mouth into a sneer. "I suppose you would say I am a, how do you say it? A call-girl," she said disdainfully. She then thrust her chin up at him, as if to dare him to hassle her further.
"I should arrest you," Fred responded.
"A girl has to make money somehow, and these days it seems the only way. You can arrest me if you like, but as a soldier, I would expect you to be sympathetic to the man who hired me. Surely you've used a girl or two yourself since you left home, no?" Of course, Fred had, and it was with that knowledge that he reluctantly escorted her away from the patrol routes and let her go on her way.
After that night, Fred was sure he glimpsed sight of the nameless woman several more times. It wasn't always at night, and he only ever saw her after curfew once again. He considered catching up with her again and giving her tips on how to better avoid the patrols, but it was one thing to let her go once. It was another to be technically abetting a criminal. Occasionally he saw her wrapped up in her coat, heading home - he assumed - first thing in the morning. After a few weeks, he stopped seeing her altogether, and he wondered whether she had moved, or simply become more careful.
Fred was approaching his sixteenth month in the service, and things had more or less become calm in Germany. It took a while to get over the constant sensation of being on guard for imminent shots in his direction. He concentrated on his work, on reading the cheap paperbacks he traded around on base, on writing to his parents, and to Alice. He hadn't forgotten her, but she no longer totally consumed his thoughts. He wondered sometimes whether his love for her would fade with time, and become to him nothing more than a childish fancy. But then he would think back to the light flush, the starry-eyed look in her eyes when he kissed her on his birthday, and a warm tingling would run down his spine.
Soon, his term of service would be up, if he wished it, and he could go back home. He wasn't sure he wanted to, yet. He missed his parents, of course, but being so close to Alice without being able to have her would be such torture. Even if he were gainfully employed, it would be better to be far away.
Perhaps he could go back to London? The girls there...no. After the war, they would surely have beaus of their own, be married by now, perhaps, have lives. Besides, he couldn't fool himself too much. Even Jenny didn't really love him. He was a warm body and a few shillings to her, and he knew it.
It was September 1946, and Fred Wright was in Paris. He had been granted a discharge, but simply could not face going home yet. He thought that he would study for awhile at a university that was opening for the first semester since before the Germans invaded. He perused the papers for boarding house ads, and saw one that looked promising. With a little difficulty, he found the place. It was six small rooms plus a communal dining room, kitchen, and the landlord's quarters, above a stationery shop.
Fred peered into the shop, and at once saw a woman leaning against the doorjamb in the back of the shop. The door to the back alley was open, and the woman was gazing into it, smoking a thin cigarette. She was very slender, with wavy brown hair pulled up tightly. She wore a dusty pink dress with stockings rolled down to her knees. He noticed a run in one of her stockings, and followed it down her pretty calf with his eyes. She turned, and the dim light washed over her face, which would have been very pleasant looking if it hadn't been for the derisive glare on her face.
"What do you want?" she grunted in French. Fred lifted the paper in his hands and stuttered out something in French about the ad she had placed.
"You're here about the room, are you? I rent at five francs per week, included breakfast, laundry, cleaning."
"I'm afraid I haven't got much money. I was hoping you could use some help running your shop," he said timidly. She stalked over to him, and gave him the once-over.
"Why do you want to rent a room here, in Paris, American?" she asked, narrowing her eye suspiciously.
"I wanted to go to the university."
She grunted in response, and then said, "come upstairs." She disappeared up the narrow stairs in the back of the shop, and into her quarters. She shut the door behind them, and clicked the lock into place. She turned around and opened the shades on the windows. In the afternoon light, he could see the fine lines in her face that put her age between thirty and forty. He couldn't be sure, because grief and fear add age to the face as well as time.
"I don't really need any help in the shop. Business is slow these days. But there is something I do need." As she said this, she unbuttoned the buttons on her dress, and it dropped to the floor. She stood right there, on the threadbare carpet, in only her rolled-down stockings. He hadn't bedded a woman since he left England, and his hormones suddenly raged to life. It didn't matter that he didn't know the woman's name, or that she could have been old enough to be his mother, or that her frame was considerably bonier than it looked in the dress, or that her breasts sagged a little, or that she smelled of cigarettes, which he did not smoke.
"You give me one good fuck as a 'deposit,' and then another for every week you want to stay here, and you pay me as much as you can afford, help out when I need it, and you can stay as long as you like." So saying, she dropped her naked ass onto the couch and waited.
Fred sat beside her and kissed her, moving quickly away from the smoky taste in her mouth to the soft skin of her neck. Moving down to her breasts, he kissed and licked each in turn until she was breathing heavily. She parted her thighs, and he ran his hand up to her slit, already sticky with arousal. She had the biggest bush he had ever seen, but it didn't turn him off. Rather, he leaned down and nuzzled into it as he pushed two fingers up into her. He kissed her inner thighs, her bush, and tongued her navel while he fingered her. When he placed his kisses directly onto her clit, licking up her tangy juices, she cursed softly in French. He waited until he felt her clenching around his fingers, and heard her grunts above him before withdrawing his fingers.
He pulled back and she knelt on the couch cushions, thrusting her ass in his direction. She had reverted back to French, telling him to fuck her like a dog and she would howl for him, or something like that. He wasn't quite sure, but it didn't really matter. He unzipped his pants and pulled out his already-hard dick, sliding it into her without warning. He held tightly to her waist and pumped his hips against her. While he fucked her, he thought of Jenny, and then Karen, and then unbidden to his mind came the image of the red-headed prostitute he had met briefly in Germany. He imagined what she would look like naked, the things she could teach him, the pleasures she could show him. He pictured her spread out before him, head tossed back in pleasure.
The imagery, and the sensation of wet flesh around his cock were too much for him. He sped his pace, reveling in the sound of their thighs slapping together. He barely registered the French woman's cursing and moaning beneath him. At last, he pulled his cock out of her and shot it all over her back and ass, sighing in satisfaction. He wiped his cock on her discarded dress and tucked it back into her pants.
"I'll take the room."
His landlady's name was Mathilde, he found out, and she had lost her husband in the war. Her boarding house had been used by German soldiers for the past six years, and she kept house for them, grudgingly. She had all other five rooms rented, to a schoolteacher, a newspaper journalist, two elderly ladies, and another student. Fred moved his two small suitcases in straightaway.
In the weeks that followed, Fred was beginning to feel rather content. He attended university classes three days per week, helped out in the shop on Saturdays, and went to bed with Mathilde on Saturday evenings. Breakfast every morning was sparsely attended, only himself and the elderly ladies, who were either senile or pretended not to notice the significant looks Mathilde sent him on Saturday mornings. He had never even met the other tenants.
Only two things troubled him. The first was that Alice had been very upset when he wrote to tell her that he wouldn't be coming home - not even for a visit. She couldn't understand why he wouldn't want to see her, or his friends, or his parents. She wrote him less often in Paris.
His other trouble was the red-headed woman. Since moving to Paris, he had been almost sure that he had seen her once or twice. But he couldn't imagine that in the heavily populated city it was very likely he would keep seeing a woman he had last seen in Berlin. Still, she came unbidden into his mind frequently (especially while bedding his landlady) and it made him uneasy.
One night he was going up the very last flight of stairs, when a figure brushed past him. In surprise, he looked to the landing below, where a red-headed woman was staring back up at him.
"What, did you follow me here?" she hissed at him.
"Certainly not. For all I knew, you were still in Berlin?"
"That Hell-hole? God forbid," she spat out. "What are you doing here?"
"Why are you angry at me?" he asked, bewildered. She only frowned harder.
"It is not something I wish to discuss with you, much less where others could hear."
"You don't want them to know you are not the schoolteacher you pretend to be?" he asked, taunting her. She flushed a dark red and flounced up the stairs ahead of him.
"Certainly not!" She unlocked the door across the hallway from his own, and he was flabbergasted that she had been so close all the time and yet he had never seen her. She pointed to a small wooden chair, and he obediently sat in it, while she poured two glasses of whiskey. She plunked one down in front of him and sat in a stuffed chair across the rickety table from him. She tossed back half of the whiskey in one swallow, then looked at him fiercely.
"I don't even know why I'm telling you any of this. You don't seem like the kind of boy who would have the balls to tell the landlady that I'm a whore." Fred frowned, but said nothing, sipping his whiskey. "You might as well know, I worked for a very famous brothel here in Paris, had worked there since I was fourteen years old. When the Germans invaded, many of their high-ranking officials loved to spend their evenings in our company. One in particular practically fell in love with me. When they saw that they were being pushed back, many of them went back into the heart of Germany. He begged me to go with him, but I resisted. They say that Paris was liberated, but it really turned into another kind of prison for girls like me. People thought that because we were prosperous in wartime that we were traitors. Don't even prostitutes have the right to make a living? To eat?" she broke off, clearly furious.
Fred waited for her to go on, and after a moment, she did. "They dragged girls naked out of their beds, shaved their heads, beat them to death. I lost many of my friends that way, some so young. I escaped and made my way into Germany, hoping that my officer would forgive me and give me a place to live. But by the time I got here, he had committed suicide like so many others. I could do nothing but offer my paltry services to other soldiers, first German, then Soviet, and then American. And some of the men were so cruel. But what else could I do? I have no family. Not long after I met you, I was beaten pretty badly by an American, and I decided to return to my native Paris. At least here I am among my countrymen. No one would remember me as a brothel girl anymore, and I'm just careful."
Fred didn't know what to say. He finished the rest of his whiskey and sat in silence for several long minutes. "I know so much about you, but not your name. It's funny, isn't it?"
She had to give a very small smile at that. "Marguerite is my name."
"Pretty name. Mine's Fred. Listen, I don't guess anything I could say would make you feel any better, but you don't have to worry about me ratting you out to Mathilde. It's your business what you do to get along. Thanks for the whiskey, and I hope to see you around sometimes."
He stood, patted her shoulder once gently, and left her to her thoughts.
Fred and Marguerite fell into an uneasy friendship after that. Even though he knew that Marguerite could take care of herself - had, in fact, since before she reached adulthood, Fred couldn't help but feel that he wanted to look out for her a little bit. Often now, he stayed up until after she had come home, around two or three in the morning. He took only afternoon lectures now, and used the bits of free time he had left earning a little extra money guiding the increasing number of English-speaking vacationers around Paris. He had increased the pittance that he was paying Mathilde, but he was still able to collect quite a large amount of cash, which he hid in a biscuit tin under his mattress. It would serve him well when he was ready to move back home.
Although they rarely saw each other, it was more smiling than curt nodding that happened when they passed each other on the landing. Fred still lusted after her body, but took his frustration out on the unknowing Mathilde, who seemed more than happy to be the beneficiary of his stifled passion. At Christmastime, he allowed his desire to get the better of him, and purchased her a small box of chocolates as a gift. He left them just outside her door, and was pleased to see a small box outside his when he returned home from school the following day. Inside, he found a gold tie tack studded with tiny emeralds, and a note: "This was my father's. I haven't anyone else to give it to, and you've been very kind."
Fred felt immensely flattered, and he waited up again to thank her when she returned home. She never came. As far as he could tell, she did not come home the following three nights either, but he stayed up anyway. Finally, just after the first day of the year, she returned after midnight. He knocked tentatively on her door, and then entered. A fire crackled merrily in her fireplace. She had just taken off her thick coat to reveal a green satin party dress, knee-length and short-sleeved. Bruises decorated most of her exposed skin. She startled when he came in.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you. What happened?" Marguerite didn't answer, just moved, a bit stiffly, to the tiny kitchen, and put a kettle of water on to boil. Fred touched her arm, gently, and she jumped. "Marguerite, was it a...client?"
"I have never had a Parisian treat me this way before," she finally said.
"Where have you been? Did you go to the hospital?"
"Certainly not," she spat out. "I do not have the money. I have been with my friend Clara." She looked at him with a funny expression on her face. "Were you...worried about me?"
"Of course I was worried about you!" he retorted. "What's so funny?" he asked, irritated when she laughed softly.