East St. Louis Cathousebybobfr©
I double checked the address written on the card and confirmed that it matched the number on the dilapidated building. I must confess, there was a lump in my throat, my heart was pounding and my palms were sweaty as I got out of the rented chevy and crossed the street.
What the hell was I even doing here? I couldn't have been more out of place. I was a white man. This was not a white neighborhood. I was a married white man. The building I was walking toward was the last place on earth in which one would expect to find a married white man. The two story, run-down building was a whorehouse in East St. Louis, Illinois that catered only to black men.
I pressed the bell and waited. It seemed like forever. Finally, the door opened a crack and a huge black man said with a chuckle, "you jus gotta be Ron, come on in I'm Latrell."
I stepped inside a dimly lit foyer and followed the black stranger into a rather seedy reception room.
"Sit down Ron, take a load off, relax. Can I get you something to drink?"
"A coke would be okay," I answered nervously as I sat down on a brown, imitation leather sofa.
He disappeared for a minute and came back smiling broadly as he handed me the cold can. Shaking his huge bald head in disbelief, he said, "I gotta tell ya man, this is a fuckin first for me. When old Andy called and told me he had been talking to a white dude and what you were lookin for, I thought he musta been fuckin nuts. But old Andy's somebody I can count on."
His mention of Andy caused my mind to race back to an hour earlier when I entered a bar across the river. I recalled that I had to get up the nerve to even go into that part of town, let alone into a bar that few white men had probably ever entered. I remembered sitting at the bar, ordering a drink and trying to get the courage to broach the subject that brought me there in the first place.
He said, "I'm Andy. Guess I don't need to tell ya that you're kinda oudaplace here, wounsha say?"
I cleared my throat and said, "I'm sure you don't have many white men come to this part of St. Louis." I thought it couldn't hurt to be friendly so I reached my hand across the bar to shake his. "By the way Andy, I'm Ron, nice to meet you."
He had no choice but to reciprocate but I sensed his suspicion. "Well friend, things are quiet now," as he waved his hand toward the end of the bar where the only other patron sat, "but it won't be quiet forever. Why don ya tell me what's on yer mind?"
"This is kind of embarrassing, but I told myself before I left home yesterday for this business trip that I would do it."
"Do what? Shit man, go on, get it out!" he said with exasperation.
Here goes I thought, he's going to think I'm crazy but there's no turning back now. I took a sip of my drink to stall for time then blurted out, "I'm trying to find a whorehouse that caters to black men."
He leaned on the bar. His face was a foot from mine when spoke seriously. "Ron, jus in case you haven't looked in the mirror lately, you ain't no black man. Also, you shouldn't have no trouble getting pussy in this town, no trouble at all. Plenty of working girls, I guess they call em escorts now, in the yellow pages and pros in most hotel lounges."
Oh, shit, this was going to be much harder than I thought. While this subject had been on my mind for years, until this moment I had only shared my thoughts with one other person, now I would have to explain my request to this black stranger. I cleared my throat and explained, " I'm not looking for a place for me to visit, I thought you might know of some place that was looking for help. A place that would be interested in a beautiful white woman."
There was silence as he digested what he thought I had said. "Let me get this straight, are you white boys taking over pimping hos now? You sure don't look like no pimp to me, you look more like a lawyer." It seemed to me like his own words caught him by surprise. " Hey man, you ain't no cop are you? Look, I don't want no fucking trouble."
"No, I'm not a lawyer, I'm not a pimp, I'm not a cop. Andy, I'm just a salesman from Omaha here on business." There was no sense beating around the bush, so I continued. "I want to find a place where Jennifer, that's my wife, can work for a few days."
"Hey man, is this some kinda fucking joke?" He laughed, looked around and continued, "oh, I get it, are we on candid camera?"
Very seriously, I said, "it's no joke and we're not on candid camera."
Shaking his black head he said, "man, the way yer dressed and everything I never woulda thought you'd be married to a whore." "Jennifer's not a whore, she works in an office. We have three kids. I don't know exactly how to explain it Andy, but for a long time I've had a fantasy about my wife with another man. We married right out of high school and she's never been with another guy. So, anyway, I had these thoughts of my wife with another man. Over time, for some reason, it became a black guy, then recently lots of black guys. Don't ask me why, it would take all night to try explain it because I really don't understand it myself. It just happened over time and I'm asking for your help."
"That's the damnedest thing I ever heard of." He paused and seemed to be taking in everything he had heard. "Ain't none a my business but that's just plain crazy."
"You're probably right Andy, maybe I am crazy but that's the truth and that's why I came in here, I was hoping you might help me. Sorry to have wasted your time." I placed a five-dollar bill on the bar and got up to leave.
He reached out put his hand on my arm. "Hold on Ron, hold on. Ain't a cathouse I know of this side a the river, but' there's one cross the river in East St. Louis. You know about East St. Louis donsha?"
His question seemed ominous, I assumed that East St. Louis would be a suburb of the Missouri City. "No, when I call on accounts in this area I've never needed to cross the river into Illinois."
"It's pretty rough, man. Only people who live there now are down on their luck, mostly black. But the cops leave people alone. Crack houses, gambling and Latrell's place, that's the cat house. He's got a couple white gals and a couple black gals. I know he's always looking for new pussy. Should I give him a call?"
There it was, the moment of decision. Andy had warned me that this wasn't any high class brothel, just the opposite. I didn't have to think very long. I had been anticipating this moment for years. "Please call him."
He stepped ten feet down the bar, turned his back to me and dialed the phone. I couldn't hear what was said as he talked for a couple of minutes. Just before he hung up he wrote something. He returned to me, handed me a card and said, "here's the address of Latrell's place and directions. If ya get lost call the number I wrote down. Oh, by the way Ron, I wouldn't fuck with Latrell, if this is some kind of joke don't go over there, you probably won't come back. If yer for real, good luck, especially to yer wife. He's waiting for ya."
With that, he shuffled to the end of the bar to serve his other customer. I slipped the card in my pocket, left the bar and drove across the river to a very different world.
So, here I was sitting in a reception room in a whorehouse in East St. Louis, Illinois. I was abruptly brought back to the present when Latrell asked, "you serious about this?"
I cleared my throat, nodded my head and said, "very serious."
"Well I'm always looking for new meat, sorry, no offense. Anyway, what's your wife's name?"
"Jennifer," I answered.
"Tell me about her, you know how old, what she looks like, all that stuff."
"She's 34, about 5'8", weighs about 128, I think. Long brown hair, blue eyes, very pretty."
"Got a photo?"
I wasn't surprised by his request and had prepared for it. I fished a picture from my jacket pocket of her that was taken at the lake last summer. I brought the photo with me on this trip for this very purpose. She was wearing her white bikini and looked like a million bucks. Nervously, I handed it to him.
"Wow! She's a lot more than pretty Ron, I'd call her really beautiful and she looks sooo hot." I didn't respond so he went on, "Andy tol me she ain't never fucked anybody but you, that can't be right."
"It's the truth."
"Guess I don understand. If ya want to watch her get laid, I magine there're lotsa guys at home who'd do it. Andy said you were from out of town someplace . . ."
"Omaha's home for us. I'm a salesman. I fly to St. Louis every month to call on my accounts." He didn't respond but waited for me to continue. I cleared my throat and said, "I know you're right Latrell, there are a lot of guys at home who would love to take her to bed but that's not what I want." I took another sip of the cold coke. For some reason I felt an obligation to explain everything to him. "I don't want to mess up our lives and I don't want Jennifer to fall in love with someone. She's one of those women who has always thought that she could never have sex with someone she doesn't love. Anyway, somehow the idea of her screwing just for fun and with someone she didn't know crept into my mind and it wouldn't go away. I fueled it by reading everything I could about men who wanted their wives to fuck around. I rented videos and spent a lot of time on the Internet. Now, for some reason, that's just about all I think about. I guess it's become an obsession."
"What does Jennifer think of your idea?"
"When I first mentioned it to her a couple of years ago she cried and cried. She thought I wanted an excuse to be with other women. When she came to realize that wasn't it we would fantasize when we made love but after she would say she could never do anything like that. By the time she had warmed up to the idea of fooling around a little, my fantasy had changed and became much more extreme. Eventually, I could only imagine her with a black body on top of her. As you might expect, after I shared my new fantasy with her, it set everything back a few months. When she finally got used to that idea, I could only imagine her with a black man that she had sex with for money. This was the greatest obstacle of all to overcome and took even more time and patience I won't bore you with the details."
"Go on. I'm interested."
"Then, a few weeks ago, she said that if she was ever going to do anything it would have to be out of town. When I pressed and asked if she would make love to a black man for money she said maybe she would if I could make certain arrangements. We agreed that she wouldn't be a street walker or go to a hotel room with a stranger because it was too dangerous. The only possibility left seemed to be working in a place like this."
I finished the coke and set the empty can on the end table. "Seriously? I think she probably didn't think I would, or could, actually do it. I'm not sure that I thought I could do it either . . . I mean make the arrangements. Anyway, before I left home yesterday on this trip I told her I would look around and asked if she would still do it if I could find a place. I know it wasn't easy for her and while she didn't exactly agree she did tell me to see what I could arrange. So, that's the story, here I am."
He leaned back in his chair for several seconds and seemed to be thinking about what I had revealed. "Ron, before we go any farther let me tell ya about this place. We're open all the time. Guys who come here come for a lot of different reasons. Some of em couldn't get laid any other way. Some of em don't like complications. Some of the brothers want what their wives and girl friends won't give em at home and they can only get here. And, let's face it, some of em want a woman that looks a lot better than their old lady and cash is the only way they can get one. This place ain't fancy but it's probably the busiest whorehouse around these parts." He was interrupted by the door bell. "Hang on," he said as he went to the door.
Before he got to the door, three women— actually two women and a young girl—came in the room through a doorway that I hadn't noticed before. Two were very pretty white women and the third a young tall black girl who must have been about twenty. They were all wearing high heels and lingerie. The blonde white woman was wearing a black bra and thong panty, the brunette white woman was wearing a white very sheer teddy and the black girl a sheer pink peignoir that she left open in front bearing her breasts and the neatly trimmed triangle of hair above her vagina.
Each struck a sexy pose. They knew that I wasn't the customer and they weren't posing for me. Latrell entered the room followed by fat black man who must have been more than sixty years old. When he entered the room, each woman smiled at him. I could almost hear them plead, "pick me, please pick me." He looked each of over from head to foot, took his time, then nodded at the brunette. Almost immediately the room cleared out and Latrell and I were alone again.
"Now where were we, oh ya how things work here. Well, you already saw three of my girls, got another one that's busy now." He looked at his watch and said, "she should be finished soon." The old guy that went up with Claire, that's the pretty gal in the white teddy, anyway, he was a first timer. Regulars know pretty much who they want unless we got fresh meat. He wanted an hour half and half, that's a flat c note, a hundred bucks, I keep half and she gets half. Tips and extras are hers. He won't last no hour that's fer sure. Claire'll milk him dry in about fifteen minutes. He could have had a half hour for $75 but almost everybody goes for the hour. I don't know what ya know and don't know about this business but a half and half is head and a fuck. Head is less and a fuck is less than a combo."
Before he could continue the door bell rang again. This time the blonde, the tall black girl and another black girl who must have been the one who was busy before entered and posed. Latrell returned with two tall black men that could have been NBA centers. I assumed they would each pick a girl. I was surprised when they nodded to the blonde and the three of them disappeared.
"How come those guys didn't each pick a gal?" I asked.
"Sometimes the brothers like to share a gal. They don't save any money they just like to try to drive em crazy with DP, I mean double penetration," He explained. "Got any other questions on how it works here?"
I must have had a dozen other questions that I could have asked and should have asked but I didn't, I just shook my head, no.
"Okay then, let me show ya around the place." He walked through the door in the room that the girls had come from into a lounge with a TV, a couple of sofas and chairs. One of the black girls was there, the other one was someplace else and I knew that the two white girls were busy. Proudly he said, this is where the gals can relax out of their cribs while they wait for the johns. He didn't bother to introduce me to Kisha who was reading a magazine. He went on, "got us a kitchen so we can eat in and be ready for business," he explained as we walked into a kitchen that had seen its better days.
We went out into the foyer again and I noticed stairs leading to the second floor. I followed him up and saw several doors on either side of a wide hall. I also heard moans, groans, sighs and the sounds of squeaky mattress springs coming from behind the doors. At the end of the hall he opened a door and switched on the light.
"This here's where your old lady would be," he announced.
The room was very small, only large enough to accommodate a double bed, a dresser and a wooden chair. The only light was red and came from a lamp on the floor. On top of the dresser was a stack of folded towels, a stack of folded sheets, a large bottle of KY lubricant and a box that contained twelve dozen "gold foil maxxum condoms."
"Do the guys have to use condoms?" I wanted to know.
"Fuck no, most of em hate em. Goin swimmin with yer clothes on, ha ha ha. No we have em in case the guy wants to use em but the gal can't make em. Ain't none a my business what goes on in here behind closed doors." He thought of something else and asked, "Is yer old lady on the pill?"
"Yes she is," I said. What I didn't say is that she had only been on the pill for a few weeks. I had a vasectomy six years ago after our last baby was born so we didn't need to practice any form of birth control. When it seemed like Jennifer was coming to accept my desires for her, I persuaded her to get on the pill again so she wouldn't have to worry if—hopefully when—it happened. I checked her medicine cabinet the morning after she filled the prescription and got very excited as I saw that a pill was missing. I checked frequently and saw that she had been taking them faithfully. This was probably the most concrete evidence that she had accepted my fantasy and might cooperate.
"The john's at the end of the hall. Two of the rooms have baths but the new girl has to move up to one of those rooms." He opened the door to a bathroom and I looked inside. There was a large, old fashioned cast iron tub with claw feet, a basin and a toilet. On a shelf, next to the tub, were dozens of Masingale disposable douches. On the sink ledge was a giant bottle of green mouth wash and a stack of small plastic cups.
Without saying anything else, I followed Latrell down the hall to the stairs past the moaning, groaning, sighing and squishy sounds of sex. Back in the reception room— really a parlor I guess— Latrell cut to the chase. "So, she gonna come here or not? It's Thursday, I could use her tomorrow. Oh, she ain't on the rag is she?"
"No, she had her last period over a week ago. I can't promise anything Latrell, but I believe she will, she said she would. I'll call her when I get back to the hotel. She'll have to make arrangements for the kids until I get home."
He stuck his giant hand out and said, "then I guess we got us a deal. You know, I have to check her out when she gets here, donsha? I mean I got to give her a test ride, so to speak, before the brothers get a crack at her. I mean ya said she wasn't a pro and this is a first for her. If everything's cool with her, she can be turning tricks in less than an hour after she gets here. You got a problem with that?"
"No, I understand." I walked to the front door and said, "I'll call you after I talk with Jennifer tonight."
"That's great man, looking forward. Oh, by the way Ron, if she walks through that door tomorrow night, she's mine until Sunday. If ya got a problem with that better tell me now."
"I understand," I said as I walked through the doorway, the same doorway she might pass through tomorrow.
A thousand thoughts were spinning through my mind as I drove back to the Marriot in St. Louis. I knew that Jennifer thought I probably would never be able to make the complicated arrangements I had just completed. Now the question was, would she keep her part of the bargain? There was no doubt that all of this was my idea. Would I live to regret it?
I deliberately avoided calling home. I grabbed a bite in the restaurant at the hotel, then had couple of drinks in the bar stalling for time. Finally, I couldn't put off placing my regular evening call home. Only this call would be different than any I had ever made before.
Megan, our twelve year old, answered on the first ring. "Hey Meg, how's it going?"
"Dad, I'm in the middle of a really important call can you call back later?"
In the background I heard our five-year old shout, "mommy, mommy, Nancy won't let me watch the cartoon channel." Jennifer's beautiful voice said, "David be a good big brother and turn the channel back for your sister."
Now I had two good reasons to delay the phone conversation. First, Jen was obviously needed as a domestic referee and second Meg wasn't about to give up the telephone without a fight. Though I hated call waiting and normally I would have told her that I couldn't call back and to put her mother on the line immediately I was, nonetheless, relieved to get a short reprieve. "Sure hon, tell mom I called and I'll call back later. And Meg, help mom with the kids, okay?"