Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Standing on the edge of town is a dilapidated brothel that has been there since before the turn of the century. It sticks out like an infected thumb; green and with boards hanging all at odd angles. A single, pulsing, red lantern hangs over the doorway proclaiming its professional status for all the world to see.
There are lines, with waiting times and Now Serving numbers assigned to each Harry, Dick, and John that round the block and down the next six. Smoking is encouraged and drinking is considered a virtue in that queue but it is not required. Big men and small alike stand there, nervously biting their nails and combing their hair as they wait to be called - though the smaller ones pray that they measure up to the sign that reads "You must be this long to ride."
You'll find Madam Kor standing at the door there, always with a cigarette hanging on her lip, and too much make up hiding her aging looks. When she was younger they say that she could stop traffic and even horses would run into walls as she walked by; but those days are long since past. Now she breaks scales, hips, and backs.
Inside is a neon kaleidoscope of colors with garish reds, oranges, pinks, violets, indigos, and jaundiced yellows plastering every wall; while a three inch thick shag carpet snags your toes and trips you into plush beds where no doctor would dare lay his head. It's said that there are turnstiles at each doorway and a neon sign hangs above ever calling out the next guest.
Now Serving Customer Number
Girls enter and only hags leave with their legs bowed and backs weighted down with gold. And all the good folk wonder why a girl who can't have a job would leave behind a life of servitude to lay on her back for ten or twenty years and walk away a rich, old whore. "Surely," they solicitously whisper, "no life is worth that indignity."
When the war came in the 40s it was the whores who paid the soldiers and bought their armaments. When the city fell in the winter '56 it was they who slew the 156th to the last man and kept the city warm and well fed. And now with the horde knocking on the gates, its to them that we look for salvation.
So pack your gas mask and tip the ladies - they're the only hope we've got.
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