Saint Louis

I was walking St. Louis alone late one night. All the bars had closed and even the last hearty hopefuls had found their way to the door. There was no one on the street, but there were lights in many windows. The blue flicker of television leaked out from behind a few curtains. An icy December wind blew through the streets.

I walked down to the river and watched the swirling blackness and meditated on loneliness. I walked back toward the motel where I was staying.

As I walked past, a young woman sitting in a doorway said, “Hey.” She was young, about my age, smooth face, dark hair pulled back, dark bushy eyebrows and red lipstick. It was shocking seeing her there at that time of night. Like finding a bright red rose on an grey city sidewalk. Her eyes were intensely blue.

“Hey,” I stopped.  She stood up and dusted off her short skirt.

“Are you lonely?” she asked me. In my world, the magic of finding a beautiful girl in a doorway late at night is a perfectly natural surprise. It hit me, perhaps a little slowly, that she was a hooker. “You want company?” she asked into my silence.

“Yes,” I said, “but I’m looking for something special.”

“Sure, honey.  We all are.  But what do you want?” she asked, taking a small step toward me.

“I don’t want sex, or I mean, I don’t just want sex. I want you to be quite taken with me and bring me home to your warm apartment for a cup of tea in bed. I want you to tell me what you were like when you were nine. I want you to laugh with me and wrestle and then maybe collapse into lovemaking where we both take it tremendously slow with building intensity. I don’t want you for an hour. I want to have you all night long and wake up tomorrow with you over coffee. I want you to remember tonight with fondness and some longing years from now.

I reached out and brushed her hand lightly, and she warmed to me with a smile.

“You see, I don’t just want your body. I want your heart too. And your mind and all the things that make you laugh suddenly for no reason at all.

“Now, how much is that? How much would that cost me?”

She stood for a minute. Sizing me up, looking me up and down, wondering maybe, if she could fall for a man like me.

“Three hundred dollars,” she said finally. “For all that.”

I only had about two hundred dollars total, and that was set aside for the expenses of my trip.  I told her so.

“Sorry,” she said with a wistful smile and turned away.

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