TITLE: Strategies and Exchanges
RATING: PG-13 for subject matter
SUMMARY: Every addiction has its side effects.
DISCLAIMER: Not my characters. Just letting them play in my yard.
NOTES: Lately I've been working on off-beat ideas with short pieces. This is my take on House's frequent comments on hookers, which I've never seen anyone write about.
For a hooker, she had nice manners.
“Lots of people are shy with someone new,” she said encouragingly.
And she had a great work ethic.
“We can try something else,” she said, making her lipsticked smile flirtatious.
But she’d never make it as a psychologist.
“Your problem may be that you think too much,” she said, looking around at the books and journals scattered on the floor of the dimly lamp-lit living room. “Don’t think about it. Just feel.”
Ah, a graduate of the Neil Diamond school of sexual policy, House thought. He pushed himself off the sofa and limped over to the wall light switch. Bright light flooded the room, and she blinked until her eyes adjusted.
He was leaning on the wall, his weight on his left leg, and she saw the scar below the hem of his boxer shorts on the other leg, the one he hadn’t wanted touched. It was finger-wide, ropy and reddish-pink against his fair skin. His thigh looked as if someone had torn a double handful of flesh out of it.
“Man!” she hissed. “You get shot or something?” He’d mentioned he had a bum leg, but he’d acted like the cane was no big deal.
“Knife,” he said.
“You don’t look like a knife-fighting kind of guy,” she said.
He shrugged and picked up his trousers from the arm of the sofa, pulled money from the pocket and held it out to her.
She had great business sense. She counted it and stuffed it deep into the pocket of her very short skirt.
“You’re not complaining about paying for what you didn’t get?”
Next she’ll have me fill out a customer satisfaction survey, he thought. He studied the planks in the floor as if they’d suddenly become fascinating. He hadn’t wanted conversation in the first place, and he certainly didn’t want to now. But she seemed to expect some kind of answer. Everyone expected something from him lately.
“No,” he finally said. “Just wasn’t my night. It’s not your fault.”
When she was gone, he locked the front door. The Scotch he’d been denying himself all evening stood on the table by his favorite chair, and he poured himself a large one.
“Can’t get it up with you, can’t stand myself without you,” he said, lifting his glass in a toast to belated Dutch courage.
The first sip always burned going down, but it lessened with each one that came after it, until he was comfortably numb inside and out. He looked at the bottom of the glass through the quarter-inch of amber anesthetic that remained in it.
“I do feel,” he said to his own small, faint reflection. He tipped the glass, and watched himself disappear.