This post has been inspired in part by the lovely SexLineStories, whom I find inspiring in so many ways, partly by the very first time I read Nicholson Baker’s Vox, and also partly by an amazing documentary I saw a while ago about a long-term but, on this occasion, very nervous gigolo who was given a crash course in Shibari by a very confident client. I began playing around with my accumulated thoughts, and decided I wanted to write something that would break the notion of the rather bigoted trope that only women work in, or want to be a part, in any form, of the sex work industry. I wanted to explore the kind of emotional, sexual — and deeper — relationship that could build between two people who are linked only by a business/consumer tenet.
I wanted a place to explore the differences between emotion displayed by the written word, by voice and in person. This story, Chatline, is the container for it. There is another part to it, which happens before the section I’ve posted here. This is ‘officially’ a part of my #teasertuesday series but, because this post almost makes a story of its own rather than a vignette, and is all about phones, it seemed a perfect story for the #WickedWednesday prompt, too, and so I’ve kept it short. I don’t know where this story may lead. We’ll see.
“Hello.” There was a pause. “Is that David?” The voice was very quiet. He could hear the breath that encompassed nerves blowing around the words.
“Yes, it is. Good evening.” He gave a soft laugh. It usually put them at their ease. “Or good night. You’re ringing very late.” He tried to make it sound like phone calls in the middle of the night were sexy. In truth, he was shattered. The copywriting job he was contracted to do hadn’t been easy all week. And this was a new thing; he’d never had a call as late as this before.
“Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t think. I’ll go. Sorry.”
“No, no. It’s absolutely fine. That’s what I’m here for.” The last thing he needed was to lose a caller, especially seeing as she’d been so kind as to wake him up. “What is it I can do for you?”
“I—I don’t know, really. I found your message on a card. I don’t know why I’m ringing.”
“Maybe you wanted a little company at bedtime. It’s late for you to be awake.” He waited to see if she offered any reason why she was on the phone in the early hours. There was nothing but breathing, still a bit erratic, but still there. That was a plus. “It’s nice that you found the card.”
There was a small giggle. It surprised him, and left him smiling, as the voice followed it up with, “I thought it was cheeky, writing on the back of someone else’s promo like that.”
He wondered if it had occurred to her that it must mean he lived in the city. People don’t tend to roam from place to place, hijacking promotional postcards. If she did, then that might be it. It might feel too close for her. “Well, it seems to have worked. You’ve found me.”
“Like a pebble. I collect them. All different. I like to collect the weird ones.” There was a kind of choke on the other end, and he smirked. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean you were weird. Oh bugger. Is your name really David?”
She threw him. No caller had ever asked that before. “No.”
“Okay.” There was a long pause. He wasn’t sure why he admitted that.
“Do you really collect pebbles?”
“Yes. If I find one I like, I never throw it back. But I’m not allowed to display them. I have to hide them away.” He heard the words grow tight, hard. He was observant, astute about people. He was already getting a picture.
“I hope that you get them out and play with them sometimes. Maybe when it’s dark, when you’re alone, and when you want to play, to feel…”
She was being honest with him. He felt like it owed it to her to help. Maybe she’d hang up.
“So—if I wanted to play in the dark, now, while I’m alone… If I wanted to feel… If I wanted to get to sleep, David, what do you suggest?”
“Well, first, as you’re with me, I suggest you run a lovely deep, warm bath. Lots of bubbles.”
“That’s where I am now. Isn’t that funny? Covered in bubbles.”
Something made him swallow. They usually just listened and agreed. They just let him make the fantasy real in their own heads.
“Are you? In the bath?”
“No, but go on.”
“Where are you really?” He wasn’t supposed to come out of the fantasy. But he liked her. She got it. She understood that none of this was real. That he, ‘David’, wasn’t real.
“In the kitchen. At the table. I’ve been here hours, trying to decide whether to call.”
“Are you cold? Can you take your phone with you and climb into bed?”
“Yes, I suppose. Probably that’s a good idea, really.” There was a pause. Lots of shuffling and rattling about. The occasional ‘sorry’ down the line. He wished she’d stop apologising. She didn’t need to. Suddenly he heard, “Oh, bugger. Shit, that hurt.”
“Are you all right?” He called it loudly so she could hear. “What’s happened?” He sat there, waiting for an answer. It felt like forever before her voice reappeared at the other end, and he sighed audibly when she spoke.
“Sorry. I’m an idiot. Tried moving around in the dark, but my legs had gone numb. Smacked my thigh into the corner of the hallway table. I guess you probably do that kind of thing all the time, in your job. Moving around in the dark, I mean. Nutty women like me, ringing you when it’s pitch black.”
He said nothing for a moment, but he knew he must. The longer she was on the line, the more he’d earn. He wanted to keep her on the line. Genuinely wanted to. He tried not to analyse the way he was feeling right now. He just sat there. The mention of smashing her leg made him instinctively reach down to try and find his own. He blocked out the other memories. He needed to do his job. “Yes, I wander round in the dark all the time, but you’re the only woman who has kept me up in the dark for a long while.”
What the hell did he say that for?
“Am I really? Oh. Are you really up? I mean—. Oh. Um.”
She really was making him stir. The way she was so real. He really must do his job. She’d asked him, eventually, hadn’t she, to help her? She wanted him for the same reason all the others rang. Really.
“Now, are you in bed—? Is there a name I can call you?”
“Margot.” She didn’t hesitate.
“Is that your real name?”
They didn’t usually do that, either. Lots of them never gave him any name at all. He wasn’t even sure why he asked her if it was her real one. Somehow, though, he had a feeling that she’d say it was.
“Well, now, Margot, light your candles round that warm, bubbly bath of yours. And when you’ve done that, you can slip out of that slinky little slip you’re wearing, so that I can feast my eyes on your almost naked body.
“Are you naked? Now?”
“Yes. Completely. It’s almost 3am. So, let my naked body press up against you, the aroma from the bubble bath filling the room, while my fingers perform their magic on your sexy lacy underwear, and my lips tantalise your beautiful neck, working their way down to the soft, luscious flesh of your breasts. Can you feel me touch you? Can you feel all of me, pressed against you?”
The answer came as a whisper. “Yes.”
He had her. She was listening, agreeing. “Now, I’m going to climb into this bath, and you’re going to do the same. You’ll have to be careful not to let go of me, because you won’t be able to see. Your eyes will be closed, lost in the kiss that I’m enveloping you with. Your mouth is mine. Lay down. Relax. Let your knees fall away from each other.”
From the other end of the line, he heard a muffled moan. Was her head in the pillow? In her hands? Had she begun to find what she rang him for? He’d usually begun the really dirty talk by now; the next bit never lasted long. He touched the bulge that had developed in his jeans. That didn’t usually happen. It was a job, that was all.
“Margot, let the bubbles float all around you. Is it good?”
“What is it you want, Margot?” Why did he ask? He always led the fantasy.
“I want to lay you down in the bath. I want to lay over you, my legs wrapped around you, I want to…”
His erection was at full length. He squeezed it through his clothes. “What do you want to do, Margot?”
“I want to. Oh. I want. Can you—will you tell me what happens next, David?”
“Tell me, Margot, are you touching yourself? Really?”
“Yes. I’ve just begun to. Shall I—you know?”
“Can I hear you lose your fingers inside, Margot? Have you got a speaker phone?”
“Yes.” The tone changed, and every sound became sharper, louder. Her breath was harder. “The phone’s next to me on the bed.”
“Feel your nipple against my tongue. It’s getting harder in between my lips. I want to suck it. Will you let me?” The moan on the line told him yes. “Not yet, Margot. You’re not going to feel me yet. I have some more I want to do to you. Slide up in the bubbles. Slide over me. I can smell the warmth on your thighs. Feel me pulling you high in the water. You know what I’m going to do to you, don’t you?”
She was lost in the moment. He thought she was. It sounded like it. He was giving her what she rang for.
“And now we’ll see if we can’t make this warm bath something much more steamy before we both go to sleep.”
There, in the dark, alone, he did what he was paid for with this woman. Just like always, he listened to his client fulfil their needs. Listening to a woman rising to the edge, then falling right over was one of those beautiful sounds he could listen to again and again. Not every caller got this far. Was she doing? Was she going to rise up, and then fall, right there on the end of the phone, for him? Or was the noise he could hear entirely for his benefit, fulfilling her end of the fantasy? It was something he’d never questioned with any other caller before. She’d already proven herself conscious that this was what it was.
He was just doing his job. So why did it make him feel so sad tonight?
© Ina Morata 2017