More Than a Boy, Less Than a Man

Just Happy To See You
The Red-Light district occupied both sides of the canal.
Its length was the equivalent of two US main street
blocks.  We'd been by it a many times, but never down
it.  What was the point?  We were vegetarians and spiritual.
Except Danny.  He'd snuck over there more than once.
One day I had no choice.  I was walking back to the barge
after doing the laundry with a rocket in my pocket that was
ready for lift off.  I was 19, pent up, and needed something
more than my right hand.  Some things never change.

Little Doggy in the Window
I dropped off the laundry back at the boat.  Steve was gone,
probably out setting something up.  I left in a hurry and
headed towards the Red-Light.  I was excited, but nervous . 
The place was crawling with customers
and tourists.  The women for sale were hard and dangerous.
They looked weathered.  On closer inspection I realized there was
nothing glamorous about them or their desperate trade.
I should have known, our trades were similar, we both kept
suspect company, but I was naive, wide eyed, and optimistic.

The Girl Next Door
I walked up and down both sides of the canal twice.
I was determined to find a nice girl like Lori.  Young, and sweet,
and hopefully untainted by abuse like the other working girls
had surly endured.  I was in denial, but the erection of a nineteen
year old was doing most of the thinking.  I'd suddenly become
worried by the fact that I'd forgotten to leave my leather shoulder
bag back at the boat.  It contained my passport and a large sum of Guilders.
My nervousness escalated when I looked and around
and noticed many unsavories who could easily have rolled me.

True Love in a Doorway
I was scared. I was nervous. I was broken.
I was unaware of all those feelings and fears but felt driven
like a gyroscope seeking a center or a divining rod
sniffing for water, or like a lion falling its prey.  I was
conflicted but resolute.  The unknown in the equation
was obvious and undeniable.  The bull’s-eye was too large to
miss, and though the demons were many, they remained
out-numbered by my guardians. I found a younger looking
Dutch Suriname.  She took my hand and we were both escorted

Not the Four Seasons
Her pimp-handler walked behind us up to the top floor.
He was big, black, and Mandingo like.  I'd thought he
might be the no fun and games brother of the guy from
the Seven-Up commercial.  They were of the underworld, she
and he.  That I'd become certain of.  We entered her
workshop and he closed the door behind us as he left.  Inside was a twin bed,
a night stand, and a small dresser.  There was a small bathroom
off to the side.  She closed the door to the toilet and began
the negotiations.  There were few items on the menu.

Economy Class
“Thirty Guilders for a straight fuck,” she said.  That was the
extent of our pillow talk.  I reached into my jeans pocket where
I'd stashed a small amount of bills so I could avoid opening
the brown leather bag that held my stake, and produced three
tens.  My erection was beginning to ache.  I'd been teenage
hard for over an hour by that time. The only thing hiding my
bulge were the tails of my untucked thrift store Van Heusen
button down.  She wore a blue denim skirt with a matching
vest, and panties, that was it, there were no frills.

Breasts Ala Carte
She handed me a condom with foreign writing on it.  I'd only
used a rubber once before, and getting that first one on was
clumsy.  I felt clumsy again.  I felt awkward.  I felt like I
may be possible prey to her or her man, who was probably
just on the other side of the closed door listening.
Nonetheless, I stripped naked and got on the small bed.  She
took off her skirt and panties and joined me.  “What about
your top?”  I asked.  “That's five Guilders extra,” she said.
“Okay,” I said and got up and extracted an extra fiver from my pants.

Can't Buy Me Love
I thought we'd first kiss and fool around.  I drew her face
close to mine and she recoiled as though I were a hot flame.
“What's wrong?”  I said.  “There are some things only
my husband gets,” she answered.  I thought Jesus, I'm
gonna fuck somebody's wife?  I didn't know the rules.
I was wet behind the ears. I was in many ways still a virgin.
The sum total of the females I had bed only equaled two. 
One I was in love with, and the first one I didn't know at all.  We'd met in
a park, but when the sun rose, I was in love with her too.

Afternoon Disappointment
I put on the condom.  It went on easy.  Thank God I thought. 
I wanted her to like me, to think I was okay, that I was man
enough even though I knew I wasn't.  She guided me in.  I
felt little through the latex, it seemed thicker than the one I'd
used before.  I began pumping.  “How's that?”  She asked.  I
didn't answer but stopped worrying about her pimp, and
her husband.  I abandoned the fantasy that I was the one, the
one she loved, the one she wanted.  I was her john, but I
wouldn't be her trick.  The bed made a loud noise.
Afternoon Disgust
I needed to keep pumping.  I needed to finish.  I needed to
Cum.  Not because I had somewhere to go, but because
the whole thing no longer seemed okay.  I wasn't a hooker
guy, or a stripper guy, or a cool pick-up-chicks kind of guy
with witty lines or blown dry hair.  I was a survivor, but
felt alone, like an orphan.  Motherless and Fatherless.  I'd
nobody to tell my secrets to.  I'd nobody to share my dreams
with.  I'd nobody to admit my lies.  It was two fifteen in the
afternoon and finally over.  “You were good,” she said.

Grey Skies
I removed the condom and threw it in the trash.  We both
began dressing.  I felt emotionally drained and forlorn. I
had walked both sides of the canal for an hour.  I wanted to
pick the right one.  She wasn't it.  Maybe there was no right
one.  Maybe they were all wrong.  Maybe not one of them
were worth spending the rest of my life with unless I died
that day.  “Do you ever go to the Chinaman's?” She asked.
Normally I would have answered something that sounded
cool.  It felt cold and damp inside the small room.  “No,” I said.

Love Not For Sale
I'd expected more and was angry.  “Why don't you get
into it, and enjoy the sex like it's love between two humans?” I said. 
She looked at me like I was crazy, or like out of the hundreds, just one
other had asked her that, or like she knew, I knew, I was less than
a man.  She had already redressed in her denim vest, matching skirt,
and had nonchalantly slipped on a fresh pair of panties.  The corner
lamp was covered with some lacy material and the curtains were
drawn.  The room was filled with shadows, and the walls couldn't talk.
A cat was crying somewhere outside.  “It would kill me,” she answered.