There will be a break for a week before the next chapter appears because I will be covering the Winter Olympics next week. I hope you enjoy my coverage of the games, and look for Chapter 3 in two weeks.
Even though I was still regretting the image of the child, I knew that if I wanted to accomplish what I started out to do I needed to play up to Steven with the façade I had created in my booth. He was obviously offended and his mouth was shouting at me with his usual drill sergeant zeal. Spit was flying off of his lips at a rate I had never witnessed before.
“I have never been so disgusted by a display of debauchery in my life. You should be ashamed of the way you have acted. You will be severely punished for this act, Miss Ervaring. Get your ass moving down the hallway right now. The owner wants to see you in his office right away.” He pointed towards the end of the long hallway I had first wandered down when I arrived at the Mother Mall. There were elevator doors at the end of the hallway. I had never noticed them before, and my curiosity made me wonder what was behind them, but I wanted to have a little fun with Steven before I did what he asked of me.
I pouted my lips and found a strand of dry hair I could twirl in a display of innocent flirtation. “I’m sorry, Steven, didn’t you like my little demonstration?”
He stood there breathing hard through a pursed frown while still pointing down the hallway. “I most certainly did not.”
I moved closer to him so the hem of my skirt started to brush against his knees. “I don’t understand, Steven. What wouldn’t you, a big strong man, not like about my demonstration?” I started to trace my index finger ever so lightly across his chest.
He started to stammer and his hand began to lower from where it was pointing. “That… that… that is not a way a mother should act.”
I moved closer to him so he could feel my breasts brush up against him. I tried to keep an innocent puppy dog look on my face. “I’m trying ever so hard to follow what you are saying, Steven, but my simple mind can’t comprehend why what I did was inappropriate.”
“If my mother ever acted that way…” he began to say.
I leaned in even closer so my face was close to his. I nodded up and down as if I was trying really hard to understand what it was he was trying to get across.
“…I would be horrified,” he breathed out as he tried to keep control of his emotions.
I brought my lips within a breath of his and said, “Well, I’m not your mother.”
He started to lose control as he closed his eyes and whispered, “I know you’re not.”
I put my hand on his crotch and felt the battle of the bulge he was trying so hard to win, but was losing more and more with every move I was making. I turned my head ever so slightly as he tried to withhold the moan escaping from his throat. I told him in my best imitation of Marilyn Monroe, “And I think all signs indicate you rather enjoyed my demonstration.”
I moved my hand up ever so slightly and he just lost it. A wet spot started to form on his trousers as he let out a quivering moan. I moved away from him and made my way down the hallway towards the door he had indicated earlier. I left behind a slumping, shuddering mass in the hallway next to the door of the room I used to live in. As my heels clacked down the hallway, I felt more power build up within me with each step. I knew for the first time in my life, I was gaining control, and there wasn’t a person out there who could take it away from me.
I pushed the open button for the elevator and the doors slid open. I walked in and turned around to see Steven crumpled down on the floor in the fetal position. When the door shut behind me, the light to the elevator turned on. According to the panel, I was on the G level. Below that button on the panel there was the B and above it there was a 1, a 2, and a P. I figured that the P stood for Penthouse and this is where I needed to be so I pushed that button. The elevator slowly rose up and I was a little worried about what I would find at the top. Even though I was starting to believe I could handle anything I came across, I knew whatever I found on the other side of the door needed to be handled it with confidence. I needed to abandon the timid way I handled situations in the past.
When the elevator stopped, the doors opened and I strode into the room. It was an extremely large room taking up the whole floor. The ceilings were very high making the room look immense. There were hard wood floors covered with a Persian rug. They must have made the carpet in the room because there was only a foot or two of hardwood floor showing around the edge of the carpet. On the walls to the left and right of me, there were bookcases reaching up to the ceiling covered with richly bound books. In between each bookcase was a piece of art highlighted with its own spotlight. There were paintings from famous artists such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and El Greco. I don’t think they were replicas either. There were also statues that could have been carved by Michelangelo himself, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out they were. A window reached from the ceiling to the floor on the entire far wall. It looked out over the city of Denver and gave a perfect view of the downtown area. I would have chosen to have it look out over the mountains of Colorado, but I wasn’t the one who designed the building so it wasn’t made to my tastes.
In the middle of the room, closer to the window, were two desks. There was a smaller one turned catty-corner to the door I had just exited. At this desk there was a woman dressed like a graduating secretary from the Capital Limited Re-education Center. She was typing away at a computer at her desk and working her way through a stack of papers resting on the left hand corner. The other desk was extremely large and took up half the width of the room. There were various knick knacks on it placed in strategic locations to create the feeling they belonged in the places where they found themselves. There was also a telephone placed close to the large mahogany chair behind it. On the center of the desk, there was a book opened up as if somebody was reading it. There was nobody sitting at the desk. Instead the owner of the desk was standing at the window and looking out of it. Even though I saw his back, I could tell it was Sam Hogston. I had finally made it to the top of the domain, and I started to wonder how many women had made it this far and what they needed to do in order to get here.
I didn’t have much time to think about it because if I let the old Rachael return I wouldn’t be able to let this new person I had found within me take me to the places I needed to go. I walked across the room towards the large desk at the other end. Mr. Hogston continued to ignore me as I made my way across the room. The woman at the desk stopped her work and looked in my direction. As I moved closer, I recognized her. It was difficult at first with her hair tied back in a bun and the business suit attire, but behind the cat-rimmed glasses, her eyes gave her away. I would remember those eyes anywhere. I grew to love their kindness and it warmed my heart to realize they had found a place where they could reside in comfort. It was my old mentor from the Capital Limited Re-education Center. I wanted to rush over to Karen and give her a big hug, but a wink from behind those glasses prevented me from doing so. Looking back, if this is what I had done I would not have found myself in the place I am now. I continued my walk over to Sam Hogston’s desk and the two chairs sitting in front of it. I sat down on the edge of the right one. I crossed my legs so one could tick away the time casually like I didn’t have a care in the world. I didn’t lean back in the chair to make myself comfortable, but instead leaned forward to give my audience the attention they believed they deserved.
I only had to wait a moment before Sam Hogston turned away from the window to give me his attention. His look of astonishment told me that sitting there by myself was not what he was expecting. I felt I had stolen the opening move away from my opponent in a game of chess.
“Where is Steven?” He asked as he looked over at Karen Moore.
She looked up from her work and said, “I don’t know. He didn’t come in with Miss Ervaring.”
I interrupted at this moment, “He’s a little indisposed at the time.”
Sam Hogston turned his attention to me and looked down on me over his glasses which hung precariously on the edge of his nose. “Is that so?”
“Yes, something came up.”
Sam huffed once, and then made his way over to a large, leather office chair behind the desk. He sat down. Karen got up from her spot and made her way behind the large desk where she deposited a file on the blotter in front of Mr. Hogston. I could see on the side the name of the file, Rachael Young, written in nicely typed letters. The name Young had been crossed out and the name Ervaring had been scratched down underneath it. Karen returned to her desk after she made sure her boss had what he needed.
Sam Hogston opened the file and started to read what was inside of it while I looked around the room. My dangling foot counted the seconds he wasted by reading my file. When he was finished, he closed the file and placed it gently on the blotter in front of him. He took off his glasses and placed them on top of the file. He folded his hands with his two index fingers pointing directly at his bloated chin. He looked me up and down trying to figure me out. I turned to meet his gaze.
“That was quite the show you put on down there, Miss Ervaring,” he said as he regarded me further.
I smiled at him pleasantly, “Well, I was only doing what I thought was necessary in order to bring the company the money it needed to continue to operate.”
He leaned forward placing his hands still folded together on the table. “Is that what you believed you did this morning, Miss Ervaring?”
“Well, Mr. Hogston,” I could see he was taken back by the fact I knew his name, but he quickly composed himself in a hope that I wouldn’t notice I had broken through his façade. “I believe I did what was necessary in order to make my way into motherhood again. It has been a long time since I have been able to be involved in the nurturing of children and it’s my strong desire to once again make the move back into that field. The way I was going about it in the past was not getting me results and I noticed the women who were allowed to return to this noble profession were doing it through the manner I displayed today.”
“I think there might be a little difference between your demonstration and the ones put on by the other women.”
I deliberately tilted my head to the side before saying, “How so? Do tell.”
Sam Hogston contemplated my request for a second before saying, “The best way to describe it would be in terms of movies. What the other ladies were doing would be considered PG-13. The demonstration you put on today on the other hand… Well, if Steven hadn’t interceded, I believe it would have progressed to the demonstrations displayed on the screens of seedy movie theaters catering to lonely men.”
“Are you trying to say my demonstration was X-rated?”
“To put it mildly, Miss Ervaring, yes.”
“Well, I was only doing what I thought the company would like me to do, Mr. Hogston.”
He got a little chuckle out of that. “Where would you get an idea like that, Miss Ervaring?”
“From a conversation I heard the previous night. The theme of that conversation seemed to be ‘Sex sells.’”
“Funny. I thought you were asleep last night, but it appears you were eavesdropping on my conversation with Dr. Blur. You are correct, Miss Ervaring, when you say sex sells, but there is a distinct difference between the sex you were selling and the sex I was talking about last night.”
I mocked him with a look of shock. “How so, Mr. Hogston?”
“You see, Miss Ervaring, the sex I was talking about last night needs to be subtle. It needs to be the Disneyfied version of sex. You know the mermaid wearing seashells as a bikini top, or a buxom Indian princess in a short revealing skirt. It is just enough to tantalize the more carnal instincts within a man, yet stay wrapped up within this wholesome story speaking of family values and Christian morals. It gives the viewer that sexual satisfaction they crave but they are able to walk away from the experience feeling they have had a lesson in ethics making what they have seen worth their time and effort.
“On the other hand, what you showed them was on a different level. Yes, you might be able to argue your display is more honest, but when all is said and done, it will only make the viewer feel dirty as if what they saw was against the moral fiber of America. What your demonstration was about should be relegated to the moral degenerates of our society or kept within the bedrooms of loving couples. It should never be displayed on the showroom of a respectable business. It is something like what you did that could bring down a company and place them in the dark corners of the city intended for those individuals only there to obtain a quick burst of pleasure until the time when their hormones once again call out for it. If we hadn’t stopped your demonstration, we could have ended up on the five o’clock news talking about our lack of morals before prime time television came on to give the masses the moment when they would be able to lose themselves in our version of those lack of morals. The version that is not X-rated, but in some instances could pass for PG or do I dare even say it, G. Do you understand what I’m talking about Miss Ervaring?”
“So you’re saying we as a society all know sex sells, and we buy our products according to this principle, but you want us to conduct ourselves as if we believe this principle doesn’t exist.”
Sam Hogston leaned back in his chair and smiled, “Exactly, Miss Ervaring.”
“Wouldn’t that make us hypocritical?”
“Only if we allow ourselves to believe we are. Now, Miss Ervaring, I’m willing to overlook this display you put on today as long as you promise never to do something like that ever again.”
I knew I needed to go on the offensive or I might not make it out of this conversation without moving into a lower section of the Mother Mall. I needed Hogston to place me back on the ground level so I could find a husband and work on the next part of my plan. “How am I supposed to find a husband if I’m not allowed to sell myself to the needs that attract them?”
Sam Hogston leaned forward, “Oh, I’m not saying you need to take sex out of your demonstrations. In fact, I’m proud of you for taking the initiative today, but I need you to tone it down a bit. I need you to use your sexual prowess in more subtle ways, so the demonstration we saw today is not repeated by other women who are also looking for a husband. Do you understand what I’m saying, Miss Ervaring?”
“I believe so.”
“Good. Now I would’ve asked Steven to return you back to your booth, but he seems to have gone missing. I can’t have you walking around the Mother Mall by yourself, so I’m going to need to find another escort for you. Maybe…”
Before Sam Hogston could finish his thought, the door to his office was opened and a salesman who I had seen on the floor numerous times ran across the large expanse of room. He went up to Mr. Hogston’s desk and ran around to the other side. Mr. Hogston looked at the intruder annoyed, “Can you explain to me, Mr. Moe, why you have interrupted my conversation in such a disruptive manner?”
Mr. Moe quickly apologized then bent down to get closer to Mr. Hogston. He shielded his hand in front of his mouth and brought it close to Mr. Hogston’s ear. He started to whisper something to him while looking at me out of the corner of his eye.
Sam looked up at the man in disbelief and the salesman shook his head to indicate that what he just told his boss was the truth. Sam looked past me to the smaller desk where Karen typed away at the work she was doing. “Miss Moore, may I see you for a moment.”
Karen looked up from her work and pushed the glasses she was wearing to the back of her nose. She grabbed a pen and small notebook from her desk and pushed her chair back so she could stand up. She straightened her clothes then proceeded to walk behind the desk and stand next to her boss. “Yes, Mr. Hogston?”
Mr. Hogston motioned for her to move in a little closer. When she was bent down by his face he looked at me. After a few seconds, he looked over at the salesman and said, “Well, tell her.”
The salesman once again hid his mouth with his hand and whispered whatever he had told Mr. Hogston to Karen. When he was done with whatever he had to say, he removed his hand and Karen and he both turned their heads in my direction. Mr. Hogston picked up my folder and handed it to Karen. “I think you know what to do with that.”
“I most certainly do,” she said as she grabbed the folder and returned to her desk.
The salesman stood up straight and faced me. He had a big grin on his face. Mr. Hogston leaned in closer to where he could talk to me in a more straight-forward manner. “Well, Miss Ervaring, it looks like you’ve been sold.”
Even though I was surprised, I presented myself with confidence. “Of course I have.”
Mr. Hogston huffed at my response, “Normally, I wouldn’t let a display such as yours lead to a sale because others would be encouraged to imitate such behavior, but the amount of money…” He stopped again as if he couldn’t believe what he was saying and looked up at the salesman. “Really?”
The salesman nodded his head again. “I saw him count it!”
Mr. Hogston shook his head in disbelief. “Wow! Anyway, as I was saying, Miss Ervaring, the amount of money being offered for your services is way too much to be ignored. It is with a slight bit of regret that I will have to allow this transaction to take place.”
Karen returned to the desk, this time by my side holding out my file folder. Sam pointed to it as I took it. “That file has all of the necessary paperwork. Mr. Moe will show you to your new husband and your new life.”
I opened up the file to look through the paperwork. I saw release papers, a sales receipt, my scores at the Capital Limited Re-education Center, some information about my stay at the Mother Mall, and then the next page was something I wasn’t expecting. There were pictures and papers which obviously didn’t belong in my file. They confused me a little bit at first, but the salesman started making his way around the desk towards me. If it hadn’t been for Karen who closed the file before he could see what I saw, there would have been a couple of people in trouble that day. But Karen remained composed and looked at me, “Don’t worry about the paperwork, honey. It’s all there. You now have everything you need to make a new life and change the world.”
I looked up at Karen and she winked at me.
I stood up and hugged her. The salesman made his way over to me and motioned towards the door leading to the elevator. “This way, Miss Ervaring.”
I turned away from Karen and Mr. Hogston to make my way to the exit. The salesman pressed the button for the elevator to return. When the doors opened, he, like a gentleman, let me enter first. I stood in the back of the elevator as he pushed the button to the ground floor. He stood in the front of the elevator at the doors as it took us down.
He broke the silence by saying, “I’ve been working in sales for the last twenty years and that is the first time I have ever seen anything like what you did today. It was quite the demonstration.”
I smiled because I knew he couldn’t see my face. “Thank you,” I told him politely.
He shook his head and added a little chuckle as we made our way down to the bottom floor. “I could see that demonstration changing the way women present themselves in the future. I won’t have to do hardly anything to make a sale in the future. Instead, I’ll just have to wait at the cash register and just take the money.”
“Well, I’m glad I could make things a little easier for you.”
The elevator stopped and he turned to look at me. “You don’t even know how much you’ve helped me. I’ve been struggling for the last couple of months on the floor. My boss was starting to wonder if I had what it took to be a salesman. Not only that, but my commissions really stunk. I was barely making enough to squeeze by. But I’ve made more money today then I’ve made all year, thanks to your commission.”
His comment peaked my curiosity. “How much money did somebody buy me for?”
The young man continued in his innocence, not wishing to ruin the good luck graced upon him. “Oh, we’re not allowed to tell you that, but your demonstration really opened up my eyes as to what I need to do in order to sell a mother. I used to think I needed to point out her features, such as what a great cook she is, or how great she gets along with children, but now I understand there is a much easier way of getting that commission check. I only have to sell her abilities in the bedroom.”
My heart frowned at hearing this. In my need to get out of this building to set things straight, I may have opened a Pandora’s Box I wasn’t so sure could be closed again. Would people be willing to listen to the information I had obtained the night before if they knew about my behavior the last day at the Mother Mall? What Karen Moore had slipped into my file was a whole other thing I would have to figure out. I was still trying to puzzle out the meaning of those papers and pictures. They made what I had to say to people a lot more believable. Any way I looked at it, it was too late to turn back now. I had set my plan into motion and I knew I needed to see it all the way through for it to have a chance to work the way I hoped it would. The salesman could evidently read all of the thoughts running through my head on my face because he quickly lost his excitement from the day and changed the subject to something simpler.
“Well, I guess we need to get you out to your new husband. I’m sure you are really excited to meet him.”
I shook myself away from my thoughts and looked back at the young man. “Yes, I guess it is time for that.” I took in a deep breath and prepared myself for what I was about to endure.
“Follow me,” the salesman said as he led me out of the elevator. We walked down the long hallway in silence until we reached the door I knew opened up to the sunshine, blue skies and freedom I had so yearned for since that fateful day when I was taken away from my house. The salesman opened the door and at first I was blinded by the bright natural light I was not accustomed to. I stepped out into the light and let the warmth of the sun soak into my soul. It felt so good I didn’t want to be interrupted by the reality of my situation, but the salesman ruined that feeling for me. “There he is. Right across the parking lot, standing there waving at us.”
I opened my eyes to see a man standing at a pick-up truck waving in our direction. He was wearing a battered baseball cap with a fishing hook sticking out of the brim. It hid his bright red hair, and shaded his eyes so I wasn’t able to see if they were filled with anger or kindness. He wore a flannel shirt and spit tobacco out of his mouth as he continued to wave in our direction. He was wearing tattered blue jeans with a big belt buckle holding up his pants. I knew the well-worn boots he was wearing probably smelled of some of the fields he walked around in before finding some time to go and pick himself up a new wife.
The salesman grabbed my hand and shook it, “Well, Miss Ervaring, it was really a pleasure working with you, and once again I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me today.”
I looked over the young man shaking my hand and said, “You’re welcome, Mr. uhhh… What was your name again?”
“Mr. Moe, but really it’s not important. Go off and enjoy your new life.” He waved me away like we were good friends for many years and would see one another again very shortly, but I knew better than to think I would ever see this man again.
My high heels clacked on the pavement of the parking lot as I made my way to the truck and my new life. For as much time as I thought about the outside world, it now seemed as foreign to me as some distant dream. In my imaginings of this day, I always pictured a handsome man waiting at some luxury car and his children rushing over to greet their new mom, but instead I was making my way to a truck driven by a redneck whose morning errands probably included picking up a new can of chew. I also imagined a summer’s day when I first obtained my freedom, but after my first initial enjoyment of the sun, I could start to feel an autumn chill start to pervade the air around me. My reality wasn’t as perfect as my dream, but I knew I had many important things to accomplish and I needed to continue down this path towards my inevitable destination.
My new husband hopped in the truck as I made my way over to it. I could hear the rumble of the car as he started it up. Diesel smoke belched out the back end and I once again wondered if I was doing the right thing. There must always be sacrifices made if something important truly needs to be accomplished.
The window to the pick-up truck rolled down and I saw the face of the man who bought me staring down at me from the front seat. It made me wonder if I was going off to a better place or if I would be better off staying at the Mother Mall where I knew I would be safe. As much as I hated the place, I didn’t know if the condescending grin coming from the man in the seat would be any better.
One of the advantages would be I would no longer find myself on some perverse stage every morning trying to play out some farce for the enjoyment of a group of strangers I would never see again. There were also quite a few disadvantages and I didn’t know which way the scale of fate tipped at that time. Of course, I would now have children whose wants and needs I would have to attend to and I had no idea what wants and needs the grin meeting me in the truck would be, but after the demonstration I had put on, I could only guess.
I would be able to sleep on a comfortable bed again. It had to be better than the lumpy sofa bed giving my back problems every morning. Of course I would have to be sharing it with this complete stranger and I was sure there would be nights I would once again beg for the solitude of my old booth rather than the impending trespasser presenting himself in my new situation.
The thing I knew I would enjoy the most about my new location would be the landscape. Anything had to be better than the desolate desert of the Capital Limited Re-education Center or the impersonal touch of the Mother Mall showroom which had been my only comfort over the last six months. I would love to see trees and green grass again and I was sure my new place would have that. It was this resolve that allowed me to find the courage to open that truck door and enter its cab with this new stranger and this new chapter of my life.