It was pure accident that I came to New Orleans. Or maybe it was meant to happen that way. Take a look back, don't nothing that happens in your life seem like an accident, because you can't figure how it could ever have been any way different. Which makes you to wonder.
How it come about was this. For a week, now, I had been traveling with this one fellow. It was against my rules, but we got along good together. All day long I'd ride shotgun in his big truck - he was driving one of them Peterbilts, with chrome stacks and all, which made him mighty high class amongst the other truck drivers. They all want to drive a "Pete."
Or else I'd get up in the bunk, especially if I'd been entertaining fellows till all hours last night, and doze off, knowing even while I was sleeping that he was rolling me safely down the highway. Just the best long-haul truck driver I ever traveled with. A real gypsy, too, that traveled all over the place. Give him a choice between a milk run and someplace he'd never been before, and there wasn't no doubt about where he'd go.
When we'd pull into a truck stop, he'd go inside first and get me all fixed up - I want to tell you, I was well-known by this time, and the fellows liked hearing that I was on the premises - and then he'd take his dollar turn first of all. After he had got satisfied, he'd go out and sleep in his truck, to save the money for another room, you see, and leave me to my business. First thing in the morning, he'd come in and wash up whilst I was having my breakfast somebody had brought from the restaurant, and then he'd look at me with his pretty black eyes, which had long lashes just like a girl's, though there was certainly nothing girlish about him, and he'd say, "Going my way?"
I don't understand to this day why it was, but every time he asked, I'd say, "Well, I reckon I am." I don't know why it was. Maybe it was that he was such a strange fellow, in a nice sort of way. He had this funny way of talking which I just liked to hear, no matter what he happened to be saying, because he was what they call a Cajun. His voice just lilted and sang like a bird. He was dark-complected, with black hair and black eyes, and though not a big man, was built as strong and pretty as that Peterbilt truck he drove so proudly.
One day, just as the sun was going down, we had come into this place called Algiers. He stopped the truck in front of a bus station.
"I will say good-bye to you, Cherie, because tonight I go home."
He always called me Cherie for some reason, though it wasn't anywhere close to my name.
It had come up so sudden, I hadn't been expecting it. "I wish I could go with you," I said. "Ain't been in a house so long, I've forgot what it feels like."
He laughed, showing his white, white teeth. "The fine wife, she take one look at you, she bit my head off," he said. He snapped his teeth. "Just like an old 'gator."
Looked up and down the dingy street, letting myself get a little mad. "What am I going to do in a dump like this? Least you could have done was leave me at the truck stop this morning."
"I wished to travel this day with you," he said quietly. Then he pointed. "There is New Orleans across the river. A fine city. Have you ever been to New Orleans?"
"No," I said shortly.
"Try it. You will like it."
"I ain't no city girl," I said. Then I said, "But I'll go take a look, I reckon. I could use a few days' layover anyway, but me some clothes and all. So I'll just do that before I hit the road again."
He reached over me to open the door. I got out and stood looking up at him, holding my suitcase in hand. "See you around," I said.
He smiled. "Take good care, Cherie. You are one fine girl."
Turning away before he left me, I walked into the bus station. It don't do to travel too long with any one fellow, as I well knew; you get an empty feeling when the time comes to go your own way. So I didn't look back when I heard the truck motor start singing its song. He wasn't going nowheres interesting, anyway, just rolling home to his wife.
I found out I didn't need a Greyhound to get to New Orleans; just take a city bus. So I got on one and crossed the big river. I had asked the driver which was the main drag, so I got off at Canal Street. I had decided I was going to use this city, because it had been recommended by a friend.
You see, I had been to lots of big towns, but always only on the outskirts. Chicago, Denver, Spokane, Dallas, Texas - I had lived out my time in those places on the bypasses and interstates where the truck stops were located, where the truck drivers passed their sleeping and resting time.
So it was a whole new experience to get out of the bus on Canal Street and walk around carrying my little suitcase. The sun was just setting, the lights coming on, and there were more people than a body could wonder at. Off to one side, I took note of these narrow little streets that looked just as pretty as a picture postcard from over across the big ocean, iron-railed balconies hanging over the sidewalks and all, so I left Canal Street behind and went in there, looking into the shop windows.
An interesting place if you hadn't ever seen it. I found out later it had a special name, the French Quarter. There were some weird folks populating the place, let me tell you, bums and junkies and tourists, and more bars and cafe's than you could use in a hundred years, and all these shops selling strange things I had never seen sold before, old chairs and paintings and real old-timey jewelry and such. It made me to wonder who'd buy all that junk.
I come to a street that was built solid, shoulder-to-shoulder, with bars; fancy places with music coming out, and pictures of women that were durn nigh naked, and men standing in front fast-talking the people to come inside and take in the show. The street was just waking up, this early in the evening, but already people were surging up and down the narrow sidewalks chasing all that entertainment. A lively place.
After a while my feet got to hurting - I never was much of a one to stand on my feet for long at a time - so I started thinking about finding a place to stay. I'd already passed one big hotel, and lots of little ones that, every one, seemed to have these narrow staircases going up to the second floor above the street. I hadn't ever stayed in a real hotel, though, so what I wanted was a nice Ramada Inn, something I was used to. Finally, seeing this quiet little bar on a corner, not one of them places where they were hollering about the girlies girlies girlies they had inside, I went in to see what I could find out.
I didn't take a stool, just stood up to the bar to talk to the bartender. I hadn't no more than took my place than this red-faced fellow sitting on the stool next to me looked over to say, "Now, here's a little girl I aim to buy a drink."
He was wearing a suit and a tie, but he was durn nigh as drunk as papa used to get. He just reeked of liquor.
"Just climb right up here on this stool and name your favorite drink." He grinned sort of nasty-like. "O' course, I already know one thing you like. Right?"
I got up on the stool. The bartender moved down to us, swiping at the counter with a rag. "What'll it be?"
"I don't drink," I said.
The red-faced fellow opened his mouth, just bellowing. "The little girlie says she don't drink! Now, how about that?"
The noise made people's heads turn all the way down the length of the bar. Which stirred me up. So I said, "I not only don't drink, I don't like to be breathed on by them that does. If I don't like a fellow breathing on me, I don't want him touching me, neither."
Because by this time he had his big hand heavy on my shoulder.
He got even redder in the face, because the people were looking at him now, and some were laughing. So he glared, saying a cuss word, threw a five-dollar bill on the bar, and walked out.
"Listen," the bartender said, "you can't come in here without ordering a drink."
I smiled nicely. "Can I have a Coke?"
He just automatically grinned back, which I have found that most people will do when I act so whole-hearted with them.
"It'll cost you a dollar," he said to warn me.
"I guess I can stand the tariff one time," I said, taking a dollar out of my purse and placing it before him. "I don't mind telling you, my feet hurt something awful."
He brought the Coke and scuffed up the dollar. "Of course, I don't appreciate you running off my good customers, either."
"Sorry about that," I said. "It's just that I can't stand a man with liquor on his breath."
He laughed. "You've come to the wrong place, then."
"I just come in off the street to see if you could tell me a good place to spend the night," I told him.
He looked at me. "New in town?"
"Sure am," I said. "Since about an hour ago, as a matter of fact."
"There's the Monteleone Hotel over there just a block or two."
I shook my head. "What I'd like more would be a nice motel," I said. "That's what I'm used to."
"There's a Holiday Inn," he said, and told me exactly how to find it. Which was right nice of him. I have found out that most people will be nice if you give them the chance to be.
So I sat sipping on my dollar Coke, while the bartender moved away to tend to business. I was thinking that if all the prices in New Orleans measured up to the cost of a Coca-Cola, I would have to think about raising my price again. Wouldn't be like it had been, with the truck drivers paying for my rooms and my meals and all. On the road, a dollar made was a dollar earned. I could tell right now it wasn't going to be so easy on a girl in downtown New Orleans.
The bartender worked his way back to me. "Gonna be around long?"
"I don't know," I said. "I come and I go."
He smiled. "Yeah. I bet you do." Glancing down the bar, then leaning forward, he lowered his voice. "Listen. You'll be a lonesome girl in this town if you don't take up drinking. Not many places you can go without ordering a drink."
"I don't care," I said. I'll just stay out on the street if I have to."
His eyes turned sharp and thoughtful. "You're not exactly the run-of-the-mill country girl come to town."
"I've been traveling for some time," I told him, smiling again.
He smiled back, ducking his head closer and lowering his voice again. "Listen. If you want to, you can come in here anytime you like. If a fellow offers to buy you a drink, take him up on it."
I started to say something, but he waved his hand.
"What I mean is, I'll set you up a shot of iced tea. Put it in a whiskey glass, looks just like whiskey. The fellow won't evern know the difference."
"Well, that's a pretty good deal for you, all right," I said. "Selling cold iced tea for the price of liquor."
"Yeah, but it means you can come in off the street whenever you feel like it."
I thought about it, studying him all over again. He was a nice enough fellow, sort of slender, with quick hands and an Adam's apple showing over his black leather bow tie.
"Looks like I ought to get something out of it," I said. "I ain't never been all that fond of iced tea, neither."
He shook his head, laughing like it hurt him a little bit. "You have been away from home, haven't you?"
I just laughed at him. "A girl's got to look out for herself, that's what I always say."
He looked at me, looked away. "All right. Every glass of tea you drink, you get a quarter. I'll keep count and pay up anytime you want the money. All right?"
"All right," I said. "Except, when I need a Coca-Cola, I want to be able to buy it at its natural price of a dime." I didn't aim to keep on paying a dollar every time, that was for sure. He nodded his head.
I thought it was real clever of him to fix it so I could come in and sit down anytime I wanted, not to mention doing himself, and me, a little bit of good. Of course, I learned right quick that he hadn't invented the idea out of his own head, right then and there, and at that he was short-changing me from the standard going rate. We got that part all fixed up as soon as I brought it to his attention.
I finished my Coke and slid down off the stool. At which, he started polishing at the bar between us.
"Suppose a fellow might pay a visit up there to the Holiday Inn after he gets off work?" he said. He looked up quickly. "That'd be somewhere around two o'clock in the morning."
I smiled sweetly. "Don't know why not," I told him. "Except I don't have the faintest idea, yet, what my room number might be."
"Just tell me your name and I'll find you," he said quickly.
So I told him, and he told me his name was Eddie, and I turned to go, thinking to myself that it looked like a girl ought to be able to do all right for herself in the big city.
He was polishing at the bar again. "Wait a minute," he said. I waited, but he couldn't find the words. Finally, without looking at me, he said, "You wouldn't mind if a fellow come on sort of strange, would you?"
"Not as long as he don't want to hurt me," I said. "I like to feel good just as much as the next person."
He glanced at me quickly, and then away. "I'll just bet you do," he said. "I'll see you."
I checked in at the motel and took myself the longest, soakiest bath you can imagine. I had got to where I carried bath salts in my suitcase for just such an occasion. I don't know anything that can make you feel better after hard days on the road.
I got naked into bed and was sound asleep when eddie came knocking at my door. I went yawning and naked as a jaybird to let him in. He took the first look at me, and I heard him draw in his breath. It's nice to have that sort of effect on a nice fellow.
"I'm still half-asleep," I said. "Come on to bed. But . . ." I hadn't given any thought to the problem of city living, so I grabbed the first figure that came into my head. "But I want to tell you. It'll be ten dollars."
It didn't faze him in the least, I was glad to see; he just put his arms around me, saying, "I'll carry you back to bed."
"Give me my money first."
When he handed it over, I looked at the ten-dollar bill. It was another pretty good raise. I knew, now, that a girl could make out in the big city.
Putting me on the bed, he laid down beside me. Still so sleepy, I didn't know at first what it was he was up to. He hadn't taken off his clothes at all, yet was kissing me so sweet and soft that I just nearly drowsed off with the niceness of it. He did it for a long time, too, without touching me at all. Then he put his mouth down to my breast.
I've always liked a fellow to do that. It must feel like unto when you've got your very own baby nursing at you, so I cradled his head in my arms and let him have his way. I hadn't ever had a man stay with it as long as he did, though, so pretty soon I was halfway to sleep again. It was like there wasn't any hungry need in him for me to satisfy, so I could lay there and feel as cozy as could be.
Then he got to licking his tongue all over my belly and down my thighs, just like a cat, and it brought the goose bumps so that I sat up and tried to make him stop. I didn't have much conviction against it, though, so when he wouldn't leave off, I just let him have his way.
It was like my body knowed something I didn't know, because my legs went so weak and soft, I laid there as flat as a flitter, and helpless to his doings. It was then that he put his mouth between my legs and started fluttering his tongue in an interesting way. It startled me; I hadn't ever thought of any such a thing, and certainly none of my fine truck drivers had, either. I tightened up against him, afraid of what he aimed to do next.
But I couldn't keep it up; it was so nice to be done so. Time had gone away forever, because he wasn't in no hurry, never had been; he had all night and forever to use his tongue in me. It was just the sweetest thing a fellow ever thought to do to a girl; it made me put my hands down on top of his head and push his face into me.
That was when he began to speed it up, and I started to move with it in spite of myself, feeling like I was just going to bust if something didn't happen. Always before when I had got to feeling like that with a fellow, I'd put a stop to it. There was this thing in me, you know, that told me, since I was getting paid, it was up to me to pleasure the man, not myself.
But it was more than that. I just couldn't like the feeling of slipping willy-nilly into a state where you don't have the say-so over your own doings, giving the man the using of you in a way he ain't bought and paid for. Now, I'm not claiming it isn't the nicest feeling in the world to have a man's hard old Thing plunging inside of you, going wilder and wilder, so that when he starts he can't help himself no more, he's just got to let it go. That's when a girl who knows her business starts to work, inside there, milking him right on down until he's helpless in your arms, and all limp and used-up inside of you. A girl like me, with a right sense of herself, don't want to let it happen to her; though it never had, there had come from time to time a feeling inside myself that maybe, if I wasn't almighty careful, I'd let the man do It to me, instead of doing It to him.
This time, though, it was as different as could be. For one thing, he had his clothes on still, and he hadn't made the first move toward putting his old Thing where his mouth was. Since it wasn't his stiff Thing working me up, I felt like I could afford to let the feeling grow for a little while, just warm and sweet and good, and more and more like I was gonna bust any minute now.
I did but it. Because, after all this long time, his tongue turned into a flicker of flame, faster and hotter and fiercer, and before I could stop myself, my legs locked around his head and I was fucking not just his tongue but his whole head, a terrible thunderstorm racking through me with quivers of lighting, and I was shaking all inside like a bowl of Jell-O.
Done at last, I hadn't ever felt so good in my life. I had to slide down and put my mouth on his mouth, tasting myself but not caring. I had to kiss him a thousand times, while he started laughing and struggling to get away.
"You act like nobody's ever done you before," he said when I finally calmed down and just laid there holding him, holding the fine, finished feeling inside of me at the same time.
"Ain't nobody ever done me that way," I said. "Not only that. Ain't no man ever made me act like that, either."
"You mean . . . you haven't ever come?"
"So that's what it was," I said. "I thought that was all for the man."
"You mean . . . for the first time in your life, you've found out what you can feel?" He laughed suddenly. "Maybe I ought to make you give me my money back."
I didn't pay any attention to that idea. "A girl, she can't let herself go like a man does," I said. "It ain't right, seems like to me."
"But you just did. God, I thought you were going to strangle me."
I laughed. "You snuck up on me. Or else I'd have put a cold stop to It."
"Aren't you glad you didn't?"
I thought about it. "I reckon so. It's just that, now that I know how a girl can let herself feel, it might be a lot tougher to keep on pleasuring the man instead."
"You've been hustling for a long time, haven't you?"
"Since I was fourteen years old," I said proudly. "Ain't never done it for nothing." I didn't figure I'd mention Papa's free rides. He might not understand how it was.
"And all that time . . . "
"All that time," I said. Twisting around, anxious to keep on, I started to unbutton his shirt. "And all this time I ain't done a thing for you. Let me get your clothes off."
He pushed my hands away. "I don't need that." He had a strange tone to his voice.
"I never knew a man yet didn't need It," I told him, and kept on unbuttoning.
He pushed my hands away again. His voice was all upset this time. "Quit it, now! I've had my kicks."
"You mean to tell me, doing It to a woman like that . . . "
"I like a woman that way," he said, his voice backing up. "That's all I need, to taste her, smell her, turn her on . . ."
"I don't understand," I said slowly. "You really don't want to do It to me?"
"No," he said angrily.
Not liking to see him so mad, I started soothing him with my hands. He laid still for a time, me close beside him , feeling so good and grateful I wished I could do something for him.
Maybe I was, just loving him with my hands, because after a while he said, "All right. I'll tell you. It's just that . . . I can't get it up when I start to put it in." His voice tightened. "I warned you. I told you in front that I was strange, didn't I?"
"I'll bet I can fix it, if you'll just let me have my way," I said.
"No," he said. "I've tried it too many times."
"Come on!" I said. "Don't be like that."
He was drawing away. "I've always been like that. First woman I ever had, she laughed at me because I was so nervous about It. Every time I tried It since, I had this feeling the woman was laughing, whether she was or not, and so I . . . "
"I'm not laughing, am I?" I said tenderly. "Come on, now. Let me take your clothes off."
I wouldn't let him say me nay. It took a lot of begging, and a lot of time, but finally I got him naked.
"Now, you just stand up there and let me look at you," I said, pushing him off the bed.
I turned on the bedside lamp. He was a pretty young fellow, as skinny as a rail, with fair skin and fair hair.
"You look just fine to me," I told him.
And he did. Except that his old thing just hung there.
"It's no good, I tell you," he said, gazing down woefully upon himself. His mouth tightened. "I even tried the queer route. I let myself be trade for the gay boys in this town. I could get it off, all right, but I just didn't like being done by men."
"You ain't sick or anything?"
He moved his shoulders. "No. It's that . . ."
I switched out the light and reached my hand to cuddle his Thing. "Then come here. You done a new thing for me tonight. Now I aim to do a new thing for you."
He came to me, all right; at least, he was trusting enough to try. But where a man's weakness is concerned, willingness ain't never enough. I laid there in the dark, holding him close and peeling his Thing with a nice warm hand, and didn't do nothing for him.
Then I started talking. First I told him how he had made me feel, like no man had ever done before, and how he was some kind of a man to be ready, willing, and able to do a girl like he had done me.
Still nothing. So then I got him on top, opening my legs and putting both hands to his butt to press him close, and in his ear I was still telling him he was the mightiest man I had ever known because he had brought me to the edge and over it, where I hadn't ever been before.
"No woman in the world could laugh at a man with that kind of doings to him," I whispered. "You didn't catch me laughing, did you? I wanted to cry, it felt so good."
For the first time, I felt the least little bulge. So then I reached down between my legs and took hold of his old Thing again, gripping tight just at the base, and rubbed the head against me.
While I was doing that, I was thinking inside myself, not just telling him, how I had felt with his mouth on me. Thinking about it made me feel it all over again, not all the way, but enough, anyway, so that I could reach out and take him inside, limp though it was.
It just laid there, but I kept on thinking, not talking out loud anymore, and I moved under him with the thinking, feeling his Thing so small and soft it felt like his tongue, didn't it, except it didn't yet have the striking power.
He held himself so still, as if scared to make the least move; but, shoot, once it started growing, there wasn't no stopping it, not with me wrapped around his old Thing to help. It was all of a sudden there, and he started to move too, pushing slow and easy like he didn't believe it. I started going like a house afire under him - and my little house was on fire with all that remembering, let me tell you - and it brought him up and running before he knew it.
He climbed all the way to it, quicker than you'd believe. At the last minute, though, he lost confidence and backed off, going nearly as limp as at first starting. Patiently I started all over again, holding his Thing in with my hand and working against him until he started a comeback.
That was when I got a big idea; I started playing like I was losing control again. Boy, that did the trick! Before I knew it, he was plunging and carrying on like a stud horse, with a hard-on that just wouldn't quit, and the next thing I knew, I wasn't playacting either, but going for the real thing. So we come to it together, and it was a fine something, better even than the first time, and I didn't even care that it had been his old Thing and not his tongue that had done It to me.
Holding each other, we went off easy to sleep, to wake up together in the morning - and that was a first-time something for me, too. But somehow or other neither one of us wanted to risk it again. It was not only that we were afraid it wouldn't work; we didn't need to take the chance.
Eddie didn't have to go to work till six o'clock in the evening, so we stayed together the livelong day, eating breakfast and lunch in the room, talking and getting to know each other. Before he finally left, we did do it one more time - me telling him, of course, it would be another ten dollars now - and by this time he had reached such confidence he didn't have the least bit of trouble, and afterward kept strutting around the room, slow to get dressed because he wanted to admire his successful old Thing in the mirror. It made me sad to think that it hadn't crossed his mind to use his tongue to do me this time; but at least I felt proud to have made him a full man.
He finally had to go, or miss getting to work on time. Before finally leaving, though, he said, "Look, I want to tell you something. You can get fifty dollars a trick in this town."
"Now you tell me," I said, laughing. "Why didn't you say so when you first got here?"
He laughed, too. "Because I couldn't have afforded the price. But, look, just the sleaziest old streetwalker can knock down twenty, twenty-five. You're so young and so pretty, fifty dollars is not too much to ask." He laughed again. "Why, tell a man in New Orleans he can have It for ten dollars, he'll think you've got a disease or something."
"All right," I said. "I always did want to be right. You just got the last ten-dollar piece of ass I'll ever put out." I didn't tell him it was the first, too.
He got an anxious look to his face. "But . . . look, I can see you when I want to, can't I? I mean . . . me and you, we've got something going."
He sounded so upset, I had to think about it. But if a girl's got rules, she's got to stick to them, ain't she?
"Eddie, I ain't never given It to nobody for nothing," I said. "I . . . I just wouldn't feel right, not getting
His face was miserable. "I just find you, and then I talk myself out of It," he said. He made a face. "Looks like I'd learn to keep my big mouth shut."
I laughed. "I hope you don't ever do that." He was still so miserable, I went to put my arms around his waist. "Tell you what, Eddie, you can always have It at the old price. All right? Nobody else, but ten dollars will get It anytime. All right?"
Smiling in relief, he kissed me and hurried to work. And thinking about it, I felt all right about my bargain with Eddie. Because after all, I told myself secretly, not quite letting myself know what I was thinking, he's giving you a lot, too. You can let go with him. Which was a fine thing to know, because I hadn't ever felt so good in body and soul as I did right then.
But little did I know that that one little change in my way of life, making a special price for a special man, would bring about such enormous changes in the person that I knew myself to be.