You can also hear me read this story on: Episode #14 of The Word Count podcast.
The prompt was “Interaction with a character of your creation with a famous fictional character.”
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Sheila sat on her couch holding The Economist in one hand and a glass of red wine in the other. It was the first night in weeks she didn’t have to do something for school. It felt good, and she smiled as she took another sip of wine, not paying attention to the article she was reading.
Soon, she’d be graduating with her Ph.D. She liked the sound of it—Dr. Sheila Michaels, full-time professor at Johns Hopkins University, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Yes, she liked the sound of it very much.
A buzz from her cell phone snapped her out of her daydream. She reached for the phone on the coffee table and saw the incoming text. It read: “Got a doctor 4 u. I know u like them smart. 11 PM. Big bucks.”
The message was from her friend, Jennifer, whom Sheila had met when she was teaching a different type of course that had nothing to do with psychiatry. As much as she didn’t feel like going out tonight, she knew what “big bucks” meant. It was code for “the guy’s loaded.” Sheila knew it was business, and she was nothing, if not professional. Besides, a couple of hours of her time could buy her that Italian leather couch she had been thinking about.
Sheila texted Jennifer back and got all the details. She had ninety minutes to shower, dress and catch a cab to the other side of town, where her mystery doctor would be waiting. As usual, Jennifer didn’t have much to go on. The men were referred by other clients they had seen previously, and their elite group of escorts was a covert operation. They were single, professional women who catered only to the wealthiest of men. They didn’t advertise; they didn’t need to. Jennifer knew exactly what Sheila liked in her men—older, intelligent, no intercourse.
Sheila was strictly oral sex. She had mastered the skill, loved giving it, loved receiving it, and for a short time had even taught a course in it. That’s where she first met Jennifer, one of five students who had signed up for her class “The Art of Oral Enjoyment.” They had an immediate connection with one another because they were both in their early thirties, single, and very attractive. Over coffee after class one day, Jennifer confided that she owned a high-end escort service. She was taking Sheila’s course because she noticed a growing trend with her clients. They were getting older, and they were less interested in intercourse, opting instead to be satisfied in other ways. As open-minded as she was, Sheila was floored upon hearing what Jennifer did for a living. She was even more shocked when she found out how much money she earned doing it.
Between her teaching assistant post at the university, and the infrequent classes she taught at the sex boutique, Sheila managed to pay her bills, but that was about it. Luxury items were out of the question while her student loans remained outstanding. She was a pragmatist and frugal with her money even though she had very expensive taste. Somehow, Jennifer must have sensed her financial situation and brought it up when they went out for a drink one night.
“Come on Sheila, you’re a natural,” she had said. “You’re sexy, you’re smart, and you’d be an asset to my team. I’ve been looking for someone with your skills. Some men just want to talk with a woman and get a blowjob, you know?”
That conversation happened six months ago. Since then, Sheila had made enough money as an escort to pay off her loans and put a downpayment on a new house. It was business, she convinced herself. She offered a service that men wanted and were willing to pay for. She never intended to continue doing it after clearing her debts, but the easy money was hard to walk away from. Sheila rationalized to herself that once she got into a relationship, then she would, of course, quit. Not surprisingly, she had not found anyone as interesting as the men she met on the job.
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Sheila stepped out of the cab and found herself in front of a large historic house in Fells Point, one of Baltimore’s most affluent areas located on the waterfront. The old English manor had to be worth upwards of a million dollars. Sheila knew this because she had been looking for homes in this neighborhood only months earlier, though none that were in this price range.
Her heels clicked against the cobblestone as she made her way up the front walkway. Before she even got a chance to knock, the door swung open. She hesitated for a moment but walked inside and peered behind the door to see a man standing there.
“Why, hello Debra,” he said, motioning her inside.
She smiled at him with her eyes. “Hello, doctor.” Sheila always felt a tinge of uneasiness at first, and had almost forgotten the assumed name she was going by.
She admired the impressive décor of the house as he led her into the living room. The classic European furnishings revealed a man with impeccable taste. From the Queen Anne chairs to the richly colored porcelain lamps, the room had an elegance rivaled only by its owner.
He was a handsome man about 5’10”, somewhere between fifty to fifty-five years old, and appeared to be in good shape. Maroon-colored eyes were complimented by a full head of hair with a widow’s peak, and his most prominent feature were his straight rows of small, white teeth.
“Your perfume,” he said, “floral, spicy, it’s L’Air du Temps.”
Sheila’s eyes widened, duly impressed. “I actually didn’t apply perfume before I came, but that’s correct.”
The doctor closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Yes, the perfume is masked only by the Evian skin cream you have on.”
“You have an amazing sense of smell, doctor. Do you mind if I ask you what kind of medicine you practice?”
“Psychiatry,” he said. His voice, unwavering.
Sheila liked men who exuded confidence, but this man was unlike anyone she had ever met. Over Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”, they ate foie gras and drank Sauternes, a full-bodied, white wine. Though Sheila did not usually drink white, she found its sweetness went well with the goose liver. She was intoxicated by the doctor’s intense and deliberate mannerisms as he spoke eloquently about opera and places he had traveled to. She felt so comfortable with him that she nearly blurted out that she too, was a psychiatrist, but it wasn’t prudent to reveal anything too personal about herself.
They had been talking for sometime when Sheila discreetly glanced at her watch. The doctor had paid for two hours of her time, and though she was enjoying the conversation, she knew that was not all he wanted.
“Should we go to your bedroom?” she asked him.
“You’re very frank, Debra. I think it would be quite something to know you in private life.”
Sheila thought that was an odd thing to say, however, she didn’t dwell on it.
Pictures of the human anatomy hung on the wall as they made their way upstairs to the bedroom. Inside the dimly-lit room, there were more drawings. “These are incredible, doctor.” She advanced farther into the room to stare at a charcoal sketching of the female genitalia. “Who’s the artist?”
“I am,” he said, moving up close behind her.
Sheila could feel his warm breath against the back of her neck. “Such accurate representation, doctor. You draw with the precision of a surgeon’s hand, the details are amazing.” She appreciated the perfection of every fold, every crease, and the fine placement of each pubic hair. Turning around to face the doctor, she found it difficult to read his expression in the dark room. It was at that moment she felt something hard press against her leg. She looked down to see the bottle in his hand.
“More white wine, doctor?”
“No, red this time.”
“Oh?” Sheila took a step back and slowly began to undress.
“Yes,” he said, “I prefer to eat my women with a nice Chianti.”
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This story is included in a collection called HOT FLASH, now available