"Being a woman is a terribly difficult task since it consists principally in dealing with men"Joseph Conrad

I thought of that quote as I was manipulating myself into the old uniform, trying to figure out if it was my body that had changed, or just my concept of tight. It didn't help that I’d borrowed the slit-thigh red number from Jess, one of my newer and thus smaller girls who hadn’t yet succumbed to the daytime languor that often goes along with working nights. For me, a little expansion was fine, as I was only trying to run a business and help out a couple of girls who might otherwise slip easily into the hands of guys like that asshole Big Steve down on eighth. I knew that the only brain that my girls had was my own, so it never surprised me much when they'd let a john get away without paying or after knocking them around a little bit.

There were, of course, some unbreakable rules which carried a penalty of being tossed back onto the street, one of which was absolutely no bondage play – exactly what one of my girls had done, thus allowing what I could only guess was one of my competitions' people to steal a large amount of cash that the girl had been holding for me. Before letting her go, and after I had one of my guys rough up her face to ensure that she wouldn’t be working for a while, I gathered some information about the fellow who had taken my money. There wasn't much of a chance that I would retrieve any of the cash he'd taken, but that didn’t mean that I couldn't make an example of him to ensure that no one else would try any shit...for a few months, at least. It took only a little while longer to find out the rest of the information I needed.

The red dress was just tight enough for a whore and just classy enough for some ex-debutant who was looking for a good time that didn't involve her husband, so it was the perfect snare for an underappreciated pimp's lackey who'd be maybe looking for an ego boost and a good time after walking away from an unfucked whore. I also decided on a black purse, blond wig, and matching gloves. The final outfit, and the fact that I was maybe five years too old for it, would set off the 'desperate woman' radars on any number of types of men. And the bar that was my thief’s regular hangout, Joey's, was the perfect accompaniment to the illusion. I was the only woman in there, sitting alone at the bar while various pathetic men sat hunched over tables, making love to their drinks. The trick would be staying alone until he came in.

I ordered a white Russian to watch the ice melt, while keeping an eye on the door in the mirrored wall behind the bar. A couple of guys in suits came in and a couple of guys in suits left, but nothing notable. Some jerk came up to me and slyly offered me fifty bucks for a blow job and blushed as red as my dress when I told him that I wasn't a hooker, but even if I was, I wouldn’t suck his pencil dick. It reminded me of my own days working, not too many years before, when I’d done so well for myself that I’d been able to start picking and choosing my johns without anyone pimping me but me.

They say that once a hooker, always a hooker, and some people say that all women are whores, the difference being that some name the price up front. I suppose they’re both true, but I’d say that everyone's hooking for something, and once you figure out just what that something is, then you have control. He walked into the bar, alone, easily identifiable. One man can look a lot like any other man especially when you've seen as many as I have, but he had something that most men don’t: breasts that would put some of my lesser-endowed girls to shame. Sure, he was fat (ugly, too), but there is a big difference between a fat man and a fat man with a rack that would fill out a bustier. In the mirror, I watched him sit down at an empty table, and light a cigarette, while the bartender walked a beer over.

Looking down at my own lifted and cleaved twosome, I realized that the boobs on my man over there were going to put a dent in my regular mode of introduction, which had only one rule: lean over, a lot. I reasoned that a man who could probably suck his own tits wouldn't have much of a reason to respond to mine and, anyway, my intuition said that here was a man who was looking to be sweet-talked. Preparing myself, I turned on the professional filter that turned every schmuck on the street into a successful, clever and handsome man and suddenly the bar was full of johns, a little trick we all teach ourselves at the beginning.

I slid off of my barstool, leaving my watery white Russian behind, and straightened my dress over my waist and thighs. A cigarette would do nicely, and I knew where I could find one. When I was almost at his table, he buried his ugly mug so far into his beer glass that it looked like he might fall in, and there, in that one moment of distraction, was my open window. He'd be thinking that he was alone. He'd be thinking about his drink. He'd be thinking about anything except me, and that gave me the element of surprise. I sat, and he looked up.

"Hey, handsome," An all purpose lie. It doesn't mean anything, but still, no man wants to believe that they aren’t handsome. "Got a cigarette for me?"

He put down his beer and slid a pack across the table. I took one out, and it struck me that he’d be naturally cautious of any woman talking to him in a bar, a side effect of working around prostitutes every day. That didn’t matter, though, as I wasn't hooking; I was a woman looking to have a good time of her own.

"How about a light," I said, and he held a flame to the tip of the cigarette.

"Look, lady, I ain’t buying," he said, snapping the lighter shut and tossing it back onto the table. I giggled.

"That's a good thing, because I'm not selling anything. My name's Layla. This is my first time visiting the city. Pleased to meet you,' I said, holding out my hand. He took it in his sausage-fingers and pumped up and down before letting my hand go. Men are such idiots.

"I’m John. Sorry about what I said…About buying, I just thought. Well, you already know what I was thinking. I didn’t mean anything by it, but you ought to be careful in this city, how you talk to people. Can I buy you a drink to make up for it?"

I hesitated just long enough to secure his discomfort, and thus snare him, before nodding and asking him to surprise me. Tricks of the trade, I thought as he walked to the bar. I play sexy, he parries with gruff…my next move is coy and then suddenly he makes the fatal mistake of allowing himself, for just a split second, to feel protective and macho. The game has had the same moves, the same wins and the same losses for thousands of years and so long as men and women still want each other for one thing or another, the rules aren't going to change. When he came back with another beer for himself, and something dreadful called a Pink Lady for me, I worked him over good and he'd obviously rehearsed. He was an accountant for a little firm in town, but he lived in the suburbs. Divorced, a boat, liked mystery novels, the whole bit. I ooh’d and ah’d at all the right parts. By the time he was drinking his third beer (I hadn't touched my drink), he felt like a million bucks, and I wasn’t even done with him yet.

"Listen," I said, putting just the right amount of giddy embarrassment into my inflection, "would you like to come to my hotel for a cup of coffee? I’ve got no friends in the city and nothing planned for tonight."

He stood up faster than I imagined that a man that fat could, and his chest, which I’d almost forgotten while playing the part of the naïve country mouse, jiggled along. When we left the bar, I steered us to the Fulbright, a slummy hotel that I used to work out of whose owner was very good at not noticing things. We walked upstairs after I'd taken a quick glance at the key-board to find an empty room. During my stay at the Fulbright, I'd taken the liberty of obtaining a master key from a horny desk clerk who was fired a few days later. That key was one of the best gifts I ever invested myself in.

I opened a room and my new friend followed me in. "John" was doing his best not to touch anything. I watched him look from the yellow walls to the soiled carpet, but that was fine, since he wasn’t actually going to have to touch anything except for himself. Without even so much as mentioning coffee, I sat down in the single armchair, crossed my legs tightly enough to let the slit fall open to my thigh and put my purse on my lap.

"Come here, baby," he said, having also dropped all pretenses.

Way to go, mister romance, I thought, and undid the clasp on my purse without taking my eyes from his. He took a step closer, but I stopped him with a wave of my gloved finger. He stood there, confused but obviously aroused.

"Take off your shirt," I whispered. He nodded, and undid the buttons slowly, for my benefit, strip-teasing as best he could. Reaching into my purse, I willed him to hurry his act up, because all I really wanted was to see those man breasts before I was done. His shirt was unbuttoned, but it was hanging closed.

"You want me to take it off? You wanna see me?" he asked.

"Oh yes," I breathed, thinking that maybe he wasn't so bad at this after all and that it was shame that he was such a damn ogre. He peeled off the shirt and let it drop to the carpet. And there, poised on a hairless chest that could only be called the continuation of one of many stomach rolls, were two almost perfectly feminine breasts. For the briefest of moments I contemplated asking him if he would play with them for me, and then, pulling the pistol out of my handbag, I shot him in the face.

At that point, time was of the essence, so I shoved the gun (later to be disposed of by one of my boys) into my purse, did a quick visual check of the room and then, before departing via the fire escape that led into an alley, I looked down at the bloody, pulpy head of the man that had been so stupid as to steal from one of my girls. "Damn, you’ve got some big titties," I said quietly to it and then I left.

I know what you're thinking now. How stereotypical it all sounds: the red dress, the blond wig, the big, fat, ugly bad guy, yeah, all the classics are there. Just look, you're saying, she doesn't get caught, and everyone lived happily ever after, how disappointing. Well, all I can tell you is that some walks of life thrive on stereotypes, and mine is one of the most stereotypical of all. That, and one other thing: Don't mess with my hoes.

Blame Cletus the Foetus, he issued the call…

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