Charlotte Finds A New Employment : Ch.1 : The Far Eastern Gentleman's Offer
Chapter 1 : The Far Eastern Gentleman’s Offer
“You out of work?” asked the far eastern gentleman. He looked as if he was from China or Japan, or perhaps some other part of the Far East. The tables had turned over the years. Once the western nations had been economically predominant. They had invented the industrial revolution, and most of the scientific breakthroughs. There had been a phenomenal economic lift off which had carried the whole world with it, whether they wanted it or not. For a long time the East, and the South had been well behind, forced to perform the menial tasks for the industrialised nations. That was all changed now. One of the main factors had been China’s decision to turn towards the economic models of western capitalism, even if political matters remained more traditional. Their economy had grown, bringing them a standard of living which rivalled the west after some years of hard labour for many citizens.
It was the west which had now come on harder times. Even that great certainty of the dominant years, property values, were falling, fast. Pension funds disappeared gradually, subjected to illegal pillaging by hard up directors, and ever falling in value as western companies went bust. Even the governments could not forestall the economic slowdown in the west. As unemployment worsened people fell back on whatever they had to make a living.
“Yes sir, we need a job,” said one of the ladies, as they gathered outside the job centre. Charlotte had already been in the building, where she came most days when there wasn’t some way of earning a bit. Mostly she did care or cleaning jobs when they cropped up. She had some regular work but not enough to pay the bills. In her youth she had been far more than this. She had been an estate agent, selling London’s booming properties to the rich, and the aspiring poor, mainly youngsters of her own age, who didn’t quite realise the mortgage holes they were digging for themselves. They had been an optimistic generation. They had fallen for what everyone had told them, and ended up flat on their faces.
Care work didn’t pay very well at all, since the minimum wage had been taken away, in the desperate attempts to expand employment as the economy plummeted. Neither did cleaning work, but there was at least some work. She would prefer to do other things, office work, computers, factory, if she could, but their wages were currently falling to the levels of care and cleaning work, and there were less jobs.
“How ‘d you like to do some work for me and my friends,” asked the Far Easterner.
Her ears pricked up. He wasn’t referring only to her, her friends also.
“What kind of work?”
“We having a party. We need some ladies. Some waitressing, but also stay and look after guests.”
What did he mean? Images of ‘additional favours’ came to her mind, sexual! There was a lot of that these days, foreigners coming to Britain for women. Usually they picked younger women though, so she didn’t quite believe he wanted them for that kind of work.
“What do you mean. Look after guests?” asked one of her friends, Sharon, who was thinking along the same lines as Charlotte. “Do you mean you want us to have sex with your guests?” She said it quickly, almost joking, so she would be able to explain the question away as a light hearted joke if that was not what the foreigner meant.
“Yes, that is what I mean,” said the far easterner. “Of course you do not have to have sex with any particular individual unless you consent.” There were still evidently laws on that kind of activity, which in theory protected the ladies involved from being forced to do anything they were not happy with. Although, thought Charlotte, when you have very little income and you can’t afford a lawyer or even the time away from working you aren’t likely to make much of a fuss. Law seemed to make little difference to most people these days, in the hard times which had come upon the countries which once were prosperous. Employment laws had become something of a joke. Few bosses gave what they were ’obliged’ to by law in holiday pay any more, and you were lucky to receive what you had contracted with employers for. Trade Unions seemed to be virtually a thing of the past. Zilch bargaining power!
“Why do you want us for that?” asked Charlotte. “I am sure there’re plenty of younger women who would be glad to earn money that way.”
“You might think so,” said the man, “but you’d be surprised. My clients have had younger ladies as servants, but these clients, they say they want more mature ladies. Younger ladies don’t appreciate them enough. Clients know the younger ladies don’t really want them. They only do it for money. Older ladies they say are actually pleased they are wanted. They think they cannot have adventures any more. They trapped in dull marriages, with the same guy for years. Then along comes me and my clients. They realise they can have adventures, big adventures. And be paid for it,” he added.
“I don’t think so. If any woman takes your employment, they’ll be doing it for the money, and no other reason,” said Sharon.
“Can still have a good time and be paid for it.”
“I suppose its better than cleaning floors and toilets, or cleaning incontinence up,” said Sharon, a feisty, slim, brunette, who’d certainly had a few adventures in her turbulent life. She was now husbandless, having got through a few, as far as Charlotte could remember. Charlotte was sure Sharon had done a bit of prostitution occasionally in the recent hard times which all of them had come on. “I’ve done my fair share of toilets,” said Sharon. “I am game, as long as it’s safe of course.”
“Well I’m in,” said Veronica, “but definitely not because I want some sexual adventures. I’m only doing it for the money. My kids, and my husband, and all our parents, we’re all struggling. I love my husband, dearly,” she said, looking straight into the eyes of the Chinaman, and one or two of the ladies who seemed to think the assignment might be fun.
“What do you say?” said Sharon, winking at Charlotte.
“Well I’m really not sure. I could do with the money, but I’ve never done prostitution before,” said Charlotte.
“You really need the money,” judged Sharon. “You still owe money to that old building society, and you said you couldn’t make the payments again this month. You’re getting deeper into debt. Without a regular job you just can’t catch up. How else are you going to make those payments.”
Veronica nodded in agreement, “We’re all in the same boat. Do you think I’d be offering myself for this if I wasn’t in dire straits? But Sharon’s right, it’s probably better than cleaning toilets, easier at least!”
“You lot should be ashamed of yourselves,” said Jennifer, an old friend of Charlotte’s, who, incidentally, had worked at the same estate agency as Charlotte, some years ago. They had been great friends at that time, when life had been so much easier, although they had often complained of all the long hours they put in trying to sell deals to customers. Little had they known what lay around the corner for them in life. “Don’t you love your husbands, and your families. What would they think if they knew what you are thinking of doing?”
Jennifer seemed to have forgotten that some of them, like Sharon no longer had husbands to think about, and some of them knew that their husbands had screwed around in the past, so why shouldn’t they? Charlotte, and most of the others too, were thinking what would their families think if they passed up this opportunity to raise some much needed money for their failing households.
“None of us want to do this, Jenny,” Charlotte reacted, driven to a brief anger by the unfair accusation. “I don’t even know if I am going to do this. But let me at least think about it, without being preached at.”*
“Come on ladies I can’t wait here forever while you decide,” said the Chinaman. “I could go somewhere else, most street corners, or outside banks, or even just by telephoning numbers. I could soon get the ladies I want. Some of you have already said you’re coming with me. You ladies who haven’t decided, make your minds up. Do you want the money or not. You may not get the same opportunity. You attractive, not too old, so you will all do fine for what I want.”
A couple of other ladies behind them in the queue quickly agreed after this, rather than lose this opportunity to earn some easier money than they had had for a while. Jennifer and a couple of other women walked away from the Chinaman, shaking their heads and looking disapproving, to stand further round the employment office.
This appeared to be decision time for Charlotte. Part of her wanted to be brave and go with Sharon and Veronica. She had always been a bit of a daydreamer, and many of her fantasies had revolved around sexual adventures with strange men she hardly knew. Even in these days of hardship she had dirty and enticing thoughts about some of the men she came across in her daily life. The other part of her was afraid. She was wary of new situations. There had been many stories in the news over the years about foreign women brought to Britain and set to work as prostitutes by gangs of pimps, who confiscated their passports and would not let them leave their brothels. Now Britain was one of the poor countries and foreign men came here to enjoy the cheap British prostitutes. Life had become cheaper here and she had no doubt there were many British women trapped into a life of virtual slavery in prostitution, who could barely escape even if they wanted to because there were no other easy ways to earn a decent living. There were stories every day of women, children and even men going missing. No one knew what happened to most of them. Many blamed the police for not investigating the disappearances enough. The police claimed their resources were overstretched, which was probably true, although some claimed they preferred to investigate the cases of people missing from rich families because these people paid them to investigate their loved ones’ disappearances.
Charlotte was suddenly aware that if she was ever to have a sexual adventure of the sort she daydreamed about this was probably one of the last times she would have the opportunity. Besides, she really needed the money. ‘To hell with the risks,’ she thought. ‘I am not getting any younger, and I will be with Sharon and Veronica and the others. This will be an adventure, however it goes.’ She knew she had been considered attractive in the years before the strains of poverty, worry, depression and age had started to take their toll. Even now she did receive advances from other men, so perhaps she still had some reasonable looks. Under the strains of today’s life her self confidence had diminished. She felt like a servant; she was a servant! Feeling flushed and suddenly excited she decided to take the plunge. “Hey, I will do it too,” she said, catching the Chinaman’s eye.
“Oh well done Charlotte,” said Sharon, grasping her by the arm and giving her a quick hug. “I’m glad you are brave enough. I wasn’t sure you’d be brave enough, but you are.”
“Yeah. Good one Charlotte,” said Veronica. “We need your support too.”
(to be continued)