Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "The Highest-Paid Professional Women"

This poem is spillover from the March 3, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] librarygeek, [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah, [personal profile] erulisse, [personal profile] bairnsidhe, and [personal profile] ng_moonmoth. It also fills the "Nothing To Eat" square in my 3-1-20 card for the Food Fest Bingo. This poem has been sponsored by a pool with [personal profile] ng_moonmoth, [personal profile] fuzzyred, and [personal profile] edorfaus. It belongs to the Broken Angels thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"The Highest-Paid Professional Women"

[Wednesday, December 2, 2015]

Boss Blaster was doing paperwork
at the dining room table when
Cas let a nun in the house.

"Um ... hello?" Cas said
as he stared at the lady in
the blue habit and veil. "Are
you sure you're in the right place?"

"I certainly hope so," said the nun.
"I'm Sister Mary Grace Abrams of
the Parish Visitors of Mary Magdalen.
I'm looking for the man who runs
the local prostitution ring."

Boss Blaster dropped his pen.

"No offense, ma'am, but why?"
he said. "Nuns and whores
don't usually go together."

"If Jesus insisted on working
with prostitutes, then so can I!"
she said with a steady gaze.

Boss Blaster revised his opinion
and allowed as to how she might
be worth talking to after all.

"Okay, what kind of work do
you do with prostitutes?" he said.

"We reach out to the ones who want
to get out of the life," said Mary Grace.
"We have a Magdalen Village where they
can learn a new trade -- we made a deal
with Southeast Community College for
two years of free college. We also help
unmarried mothers with children."

"Yeah well, that's fine for the girls,"
Cas said bitterly. "What about boys?"
"Nobody ever thinks about us."

"We also run Gabriel's place
for former male prostitutes and
single fathers," said Mary Grace.
"Do you know anyone who might
need our assistance in that regard?"

Hali chose that moment to dart out
of the kitchen and climb Mary Grace
like a tree, her little wings flailing.

"Hiyeeee!" the toddler squealed.

"Well hello there," Mary Grace said.
"Aren't you sweet. What's your name?"

"Hi Hali hi pickup p'ease!" she said
as she wrapped herself around the nun.

"Sorry, I'm sorry, she doesn't usually
latch onto people like that," Cas said,
his fair skin already blushing scarlet.

"She did with me," Boss Blaster noted.
"I think Hali has ... interesting taste."

"It's quite all right, I love children,"
said Mary Grace. "I see many of them
when I go visiting around town, and
in both of our villages, of course."

"You don't seem freaked about
Hali's ... extras," Cas said slowly.
"Most people aren't that calm
when they meet a soup."

"She's hardly my first, even
if she does have lovely wings,"
said Mary Grace. "We've had
a whole handful of pregnant boys
go through Gabriel's Place recently."

"A handful?" Boss Blaster said.
"I was given to understand that
superpowers were rare, no more
than a few per city in most places.
We've already got more than
our fair share, and now this?"

"A few years ago, the free clinics
offered this new contraceptive for boys,
but then it got recalled," said Mary Grace.
"Not long after that, we started to see
the first male pregnancies appear."

"Yikes," Cas said. "That's scary.
I wonder if Ask Hell was -- um, sorry."

"I'm familiar with the bad reputation
of that clinic, even though it's not in
my neighborhood," said Mary Grace.
"Anyway, unusual clusters like that
can seriously throw off the statistics.
The Center for Disease Control sent
a team out to test for infertility, too,
but the results were inconclusive."

Boss Blaster suddenly realized that
if local boys were getting pregnant,
his sex workers needed to know it.

"Excuse me, this is urgent," he said,
and took out his smartphone to send
a message to Amando and the others.

Mary Grace just nodded and turned
back to Cas. "So, it sounds like you've
had some unfortunate experiences
asking for help and not getting it."

"More like I've learned not to ask,"
Cas muttered. "Nobody wants
anything to do with the teen dad."

"Well, we have quite a lot over at
Gabriel's Place," said Mary Grace.
"Would you like to join us? It does
come with college as well as housing."

Cas looked at Boss Blaster. "Um, no,"
he said. "I mean, thanks but no thanks.
If you'd asked me six months ago, maybe,
but I got a job and a place to stay now."

"That's good to hear," said Mary Grace.
"What about education? Are you happy
with the job you have, going forward?"

"Yeah, I really am," Cas said, smiling.
"We've had some amazing classes here,
and my boss pays for outside stuff too.
I already did Babysitting, Basic, and
Parenting First Aid sessions. Now I'm
halfway through Wilderness First Aid,
which is ... some pretty far out stuff."

"That sounds useful," said Mary Grace.
"Do you enjoy working in health care?"

"That's um, actually kind of a backup,
to see if I want to move into it. For now,
I want to make sure I can handle the kind
of things that got handled badly before,"
Cas said. "What I actually do is keep up
the house, cooking and cleaning and stuff.
I considered taking a kitchen class, but what
I've learned from friends is more interesting."

Mary Grace looked around the house.
"You're doing a fine job," she said.

"I think so," Boss Blaster said,
jumping back into the conversation.
"So, are you planning to poach
my other employees, too?"

"Not poach, just offer them
options," said Mary Grace.
"If people want to sell sex ...
well, I don't really understand
why, but they have free will."

"It is a silly question to ask
a prostitute why she does it,"
Boss Blaster replied. "These are
the highest-paid professional women
in America. I was surprised by how much
they make -- and unlike other professions
that pay well, the oldest one does not
require an expensive college degree."

Mary Grace sighed. "I suppose I can't
argue with that, sin or no," she said.
"We offer practical training and college,
but even a two-year degree won't bring in
as much as some people do on the street."

Boss Blaster definitely did not have
the budget to beat a college degree, yet,
but he could offer different incentives.

For instance, your college professor
wouldn't beat the shit out of gaybashers
or trot them around town until they puked.

"I don't worry about sin," said Boss Blaster.
"As with polygamy, consenting adults are
supposed to be able to do whatever they
want with each other, whether it's marrying
multiple partners, marrying someone of
the same sex, prostitution, or marijuana.
As long as you're not hurting anyone else,
it's really none of the government's business."

Just then the doorbell rang and Auntie Jo
bounded in without even waiting for
Cas to come open the door.

Boss Blaster tensed,
anticipating an explosion.

He was not expecting them
to hug all over each other.

"Auntie Jo, hello and God bless!"
Mary Grace exclaimed, grinning.
"It's so good to see you again."

"I'm sorry I missed your last visit,
Sister, I had a leathercon that day,"
Auntie Jo said. "I see you've met Hali."

"She's been a perfect hostess,"
Mary Grace said, looking down at
Hali, who had fallen asleep and was
now drooling on her blue habit.

"When I heard that you were
in the neighborhood, I thought I'd
stop by, since I have a delivery
anyway," Auntie Jo said.

Boss Blaster tried very hard
not to vibrate in place.

"Here are the driving gloves,"
Auntie Jo said, handing him
a slim box wrapped in plain paper.

Boss Blaster tore into it as if
this was Christmas morning.

Out spilled a pair of gloves
made of soft Italian lambskin
with navy blue backs and
black palms, ventilated
in a comfortable pattern.

Eagerly he pulled them on,
snapped the wristbands,
and flexed his hands.

They fit perfectly.

"Thank you so much,"
Boss Blaster said. "They're
exactly what I wanted."

He reached into his jeans
for the tip that had waited
hopefully there for days.

It included some cash,
of course, but the real value
lay in the contact information
for the It's Your Body Shop
folded carefully around it.

Even if Auntie Jo didn't
want to redo her top job
the natural way, she might
know someone else who did.

When they shook hands,
she palmed the tip like a pro.

"Anyway, I wanted to talk with
both of you about some of
the sex workers I know,"
said Auntie Jo. "Keisha
just does it because she's
trying to save money for
bottom surgery and doesn't
know what else to do."

"That's exactly the kind of
person we can help the most,"
Mary Grace said, offering a flyer.

"Thanks," said Auntie Jo. "I know
you run a good program, but it
doesn't always have openings."

"We have two spaces at Magdalen
and three at Gabriel right now,"
Mary Grace said. "That's why I'm
out visiting in the neighborhood."

"Why here, though?" Boss Blaster said.
"I haven't seen you around this area."

"We're in Hartley, just south of
the University of Nebraska-Lincoln,"
said Mary Grace. "I heard about
what you've been doing and wanted
to meet you in person. Not everyone
wants to get out of the life, and I need
to know they're as safe as can be."

"Well, not yet, but I'm doing
everything I can to improve that,"
Boss Blaster said. "This town
has been running off the rails
long enough that I can't fix it
immediately. It'll take time."

"From what I'm hearing, you've
made a good start," said Mary Grace.

"He gave us a place to stay," Cas said softly.
"He put me to work and he babysits Hali.
He's good to people who are good to him.
You should see our new park, too."

"Oh?" said Mary Grace.

"Yeah, Stone Soup Park,"
Cas said, and went into
a long description until
Hali woke up hungry.

Then he peeled her
off of Mary Grace and
went into the kitchen
looking for snacks.

"The other person I'm
thinking of is Fandango,"
said Auntie Jo. "She finds
prostitution and porn helpful
with body image, but she doesn't
have many local contacts, and
that can get dangerous."

"Bring her around when
you can, and we'll talk,"
Boss Blaster said. "I'm
open to new workers."

"Will do," said Auntie Jo.
"I want her to know about
the Magdalen Village too,
but I doubt she'll go for it --
and well, it's for women."

"We have Gabriel's Place --"
Mary Grace began.

"That's for men,"
Auntie Jo said.
"Fandango wants
the best of both worlds."

"Ah," said Mary Grace.
"Well, we've had a few in
each village with various
gender differences, but
usually we refer them out
to volunteers who have
a spare room available."

"Does the program cover
them?" Boss Blaster asked.

"It does," said Mary Grace.
"They just tend to dislike
the gendered housing, but
other people need that."

"I never have managed
to pull together a safehouse
for teen trannies," said Auntie Jo.

Boss Blaster pulled out his phone and
made a note. It was one more thing
to do, when he didn't have the money
coming in like he hoped, but it was
clearly a necessity past due.

Cas had just set out
a platter with cheese,
crackers, lunch meat, and
fruit when Amando and Vybra
came into the living room.

With his usual grace, Cas
made the introductions.

"Thank you for coming,"
Boss Blaster said. "Amando,
Sister Mary Grace reports that
a number of young men have
become pregnant after using
a new form of contraceptive."

"Huh," said Amando. "I
thought that was just a rumor."

"It's quite real," said Mary Grace.
"I know several of them personally."

"So what's this got to do with me?"
Amando said. "I'm not pregnant."

"I want you to talk with the Finns
about this," said Boss Blaster. "They'll
know better than anyone else what
you should watch out for, in yourself
or in other people you might meet,
and what precautions to take."

"Jeeze, Boss, we already got
every kind of condom known
to man," Amando pointed out.

Mary Grace didn't even blush.
"That's very prudent of you."

"Oh ... kay," Amando said.
"What's it to you, Sister?"

"My work includes ensuring
that people have choices,"
said Mary Grace. "If you're
unhappy with your line of work,
I can help you find something else."

Amando and Vybra looked at
each other, then burst out laughing.

"Nobody loves dick more than
Amando," said Vybra, still giggling.

"Writing is like prostitution. First
you do it for love, and then for
a few close friends, and then
for money," Amando said.

"It's not so good if you do it
because you have nothing to eat,
though," Cas said. "I've seen that
happen, so I'm glad Mary Grace
is here to help prevent it."

"Are you getting enough
to eat?" Mary Grace said,
turning to look at Cas.

"Um ... yeah, I am now,"
Cas said. "We're still trying
to figure out how much Hali
needs to eat, and what things."

At the moment, Hali was
industriously gnawing her way
through a stick of string cheese.

"That's good," Mary Grace said.
"Everyone deserves to have enough
to eat. Our order also oversees
a food pantry to help with that."

"We're doing better now,"
Cas said defensively.

"I'm happy to hear that,"
said Mary Grace. "People
shouldn't have to do things
that make them uncomfortable
in order to get their needs met."

Vybra snorted. "The prostitute is not,
as feminists claim, the victim of men,
but rather their conqueror, an outlaw,
who controls the sexual channels
between nature and culture."

"I just want to make sure that
you know you have other options
in case you get tired of the life,"
said Mary Grace. "Also, safety
is important in this line of --"

The hookers cracked up again.

"So far, we've had sex talks from
a world-famous surgeon and
every other medic in her family,"
Amando explained once he
could breathe again.

"Don't forget Bennett,"
said Vybra. "He has
all the best suggestions."

"Not if you count Dante,"
Amando said smugly.
"He does show and tell."

"And there was that time
Mallory came over and
then wound up showing us
supervillain sex ed cartoons,"
Vybra said. "That was awesome."

"Oh, do you think she might let us
have those?" Mary Grace asked.
"We're always looking for more stuff
on that topic, beyond the usual."

Boss Blaster sat, bemused, as
he watched a nun talk about
super sex with a couple of
the highest-paid professionals
in the city of Lincoln, Nebraska.

How was this even his life?

He had to admit, though, that it
was a pretty awesome life.

* * *

Notes:

This poem is long, so the character, location, and content notes will appear elsewhere.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, safety, spirituality, weblit, writing
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