Once in Chicago, I began the earnest search for a legal job, one where the police wouldn’t serve me warrants or arrest me. Again, I started by buying a home. This time, I played conservative when I purchased furnishings. Not really in need of money, I took my time searching for the right job.
And then, I met Maximillian. He was in his mid to late forties, balding, and had a definite middle age spread. But, he also had his own business and needed a secretary. I allowed how I was in the market for a job and he hired me right there, on the spot.
I stayed on as his secretary until ambition got the better of me, and I asked to be promoted. I knew I wasn’t really qualified, but I demanded it from him anyway. Bad move. He told me the only way I could get promoted was to sleep with him.
I agreed to. Even worse move. I did, and he followed through. But, I had to continue the affair with him in order to keep my job.
I was stuck where I really didn’t want to be. There I was, eighteen and sleeping with my boss to keep my job. Not a good thing. But, I felt I had no choice. I needed the job, not for the money, but for the experience. I also needed it for the occupation of time, to keep me busy. I needed to stay busy.
I was trapped in Maximillian’s bed, his slightly unwilling mistress. He smelled bad, sweat profusely, and actually bathed seldom…or so was the impression I was given. He often wore the same suit for days and always had an unruly mop of thinning hair that never looked as if it had ever been combed. He shaved only as an afterthought and brushed his teeth iradically. He was a forceful man in bed, forcing himself upon me as if he never could get any from his wife. He was violent, fast to reach satisfaction, but never all that great. I could see why his wife didn’t give him much. Hell, I often fell asleep in the middle of our little trysts. I was always left unimpressed.
Then, it all came to an end. The blackmail, the forced sex, everything. One night after I turned twenty, his wife burst in on us and began a two-hour tirade that left no doubts as to where their marriage stood.
“Once a cheater, always a cheater,” I heard her yell, “and with a young hussy, too. What? Aren’t I beautiful enough? Or loving enough? Don’t I do everything you want? Or is it more fun with someone else?”
I watched him take off like a scalded rabbit into the night. When he was gone, the scorned wife turned her wrath upon me.
“And what do you have to say for yourself?” she asked, bitterly, “How much was he paying you to meet him?”
“I-I,” I stammered, trying to answer her, “he blackmailed me into meeting him. Yes, I started it by agreeing to do so for promotion…but it was never meant to go this long. It was supposed to be a one-night thing. He was the one that kept it going. I only complied because I needed the job to keep me busy.”
“Ah,” she replied, her face softening with understanding, “another one of his hapless victims.” She laughed harshly. “That’s how I ended up married to him. I was young, eager, ambitious, and naïve just like you. He offered me a chance if I slept with him, and so I did. I continued to do so, not because he blackmailed me, but because I truly thought that he loved me.”
“So you inherited him?” I asked, slightly surprised.
“Yep,” she replied, “from his second wife to be exact. I never could trust the bastard to be loyal. Hell, I’m beginning to wonder if any man is loyal.”
I grinned sheepishly and nodded my agreement. I didn’t tell her that I knew what she was talking about all too well, or how I knew. I didn’t need her knowing what I had been doing before coming north. She’d doubt the truth if she found out that I had been a prostitute. I didn’t need her thinking the worst about me. I just needed her to understand and be a friend.