A twist in the tail Halloween story from Jane Jago.
As a (more or less) retired whore with an address book full of the names (carefully coded) and preferences of powerful men from all across the globe, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I was offered money – a truly obscene amount of money – to write my memoirs.
Being a sensible sort, with her declining years to provide, for I accepted the advance and started writing. But, you know what, I may be an exceptional shag, but as a writer I suck.
No matter how hard I tried, my sordidly erotic life just sounded like a fucking shopping list. I offered the men in suits their money back. But they refused.
“That’s okay,” they said, “we’ll get you a ghost writer”.
And that was another joke. The first one they sent me looked about eighteen and wore a fluffy angora jumper. Having established that she had never even heard of most of the things I did on a regular basis, I sent her away with a few quid for her trouble. The second try was even worse, some sleazy slag who writes porno for a living and who was getting her rocks off just looking at me. I didn’t even let that one in the door.
There was silence for a couple weeks, then I was asked if I minded working with a guy. Which made me laugh. For a moment the suit making the proposition looked at me like I was stupid or something. Then he got the joke. He laughed so hard I thought he was going to do himself a mischief. When he had calmed down he kissed my hand and left, promising to send ‘George’ the very next morning.
Promptly at eight-thirty, before I had even had coffee, the door buzzed. A tall, dark guy with a briefcase and horn-rimmed spectacles stood on the step.
“George?” I hazarded a guess.
He nodded and I buzzed him in.
“Breakfast?” I offered waving a hand at the bacon and things.
“No thanks.” His voice was deep and melodious.
He sat at the table and watched my culinary muddle for about three minutes before removing the frying pan from my grasp and motioning me to be seated. He put a mug of perfectly made coffee in front of me, followed in short order by a full English breakfast.
“You,” he said, “need a housekeeper.”
“If I ever get this effing book finished, I might even be able to afford one.”
He showed me a lot of very white, very even teeth.
“You American?” I asked.
“I am, but how did you know? I don’t think I have an accent.”
“You don’t, it’s the dentistry. In my business you tend to look at teeth carefully.”
It took a moment for the implications of that to sink in, but when they did I was rewarded with his pleasingly masculine laughter. “And that”, he remarked with a broad grin, “is the first line of your book…”
We soon settled into a rhythm. George arrived promptly at eight-thirty every morning. He cooked my breakfast and we worked until three when he bowed his head, clicked his heels and left.
Inside a month, we had volume one of my memoirs nailed. It was racy, funny, human, and silly, and not a bit how anybody envisaged a whore’s memoirs. It was also an instant bestseller.
I tried to thank George, but he waved away my words.
“Just doing my job.”
We got stuck into volume two.
By the time we were halfway through writing volume three, I was twenty years old in my memoirs, and forty-seven and wealthy in real life.
Somehow, I never got around to employing a housekeeper, and George still cooked my breakfast and tidied the kitchen before we started work.
I did, however, have a cleaner and it became apparent that I also needed a secretary. My publisher found me Miss Jackson, who was newly retired, and bored and willing to work three afternoons a week. She looked like the worst sort of dried-up spinster, and I was perfectly prepared to hate her. Only appearances can be deceptive. She had about the filthiest sense of humour I have ever encountered and we got along fine.
She and George, on the other hand, eyed each other like tomcats on the back fence. I said little to either, merely determining to keep them apart. As Miss Jackson started her day as George finished his, they really only met on the doorstep. Even so, they managed to build up a head of real dislike, although neither ever said a word to me. I broached the subject with a George once, but he snapped his teeth together hard and I desisted.
I think the situation may have gone on indefinitely had I not discovered the date of Miss Jackson’s birthday and decided to take the old girl out for a treat. When we finished our work that evening I presented her with a birthday card, and a Waterstones voucher, and I suggested pie and mash at my local. We had a blast, and she obviously drunk a deal more than she was used to. As I poured her into a taxi she put a hand on my arm.
“That George,” she said more than a little indistinctly. “You need to find out just what he is. If he’s human I will…” Then she shut her mouth firmly.
I paid the cabby and walked home. Deep in thought.
I was just at the door when I felt cool breath on my neck. I turned, but there was nobody to be seen. I guess I should have been afraid, but I wasn’t, even before I caught the faintest whiff of mouthwash and aftershave.
“George. Stop pissing about.”
Then he was in front of me. Looking sheepish.
“You had better come in.”
He followed me in silence, and I was of no mind to say anything quite yet.
Inside the apartment I was in no mood to let him off the hook so I pointed to a chair.
He was the picture of misery as he folded his long frame into an upright chair.
“Okay buster,” I said severely, “you don’t eat, you don’t drink, you never have a day off sick, and you frighten Miss J shitless. Just what are you?”
He stared at me. “If you noticed all of that why have you never said anything before?”
I crossed my arms in front of my impressive breasts.
“I asked first.”
He looked into my eyes for a moment then squared his shoulders.
“I’m a ghost…” his voice was barely more than a whisper.
That was too much for me and I felt the giggles starting deep in my belly.
Only I could have wound up with a ghost writer who really was a fucking ghost.
When I got myself together, George was looking at me as if he couldn’t quite believe his eyes.
“I take it that means you are not about to run screaming from the room.”
“It does, mate. I’m only worried that you will disappear now I know.”
He thought for a moment, then smiled broadly. “I don’t have to, not if you still want me. I could even move in…”
“Okay. But no sneaking up on Miss J. I don’t want the poor old biddy having a conniption fit in my gaff.”
He grinned, a bit nastily, but hastened to give me his promise.
That being a Friday. I didn’t see hide nor hair of my secretary until Monday. She crept in looking more than a bit sheepish and I couldn’t help laughing at the mortified expression on her face.
“Sit down you silly old bat,” I said affectionately. “Sit down and tell me why you don’t trust George.”
She sat, picking at the sleeve of her muddy brown cardigan with nervous fingers. I watched her for a moment then felt so sorry for her manifest discomfort that I caved in.
“Okay. Never mind. Let’s just get to work. I don’t need to know.”
Her eyes raised to meet mine and she actually chuckled.
“You are right, you don’t need to know. But as you have shown me all the kindness I have ever known in nearly seventy human years I do need to tell you. I knew it wasn’t a human man in the same way it should have known I’m not a human woman, but it was too busy watching you to pay any heed to me.”
She sat back in her chair, obviously awaiting some sort of reaction. I wasn’t about to give anybody that much satisfaction, so I kept my voice level and cool.
“Does being whatever you are preclude you functioning as my secretary?”
She shook her head, with its neat grey bun.
“And are you any danger to me?”
“Oh no. I might have been, once, but you befriended me.”
“Shall we get on with our work then?”
Her smile was broad and admiring, and I caught sight of the gnarled old tree spirit that inhabited her wrinkled skin before she whipped out her laptop and began summarising the weekend’s emails.
I curled my feet up under me on the settee and allowed myself an inward smirk. Just as long as George and Mrs Jackson were occupied staring each other out neither one of them was going to spend any time wondering about me. I let my fangs drop for a moment and caressed their razor sharp edges with my tongue, before recalling myself to a sense of duty and listening to the outpourings of human love and lust that my secretary was recounting in a drily amused voice.