The silk hosiery, garter belt, corset, lace chemise, the dress, and the shoes had been set out for her by one of the girls. It was still sweltering at dusk. Madame Myrtle could tell it was going to be a long night, a rough night. If the wind would just blow and cool things off a bit; bring a little relief to this humidity. A young girl stood in the corner of the room with a palm fan making the only breeze that Myrtle was going to feel tonight. The girl had come for work. She could be no more than 14, so Myrtle put her to work as a fan. Soon enough the other girls would have her working the men, seduced with rouge, Ostrich feathers, silks, and furs. But for now she was innocent. Well, as innocent as she could be living in a brothel. She was spared the deed. Myrtle was reluctant to leave the soaking tub and the breeze from the fan, but work awaited. She left the cool water behind and felt a little chill and goose bumps on her flesh as she stood naked in the breeze created by her fan girl. The girl said not a word unless spoken to and was very timid. Myrtle was unsure if this was due to being in a brothel or what had brought her to a brothel. She suspected the girl had been abused. She wanted to mother the child, it was as close to motherhood Myrtle had ever come. When the child arrived she was but a stick of a girl. They fed her before they even washed her. The other girls, the older girls, cooed and awed over the delicate creature giving her pretty things to wear and weaving her long blonde tresses into magnificent braids. But Myrtle really did not have time to spend reflecting on the child when she had business to take care of in the private parlor.
Her favorite shoes were sitting on the footstool in front of the wingback chair. The chair was a sunny yellow damask and the footstool matched. It made a striking image with the bright blue shoes upon it. Madame Myrtle’s favorite shoes was a pair of heels, naturally. But not too high, just an inch. A squat wedge that curved in adding to the length and complementing the curve of her leg. They were a peacock blue brocade with a box toe and a fringe upon the top held in place with gold wrought brads. She’d had them a long time. They were her signature piece from before, when she was one of the girls. Now, she was the Madam.
She had worn these shoes at the inauguration of the last president. Now, that had been a night filled with champagne and friendly faces. She might have had a president to brag about, but the first lady was too closely knit to her husband. Myrtle thought the first lady should be home in bed like a proper lady, but she would go where the festivities took her husband. No bother, he was nothing to look at anyway. Not that looks are what a working girl is seeking. Myrtle knew how to put food on the table, and it was power that buttered the bread.
Tonight, she slipped on the blue shoes and took a last look in the mirror before going to greet her esteemed guests. Myrtle looked stunning in the blue damask gown that clung to her every curve, and as any respectable Madam would have it, she kept her figure well. She had one of her girls in to cinch in her corset, which Madam then measured her waist at still 19 inches. She gave a final adjustment to the ladies so each breast was overflowing the bindings of her corset. Her breasts only barely covered in lace. The new Mayor and his brother-in-law were waiting, well-attended, in the parlor.
Plied with liquor and scantily clad women, the new mayor was enthusiastic in his enjoyment. An enthusiasm he displayed quite prominently with the bulge in his trousers. Just as he elbowed his brother-in-law in fraternal fashion, a young woman with dark hair freed his penis from its pent-up state in his pants. The young woman serviced him as another refilled his glass. The new mayor could not believe the spoils of victory, free whores! Of course, he would not be paying for his pleasures this evening as was fitting of a man of his high position.
Madam Myrtle sauntered in like a cat as the last girl exited the private room. The men were at ease on the divan. They were cocky, in fact. Madam had a long history of dealing with cocky men. Most just wanted their ego stroked, but some would have a violent side to them. She’d hate to have the “Men of the House” come and work a “little” security, even though they got paid handsomely, plus benefits from the girls. A smart whore knew to keep her protection happy. It made her working life easier and safer. Myrtle pulled the tasseled cord and called for a refill on the men’s drinks, and sat down to business. This was her favorite part of being a Madam. Doing business with her clothes on. She reclined in her high backed velvet chair and kicked out her legs. Stretching just enough to show off her calves and shoes.
“Well, gentlemen. Let’s talk business,” she said.
“It is quite a fine establishment you have here,” the mayor said.
“Thank you, we aim to please,” she said.
“Ah, well you do a fine, fine job of it. I must say.”
“Yes, well I hope we do more than a fine job. Shall I get you another sampling of our girls?” she said.
“No, no, not right now. We can’t talk business with a bunch of women about,” he said.
“Clearly,” she said with a smirk.
“How long have you been the proprietor of this wonderful house?” he said.
“For nearly 10 years. I obtained the establishment in a buyout,” she said.
“It must be hard for a whore to come by that kind of money,” he said.
“I’m not your average prostitute,” she said.
Myrtle was becoming tired of this conversation and had already summed up the direction it was going.
“We have a proposition for you,” the mayor said.
“Oh, I’m always interested in a proposition from a gentleman,” she said.
“I believe that we could benefit each other, Madam,” he said
“In what way, specifically,” she said.
“I can keep the holy rabble from knocking at your door. And you can offer me 40% off the top.”
The Mayor was not slow to come to the point. This was a shake down. The brother-in-law was meant to play the part of intimidator at 6 feet tall and 275 lbs. Silently, he rose from the divan and made his full presence and size known. The man could be intimidating to a lesser foe than Madam Myrtle. The Mayor was a plump man in his 50’s with pretty blue eyes, the kind of man that was used to getting something just because he asked for it. He’d turned pugnacious when Madam Myrtle turned down his offer, and he jerked her from her chair and had pinned her to the floor on her stomach with a fat sweaty hand clamped over her mouth.
“We’ll just see about that ‘no’ shall we,” he said.
Fifteen years earlier, in this same brothel, Madam Myrtle was just a lowly whore. Brought to the door of this house of ill repute by her elder sister. Her sister, April, fell ill with typhoid and died soon after they arrived, leaving Myrtle all on her own. Myrtle was only 18 when she began taking on customers to pay for room and board. She was a petite thing and a favorite with the shy sort. She tried to stay out of the way of the unruly set of customers. The shy ones showed up like they came to call on her, all bathed and perfumed. The average customers were less than clean and a tad rough in their excitement at times. The “Men of the house” kept most of the rowdier customers on their best behavior with a few knocks about the head.
It was one of the shy ones that she lost her virginity to on a dusky Wednesday night in June. It had been uncommonly cool for that time of year. He was a short skinny young man with shoulders he had yet to grow into. He had been gentle and fumbled with his pants so that she had to help him with her own trembling hands. He did not know how to touch her, but she wouldn’t know that until much later. After, he would tell her a great deal of things as they lay in the bed, filling the awkward intimacy with his voice, one of which was it was his first time, too. And now the boys on the cattle ranch couldn’t rib him anymore. When he left, he profusely thanked her. The feeling wasn’t mutual. But she knew it could have been worse.
Myrtle hated most men. The sweaty slabs of meat heaving and heavy on top of her. At least, they were usually quick. Sex had been an occupation, no pleasure, just a means to eat. But by the age of 16, Myrtle had a regular customer, Jesse James, and he often came bearing gifts for her.
The first time she laid eyes on Jesse James she was fresh from her bath. He looked tired and travel weary. He’d asked for a new girl. And Myrtle was still relatively new. She eyed him with hesitation and prepared herself for a few moments embarrassment. She assessed his broad shoulders and firm body. Jesse took a long look at the young girl still dripping from the bath. Her long black hair wet down her back, and the sunlight coming in from the window at sunset. She looked like she was made of fire. Jesse was drawn to consume this light and make the glow his own. He kissed her softly. And he held her in his arms. Just standing in the warmth of the summer sun and holding her in his arms like a treasure. He laid her down on the bed and began kissing her from head to toe starting with her brow, her lips, her chin, her neck. He methodically worked his way down her body, suckling each breast and kissing her stomach. And then he kissed her between the legs and lingered there with his tongue awaking feelings and places that Myrtle never knew she possessed. He continued to kiss her thighs, the backs of her knees, her calves, her ankles, and feet. He licked her feet, down the soles and between her toes. She was giddy. Erect, he spread her legs and entered her in slow, easy strokes. He increased his thrusts with the pace of her breathing ’til she cried out in sweet agony.
Jesse was also a smooth talker, and Myrtle quickly came to adore him both as a lover and as an ally. And once he took a liking to Myrtle she was given a berth of respect from the rest of the girls and the customers. He was a tender lover and took his time, but he was no gentleman. He’d command and yield at turns. His firm caress and gentle hair pulling left Myrtle breathless and in love. His tongue would flick in teasing strokes at her nipples. Then he’d ride her like a runaway train, and leave her begging for more.
The unannounced encounters left Myrtle wishing for something a little more permanent. But Jesse James was an outlaw, and couldn’t be predictable in his lifestyle. He was a man on the run. And while she pined for his return every time he rode off, she couldn’t deny her love of his energy and spontaneity. She was spellbound at his tales of armed robbery, and he’d even re-enact them for her with a little flare. He’d dance about the room pantomiming the way he drew his gun, dodged bullets, and fled the robbery on a stolen horse. Of course, Jesse didn’t think of it as stolen, he just thought of it as his now, much in the same way as he thought of Myrtle.
“Hands-up!” he’d grumble with his kerchief pulled over the lower part of his face just his piercing blue eyes squinting at her like he was looking into the sun.
Myrtle would cooperate almost too willingly. Jesse would circle her with undisguised desire. And it felt exhilarating when he’d rip off her clothes, and draw her gently down to her knees. This play, this was lovemaking, not the dirty deed she did with the other men, the customers. Sometimes, Jesse would rain down money on the bed then take her from behind with a stalwart thrust of his hips moving like the pump and roll of a train pulling out of the station.
“One of these days, I’m going to settle down. Right after the biggest train heist in history; then I’ll take you away from this filth and marry you proper.”
“Oh, Jessie. I don’t need a proper wedding. All I need is you and a fancy pair of bright blue shoes to wear on my wedding day.”
“They’ll match your eyes. Done.”
The blue shoes were the last gift she ever received from Jesse James, just two weeks before he was gunned down by his cousin Ford.
“Close your eyes,” Jesse said. “And put out your feet.”
“Put out my feet?” Myrtle laughed with eyes closed sitting on the edge of the bed.
Jesse slipped onto her feet two bright blue shoes. “Open your eyes.”
Myrtle wept with tears of happiness at the sight of the blue shoes upon her feet, and what they meant.
Jesse kissed his way from her left ankle up to the inside of her thigh. He stood between her legs with a dominant presence.
“What happened to the biggest train heist in history?” she said.
“You’re coming with me. I can’t leave the Mrs. behind, love. Now can I? I won’t be able to come back around here after the big heist. I’ll be the most wanted man in the country.”
“Jesse, I don’t want you to be hunted.”
“Don’t worry, honey. They can’t catch me when you already have.”
And he wrapped her legs around his waist. Jessie cupped one breast with his right hand and deftly undid his pants with his left.
“Wait, I’m wearing the shoes,” she said.
“Keep them on,” he whispered in her ear bending over her.
Jesse righted himself, and then he held her legs high, one calf in each hand as he entered her with a sudden thrust; then he repeated, but with a slow, measured pace. Myrtle gave way to his rhythm. But she was writhing with want of a harder thrust to satisfy her. He moved in a steady beat to tease her; then faster, until he was spent inside her. But not until she had come before him for to pleasure her was his greatest need.
In the afterglow, she still wore the shoes.
“Aren’t you going to take those off?” Jesse asked.
“Not ever,” she replied tracing her fingers in an absent-minded pattern on his chest. She babbled on in a sleepy voice of the beautiful blue shoes and when they would be married. After a short while she fell asleep with her head on his chest and her blue shoes on her feet. And not a stitch on besides. Jesse stroked her hair until he too succumbed to slumber.
Now, she cherished these shoes with the melancholy of a widow wrapped in the darkness of despair, but she wore them with the kick of a mule. Myrtle bit down hard on the pudgy hand on her mouth, and then she kicked that bastard for all she was worth. Sinking that wedge heel deep into the groin of the mayor. He fell over with a dull thunk. Madam Myrtle pulled herself up and rang the bell for security. The heavy that the mayor brought helped him up to the divan with a smirk on his face. When security arrived Madam Myrtle had regained her composure and requested some ice wrapped in a towel for the dear guest’s unfortunate injury. In a honeyed tone, she asked if the mayor was alright or if he would be needing a bucket to vomit in as he looked a bit green.
“Breathe, breathe,” she implored him. “We don’t want people to say how the mayor was visiting a whore house and then fainted, just to have to be carried out by your man. I mean what would the voting religious rabble think? What would the rest of the men think?”
The mayor gave her a look of hatred, but he knew he had been vested and wanted nothing more at this point than the ice and maybe that bucket.
The Mayor left the establishment with a pack of ice between his thighs as he wobbled to his carriage with his brother-in-law’s assistance. Madam Myrtle waved good-bye and clicked her heels at the door framed in the light from the brothel spilling out into the night.
When she turned back into the foyer, she caught a man with a devilish grin staring at her from under the frontispiece of the saloon doorway. Frank James. Nostalgic, she invited him into her private chambers for a drink. Several whiskeys later, Myrtle was feeling amorous and confident after her encounter with the mayor. The man looked like Jesse, but with steel gray eyes. Still, tonight she would not be sleeping with a ghost. She slipped off her blue shoes and placed them tenderly on the mantel.
This would not be her first night with Frank. She knew the dalliance of the James’ brothers on several occasions with her fellow whores, before Jesse had laid claim to her as his special property. Still, she wondered just what feelings Frank would bring out of her. What memories were already racing through her mind?
She remembered a lot of champagne and money. The James’ brothers had just pulled off a big train robbery. The memory was spotty at first. Her head felt heavy from drink, and the memories became clearer. Jessie was there in all his glory. He had her perched upon the table the men had been playing poker at earlier in the night. Frank was there draped with May and Edith. Each of them as naked as the day God made them. Frank still wore his guns holstered about his waist. His shirt off. Myrtle had been kissing Jesse deep and passionate when Frank leaned over and pulled them apart. He grasped her by the hair on the back of her head, and he kissed her. Jesse quick, just like that, drew a gun from Frank’s holster and had it pointed at his head.
“Not Myrtle,” he said. “She’s mine. Just mine.” And with a pistol in one hand he carried Myrtle off over his shoulder. Jesse’s greed was greater than his familial bond, and his thirst for Myrtle could not be quenched. He must have her, all of her.
Everything was cloudy. Frank and Myrtle couldn’t tear themselves apart. Their kisses were wet and hungry, each of them dancing with phantoms of the past. He grasped her by the back of the neck and kissed her throat. He was devouring her with kisses as if he could breathe back a little of Jesse from her skin, her touch. Myrtle caressed his chest, his stomach, and his cock. She fondled him and took him into her mouth. With long slow sucks, she savored the saltiness of him. She inhaled the musky aroma of his sweat between his thighs. Frank’s hands became entangled in her hair. He moaned as she rubbed and sucked until he came into her mouth. She would drink of Frank James, but she could not lie with him again. Wiping her mouth she turned away and retrieved her blue shoes from the mantel. She slipped on each shoe and quietly left the room as Frank lay in the darkness panting. Myrtle walked out to the veranda and sat on the stairs watching her shoes in the moonlight. As long as she was shod in these shoes, nothing could touch her. As long as she wore these shoes, she was a wife and not a whore.