Her silver metallic skirt slid up her knees each time she bent a fishnet leg – each one with a nine inch heeled boot glued on. Delilah was dressed to kill.
She was good at her job. The other girls on de Wallen* knew it and she knew it. She had to be. Her life depended on it.
She snaked her way around her nightly spot on the stage – a 5 foot by 5 foot wooden floor fronted by a window. It was there that Delilah sold her product – herself.
Looking out onto the street astir with tourists, Delilah knew he was there -- to make sure she showed up -- her pimp. There Jacobus stayed every night of the week for 8 hours – the length of her shift. He made sure that she stayed there to lure customers. He stayed to “keep her safe.” He stayed to take half of her wages, and if she didn’t get enough business that night he’d take a little more “for expenses.”
She loathed him.
A skinny American stopped and stared at her as she writhed her body parts to imaginary music. He held up his camera. She shook her head. He held up some Euros. Jacobus stepped out of the darkness.
“150 for 20 minutes. She’s the best you’ll get.” The American dug frantically in his fanny pack for more cash, handing over the last note jubilantly.
“You get 20 minutes, max.. Anything other than regular will cost you double. Got it?” The American nodded his head eagerly and before waiting for Jacobus’s okay, ran for the door into heaven. Jacobus held up one finger to let Delilah know his order, and she obediently followed the American upstairs to her bedroom.
He walked into the bathroom and turned on the shower, making a shh motion with his finger. “Jetska!” She started for the door in a panic. He grabbed her by her long heel and held on, determined. “Jetska, your dad sent me here.”
“Daddy?” Instantly, Delilah’s body stopped pulling away. Tears filled her eyes as she pushed her hair back from her cheek. “Daddy?”
“Yes. Your dad hired me to find you. He wanted to be sure that this was the first thing I told you: He says he loves you, no matter what you’ve done, and he wants you home.” The American pulled off his sweater to reveal two lightweight harnesses. “Hurry, we haven’t got much time. Put this on.” He held open one harness for her to step into. Delilah raised her eyebrows. “It’s for rappelling from the window,” he growled. He shook it urgently. She stepped in and let him pull it up her stockinged legs. It tracked through her legs and around her hips like a diaper, as her tears tracked around her nose and cheekbones.
“But..my things…” She lifted up a finger to point.
“No time for that, sorry.” He fastened the buckle on her waist and led her to the window at the back of the room. She stood there, watching him in silence as he hooked a metal wheel to the frame. A large clip clicked onto her harness. He straddled the window frame, beckoning to her to do the same. Time, light, motion, all stopped for her. Jacobus is waiting downstairs. What if he comes up and finds me like this? What if he beats me…? What if he kills me…? Her unblinking eyes were shut the moment Andrew slapped her.
“Jetska! Hurry up!” He clipped his own harness to hers and dragged her through the window, her weight throwing both of them into dependence on the clicking wheel and his rope release skills to lower them to the ground below. She was still frozen when they hit the ground.
“Jetska, get a grip! Your pimp will kill you if you keep this up! Work with me, please.” Jetska looked up into his eyes too see what lay behind them, and the life in them startled her. She was so used to death, to darkness, to fear, but here…here she felt no fear. He reminded her of how she used to be. Something strong and light and true drew her to her feet and overcame her dread. Adrenaline rushed through her. She threw her hands onto her buckle and unfastened it, throwing it onto the grass with resolve. Andrew’s hand was reaching out for hers. Her fingers seized it in determination, and together they began to run.
*The de Wallen district is one of the older and better known areas in Amsterdam’s red light district. Prostitutes dance on the street level, behind windows, to attract their customers, and they usually live upstairs. In 2005, 23% of the persons registered at the “Dutch Foundation Against Trafficking in Women” were Dutch citizens.
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