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the sleep of reason

by Michael Swanwick

with illustrations by
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes


49. [Plate 36]
The Rookie

"It's awful windy," Mystique said. Mystique was new to life on the street, and had no idea how cold it could get.

"Work with it," Elena advised. "Bend over and let it paste your flimsy dress against your butt. Men are suckers for that. They love to think they've seen more than you wanted to show them."

Elena had given up her brothel in order to work solo again, but she was always glad to give a rookie some friendly advice.

"What about my little problem?" Mystique asked.

"Be up-front about it! You've got your period, so he can't stick it there. But you can do certain other things. With your hands. Or your mouth. Or even your you-know-what. But that'll cost them extra. You're a lady and you've never done that before. You wouldn't do that now, only you desperately need the money. Got that?"

"Oh, yes."

"If you can cry a little while you're doing it, that'll speed things up. Because it really gets men hot. The more innocent you can seem, the better."

"I'm going for a good-little-girl-gone-bad thing here, then?"


"So I shouldn't mention that I'm pre-op?"

Elena smiled. "Not until you've got the money in your pocket and the deed is done. You can show them your penis afterwards if you want. The look on their faces is always good for a giggle."


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This is the 49th of 80 stories by Michael Swanwick written to accompany Francisco Goya's Los Caprichos. For a listing of the most recently available stories, go to The Sleep of Reason.

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