He stares at the variety of alcohol. What should he take today? He took alcohol for the first time in his life yesterday. He went to a club and got himself drunk silly, then staggered to his hotel room; this hotel room.
He has already broken a second of his previously cardinal principles: sexual fidelity. He stares briefly at the form of the woman on the massive bed and smiles. Was it even worth it? Why isn’t he feeling fulfilled and liberated? She is a prostitute that he picked up at the club and brought to this room.
His mother will be ashamed of him if, sorry, when she learns that he cheated on his wife with a prostitute. It would have been bad enough if it was a long-term mistress because she taught him to wait until marriage and to be faithful in it. But a prostitute! She will be horrified. It wouldn’t matter that Stella is now with another man, or that she cheated on him first before she eventually left him. Philip’s mother is a puritan.
But she will get even more shocking news: that her son is dead. Perhaps he should send away the prostitute so that his mother won’t have to know about her when she learns about his death. But hotel people and the police will still find her when his body his found. This place has cameras in all the public spaces.
Philip wanted to annoy God first before checking out. So he got drunk, picked a prostitute and slept with her. Before God’s anger cools down, he wants to get drunk again. Then he will sleep with the prostitute again. Then he will go to the bathroom and swallow the lethal pills. He will hopefully be still high when he gets on the other side to confront the Master of the Universe.
But he doesn’t think the session with the prostitute was even that great. Perhaps because he was drunk. Maybe he should sleep with her when he is sober, chase her away then take the overdose. Or maybe he should swallow the pills now while she is asleep. She will take care of herself when the police find her.
He pours himself a glass of wine and places it on the small table. He will need courage to swallow the pills. He takes his small briefcase and fumbles with it looking for the pills. He cannot find them. He checks again. And again. Then he empties the contents of the briefcase on the floor.
“They are not there,” the woman says. She is awake and watching him, though still covered by the bedding.
“What are you talking about?”
“I know you are looking for the pills you intend to use to commit suicide. I flushed them in the toilet,”
Philip is more surprised than angry.
“How did you know about the pills?”
“You were sleep talking the whole night. You kept apologizing to your mother and saying you can’t take it anymore,”
Philip does not say anything, and silence reigns in the room for a while.
“Listen, I don’t know you. I don’t even know your name. I don’t know what you are going through. But I can assure you, killing yourself is not a solution. If it were, I wouldn’t have made it to adulthood. Okay, I hate being a prostitute, but I have a little daughter, and she is a gem. I do everything I do to make sure she has a better life than mine,”
“Why did you become a prostitute?”
“It is a long story. My dad died when I was nine years. He was a nice man, and he loved me, my sister and my mother dearly. When he died, my mother fell apart. She could not fend for us. So she married this other man. He was a ruthless beast that used to drink to a stupor and insult all of us. Then he started raping us. All of us: my mother, my sister and me. He threatened to kill us if we told anyone. When I was thirteen, he raped and beat up my sister so badly that she started bleeding profusely. She died the following day. By this time, my mother had started drinking so that she could ignore all that was taking place. I ran away from home and got hired as a housemaid. One day the man of the house came home during the day and raped me. I ran away again. Luckily, I got another job as a cleaner/tea girl in a clinic. But one morning the doctor who owned the clinic came and found me cleaning and raped me. That night I cried and asked God what I had ever done to deserve the kind of life I got. That is when I decided that since men had decided to forcefully take away my body, I could as well give it to them at a fee. I thought the money would make me feel better. But giving away my body for money to strangers makes me feel so empty. But three years ago I got pregnant and gave birth to a girl. That strengthened my resolve. I purposed to do everything to ensure that my daughter has a voice to fight for herself. I am determined to educate her to the highest level she can reach, even if it means continuing to sell my body for her sake. She will not have to marry an abuser for upkeep, or get treated as sub-human by employers because she lacks education. Or have to sell her body to educate her children. I am determined to make sure that my daughter will live a better life than mine.”
Philip is shocked.
“I also had a daughter with the woman I loved. I dated this woman for five years before marrying her six years ago. We did not have sex before marriage because we were committed Christians. Our first three years of marriage were awesome. Then she started becoming rude and cold. Last week I found her and my daughter gone. I later learned that she has eloped with an associate pastor in our church, who was also my best man at our wedding. As if that is not enough, she emptied our joint savings account and ferried away all our household items. The hardest part is that many church members are gossiping me behind my back, claiming I was the reason Stella ran away with another man. None of them, even those I believed were my closest friends, have asked me what happened. By the way, what is your name? Mine is Philip,”
“I am sorry Jerusha. I would have landed you in trouble by killing myself over petty issues,”
“They are not petty. You were betrayed by those you loved and believed in. It shook the foundations of who you are. It happened to me when I was raped by my step-father. It leaves you feeling empty and useless. I understand. But you need to pull yourself together and overcome the challenge,”
“So how do you cope Jerusha?”
“I think God sustains me. I do not claim to be saved, and I think He doesn’t like the way I earn my living, but I somehow think He cares,”
Philip ponders that. He has been judged harshly by those he thought cared. Yet here he is, listening to a prostitute issue profound wisdom. The woman he had intended to use and leave was showing more concern that those he had always assumed would be there for him.
“I am sorry about last night,” he says.
“By sleeping with you last night, I was continuing what your step-dad started. I am sorry,”
“You didn’t force me, Philip,”
“Would you like to leave commercial sex work?”
“Yes. But go where?”
“I run an events company. I can train you on what we do. I do not have a lot of money to pay you right now because ex-wife took it all, but business is good. We will manage,”
“I know what you are thinking. I promise I won’t rape you, although I suspect my word doesn’t carry much weight.”
“I wasn’t even thinking about that. I was thinking more in the lines of you killing yourself and leaving me in the reds again just when I thought I had left this for good,” Jerusha says and they burst out laughing.
“But one question: why would you do that for a prostitute you just met?”
“I think you are a good person Jerusha. Besides, you just saved my life,”
“I will join you Philip, but on one condition. That you try and figure out this God away from the clichés you have been indoctrinated with by pastors. You know, just try and know the truth about Him beyond the verbiage that most of the preachers spew out. I will do the same. I know it sounds weird coming from a prostitute, but yea I think in God we can discover the place called hope.”
“You are right. Deal,”
“Now please get out so that I can dress. I am no longer a prostitute, remember?”
Philip smiles and steps out of the room. If this woman has survived that horrible life, then maybe, just maybe, there is actually place called Hope.
Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/male-man-depression-dark-black-3532483/