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Pleasure Workers-Chapter 1

Chapter One

 

 

Alejandra Cortez stood on the edge of the dusty side road, coughing as dirt invaded her lungs. The wind kicked up the particles that tickled her airway as they weaved their way inside. Covering her mouth with her hand, she made a vain attempt to keep the tiny intruders from taking over. She squinted at the distant truck rolling down the sparsely traveled lane. Maybe she’d catch a break and the truck would take her a fair distance down the road. She wasn’t sure what direction she should go, but east sounded as good as any other. Certainly that would be far away from border patrols or anyone who hated Mexicans. An increasing number of people saw her and her family as a blight on their pristine white land.

 

Alejandra didn’t feel like her name ever fit her. As soon as she earned the right to make a stand, she’d declared to her parents her preference for Alex. That name seemed to fit a whole lot better for reasons she’d never shared with her very Catholic parents. When she was growing up, her mama had wanted her to learn a more fitting vocation than handywoman, something more suited to a woman, like nursing or teaching. Both were professions that contributed to society. Alex tried to remind her mama that even if she managed to get an education, she couldn’t possibly work for a hospital or a school without a valid social security card. The real reason was she didn’t have an affinity to medicine or education, but preferred to follow her papa around and learn all about fixing things. Papa was her hero. Juan could fix everything. He could do anything. She wanted to be just like her papa and she was good at it too. She took to plumbing, electrical, painting, and all manner of machinery, like a duck to water. Her mama had given up well before Alex hit puberty and seemed resigned to what was clearly Alex’s preference.

 

The wind kicked up again and the dirt swirled around her, causing another round of uncontrolled coughing. As the truck approached and pulled onto the shoulder, the dirt tornado expanded. Her need to expel the foreign material from her lungs took on a new level of desperation. She was a desperate woman with no job, very little money, and no idea where to go. Not that she’d collected very much while living in Nevada, but for the second time in less than a year, she’d had to go on the run with little more than what she could carry in a pack on her back. A memory surfaced from the last conversation she’d had with her papa. Alex liked giving her papa shit, so she’d joked with him on the afternoon right before everything came crashing down around her family and forced her into her current situation. That had been nearly eight long months ago.

 

Her papa kept blowing his nose and complaining loudly as he tinkered with the small motor Old Man Hartford had brought in for him to fix.

 

“Hey, Papa, you should really find some triactin.” Alex handed her papa a small screwdriver anticipating his need.

 

“Triactin?” Her papa scrunched his face. “Is that a new remedy, Mija?”

 

“Uh huh.” Alex laughed. “Try acting like a man.” She leaned back and held her stomach while laughing without restraint.

 

“Very funny, Mija. You should become comedian and stop following your old papa. You not laugh so hard if you catch this cold from me.”

 

“Sorry, Papa. I couldn’t resist. Mama always says how much the men complain when they get a tiny sniffle and how the women endure so much more. She says that’s because it is expected of us.”

 

“True, your mama endure a lot to bring your enormous body into world. At nine pounds, I thought surely she give me a son.”

 

“Do you regret she could only give you one child and it was a girl?”

 

Juan reached over to pat Alex. “Never. You my pride and joy. So beautiful and talented. You take over family business when I die. It will expand. You not make the mistakes I have. I do not have good judge of character like you and mama.”

 

Alex sobered quickly. “I’m sorry I couldn’t handle all the work. I wish you didn’t have to hire anyone else and then we wouldn’t need to trust someone outside of the family.”

 

Juan shrugged. “Price of success and fulfilling American dream.”

 

“I suppose.”

 

The truck skidded to a stop and Alex brought her face to the passenger side window as she peered in. The gapped-tooth smile of a man with a deeply lined face studied her. He seemed harmless enough. Besides, at nearly six feet tall with well-defined muscles, Alex could easily fight her way out of a tight situation if she needed to. The man looked like a strong wind could blow him over, but it was always the small wiry ones she’d had to watch out for. The men who knew a hard day’s work and spent the day in the hot sun were not to be taken lightly. Even though the owner of this beat-up jalopy appeared to be in his 70s, he was one of those hard-working types she’d known from hanging around her papa’s friends. Most of the men worked the farms. She made a split-second decision and tossed her ratty old pack into the back of the open truck.

 

 “Where ya headed, young man?”

 

“East.” Alex wasn’t about to correct his error. Sometimes she was mistaken for a guy. She could live with that, especially if it kept the assholes from hitting on her. She lifted her baseball cap off her head and pushed her fingers through the perspiration that had collected in her short thick locks.

 

When she pulled on the silver handle to open the door, the truck groaned and squawked at her, almost as if trying to communicate that, like its owner, she was old and this sprite young’un ought to treat her with gentleness and care. Folding her tall lean body inside, Alex cautiously closed the heavy door and winced at the loud clang. The vinyl seats were covered with gray duct tape in an attempt to patch up the numerous cracks and tears in the upholstery. No air conditioning. Well, beggars couldn’t be choosy.

 

“Thanks for the ride. However far you can take me is fine with me.”

 

The old man’s eyes narrowed as Alex pulled the seat belt across her chest. “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you was a fella. I suppose I shoulda looked closer. You sure don’t have a man’s face or uh, body.” He coughed. “You ain’t got nothing to worry about though. Been married to my wife for nearly sixty wonderful years. You know you shouldn’t be out here hitchhiking. There’s a lot of crazy people running around in the world today. Some that ain’t so nice.”

 

He offered his words of wisdom and Alex thought there was something sweet about him. She knew how shitty some men and women could be. This wasn’t the first time someone had mistaken her for a boy, albeit a pretty boy, they had said. She’d gotten her full lips and high delicate cheekbones from her mama. Her papa had contributed her smoldering brown eyes that some had described as bedroom eyes. She was glad to have inherited them from her papa. Many a woman had fallen prey to her expressive eyes.

 

The low rumble of the engine played in the background instead of music as the old man pulled his ancient truck onto the rough road. Alex noticed a large hole where a radio may have resided long ago. She settled in as the engine’s sound lulled her with the familiarity of riding inside an old jalopy.

 

“I’m pretty good at taking care of myself. Been doing it for a while now.” The reality was that she hadn’t always taken care of herself. She’d depended a whole lot on her family. It wasn’t until she had to go on the run that life had handed her a crash course in how to be an adult. Before that she’d led a sheltered life in her sleepy little town, following her papa around and taking the evening meals with her mama and papa. She hadn’t even felt the need to move out of her family home.

 

“Name’s Henry,” he grunted. His cheeks looked like an alien was moving around inside, before he turned his head toward the open window and spit out a sunflower seed.

 

“Alex.”

 

Henry shook his head. “Just like my granddaughter. Had a perfectly good name, but said Georgiana don’t fit her. Makes us call her George. I don’t like it much cause it makes me think of those Bushes from Texas.” He cackled. “You a lesbian, too?”

 

Alex raised her eyebrow. “If I answer honestly, will you still give me a ride?”

 

“Course. Love my granddaughter. She can’t help how she was born. God don’t make mistakes, ya know.”

 

Alex smiled. “In that case, yeah.”

 

Henry eased his truck back onto the road. “You single?”

 

Alex laughed. “Why? Is your granddaughter?”

 

“As a matter of fact, she is. But you ain’t her type. She likes em a bit frillier. You know, them lipstick lesbians.”

 

“Too bad. I don’t have a type. I like them in all shapes, sizes, and styles. Never met a woman I didn’t appreciate.”

 

Henry grabbed a handful of sunflower seeds. “Me too and then my wife tamed my wild side. When you meet the right one, she becomes your type for life.” Nodding, he shoved the seeds into his mouth. He pointed at the bag, offering some as they traveled along the road kicking up more dust.

 

Alex declined his offer. “If you don’t mind me asking, how far can you take me?”

 

“How far you need to go to get away from whatever you’re running from?”

 

Alex stiffened in her seat. “A couple of hours on this road should do it. Maybe to a truck stop where I might be able to catch a longer ride. How’d you know?”

 

“I been on this planet for a lot of years. I reckon I know about stuff sometimes. It’s the way people look around or carry themselves. I can tell when someone’s a good person and hasn’t had a fair shake in life. Never been wrong before and I don’t ’spect I’m wrong now. I got just the place to drop you off. I might even know someone to give you that lift.”

 

“Thanks, Henry. You remind me a little of my papa. Maybe my luck is changing and this is a sign.”

 

Alex turned away and looked out the open window. She didn’t want Henry to see the tear that had formed and think she was soft or something. She suspected he knew but ignored her sudden flash of emotion. Yes, he was a lot like her papa. She was going to find a way to bring them back, no matter what it took. She figured Henry might see the resolution in the setting of her jaw, so she forced herself to relax and smiled at him.

 

 

Holy shit. Henry screeched into the truck stop, his tires leaving their mark along with the pungent smell of burning rubber.

 

“Henry, I still have a lot of years ahead of me. Are you trying to kill us?” Alex placed her hands on the dash bracing herself as the truck skidded to a stop.

 

Henry pulled on the door and jumped out. “Come on, Alex, Rosie’s getting ready to leave. Guess I got to jabbering too much and lost track of time.” He began running toward an eighteen-wheeler starting to ease out of the parking space the big rig had recently occupied. He was waving his hands madly in the air.

 

Alex thought for an old man, he was very quick. She was afraid the truck couldn’t see him as the sky was growing darker. She jumped quickly out of Henry’s old beater and joined him in his waving routine. She winced when she heard the squealing brakes. A minute later a compact woman with short-cropped salt-and-pepper hair jumped down from the cab. She placed her hands on her hips and frowned.

 

Alex didn’t ever like to feed into stereotypes, but diesel dyke was what popped into her head and she mentally chastised herself. For an older woman, she was certainly attractive enough, but then again as Alex had told Henry, she didn’t have a type. All women were appealing to her. Nothing compared to the sheer beauty of a woman reaching climax as she threw her head back in pure ecstasy. Alex lived for those moments, although she’d had to discover those opportunities outside of the tiny town where she’d grown up and lived most of her life before she went on the run.

 

“What the hell, Henry. I almost mowed you down,” the woman said. As if the woman all of a sudden registered there was another person standing next to Henry, her eyes roamed across Alex’s body. Alex felt like the woman was leaving no stone unturned as she checked out every inch of Alex’s tall frame. Her eyes spent a few extra seconds on Alex’s breasts and then a slow smile emerged on her face. “Who’s your friend, Henry?”

 

“This is Alex. She’s a sweet young gal who needs a ride east. I didn’t want her accepting a ride from some low life, so I thought you might give her a lift.”

 

“I sure can. Come on, sweet thing. Grab your bag and I can take you as far as Atlanta. Name’s Rosie.” She took several steps closer and held out her hand. “Very pleased to meet ya.”

 

“Um, I sure am appreciative of the ride, ma’am, but can you not call me sweet thing? I’m a bit more sour than sweet.” Alex took Rosie’s hand.

 

“Fair enough if you don’t call me ma’am. I already feel old. I’ll look forward to the company and the energy of someone on the younger side of life. Thanks for bringing a nice woman I can pass the time with, Henry. You give my best to your wife. Oh, and tell that adorable granddaughter I said hello. If only I was thirty years younger.”

 

“You old cougar. You know she had a crush on you,” Henry teased.

 

“Now you know you don’t have to lay that bunch a malarkey on me. I’d be eager to give this handsome little gal a ride. She’s definitely brightened my day.” Rosie winked and her blue eyes twinkled.

 

Alex got a mental picture of Rosie’s sapphire eyes darkened in arousal and she considered whether there was enough time or opportunity to finagle a way for her to experience that versus simply imagine the scene. She was good at two things—sex and fixing things. Her papa always said she should capitalize on her talents and not dwell on the things she wasn’t very accomplished at. Especially cooking. When she was barely ten, she’d attempted to impress him with disastrous results. He’d kindly informed her she best leave the cooking to her mama, who was the only master in the kitchen they’d ever need. If Alex took away that joy, her mama wouldn’t be utilizing the talents God bestowed on her. Juan insisted God had decided on a whole different set for Alex. Alex mused that if only her papa had known about her other skill set, he might not have encouraged her so much to find her niche in the world.

 

Alex’s mama had different ideas about cooking. She had decided the importance of passing down their culture and her gift was more valuable than the numerous messes she’d have to clean up. Her mama never gave up and taught Alex how to make homemade tamales and a decent breakfast burrito. If that was the only authentic meal she could make, so be it. That skill might come in handy one day if she was trying to impress a woman. Besides, she got to spend time with her mama and that made them both happy.

 

Alex showed Rosie her gleaming white teeth as she offered her most seductive smile and then ran back to Henry’s truck to retrieve her bag. Maybe this woman would appreciate being on the receiving end of her touch.

 

Pack in hand she grinned at her new friend and said, “Ready whenever you are.”

 

Turning to Henry she felt a rush of affection and dropped her pack, then pulled the wiry man into a bear hug. “Thanks for the ride, Henry. I won’t forget you and your kindness. Will you give me your contact information? If you don’t mind, I’d like to keep in touch and maybe someday find a way to repay you for picking up a stranger and giving me a reason to have hope for mankind after all.”

 

“Dontcha worry about that, Alex. I was happy to have you come along when I saw ya on the side of the road. I’ll give you my address. I like the idea of getting a letter from you. Knowing you’ve settled somewhere and things are looking up for you will make this old man’s heart soar.”

 

Rosie pulled a pad from the front pocket of her shirt and handed it to Henry. She began patting her pants pockets until she found a ballpoint pen that Alex figured she’d shoved into the back pocket of her jeans.

 

Henry grabbed the pen and started scribbling his contact information. “I guess you’re always prepared, Rosie.” He winked. “Ya never know when you’re going to meet the one, huh? It’d be a shame not to have paper and pen to get their number.”

 

Rosie smacked Henry on the arm. “Now ya know that ain’t why I carry those things. Gotta jot down if my cargo has a problem on delivery. Boss man always wants the details and I write down exactly what the customer says, word for word.”

 

Henry chuckled and handed Alex the paper he’d ripped off the pad, and then gave Rosie back her pad and pen.

 

“I know, Rosie. I just like to tease ya. But ya know ya ain’t getting any younger. When ya gonna settle down with a nice little gal who can have a meal ready for ya when ya come home from a long stint in the big rig.”

 

A sad smile crossed Rosie’s face. “Maybe someday, Henry, but I gotta convince the one I’ve had my eye on for years and so far, no luck.”

 

“I’m rootin’ for both of ya.” Henry waved and returned to his old beater.

 

At least Alex had got to say a leisurely goodbye to this man who reminded her so much of her papa. That wasn’t a luxury she’d had when they took her mama and papa away. She tried not to let the melancholy get to her as the memory flashed before her eyes. A warm hand on her arm interrupted the sadness Alex felt. She quickly painted a smile on her face as she followed Rosie to the large eighteen-wheeler waiting on them in the middle of the truck stop.

 

Alex looked up at the enormous vehicle with the bright yellow paint job. It reminded her of one of those cartoon suns—all bright and shiny. She liked the smooth round surface over the top of the cab and thought the rig matched the owner perfectly. Rosie had a broad smile on her face just like a ray of sunshine.

 

The next adventure was around the corner for Alex. She could feel it in her bones.

 

 

“So what’s your story, darlin’? Not that I don’t think you can’t take care of yourself,” Rosie let her eyes once again roam over Alex’s body, “with those rippling muscles and your impressive height, but why are you hitchhiking by yourself? Henry was right to bring you to the truck stop and catch me before my long haul to Atlanta. No offense, but there’s a lot of ignorant rednecks lookin’ to fuck up, um...”

 

“A Mexican dyke?” Alex shot Rosie a wry look. “Hey, don’t worry about it. There isn’t a lot of love for brown people, what with us all coming from shithole countries. I’m used to the slurs.”

 

“Somebody chasing you or something? You don’t have to worry about me. You can consider this truck a rolling sanctuary city. I don’t believe in that stupid wall or sending people back who lived their whole life here.”

 

“What makes you think I wasn’t born here?” Alex’s jaw clenched and her tone had a clipped edge to it.

 

Rosie shrugged. “Look, I don’t mean to rile you up or anything. I’d be sensitive too if the President started talking about the Irish like he talks about Mexicans. My grandparents came from the Emerald Isle. Immigrants who worked their asses off in the factories. None of us ever went to college, but I make a good living driving a rig. It suits me.”

 

“Fixing things suits me, but it’s hard to get a job without references. I’ve only ever worked in the family business and then on a kind of ranch in Nevada.” Alex turned away and looked out the window. “I liked it there. Got to use some other skills, too, until...well turns out that no good deed goes unpunished. Felt bad about not giving my notice, but hey, it was time to leave.”

 

“I can tell you’re a good person, so if you’re running, I suspect the jerk chasing you is some asshat that got his knickers in a twist for some shitty ass reason.”

 

Alex returned her gaze to Rosie, giving her an appraising look. “Thanks. I appreciate you giving me the benefit of the doubt. So who’s the woman that captured your heart but hasn’t seen the light?”

 

“A friend. She’s Catholic and they don’t get divorced. Married to a real son of a bitch. I’ve wanted to kill the bastard so many times but she won’t let me intercede. She’s afraid he’ll take it out on their daughter. She’s a grown woman now, so I don’t understand why she won’t let me help. Wish the fat bastard would keel over and die of a heart attack. I bring him food sure to clog his arteries every chance I get. The stupid asshole thinks I’m being nice.”

 

Alex chuckled. “Keep it up and maybe you’ll get your wish. Does she love you back?”

 

Rosie shrugged. “I think so. We haven’t been, uh, intimate with each other, but yeah, I know she loves me in that way. I catch her looking at me sometimes and I know it’s longing I see in her eyes. Some days I want to make love with her so bad, it nearly kills me not to touch her.”

 

“So, then how do you, ya know, take care of your urges? Surely you aren’t keeping yourself from having sex because she’s a devout Catholic. Remember those skills I told you about, well I might as well confess that my last employer was Stacey’s Ranch. They do a pretty good business and you’d be surprised how many women ask about having a sensual experience with another woman. I could help you release some of that tension. It’s the least I can do since you’re giving me a ride and all.”

 

Rosie laughed. “No thanks. I’m an old fashioned kind of gal. I can’t ever see myself making love with someone I’m not in love with. You’re a very handsome, tall drink of water that I’m sure most lesbians would jump at the chance to bed. But, I’m not one of them. I’m not giving you a ride so’s I can have myself a quick fuck, but thanks for the offer. Stacey’s Ranch, huh? Never heard of it.”

 

“Well, you know prostitution is legal in some parts of Nevada. The Ranch is like a high end spa that offers a few extras. Fifteen percent of their business is middle-aged women wanting to check out whether they’ve been missing out on something all their lives. They aren’t sure if they’re a lesbian or even bi-sexual, so Stacey’s is a safe place to explore. I was developing quite a clientele until one night someone followed one of my regulars. Her husband started beating on her. I wasn’t going to let the bastard continue using her as if she was his own personal punching bag.”

 

“Let me guess. He took one look at you and called in a few favors with his redneck buddies.”

 

Alex nodded. “Worse. His brother was an INS agent. I got lucky because someone found out they were coming for me and tipped me off before they could make a grab. So now you know the whole sordid story even though I didn’t want to tell you.”

 

“Look, I didn’t mean to pry. There’s a lot of that going around and it was an easy assumption to make. Sorry about that. I’m no better than the rest when I start making guesses based on the color of your skin. Are your parents still alive and do they live in the states or were they rounded up as well?”

 

Alex turned away again. She looked down at the white lines in the middle of the highway after Rosie had changed lanes and began to pass a slower eighteen-wheeler. She tried to let them hypnotize her into a state of calm. She didn’t want to open that old wound. So far she hadn’t made enough money to pay the exorbitant fees to help them cross the border again and start a new life somewhere else.

 

 “I’m guessing they’re in Mexico right now and not doing so well. Can we talk about something else?”

 

“Sure, sure.”

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