She smelled the air. It all felt so brand new to her. It was almost like she hadn’t sampled the scent of the city before.
“You have a whole new life ahead of you peaches,” said Dennis.
He always called her peaches. He said it was because it was how her hair smelled. Dennis was the only person that had ever been nice to her. Even her parents disliked her. Her dad called her a retard. Her mother could barely look at her when her sister was so much smarter, so much more beautiful. Dennis had rescued her. He had climbed the tower of the Pinnacle Institute and carried her away. The doctors had told her she was sick. She didn’t feel sick. They called it intellectual disability but when the doctors backs were turned the nurses called her an idiot or a simpleton. All she knew was that she didn’t think about things the way people seemed to want her to and it made them mad. She was twenty years old but she remained locked in her childish imagination. Her parents didn’t love her but she still loved them and her pretty sister. They didn’t want want her in the home so when the doctor called told them she had conduct disorder they locked her away in the hospital and didn’t want to see her any more.
Dennis came to see her though. He came to see her all the time and he smiled for her and he was so handsome. He held her and comforted her and she never wanted to leave. One day he came to her and told her he had rescued her from the nasty hospital and was taking her home.
Chloe knew she was lucky. She was the luckiest girl alive.
Dennis took her to a place called the Knock, Knock Club. He told her she would have to earn her keep and she was okay with that. He had rescued her so she didn’t want to upset him.
The first few nights at the Knock, Knock club were quiet. A woman who worked behind the bar befriended her. She was kind to Chloe and as Chloe stood with an empty tray in her hand the bar maid told her that if she needed any help to come find her. One of the members of the band that played at the club smiled at her. He shook her hand and introduced himself. He was a black man with a wide smile and he made her smile too.
At the end of the night the club began to clear. It was late. It was a lot later than she would normally have been awake. At the hospital they always told her she had be in her bed and asleep by ten o’clock. At the Knock, Knock club she had no bedtime.
After the club has cleared Dennis came to her.
“How was the first night?” he asked.
Chloe hid her tired eyes behind an excited smile. “It was fun,” she said. “I liked it.”
Dennis wrapped his arm around her. She felt so safe by his side.
“Glad to hear it,” he said. “I have something more for you.”
Chloe was tired but she didn’t want to make Dennis sad so she feigned enthusiasm.
“What is it?”
Dennis tightened her grip. Now they were walking up the stairs to the upper floors of the club. He was leading her to the room she could have. It didn’t smell as clean as the hospital but she would love it all the same.
“I have new friends for you who want to visit your room,” he said. “They want to give you special cuddles.”
Chloe was confused. She had heard of special cuddles before but she always thought those were between a mother and a father.
“Do I have to?” she asked.
Dennis stopped. At first his expression was blank but then his teeth were bared and his eyes brightened. He rested a hand under her chin and petted his lip.
“You don’t want to be selfish do you? You want more friends like me wouldn’t you?”
Chloe lowered her gaze. He didn’t like the way he was looking at her. She didn’t want her to be angry with him.
“I guess,” she said.
“I can tell them all that you don’t want to be friends with them and want special cuddles,” he said but his voice sounded upset.
“No please!” she grabbed his arm. “I can be friends with them too.”
Dennis smiled. He was happy again. He ran his finger gently down her cheek. Her heart beat a little faster.
“As long as I am always your best friend.”
Chloe agreed. She agreed to have lots of new friends but Dennis would always remain her best.
That night the first of the new friends visited her room. They were mostly men much older than her. She let them undress her and gave them the special cuddles whichever way they asked her to. At first she didn’t mind. Sometimes she even enjoyed it. As time went on it became more frequent. It even became painful. She didn’t like the new friends any more and she certainly didn’t like them leering at her naked, helpless body.
One came to her room. He wasn’t kind to her. He barely spoke to her. She let him into her room and immediately he pulled off his shirt revealing an obese, middle aged body. He pushed her onto the bed with such first she cried out. Her head hit the wooden bed frame and she began to cry.
“Leave me, leave me, leave me!” she repeated over and over again but the man took no notice. He was not a new friend.
“Shut up!” he spat on her. “I’ve paid good money so you will do what you’re fucking told!” he screamed at her.
She was frightened. She tried to climb out from underneath him but she couldn’t get away. He held her hands above her head. He kissed her but all she could do was continue to cry. She called for Dennis but he didn’t come to rescue her this time. She couldn’t wriggle away so she had to just let him have what he wanted.
“You need to get a hold of your girls,” complained the client to Dennis as he handed over a thick pile of bank notes. “That one gave me some trouble.”
“I’ll have a talk with her.”
“I’ll be back,” he warned. “Get it together or I will let Miss T know what you are doing behind her back.” He growled. “You remember what happened to Rex. They are still looking for it …”
Dennis shook his arm playfully. “Come on,” he said. “We’re all friends here. I’ll have a talk to her. She’s just a little overworked.”
Dennis found Chloe in her bed. She was clutching white sheets to her. The area over her lap was blood stained. Dennis sat on the bed beside her.
“What’s wrong?” he asked her. Chloe fell onto his shoulder sobbing. “I thought you liked giving special cuddles.”
She didn’t want to upset him. He was the knight that had come to rescue her like in the story books. He had taken her away from that horrible hospital and loved her when her own parents didn’t.
“I do like special cuddles,” she said. Her teary eyes were still wide and unfocused. “I love them and I will give more if you want me to.”
Dennis patted her back.