I took my customer's hand and led him outside.
The cold air hit like a physical blow after the warm, smoky, smelly interior of the parlour where the night's johns were queuing up waiting for the girl of their choice to become available. Like all of the other girls I rented a room to ply my trade in this establishment beside the river opposite the great cathedral. Like all the other brothels, or "Hor Hus's", in this stretch of the river bank, the Dog's Arse was owned by the Bishop of London. The Brothel keepers, a scabrous pair called Stanley and Marta Grimm, were reasonable to their clients and shared with us the profits of our endeavours. I got little though. By the time the Bishop had taken his share (most of it) and the pox faced, pig eyed Grimm's had taken theirs, I was left with the remainder. A farthing a customer was what I got. It was OK, but I wanted more. That's why I had this little side line with Marta.
Marta was grossly fat and a slattern with small piggy eyes in a puffy face ravaged by gin and smallpox. But she and I understood each other.
I was small and neat and had small breasts and a pixieish face surmounted by masses of crinkly hair. That's what made me popular, my young, innocent face and my small, child-like body. I had been sold to the brothel keepers when I was eleven years old and my family had realised they couldn't afford to keep me and my brothers, and I had been there ever since. There had really been no choice for them. The boys were able to help with the fishing and my Mamma fed them and did their laundry and I, being a girl, was useless, and besides, they got two shillings for me.
I saw them once a year at Christmas for a late supper after I had done with my clients and it was nice. Mamma would hug me and stroke my hair and sometimes she wept a little and sometimes I did too.
My customer was a very fat, red-faced Flemish gent who was in the cloth trade, a visitor to London, and he followed me outside to where all of the rooms were reached by a wooden staircase attached to the side of the building. The smells from the cesspit drains in the street were powerful despite the cold night air, but I hardly noticed them, so familiar were they and their odours. We climbed to the top landing, three floors up. I led him inside to a narrow corridor lined with wooden partitions. Ten girls had their cubicles here, and the grunts and groans coming from them were as intimately known to me as the stench from outside. At the end of this passageway was a stair, more a ladder, to my room, up in the very eaves of the house.
I led the way.
The fat fellow followed, grunting and complaining.
The straw on the floor of my room stank mightily and I thought I really must change it. My bed was a simple unsprung wooden rectangle with a fairly thin and very stained, straw filled mattress and two rather filthy sheets. The opportunity to do laundry was limited, so great was the demand for my services, and the Bishop didn't waste money on excess bedding for his brothels.
My room had one great advantage. It overlooked the river. Actually it overhung the river.
By the light of the candle I watched as my fat Flemish friend struggled with his trousers. I glimpsed the bulging money belt around his waist. Marta had seen it too, when he paid for me downstairs. That's when she had sent me to him. He finished undressing and mounted me. I pulled him onto me and had to guide his stumpy little cock into my slit.
He grunted a lot and it was all over quickly. As with other gentlemen I wondered what pleasure he derived from this. But he had paid for an hour so I asked him what else he wanted to do. He wanted to do me in the mouth and that was alright, I was good at doing that, but this night it didn't go well. He had drunk huge amounts of ale and was very drunk and had a very full bladder, a problem I realised after I had swallowed him whole. Disgusted when he started to relieve himself while I was sucking his cock, I spat him out and he stood there laughing. So pissed was he that he thought it a great joke. He was also so pissed he could hardly stand upright. I had to hold him while he piddled away the rest of the ale into the straw on the floor.
Then he was ready to fuck me again.
He climbed aboard me and I stuck the knife into his throat.
He gurgled and made ghastly wet noises and then he died on top of me.
I was splashed with his blood and gore.
Marta arrived, and after taking everything from his money belt and stripping his body of rings and valuables, she helped me dress his corpse and together we pitched him out of the window and into the river.
Marta was pleased with the haul and she helped me clean up myself and the floor of the late gent's blood before telling me to came back downstairs when I was dressed.
I did another two men that night and neither of them realised they were fucking where the fat Flemish fool had died. If I had had more than one candle they'd have maybe seen the bloody sheets and the stained straw.
I earned my two additional farthings so that was it.
I had already done for a number of gents before this, and in the weeks following the demise of the drunken Flemish trader I killed and robbed a farm hand from Sarum who had come to London with his life savings to find a wife, a churchman from the midlands who was in the city for a meeting of his fellows and had been entrusted with the council funds, another trader, this time a wine merchant from Sienna, and a guildsman from the western counties who had foolishly come to London with a sum of silver coins to buy himself a preferment.
Marta chose them all when they came asking for the services of a whore, and after I had despatched them with the knife she would help me dispose of the body by heaving it into the river and then she would help me clean up the gore in the room. The Dog's Arse was a three story timber and plaster building, and each of the upper floors overhung the floor below, so my late lamented lovers fell straight into the river when we chucked them. All except the churchman that is. For some reason he smeared blood down the outer wall when he fell. I think I cut open something special with him when I stuck him, as he bled copiously and unstoppably after I slashed his throat. Fortunately the devil minds his own and a great downpour came in the early hours and washed the bloody evidence away before the light of day revealed it.
Probably we were greedy and should have been more careful.
The regular arrival of bloated corpses on the banks of the Thames began to worry the King's men. At first it was thought that a gang of footpads was responsible. When their enquiries and regular arrests turned up no confessions or even evidence, they began to smell a rat.
This probably wouldn't have mattered if the usual plods and dunderheads had been the only ones involved. Unfortunately however the investigation was put into the hands of one Sir Roger de Godfroi. This fellow was not only achingly handsome, blonde haired, blue eyed and built like an athlete, slim and muscular, but he was also really smart. He investigated where the majority of the bodies had washed up near the Aldwych and then began studying tide flows and times, and before long the day came when Marta called me over and there we saw the King's clever young investigator knight standing in a boat looking closely at the Dog's Arse.
This was not good and boded ill for our lucrative little sideline. I started having vivid dreams in which my naked feet danced on fresh air while my neck stretched even skinnier than it normally was.
Then Sir Roger came to the hor hus.
He spent time talking to Marta and her stupid husband Stanley, and then he talked with some of our regulars. When told that some of them remembered the Flemish trader and the churchman having been in the brothel he started looking worryingly grave.
Something had to be done.
Marta invited him to come back at night when others of our customers who might throw light on this mystery would be there. She acted the part of concerned keeper of the Bishop's brothel and caring citizen very well. As Sir Roger was leaving I brushed against him and let my hips slide across his powerful thighs.
When he and his men were gone Marta and I plotted.
Sir Roger returned later that evening.
He was alone and Marta called me down.
I appeared in a red silk gown that I had borrowed from another of the girls in the stewhouse. It fastened at the front but not so much that my legs weren't clearly visible as I walked toward him. As I sat beside him the front of the gown gaped open and one of my breasts slipped out. I giggled a lot and was very merry with Sir Roger while Marta kept him well supplied with ale. A few of the customers came over and spoke with him, but generally I made sure that he was aware I was with him and found him very attractive.
After a while he and I left for my room carrying a jug of mulled wine specially prepared for us by the ever kindly Marta.
We walked up together and I giggled a lot and clutched onto him making sure as many people as could be saw us together.
We disappeared into my room and after making love with him and proving to myself what a handsome and vigorous chap he was, I plied him with grog from the jug.
We had been gone from the parlour for over an hour when Marta tramped up the stairs to see if Sir Roger needed anything more.
A short time later she rushed downstairs screaming and sobbing incoherently and repeating over and over, "Murder! bloody murder."
The Beadle was called, and together with Marta and half of the stewhouse, they made their way to my attic room. When the door was thrown open what a sight awaited them. Sir Roger, wearing only his undershirt, lay senseless on the floor, seemingly out of his wits from drink. I lay sprawled across the filthy bed, nude and covered in blood. Pig's blood, half a bucket of it, which Marta had dribbled onto my breasts and throat earlier after Sir Roger had succumbed to the laudanum in his wine. My arms were outflung, my legs spread and my head was thrown backward facing the door, eyes staring fixedly and tongue hanging out. My naked body was drenched in blood as were the sheets and the straw floor covering.
The Beadle ordered Sir Roger arrested and a couple of big fellows dragged him to his feet and marched him downstairs. Several other men lifted my "corpse," and, grasping my bum and other bits in enthusiastic fashion, hauled me downstairs too. I lay limp, eyes gazing at nothing, head flopping, hair trailing and blood from that slaughtered pig dripping and splashing everywhere. All the way down other girls and their marks came out to gawk at poor, dead Barb and they were treated to a fine view of a bloody and limp girl offering up her feminine secrets to all and sundry. Not that my utter nudity mattered, I mean who cared a fig for a dead prostitute. But it was painfully cold, especially on that outside stair, and I hoped no-one noticed the stiff's nipples were even stiffer.
Down in the parlour they flomped me onto a table and the Beadle made a show of inspecting me, which actually comprised feeling me up both around my breasts and between my legs, before declaring solemnly that I was indeed dead. That pretty much ended my part in the night's events and Marta produced a disgusting sheet which they wrapped me inside of, like a shroud. While she was fetching that, the whole population of the ground floor parlour inspected me and declared me dead also and most of the fellows had a feel of some part or other of my nakedness. Mostly between my legs.
Wrapped in my shroud I was carted outside by two of the fellows and dumped in a dog cart driven by Stanley and driven off to the pits outside the Ludgate. Marta's sheet was lice raddled and so, by the time Stanley uncovered me, was I. The crawling little creatures infested my hair and my pubics and under my arms and everywhere and it was days before I got rid of them.
The next day, heavily disguised as a nun, I attended the trial of Sir Roger. He and three other criminals were led out clad only in loincloths for trial by ordeal. The way this was to be done was, they were to be tied by the ankles and dropped into the river. If they sank they were innocent although half drowned, if they floated they were guilty. The trick was not to take a deep breath as you went under. Unfortunately everyone usually did. Sir Roger and his three other accused fellows all floated.
They were immediately dragged from the river and over to the gallows where they were noosed and left to swing. The four near naked men dangled at the end of stout ropes and twisted and turned as their faces slowly went blue and then suffused purple and tongues emerged and eyes bugged and they slowly strangled to death. Sir Roger's loincloth slipped down and as he died his manhood curved out and upward in a final erection of death. I hoped his last thoughts were of me and that I had helped in this phenomenon.
Marta decided it would be a bit odd if I showed up again too soon and both she and I felt that a resumption of floating cadavers coming from the direction of the Dog's Arse would definitely be suspicious.
I went to another stewhouse she and Stanley owned, together with her daughter, in Sarum to the west of London.
Dead customers from that started showing up all over the cathedral town.
Cause unknown but probably brigands.