Edward Ahern ~ The Arrangement

la-belle-otero-dans-une-fete-a-seville-au-theatre-marigny

“You want me to do what?”

“It’s the most natural thing we do, Charlotte. You and I will make love, then you’ll get pregnant and have a boy—”

“Look, Doctor Krotos! First, I’m calling the police and reporting you; second I’m suing your ass.”

As she backed toward the door, Charlotte remembered why she was there. “How can you promise a dying woman a cure and then proposition her? What kind of ogre are you?”

“No, Charlotte, not an ogre. The cure is real. Cower at the door if you like, but let me explain.”

“Watch me go, you puppet-footed, fat-assed, scraggy-bearded pervert.”

Krotos winced. “Nothing happens unless you’re cured. I’m promising your health back in days. If you leave now you’ll die. The cancer is terminal, two doctors have told you that. And when I succeed you’ll have your life back. And a child of course.”

“You’re crazy! There’s no cure, and I’m never going to be alone with you again. Creep!”

“Charlotte, sweet Charlotte, you’ve been dying for so long you’ve forgotten how to live. When’s the last time you had sex? Just watch for thirty seconds. Your life is surely worth that?”

Charlotte’s palsied hand shook on the door latch as Krotos reached up and pulled off a wig. “What the hell are those nubby things on your head?” she demanded.

“Horns.” He reached down, pulled off his right shoe, and waved his foot at her. Except it wasn’t a foot.

“My God, that a two toed hoof!”

“How perceptive of you. If I were to drop my trousers you’d see that I’m goat furred from my navel to my ankles, and have a stubby tail. And ample endowment.”

“I’m sorry for your deformities, but you’re still a perv.”

“No, I’m a satyr, it comes naturally. If you agree, I’ll heal you. You get your life, you give me a life in return. Seems fair.”

Without realizing it, Charlotte had released her hold on the door handle.

“This is insane. Wait, you said boy. Why not a girl?”

“Because I only sire boys. Satyrs are always men.”

“You want me to birth another monstrosity? Go bred with one of your own kind!”

Krotos sighed. “I wish I could. The Nymphai died out a millennium ago. To preserve our species we lie with humans. Drunken orgies went passé with the witchcraft trials, so we offer women healing in return for motherhood. It’ll be a most pleasurable experience for you.”

Charlotte snorted, then began coughing uncontrollably. After several seconds she caught her breath and wheezed, “Not a chance, goat ass.”

“Wait! The potion acts quickly, a day or two at most, and tastes delicious. I can give you a goblet of it now, and drink some with you. By all that’s sacred, I swear it’ll heal you.”

She cocked her head. “Why don’t you just lurk at a singles bar, get some slut drunk, and wallow away?”

“Because the agreement has to be made while you’re sober, and my appearance is off-putting.”

Charlotte nodded. “You’re ugly even without the deformities.” She reached in her coat pocket and pulled out a cell phone. “I’m calling the cops now. Don’t come near me.”

Krotos’ hand wave was dismissive. “Go Ahead. But the two women in the reception area will swear that while you were with me you went into a hysterical fit.”

Charlotte clenched the phone in both hands. “Why the hell would they do that?”

“Because they’re not just employees they’re former—call them consorts I guess.”

“I’ll tell the cops to pull off your wig!”

“Ah, well, Charlotte, as a demi-god I have certain camouflage capabilities. You’re seeing the true me because I let you.”

“This is absurd.”

“Isn’t it. It was so much easier when women went in groups to orgies in the woods. Tell you what, why don’t you go out and talk to Estelle and Bernice about their experiences. There’s nothing like a good testimonial.”
“I’m leaving,” Charlotte said, and pulled open the door.

Estelle and Bernice were waiting for her. Charlotte exploded. “What kind of sex slaves are you!”

Estelle, who looked to be a healthy seventy, patted her arm. “There, there, dear. Thirty five years ago I was dying of consumption and saying the same things to Krotos. He cured me, and we had a child. Would you like to see a picture of my little Leneus? He’s all grown up now, and owns a vineyard and winery.”

The strain was too much for Charlotte, and her cerebral palsy took control, freezing her facial nerves and causing her whole body to tremble. The two women took her arms and sat her down on a sofa, then found and administered Charlotte’s medicine. As they waited for the medicine to take effect the two women talked to her.

Twenty minutes later Charlotte walked back into Krotos’ office. He’d put the wig and shoe back on. She studied him for a second. “They tell me this drug of yours works. What’s it called?”

“Nectar in the fables, other things in older languages. Shall I pour us each a glass?”

“How soon would I feel the effects?”

“Your mood will lighten immediately, the physical changes will take a day or two.”

“And you want to screw me?”

“When you’re better, Charlotte. That’s the agreement, and I’m afraid it’s obligatory. It’s exceptionally pleasant. We don’t need to go into the woods and rut on rotted leaves, although that’s also fun.”

“What happens when I get better and just don’t come back?”

“Ah. The first few libations have only temporary effect. If you don’t return to consummate matters you’ll get worse very quickly.”

She frowned. “So I become a whore and you pay me with my life.”

He shrugged, “It’s a maligned profession. Think of it as an arranged marriage that you’ll thoroughly enjoy. And achieve motherhood.”

“And if I say no I die.” She nodded. “I guess I’m going to have to drink to that.”

 

Longtime Friend of the Macabre Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over a hundred thirty stories and poems published so far, including at Bete Noire, and two books.
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