Whorehouse Chapel

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Copyright Oggbashan October 2015

The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.

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It started several years ago when Tom, one of our older widowers, found that Maria, the professional lady he visited two or three times a month, was on holiday. It was early on a Sunday evening, the time he usually booked to see Maria. Tom is retired but had lived an interesting working life as a civil engineer working all over the world.

Tom knew, as most of us did, that there was a newish brothel in the oldest building in our small town. He decided to give it a try. He wasn’t sure that it was a good idea. Maria, our professional lady, knew him very well and provided exactly what he wanted. Another whore, perhaps a much younger one, might not be so patient with him.

Tom went to the discreet side door and knocked. The door opened and an older lady let him into a waiting room. Although she was older than he expected, she was still much younger than him, and probably a similar age to Maria. He thought his needs might be met by her. She disappointed him. She pointed to four framed photographs on the wall.

“There is your choice,” she said. “Which one would you like?”

While Tom was looking at the four photographs, all of women only slightly older than his grandchildren, she was rapidly detailing the fees for the various services on offer. The prices were slightly higher than he paid Maria, but not exorbitant. The four names above the pictures were Anja, Divna, Sanja and Tamara. He thought they must all be from South Eastern Europe if those were really their names. Eventually he pointed at a photograph of a woman who seemed slightly the oldest.

“Could I choose Tamara, please?” Tom said.

“A good choice. I’m sure that Tamara will meet your requirements. Do you object to paying in advance?”

Tom expected that. He paid cash. He had left his credit, debit and identity documents at home, just in case he might be rolled for his wallet. He didn’t think he would be. There had been no complaints from other customers. If there had been, that information would have been known around the town within hours.

The woman pressed one of four identical bell-pushes mounted on a small desk.

“I’ll take you to Tamara. She’ll be waiting for you.”

The woman unlocked a door, and walked through it ahead of Tom. She locked the door behind them. He was slightly concerned that he was locked in and that the door looked very solid.

“Sometimes we have drunk customers who won’t take no for an answer,” the woman said, noticing his glance, “So that door is to protect the girls. Tamara will let me know when you are coming out.”

Tom wasn’t convinced as they walked down a corridor into the old part of the building. They stopped at a closed door. The woman unlocked that door and stood aside for him to enter. It was obvious that they were in the old chapel. The corners of the room were defined by massive stone pillars. Ahead was a large bed and behind it a solid stone wall rising twelve feet or more below a stained glass window. The side walls were crudely painted block work with a light partition for a bathroom.

Tamara was standing in front of the bed. She was wearing a blue shift dress, stockings and white high heels. She had a cheap cross on a silver necklace. Tom remembered that all four women in the photographs were wearing similar crosses. So was the older woman.

“Tamara, this is…”

“Tom.” Tom said.

“OK, Tom. You have paid for an hour with Tamara, for basic services. If you want more than the basic, she can agree that with you for cash in hand, paid to her. I’ll leave you. Your time starts now.”

The woman left, locking the door behind her.

“We’re locked in?” Tom said to Tamara.

“Yes, Tom. If I don’t press the bell to call Irena at the end of the hour, she’ll arrive five minutes later anyway to escort you out. If you want to leave earlier, just tell me.”

Tamara was obviously reciting a scripted statement. She walked towards Tom, took his hand and led him towards the bed. She sat on its edge and patted it, encouraging him to sit beside her.

“Why an hour, Tom? It doesn’t usually take that long.”

“For younger men, perhaps not, Tamara. I need time and help to become aroused and I don’t like being rushed.”

“So how?”

“How do I get aroused? It’s difficult for me to explain. Normally I go to a lady who knows exactly what I want. Now? I think talking to you for a few minutes might help.”

“Talking? Do you mean talking dirty? Does that work?”

“No, Tamara. I mean talking, Tom to Tamara the person, not to Tamara the professional lady.”

“Professional? I’m not, Tom. I do what the customers want, that’s all.”

“Where are you from, Tamara? You’re English is good, but you don’t sound eve gelen escort English.”

Tom was startled. Tamara had started to cry silently. He put an arm around her shoulder. She flinched at first, but relaxed slightly. She muttered something under her breath. Tom knew she wasn’t speaking English. Together with the clue of the women’s names he thought he recognised the language. He spoke to her in that language to check whether he was right.

“You’re not English, are you, Tamara? Are you from?” He named a South East European country.

“Yes,” Tamara whispered in that country’s language, “and I hate it here.”

Tom listened carefully while Tamara whispered in her own language how she had been tricked into coming to England to a promised job, and owed money to those who had brought her here, imprisoned her in the brothel, and said she would have to work until she had paid the debt.

Initially Tom thought this was a typical sob story designed to extract more money from him, but as they talked and he learned more about her, he began to believe that what she was saying was true. The two locked doors had made him suspicious. There was no way that Tamara could leave this room except by the locked door. The only window was too far up and covered with a wire mesh that might be to protect the stained glass. But the mesh on the inside looked too substantial for the task. Tamara was effectively a prisoner.

Eventually Tamara admitted she had been an illegal immigrant. She wouldn’t be now because travel from her country was now possible. She had paid two thousand Euros to the people smugglers for a promise of a job in England. As soon as she arrived they took away her passport, said she owed another two thousand Euros, and that she had to work for them to pay back the debt. She had been beaten repeatedly until she agreed to be a prostitute, originally in another town. She and the other three women had been moved to our town when the new brothel opened. She didn’t really know where she was. Most of her customers didn’t talk to her, except about sex.

She had been working for three years yet the debt had increased. She now owed four thousand Euros. The only consolation she had is that in this new brothel there seemed to be a friendly presence at night. She seemed to hear calming female voices in the darkness, speaking in a language she didn’t understand. Those voices seemed to offer comfort and eventual help.

She didn’t hate Irena, the older woman who had met me at the door. She thought that Irena was also working under duress with threats to her family back home. Irena tried to look after them but it was the four men who visited once a week that they all feared.

Tom learned that the men came every Tuesday evening at about six o’clock. The men collected the money, had rough sex with the women, and beat them because they hadn’t earned enough, no matter how busy the brothel had been. Those men were from her country.

Tom had heard enough. He couldn’t have sex with a woman who was an unwilling prisoner. He looked at his watch. They had been talking for nearly forty minutes.

“Tamara,” Tom said, “I’m going to leave. I’ll tell Irena that despite your best efforts I couldn’t get an erection because I hadn’t taken my blue pill. I’ll say I’ll come back on Tuesday evening and take a pill before I do. But I won’t. I’ll talk to you again.”

Tamara didn’t really understand what Tom was implying, but she pressed the bell push to call Irena. As Irena opened the door, Tamara hugged Tom and kissed him on the cheek.

As they walked back towards the entrance Tom told Irena that he had been unable to have sex. Irena offered him Viagra and another session but Tom said he would like to return to visit Tamara on Tuesday evening. Irena booked an appointment for six-thirty on the Tuesday, and took payment for an hour then.

On the Monday morning Tom went to the local Police Station and asked to speak to Inspector Thomas, whom he knew. Inspector Thomas wasn’t immediately available but Tom made an appointment to see him later that morning. The desk clerk didn’t ask why Tom wanted to see the inspector. Tom was and is a significant and well known person in our town. A request from Tom was enough.

The inspector reacted as Tom expected. The following Tuesday as Tom knocked at the brothel’s door, Police and Immigration officials had surrounded the building. As soon as Irena opened the door, the Police rushed in. Irena was relieved of her keys. Four men were detained as they tried to leave through a fire door at the rear of the building.

Tamara, Irena and the three other women were temporarily detained by the Immigration authorities. Their five passports were found in a safe that Irena couldn’t open but one of the men had stored the combination on his mobile phone. Unfortunately for him and the other men he also had the addresses, contact telephone numbers and safe combination numbers for the other five brothels they were running in the county.

Twenty fatih escort other women were released from imprisonment as sex slaves, and two other men were arrested. The Police in their own country, acting on information from England, had arrested other men who were part of the gang.

All of the women were needed as witnesses at the men’s trial. They were offered a choice. If they could find sponsors or people to provide them with accommodation they could go there, but not leave the country. If not, they would have to stay in an immigration detention centre. Tom volunteered to take all five women to his large detached house.

Irena returned to her own country as soon as the trial was completed. The six men were sentenced to lengthy periods in jail to be followed by deportation. The gang members still in their own country had already been tried, convicted and jailed.

But Tom had four house guests. Since the status of their country had changed since they had arrived in England, they were no longer illegal immigrants. Anja, Divna and Sanja found local jobs as shop assistants at a newly opened supermarket on the edge of our town. Tamara worked part-time while studying to convert her teaching degree to an English qualification as well as acting as Tom’s housekeeper. He sponsored Tamara’s studies.

Tom still visited Maria. He felt that as the four women had only become prostitutes by force he couldn’t accept sexual favours from them. All of them frequently hugged and kissed him but went no further.

A couple of years after the trial, the former brothel was put up for auction. It had been deemed to be proceeds from criminal activity and confiscated. At this point I enter the narrative about the brothel.

I’m much younger than Tom. My business is buying neglected properties, renovating or converting them before renting them out or selling them on. I had gone to the auction with a list of possible properties. The former brothel wasn’t on that list. But I was outbid on the three lots I was really interested in, and I might have to wait until the next quarterly auction before a suitable property was put up for sale.

The brothel buildings were the last lot. The guide price was low, reflecting its condition and the listed status of the old chapel. There were no bids at the guide price. I attracted the auctioneer’s attention and made an offer of half the guide price.

“I don’t think I can accept that offer, Mr Jonas,” he said, but his clerk whispered in his ear.

“OK. That bid is acceptable to the vendor. Any advance?”

There wasn’t. After completion of the preliminary paperwork and writing a cheque, I was the presumed owner of one former brothel for a ridiculously low price. I was nervous. It was the first time I had made an impulse property purchase but it was in my home town. Surely I could make something from it?

I wondered what the reaction would be from my on/off girlfriend Nicola when she found out that I had bought a former brothel. I should have time to compose a suitable email. She was visiting her sister in Australia and enjoying her young nieces and nephew. I’d email her tomorrow otherwise one of her other friends might tell her. No one locally would know until the auction report was printed in our local newspaper, in a couple of days’ time.

I was still worried as I drove home, deliberately passing my new property. It looked a dump with 1960s additions on the road frontage partly concealing the chapel behind. But when I spread the plans of the property out on my office desk, I needed the malt whisky I had poured to calm my nerves. The size of the plot was much larger than I had thought. The chapel occupied less than a sixth of the site, large though the ancient building was.

I knew about its recent history and the local notoriety of Tom and his harem. I had met all four women when they were working in the supermarket. They were popular members of our community even if some local men, former customers of the brothel, were embarrassed. The women had told no tales, named no names but some of the men were known.

Nicola’s email response was amused, not annoyed. ‘Are you that desperate for female company while I’m away that you need to BUY a brothel?’ But she also said that the chapel needed rescuing and she knew I’d do my best. She wanted to see it when she got back.

Three weeks later the final paperwork had been completed. I was the owner of a former brothel. I had made an appointment to meet Alan, the architect who I usually work with on my renovations, at the buildings for a first assessment. It would take at least a month before we could produce a first draft planning application, perhaps longer because of the chapel’s listed status. Getting planning permission might be long-winded and complex.

I parked in the road outside the old brothel. If I was going to do anything substantial to the buildings I would need some off-road parking as part of the development. There was already a dropped kerb across the whole frontage. halkalı anal yapan escort That was a relief. Providing a pavement crossing was decided by a different level of council. I could use an existing one without informing them.

Alan and I stood side by side looking from across the road. We could barely see the chapel’s high pitched roof because of all the modern structures in front of it.

“Geoff,” Alan said, “we need to get rid of everything in front of the chapel. If we expose it to the road that would help with the conservation authorities. We could have a substantial forecourt with two road entrances. But we need to see more.”

“I agree, Alan. None of that is of any architectural merit, and in a poor state of repair. I’ve got the keys. It’s a warren in there with a whole maze of partitions. Before we decide on the use for the chapel itself I think we need to strip all those partitions out. Only then can I see what I’ve bought.”

I opened the door that had been the brothel’s entrance. I had overlooked or forgotten that the four women’s photographs were still on the waiting room’s wall.

“I’ll come back later today and remove those,” I said. “They’re respectable members of our community now and don’t want to be reminded of their past ordeal.”

“Aren’t some of them married now?” Alan asked.

“Three of them are. Tamara probably will be soon even if Tom is the only person in our town who doesn’t know she wants him. All four of them love Tom, not just because he was responsible for their freedom, but because of who he is. He looked after them for years and asked for nothing from them.”

We walked through the locked door towards the chapel. Alan and I were looking closely at the partitioning as we entered the main building. Alan suddenly got down on his knees and poked with a penknife.

“Whoever did this was very careful. Look, Geoff. The block work is resting on planks that protect the tiled floor. We’re walking on a false floor.”

He grabbed a section of the flooring and pulled it upwards. We could see the framing that supported the modern floor. That framing was not fixed except by gravity.

“I wouldn’t have believed it,” he said. “we could strip all of this out with minimal damage. I can’t see brothel owners being that considerate.”

“I think they used our local builders, Flemings. Mike Fleming would have been careful and not fixing the floor and partitions would save money.”

“You’re probably right, Geoff. Mike has a feel for older buildings. No matter what the client says, Mike has standards and he won’t divert from them.”

“That’s why I use him so often, Alan.”

“OK. I think I need to talk to the planning department this week to see if we can get permission to strip the modern stuff out the interior of the chapel. Only when that’s done can we see what we’re dealing with.”

“OK, Alan. I agree. I’d like to see what there is in here once we’ve opened it up.”

We entered all the cubicles and looked up at the stained glass windows. All of it was intact, protected inside and out by heavy-duty wire mesh.

“It looks like Mike’s handiwork, again,” I said. “Those screens are substantial yet they are held in by friction, not holes drilled into the masonry.”

“Can I ask Mike to come round with me as soon as I can get him?”

“Yes, Alan. We aren’t at the point where we can talk what work needs to be done, but my preference would be to use Mike if his price is right. It usually is.”

We continued to tour the building. Outside the chapel there was evidence of more old structures partially concealed by the modern additions.

“Geoff, we’re going to need some real history of the building for the planners,” Alan said.

“Already in hand. The day after my offer was accepted I consulted the town history in my own library. This chapel was part of a joint monastery and nunnery that was suppressed by Henry VIII. His commissioners found evidence of poor behaviour and sinful activities. Unlike many such claims that one seems to have been justified here. The Abbot was the Priest for both, but there were only other four monks and an Abbess with nine nuns. The published history is discreet, but locally we know that the Abbess and nuns were running the place, using the Abbot and his monks as sex slaves. Some of the history will have to be in the Council’s confidential papers.”

“As bad as that?”

“The fact that it was last used as a brothel will have to be confidential even though the whole town knows. The early history will be far more embarrassing. I’ve commissioned the local history society to produce everything they know about the chapel. That will cost me a couple of hundred pounds and much of it will be confidential. Did you know it’s supposed to be haunted?”

“Haunted? It doesn’t feel eerie or creepy, Geoff.”

“It shouldn’t be. The ghosts are supposed to be friendly, very friendly.”

“That sort of friendly?”

“Yes, Alan. The ghosts are reported to be sex starved nuns and men who stay overnight have erotic dreams. Some accounts suggest that dreams are not all that happens.”

We continued around the buildings. Outside the open ground was a tangle of brambles ten feet high but no trees. That was a relief. I didn’t want to fight tree preservation orders as well as conservation experts.

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