Amber had worked in the charity shop for many years and it showed.
Her friends called her second hand rose and she had not bought anything new for four years.
Sure, she was stylish, in that vintage worn way that was cool casual, hipster chic. But there was no real glamour in Amber’s life.
Her apartment was the same. A collection of curiosities that were old and worn, lackluster reminders that time marches on and nothing lasts forever. There was a musty smell about her that made her seem older than she was and some days, even she forgot that she was still only in her twenties.
‘Oh my God, shush,’ said Paula, hissing from tight lips, ‘it’s her.’
‘Who?’ asked Amber, wondering why they had to be quiet now a customer had entered the shop.
‘The Madam’, Paula whispered.
Paula was new to the charity shop and had proved to be the font of all local knowledge. If there was gossip to know or to spread, Paula was the go-to informant. Paula knew everyone’s business and she was willing to share it with everybody else.
The Madam, domineeringly majestic, was escorted by two young men, barely eighteen, the ones that swagger, ones that Amber had never had dealings with. They wore expensive street clothes that you would never find in a charity shop. She was dripping in gold jewellery and wore a faux fur and cashmere double-breasted coat. Amber knew clothes. It was the sort of coat you saw on the catwalk or on famous people when they got papped. Her red lips looked as if they had been lacquered and her lashes cast shadows across her angled cheeks.
The Madam, flanked by the boy-men, approached the counter and Paula winced then pushed Amber forwards.
‘Good afternoon Madam, erm no sorry, yes, Madam.....oh...’ Amber stuttered, unsure of the etiquette when meeting a Madam, and screwed up her face in an agonising grimace.
Paula threw a look of despair and mouthed that she shut up.
‘Some clothes darlings!’ bellowed the Madam as both of the boy-men ungracefully shoved two large bin liners towards Amber.
‘Careful boys,’ said the Madam, she can’t take both at once.’
‘Oh’, said Amber, ‘It’s fine, I’m ambidextrous’.
The Madam looked Amber up and down, tilted her head and raised an eyebrow. ‘Are you now?’ she said.
Amber, now holding two large bin bags, blushed at the attention; then the threesome turned around and left as swiftly as they had arrived.
There was a pungent scent of Chanel and lemonade aftershave that remained.
Paula looked stunned and put her hands on her cheeks letting out a girlish squeal.
‘Well let’s open it then,’ urged Paula, ‘out the back though...in case.’
Amber knew exactly what the warning was about. A bag of donations from a Madam was the most thrilling thing that had happened since the 1970s Gucci trunk from the dead actress last year.
The pair were not to be disappointed.
The contents included a range of designer and sexy clothes that any prostitute would be proud of.
There were leather dresses, latex mini-skirts, stripper shoes, even a feather duster. The Goddess of sluts had descended on the village and gifted the secret armoury of seduction.
Amber spent everything she had. Even with her staff discount it had been a small fortune. But she dreamed of how fabulous she would look tonight at home as she paraded in front of her antique gilt mirror.
Amber had always wondered what it would be like to be a prostitute. Secretly she had fantasised about the power it would give her to seduce men; to make them putty in her hands. She had thought too about how she would spend her money because she secretly thought that she would be an excellent prostitute. They would call her Amby Dextrous because she could stimulate two clients at the same time, and of course, she would earn twice as much as all the other prostitutes in the brothel.
But, of course, Amber was not a prostitute. She would never have the nerve, and besides, how do people start? She had no idea what the procedure was. And now she was old and she was plain and life was passing her by.
But things were about to change for Amber.
A week or so later the Madam returned to the shop. She looked like a gothic queen, a superstar, an icon of taste and style. People stared. She had that movie star quality Amber saw in magazines and on the internet.
‘Are you free for a coffee and a chat darling?’ asked the Madam.
‘Well I am due a lunch break so yes, now, if you like,’ said Amber, wondering what the madam could possibly want to talk about.
‘Car’s outside darling, chop chop!’
The car was a fancy sports car and the driver was another good-looking boy-man in denim who drove them to a café.
The Madam was straight to the point once the designer hot chocolates arrived.
‘I want you to work for me, Amber. I can make something of you. I have spotted potential and I can use you. I will pay you top rates plus bonuses. If you do well, I can set you up with a nice car and you will be able to afford anything you want. Buy your mum a house if you like. The world will be your oyster Amber, if you stick with me.’
Amber was not sure what to say but didn’t want to sound too keen. She held back for a moment.
‘Can I call myself Amber Dextrous?’ she asked.
‘Yes of course. All my people have a pseudonym. And you will love the team, they are all fabulous, friendly and supportive. They will welcome you and guide you through the system. You will pick it up quickly, it’s not rocket science, and what with you being ambidextrous darling, you are really someone I can use. Gives me an edge, know what I mean.’
Amber didn’t need to think it through. She was single, bored, poor and getting older. Life was a drag and this would change things for the better.
It was arranged that Amber would start on the weekend when Madam had briefed the team and prepared her space. Apparently, there was some equipment coming especially for Amber that would fully utilise her skills.
‘What should I wear?’ asked Amber.
‘Whatever you feel your best in darling’, said the Madam, this is your time now.’
Amber had handed in her notice at the charity shop and put together her most sexy outfit; a mixture of shiny separates and thigh-high boots that said she meant business. She was every man’s fantasy and every woman’s envy.
Upon arrival at the house the Madam greeted Amber excitedly, taking her coat and welcoming her into the sumptuous and palatial home.
‘Wow,’ said the Madam, ‘look at you girl, sexy miss! I do love a girl who isn’t ashamed to be herself. I hope you will be comfortable in that.’
The Madam laughed a little and Amber felt self-conscious. Perhaps she should have worn the nurses' outfit from Anne Summers after all.
They walked down a long corridor and then down some stairs. The lights were dimmer and the walls were padded. It seemed they were underground. Then there were strange noises that Amber was not familiar with. There were screams and shouts and music.
The Madam opened a large heavy door to a darkened hot room.
There were four large PC screens along a wall and three boy-men seemed busy on consoles, engrossed and seemingly in robotic trances. One wore headphones and all were completely disregarding of Amber’s arrival.
‘Right, Amber,’ said the Madam, ‘this is your unit. We have dual controls and a double mouse system specially developed for ambidextrous gamers. The tournament is about to start. Just relax and do your best, but remember Amber, we are all depending on you. This is really your training ground and after this tournament, we get really on it. Big money at stake. I have faith in you Amber, but don’t let me down. Welcome to the team.’
Amber looked around as one of the gamers glanced up and waved his console to say hi.
Then he returned to his game without even looking at her boots.
© 2019 Tale Teller