What have I gotten myself into – by Dalmatia Fleming
What have I gotten myself into – by Dalmatia Fleming
Ellen made the long trip from Grandma and Grandpa’s house back to her family. It was good to see them again, she had missed them but she couldn’t help but feel like a failure for not being strong enough to leave the cult for good.
Her parents seemed happy to see her but they were guarded. Everyone in the cult acted that way towards her. No mention was made of her having left and returned whatsoever. Not even to rub it in. Ellen half expected that. It was as though she never left. Only her sisters and a few others secretly ask her what it was like out there: where did she stay, how did she earn money, did she make friends easily, what were the people like; questions like these.
Leaving the cult seemed impossible while in it. Everyone knew that few had the connections or skills required to survive “out there”. After all, English was spoken in the cult, they were never taught the first language of the country where they lived. They picked up a little here and there, but integration into the local culture was not part of the cult’s plan. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The only time the cult interacted with the locals was to ask them for handouts.
Ellen immediately began to plan her next escape.
One year later Ellen left again, but this time she didn’t venture quite so far geographically. She simply left the cult and moved to the big city. Here she again landed a job as a hostess, but this time in a club frequented by successful businessmen. Her tall height, slender build and strawberry blond hair were considered quite exotic in this locale and surely played a part in securing this sought after position.
Ellen quickly picked up the language. Soon she had a good rapport with the regulars and was working all they busy nights. She also became quite a draw in her own right; the regulars would bring their friends to see the beautiful and exotic young foreigner.
Business was good and Ellen earned a lot in tips. She shared a tiny two bedroom apartment with a young local woman, Yasuko, who worked first shift as a nurse. Yasuko was trying to make it on her own as well and had her own challenges to overcome. They could relate to each other and became fast friends. Most days they had about two hours between each of their respective work shifts when they would hang out in the apartment together, talk about their dreams and obstacles and always have a few good laughs.
“Yasuko, I don’t know what I said or did, but I get the feeling this guy wants me to perform sexual favors for him. Maybe for his friends too. It really creeps me out.”
“What’s he doing, why do you say that?”
“Well, he keeps running his hand up and down my back and sort of pats me. It’s just creepy. I have to be nice to him, he’s a customer. And he has started to give me bigger tips as well. I think he wants something.”
”It does sound that way, doesn’t it.”
“Then, he keeps bringing in new friends of his, different men all the time. He makes a point of introducing them to me. I don’t like the way they’re looking at me.”
“I’m sorry about that Ellen. Can you think of anything… ANYTHING that you did differently or said before this started.”
“…Well… I remember that I complemented him on his new suit one day. He always wore a black suit, white shirt and dark colored tie. Then one day he came in wearing this really cool sort of mossy green, khaki green suit with a black turtleneck. He looked so much more hip than usual. I told him so …oh no… he thinks I’m interested in him?”
“Yes, that’s it! Single women NEVER tell ANY men they look attractive. It’s just not done.”
“…oh… well, I didn’t tell him he looked attractive… I think…”
“It doesn’t matter, you’ve said too much. He thinks you’re waving him in.”
“Oh my God! Why did I say that…Ellen… when will you learn to think before you open your mouth!”
…one week later…
“Yasuko, Mr. Yamaguchi tried to corner me right by the elevator. I think he was trying to get me in there. I managed to squirm away by saying I had to attend to the group of people who just walked through the door. I’m starting to run out of excuses to get away from him. I think I’m going to have to tell my manager.”
“No, don’t do that!”
“Why not? He’s starting to scare me.”
“You can’t do that. You have no rights to do that. You’ll lose your job.”
…another week later…
“Yasuko, Mr. Yamaguchi invited me to some filming set that some movie-guy friend of his owns. It’s next Saturday.”
“Well, of course I’m not going.”
“What’s this movie-guy’s name anyway?”
“…um… something like Shimogawa .”
“Yes, that’s it.”
“That’s the mafia! DO NOT GO!”
“I’m not, I’m not! … Holy crap! … What have I gotten myself into?!”
…two days later…
“Yasuko, I’m going back to the US. I checked my bank account and I’ve saved a ton of money. I’ve gotta get out of here. Got my ticket, I’m leaving tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m calling in sick. The creepy thing is that Mr. Yamaguchi knows where I live, so that means Shimojima probably does as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if they showed up here. So please keep all the blinds closed until I’m outta here.”
“Why don’t you come with me?”
“Well, I can’t leave tomorrow, but maybe I can meet up with you soon.”