It's almost funny, really; John Silver, the one-legged whore. It's a title that barely fits anymore, seeing as those looking to fuck a man with one-and-a-half legs are in short supply, and John's ability to suck cock certainly went out the window for a while. Now, he's mostly got the hang of it, but it takes finagling with a pillow, and doesn't stay comfortable for long. He can't ride his customers the way he once did - his specialty, really, being pushy and bossy and calling the shots even with a cock up his arse.
Honestly, he's just lucky to have a woman Max as his Madam. John earned his keep, back when he was able to turn tricks, and he still earns his keep now, only with fewer customers and more ... well, chores .
John is also lucky he's as smart as he is good-looking. He can balance books and remember facts, numbers, faces, anything he's ever read. The rest of the workers all like him, respect him and sometimes come to him with their problems, when it isn't so bad as to go directly to Max.
Max even commissioned a boot to be made, one with a bottom that could slip into any shoe and give John the appearance of normalcy, should he desire it. It's fine for walking the floors during business hours, or the streets when he'd rather not have to deal with odd looks, but it has never been comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time. Some nights he forgoes it entirely, hobbling around the brothel or using crutches.
This night, however, the brothel is loud and busy with patrons; a crew, recently returned, and flush with their prize. The rooms are almost all full, the main lobby packed nearly to bursting and stifling hot. John has his favored corner, near the back alley door, where he sits on his stool and goes over the books, half an eye on his numbers and half an eye on the crowd. The air of the room is heavy with bittersweet cigar smoke and bodies. He leaves the door ajar, and on nights like tonight, the breeze that wafts in is tangy with saltwater, and takes the edge off the stinking heat inside.
"You must try one of my girls sometime."
John glances up, marking his spot with his thumb. Max, dressed in a lovely burgundy number, is chatting to some man, tall with a dark blue knee-length coat and dark hair pulled back into a tiny queue. His voice is deep, and barely carries over the din; not like Max's distinct accent, which lilts commandingly across the room. John supposes the man she’s speaking to must be the captain of this crew - and he’s fairly certain this is the crew of Captain Flint. John has heard the tales, knows that most people would prefer to avoid him entirely, as his good side is practically nonexistent, and his temper is said to be legendary. This is the first time he’s seen the man, as he’s usually one to let his crew off on shore but then secret himself aboard his ship. Some men tell tales that he visits a house, in the interior of the island, where he meets with a witch to have his future hunts blessed by her. They say he’s anointed with the blood of infants.
"I've told you before," the man - Flint - starts, although part of his words are soon drowned out. "--not interested." He’s gazing disinterestedly around the room, as if he’d rather be anywhere than a hot, crowded brothel in Nassau. John can’t really say he blames him.
"Everyone's interested in something," Max insists, glancing up at Flint with a smirk. They're taking a circuit of the room, coming closer to John. Ever one to keep an ear for gossip, he turns back to his numbers, looking for all the world like a busy accountant. The corner he’s tucked himself into is partially in shadow, and unless Max comes looking for him, there’s no reason he should be spotted.
"And some people are not interested in anything," Flint argues, firm and final. John almost snorts out a laugh - those words are as false as any he's ever heard. Not every man is interested in fucking a woman, sure, but everyone has something. There was a man who used to visit, but only ever wanted to be held close in bed and sang to. There was a woman who had asked to be tied up and fed, a man who wanted to be pissed on, and John knows plenty of tales of men who have fucked animals, should the need arise.
Max hums noncommittally, but by then they are nearly at the back door, and John cannot risk looking up to read her face. Max most likely knows he's been listening - every whore worth their weight is always listening - but John isn't one to piss off customers for eavesdropping, especially when the customer is Captain Flint.
"Are you sure?" Max asks. John doesn't like her tone, not with how close they are to him. Flint doesn't make a sound other than one of frustration. When he glances from the corner of his eye, John can see all of Max, but only part of the captain.
"You know where to find me, should any of my crew get out of hand."
The man strides past John, smelling of the sea and dark rum and slipping out the back door. When John glances up, Max is looking right at him as one eyes a cache of gems.
"No," he says, narrowing his eyes at her.
Max grins wolfishly and moves closer, until she is all-but towering over him. "That man is lonely, mon cher , and no matter his protestations, everyone has some need to be filled - preferably in a way that brings coin to our coffer."
" 'That man' is renowned and feared pirate Captain Flint.” John hisses, pointing his quill as menacingly as he can. “He doesn't seem the sort that enjoys being seduced. And besides, have you forgotten?" He kicks out with his good leg, catching Max gently in the shin. "I'm not exactly a desirable catch, now am I?"
"Who is to say what is desirable and what is not?” Max shrugs. “You are more than your missing leg, Silver."
John scoffs and shoos her away.
Flint and his crew do not return for many weeks. In that time, John manages to suck one man's cock to the tune of excruciating leg pain that leaves him bedridden for days, while another man tries to use him for his stump. It is a nasty altercation, for the man is less than sober when he enters John’s room, but John has rules in place for exactly that purpose. Max allows everyone in her brothel to have rules, and holds clients accountable to them. Should someone be looking for something in particular, they go to directly to Max, and will then be guided to a suitable partner.
That night, John had expected to be fucked. He had not expected a man to grab him by the pinkish scar tissue, squeeze hard enough to hurt, and attempt to rub his cock against the gnarled flesh.
John had kicked him hard enough to knock a few teeth loose.
The brothel is small, but so is Nassau, and there are plenty of days where no crews come through and business is slow. On days like those, early in the afternoon, John makes the rounds. They have a few decorative plants, some of which grew of their own accord, like the ivy that clings to the wall and climbs along the stairwell. It’s managed to grow itself artfully, with coils of it having intertwined with the rafters, hanging down in vines. Near the base of the stairs the vine has blossomed fragrant, vibrant pink flowers. When the crowds of men come through their scent is masked, but on emptier days, or early quiet mornings, their sweet, delicate scent is enough to mask the lingering dregs of ale in cups and piss in the outside alleys.
They have a few smaller birds in cages, some of them gifts from patrons. It adds to the exotic air of the place, and John has taken it upon himself to deliver them food and fresh water every day. None of them are capable of talking, which is probably a godsend, but John can’t help imagining a bird like the ones he’s heard tale of, almost as long as a man’s arm and colors unimaginable.
Some mornings John takes a slow, purposeful walk to the beach, finds a more secluded area by a dock, and sits to soak his leg. It’s best to go before the fishermen have come in, or after the morning’s rush of selling. The seawater stings at first, but it’s cool, and eventually it dulls any aches to a numb throb.
Today John stares across the bay, at the handful of boats and larger ships, past them to the white-blue horizon line. He can’t say he understands the pull of men to the sea, other than the siren’s call of riches. John is as greedy as any man, and maybe, were he not down a limb, he’d try his hand at hunting - although, he is shit in a fight, knows nothing about ship maintenance, and can’t even cook to own life. Yet, he's good with numbers, so perhaps he could be a quartermaster. He thinks on it a while, fantasies and daydreams, idly swirling the stump of his leg in the water, until he returns to work.
When Flint returns, his crew is again in high spirits. There's a man who always comes to see one particular whore, Charlotte, who arrives before most of the others. He’s the crew’s most dependable spender by far.
"He's absolutely gone on me," Charlotte had told John once, as she braided his hair in the evening. "He's nice enough. Gentle. Could have worse, I suppose."
The crew that come in are happy to be parted with their coin, and the room is soon rowdy with drunk pirates, half of them trying to sing a song that John either doesn't know, or is being sung so badly there isn't a chance of recognizing it.
Tonight, John is in his same position by the back door, only with no ledger to distract him. He knows it's coming, but Max somehow manages to sneak up on him just the same.
"Have you met my book keeper?"
John glances away from watching Charlotte and her beau to catch Max and Flint coming towards him. Flint is certainly tall, with a short ginger beard and piercing green eyes. His cheeks are dotted with freckles, John notices, before he puts on his winning grin.
"John. John Silver." John and Max exchange a look. Her use of the term ‘book keeper’ was deliberate; John knows her game. John glances to Flint, feeling too-short sitting while Flint stands. "And you would be Flint, correct?"
"Yes," Flint says, nearly glaring at John, as if trying to find the angle. Smart man. "You sure he isn't one of your whores?" He asks, turning to Max with his lips thin. "He's certainly got the looks for it."
"I'm going to take that as a compliment," John snaps, churlish without meaning to be. He kicks out his stump, revealing the loose pant leg, folded and pinned to prevent it from dragging the floor. He grins at Flint with teeth. "However, it would appear I'm damaged goods."
"Men are shallow creatures. You should know this," Max smiles at Flint, speaking quickly as if afraid John's words will give offense. If Captain Flint takes offense at the sharp words of a whore, then he is not the man Nassau - the entire civilized world - believe him to be. "What Silver cannot earn me with his body, he saves me with his head."
Flint looks properly cowed, for an instant, before his expression grows blank. Max chooses that moment to excuse herself, some story on her lips about needing to check on something. Flint doesn't look away from John, his stare almost unnerving, as if measuring John’s worth - against what, John doesn’t know.
"So," John says, when it becomes clear that Flint won't be leaving. He cocks his head just so, sets the tone of his voice to one practiced and perfected. "Are you looking for someone? Something? I know everyone here, their tricks, their rules. I could find you someone suita--"
"I'm not interested." Flint interrupts, words firm but tone soft, like he's tired of saying it. John smiles.
"Everyone wants something." John insists. "A good fuck, a hot meal, a comfortable bed, pleasant company."
Flint rolls his eyes and shakes his head, not bothering to respond before turning and exiting out the back door.
"Lovely chat!" John calls after him. His voice is lost to the din of the crowd.