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His Fantasy Maid
by Susan Blexrud
Publication: May 2013
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If I believed the adage, “you are what you do,” my self-concept would be in the toilet, so to speak. I clean houses in a bikini or French maid get-up, client’s choice, which contributes little to making the world a better place. As a result, my adage is, “you are what you become,” because I’m becoming a doctor.
But today, I’m Amy Maitland, fantasy maid.
My best friend and fellow medical resident, Ellen, knows about my undercover life working for Fantasy Maids, but she’s the only one. If word got out at the College of Medicine, I’d be the laughingstock of the University of Central Florida. My five brothers know I work as a housemaid, which they respect as good, honest labor, but they don’t know the fantasy aspect. Protective (and controlling) men that they are, they’d lock me up.
That being said, it’s not the worst job in the world. I’ve been a fantasy maid for almost two years, and so far, none of my clients has tried to assault me. But it’s always a possibility, considering Florida’s propensity for perverts. The company (i.e. Rex, the owner, and a part-time secretary) arms us with pepper spray and an emergency hotline number (Rex’s cell phone), and they screen the customers to make sure no one’s a registered sex offender. They also arrange our appointments, and Rex is good about following up…within four or five days…to make sure we survived the gig.
Still, being alone with a strange guy in his apartment is enough to get anyone’s adrenalin pumping, and I never go into a new situation without first sending up a prayer. I always let Ellen know where I’m going, and I carry a rosary, even though I’m not Catholic.
Today, I’m heading to a condominium in stylish Winter Park, just north of Orlando. The address alone is comforting. It’s just off Park Avenue in a nice neighborhood, and it’s next door to a church. But, I remind myself, Ted Bundy lived in a nice neighborhood. Let’s face it; serial killers can look like the boy next door.
My old white Honda sputters into the church parking lot adjacent to the condominium complex without any signs of cardiac arrest (this I take as a good omen). A Rambling Waters sign on the wrought iron gate looks welcoming.
I turn off the ignition, and my ancient car heaves a sigh. Grabbing my backpack with my stash of costumes, I hop out of my car and punch in the security code at the entrance gate. It creaks open like the sound at the beginning of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which my brother Matt plays ad nauseum around Halloween.
As I enter the property, I notice a network of ponds meandering around the buildings. I’m sure the landscape architect intended them to be beautiful, but all I see is a maintenance nightmare—all that algae to eradicate. I shake my head. I’ve been cleaning too long.
I nod to an elderly couple walking their white miniature poodle. The dog is decked out in a purple vest and ear bows and looks slightly embarrassed. Good to know I’m not the only one who wears ridiculous outfits.
“Can we help you find something, dear?” The woman inquires. Could it be because I’m standing here with the address in one hand and a blank stare on my face?
We’re supposed to look inconspicuous, so I’m dressed in my usual jeans and t-shirt. Would she call me dear if she saw me in uniform?
My appointment is for six p.m., and I’m already a few minutes late. I count seven buildings on the property, with no visible numbers. Gratefully, I say, “Thank you. I’m looking for unit Five B.”
The woman elbows her companion. “Oh, that’s where that nice young lawyer lives. What’s his name, Harold?”
Harold shrugs, and the woman pulls her poodle away from the geranium it’s been nibbling on. She cups one hand around her mouth and points to Harold with the other. “He’s not very observant.” She rolls her eyes. “Building Five is just to the right of the pool, which is straight ahead.”
“Thanks.” I head in the direction she indicates. My sandals crunch as pavement gives way to gravel. I look down to find strategically-placed stepping stones in the shape of turtles. Strategically placed for Big Foot, that is. The stones are way too far apart for my five-foot-three leg span, and I essentially hurtle from turtle to turtle, using my backpack for ballast. I’m working up a sweat in the May humidity.
Behind me the woman calls out, “Spending the night?”
When you reach a certain age, you don’t mince words. I find that endearing. It’s one of the reasons I’m leaning toward a specialty in geriatrics. I stifle a smile and leap on like I don’t hear her.
I count twenty turtles by the time I find Five B, which is on the second floor. I squint into the partly cloudy sky and cross myself (maybe I’m a closet Catholic). My sandals slap the stairs, and the flat surface is comforting after the series of round turtle backs.
My nerves always wait until the last possible moment to go bonkers, and as I’m standing at the door, poised to knock, my heart begins to pound so loudly I’m not sure I even need to knock. Besides, I’m more than dewy...more like drenched. Not exactly the sexy image I’m supposed to project. It must be ninety degrees.
I dab at my face with my t-shirt, and then fan my hands under my arms to get a breeze going. I hope my deodorant holds up.
As my fingers reach for the claddagh knocker on the front door, I spot the doorbell and opt for that instead. The chime rings the theme from “Doctor Zhivago.” As it happens, my mom’s favorite movie, God rest her soul. I’m caught off-guard, and tears well up. I’m swiping at my eyes when the door opens.
The guy across the threshold presses a finger to his lips and pulls me into the condominium. He sort of props me next to the wall. “You don’t have a cold, do you? If you do, I want a discount.” He backs away and eyes me up and down, and then he grins. “Good old Claudia would shit a brick if she saw you.”
“I take it I won’t be meeting good old Claudia?” I shiver from the blast of air conditioning, though it’s welcome relief.
“Hell, no, she’s the fiancée…and my sister. Stay right here. Don’t move.” He takes off down a hall.
“Uh, okay.” Wherever this is going, all I can think is how grateful I am for the cool air. I rub my arms and glance around the uncluttered, tasteful living room. It’s immaculately decorated in beige and chocolate brown, strong masculine colors. I can’t imagine what I’m going to clean.
As I’m sizing up the job, another guy emerges from the hallway. One towel wraps around his tight-as-a-drum middle as he dries his hair with another. My jaw drops. I almost have to push it closed. Six feet, wavy dark brown hair, and broad shoulders…my dream formula. My belly tightens, and I get a little twinge…below my umbilicus.
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