Waking up in a hospital bed is the second most terrifying thing in the world. The first most terrifying thing being a snake which gives birth to spiders, and, seeing as such a creature will probably never exist, we have to take the hospital bed threat very seriously. Even if you were fully expecting to wake up in a hospital bed the shock is still the same. Not many people know this, but the reason that hospital beds cause so much alarm is because it’s physically and emotionally impossible to masturbate in them. I apologise for raising the issue of masturbation so early in the story, but it’s an important one that needs to be addressed. You might think that it’s impossible to carry out the act of self love in a hospital bed simply because of the fear and disease filled atmosphere that hospitals are famed for, or the lack of a private room, but it’s actually something to do with the fundamental design of the bed itself.
I remember some time ago, when I was just a student, I found myself drunk and in the bedroom of the third most attractive girl I’ve ever kissed. She had a typical student bedroom filled with posters of films she’d never seen and a TV supported by a pile of red bricks. The centrepiece of the room being her bed: a hospital bed. As far as I could tell she wasn’t ill. When I asked her what was up with the bed she explained that it was all she could afford. Hospital beds tend to be cheaper because of all the people who have died in them. We soon got down to business, or at least we tried to, but I was having trouble making myself a man. It was pretty clear to me that the bed was to blame. Minutes went by and I could see that she was getting frustrated and offended. To avoid hurting her feelings any longer I had to abort the mission by telling her that in my drunken state I’d forgotten I was gay. It wasn’t until a month later that I realised I could have done without the last part.
Hopefully I’ve got my point about hospital beds across to you now, because I’m about to tell you about the time I woke up screaming and I need you to understand why.
I woke up screaming. I was in a hospital bed with all the trimmings, tubes going up my nose, a needle stuck in my arm, a bunch of grapes to my left and the memory of being shot in the leg by a pimp. I should probably explain the whole getting shot thing, even though it’s not particularly interesting.
Last month I found myself in the waiting room of a brothel for the first time in my life. I’d always been half-heartedly against paying for sex, probably because of my lack of money rather than any moral reason. Still, I was only there because my friend Peter begged me.
“I’m not sure about this.” I said. “It’s a bit creepy.”
“Lighten up, it’s just a normal thing that normal people do all the time. It’s the oldest profession in the world.”
“But none of these girls look very happy.”
“That’s because they’re at work, nobody’s happy at work.”
The tiny Asian woman behind the counter called out “Number fifty six.” which happened to be the number on the pink ticket in my hand.
I was led through a narrow badly carpeted corridor with doors on both sides. Between the doors were portraits of famous prostitutes, but I’d never heard of any of them. The Asian woman unlocked the sixth door on the right and told me to go in. I’m not sure what I was expecting, maybe an exotic mini-palace with Persian rugs, soft lighting and the stench of sex, but what I found was an attractive woman sitting behind a desk in what looked like a doctor’s office. It even had an examining table. I couldn’t help but notice that the walls were covered with crucifixes. Maybe I’ve finally found my soul mate I thought a woman who shares my unnatural fear of vampires.
“So how do we do this?” I asked.
“You’ve had sex before?”
“Yes, but never for money.”
“Well it’s exactly the same, except you pay me. Just undress and lay down on the table.”
She noticed the look of panic on my face. “What’s wrong?” she asked. There was no sane way of telling her that an examining table was too much like a hospital bed, so I told her that I’d prefer to stand, because I had a bad back. “Would you like me to take a look at your back?” she asked.
“Are you a doctor then?”
“Well you’re in a doctor’s office.”
“I’d better not. If my doctor found out I was paying someone else for medical help he’d probably get quite upset.”
We got to kissing, which surprised me, because I was sure prostitutes didn’t do that. Then again, everything I knew about prostitution I got from Pretty Woman, a film riddled with historical inaccuracies. After a few minutes we were naked and she was telling me she loved me. She was coming on too strong, but it was definitely great value for money.
“Have you got a condom?” I asked.
“No.” she said. “I’m Catholic.”
“Oh, is that what all the crosses are about?”
“Yes, what did you think they were for?” Maybe this girl wasn’t my soul mate after all. I thought I’d test the ground by bringing up the vampire thing.
She laughed. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. “So I can’t use protection?”
“Against what? Vampires?”
“No, it’s just that...” There’s no nice way to tell a girl that you think she might be full of sexually transmitted diseases, so I stopped the sentence there and had unprotected sex in the spirit of politeness.
A month later I get a phone call. She’s pregnant. My first thought is to ask her how she got this number, but clearly there are more important issues to discuss.
“Why aren’t you on the pill?” I cry down the phone.
“The thought of burning in Hell for all eternity kind of puts me off.”
“How do you even know it’s mine?”
“You’re the only guy I’ve slept with.”
“But you’re a prostitute!”
“Only part time. Most of my clients are patients for my surgery.”
She explains that she wants to keep the baby, although she doesn’t expect me to play the present father, which is kind of a relief. I’d make a terrible father. She does, however, expect me to compensate her for being out of work for the next eight months.
“I don’t have a lot of money.” I tell her “I don’t really have any money at all.”
We come to the only honorable agreement. I have to take over her job until the baby is born. The prostitution part of it, seeing as the height of my medical training is having the ability to tell people not to run with scissors. I thought about suggesting she carried on working whilst pregnant, because there are probably all kinds of weirdos who’d pay extra for that, but it’s not the kind of thing you can say to the mother of your unborn child.
Yesterday was my first day. As you already know, it ends with me being shot by a pimp, so it was as bad a first day as any.
I roll up on time, showered, shaved and presentable. I tell the tiny Asian woman that I’m not sure about any of this. “Maybe I could just answer the phone?”
“You’ll be fine. Everyone gets nervous on their first day.”
My first customer was awkward, the second was easier, but by midday things have started to get pretty bad. Most men, when expecting to have sex with a woman, especially when they’ve paid, can get a bit annoyed when they’re led into a room filled with crosses, an examining table and a naked man. Half of them would straight up ask for their money back, the other half would carry on, but I could tell most of them didn’t enjoy it.
I got a break at three o’clock, which is when I got to meet my pimp. I didn’t even realise I had one. My only wish was that he was one of those nice friendly pimps that you never hear about. Sadly he was the other kind. We got into an argument about the refunds. He told me I wasn’t trying hard enough, my customer service levels weren’t high enough, I needed to try harder, Targets! Targets! Targets!
“You’re not the boss of me!” I told him.
“Son, do you even know what a pimp is?”
“Yes, a very rude man!” I yelled, which is the last thing I ever said before I could no longer say that I’d never been shot in the leg by a pimp.