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the sleep of reason

by Michael Swanwick

with illustrations by
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes


24. [Plate 7]
Elena on the Street

Elena, that most rapacious of women, decided to make herself available to any man who desired her. She became a streetwalker. Oh, that fortunate street down whose spine she sauntered in stiletto heels! Oh, those happy dogs who, smelling her from counties away, came running with nostrils flared and tongues lolling! And, oh, oh, oh, the men!

Men flocked to her, whispered crude suggestions in her ear, shared with her the most disgusting fantasies imaginable.

It was almost too easy.

"Talk dirty to me," she said, back in her room, as she hung up her shawl. "Tell me exactly what you want to do." And the poor fool would obey, not knowing that a tape recorder was running. Not knowing that the recording would be sent to his wife.

"Take off my shoe," she commanded, imperiously extending one perfect leg. "Do it slowly. Lick the sole. Rub it all over your naked body." Again, the chump would do so, blissfully ignorant of the hidden cameras, and of the fact that the photographs would be sent to his mother.

"You're under arrest," she declared, after handcuffing the idiot's hands behind his back. Thinking it all a game, he'd be still grinning when the police burst into the room.

It rarely took more than ten minutes, start to finish, and oftentimes it took less. Her personal best, four and a half minutes from first hard-on to abject tears, was a minister who had preached against her personally from the pulpit the Sunday before. There was, Elena had to admit to herself, a special satisfaction in that.

"Be sure to tell your friends you had a good time," she always told her mark as he was being led away by the cops. "If you don't, they'll all think there's something wrong with you."


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This is the 24th of 80 stories by Michael Swanwick written to accompany Francisco Goya's Los Caprichos. For a listing of the most recently available stories, go to The Sleep of Reason.

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