The evening before Winfred was cooking supper for Col Walker. He was telling Winfred that he had 22 visitors to the museum that day - an all time high under his management. He had started a Facebook page and had posted play by play photos of the exhumation of the General Kirby. All this along with the Kirby exhibit itself in the museum, should bring an increase in visitors.
When they sat down to eat and had said grace, Winfred passed the Colonel the potato salad. "Well I have some good news."
"Really, do tell?" the Colonel said as he put 2 rather large spoonfuls of the potato salad on his plate.
"I've decided to go back to work."
The Colonel looked up from his plate.
"Now before you can say anything, if you need me for anything, I am sure I can get time off. I know we do not necessarily need the money, but I would like to have some of my own. And, it would give me a chance to meet more folks in the community."
Between bites of chicken fried steak, the Colonel asked, "And where would you be working?"
"At the Gallagher Gentleman's Club."
The Colonel put his knife and fork down on his plate. Very calmly he asked, "Winfred, I think you have gone too far now."
"No, according to Mrs. Vontese, I am qualified."
Waiting to hear this explanation, the Colonel just sat there.
"I went to see her. She asked if I had experience in a house. Of course I worked for the Buffords for 12 years, so I told her I did and I could provide references. When she learned I was married, she asked if you would mind and I took the liberty to say 'no' because I knew you wouldn't."
The Colonel did not know where to start.
"Colonel, I toured the entire club. It is one of the fanciest places I have ever seen. She showed me the rooms upstairs where girls who live there work. She never told me what they did, but she said they worked in their rooms." She paused.
"Did you know she provides meals and health care for everyone who works for her?"
The Colonel just shook his head. "I'm sure she does."
"So you won't be upset if I go to work for Mrs. Vontese?"
"Exactly what would you be doing?
"Well we didn't discuss anything specific. After she showed me the house, she asked if I had a specialty."
"And you said?" asked the Colonel most curiously.
"Oh, I told her I could clean and cook and sew."
"And what did she say then?"
"That she would get back to me?"
The Colonel took a breath. It was all he could do not to laugh. "Winfred, my dear. The Gallagher Gentleman's Club is a place where men can seek their pleasures?"
"Oh, I know. Mrs. Vontese showed me - the bar, the game room, the buffet. She has everything a gentleman could want."
"More, what more could a man want?"
"Well, Winfred, some wives do not satisfy their husband's needs. So those men seek pleasure of the flesh elsewhere." He paused to see if she was following. "And find that pleasure at establishments like the Gallagher Gentlman's Club."
"Like Mrs. Vontese's?" Winfred thought for a moment. "So that is why she talked so much about discretion and privacy?"
Then the light came on. "And, that is why the girls work in their rooms."
"Well, then I need to talk with Mrs. Vontese tomorrow."
"Yes, I think you should. Make sure she understands the confusion you had."
The following morning Winfred dropped by Anna Belle's. Anna Belle was surprised to see her. "Winfred, what a surprise. Why come in?"
Anna Belle interrupted her, "Please call me Anna Belle."
"Well, Anna Belle, when I was here yesterday, I think there was some confusion."
"Dear, do not worry about that. I was a little confused at first but then I realized what type of work you were looking for. In fact, I was going to call you later this morning and tell you that I could use a lady to handle our sewing needs as well as back up cook in the kitchen. I am not sure, but I also fear that my chef may soon be leaving. If that does happen, you would be first in line for the position. Of course that would be dependent on your employment being satisfactory with both you and me."
Winfred took a small breath. "Anna Belle, I appreciate your kind offer, but it is not what I want."
"Oh, what do you want?"
"I realize I am older than most, but I want to be one of your 'girls'. I can the offer services of an older woman. And just because I am older, that doesn't mean I am dull and boring. Trust me, I can be very exciting and nothing gives me more satisfaction than knowing I have physically pleased someone as well as myself."
Anna Belle did not see that one coming. She thought for a minute. "What about your husband, how would he feel about this?"
"Well you said you stressed discretion and privacy. I will just tell him that you hired me. I am sure he will assume I am working as a seamstress and cook for you. He would never question me." She paused,"And you said all the gentlemen are very discrete since they have a lot to lose."
"Winfred, you have made a proposal I have never seriously considered. Yes, I think it may work. But, are you sure you understand what you position will entail."
"I do. I am sure the other girls can teach me details and how everything is handled."
Anna Belle sat there for moment and then smiled. "OK, then you have a job. We can give you earlier hours so you will not be going home late at night."
"Oh, that would be great if you could."
Then Anna Belle explained the salary structure. Basically, everyone was paid a very generous base salary. Any gifts or tips they received was theirs to keep. Anna Belle would help with wardrobes, etc. Anna Belle suggested Winfred come back after lunch so she could meet with one of her girls. She would help her with choosing clothes and makeup. This would also be a good time for Winfred to learn more about the responsibilities and expectations of the job.
Anna Belle asked again,"Are you sure about this?"
"More than ever. I'll be back after lunch." Winfred stood up to leave. When Anna Belle stood up Winfred gave her a hug, "Thank you so much for this."
"Winfred, you are welcome."
They said their goodbyes and Winfred left. Anna Belle stood there. Yes, this was a good business decision she thought. There were many older members who were a bit uncomfortable with the younger girls. And Anna Belle knew her girls would get Winfred up to speed quickly.