The girl was only on at night, like all of the girls on Bleeker. Her hair was a different color every couple of weeks, because it was so easy to change, but her eyes were always the same. They dressed her up in costumes depending on the season. In December, it was a red velvet miniskirt with white trim. A pilgrim hat in November. In July, small triangles of red, white and blue stretched over artificial breasts with perpetually hard nipples, inviting New Yorkers to celebrate their freedom. When there was no holiday on the horizon, they dressed her depending on their mood. She performed best with her golden wig and the Marilyn dress, standing on the subway grate with a glazed-over smile as she waited for the train to pass beneath her. Once, they dressed her as a mime, complete with white makeup smeared over rubbery skin. The makeup wore off after two jobs, and they couldn’t be bothered to keep touching it up. She’d done well, though. She was excellent at talking with her body.
When men spoke to her, she listened dumbly, nodding at carefully calculated intervals. Usually, they didn’t speak at all. Their business was done in a large loft, where curtains of sheets strung from twine sliced the space into private rooms. Hers was at the end of a white cotton hallway, and was two feet larger than the mattress of the futon. Although they washed the cover twice a week, it always seemed yellow beside the fluttering wall.
Once, after the job, the client asked her about her eyes. “Are they real?” he said with a slight Midwestern drawl. “They look like they’re glass or something.” Although she was capable of speech, the girl rarely answered questions. “I don’t know,” she said, her voice as dense as the well-packed mattress. When he left, he gave her a generous tip, though her service had been distant and uncomfortably rhythmic. “You should have those things looked at,” he suggested, and the hallway billowed as he walked away.