Fire & Ice
By Glen Rothe
Content copyright © Glen Rothe.
All rights reserved
The United States of America
First Publishing Date
real name, of course, was nothing at all like Fire&Ice. She was simply
Tatjana. Even with her limited knowledge of this strange American
language, she was able to recognize that Fire&Ice was not a proper
name. It is mere whimsy - a made-up name that Andreas said Americans
would find exotic and exciting. And in that regard, if in no other, it
seems Andreas had been right.
whenever she thought about Andreas, The Shit, she silently
fumed. She envisioned him, sitting in her little auto, enticing a
parade of eager but unsuspecting and unsophisticated young girls from
Balvi or Zilupe (or even her beloved Ludza!) with rosy visions of the
glamorous life in
She could almost hear him, with his glib tongue, painting the same rosy
pictures he painted for her. And each time these thoughts surfaced, she
fought, not always with great success, to hold back what seemed to be
experience had taught Tatjana that exotic and exciting, as envisioned by
Andreas, were dreams that too soon pale. As the irony of her Internet
identity became clearer to her, a month of smiling provocatively at the
camera, attempting to live up to the fire in this strange name,
had proven to be agonizing, even while she searched for all manner of
reasons to justify the choices she had made.
she forced herself to be totally honest, Tatjana had to admit that she
had no deep moral qualms about what she was doing. Her early years and
education in Soviet Latvia had seen to that. But even with morality not
an issue, this life was more than a shy and self-conscious young girl
from Ludza could ever be prepared for. As she attempted to adapt to her
new circumstances, each day Tatjana could feel her hidden self, her
heart and her soul, more and more turning to ice.
* * * * *
Tatjana chose not to dwell on the sad circumstances that had brought her
to Riga – but the memories persisted. She could never forget the day
that her stepfather took her aside and told her that she must leave. In
that moment, the pain that even still remained sharply etched and
permanently recorded, was like a spike thrust deep into her breast.
With minimum ceremony, and with no forewarning, her stepfather had
simply but painfully made it clear that she was no longer welcome in the
small house in Ludza that she had shared for all of her life with him
and her mother and her younger brother.
Acceptance had been slow in coming. Although she understood, at least
on some level, the reasons behind her mother’s inaction, the memory of
this day still hurt. She knew that her mother had no other choice but
to side with her stepfather. But understanding is not the same as
acceptance; and each time she thought about that day, Tatjana could feel
the chill invading her soul, even as she fought back the warm tears.
it not possible, however, that her stepfather had really done her a
if she might wish to, Tatjana was unable to deny the harsh but simple
facts of life in Ludza. A small rural village, Ludza could offer no
real opportunity for an eighteen year old virgin. For some years, since
she’d been old enough to be aware of such things, Tatjana instinctively
understood what her prospects would be if she did not leave. In Ludza
her future would most likely be no better than a carbon copy of her
mother’s life. There would be an early marriage to a man like her
stepfather - hard-drinking and brutish – followed by a lifetime filled
with abuse and dependence.
there had been no real choice. She had needed to leave; and
- fast and glamorous
– was the only possible solution.
* * * * *
a week after the long drive in her battered little auto, her future in
the capital no longer seemed so certain. With her insignificant savings
dwindled to almost nothing, and tired and depressed after yet another
long day of walking the unfamiliar streets, nothing at all seemed
certain to Tatjana any longer. Sitting alone in the cheap coffee house
in the Old City, listlessly stirring the large cup of weak tea, diluted
more than once with a free extra helping of hot water, she considered
was unhappy; of that there could be no doubt; she did not like being
alone in Riga. As difficult as it might be to go back, she now had to
consider that perhaps it was now time to pack up her few possessions and
return to Ludza. At least there she could take her chances with the
willing flock of eager young men; even though their prospects were
really not much better than her own.
her first week in the city, Tatjana had gradually discovered the
disheartening but inevitable consequences of her country’s economic
misfortunes. Never a wealthy nation, for the most part, Latvia had been
left impoverished and insolvent following the dissolution of the Soviet
Union. As a result, the sad truth was that a seemingly never-ending
supply of young girls, all seeking a better life, arrived in
each day. They came from innumerable small villages and towns that
dotted the landscape of a country that boasted only one truly
cosmopolitan city. Even in her naiveté, it was almost immediately
apparent to Tatjana that there would always be more girls than jobs; she
was just one of thousands in Riga, all with similar stories - and all
with limited prospects.
looked around the crowded café, trying to size up her fellow customers,
Tatjana wondered if they were able to recognize her as newly arrived and
a stranger in their city. She would have been surprised to learn that
most of those now in the
or for that matter in the entire city, had they even bothered to notice
the attractive young woman with the slightly out-of-date clothing and
unconcealed look of bewilderment, would have never even given her a
dreary evening, barely visible through the gray and dingy windows of the
café, matched her mood perfectly. After the week’s assorted dead ends
and false job leads in this dour and unsympathetic city, Tatjana was
thoroughly miserable. It had become apparent that
offered no more opportunity than Ludza. Her visions of establishing a
new life in the city had been far more rosy than real.
that was when Andreas miraculously appeared.
no real desire for the company of others, Tatjana always chose to keep
to herself at the café. Often depressed and mostly preoccupied since
arriving in Riga, she’d chosen to eat her meager meals alone. This
evening, sitting as always at a partially hidden table near the back of
the café that was located just down the street from her small flat,
she’d not at first noticed him. But when Andreas appeared, bowing and
speaking in a soft voice as he asked to share her table, the vision of
the suave and handsome young Russian momentarily lightened the heaviness
in her heart. And in that instant, loneliness overtook caution.
too busy, scouring the streets of the city from early morning ‘til dusk
in her futile search for work, she’d had no time to make friends. Now,
however, the attentions of the tanned and sleek young Russian gave
Tatjana the first glimmering of hope since arriving in the capital. In
no time Andreas’ charm and sophistication had totally overwhelmed her.
the week’s fears and uncertainty seemed to melt away as Andreas painted
the most breathtaking verbal pictures of the new life that was possible
for her in Riga. And what at the time had seemed best of all, Tatjana
sensed that Andreas immediately understood all of the pain and sadness
she’d been feeling. It was really no wonder that her usual
level-headedness and natural defenses so rapidly vanished.
time that the lengthening shadows finally slipped from the time-worn
buildings of her poor neighborhood on the edge of the city, all of the
week’s frustrations seemed to have disappeared with the sun. It was
then that Tatjana did something that was remarkably uncharacteristic;
she tentatively invited Andreas to accompany her back to her small
rented flat, located only a couple of blocks from the café. Full of an
inordinate amount of excitement and nearly bursting with anticipation,
Tatjana would later be unable to remember the short walk with the
handsome Russian at her side.
like in some long-forgotten fairy tale, Andreas, with his good looks and
effortless charm, was able to magically transform what till then had
been only lonely nights in Riga - and Tatjana’s rosy visions slowly
what seemed considerably longer, but in truth was only several days, all
was nearly perfect. Although he was not much older than she was,
Tatjana marveled at Andreas’ superior knowledge of the world. His glib
tongue proved magically seductive, creating tantalizing images of how
wonderful life could be in Riga. And even though he himself appeared to
have no visible means of support, Tatjana was not at all suspicious when
Andreas proposed a ready solution for all of her money woes. It was
only when, on their third day together, and then only after Andreas had
presented her with the contract, that the glorious images of the future
were slightly dimmed.
his time, always slow and patient, he explained what was possible for
her. All the while, however, he conveyed a subtle but persistent sense
‘There really wasn’t much time. Countless young girls, each as eager
and no less beautiful than Tatjana, were coming to the city each day to
seek uncertain fortunes. If she wanted to pursue her dreams, then she
must sign immediately. Only with her signature on the final page of the
contract would her future be guaranteed.’
all seemed so simple.
was possible for him to set Tatjana up as a glamorous Internet model.
He could provide her with all of the expensive technical equipment
required for such a venture. He could create an electronic chat room
for her. He would find a suitable location, where she would be
comfortable and secure, and able to concentrate on her work.’
Tatjana, with eighteen years in Ludza as her only experience of life,
none of what Andreas described seemed any stranger than Riga itself.
so easily convinced her, and no longer needing to be slow or patient,
Andreas quickly explained the intricacies of computers and the
Internet. Tatjana, more clever than well-informed, easily grasped all
of the required concepts, even though she’d never before been exposed to
even the barest minimum of technology.
with visions growing ever more rosy, and with Andreas’ steady and calm
but persistent encouragement, she signed the contract - and Fire&Ice was
only a few short days, Tatjana found herself posing nervously for
distant strangers in America. While her childish dreams of excitement
and wealth in
slowly but surely disappeared, they were quickly replaced by harsher
realities of life.
* * * * *
month after arriving in the capital, now spending each day in front of
the camera in her tiny cubicle at the back of The Baltic Club Casino,
all of her glamorous visions seemed only like distant memories.
What had she done?
Tatjana would never again be the eighteen year old virgin from Ludza was
certain. For better or for worse, she was now Fire&Ice - the
‘glamorous’ Internet model.
what of Andreas?
Although perhaps still not totally certain about all the consequences of
what she herself has done, Tatjana had no doubts about Andreas. Andreas
was gone; and she was certain she would never see him again. The
charming and persuasive Russian had disappeared so swiftly, that not
only was Tatjana left without her virginity – she was left with even
less pride than the little she’d arrived with in
adding insult to her injury, her little auto had disappeared along with
Andreas. With all that had happened, Tatjana had no choice but to
accept that her childish visions of a prince on a white horse were no
more real than all of her other dreams.
Tatjana was surprised to feel no real remorse about her virginity,
having convinced herself that it was about time. She was only sorry
that she had so freely given this away to Andreas. She was, however,
considerably less ambivalent and decidedly more angry about her little
auto. Gone with the battered little auto went what small measure of
independence she’d felt in the city.
with so many other worldly things, Tatjana’s experience with the complex
legalities of vehicle registration and licensing had proved to be
woefully lacking. Only after her little auto was gone had she begun to
consider such formalities. The auto, bought from her best friend
Natasha only days before leaving Ludza, and for which she had nearly
depleted all of her modest savings, was no doubt, just like Andreas and
her virginity, gone forever.
never even considered the need for proper legal papers.
even her stepfather had ever owned an automobile. But now, too late,
she realized that without proper documentation she had no way to ever
prove that the auto was once hers.
might as well have presented the auto to Andreas as a parting gift.
After all, didn’t she owe him something for all of the ‘joy’ he’d
time she contemplated her foolishness, she reminded herself that even
with the proper papers, she still had not the slightest idea of who
would or could help her recover her auto. She had no confidence in the
trustworthiness of the police in the city. Tatjana’s suspicions,
nurtured by a lifetime with a stepfather who’d always lived on the
fringes of the law, were that reporting the loss of the auto would
likely create even more problems for her than for Andreas.
each passing day, and with constant remorse, she had come to better
understand that, although he had disappeared with her auto, Andreas had
left her with something that was, regrettably, considerably more
important. Tatjana was now stuck with the contract.
Lacking sophistication, or even minimal experience with many lesser
things, she had certainly never before read a contract; and so this
contract at first seemed nearly impossible to comprehend. It was only
after many readings that she gradually began to grasp its true
significance. The more she understood - the more disheartened she
became, and the more angry were her thoughts about Andreas.
reading and re-reading the contract, for what seemed the hundredth time,
she finally realized that the small payment she received each week for
her work as an Internet model would be so paltry that she would barely
be able to afford rent - even for her tiny flat. By this time, having
worked for several weeks, she had no choice but to face the cruel
reality; she would never become rich as an Internet model. In fact,
each night, struggling to fall asleep on the flat’s lumpy
bed, she worried that the contract had locked her indefinitely in the
little room at the back of The Baltic Club Casino. She feared that she
was destined to toil there forever, alone with her meager hopes and
understanding came the realization of just how bleak her future truly
was. The terms of the contract, at first confusing and unfamiliar,
slowly became clear enough for Tatjana to appreciate that she had
unwittingly agreed to a number of things that Andreas conveniently
avoided explaining when painting his glorious verbal pictures.
space in the back of the cluttered old casino had been leased in her
name, along with the camera and the computer, and even the sparse and
shabby furnishings in the tiny cubicle. What’s more, with harsh
experience, gained slowly during the previous month, she now realized
that each week, after the modeling agency fees were paid and the
deductions were withheld for the leases, she could only barely hope to
exist on her earnings.
Hope? There really is no reason for hope!
contract required that she appear in front of the camera in her cubicle,
six days a week, ten hours each day; and she must do this until all of
the terms of the leases had been met. As far as she could see, the
contract was like a lock on her life. It was a lock with no key; a lock
for which she had neither the knowledge nor the power to open.
tragic still, although Tatjana was not yet quite ready to admit this to
herself, ten hours each day as Fire&Ice was slowly but surely eroding
all that was previously pure and true within her soul. Her self esteem,
already inconceivably low when she’d arrived in Riga, had at last sunk
to the lowest level imaginable; even lower than the day that her
stepfather told her that an eighteen year old girl, of no use to his
household, must leave.
Her first day in the little cubicle at the back of The
Baltic Club Casino, Tatjana mostly cried. She wished she had never met
Andreas. She wished she had never signed the contract. She wished she
still had her little auto. And in those few brief moments when she was
totally honest with herself, she wished she had never left Ludza and
All of her glamorous visions had disappeared along with Andreas.
That first day it soon became apparent, even to someone
still fresh from Ludza, that ‘model’ was in reality only a refined name
for someone with such distasteful duties. The more she understood about
what was expected of her, the more she felt as though she was now little
more than a harlot - no better than the painted women she regularly saw
walking the streets along the canal in the
If it had not been for Margo, her heart might have
ruptured and her soul died that first day. Margo too had a little
cubicle in the back of The Baltic Club Casino; but Margo had been in
for nearly a year, and the facts of life in the big city were no longer
so fresh nor so painful for someone with her experience. Finding
Tatjana sitting in her cubicle that first day, and seeing the tears
streaming down her cheeks, Margo had at first been impatient.
When Tatjana explained what she was feeling, Margo told
her: “You must not think this way, Tanya. Everyone who works in order
to live is in some way a whore. We all sell a part of ourselves to
survive. Some people sell their minds, some sell their creativity and
some sell the labor from their hands. And yes - some even sell their
bodies. But you? You sell nothing really. You do not sell your body
or your soul to these men. You sell only a fantasy. It is a fantasy
that allows lonely men to feel better about themselves. It is a fantasy
that requires you to give up nothing. You only play a game with these
men - and you create a fantasy - that is all. And if you play this game
well, you win; you survive. You earn enough money to live. There is no
shame in this. We all must survive; we all must live.”
Barely older than she was herself, Margo seemed to
Tatjana to be perceptive beyond her years as she explained the ins and
outs of life as an Internet model. Even still, Tatjana didn’t at first
truly grasp the significance of all that Margo told her. It was only
gradually, during that first week, as she cautiously came to trust
Margo, that Tatjana began to recognize the truth in what she was being
told. At the same time that Margo’s attitude was noticeably softening
toward her, Tatjana’s heart and resolve were hardening. Her tears
gradually diminished - at least enough to allow her to continue with her
Whenever they talked, Margo explained more about why
this job was a game, and each day it became clearer to Tatjana that
Margo was someone worth listening to. So much more adult than she was
herself, Margo unquestionably understood the way in which this game must
“Always remember, Tanya, this is not the real world.
This is all only a fantasy. It’s nothing more than a game between you
and the men who come into your chat room. You must never forget this.
It’s a game both for you and for the man; but you can never let the man
understand that you know it is a game, honey. A man does not want to
think you are playing with him. He wants to think that only he is
playing this game. For you, he wants everything to be real. But you
should never forget about what is real and what is not; because truth be
told, nothing here is real. But it isn’t so important what is real,
because this is a game where everyone can win. No one needs to lose,
Tatjana liked that Margo called her Tanya. It had been
years since anyone had called her by this name. She was only ten when
her grandmother died, and her grandmother had always called her Tanya.
Since her grandmother had passed, she had always been only Tatjana. She
was not so naïve as to overlook the fact that Margo had grown
exceptionally hard and callous after only a year of playing the game in
nevertheless, for reasons she did not fully understand, Tatjana had
almost immediately liked her. If Margo wanted to call her Tanya, it was
just fine with her.
Perhaps Margo could be a genuine friend?...
as good a friend as her grandmother had been?
Deep in her heart and in her soul, Tatjana understood
how important this was for her - to have a friend; possibly more
important than ever before in her life. Those first days, which slowly
turned into weeks as their friendship germinated and grew, Tatjana began
to feel a closeness with Margo; something she hadn’t felt with anyone
else since leaving Ludza and coming to the capital. She sometimes
missed her childhood friend, Natasha - her friend since they began
school together; and Margo was, of course, not Natasha. She would never
be so close with Margo as she was with Natasha. But still - Margo was
becoming a friend.
After working nearly a year in her own small cubicle in
the back of The Baltic Club Casino, Margo could still remember how
strange everything had seemed when she too had been new. But she had
learned; since coming to
she had learned much about the job, and even more about the world. She
understood that this girl, Tanya, sweet and fresh, as though the scent
of farm and woodland were still close to her, had much to learn if she
was going to survive.
Each day Margo explained more, and each day Tatjana
understood more. Although she did not necessarily believe nor agree
with everything that Margo told her, she understood. Most important -
she understood that she must live. She would learn from all that Margo
had learned, and she would survive
Margo told her everything she herself had learned about
how to be successful as an Internet model. She described for Tatjana
how to tease a man with nothing but flirtatious chat; how it was
possible to never say too much, but to always say enough to entice a
man. She explained how Tatjana must always pretend that she wanted
nothing more than to be with this man; how only with such a special man
could she be happy. And each man must believe that only with him was
What had proven most difficult for Tatjana - Margo had
told her that she must smile; she must appear always to be happy, no
matter what she might feel in her heart and in her soul. When she was
happy, with a happiness that seemed possible only with this special
person – that was when a man would feel truly proud of himself. He
would be so proud that he had made her happy - that he had pleased her -
only then would he open his wallet for expensive private sessions. It
was during these private sessions when Tatjana could earn real money –
enough money to do more than survive.
Although Margo’s view of the world seemed so much more
cynical than her own, Tatjana had to acknowledge that in most instances
Margo was right. Tatjana must never forget that this was really all a
fantasy - a game. It was a game where to win meant to survive – and
* * * * *
Tatjana knew she would never have
survived those first cruel weeks without Margo. But she did survive.
And she learned. She learned very well. She learned how to attract and
to hold the interest of the men in her chat room. She learned how to
entice these men so that they would request private sessions with her.
Although she often despised these men
- at the same time hating herself - she always remembered what Margo had
taught her the first day. She must survive.
After only one month, and even though
she sometimes wondered if survival was worth the price, her chat room
had become popular. With her blue-eyes and perfect features, enshrouded
in luxurious golden hair, all comfortably complemented by a lean but
satisfyingly rounded torso and shapely long legs, it should have been no
surprise that men would be attracted to her. It was characteristic of
Tatjana, however, that she would attribute her popularity as a model to
Andreas’ selection of the name Fire&Ice.
With child-like modesty and her sad
but understandable lack of self esteem, it had yet to occur to Tatjana
that her sweet and wholesome presence could be the real reason that men
congregated in her chat room. She found it difficult to believe that
her charming chat, typed in broken but deliberate English, could be so
enchanting to visitors from
America. When measuring herself against the hardened dancers (to whom
she regularly nodded her head when entering the darkened backstage
corridor of The Baltic Club Casino), with their drooping breasts and
age-lined faces, Tatjana still couldn’t help but see herself as an
Whatever the real reason, there was
no denying that her chat room was popular; and now, after a month of
painful learning, Tatjana was able to work each day without tears.
Cheerlessly, she had learned how to put what she was doing out of her
She would survive!
* * * * *
Six days (or sometimes nights) each
week, bored and brooding, yet still appearing charming and fully
attentive, she waited - wondering if one of her electronic visitors
would request a private session. It was during these private sessions
when Tatjana’s most conflicting emotions were aroused. While in her
chat room, participating in open discussion, she was paid nearly
nothing; chat was free for anyone who logged on to the Internet modeling
network. It was only after painful experience, sparse earnings, along
with coaching from Margo that Tatjana fully understood; it was only when
a visitor wanted a more intimate visit and requested to go into private
session that she would earn any money - and that was Tatjana’s dilemma.
She hated these private sessions; it
was during private sessions when she would be requested to perform for
the pleasure of the not-quite-real (and hopefully very distant) men who
could afford the exorbitant rate that the modeling agency charged. For
a young girl from Ludza, particularly for one as shy and unsophisticated
as Tatjana, it was always impossibly embarrassing to read, and then to
attempt to satisfy, the often sordid requests of strangers. Whenever
possible, she tried to steer the men’s desires solely toward
conversation. Surprisingly, this simple ploy often worked; and then, on
such occasions, conversation alone would be enough. But some men were
persistent. They wanted their money’s worth from the pretty young
model; they wanted to see her naked - and they would be satisfied with
nothing less. When the desires of such men could not be satisfied with
conversation, Tatjana would often balk. She would tell these men that
perhaps they would be happier with another model. Unfortunately, when
the man then quickly left the private session to do as she had
suggested, Tatjana earned little or nothing for her effort.
This, then, was her cruel enigma.
Even the small fraction of the client’s money from private sessions that
was applied to her account at the end of each week was better than
nothing. It was what allowed her to survive. If she too often refused
what was requested, then soon she would not even be able to earn enough
money to pay for her small flat.
If the men were not enticed - she
earned nothing; however, if she was successful, and the men desired her,
then it was likely she would be degraded and demeaned. Only the need
and will to survive allowed Tatjana to continue in the face of such a
painful dilemma. With no realistic choice, Tatjana must daily live
with a quandary far beyond someone of her life experience to resolve.
It was probably best to just not ponder
So, each day in front of the camera, she was forced to
perform simple acts to entice the men visiting her chat room; all the
time hoping yet silently worrying, that some anonymous man with money in
his pocket and fire in his loins, would find these simple acts so
desirable that he would want more; but not more than she was willing or
able to offer.
It began on a shift when she was
scheduled to work in the middle of the day - the slowest shift for her.
She started at eight in the morning and didn’t finish until six in the
evening. Although she knew that she shouldn’t feel this way, it was
Tatjana’s favorite time to be at work.
America, that peculiar far-off place where most of the visitors to her
chat room lived, the shift passed mostly during the middle of the
night. Before it was noon in Riga, most American men were sleeping
soundly in their big beds within their expensive houses lying beside
their beautiful wives; at least that was how Tatjana imagined it. In
any event, they were too tired to waste their time visiting an Internet
chat room with an unsophisticated young girl from Ludza.
It was after
and Tatjana secretly loved this time in the middle of her day when her
chat room was quiet and she could relax. Sometimes she would spend this
time reading a Russian novel or magazine, but frequently she used this
time to study the English/Russian dictionary – the one always at her
side. It was this dictionary that made it possible for her to converse
with visitors in her room. Without the book, she would never have been
able to understand some of their more esoteric comments and questions.
Although she had lived her entire
which had a distinctive language all its own, for Tatjana, like nearly
half of her countrymen, Russian was her native tongue. By law she was
also required to be fluent in Latvian; she had soon learned, however,
that Latvian was a language not nearly so rich in the multi-hued and
abundantly textured vocabulary of sex. Early on she had decided that
Russian translations from English were far more likely to provide an
accurate picture of what was being said and requested.
Today, since late morning, only two
men remained in her room. Tatjana had begun to think of these two,
almost daily visitors, as friends.
In her first days as an Internet
model she had learned that NightOwl, who always used the same chat name,
was a middle-aged man from a place called
in Texas. Tatjana had just a vague awareness of where Texas was
located; knowing only that it sat somewhere in the middle of the vast
American continent. NightOwl had told her that he owned a nightclub,
but, even if this was true, she did not consider this fact particularly
important. What was more important was that NightOwl seemed always to
be affable, and that from the beginning he had seemed to have a strong
interest in her which went far beyond that of most of the visitors in
her chat room.
Tatjana understood (from Margo’s
lessons) that most of the men who came to her room were single-minded,
thinking of only one thing. But NightOwl appeared to be different, and
for this she was genuinely grateful.
This man from
in Texas was in her chat room almost every shift. Some days he stayed
with her for the entire time that she herself was there. She had come
to appreciate his company. And because she frequently had the time, and
because he seemed truly interested, she had even begun teaching NightOwl
basic Russian words and phrases. He seemed to delight in using these,
mostly incorrectly, when conversing with her in the typed chat.
NightOwl frequently joked about
coming to sweep her off of her feet and bring her back to
Dallas. In her worst moments, when she feared that she would have no
other future than to forever entertain fat old strangers with idle
chatter and brief glimpses of her body while sitting in the little
cubicle at the back of The Baltic Club Casino, Tatjana even fantasized
that this was possible; that NightOwl would someday come to rescue her
and take her to that promised land - America.
She had once seen an American cowboy
movie, and so Tatjana’s total image of
came from this film. Each time, when NightOwl was in her chat room, she
would imagine him sitting on a horse, wearing a big white hat and
sporting a shiny ivory handled silver pistol strapped about his waist.
However, although he had described himself in great detail, none of his
self-description seemed to fit her mental image of cowboys from that
otherwise long-forgotten film.
In reality, Tatjana knew that
NightOwl could actually look like anyone. Even if he constantly talked
with great affection, she also understood that he could easily be lying
about where he lived. The Internet was anonymous. For all she knew,
NightOwl was really one of those seedy bald men who she often saw
gawking at the tired-looking dancers on the stage in The Baltic Club
Casino. Maybe NightOwl only hurried back home from the casino during
the shifts when she worked, so he could gawk at her while she sat in her
She had no way of really knowing
anything for certain about the men who visited in her chat room.
Although NightOwl could clearly see her, and even if it was possible for
him to constantly compliment her on her beauty, she would never be able
to see him and return the compliments. Truthfully, she was thankful
that she could never see any of these men sitting in unknown places with
nothing better to do than to stare at her.
No, she could never truly know what
NightOwl looked like, or anything else about him; but surprisingly, this
didn’t trouble Tatjana in the least. She had no reason to want to know
who he was, where he was, and what he was doing while visiting her on
the Internet. She never expected, in fact she emphatically hoped, never
to meet any of the men from her chat room in her real life. So it made
little difference to her who they were, what they looked like or where
Although at other times there would
be more ‘regulars’ in her chat room, this shift was at such an
inconvenient time in America, that only NightOwl and Tekno, her second
most frequent visitor, were with her today.
Tekno was in her room almost as often
as NightOwl, but Tatjana’s mental image of him was far less distinct and
almost completely lacking in any detail. From day to day Tekno could
not even recall his complete chat name. Today, he was Tekno452. His
chat name always began with Tekno, but the numbers seemed to change
daily. Yesterday, if she remembered correctly, he had been Tekno542.
Although generally bored and never
wishing to remember anything that took place in her chat room, Tatjana
had been perceptive enough to realize that Tekno particularly favored
Tekno69, and he used this chat name frequently. Sometimes he and
NightOwl would joke about this name, Tekno69, always conversing with
rapid typing and using English far beyond Tatjana’s meager ability to
comprehend. She had never quite figured out the joke, but she was
certain that if she did understand, it would no doubt be embarrassing
Tekno was pleasant enough, she had
decided, but not nearly so clever nor sincerely attentive as NightOwl.
While Tatjana believed that NightOwl saw her as a real person, with a
mind and a heart as well as a body, Tekno’s interest appeared mostly to
be physical. He seemed to have little interest in her beyond what took
place in her chat room. In this regard, he often complimented her
breasts or her butt - saying things, which, although not quite lewd,
still made her slightly uncomfortable when she understood what was
meant. Even though she had long ago grown tired of these repetitious
comments, she knew she could never allow Tekno to see her true
feelings. She always smiled and thanked him for his compliments.
After all, Tekno was really quite
From what Tekno had told her, she
understood that he was a computer technician; but in fact, Tatjana had
difficulty believing this. Even with her limited understanding of
technical things, Tekno did not seem to be nearly intelligent enough for
such work. Tekno could not conceivably have the necessary brainpower
to earn a living in such a technical field. Even her few attempts to
teach him simple Russian words and phrases had quickly ended when it
became apparent that he was no more capable of remembering these few
unfamiliar words than he was of remembering his own chat name.
Fighting her boredom now, Tatjana
almost missed the new line of text as it appeared within the chat box on
NIGHTOWL: Fire&Ice, you look tired.
Would you like me to give you a massage?
FIRE&ICE: Thx NightOwl. That be
very nice. :))
This had become their ritual. At
least one time each shift, NightOwl would offer to give her an imaginary
massage. At first, she had only wanted to go along with his whim, but
to her surprise, Tatjana had soon begun to find these little breaks in
her routine actually soothing and relaxing. She carefully watched the
chat box on her screen.
NIGHTOWL: OK. I will start with
your shoulders. Just lean back and let me rub the strain out of them.
TEKNO452: Watch those hands,
NightOwl. Make sure they don’t stray too far away from Fire&Ice’s
shoulders. You know it’s look-but-don’t-touch here! :))
Just as NightOwl’s virtual massages
had become ritual, Tekno’s vaguely suggestive comments had also become a
part of this ritual. But Tatjana didn’t mind. Although he was not very
smart, she had come to know Tekno well enough to believe that he was
essentially a good man. The single time that he had requested a private
session with her, Tekno had asked that she remove her lacy bra. She
would normally have refused such a request, but she considered Tekno to
be almost a friend, and so had decided that no real harm could be done
if she agreed.
For what seemed hours, she sat
uncomfortably stationary in front of the camera, now zoomed on her
breasts. No lines of chat from Tekno appeared on the screen. Finally,
after what had actually been only a few minute, he simply said, “Thank
You”, and then he had terminated the session.
Tekno had never again requested a
private session, and Tatjana had to admit that she wasn’t really
disappointed. Even though Tekno’s sole private session had made a
necessary contribution to her rent, she suspected that he did not have
very much money, and that the single private session had been a special
treat – only a one-time luxury that he had allowed himself. He had
never required a second such treat. Perhaps he didn’t need to see her
breasts a second time. After thinking about it, she decided that Tekno
must have a better memory for breasts than for foreign languages or for
That single time, after Tekno’s
session had ended, NightOwl had joked with him about the private time
with Fire&Ice, but Tekno had refused to reply to his comments and
questions; and nothing more had ever been said about it.
Now Tatjana again watched NightOwl’s
words as they appeared in the chat box on her screen.
NIGHTOWL: OK, Fire&Ice, now I am
moving down your arms. Can you feel the tension releasing?
BRAD17: Hello Fire&Ice. You are
This last line jolted Tatjana abruptly back to reality.
She had been relaxing, certain she could almost feel NightOwl’s fingers
massaging the knots from her arms, which nearly always ached after
sitting uncomfortably for long hours in her small cubicle. When the
line of text from an unfamiliar name had unexpectedly popped up on her
chat screen, she felt a momentary flash of anger that a stranger had
intruded on her peaceful time with NightOwl. Normally she watched the
log on her screen that listed all of the visitors currently in her room,
but in her languor, she had not seen Brad17 enter. Although she had a
good memory, Tatjana could not recall having ever before seen the chat
name Brad17 in her room.
Why wasn’t this person, this Brad17,
sleeping like everyone else in
© Copyright 2014, Glen Rothe