“Well, girl, time to start being a grown-up.”

So off we went the next morning. We hit the major boutiques, particularly the ones who sell a top line of women’s business wear and those with absolutely the best and most expensive intimates. A Madam must always buy the best and most flattering of the former that she can; a high class tart also needs at least two smart business ensembles for dress wear, preferably two that can interchange skirts and jackets.

We’d be picking up a load of enticing panties, bras, slips, and so on and I was there to use my practiced eye concerning the most flattering shapes and colors for the new agent’s skin, hair, and body type. At breakfast (she’d already read the transcript), I told her to make note about the why of my choices and add it to her Dictapad notebook tonight after our first briefing. Lady Chief also took my advice, and I told her to be careful. Anyone who she shared a bed with might start calling her Lady Madam. This won me another deep contralto laugh!

As a Zone whore, Sally (that wasn’t her name yet, of course, but it’s simpler to use it) would need a small selection of the most flattering daywear possible. Over the years I’ve occasionally had a girl who went with me to visit a Matriarch and needed to be presentable. Moreover, every time one of my girls is on the street, even to go to the drug store or the food mart, they are a walking advertisement for Elizabeth’s Secret: the well-tailored suit, that flattered her come hither gait and strongly suggested her curves without revealing them, was the best advertising, particularly since the female cops on the beat would always approach and chat.

I enlarged on it, “When the Zone cops know your name, know your House, and see your daywear, word gets around, first to their own submissive men, then to the buddies of these men if they spend a little time in one of the bars to have a drink and shoot a little pool with their “companion” on their days off. And, of course, to the lady druggist and to the food market cashiers, who are generally male.

“Of all the Matriarchals, Fem/Dom has the best and most realistic and open attitude toward Scarlet Fever Lane and its Madams and Whores. Even in the Zone, we can’t pitch our product any other way, or any better way. And, in fact, it has made our reputation on the Lane as it’s “best” and “highest class” house and won us a certain amount of envy at how my girls look so much more enticing than their girls. That is, of course, flattering.”

I continued, “But what I cherish most was Henry’s offhand remark that we were the “best high class tarts” he had ever known. We didn’t know he was a spy then, but no one could talk to him for ten minutes without reaching the conclusion that he’d led a very colorful and very unsheltered life. When I found out he was a spy, I cherished the complement even more. Spies, real spies, don’t have girlfriends where they are spying. They visit we high class whores.

“All the Madams and all the girls know the importance of pretty underthings. What they don’t really understand is that just because a panty is pretty when you hold it up to the light doesn’t mean that it will truly flatter your butt. They have the girls themselves shop and pay, with supervision, in medium priced mail order catalogs or online. I measure them, I shop for them, and I make sure that the Zone pays for top of the line goods, even when I have to have them sent to us. It’s that important.

“The other madams also don’t understand that the street and business daywear is MORE important than the frilly undies. The John that sees you in negligee is the one who is already in the house. The one that sees how good you look outdoors and how “high class but come hither” you carry yourself and behave, is the NEW customer you always want more of. Because of that, we’re always steadily busy, which is good for the girls’ attitudes and makes my job much easier.”

We made an appointment for later in the week with the best men’s tailor in Chicago. While making it, the receptionist recognized me, called me by name and chided me for not stopping in for so long. This was for me to do a check-up of my measurements, look at bolts, not swatches, of some of the new fabric they had acquired, and place an order for a new bespoke business jacket and skirt. Lady Chief was a little startled. She’d never bought bespoke herself and my familiarity with it was another surprise. And Sally was like someone who wakes up in a hospital and doesn’t know who they are.

After we left the tailor’s I said, “Buying bespoke I NEVER have been disappointed in the quality, and, particularly, the durability, of my clothes. Men’s tailors are used to the demand that a good man’s suit might need to last him 20 years. And even men’s off the rack is always better made and more durable than women’s. All the ways we cry into our Diet Soda about getting clothes that “really fit” and “really last” disappear like the morning dew.”

Lady Chief said in the guarded tone women use when considering a change in dress, “I’ll have to make an appointment here when we come back.”

To which, with a sidelong look, I replied, “They WILL ask you for your name. Just say in’,”. Another contralto laugh followed.

Sally would eventually order her two suits from Zoltan’s Bespoke Tailoring. Zoltan himself taught me the right way to measure, and followed my directions religiously; once a year I received a book of fabric swatches, did the measuring for the girls, and had the Zone buy them two bespoke suits, at first to replace the off the rack ones.

If a girl stayed 2-5 years with me, she had acquired a number of such suits, which we always looked at before making a new fabric choice to complement the ones in the closet, as well as the girl. When she had to leave the Zone at thirty, she would be taking with her the best possible wardrobe for a career change, or for going solo doing high class outcalls.

Dinner was excellent, as it would be every evening. There would always be only 3 haute cuisine main dishes with perfectly complementary wines, an appetizer and a dessert. And we retired to the library (a real one and not just a name), comfortable chairs, and a side table for each of our after dinner drinks.

Lady Chief was as good as her word and three balloon glasses of Calvados awaited us. It was lighter and more delicate than Cognac, and left a fruity aftertaste on the palate. And it was exquisite, but you could very easily drink too much of it without realizing it. Sally looked at hers with some trepidation. She was, however, still in her twenties, dining with two worldly wise “aunts”, one of whom was her boss, so she was on her best behavior without quite being sure just what that was under the circumstances. My guess is that, given her own choice, she would have ordered an Amaretto Pink Squirrel, or something equally as cloyingly sweet. But she genuinely smiled at the first taste of the Apple Brandy.

Well, girl, time to start being a grown-up.

I first asked Sally if she had any questions about her morning transcript or her today’s shopping trip. She hesitated and very diffidently brought up all the stuff about beating people. She knew, abstractly, that they were supposed to do that in the Zone, but she couldn’t really understand it…? She trailed off. I looked at Lady Chief, “The Zone stopped flooding the civilized world with it’s propaganda brochures about five years after the fall of Sec/Spy. Does GLCIS still have any of the old ones around?”

“I’ll check. You’re right, the Matriarchals were far better at explaining themselves in their own advertising than we could ever be. I’ll step away a moment, call the night shift, and have a couple of them ready for her tomorrow morning reading.” Lady Chief went over to one of the alcoves of bookcases and made a call.

I looked straight at Sally and said, “There are one of three emotions you can have about being beaten, anger, fear, and subservience. You know about Lady Chief’s beatings of GLCIS thugs, correct?” Sally nodded, “But no one talks about it directly in our training, even in our ‘interrogation practice’ units.”

I enlarged on it, “Well, the thugs have almost certainly been beaten repeatedly and arbitrarily growing up, and their response to it has been the anger and selfishness driving their criminal behavior. If you remember what Lady Chief said in your transcript about her own teen years in the Zone, her response to it was much the same, the difference being that, because of her boyfriend and GLCIS, she became self aware enough to step beyond it to the other possibilities after running away for her freedom.

“The thugs are locked perpetually into a view of things where people who have more power than you always beat you, and, unless someone does, you will get criminally out of control. So Lady Chief has to fulfill those expectations with the further stipulation that, since she is a woman, she must beat them as they have never experienced being beaten before. Just like a pimp must do to his stable of whores.

“The Matriarchal Zone is full of Lady Chiefs who have to do the same thing to keep all ordinary men totally submissive. And that “submissiveness” is the degree to which you internalize the judgment of the person with the strap that you “should” be beaten. This emotion is the personal dynamic that holds the Matriarchy together.

And I continued, “In much the same way, I have to use beating to sustain discipline among my stable of whores. Because of their lives in a house, they are prone to get sloppy about all things, and need firm rules enforced by a firm strap to be the best at what they do. Not only to be the best, but to even conceive that being a better whore is worth something. I am the strictest Madam in the Zone, and my house and girls are the best.

“The emotional force of this is fear. Fear of a rear end too sore for you to stand straight, sit down, or lie down. Realistic fear because you have either seen a sister of yours get one of these beatings, or you’ve had one yourself, and know how much, and for how long it really hurts. This is an important distinction. I don’t want my girls believing either that I think they “deserve” to be beaten or that they should think so. I want them to link a sore butt to their behavior as a consequence not as a personal judgment, and not to do that particular behavior again. That is why it is always important to clearly state and stress rules. And to show your pleasure in all the girls when the rules are followed and things run smoothly.

“YOUR strict rule for this week is to take the world class, but arbitrary, shellacking you get before it ends, so you finally know what one is like, without either anger or subservience, but with a fear of it and a desire to understand the rules well enough so that it never happens again.

“Most madams on the Lane don’t clearly understand this distinction between fear and subservience. Thus their girls never get much further in attitude than whores that trawl the street: a cover of tough bravado and a core of insecurity and lack of self worth.

“For a whore, self worth comes from being “high class”, a confidence that you do what you do very, very well, from the way you walk and dress, to the amount of excitement and arousal you extract with a blow job, and to the firecracker bang of an orgasm you pull out of a man who either lost his capacity to make it happen on his own, or never knew it could happen in the first place. And you, without compromising your “high class” dignity, can feel his joy as well.

I summed it all up, “And when, after the beating, you can finally stand straight, sit down, or lie down without thinking about how much it will hurt to do it, usually in about two weeks, there will be a very small flash of pride from a brief glimpse that “being a better whore” does truly mean something and is worth following rules for. It meant something to me, the very strict madam who recently tanned your behind, and it could mean something to you. Just a flash that will need to be renewed many times with a strap either on your backside, or on those of your sisters in the house.”

My tone lowered and I slowed down. This was IMPORTANT, “You are about to become one of my girls, and I can tell you from much experience that the energetic, motivated spy-to-be you are right now will slip away from you, as the energetic, motivated English-professor-to-be slipped away from me 35 years ago. 

“Whatever is deep in you that made you want to be a spy will stay, but all of the role playing (which we all do) to keep ourselves focused on our goals will slip away from you, and will do so within weeks. It will feel like shit and you will feel like shit, because you will have become a whore, with no longer a reason to be anything else, and you will be one until you die.”

Lady Chief slipped back quietly into her chair.

“The reason for your existence will shift from your mind to your butt and it will be that reason for existence that my strap will be speaking to if you break my rules, which, sooner or later, you will. All in you that says, ‘I’ve got this, I can be a spy playing a whore and still get by’ is purely the role playing that now surrounds your intentions and your personal goals. It will vanish, and when you first start giving out your sex to strangers for pay, you will be a whore. Forever. 

“When being a whore starts to feel like being the worst thing in the world, you will let go, get sloppy, and break one of my rules. And then get strapped for it. It hurts. It really hurts. And the way Lady Chief and I were taught to do it, it will really hurt for a long, long time, measured in days or weeks, not hours.

“I’ve been trying to convince Lady Chief that she needs to introduce you to how much it hurts and for how long, before you even make any commitment at all to take this assignment. She is still reluctant to do so, for reasons that I can clearly understand: her experience of doing it will not be about strapping, but about the memories of being strapped by her mother, by the police, and by any older Matriarchal woman she might encounter whom she didn’t even know. 

“You have to understand that if you choose to do this, you will be making a choice that she herself could never have made, even to be a ‘secret agent’ as the major goal of a life.”

I turned to Lady Chief, “Do I lie?”

“No Elizabeth, you don’t…” she once again turned her head down to conceal her tears. And, once again, I stood up, walked to her chair and put my arms around her. Sally sat stock still with her eyes as big as saucers. Her boss pulled herself together and I looked at Sally directly once again. 

“I’m sure you’ve been told that you will have to “become tough” on this assignment, but there are levels of being tough. This is the first one, to know that you will have to do something that even the woman who heads your agency couldn’t have brought herself to do on her deep cover. Think about that before going to sleep tonight. Think about it hard.

“One final thing before we return to the Ritz,” I sat back down to face Sally. “Look me straight in the eye! I will not permit ANY of this to happen if you don’t first get your butt strapped off BEFORE there is any real commitment by you to do this. If Lady Chief cannot do this to you, I will. Clear?” Sally nodded with a little shiver. I turned to the Chief of the Great Lakes Consortium Intelligence Service, “Clear?” She nodded, then hid her eyes once again.

So the next morning at breakfast sent up from room service, I asked Sally, “Did you get a chance to absorb any of those old brochures?”

“Yes. I’m just stunned. Are they still like that?”

“Pretty much. Older, greyer, less adventure filling their heads about the challenge of making a new country, but pretty much the same. From the vantage point of Scarlet Fever Lane, the dismissal of we foreign whores has hardened from disdain into disgust as the generation of those brochures (about ten years younger than my own) has hardened into menopause.”

Lady Chief added, “From the GLCIS vantage point, it has taken them a very long time to understand two things. And maybe not to fully understand them at all.

“First, that their ‘Matriarchal Underground’ depended far more on the male non-clan members that married into it than the female clan members they married with. It was the fact that so many males were so voluntarily submissive that they were willing to let themselves be not only led, but also be punished, by dominant women that made the continuity of their clans possible.

“Second, that the substitution of multiple police and security forces, “retraining”, and social services such as officially supported brothels, for out-clan matrimony actually undermined the voluntary submission of their males rather than strengthening it. For all their lip service of the need for male citizens to be ‘valued’ and ‘supported’ for their contributions, such ‘support’ somehow was always shown with a paddle or a strap. And more and more often a paddle or a strap in the hand of one or the other type of police officers rather than a woman of your own household.”

Lady Chief continued, “Elizabeth, as a young whore, lived through what we think was the moment of their apogee and decline, when the Matriarchal Cabinet started the paranoid convention of ‘more reliable’ submissives among the men spying on the ‘less reliable’ ones. That one choice pushed Zone males further from mere submission and closer to slavery, no matter what offer was made to them to voluntarily renounce their citizenship.”

I intervened, “We whores got a far more up close and personal look at male submission by servicing them in our own beds, than the new Zone women ever had of them as what were, generally, their oral sexual servants only. The culmination of this was Sec/Spy where males were absolutely excluded and categorized as either ‘security risks’ to be managed or ‘spies’ to be brutally punished into a living death.”

“I’ll put it up to you, Lady Chief, since your deep cover was Sec/Spy interrogator, would anyone there have objected if ALL the spies you broke by terror of the Black Widow had been sent there, in the end, anyway?”

Lady Chief sighed, “That’s another hard one for my heart, Elizabeth. None of those women were my friends but had I thought so, that would have meant my acknowledging that they were genuinely evil and so was I for even participating, Deep Cover or not. Now, however, I’d have to say yes, they truly were that evil, when they had any brain at all: except for, oddly, the Israeli Micha Haaretz, black Doctor of the Black Widow, who ensured that those who went to it were crippled for life.

“After she ceased to do this, her job became to chase after the very successful spies like Henry Peterson, and to do so VERY successfully herself despite almost no budget and nearly no staff. I never thought she regarded these men as anything less than worthy opponents who never merited death, even when she killed them, and who was saddened when she had to be involved with their torture even though she tortured them without mercy. That was why she was so good at trapping them, and why she fell in love with the final one, because of how good he was and how easily he almost got away.”

Lady Chief summed it up, “As much as I learned to fear and loathe her, she may well have been the most humane of them all. And there are days when I mentally converse with her as Chief of GLCIS, when a hard decision to kill or abandon another human being makes me ever less humane myself. Ian once told me that it would be one of those decisions that would tell me to retire. I often wonder how close I am to it. Ian’s own departure greatly surprised his subordinates with it’s abruptness.”

“Sally,” I asked, “did any of your training address this conundrum: how to be a decent human being and still be a spy?”

“Well….no”

“Then here is your next lesson in learning to be tough. Once you are both a spy and a Madam, your ordinary routines as a spy are likely, sooner or later, to get other human beings either imprisoned, tortured, or killed; without any relationship to what kind of a human being they are, a gray no man’s land of no guilt or innocence, no evil or good, merely the luck of the draw. How will you deal with that?”

“Well, I don’t know…I…”

“This is your next level of being tough. Now that Lady Chief and I have raised that question, you’d better never let it go, or you will wake up one day and discover that your actions have led only to irredeemable evil and you are left with no real self worth from what you do, however much cheerleading you do for yourself. The pain you’ve caused others will hang around your neck constantly until you are demented or until you die.”

“Elizabeth, I don’t know how you know all this stuff…”

I cut in, “I’m a whore, honey! I get to listen to men when their third orgasm has turned their own brain into truth serum.”

Lady Chief continued, “But she’s right Sally. There’s a period we call agent fatigue, that happens sometime between 40 and 50, when the questions won’t let you rest, and a lot of us die of our own hand because of it, more so if we haven’t addressed the issue earlier. There is good and evil in the world, but it’s not parceled out to one person or another, or to one cause or another. Even before I took this, my last job, I had the weight of much evil on my conscience. And even more so now.”

“But I’ve never done anything like that evil.”

“That’s what I mean by another level of being tough,” I said, “tough enough to understand that sooner or later you will, whether you want to or not. And tough enough to hold on to that understanding. Why? Because you’re a spy, sweetie, a spy.”

We each went to our rooms to dress for the day. Just before I entered mine I heard Sally start crying. I looked at Lady Chief and she at me. We waited. And then it stopped. We both nodded. “I think she’ll be tough enough.” I said.

Chicago is still the best single city in which to see important 20th Century buildings. So we took the paid tour trolley. We walked across endless plazas, rode in multiple elevators to reach the top of the same building, and descended many stairs to see the backbone and guts of construction. By 3pm we were all worn out dishrags, returned to the Ritz and made a pact between us to each have the hottest and most decadent of baths, then nap until awakened by the afternoon bellhop at 6.

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