No, No! I love being here, naked and on display. Without a shred of covering except the blue satin choker and that magnificent sapphire at my throat. The boys at the bar love me too, as I lie full fleshed for their delight on the multicoloured ottomans, my left hand just, just covering that essential part of me that lies like a treasure between the milkiest of thighs.
So, you old temperance cows, leave me out of your monochrome hatreds. I don’t care if you’ve got the backing of the mayor and the local priest – they’ve both had a good gawk at me. And how much did you pay the police to cart me out, you senile bags of glum? Officer, put me down!
I’ll be back, you witches. The men like me too much. And officer, mind that sun on my silken skin. Oh gross, the floor on this police van is filthy. I’m not touching that. Where are they taking me? To the station I bet, so all their constable mates can have a good gawp at me too.
I’ve seen most of them at the pub before. The young ones are the funniest. When first they see me, their jaws drop, they grow hot under the collar and just stare. Probably the only time they see a woman naked. Though I sometimes wonder if I’m good for business. I know I’m the reason they come here, but I often hear Ralph the publican yell “Hey, kid, yer here to drink, not stare!”
The older men know how to enjoy me. They lumber in covered in the dust and rhythm of the day and order their drinks with admiring glances. Some even greet me, swinging their schooners towards me with a hearty “Cheers, Rhonda!”
But lordy be, the world is a charitable place. It’s only one night in a gloomy police room before I hear Ralph’s voice.
“Hey, Rhonda. The Magistrate said you can return to the pub.”
Y’see? I knew they’d be back. You can’t keep a girl like me down.
There’s a crowd there too. Young and old, men in shirts sweaty from the day’s labour, hats cocked and beer slopping from their grips. They cheer when I make my entry. I smile back at them, flashing my splendid jewel. Returned to my rightful place.
Then Ralph stands on a stool and says,
“We welcome Rhonda back from the Ladies Temperance Auxiliary!” Cheers! Shouts! Cries of “yeah!”
“But,” he says, and his voice becomes solemn. “We had to compromise to get a quick decision from the Magistrate. We have to paint a vase of flowers over her privates!”
What? Cover me up? No!
“So, can I get some volunteers?”
A hundred hands shoot up. “Me! Me!” And “Not you, bruiser, you couldn’t even paint your own bollocks!”
I look around at my boys queuing up to the pots of paint. This could be fun after all. It might tickle. Does paint stick to photographs?