Clara, part 2

Clara picked up the bottle and two empty glasses from the dresser and followed the man out the door. She leaned against the railing of the balcony as she watched him make his way down the stairs and across the saloon, stepping over drunks and around fights, until he was out the door and into the dusk. He didn’t look back.

She had stopped asking why it was that the man paid for a service he didn’t use. Stopped seeing it as a rebuke, and started appreciating the hours, once every few months, away from the pawing hands of those brutes below.
Dale had seen her standing idle, and she fully expected to be punished for it. At least he didn’t take it in trade.
“You’ve got a customer!” he called, a leering grin splitting his face as he gestured at a sweating hulk of a man sitting across the bar from him. “Marcus sent him to you ‘specially.”
She shuddered inwardly. The man did not look kind. But, if Marcus had sent him, there was little she could do, so she composed herself and started down the stairs.

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