The Green Moss Saloon had a façade painted a flat green with its name in yellow-gold. To the right and below the foot-high print in smaller yellow-gold lettering was “Eloise O’Dhik, proprietor”. In still smaller letters on a separate one-foot-square sign read, “Phrenology readings free on Saturday evenings with escort service.”
Mortimer Pignast had talked Eloise into supplying his professional services by qualifying the “free” phrenological surveys to her clients.
“My dear Miss Eloise,” Pignast began, “If you see an increase of clientele due to my professional presence, I would expect a gratuity of say, one-dollar per person.”
“Dr. Pignast, we have a deal only if the clients come more often.” Eloise smiled at the bald, pleasant man.
“I can almost guarantee it, madam.”
“And remember, two of my girls are barbers, so please, no soliciting for your barbershop.”
“Of course not.” Pignast had a brisk haircut and shave business without the Green Moss attendees.
Pignast, as “Doctor of Phrenology”, provided a service actually desired by the men seeking women for biological release. The ladies of the Green Moss always extolled superlative adjectives on their “escorts-pro-temps” as Eloise liked to call them.
“Oh Mr. Campbell, you are one of the best sexual partners a woman could wish for.” This was a common flattery which not only kept the men coming on a regular basis but set them up for Pignast’s readings of the natural bumps on their heads.
Pignast used a red-brocade upholstered parlor chair to seat the recently satisfied male. As in the barbershop, he would run his fingers through their hair pressing down on the front, the sides and the backs of their heads. He would announce the anatomically correct names of the skull–“frontal, temporal and occipital protuberances my dear sir.”
A typical reading would stimulate the patron to return. One of Mortimer Pignast’s favorites was, “Sir, the pulsating sensation on your left temporal reflects an increase in your life span as a result of your recent satisfaction.” Another one getting the man coming back was, “It must have been a truly successful and mutual biological release. It is well known by the Fowlers society of such happenings favoring your marital (if married) harmony or (if single) your attracting a correct mate.” This latter was always from meditative palpation of the occipital bone with the fingers of his skilled phrenologist hands.
On this Saturday evening, as most others, Eloise greeted her patron, business partner and friend with a hug and a light buss on the cheek.
“Welcome, Dr. Pignast.” Eloise voiced the greeting to reassure the men at the bar and the tables were aware of his presence. The women would increase their integration with the men and whisk them up to one of the upstairs rooms.
“Greetings my dear Eloise.” He surrendered his winter coat, hat and gloves to a young woman in an evening dress. She wore the typical Green Moss attire–full-length gloves and petticoat-free floor-length clinging dress with either bared shoulders or the top strap or sleeve just falling from the shoulder. The atmosphere was not yet visible. It would be later with smoke from cigars and cigarettes floating like a cloud just above the hurricane lantern chandeliers. Right now Pignast inhaled the essence of beer and pine. Most of the pine scent was from a floor cleaner with a second more biting pine component coming from a large central fireplace.
“Fern is waiting for you upstairs. You are very punctual as usual, Mortimer.” Eloise used his first name after the louder public announcement of the phrenology reader being present.
“Thank you, my dear. I shall proceed post-haste and then be available for our ‘escorts-pro-temps’.”
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