Prostitution, as the institution is commonly visualized by modern, western culture, did not exist in Capiche proper.
Oh, there were sexual favors offered but it did not look like scantily clad hookers displaying their wares on the street corner.
From the man’s standpoint, it was a buyer’s market. Ebola hit men harder than women. Post-Ebola had men putting themselves in harm’s way and suffering higher mortality as a result.
The loss of the grid had more impact on women then men. Suddenly, gasoline and electric motors were no longer available to do the chores that required brute strength and stamina. Once again, there was a high premium placed on men since men typically have 40% more "strength" than women and, thanks to testosterone, gain additional strength more quickly.
Consequently, the “market” was upside-down. There were far more un-partnered women than men without a partner.
People, being people, would sometimes encounter windfalls. Perhaps a fisherman caught more fish than he could eat, or perhaps a hunter had more rabbits in his snares than he had need of.
It would only be natural if a single man were to offer the excess to a woman who had caught his eye.
The woman, having no other good way to obtain luxury items like meat in the winter (other than killing her laying hens) would be grateful. You would have to be a fool to not realize that the best way to stay in the fore-front of a gift-giver’s mind is to offer a tangible sign of gratitude. It could be a home-cooked meal. It could be an offer to launder his clothing or a hot bath. It could be the joys of sharing a bed with a young woman with a need for physical affection.
Few women are fools. Often, the offer of gratitude included all of the above.
Sometimes the young man was not so young. Sometimes the man already had a partner, in which case the woman let the man know that if he had need of solace because his partner could not, or would not, meet his needs, then he need look no farther than her doorstep to have those needs met. Nothing over-the-top. A smile, a nod and a sigh were enough.
Things were not much different in cities. There were more women than men. An un-partnered mother with a couple of young children was in a desperate situation. There were many such women. Daily life was a constant struggle. A mother could not sleep all day and hook all night. The realities of life did not allow it.
Some women, driven by dire circumstances did try to “hook” to make ends meet. It was a desperate effort to avoid tumbling into the abyss. It rarely worked. Nothing wilts a fading flower more quickly than prostitution. And in an environment where consensual sex (for the men) was free-for-the-asking, paid-for sex usually involved something unpleasant.
Benicio had his fingers in a multitude of enterprises. There was not enough profit margin in common prostitution to interest him.
However, there was a market he did supply. There were some very powerful, very rich men (though not as rich and powerful as Benicio) whose kinks were VERY damaging to the capital equipment. Word gets around. These men could not find local whores to scratch their itch. That is where Benicio came in.
More often that was savory, Benicio found himself in possession of somebody who had volunteered to become expendable. Man, woman, whoever. The unfortunate person had repeatedly violated the norms of civilized behavior or simply pissed off the wrong person.
Benicio did not have a prison. Prisons cost money. But Benicio did have a way to ensure the problem-person was taken off the street.
As the broker, Benicio was paid a handsome stipend for every servant he indentured with the powerful men who never refused to take one. After that, Benicio had no more contact with the servant. That was outside his interest.
The one place where there was a vast, over-abundance of unattached men was the Buffer-Zone.
This fact was not lost on the unattached women in Capiche and other, nearby regions.
The fighters were given leave. The leave structure of the defense force was for each zone to release a fire-team a day. The squads were composed of two fire-teams and the squad was still functional at half-force. Since the majority of zones contained five squads, most fighters received a day off every ten days.
The fire-team was released with the expectation they would look after each other and all five men would come back renewed and refreshed at 4:00 PM the next afternoon.
The women were ready and waiting.
For moral support, a gaggle of young women would leave their homes. They traveled together to the Buffer-Zone.
Under austere conditions, women have few illusions. Women with children and no partner have no illusions.
The fighters were all healthy and physically fit.
The women watched the body language within the fire-team. It rarely took more than thirty seconds for the women to make their picks and home-in on their chosen target.
The men rarely knew what hit them.
By 4:00 PM the next afternoon, the men were famished and exhausted by 24 hours of mind-bending sex and they were eagerly were looking forward to their next leave when their new girlfriends promised to be waiting for them.
The women saw no reason to go into details about their exact age or whether they were encumbered by children. This was the big juicy worm. If things worked out, then there would be plenty of time to introduce Stud to the kids.
If anything, the ladies with the children were even more uninhibited with their new boyfriends than the ladies who had less baggage. They knew that the mystery of a young male's psyche is that there is no mystery. Make him a sandwich and show him a new position. The young mothers were not going to fail because they stopped at half-way measures
The leaves were a vacation for the women as much as the men. They left the kids with their mother, or sister or understanding neighbor. It was a trip to fantasy land for them, too.
The women were very excited about the possibility of “their” boyfriend getting a homestead.
After learning of the possibility, they scouted their boyfriend’s zone and picked out three properties they would be happy to have their boyfriend select. Not surprisingly, the girls picked out properties near the ones their girlfriends picked out.
Most of the women were eminently practical. They knew how much firewood was required to heat a 3200 square-foot house. They knew how much up-keep it demanded. They made their selection based on practical considerations: Elevation, proximity to firewood, condition of outbuildings, the fertility of the forty acres. They favored 1200 square-foot, ranch-style houses that were nested in a pocket behind a hill.
The story they pitched to their boyfriends was that if he picked one of the three houses, they could have a full seven days of sex and not waste one of them looking for a house.
It was a compelling proposition.