A guest review by Jenre
Male prostitute, Red, is given an assignment by his pimp and lover, Robbie, with a very unusual client. Red meets the stranger in a darkened house in London and, during their sessions, he learns more than he ever knew about lust, love and his own personal history.
How will his curious and life-enhancing encounters with the stranger affect his relationship with Robbie and his clients, and can love ever be part of a hooker’s life at all?
This short story begins with Red, a male prostitute, being sent by his pimp, Robbie, to an abandoned house. It’s dark and Red can see very little as he sits in a chair and waits for the client. When the client makes his presence known (but not his face), Red is surprised to discover that the man is more concerned about Red’s needs than his own. Over the course of three encounters Red is forced to face up to his life and learn to control his own destiny.
There are two themes running through this story. Firstly there are the encounters that Red has with the stranger, who through touch allows Red to deal with some of the things in his life, such as being a sex-addict and having a troubled past. This part of the book was a little confusing, deliberately so, as we never discover who the strange man is, and what his reasons are for wanting to help Red. There’s a lyrical and dreamlike quality to the writing in this section that I found quite beautiful and, like Red, I began to look forward to the encounters between Red and the stranger to see what other changes it would bring in him. I also liked that Red is completely unapologetic about his profession, and even finds it a necessary part of his life – quite a refreshing change from most prostitute stories where the emphasis is on moving out of that profession.
The second theme is that of the relationship between Red and his pimp Robbie. Robbie isn’t particularly a nice man, but he obviously cares for Red, enough to have set up the meetings with the stranger. There’s also a strange push and pull to their relationship with Robbie asserting his dominance when he feels Red has stepped out of line. As the story progresses there’s a shift in the relationship as Red becomes more comfortable in his own skin. This meant that I began to warm a little towards Robbie and forgave some of his past actions.
Overall, there’s quite a lot fitted into this story and, as a result, not all the questions I had about the story were answered and yet I found that I didn’t need to know the stranger is, and I was content only to see the effect that he had on Red. I’d recommend A Stranger’s Touch to those who are looking for a short read containing a troubled young man and his gradual acceptance of himself and his life.