[01] Humans Of Hathian – ‘Max’

10 mins read
Azélie Maxille Aumailely
Picture taken & edited by India Stryker-Diaz

It’s murky and the dust hits the back of my throat like a sledgehammer to my neck. I’m struggling to breathe so I press a bloodied handkerchief to my mouth and carry on down Bourbon Street towards Bon Temps where my first interviewee has agreed to meet me. I’m intrigued but I’m also not expecting much.

Upon arrival, the place seems to have gathered a crowd but for no specific reason, just general chit-chat and an attempt to bring people in off the streets for a drink or one of the handpicked cigars they have on offer, it’s a classy establishment and I can’t help but feel a little under-dressed in my maxi skirt and boob tube, an old camera hanging around my neck with a leather strap that burns as it moves against my skin.

The woman I’m meant to be meeting, turns up. She has dark hair and is very petite, quite similar to a friend of mine, and she is quite clearly French, well, judging by her accent. She was also brunette and fashionably late, in a black ensemble with netted stockings and a leather jacket. She tells me,

“I T’ink you are waitin’ for me, non?” her head tilted, one of her hand gesturing to Bon temps “Let’s get inside..” and I follow her in after she shares niceties with the owner who offers us a free round. They seem friendly.

We go inside and I notice immediately that she’s watching me, her brown eyes travelling up and down me like I am stood in the window of a gift shop. I don’t like it. She asks me if I want to go upstairs where there’s more privacy and her hand is on my shoulder. I think she’s flirting with me. Then, she tells me,

“But, w’atever you please.. I am ‘ere for you, and you are ‘ere for me.. uh?”

Yeah, totally flirting but I say,

“Mierda, ain’t your type, amor. Ela, let’s go.. Upstairs is fine”

She smiled, despite my rejection and tells me she knows how to give anyone a good time, regardless of their ‘type’ and for some reason, I don’t tell her I’m engaged. Still, she lost the flirty attitude. She must’ve realised I felt uncomfortable but something tells me, this was a normal thing for her. I found myself more intrigued. She speaks to the bartender and places her order

“As we get settled, can you get t’is lovely lady w’atever s’e pleases, and bring me a Vieux wit’ Ice, Non?”

And then – she would head up the stairs. I ask for a beer,

“Por favor”

and I don’t let her pay. I place some bills on the counter as she moves away towards the stairs. The barmaid says she’ll bring them up to us.

Once upstairs I find a chair and drop myself into it, my feet hurt from the walk in these new leather boots so I slip my feet out from them and rest them in the sleeve of the boot. I ask her what her name is and if she has any nicknames, my fingers hovering over the lit screen of my phone. I’ve not done this before.

“Azélie Maxille Aumailely. But I prefer to be called Max..as I ‘ave plenty, but I like to believe t’at s’ort names are best to stick wit’…t’ey are remembered longer.”

Max asks if I smoke and shows me the cigars but I decline. I’m too busy focusing on her name that she gave with sultry French elegance. I could see why many would find the flirting rather enticing rather than revolting but I am not of elegance nor am I capable of seduction. I am a Spanish brute. I type in her name phonetically, I’d get the correct spelling later. I ask her,

“So, you work here? You -like- got a passion for cigars an’ shit or jus’ needed the cash?”

She moves slowly and hangs her leather jacket over one of the chairs. Her attention seems to meander around the room before it lands on me again and she’s smiling, pearly whites showing before clicking her tongue and shaking her head. She finally sits down.

“Non, I do not ‘ave a passion for cigars.. Nor Am I desperately in need of Cas’. Don’t get me wrong, I ain’ ric’.. but I am not poor eit’er…”

She chuckled, once sitting she’d wrap her legs around each, hand moving to her stockings slowly tugging them up a little.

“I do ‘ave a passion for t’e owner and our business interests seem to .. Ally.”

She tells me, “I am one jack of all trades..”.

The barmaid brings our drinks up. Her name is Ramona. She’s quiet. She places the drinks in front of us and I say thank-you, as does Max. I tell her,

“I ain’t want you to say what you think people will wanna hear. I want the grit an’ the truth, the real reasons for the person you are, be it gruesome, heartbreakin’ or fuckin’ -I dunno- funny as shit..”.

She sat there a while, fiddling with her glass and I start to wonder if I’ve asked the wrong thing but then she started,

“like everyone in ‘Athian, I am not ‘ere wit’out my sins..” She chewed her bottom lip “I sold ‘uman lives.. wit’ my ‘usband, boug’t t’em like one would buy jewels. It wasn’t ‘ard. Nor too weird.. for us, we like to engage wit’ our darker selfs.. and we engaged t’at, promoted t’at.. sold it..”

A pause

“And.. After some, troubles..I found myself ‘ere.. And of course, I am fond of explorin’ streets like Bourbon..One w’ere t’e nig’t can give you anyt’ing.. if you dare to visit.. And I like to .. Stick around ‘ere.. Make my mark.. work wit’ some, work for myself.. you know.. Pick up w’ere I left in New Orlins.. Cause, we all know..”

She moved in a little

“Sex.. sells..”

I feel like this is a good place to end things, though our conversation has been short but something in my mind eggs me on. I ask her if she means she worked in the sex industry and whether or not she sold the girls for profit, or fun.  She hesitantly tells me, “Oui.” and that her husband bought her but she had no plans of being sold again so she seduced him. She tells me they fell in love, got married and she became a Madam.

I ask her again, profit or fun?

“For bot’ fun.. as pleasure is business, and business is pleasure.”

I notice Max change slightly in her demeanor, I don’t want to pry too much but I had more than I needed.  The French Madam was a good start, she gave me what I was after. Short, sexy and intriguing. A little peek into the citizens that littered the city. Max downs her drink and I finish my beer, I ask her where she’d like her picture taken. She says,


“W’atever you please, I’d invite you over to my place.. but you don’ seem to be interested.”


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