Murder and the Masseuse

Many of us imagine killing our bosses; some people actually take it a little further. Meet a woman who got into the massage business to avoid a homicide rap.

Jenny went into the massage business—actual massage, not a euphemism for selling sex—after she nearly murdered her boss.

“He was a nice enough bloke at first,” she says as she pounds the muscles under my scapula. Her fingers push harder than you’d ever imagine the fingers of a slightly built 50-something woman could push. The pain is expected, and welcome. But it’s still pain. “Have you been carrying any children recently?” she asks. “This is the result.”

Back when she had a proper job, Jenny was a personal assistant. Her mother called it a “proper job,” a job in an office where you earned a salary and your tax was paid automatically, and you took off a few days every Christmas. Jenny hated the whole thing. Her mother was wrong, and her boss was a fool.

“I was never the sort to take any bullshit,” she declares. “When the boss was wrong, or when he was just being an idiot, I’d tell him straight out.”

Her elbow presses into a tight spot further down my back. A tiny section of muscle is trapped, tensed up. It might have been like that for months, or years. Jenny applies pressure: firm, constant pressure. No rubbing or movement; instead, she just pushes her entire body weight down through her arm and elbow and into my back. The knotted muscle complains, and I cry out. She doesn’t stop.

But after a minute or two of sustained pressure, the muscle starts to give way. Jenny wears a satisfied smile and moves on. “It’s loosening up now. The blood is starting to flow through it again.”

I can hear the fury in her voice even now. It must be a decade or more since these events took place. How it must have hurt her.The massage moves further down my body. Jenny’s old boss had some strange habits. His mind was stuck in a lost era. A time when people like Jenny would never have had the courage to answer back. Perhaps there weren’t any people like Jenny in those days; more likely, they just bit their tongues. Jenny didn’t.

“He could be the perfect gent, mostly. But then sometimes, especially when he was with women, he’d say something outrageous, something so stupid that it made you want to thump him.”

One day, he went too far. Jenny doesn’t reveal exactly what it was that he said. There were two comments, within minutes of each other.

“And—it was weird, like nothing I’d experienced before,” she says, working on my upper thigh. I didn’t expect pain there, but my muscles are tighter than I expected. All over me. I can’t believe it. Jenny’s expert hands rub and pummel and stretch and slap. My legs submit.

“I saw red,” Jenny says, and her grip tightens a little. “Literally, it was like the air turned crimson. I wanted to grab heavy objects and throw them at this stupid man’s head. I wanted to hurt him.” Instead, she turned on the spot and escaped to a colleague’s office upstairs.

She walked in on her friend and hissed: “Please, I just need to come in here for a few minutes to calm down.” After 30 minutes or so, she was able to go back downstairs and confront her boss.

Jenny turns me over and works on my shoulders and neck. She throws my arms around like they’re strings of spaghetti. Her hands fold the skin of my neck, and my head rolls from one side to the other like a dropped puppet’s. I am completely manipulated.

“I went back to him and I said to him: ‘Don’t ever talk to me like that, ever again.’“ I can hear the fury in her voice even now. It must be a decade or more since these events took place. How it must have hurt her.

“People laugh when I say I nearly murdered him, but I mean it. I felt like I wanted to. I nearly did.”“What was his reaction?” I ask as Jenny’s fingers move to my scalp. The skin tingles where she has touched.

“He was shocked. He looked at me and said, ‘Sorry.’ I don’t know if he meant it. I don’t think he really understood what he’d done wrong.”

Jenny quit that job. She’d been doing massage for her colleagues during lunch breaks, and they pestered her to take the big step to freelance practice. Within a couple of years, her business really took off and she was soon earning more than she had with her office job.

It was the anger that had surprised her most, though.

“I’m not an angry person, I’m not violent. But I was amazed, looking back, at how raw it felt. I really wanted to hurt that man, to scream at him and smash him and try to make him understand how ignorant and stupid his comments had been.”

Jenny loosens her grip on my head and gently runs fingers through my hair, the final touch a signal to my body that the treatment is over.

“People laugh when I say I nearly murdered him, but I mean it. I felt like I wanted to. I nearly did.” Her voice trembles, just a tiny bit.

We both breathe out. I am beyond relaxed. Jenny is surely exhausted after the physical workout she’s put her body through, as she tries to make mine feel better. She wraps me in hot towels, smiles, and turns to the door.

“I’ll go and put the kettle on,” she says, her voice soft. “You just lie there until you feel ready to get up and get dressed. There’s no rush.”