This is my first piece for Smutathon 2020. As usual, it’s a snapshot of much bigger, more complicated story, but hot damn at least I wrote something and there’s definitely something to say for that!
I don’t remember when I decided to do it. Looking back, it had been a long time coming. It just hadn’t felt quite as tenable until I moved to a new town where no one knew I existed.
The laws hadn’t changed yet, but the online resources were sparse all the same so my research could only go so far. I don’t even know how I managed to track down the information I did. I like to think that a little magic was on my side that night I sat in my new kitchen and fired that first email off to Amélie.
She was quick to respond. And though the rhythm of her messages suggested to me that English wasn’t her first language, we had no problem communicating virtually, flipping quickly from email to text. (I was too nervous to talk on the phone so I did what I could to avoid that.)
After a little back and forth, Amélie offered to send someone to pick me up so we could meet in person to talk further. We set a date for Saturday afternoon, a few hours before I’d have to get myself to the shady pizza joint, a deliberately disposable job I’d started the week prior.
I decided for the sake of discretion to get picked up around the corner at the metro station near my apartment rather than my front door. Amélie informed me that the guy would be picking me up has an imposing air, but not to worry. “Big guy, Richard. But nice as a puppy!”
As I prepared myself for this unconventional interview, I became acutely aware of just how limited my wardrobe was then and stressed for hours over what to wear. How does one dress for something like this? Would I be expected to… show myself off? Prove my measurements? Exhibit any skills? Given the impression I had of Amélie so far, I suspected not, but I was still nervous about making a good impression.
I settled on a cute, oversized knit sweater, leggings and classy, tall boots, hidden under a simple trench coat — all black, naturally. A classic almost-winter look that can be as formal or as casual as it needs to be be, and comfortable even in the most tense situations.
It was a drab, blustery day. After waiting a few minutes inside the metro terminal, I received a message from this Richard saying that he had arrived. I walked out into the mid-November wind looking for the unassuming rust-red SUV waiting for me. I approached the vehicle with a cautious confidence, exhaled as I palmed the handle, and opened the passenger door. A burly, solidly built middle-aged man with a long, scraggly grey and white beard was occupying the driver’s seat.
“Richard?” I said, knowing full well that it had to be him.
He ushered me in with stern eyes and not a single a word. I noticed his wireless earpiece and realized that he was on the line with a client.
“Ah, yes,” he said. “She has been with us two, three months? Very good feedback, very good feedback. Yes, GFE and PSE. Any extras, you can discuss with the lady. Uhhhhhm, yeah. Probably. 1:30? Great.”
He took the earpiece out and turned to make his introduction. “Ree-sharr.” he said, somehow flat in spite of the rolled Rs.
“J—Jennifer.” My heart sunk. I tried to regain composure without skipping too many beats. I can’t believe I almost gave him my real name. What’s the point of an alias if you don’t bother to use it? “Amélie is the one I’ve been talking to.”
“Are you better in English or French?” he asked.
“Well… Je suis Anglophone,” I said with the best French I could muster. “Je suis ici en part pour améliorer mon Français. Mais, je deviens un peu gênée quand il faut jaser avec les Francophones…” I added.
Richard didn’t even so much as grin at my candor.
Sure, I thought. “Nice as a big puppy.”
He was going to take me to Amélie, who was waiting in another part of the city that I’d never heard of. It was going to take a good half hour or more. “Traffic,” he said by way of eloquent explanation. Otherwise, our time together in the car was quite silent. I hoped that I did not seem too nervous because I actually felt, oddly, quite calm.
“I’m not much for talking,” Richard said finally. “But if you, ah… have any questions, feel free to ask me.”
I asked him about his role with the agency. He revealed that he has been working as a driver and booker for three years, two of those years having been with Amélie.
“Have you tried to imagine what Amélie looks like yet?” he asked me. I thought it was a peculiar question, unsure of the reaction he was hoping to inspire. Regardless, I realized that I had not given her appearance any thought at all until that moment.
“No, actually, I haven’t,” I said. “I don’t even know how old she might be.”
“You don’t know how old I am.” For the first time since I got into the vehicle, a playful grin shone out from the nest of his beard. “But she is about my age.”
We pulled into a noticeably more aged and worn neighbourhood made up of a series of flat faced buildings, though I couldn’t tell if they were for residential or business.
Up ahead, a building with a gaudy pink façade caught my eye. The main entrance, a windowless door that gave the impression that it was very heavy, was right on the corner of the block, a retro vertical neon sign above it reading [redacted]. Richard pulled into the parking lot off to the side, directed me towards the back door. I could only imagine how questionable this place would be when shrouded by the veil of night.
Passing through a short hallway, I felt like I had been whisked back in time to a 70s porno set. The open concept bar was furnished by low sitting armchairs and loveseats, all dressed up in bright red vinyl upholstery. One wall was lined completely with beaded curtains over floor to ceiling mirrors that made the place feel twice as large. And though it was early afternoon, there was a seediness in this place, not to mention the pair of drunks at the pool table in the corner having a chat with their outside voices, that suggested once you stepped over the threshold, night was eternal.
A fierce cackle sounded out from someone near the bar cut through my dreamy scan of this serious dive.
“She’s over there,” Richard said from behind me, pointing over my shoulder towards the source of the laughter. “Have a seat, and I’ll go get her.”
I took seat in one of the red sofas near the window, trying to keep my heart rate down.
“Oh no, not there,” Richard added. “That’s the boss’s chair.”
Smooth, J. I flipped over to the chair that faced the wall instead. I heard the clip-clop of heels moving across the bar floor. Before I even saw her face, I could sense her ferocity.
Amélie floated towards me with the grace of a goddess. Her high cheekbones cut me from across the room and she was wearing a long, heavy black coat that kissed at her ankles with every step. When it slipped open, I saw she had on a black snake-skin printed pantsuit, topped off with stark white boots and she was about half a head shorter standing in front of me, despite those heels being a good several inches high. Her long dark hair was naturally unruly, acting as a physical extension of her persona. She wore little to no makeup, making no attempt to hide the stunning experience lines that danced around the corners of her face. She smelled like spicy amber laced with nicotine. Everything about her was a playful game between feminine and masculine energies.
Beyond this fierce demeanour though was an undeniable warmth. Her dark brown eyes smiled at me with a gentle intensity as we firmly shook hands.
“Jennifer! Jennifer, right?” She didn’t wait for me to answer. “Yes. Hi, welcome!”
I don’t think she had even made contact with the seat beneath her when she called over to the server for a round of shooters.
“You will ‘ave one?” she said, looking to me. It wasn’t aggressive, but nor was it a suggestion.
“Um, yeah, for sure.” My shift didn’t start for another three hours. It should be fine, I thought. Famous last words.
“Great. And one for you too,” she added to our server with a wink.
“Ahh, Amélie, you are too good to me,” the young woman trilled. “Be right back.”
Grand Marnier was apparently Amélie’s poison of choice. The three of us downed the soul-warming liquid, the server cleared the glasses and left us. Then Amélie asked me a little about me.
I explained that I was new to the city, and told her a bit how I came to find her agency. Richard, who I’d honestly forgotten was still there — he didn’t drink so no shots for him — added then that I spoke French too.
“Even though she get a little shy about it,” he added.
“Ah!” Amélie exclaimed. “‘Eer I was trying so ‘ard to tink in English for you!”
She reverted immediately to French for the rest of our discussion. I responded in English when I stumbled on my words a little too much, but we got along fine that way.
“So, Jennifer.” She leaned back in her chair more seriously, draped one arm along the back of the sofa, and looked me, serious yet softly, in the eye. “Why do you want to become an escort?”
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