I hated myself for it. How many times had I been there, laying in a hotel bed next to someone whose name was a mystery to me? How often had I told myself that it would be the last time? How many times did I pocket the cash, knowing full well that it wouldn’t be? I truly hated myself for it.
This latest one was nothing new; just another nameless face in my never ending quest to pay the rent and keep my head above water. Even if I had known his name I wouldn’t have remembered it. There was nothing special about him. Pushing sixty, mostly bald with horrific table manners, at least I got a good meal out of this one.
I didn’t exactly market myself as a hooker or prostitute. In fact, there was really no marketing done at all. I had no pimp or agent, and actually didn’t consider myself to be a prostitute though I was considered a victim of human trafficking. I was trafficking myself. It gave me the false illusion of being in charge. Even hookers had a price scale. I only had brutal honesty and deeply deceptive and misleading information at my disposal. I couldn’t even be one hundred percent honest with myself.
People do strange things for money. Money corrupts even the incorruptible. You can get anything you want with enough money. All I wanted was a roof over my head right then, and as the man next to me snored deeply, I wondered how much closer to my goal I would be once he woke up.
Politicians sell their souls for enough money to win elections. Prostitutes sell their bodies. Some people sell images of feet for foot fetish websites. Thieves and pickpockets run rampant in the streets, often learning at early ages how to remove a wrist watch during a handshake. In some countries, families will sell their children to the highest bidder in some of the most deplorable acts of humanity imaginable. All of this is done for profit. People will do almost anything for money.
So misguided are the opinions of people in the sex trade world wide. While some prostitutes fit the irrefutable stereotype of being on drugs and making bad choices, most of them aren’t put there because that’s where they want to be. Often they’re forced into the trade to begin with, and the majority by someone they know, trust and love. The drug addictions often come afterward, because it’s the only way some of these gals can get from one day to the next without blowing their own brains out. It’s a gritty, nasty world out there in the sex trade, not at all the glamorous life Hollywood made it out to be. Some actually are the rare cliche we know and love, the prostitute with the heart of gold, but for the most part they’re broken people with wounded souls and damaged lives who think there is no other way to survive. Some are severe addicts or young people who failed to become famous actors after moving to Los Angeles for fortune and glory, and they learned all too quickly how to sell themselves for the next bit part which lead way down the dark path of prostitution. Later on it would be to keep the food from disappearing just like the bit parts in Hollywood did. Almost all of them have some history of sexual abuse at some point in their lives. I’m no exception to that myself, though I didn’t remember my own past trauma until a few years ago when I made the mistake of trusting the wrong man. I nearly lost my soul and my life along the way. I’m not entirely convinced I didn’t lose my soul, or a large piece of it anyway.
Nameless in the bed stirred. His intermittent rattling snore ceased. I watched him, dreading what might come next. I was already sick to my stomach just watching his bulbous paunch expanding with each inhale.
“Hey Baby,” he murmured. Oh good, I thought. He doesn’t remember the name I gave him. Neither did I for that matter. “Baby, come here.” Leaning closer I whispered to him.
“I have to go soon.”
“But we’re going to spend the night. I paid for the room for the whole night.”
“I can’t, Lover. I have to work in the morning.” I fought back my gag reflex.
That’s right. I have a real job. I have an honest job that I receive a weekly paycheck for. It’s even a full time job, but it doesn’t pay the bills very well. I have no addictions other than cigarettes and I’m good at what I do. But it doesn’t pay the bills. It’s getting harder and harder to find a paying gig willing to put up with my hours at my daytime job. Doing what I do at least has that benefit going for it. I even tried waitressing for a bit, and to be perfectly honest I had to fight off the handsy bastards far more often at that job than at the side gig I chose for myself.
“Yes, Darling,” I kissed his forehead. I really hoped he didn’t ask me what I did for a living. My answer for that always matched the name I gave. That way when they called me by name I could always instantaneously remember the backstory that went with it. Each name had its own backstory and I was damn good at covering my own tracks that way. A shrink would have had a field day trying to analyze my brain.
“You didn’t tell me you had a job, Baby. What do you do?”
In expedited mental image clips, I reviewed the entire evening searching for the moment I had given him my name. He had talked all evening about how wealthy his family was. I had forgotten my own name. It was incredibly sloppy of me and completely unlike how I would normally operate. He’d just been so incredibly dull I glazed through the entire night. I needed an easier way to remember.
His voice echoed out of the distance over and over.
“Baby… Baby? Baby, you okay? Tiffany?”
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night only to discover you’re terrified that you may just keep on living? Damn it. He remembered my name and I didn’t know his.
“Sorry, Sweetie. I zoned out a minute.”
“I work as an office assistant for Dr Sterling, the psychologist.” Of course I didn’t.
“And you have trouble paying your rent?”
“It’s not the famous Dr. Sterling in Beverly Hills. Dr. Sterling’s office is in Lomita.” Now for the gut punch, I thought to myself. “So she doesn’t make much money and can’t afford to pay me for another two weeks right now.” That had to be good for another couple hundred dollars at least.
“Alright, Baby,” He threw back the cheap hotel comforter, exposing his oversized gut and undersized phallus. Mentally I gagged. We sorted through the clothes strewn on the floor, his with passionate abandon, mine with careless monotony. He really was nothing special.
I expected him to hand me the money. That’s the way these things were usually done. It was rare that I would ever leave even a half hour situation with less than a thousand dollars. These men were willing to pay for quality and I always brought my A game. This guy though… what a piece of work. He removed cash from his jeans pocket in the dark. He didn’t even touch his wallet. That meant that this was a predetermined amount he was about to give me; nothing more and nothing less. No actual thought was going into his monetary “gift” to help with the rent. I could have given the greatest sob story of my life and it wouldn’t have changed things at all. Mr. Rolly Polly figured out how much I was worth to him before he ever even met me. Thank God for condoms.
He slid his hand down my dress and tucked the money into my bra like I was a common stripper. If I had seen how much it was, I could have determined then and there if I should have spat in his face or caused an atomic bomb to detonate in the general vicinity of his sausage and meatballs. As it was, I opted for neither. I was perfectly capable of deciding on my own never to use him again. I just had to leave first.
“Thanks,” I grumbled and turned to walk to my car.
“No kiss goodbye?”
“Nope.” I barely turned my head to answer and I’m not entirely sure he heard me. I didn’t care. I was done with him.
The money was causing a mild skin irritation in my bra but I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing me dig it out. Once seated in my car I slid under the dash a bit to fish it out. I started the little red convertible’s motor and let it purr for a moment while I counted the bills.
Eight grand. That was the best yet. Maybe I should have been a little nicer to the prick, I thought to myself. Then again, he was pretty slimy. I scratched at the irritated skin. I smirked. Eight grand. I hated myself for it. And I put it straight back into my bra.