It’s been weeks since the last time I’ve seen or spoken to Sophie and life has gone on quite unremarkably. I’ve managed to land a job interview for a customer service position at a bank just down the street from me, but besides that the job hunt has been excruciatingly slow going.
by Sarah Brooke
Previous episodes of A glimpse into the shadows: An insider’s adventures in the world of escorts:
Tonight Carrie has insisted that Mike and I come to the casino to celebrate her much anticipated promotion at work and by the time we arrive everyone has already started in on the drinking and gambling. Wasting no time getting started I pick out a slot machine next to Mel and we both wish Mike good luck as he heads to the Blackjack tables. I am not particularly fond of gambling and I always stick to the slot machines, something Carrie never fails to give me shit for. She’s happy to drop a few hundred dollars in one night but if I lose any more than a twenty dollar bill I will end up thinking about it for days, contemplating all of the things I could have done with the money.
I’m down a little over five dollars when my phone starts ringing. At first I let it ring, not sure I want to answer it as I’ve been getting a lot of telemarketing calls lately and I don’t have the patience to deal with another one right now. When the phone starts ringing again I realize it’s probably not a telemarketer and I start searching through my massive purse for my phone. When I finally find the damn thing I see that it’s Sophie calling from the Carmen phone. I take a minute to gather my thoughts before answering, wondering what she could be calling me for and why from Carmen’s phone. I excuse myself and walk far enough away from Mel that she can’t possibly overhear our conversation.
“Hello?” I say, unable to hide the surprise in my voice.
“Yes, it’s me.”
“Sarah, I need your help. Can you come get me?” Sophie says, her voice sounds small and shaky.
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Just… can you come get me please?”
“Yeah of course, I don’t have a car here with me though…” I say, looking over at Mike who is intently focused on his game of Blackjack.
“Can you borrow one?”
“I’d have to ask but probably…Why, what’s going on? Where are you, Sophie?”
“I just need you to come get me as soon as you can. I’m at Jeff’s. He’s going crazy. I’ve locked myself in the bathroom and he won’t let me out.”
“Okay don’t move, I’ll be right there. Just stay put.” I hang up the phone and head over to plead my case to Mike.
It doesn’t take long for me to convince him to let me borrow his car. Although he asks what’s up and clearly would love an explanation I tell him that it’s something personal and I’ll explain later. I’m not sure what I’ll end up telling him but I don’t have time to worry about that right now. I grab his keys and leave him with a good luck kiss, telling him I’ll be back soon.
Jeff’s apartment is only twenty minutes away from the casino but I make it there in fifteen. I can’t find a parking spot as close to the door as I would like and end up sprinting the three blocks to his place. Once I get to the door I realize that there’s no way for me to get buzzed in so I stand there pretending to look frustrated, searching through my purse for my imaginary apartment door key. It doesn’t take long before someone with a key walks through the doors and I quickly follow behind them. While waiting for the elevator I realize that I have no idea what his apartment number is and in Sophie’s rush she never got around to telling me.
She picks up on the first ring.
“Soph, what floor is it? And what room number?”
“Fourth floor room 4132. Are you here?” She says.
“Yes I’m in the lobby. Is he being violent? Is it safe for me to go up there? Should I call the police or something?”
“He hasn’t hurt me and he won’t hurt you. It’s okay, just come and get me. I’m in the bathroom and he won’t let me out. ” Her voice is uneven and it sounds like she’s been crying.
“I’ll be right there.” I end the call and catch the next elevator up. I try to brace myself for the drama that might be about to happen. Not sure of what to expect, I’m completely on edge. Remembering a can of bear spray I had bought shortly after I started working for Sophie, I rifle through my purse in search of it. I have a habit of using unnecessarily large purses so it takes me a minute to locate it but by the time I find his apartment, I’ve found the bear spray and removed it from the Ziploc bag it’s been contained in.
Knocking on his door, I start calling out her name. “Sophie? Sophie are you in there?” I hear a muffled voice from behind the door.
“Jeff, just let me in.” I knock even louder this time.
I hear a chain unlock and the door swings open. With one hand on the pepper spray and the other on the door knob, I push my way in. Jeff is standing there, red in the face. The living room is a mess. Chairs and a table are overturned, an ash tray has been dumped on the floor and in the middle of the mess is Sophie’s purse. I can see that her belongings are strewn about.
“What the FUCK, Jeff?” I shout.
“Who are you?” he says, stepping back from the door.
“It doesn’t matter who I am. What the fuck is this all about?”
“Nothing, it’s fine, don’t worry about it. Why are you here?”
Ignoring him, I start calling out for her. “SOPHIE? SOPHIE? I’m here.” I yell her name as loud as I can and to my left I notice a door slowly opening with Sophie’s head poking out. “Thank god, I was so worried. Come on, let’s go.” I say, motioning my head towards the door behind me.
“Sophie, you don’t have to leave. I’m sorry, we can work this out…I didn’t mean to…” Jeff starts walking towards the bathroom door and a look of genuine fear is in Sophie’s eyes.
“No no, you’ve done quite enough. Back away from her and let her come out.” My hand remains on the pepper spray and I hope that in the heat of the moment I don’t accidentally press down and spray myself or my purse.
“Whoever you are you do not need to be here. Just go.” he points towards the door behind me.
“I don’t think you understand the fucking situation, Jeffrey. Sophie is coming with me. I don’t know what you’ve done but she does not want to be here anymore.”
“Fuck that. You can’t just leave, Sophie.”
“She absolutely can. If you don’t back up and let her pass I am going to pepper spray you directly in your eyes.”
He steps towards me and is about to say something when he notices my hand wrapped around a small bottle of bear spray.
“I’m not fucking around as you can see. This shit burns like fire, you might want to back up. As much as I’d like to spray you right in your dumb face, the spray might come back and get me too so just back the fuck up.” He finally takes heed and begins stepping backwards, hands in the air, signifying his willingness to cooperate.
“Ok Soph, come out.” I put myself and the pepper spray between her and Jeff and she comes out of the bathroom. “Grab your stuff. He won’t bother you. Will you, Jeff?” He eyes the pepper spray in my hand and shakes his head.
Sophie is visibly upset, her eyes are red and her makeup is smudged all over her face. She rushes to the living room and starts throwing things back into her purse. Thankfully it was a small purse and it doesn’t take her very long. She dashes out the door and I follow her out, leaving the apartment back first, my pepper spray still aimed at his face.
“Jeff I don’t know what happened here today but I’m about to find out. All I will say is that you better not ever contact her again. If you come after her in any way I will lose my shit. I am not the most stable person out there, as you might have already guessed, and now I know where you live. Just screw off and leave her alone and everything will be fine.” He nods and I nod back at him. “I’m glad we understand each other. I won’t keep you, it looks like you have some housekeeping to do.” And with one last look at the mess that he’s turned his living room in to, I close the door behind me and follow Sophie down the hall. She doesn’t say a word until we get into the elevator and when the doors close behind us she starts sobbing into her hands.
“Soph, don’t cry. Whatever happened it’s over now.”
“You don’t understand. I should have known.”
I put the pepper spray back into the Ziploc bag and toss it into my purse. When the elevator opens up to the ground floor, I lead her to the front door and towards Mike’s waiting car.
“It’s okay, you’re fine and you’re done with him. Did he hurt you?”
“No, after he freaked out and started destroying the apartment he grabbed my shoulders and pushed me against the wall but that’s it. I wriggled free and locked myself in the bathroom.”
Walking down the street we’re getting some inquisitive looks. I stop Sophie and face her, using my sleeve to wipe the tears and makeup off her face. I can’t get the smudged mascara off but she looks a bit more presentable.
“What happened? How did it escalate into that?” I say.
“I told him that our time was almost up and that I had to go back home. He started accusing me of having another appointment to go to and was demanding that I spend the night with him. He didn’t want to pay me, he just wanted me to stay the night as his girlfriend. I told him that he’d gotten the wrong idea and that I was really sorry but I could never date one of my clients. He started raging that I thought of him as ‘just a client’. He started calling me a whore again and next thing I know he’s flipping tables and wrecking everything. Sarah, it was his own apartment. What good was it to destroy it? It was bizarre.”
“He sounds like a crazy person, Sophie.” We arrive at Mike’s car but Sophie doesn’t recognize it so she keeps walking until she notices I’ve stopped.
“Did you get a new car?”
“No, it’s Mike’s.”
Sophie stands there staring at the car while I’m on the other side about to open the driver’s side door. I’m about to remind her that she should get in when she bursts out crying again.
“I should know that this is Mike’s car. I should know everything about him. I should have been out with you guys tonight and not here with Jeff. I’m so sorry Sarah. I didn’t know what to do. I felt trapped. Keeping him happy seemed like my only choice. I thought he’d eventually get bored of me and things would go back to normal.”
I unlock the door and hop in, reaching over to open the passenger’s side door for her. Sophie opens it and sits down, wiping her eyes.
“This was all so stupid. I wanted to call you every day and apologize but I couldn’t bear to listen to you telling me what to do. I was scared.”
“Soph, it’s okay. I understand you were confused.” I say.
“No, I was an idiot. You were right, I should have left after he went through my shit in Cuba. All I’ve done is let him fall even more in love with me by continuing to see him. I just… I just don’t know what he’ll do. What if he goes to my parents?”
“Why would he? You know where he lives, you know his number, his emails, his Myspace, his Facebook. You could just as easily out him as he could out you.”
“It’s not nearly as shameful to be a guy who is using an escort as it is to actually be an escort.”
“Do you really think he wants his friends and family to find out about this? I fucking doubt it. No guy wants his friends knowing that he is paying for sex.” I say.
“Maybe but he probably doesn’t realize that I can out him just as easily as he can out me. He might be so mad that he does something stupid without even thinking it through first.”
“Then we’ll send him a message letting him know that if he says a word about you to anyone, you’ll be forced to do the same to him.”
“Do you want to go back to your place or my place and talk about this?” I check the time and it’s almost 8pm.
“No, I’d like to go to the casino with you guys. If you don’t mind…”
“Of course not. But what should we tell everyone? I mean what should we tell them about why you’re here now.”
“I told Carrie I had schoolwork to do. We can just tell her I was finished early and wanted you to come pick me up as a surprise to everyone.” She says.
“That will work. What do we do if they ask why we haven’t been hanging out lately?”
She thinks for a moment. “Let’s just ignore it and pretend that there was never anything wrong. They have no idea that we weren’t talking, they just have their suspicions.”
“True. I hope things can go back to normal now, I’ve missed you Soph.”
She wipes away a tear and finally smiles.