It’s the day after Sophie and I’s reconciliation. We’re working at replying to all of the emails she has received during her hiatus from escorting. She is on her laptop and I’m on mine. There are well over one hundred emails to go through and to get them read and replied to as quickly as possible we decide that she will start at the beginning and I will start at the end, working our way through them email by email. The reply we send is the same for each person we respond to:
by Sarah Brooke
Hello and thank you for your email. I ‘m very sorry that it took me so long to respond, I was dealing with a bad bout of pneumonia and unfortunately was not able to respond to you until now. I’m available for appointments starting on Friday and I’d love to meet with you if you’re still interested. Please let me know what time and day would work best for you and I’m sure I can accommodate.
Previous episodes of A glimpse into the shadows: An insider’s adventures in the world of escorts:
I’m going through her voicemails, writing down names and numbers to call back when Sophie interrupts me.
“There are five emails from that couple I met with before I went to Cuba.” She looks happy and relieved.
“They seemed pretty eager to see you again the last time that I had heard from them. They sent you an email telling you how much fun they had and that they’d like to see you again but I only got the email after you and I had started fighting so I was never able to tell you about it. I figured you would be checking your email and would see it.” It turns out I was wrong, Sophie had not bothered to check any emails since she had returned from her trip.
“I was worried that they didn’t have a good time. It was hard to tell. I mean, it looked like they had a good time but you never know. The wife could have gone home and decided that she didn’t like sharing.”
I glance over at her laptop and see that the email Sophie is looking at from the couple is signed by Sharon. “Instead she’s the one sending the emails, asking when you can meet again.”
“It seemed like she was pretty into it, I’m glad it wasn’t all just an act.”
“I always imagine that every middle aged couple that decide they want to have a threesome are only doing so because the man is demanding it.” I say.
“Me too! I guess it’s not a very fair assumption to make. I mean for all we know it could be the woman who is the instigator.” Sophie says, clicking to the next email from Sharon.
“It sounds like maybe she’s always had a thing for women and is just coming to terms with it.”
“Honestly I wasn’t even sure that she was bisexual. It seemed like she was enjoying herself but we didn’t do much to each other, mostly we just took turns with the husband.” Sophie says, starting to type out an email to Sharon.
“I wonder what will happen the next time you meet. Maybe she’ll be more involved. You’ll have to tell me about it after the fact, I’m intrigued.” I love hearing about her appointments, I’m curious by nature and love the insight that Sophie gives me into the business.
“I hope so. I really want her to have a good time. He definitely had a good time but pleasing a woman is more difficult. It’s something I definitely need more practice with.”
“Have you thought of watching some lesbian pornos to get some inspiration?” I say, half joking.
Sophie laughs. “Actually it’s funny you mention that but I actually did watch some amateur lesbian porn before my date with them. It’s not like I’m completely inexperienced when it comes to women but it’s been awhile.”
“Obviously you did something right if they’re so eager to see you again.”
She lets out a sigh of relief. “I’m so glad that they had fun. That was probably my most nerve wracking appointment, I was so nervous that I’d end up disappointing them both. I kept thinking about it afterwards but even when I got back from Cuba I didn’t want to check my email to see if they had replied. I just wanted to forget about all of it for awhile. If they hadn’t messaged me asking for another appointment I would have assumed that I had blown it and that they had a terrible time.”
“You would have jumped to that assumption? Really? What if they just didn’t have money for another appointment, what if they had planned it as a one time only type of thing?” I’m surprised that Sophie would assume the worst, usually she is full of confidence and very sure of herself.
“Usually I don’t over think things but in this case, I definitely would have convinced myself that I had fucked up in some major way and that they were disappointed.”
“Well now you can rest assured that you did great and that they can’t wait to see you again.”
“It gives me a boost of confidence, that’s for sure. I won’t be so nervous next time I see them.” Sophie says as she hits send on the email she’s been writing to Sharon.
Sipping my coffee, I scroll down and click on the next email. The email address itself is gibberish and even the name that accompanies the email is just a bunch of random numbers and letters. The email reads: You filthy slut, I want my money back. You should let your customers know beforehand that you’re full of herpes and syphilis. If I caught anything from you I’ll be tracking you down and making you pay.
“You’re going to want to read this.” I slide my laptop over so she can see the email. By the end of the first sentence her jaw has dropped.
“What the actual fuck…”
“The email address that this was sent from is just gibberish numbers and letters. Do you think Jeff sent this?”
She says nothing for a minute as she rereads the email. “It has to be him. He asked me once if I was worried about getting herpes or syphilis from one of my customers. He named those two STDs specifically. What are the chances some other disgruntled customer would name the same two STDs?”
“Slim to none. It’s definitely Jeff. What do we do now?”
“He’s threatening you! He said I’ll track you down and make you pay.” I point my finger to the offending line in the email, as if I really need to point it out to her.
“He says if I gave him anything he’ll make me pay. I definitely didn’t give him anything.”
“It’s still a threat!”
She shrugs her shoulders. “I know but what can I do? Call the cops?”
“I could pay a little visit to him, make him rethink threatening you.”
“First of all, I don’t want you involved. What if you go over there and he decides to take his anger out on you? I can’t risk that. Second of all, responding will only escalate things further. Let’s just forget about this. All of my ads have expired in the last few days and I won’t be putting up new ones for awhile. I have enough clients to catch up on that I really don’t need to be advertising right now. Maybe by the time we start posting ads again he’ll finally be over me.”
“I don’t think he’ll be over it by then.” I wonder to myself if he’ll ever be over it. He strikes me as the kind of guy who can hold a grudge for a long time but I don’t say this to Sophie.
“How long is he going to pine over me? I’m a hooker, it’s not like I was the great love of his life.”
“Oh but maybe you are. Remember his ex girlfriend named Carmen? Yeah, he mentioned her the first time he called to book an appointment. You told me later that he had mentioned it to you as well. Maybe he’s been obsessed with her for years and now he’s transferred the obsession from her to you.”
“That still doesn’t mean that he can’t or won’t get over it.” She says.
“I don’t know Soph, he seems like a fucking lunatic. What do we do if he won’t leave you alone?”
“I really don’t know.”
“Do you know what car he drives? I could slash his tires?” I get a little excited by the prospect of revenge. Sophie laughs at my eagerness.
“No, absolutely not. We don’t want to escalate this. We need to just forget about it and block this email address.”
“I’d bet actual money that he will send another email from another address.”
“And if he does, we’ll block that one too.” She shrugs her shoulders and it’s clear that she’s not all that worried about this but I can’t help but be concerned about what Jeff will do next. Maybe Sophie isn’t bothered by the threat he’s made or maybe she’s just trying to convince me that she’s okay with it and that it’s not a big deal. I’m not sure but I can’t help but wonder what else we can do in this situation.
“What if we hire someone to go scare him?”
“What do you mean?” She says with a small sigh, realizing that I’m not quite done with the conversation yet.
“We could find a big scary bodyguard looking type of guy and get him to have a little talk with Jeff.”
“And what would that accomplish?” She stops checking emails and leans back against the wall, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
“If he thinks you’ve hired a bodyguard he will probably think twice about doing anything stupid.”
“I don’t think he’d do anything though. Sending empty threats is one thing but I’m not worried about him actually hurting me.”
“But you shouldn’t be so certain.”
“Even if I’m wrong I don’t think sending a big scary guy over to his place is going to accomplish anything. If anything it might just piss him off even more. Our best bet is to just ignore it. He has no idea where I live. If he really does go to my parents house I’m just going to deny everything. I’ve already told them that I was dating someone who has gone crazy so if he does show up there, I can pretend that he’s just my crazy ex who is making up stuff.”
“That’s a pretty good idea actually. What if he shows them pictures from your ads? If he shows them those pictures they’d probably be able to tell it was you, even though your face isn’t shown.”
“It won’t matter. I’ve been really careful, I always use a different comforter and pillows when taking pictures in my room and there’s really nothing in any of my photographs that could identify me. It’s not like my parents have seen me naked as an adult, he’ll have no way to prove that it’s me.”
“I guess that’s true. Even if he did tell your parents, if you just blow it off they’ll probably believe you no matter what. I’m glad you’re not worried about it.” I say, finishing my coffee and putting it on the floor next to the bed.
“I can’t be worried about it anymore. Worrying about it is what kept me tied to him. I don’t want him to have any control over me.”
“I’m proud of you Sophie. I know this hasn’t been easy to deal with.”
“It hasn’t. I wish I had never met him. He’s been nothing but problems. I can’t wait until he goes away for good.”
“You’re sure that there are no other disgruntled customers who could have sent that email? I mean, maybe it wasn’t even Jeff.” I suggest although I know that it must be from him.
“I’m pretty confident that it’s him but there’s no way to be sure. Anyways, after we get all these emails replied to I’m going to stop checking Carmen’s emails at all. You can let me know about any bookings you’ve made and if there are any more threatening emails, let me know. What ever you do don’t respond to any of them though. Just ignore him and maybe he’ll go away.”
“I promise that I won’t reply to him, as tempting as it is. Do you want me to take the Carmen phone when I go home tonight?”
“You can pretty much keep it indefinitely from now on. Just tell me where to be and who I’m meeting with and I’ll be there. I want to take a step back from everything for awhile and basically just show up to my appointments and leave. Do you mind?”
“Not at all. Honestly, I’ve been bored out of my mind the last few weeks. I wasn’t sure if you needed me anymore so I had started looking for jobs.”
“I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to make you think that you didn’t have a job anymore. I should have just told you that I was taking a break from escorting.”
“I’m not gonna lie, I did check out a few of the websites to see if you were posting new ads.” I bite my lip after telling her, not sure if she’ll think I was out of line to be keeping tabs on her.
“I don’t blame you, I’d have been curious as well.”
“I was glad that you hadn’t been putting up ads. I like to think that you need me even though I know it’s not really true.”
Sophie looks up at me. “Sarah, don’t say that. I really do need you. I know it’s not the hardest job and that I can and did manage this on my own but I can’t tell you how much easier it’s been with you handling almost everything. School has been kicking my ass and I’m so relieved to not have to worry about missing calls or appointments because I’m in class or because I’m swamped. I really do need you. I never told you about this but one of the main reasons I asked for your help is because I desperately needed it. One day after a particularly bad week at school I showed up at an appointment that I thought was for a client who was really into BDSM. I was wearing these crazy high leather boots and a very tight black leather outfit. I had brought a whip too. I was all decked out for a BDSM session. Well, I get there and I take off my trench coat and the guy starts looking at me like I had two heads. Turns out the BDSM appointment was for the next day and I had mixed up my appointments. I tried to play it off like this is just how I dress for every appointment but the guy was clearly not into leather and asked me to take it off. I was so embarrassed and needless to say but the guy never called back.”
“That’s not a big deal though Soph, people make mistakes.”
“I can’t make mistakes like that though. Some of my clients have very specific requests. What if I show up to the wrong appointment again and it’s even worse than last time? I owe it to my clients to be who they want me to be when I show up.”
“I had never thought about that. I’m surprised you didn’t fuck up more appointments during the school year when you were handling this yourself.”
“Me too actually. But that fuck up was enough to make me admit that I needed help. I have no desire to work for an agency but I was contemplating it for awhile. I wasn’t sure about asking you to do this.”
“Really? But I’m the least judgmental person you know.”
“Of course you are but I still didn’t know if you’d be okay with this. It’s one thing to think that prostitution should be legal, it’s another thing entirely to find out that your best friend is one. I appreciate how cool you’ve been about all of this. I’m honestly not sure that I could do this without you. If you had said no I had already decided that I was going to retire from the business.”
I almost can’t believe what she is saying. I had known all along that she really did need my help with the business but I had no idea that she had been so close to throwing in the towel before she had got up the nerve to ask me for help. The past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for me and before I can start tearing up I give Sophie a big smile and say “I’m just so glad that I’ve been able to help.” I don’t trust myself to say anything else and I turn my eyes back to my laptop, pretending to read through emails. The truth is that I had been pretty sure that Sophie and I’s friendship had ended and for the past few weeks I had spent countless hours wishing that she had never come to me asking for help with her business. Her admitting just how much she needed my help was exactly what I needed to hear.