It’s Friday night and we’re at our favorite bar just down the street from Sophie’s apartment. We’ve been making a habit of grabbing a couple of drinks here before Sophie starts her Friday or Saturday night rush.
by Sarah Brooke
Previous episodes of A glimpse into the shadows: An insider’s adventures in the world of escorts:
It’s only 5pm so the bar is almost empty. The only other patrons are a couple in their thirties and a table full of boisterous girls around our age who are dressed to the nines, obviously celebrating one of their birthdays. We’re splitting a pitcher of beer and we’re about halfway through although Sophie has been nursing her first glass while I’m well into my second.
Sophie leaves for Cuba on Monday morning and she’s decided to take Saturday and Sunday off so I’ll be enjoying a few extra days of vacation as well. As much as I’m looking forward to the break I’m also wondering what I’m going to do with myself with my best friend gone and no real job to keep me occupied. I haven’t got to the point where I’m actually missing my job as a waitress yet but I’m getting close. I used to work 10 hour shifts on Thursdays but yesterday I spent the entire day in my pajamas. It was glorious.
“I’m getting nervous.” she says.
“Tonight is my first couple.” Absentmindedly, she’s tracing swirls into the condensation on her glass.
“Well not really…” She cuts me off before I can finish my thought.
“It’s my first appointment with a couple. I’m just not sure what it’s going to be like. They’re married.”
“How old are they?”
“In their 40′s by the sounds of it but I don’t really know. I spoke to the wife, not the husband. She contacted me through the website you made and I have no idea what either of them look like. I looked them up, they weren’t on Facebook but the wife was on Myspace. The only pictures I could see were all of their Golden Retriever. There wasn’t a single picture of them.”
“Well don’t be nervous. You’ve done this kind of thing before you just haven’t been paid for it.”
“It’s not a big deal, I know. I just got the impression that this is their first time doing this so we’ll be a bunch of first timers trying to figure things out. Except that I’m the professional and everything will be up to me. If it doesn’t go smoothly, it’ll be my fault.”
“Soph, they’re going to pay you regardless of how well it goes.” I grab a menu and start flicking through it, trying to decide if I want nachos or a heaping plate of fries. Sophie doesn’t like to eat much before her dates so I know whatever I order I’m on my own. I go with the nachos because I figure they will make better leftovers for a late night snack.
“I know that but I want them to have a good time. They’re paying a lot of money for this experience and if I don’t pull it off for them they’ll be disappointed.”
“I can guarantee that it won’t be your fault if they’re disappointed. Just talk to them beforehand and make sure you’re all on the same page.” My stomach starts grumbling and I turn in my seat to try to track down the waitress. She’s probably taking a breather before the bar starts to get really busy. In another few hours the bar will fill up and there will be standing room only.
“Of course I’ll do that but… I don’t know. It’s just a bit nerve-wracking.” Sophie says. I finally catch the waitress coming out of the kitchen and wave to her. She nods and heads over to our table.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, if I don’t eat something soon I’m going to turn into a beast. I’m getting nachos, do you want any?”
“I’ll steal a few but that’s it.”
I place my order, extra chicken and no olives. The waitress smiles and asks if we’d like another pitcher. I answer no for the both of us and she heads off towards the kitchen again.
“I just hope it goes well, that’s all.” She has barely looked up from her glass.
“Is there anything else bothering you?” I have an inkling that she’s really worried about her week long vacation with Jeff. She hasn’t talked much about it since we went bikini shopping but she’s been somewhat distracted ever since.
“No. Not really. Of course I’m a little nervous about going to Cuba but that’s normal. As much as I think I know him, he’s still mostly a stranger.”
“You shouldn’t be worried, it’s going to be a blast.” I try to sound reassuring but I can only imagine how nervous I would be in her position.
“I haven’t told any of my family or friends where I’m going. I think I’m just worried about being found out. If people find out that I’ve gone on vacation seemingly by myself they’ll get suspicious.”
“Just tell everyone that your cell phone broke and you’ve been out of touch because of that. Or say you had the flu. No one needs to know. Tell people you were swamped with schoolwork. Honestly, it’s only a week, people probably won’t even notice.”
“You’re right. It’ll probably be fine. I already told my mother that I was going to be very busy with school this week and not to worry if she doesn’t hear from me. I’ll send her a text right before I leave on Monday. Were you planning on seeing any friends while I’m gone?” she finally looks away from her glass and her eyes meet mine.
I know why she’s asking. I have a few of my own friends but for the most part we share the same circle of friends. If I were to go out with any of our mutual friends, they’d likely ask where Sophie is. We’ve developed a reputation for being inseparable.
“I was planning on going to visit Stella and Michael at some point, they keep inviting me over to see their new house but I keep putting them off because Michael is so fucking boring.”
Sophie laughs. Stella is a friend of mine who used to work at the Jive Turkey with me. She quit a year ago but we’d kept in touch. She knew Sophie but they weren’t friends.
“Soph, I’m not going to hang out with our friends. Don’t worry. No one will know that you’re gone. If anyone asks me to go out I’ll just fake an illness.” I had figured that Sophie would be apprehensive about me meeting up with our friends while she was gone but now that I really knew that I wouldn’t be seeing any of them while she was gone, I was beginning to worry about what I would do with the entire week. Besides answering the Carmen cell phone to tell people to call me back next week for appointments, I had no work to do or places to be. I had finished the website in a matter of days so there wasn’t even that to keep my occupied. I’d have to give my mom a call and see if I could go visit her for a day or two. She lived about an hour away and we didn’t see each other as much as we’d like. “I’ll probably just go visit my mom for a few days.”
She looks more relieved than she did five minutes ago but that’s not saying much. “I’m sorry. I’m probably being super annoying. I had a really bad dream a couple nights ago. Someone blew my cover. I can still remember the absolute panic I felt in the dream. I woke up sweating and crying. It was really upsetting and I just can’t stop thinking about it.”
“Soph, you don’t need to worry. That’s not going to happen to you. I’m sorry if I put the idea in your head, I just want you to be as safe as you can.”
“I know and I appreciate that. I wasn’t even worried about being outed before I had the dream. Now I’m worried about pissing someone off and then they decide to try to ruin my life because of it.”
“That’s not going to happen. You’re very sweet and no one would ever have reason to do something like that.” I wondered if she was worried about Jeff specifically but I didn’t dare ask. She was already worried about the trip, I didn’t want to add to her concerns.
“I’m sure you’re right. I hope I shake this feeling soon. I thought the beer might help but it’s only made my stomach queasy.”
“Not a problem, I’ll just finish this for you.” I grab her glass and start chugging it. Some of it spills down my white shirt and she laughs. I finish it and clunk the glass down in front of her.
“Thanks.” She says.
“What are friends for! You sure you don’t want to order something? Some food might help settle your stomach.”
“I doubt it. My stomach has been in knots all day. I had some toast this morning but that was all I could stomach. I’ll take some Pepto before my first appointment, I’ll be fine.”
“Hey! Don’t forget to bring Pepto and Imodium with you to Cuba. If it’s anything like our trip to the Dominican last year, you’ll need it.”
Sophie groans remembering the food poisoning we both got right before our flight home from the Dominican. Our only hope had been to load up on diarrhea meds. It hadn’t been a good experience.
“Maybe it’d be safer if I just don’t eat for the entire week.”
“Probably. I’ve heard that the food isn’t great in Cuba anyways so maybe just bring a few boxes of crackers in your luggage and live off of that for the entire week.” As soon as I finish my sentence the waitress places the huge plate of nachos down in front of me. “Now at least make it look like you’re sharing this with me or everyone is going to think I’m a pig.”
Finally, Sophie smiles.