It was Canada Day 2007. We were out celebrating with friends, our faces painted with our best attempts at maple leafs. She had done a much better job on my maple leaf and the sad looking leaf on her cheek was a constant reminder of my artistic inability. We were splitting a pitcher of beer on a sunny patio when our friends left to go meet up with another group of people.
by Sarah Brooke
We stayed behind, determined to finish the pitcher or get sunburned trying. We were talking about something frivolous when she stopped midway through a sentence and told me there was something she needed to talk to me about. Her tone of voice changed and there was a gravity to it that wasn’t there a moment ago. For a moment my heart stopped. Sophie was not one who was known to get overly serious and I was genuinely concerned as to what her announcement would be.
“Sarah, I’m an escort.”
I remember having nothing to say. I’m sure that my jaw dropped and I had a shocked expression on my face but she must have expected that because she just went on.
“I’m telling you because I know you’ll understand, or at least if you won’t understand, you’ll be accepting. I need help.”
I need help. The words rang in my ears. Did she owe her pimp money? Had she got herself into some kind of drug debt? My mind grasped for any and all stereotypical hooker related problems I could fathom, already planning ways to drag her out of the seedy underworld and back into the light.
“Has anyone hurt you? Sophie, is your pimp strong-arming you? We can bring him down, Soph. He won’t get away with this.”
“Pimp? What? No… oh god, no. I don’t have a pimp!” I was relieved to hear her say that but also a bit confused. What did she need help with then? A disgruntled customer? A stalker?
“I just need help managing the business. It’s become too much for me. I thought with summer here that I would have more time for it all but I still find it a bit draining.”
“What do you mean? What do you need help with?” Relief flooded over me. I wasn’t going to have to track down and threaten anyone, at least not yet.
“The business side of things. I don’t want you to get involved or anything, I just need help with the day to day stuff. Emails, phone calls, arranging appointments, putting ads up online. Stuff like that. I know you could use the extra money and that you’re pretty much the only person in the world I could even admit this to so I thought I’d ask. If you’re not comfortable with it, no worries. I want you to feel free to say no.”
“Yes, absolutely I will help you. Are you kidding me? That sounds like the easiest job ever.” She laughed immediately after I said it and for a split second I wondered what I was getting myself into.
“I wouldn’t say easiest. It can be demanding. I just need a break from it all. I’m looking forward to having someone work out all the details and just tell me where to be and at what time.”
At the time I wasn’t sure how demanding running a single escort could be. I would come to understand what she meant. The time wasters, the midnight calls and 2am texts, the cheats and the weirdos. She gave me a prepaid cell phone that she used as her escort number, we would pass it back and forth depending on who was taking her appointments that day. Her name wasn’t Sophie in this world, it was Carmen. I would answer every text, every email and every phone call posing as Carmen.
We finished our pitcher while she explained the basics of the job to me. I would have to put ads up for her on a number of different websites each day or so, removing the old ads and putting up new ones. She had some templates for me to go by but she knew I was a pretty good writer so she said I could write whatever I wanted, but I had to make sure I explained what services she offered. There were pictures to accompany each add, none showing her face.
We agreed that I would take a percentage of each appointment I booked for her. I wasn’t expecting much income from this venture, 20% of her appointment would be a grand total of $60 and I couldn’t imagine she got much more than one appointment every few days. She asked if I would be willing to drive her to and from the dates when I’m able to and I agreed. She offered me a flat fee of $20 for driving her to the appointments and I joked about how I would have to start working out and taking steroids to get buff enough to strike terror into the hearts of uncooperative johns.
With the pitcher done and the basic details worked out, we shook on it and left to go track down our friends. She never had to swear me to secrecy, she knew without having to ask that her secret would die with me.