The sad winter sunlight waned as a direful sinking feeling took over me the more I thought about what I was about to do. Once it completely drowned under the horizon and nightfall spread across the city, I heard the elevator door open and turned to the sight of Hilda and her mother, Odile, coming out of it. I guided them to Tobias’ room where the whole family was gathered and receiving visitors. After the initial exchange of salutations, me and Hilda withdrew from the room and outside to the hall where we sat down and talked. She seemed happy again now that her life was back on track: She had terminated her pregnancy and broken up with Stephen; she showed me the e-mail sent by “an unknown Trevor Domvik” that showed evidence Stephen was double-timing her with Claudia. Her friendship with her had ended as well. I was then informed she was finally going away to Paris to pursue her studies in business and that she had landed herself a talent agent who’ll provide her with modeling jobs once she makes it there. As the conversation kept going, my mind was preocuppied thinking and foreseeing how my meeting with Hans would go. When the clock started ticking, I became agitated as I had to leave soon and her presence was holding me back. I didn’t know how to tell her I had to leave, though, especially since it was the last time I’d see her before she moved. At some point, I stopped listening to anything she was saying, interrupted her and told her I had to get home to check on Hugo. I felt vicious doing so, but I wasn’t going to be late to my meeting; I couldn’t afford to.
My departure struck her as odd, and she didn’t know what to say. I could tell she sensed something was up because I stood up mid-conversation and wasn’t able to articulate my reason to leave properly due to the immense guilt I felt abandoning her to go do something as immoral as selling myself for sex which I still couldn’t wrap my mind around since I didn’t really take the time to think about how it would affect me or the ones around me. As I moved away, Hilda thanked me for the years of friendship and apologized for taking some of it for granted. She then stood up and hugged me. It took her a while to let go, and I thought of something to tell her, but since the moment spoke for itself, I preferred to leave things unsaid. We separated, her hand purposely falling and setting on mine, briefly holding it, and I had to excuse myself again before walking away for good.
At home, everything was ready. I had put everything in place since the night before; the clothes, the duffle bag, my pocket knife which I thought I’d take for protection. I took a quick shower with freezing cold water because my mom had forgotten to turn up the water heater which triggered an unfavorable past event that happened a few summers back: Me, Hilda and some friends were at a water park and I almost drowned. I can’t remember what happened in great detail, but we were in a wave pool and I kept on being pushed underwater by the intense force of continuous waves that kept on overcoming me and pushing me deeper and deeper inside the pool every time I tried to get back to the surface. What made things even worse was the amount of people sitting in enormous pool floats; they kept bumping into each other which prevented me from finding a gap to pull my head out and breathe. The challenge was deadly; what seemed to be a beautiful day out at the pool turned into a nightmare as I struggled to rescue myself, and I actually didn’t; Hilda did. Somehow she had seen me and with the help of a lifeguard, they fished me out of the water and dragged me to the ground where he breathed life back into me. I still owe it to her for saving my life, and I’m surprised I had forgotten about that day for so long. It’s not something someone could easily forget. If it weren’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be here today.
Walking in the dank and frigid streets of Freiburg, I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure no one I knew was around. I felt paranoid thinking I’d bump into someone familiar although that was unlikely to happen at a late hour. I avoided main streets and used alleyways to get to the Columbi Hotel. I walked about in the shadows, blending inside them and becoming one which made me feel like a lowlife lurking in the darkness; after all, I was up to no good. Conveniently and due to the nature of the work, I was dressed entirely in black; my hoodie, t-shirt, sweatpants, cap, and socks were all black. Standing on the other side of the street facing the hotel, I felt nameless and nocturnal; Felix was slowly fading away while Trevor emerged and took his place. For months, keeping both identities separate came to me as a struggle, but for once, I had to double the effort and shut Felix out completely. I’ve finally entered the underground world of prostitution and although I could feel myself slipping, I had to pull it together and do my job well. It’s one thing to anticipate your first encounter with a man as a prostitute, but another to being moments away from actually making it happen.
Everything in his darkly-lit room was warm; the colors, the textures, the patterns. It was all butterscotch and mahogany, and the scent of oud filled the entire space. The vibe was very gentle which put me at ease. Coming here, I was mentally bracing myself not knowing how things would play out; I was worried about being seen or endangering myself. But my worries were immediately thrown out of the window once I entered the room; the environment was soothing, relaxing and seductive. Hans sat on his sofa and asked me to get comfortable. I unzipped my hoodie and took it off. He put his hand on the cushion and gave it a few pats signaling me to join him, and I did. We locked eyes, but I was too shy to keep it; my eyes kept rolling around and going in all kinds of different directions until I felt his hand on my neck; that’s when I froze. He got a bit closer and I could smell his whiskey-soaked breath. His movements were slow but firm, his gestures tender but dominative; he was in control, and I didn’t resist. After all, he was paying me, and I had to comply with everything he wanted to do to me. He didn’t make the fact he owned me very obvious, though, and his respectfulness permitted him to touch and move me however he pleased. His hand went from the back of my neck and down to the curve of my calf. I inadvertently let out a gasp and he smiled and went down on me. Making eye contact or looking at him at that point felt very weird to me that I tilted my head backwards and stared at the ceiling. I felt a wall spring up, separating me from my own body. My mind was spacing out, shutting down, and I had to fight to stay grounded and focused. I didn’t want to let go completely, afraid of any sudden changes in his behavior. But I eventually did; I just couldn’t help it.
Next thing I know we’re both naked. He was standing up while I remained seated and facing his raging erection. He pulled me from the back of my head to suck him off. I was aware of what I was doing, but not in the exact same moment I was doing it; things came in waves and faded out. I guess the intensity of the situation was too much for me to handle that my mind kept skipping to relieve itself from the distraught; I’ve noticed that sometimes the stress doesn’t always manifest itself immediately, and so it’s less noticeable; events seem less coherent as the brain registers half the information. After fucking my face furiously, he pushed me down onto the bed and mounted me missionary style. As he prepared himself to enter me, I interrupted him and reminded him to put on a condom which he did. He then carried on with penetrating me and was sometimes a bit too heavy, shifting his weight as he did so. When he was close, he immediately pulled out and came all over my chest. At that point I was restless. He laid next to me and re-caught his breath before getting out of bed. Assuming that was the end of our encounter, I cleaned up and started putting my clothes back on, and he pointed to his desk where my newly-printed paper money was waiting for me in twenty euro bills. Once he got inside the bathroom and was completely out of sight, I counted it to make sure it was the exact amount we agreed on. I then walked over to the bathroom and thanked him as he walked into the shower.
My overall first experience in prostitution was way more satisfying than I thought it would be. Events like these are supposed to be life-changing, sometimes even carrying a negative aspect, and although I did feel like an abnormal specimen walking out of the hotel, my emotional impotence and lack of conformity to social expectations allowed me to avoid labeling what I had just did or even acknowledging it at all which I thought was empowering. My mind had registered my encounter with Hans in great photographic detail because capturing moments is my thing, however, my psyche was in no way affected; it’s just a thing I did; a thing that didn’t define who I was. I actually focused more on the benefits: my rising confidence, improved negotiating skills and upgraded sexual experience. The job made me sharper and more independent.
Back home, I soundlessly unlocked the door and entered the house. All the lights were off, so I assumed my parents were still at the hospital, but a few steps in, I was proven wrong. I was surprised by a glare light coming from the living room my eyes couldn’t immediately adjust to due to the total darkness occupying the rest of the house. I walked a couple more steps and found myself in front of mom and dad, sitting on the sofa, worried and dissatisfied. They asked about my whereabouts and I pulled an instant lie and said I was at Leon’s. Mom didn’t believe me, and her eyes shifted from my face to my duffle bag.
“What’s in the bag, Felix?”, she dubiously asked.
“Nothing”, I calmly answered before turning away and casually walking up the stairs, kind of rushing to my bedroom when I heard them stand up and follow me. I went inside and closed the door behind me, locking it.
Her and dad rushed after me and started banging on the door, ordering me to open it and show them what was in my bag. I had a few seconds to do so or face awful consequences. Each time she said it was louder than the last, sometimes even looming with violence. My heart and mind started racing as I wondered how much trouble I was really in; I took out the envelope containing the money, the pack of condoms and my pocket knife and shoved them under my mattress. I replaced the items with pajamas, video game CD’s and my laptop. Despite my involuntary physical reactions to the banging, I wasn’t in deep, emotional panic, but I knew I had to take the situation very seriously. I hurried and opened the door to both of them standing right at my doorframe, unhappy and extremely angry. Mom pushed me aside and grabbed the bag; she opened it and asked why I had stuff packed and I told her I wasn’t sure whether I was going to spend the night at Leon’s or not. After a brief pause, she wondered why I showed such aberrant behavior when questioned, and I responded by saying that I was sick of their relentless and overwhelming invasion of my privacy, an emotional, almost crying tone automatically coming out of me.
“We’re keeping an eye on you to protect you! Can you blame us?!”, she screamed.
For once, and to erase all signs of suspicions, I had to be considerate and empathetic toward my parents because of the tumultuous events that the family has been going through recently. Rosamunde is heartbroken about Elsi, rightfully so, and everyone was splitting the time between visiting Tobias at the hospital and planning Elsi’s funeral at the funeral home; both being extremely difficult and stressful situations, probably the worst any human being can go through.
After they had both left my room, I was left with a sullen feeling telling me the next few weeks won’t be easy; the depressive home environment is going to require a lot of work from my part when it comes to being compassionate and easing out the tense and daunting effect of the tremendous loss everyone had to endure. That meant I had to put in the effort of showing I was as deeply affected as everybody else which required me to manufacture an obvious kind of empathy. That way, my prior indifference could be interpreted as a defense reaction characterized by strong denial and refusal to accept the loss brought by the traumatic event. When I figured out my smart approach on how to erase all signs of my previous atypical and strange behavior, I felt more blithe. Then, to remind myself of my recent achievement, I took the envelope out from under my mattress, jumped into bed and counted the money over and over again, smelling the smell of its freshness and feeling the softness of the barely-touched paper bills.
I guess I’m officially a hustler.