June 2, 2027

After receiving my results, I got a call from Shawn announcing his release from prison, stating that his lawyer had demanded from the judge to allow the High Dive surveillance camera footage that showed Eric approaching and harassing him before their fight began to be brought into evidence. The judge found the footage questionable and seemed to have lessened the seriousness of the case in favor of Shawn. In the light of that decision, Eric chose to no longer participate in the case and requested that charges be dropped. The prosecutor went along with his wishes since they really didn’t have a legit case worth pursuing anyway. 

We met up for lunch and after telling me about his awful stay in prison, he said that when he logged into his account on “BoysForHire”, he found a message sent from an anonymous person with no profile information; it included a serious offer with an unbelievable rate. All Shawn had to do was call the number given. When he did, he was directed to an assistant who disclosed to him the details regarding a job in the Middle East, specifically in Dubai, that involved a weekend stay with what seemed to him to be an important authority figure in the country. No names or information regarding the identity was provided which made the offer seem fallacious. The assistant gave him a two-day window to decide whether he was going to take the job or not, and that if he did, another escort was also requested for another client of the same status. He naturally asked me if I wanted to do it, but due to the lack of insight regarding who the men were, we were hesitant. What we could immediately come to the conclusion to was that those men were definitely men of power; politicians, maybe influential celebrities. Researching public figures online, it was surprisingly tricky for us to find much of anyone’s existence on the internet; only a few articles and images by the global media of famous men showed up in our result tab. Even then, we didn’t know what we were exactly looking for. We decided to take the risk of accepting the job, relying on the fact we’d be together as our primary deciding factor.

The past weekend has been both busy and fun. I was hired by a woman named Claudette Sullivan to escort her beautiful daughter, Vanessa, to prom. Apparently, Vanessa’s recent boyfriend (ex-boyfriend now) cheated on her only a few weeks before prom, and that put her in a deep state of depression that made her not want to attend her graduation ceremony nor the party event. My job was to look as handsome as I possibly could and play the part of her new beau, showering her with attention and innocent physical contact to make the man who broke her heart seethe with tormenting jealousy.

On Sunday, Shawn wanted to go out on a boat cruise he was invited to by Keith, one of his long-time acquaintances. Upon our arrival, he turned to me and told me that due to both his imperious and ruinous reputation, half the people on the boat knew about him and his recent past, and that seeing me with him would probably be an association of the same reputation by default. His honesty, however, not to mention my utter hatred towards the general community allowed me to confidently walk in with him in despite of all the nasty rumors that were instantly inflicted on us as soon as we walked in.

Shawn had the crazy idea of wearing an altered version of his prison garb; he turned the bottom part into shorts and kept the top of it unbuttoned, showing his well-formed, smooth and tanned torso. On the upper left side, he had his initials boldly embroidered in white. His boldness and embrace of the tough things he’s been through was exciting for me. In some way, his carefree attitude reminds me of Ryan, only his darkness wasn’t muffled and hidden behind typical accepted behavior and conformity; everything he did was impulsive and raw. If only I could build that kind of equal aplomb.

“Shawn, please no prison talk on the boat”, I said to him since he couldn’t help but talk about his experience to every single person we bumped into in public. “Your outfit is a good enough statement.”

A sun kissed, diverse group of men, all in shape of course, were gathered in each corner, constantly eyeing and criticizing every guy who showed up, their looks so critical as if they were judging a beauty contest. It wasn’t hard to see that behind their manufactured forced confidence and contented expressions that I distinctively managed to capture lied a strong, almost lethal fear empathized by self-consciousness regarding body image. Their insecurities were as clear as the sky above us. Most of the attendees were middle-aged men, in shape but not what I’d call easy on the eyes. Some of them had their more attractive boyfriends to their side while others lurked in the corner preying on the young and innocent. 

Getting on the boat seemed like a thrilling and alluring way of escapism, but only on the surface. Underneath all the glamour, the laughs and the upbeat music, dread lied. Everyone seemed to blend in through the stereotypical elements the community imposed; fit physical conformity epitomized by impeccable muscled flesh grinding on each other. A couple of hours and I was done. Since we were stuck far into the lake, the most we were able to do was isolate ourselves from the main deck by moving to the cockpit. On the way, Shawn asked one of the waiters to get him an apple from the kitchen so he could turn it into a pipe to smoke his weed; seeing him smoke through it was ridiculous. A young teenager approached us a few minutes later, causing Shawn to immediately hide his tool; the guy was smoking a joint too and offered us one, and I declined while Shawn showed him his apple-pipe. The boy introduced himself as Dylan “Not-A-Cop” which we thought was funny since he had a thing for offering strangers joints which is kind of unusual. While they both bonded over medicinal marijuana, I spaced out and hoped to be back to the shore.

On my way to the Sullivan’s, I was stuck with repeating negative thoughts surrounding my current life, the fact it’s going to go in circles until the day I die. Progression is like an inchworm. I thought I’ve managed to bury this part of me a long time ago, but somehow it managed to curl itself back up. I want to keep doing it because it’s easy, but in this business, there’s an expiration date; once I reach it, I’ll become useless. The roller coaster of emotions put me in an extreme state of anguish and fear until I arrived in front of the mansion’s gate. Before walking through the door, I forced myself to leave my fractured self outside. I had to fake it to make it. I want to believe that everything will work itself out, that I’m back in this business for a reason. 

Vanessa’s girlfriends and their dates were already inside taking photos in the garden. Claudette urged me to include myself in at least a few of them for Vanessa’s sake. It was awkward and I felt hollow throughout the entire ceremony. At the after party, I retreated to the bar and asked the bartender to make me his most knockout drink. Vanessa had drifted away from me and went to hang out with her girlfriends after her ex stormed out of the room with his new girlfriend when he saw her with me; he was the reason I was there, so after his exit, my job was technically done. Bored and feeling too old for the crowd, I texted Shawn who soon showed up. I met him downstairs and persuaded the hostess to let him in and she did. I walked him inside the main area where everyone was, but we remained in the distance while the new graduates fooled around the dance floor half-drunk and completely messed up. As I gulped our liquor, Shawn looked into my eyes and asked me:

“What is love to you?”

I looked away and thought about it for a while. Such a vague question could take me hours to answer, and being intoxicated had limited my brain’s capacity to a minimum; I could barely even open my eyes. He didn’t seem insistent on an answer though, and he soon expressed his interest in spending the night together, but I declined.

“The most you’ll be getting out of me is a kiss, Shawn”, I said rather firmly.
“You’d kiss me but not sleep with me?”
“Yes.”
“Okay… a kiss with tongue or no tongue?”

It was a bit weird and pathetic to be talking about kissing when we’ve fucked countless times before. However, most of our physical contact and the sex we’ve had was the casual and meaningless kind; pure fucking.

The atypical connection growing between us couldn’t be defined or analyzed; thinking about it makes my brain tick. I look back and think about what creates certain feelings in me and every time I do, I picture my psychological spectrum characterized by two strong opposite points separating the empathetical Felix from the apathetical one. I used to believe I lacked a conscience, but I’m very convinced that I don’t; I’m really stuck between having and not having one, and I keep switching from one side to the other, and I don’t understand why. How else was I capable of being romantically involved with both Matthew and Warren, two men so different with every fiber of their being? It doesn’t make sense. As for my rising emotional unavailability, I’ve grown stunted and deep human connections seem to have taken a bland hue. I’m numb, indifferent; that’s the reason I was still with Shawn. Because I can, not because I cared about him. I enjoy his company and sympathize with his situation, but I’m not strongly attached to him. If he ever decides to end our friendship, I wouldn’t care. Admitting that scares me, but it’s the truth. 

Kissing him felt nice, but I was strongly resistant on not taking it further; it was simply not going to happen. And I knew I was hurting him by triggering his vulnerable side, but he was relentlessly asking for it ever since we started bonding and hanging out. He pulled me back and suggested we leave, but I couldn’t;  I had to stay with Vanessa until the party was over. 

Two hours later, I drove her home and waited until she made it inside her home safe. It was late, and I noticed before driving off that Shawn had left one missed call. I didn’t call back and simply drove my new car home. When I got inside my quiet apartment, I became instantly aware of the intermittent ringing in my ears due to the irritating loud music at the club. The ringing eventually turned to buzzing, then humming; I could feel my brain vibrating. I jumped into bed and waited for the sound to subside and it did, slowly fading along with my hearing to the point I couldn’t even hear myself. Laying in bed, the day slowly started to fade. I could remember little moments, nothing more. When I plugged my phone in to charge it, I noticed it’s been almost two weeks since I passed the polygraph test and haven’t heard anything from the police. 

Does that mean I’m safe?

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