December 7, 2033

“Let’s all dress up in suits and act like we’re the shit.” That’s the first thought that pops into my mind every time an arrogant businessman cuts me off or acts in a critical, holier-than-thou sort of way.

Men in suits hold the ultimate power in this world. Wall Street guys, CEOs, brokers, real estate agents, lawyers. I see them everywhere, dressed up in their perfect custom suits at 7 o’clock in the morning, either grabbing their coffee, catching a cab or walking to their office. Some of them even take the train, and whenever I find myself riding in the same cart as them, I can’t help but stare. I envy the amount of success they possess, how they can do little to no work and still make thousands of dollars each day. And most of all, I envy their lifestyle. Beautiful houses, designer goods, great food, first class tickets to anywhere in the world. They say it’s all due to years of hard work, but I find this statement frequently untrue. Because the number of thirty year-old men strolling through Wall Street with their expensive leather suitcase are far too common to ignore the fact many of them simply come from money or make their way up to the top of the ladder in only a few years — something that can only be done through the practice of illegal and criminal activities.

Those men own the world and when you’re in the escort business, this notion is truer than ever. You’re just a piece of ass. They pay to use you and won’t hesitate to throw you whenever they’re done with you. Nothing can be done about that. You just go through it. The mediocre sex, the boring conversations, the men’s unattractiveness, bad temper or condescending attitude. You can’t let your feelings get in the way. Because showing the genuine or emotional part of you destroys their fantasy. And you don’t want that. As soon as you walk through their door, you have to be at the top of your game; full of confidence, proud of yourself and instantly ready to dole out the attention on them. So you play cool and make sure you bring forward the best version of yourself depending on what it is that they’re looking for. And most importantly, you always smile and comply with their demands — even when you don’t like it. If all they want to do is kiss you for hours, you let them. If they want to fuck you bareback, you let them. If they want you to make some sort of twisted fantasy of theirs come true, you find a way to make it happen without any hesitation. And you have to be fully into it. Upbeat, happy and passionate. If it’s hard, you find a way to create your own coping mechanism, suck it up and go through it.

During my last year juggling between working as an escort and studying crime, I met a professional investor called, Stefan Cassetti. He was by far the most violent and arrogant man I’ve ever been with, mainly due to the fact he never shied away from degrading me and sucking out every inch of my self-worth. It was hard to navigate around that because that’s what our arrangement was founded on. His fantasy consisted of him overpowering and owning someone he considered dirty and beneath him. It was his own weird fetish. The stark contrast in status is what turned him on. I was late to our meeting once due to my plane getting delayed, and he scolded me for ten minutes, pointing at his expensive watch saying how much he valued his time. I remember making a snarky comment which he took very badly. He lunged at me and slapped me so hard my head hit a large frame hanging on the wall, cracking the glass. He then proceeded in grabbing me from my throat and insulting me, his breath stinking with alcohol, before turning me against the wall and entering me without any lubrication. When he pulled out and realized I was bleeding, he freaked out, screamed in my face as if it was all my fault and asked for my detailed medical history and most recent lab results.

Stefan always stayed at expensive hotels that required key access. I’d wait for him in the lobby to come down and we’d both take the elevator up to his room. His demeanor would always be calm right until we reach his suite. As soon as we’d walk inside, his dark underside would reveal itself almost instantly.

The sex was always rough, and as I got more used to it, I got off by fantasizing about different ways of killing him. One time, he was too drunk to be in control, so I took advantage of the situation and fucked his face fiercely, clogging his throat nice and deep until I shot my load in his mouth. I made him take every drop and almost caused him to choke. When I pulled out, he fell on the floor and coughed so hard until he spat out all the liquid on the carpet. He had no idea I was recording the whole thing on my phone. If I weren’t twisted myself, I probably would’ve ran away from him, but instead, I knew how to navigate through our relationship. Knowing I had that video gave me a lot of power. I wasn’t planning on doing anything with it at first, but knowing it was there in case I needed it to avenge myself gave me the upper hand even though it wasn’t obvious to him. Being with him, I’ve never felt more ostracized and disposable in my entire life.

One thing business men need to know is that, for the most part, everybody hates them. I’ve intuitively sensed that for a long time, but when I look back and think about all the ones I’ve been with, it’s a fact that can’t be avoided. Also, that their success is pure dumb luck. A very small percentage of them possesses what we consider to be a rare kind of intelligence, talent, or skill that makes them so accomplished. And Stefan didn’t belong to that percentage. The last time we dined together, he went on and on about how valuable he’s been to his firm, giving himself compliments with incredible smugness and arrogance I found myself reaching for the wine bottle more than I normally would to numb myself just enough to go through all the rambling.

“Being booksmart means shit in this business. Academics resent people like us for making orders of magnitude more money than they do. They can’t stand the idea of being outsmarted by the pizza boy who probably works just as hard and is actually self-actualized. They’re entitled little shits, thinking that just because they went to the most elite schools, they deserve to be above everybody else. It’s not enough that they already make a lot more money for the amount of work they actually do.” Stefan complained.

I could definitely admire someone who didn’t have the privilege to attend one of the biggest schools and whose first job paid minimum wage. However, it’s the attitude you carry around with you that makes the difference. Instead of being grateful and letting his hard work speak for itself, Stefan harbored so much envy and hatred toward people who had it way easier than he did. He was angry, bitter, and a paranoid closeted homosexual who processed his frustrations through sexual violence. I was constantly getting punished for reminding him how much he liked fucking men. I was some sort of forbidden fruit.

After dining, we went back to his room where he continued to ramble and thought aloud. He was disoriented and hazy, drunk to the point he couldn’t stand still on his own. He asked me to sit down on the bed while he freshened up. A minute later, I heard a belt rattling. As soon as I turned, I felt a sudden lick hit me right in the face. Before I could even realize what he had just done, I was hit another time. I flailed so violently, throwing myself on the floor and crawling to shield myself behind the chair. He ordered me to get up and stand in the middle of the room and I refused. He lunged at me and continuously proceeded in whipping me. I tried to fend off his whips but ended up giving up and complying with what he had asked. I stood up in front of him, my eyes drab, my body twitching and trembling, and watched him strip me naked. He threw me face down onto the mattress, rolled up his sleeves, pushed my legs wide apart until my groin was strained, and whipped my ass over and over again until I could no longer feel the burn. He turned me around and stuffed his tongue in my mouth and stuck his middle finger up my ass. He firmly pressed his chapped hand against the side of my chin, then licked and bit my ear before moving down and sinking his teeth right into my shoulder. Blood leaked in thin strands, staining the sheets and smearing them as my body moved back and forth while he fucked me. He shot his load in my face and all over me, leaving behind a mess of blood and cum. While he took a shower, my mind struggled to make sense of what happened, convincing me I was powerless and somehow deserving of what happened to me. Because to make that part of my life work, I had to give up autonomy over my body and image and tailor everything depending on the person I was with. I scrambled myself out of bed, grabbed the extra room key and hobbled out of the room to get some fresh air. When I came back, he was passed out at the bottom of the bed. I joined him.

The next morning, I woke up to him talking loudly on the phone. When he hung up, he threw the phone right past me.

“I have done very well for the firm. I’d even say I’m one of their most valuable assets.” He said with a trace of defensiveness. I smiled and said nothing. He had no idea that it would be the last time he’d see me, that I was planning on releasing that video and spreading it around the company he worked for as my way of saying, “Fuck you.” The week after, I put together a contact list and forwarded the video to all of them. Then, I destroyed my SIM card and got rid of my second phone altogether. I debated on whether to keep my online profile active or not, but after receiving hostile messages from unknown accounts, I assumed Stefan was behind them, and so I couldn’t risk putting myself out there anymore.

A vague inflow of remaining daylight streamed through the subtly tinted windows of Landon’s bedroom, turning the outside into a pale rose-blue color. He saw the bruises on my body and asked me how I got them. Listening to myself tell him the story, I knew I was done. It was all over — for good. I let him suck me off for the last time. He gave good, long blowjobs. I liked running my hand through his hair as I stared at his defined back and ass while he worked up and down my shaft. He was also very adamant on swallowing every drop of my load. After he finished, I put my clothes back on and got out of bed while he pulled a few hundreds out of his wallet.

“You don’t have to”, I said, stopping him midway.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” I lifted my jacket up, wrapped my scarf around my neck and walked over to him. “Thank you.”
“Is everything okay?”
“Everything’s fine. I think I’m ready to move on…” His eyes sparkled to my revelation. I ran my fingers through his soft grayish hair and kissed him goodbye.

I walked out of his room, my throat dry, my clothes half-unkempt, and took the elevator down. I stared into emptiness and embraced the last bit of luxury as I crossed the lobby. The doorman rushed to open the door for me as I exited, warning me about the sudden drop in temperature. The sky was muggy and black, the wind cold as ice. I felt completely depleted and isolated as I walked through Central Park, knowing it was time to muster whatever strength I had left in me to built some kind of future for myself. I dreaded delving into the unknown, but I had no other choice. I was getting older, and so I had to come up with a better way of living. The money wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I wanted to contribute to this world and be truly seen instead of living in the shadows. By the time I arrived at the airport, I finally came to terms with that. With the money I had saved up, I could go through the remaining years of college. Months later, I found myself standing proud on the bleachers at The University of Chicago after receiving my honors certificate in criminology. It was the first time in a long time that I felt seen and respected. A normal individual.

———

I was going through potential photography jobs on my computer when Stefan walked into the coffee shop on his lunch break, cut in line to get his drink and sat on the table across from me without noticing me. He disrupted my workflow and the more I stared at him, the more I was getting showered with negative, dehumanizing thoughts — mostly memories of the constant humiliation he inflicted on me. The hand holding the pen trembled and subconsciously made its way upward and aimed for the back of my head. I felt the sharp tip of the lead digging into my scalp like a needle. I didn’t expect it to hurt as much as it did, and when I pressed my finger against my head and gently rubbed the area to wear off the pain, I noticed blood.

For years, I thought about avenging myself even though I had already tarnished his reputation and ruined his entire career by releasing the video. Yet somehow it wasn’t enough. That’s why when I saw him, there was an immediate need to deflect the hurt before it turned inward, some sort desperation in my character begging me to act on that impulsive desire urging me to beat the shit out of him. When he looked like he was about to leave, I summoned the courage to go after him. As soon he walked out the door, I asked the woman next to me to watch my things, and rushed right after him. I kept a certain distance, rolled up my sleeves and kept following him. Two blocks up, the end of the sidewalk revealed a closure, so he stopped and looked around for a reroute. I shielded myself behind a pole and waited for him to continue walking. He took a shortcut through an alley located on our side of the sidewalk.

The first thing I did as we entered the alleyway was look behind me to make sure no one else was there. Then, I scanned the area looking for any surveillance cameras. When I couldn’t find any, I confidently proceeded in my pursuit. His head slightly turned as my footsteps got closer and closer. He abruptly stopped right when I was about to reach him. When he unexpectedly turned and faced me, I wasn’t ready to punch him but had no choice, so I did, The first blow hit the corner of the left side of his nose, right above his cheekbone. His whole body shook and destabilized. I almost sprained my wrist. Before the pain could even wear off, I went for the next hit. The second time, my knuckles severely impacted against his temporal bone, throwing off his equilibrium and causing him to fall. He landed in a pile of garbage bags between two dumpsters. As he tried fighting his way out, I rushed to block his path. He looked up at I kicked him in the stomach. He screamed in reaction to the blow, blood and saliva dripping from the corner of his mouth. I positioned myself closer to him, my hands firmly pressed against the side edge of each dumpster. I raised my right leg off the ground and tilted his head backward with my boots. That’s when our eyes finally met and he fully recognized me. I didn’t say anything, showed no emotion. Instead, I stomped on his stomach, then his face, over and over again until the back of his head hit the brick wall behind him. I twisted his neck and broke the back of his skull. He was dead. I pushed his body deeper inside the pile of garbage as sprinkles of rain started to fall. I looked in each direction and sprinted toward the other end of the alley.

From criminal to law-abiding, I was back at the coffee shop in no time. However, I was quite shocked to see a couple of individuals including one of the employees converged around my table. The employee was frustratingly tapping on my keyboard and as I rushed over, I could hear extremely loud thrusts and moans coming from my speakers. I yanked the thing away from him, turned the screen out of view and quickly logged in using my fingerprint. Apparently, I didn’t click out of the porn tab from the night before, and for some reason, it automatically started playing and no one could make it stop. I disabled the volume and tried to log out, but it was taking longer than usual, so I closed the screen shut and started gathering my things. As I did so, I could feel a rude glance coming from nearby. When I looked up and around, I saw a man staring at me as if I had just committed the most immoral thing ever. A few other people seemed to be looking at me with contempt as well.

“What?! Nobody here watches porn?!” I exclaimed before storming out.

A few streets down, I stopped at a hotel attached to a small cafe. I sat down in what looked like some sort of common room full of blond girls and preppy boys. Waves of tourists kept coming in and out, crowding the place and blocking paths leading to different sections. Across the room, a bar area separated the hotel lobby from the small bistro located in the back. I settled down in a corner, far away from where all the commotion was, wiped the few strings of sweat from the sides of my forehead, took a deep breath and pulled my things out. I cautiously turned my computer back on and kept it on mute. It didn’t take five minutes for a kid’s hovering to interrupt my focus. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I was working, then waited for him to fuck off. When he wouldn’t budge, I felt myself losing patience.

“Where’s your mom— or dad?” I asked, irritated.
“I don’t know.” He resumed in staring at me. His eyes then shifted toward my belongings.

“Are you a DJ?” He asked, staring at my expensive headphones.
“No, I’m not.” He got even closer and sifted through my stack of true crime magazines, abruptly pulled the bottom one out which caused all of them to collapse and scatter on the floor. I restrained myself from snapping at him and reached down to pick them up. Of course, his mom emerged out of nowhere at the worst possible moment. She was immediately disturbed seeing her son interact with a stranger carrying graphic murder magazines. She apologetically grabbed her kid and pulled him away from me. I could hear her whispering and scolding him as she dragged him back inside the bistro.

I waited for a few minutes to see if any other interruption would occur before delving back into my work, preparing photographs of different addresses to be displayed in an upcoming court proceeding. After completing the task, I met Sven and Natalie at a Thai restaurant. Seeing them was not awkward at all. They seemed completely at ease, as if whatever happened last month had been obliterated from their memory.

Two hours later, a call from David sent me in a complete frenzy as I rushed to make it home to grab my gear bag and meet him in Newark where Sister Juliet’s body was found in the woods, five miles away from her apartment complex. Dreary and rain-drenched, I trudged through the mud in the lit up landfill. Patrol cars’ LED lights flashed against the trees. The place felt like a chaotic triage area as everyone rushed to collect evidence before it was lost or destroyed. We couldn’t risk keeping the body exposed any further than it has already been.

“Is it her?” I asked David.
“We’re positively sure, but we’re bringing down her roommate so she can identify it herself, just in case.”
“What’s the cause of death?”
“She seemed to have suffered multiple blunt force traumas to the head. No signs of sexual assault or anything of the sort. Whoever did this did it quickly and out of pure rage.”
“Any relation to Eve Dunford’s?”
“Not really. Cause of death is completely different and compared to this, I’d say Eve’s killer is more skilled and definitely has a thing for mutilation.”

I kneeled down to take pictures of the body and saw maggots devouring her face. Forensics weren’t able to get any clear DNA samples due to the awful weather conditions, not to mention the fact the body had been exposed and contaminated by natural elements for over two weeks. We worked on figuring out the timeline of what happened the night of her murder. We knew she was being watched since the murderer knew where she lived, but the idea of him murdering her, disposing of her body, then driving the car back and leaving it around the apartment complex simply didn’t make any sense. Why would anyone risk doing that? Our theories interweaved as we attempted to unravel the center of this mystery, and the longer we waited, the harder it was for us to get an accurate account of the events.

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