“Many human beings say that they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it.”
― Richard Adams, Watership Down
Pete opens the door to the boy’s room. Flashes go through my mind about what my eyes were about to register. Will I see boys shooting heroine? Will the boys going to be juvenile detention burnouts with those prison-murder-tears tattooed under their eyes? Will these boys eat me alive and spit me out a hard, cold, cynical man with no hope left in humanity? I begin to think that I’m not not up for this anymore. I am what you call an introverted extrovert: I am shy and complacent in certain situations, wild and unpredictable in others. Right at that time I was feeling shy and complacent, like I was being thrown to the dogs. I start to think If I run now will it be less embarrassing than if I have to run later?
For the sake of keeping an interesting story I would like to be able to say the door swung open and there were twenty boys eating live chickens while cooking crystal meth and having an orgy on the couch. But what happened was: the door swung open and I saw six boys scattered about the room watching tv. There was nothing horribly abnormal about the scene.
“Hello boys,” Pete speaks up, “We have a new boy starting today. His name is-” Pete pauses and turns to me, “What is your name again?”
“Cody- I MEAN CARL!” I nearly shriek, so embarrassed that I just gave away my entire identity. Pete continues introducing me while I go pale white. I had just given away my real name. I think to myself, People will know of my sins. I must move out of this country. Tonight I’ll be on the next plane home. I broke the only rule. Was it a rule? I CANT EVEN REMEMBER THE RULES! What am I doing? They are all staring at me. I should say something. Anything.
“Hi,” I whimpered, and then sank down onto a couch that was directly and conveniently behind me. Pete finishes talking and heads back into the office. The boys continue to stare for a second before turing their heads back around to watch the tv. I silently pray that no one tries to come over and talk to me. Right when I’m done my farce prayer, a boy whose name I can’t remember came over and introduced himself.
“What’s your name again?” The boy asked.
“Carl.” I try to announce confidently.
“Yeah… right.” The boy said while rolling his eyes. He goes back to his original place in the room.
The boys room was larger than I expected. It was just a single room, but one where the back half and the front half were divided by a step down. The back half was smaller and had just a desk and an L-couch in the corner. The front half widened out and had a couch lining the wall on the left, fully furnished kitchen on the right. In the middle was a small glass coffee table, and by the back patio doors was a television.
I sit there in silence for nearly three hours while I observe the boys from the corner of the room. There was a skinny blond guy on the far couch texting on his phone, an older white man watching whatever was on the tv, there was the guy that introduced himself to me, and then three boys who were obviously foreign and were only speaking in Spanish to one another.
***Now there are two things you need to know before I continue this story. One is that during my time at Knight Call I had to learn two names for everyone (their real names and their working names) and be able to decide when it was appropriate to use which name, a feat that isn’t as simple or as easy as you’d think. But for simplicity of the story, I’m only going to give you one name for everyone except for me (rejoice!). The second thing I need you to know is that I am not here to ‘out’ boys that were escorting. Its a private and personal decision. So to protect the identities of certain people in this story, I can only use their pseudo-names and very generic descriptions.***
The older gentleman turns to me, “Have you done escorting before?”
“No. I haven’t.” I reply, controlling the shake in my voice.
“Well it’s not that hard, you just go up there,” He points up towards the ceiling/second floor, “Fuck em’ like you love them, and then leave.”
“Cool,” is the only word in my vocabulary at that point. I realised that I was sitting like a lady in church; knees together, back straight, hands in my lap. I couldn’t remember if I had been sitting like that for the past few hours but I hoped not, otherwise I would’ve looked like a freak.
The skinny blond boy comes over to me as I try to find a more humane way to sit on the couch. I find an equally-awkward position as he plops down beside me.
“Hi, I’m Nick,” He says as he extends his hand for me to shake.
I shake and reply, “Hi Nick, I’m Carl.
“Where are you from?” He asks.
“Oh cool! And how long have you been in Australia?”
“Almost two weeks now.” I reply.
I noticed that while I was replying he was doing a scan of my features and clothing (you have to remember that at this point I still had a mohawk and spiral plugs in my ears). He seemed genuinely interested in talking to me, but I could also sense some judgement.
“You’ll love Sydney. I was born here.”
“Oh wow, I haven’t actually met someone who was born in this city yet.”
“Really? Wow.” He pauses, “Do you smoke?” He asks while taking out a pack of cigs.
“I quit two months ago but could really use one now.” I reply, not knowing how much I wanted a smoke until I had seen the packet in his hands.
I follow Nick outside into the backyard, which is small and fenced in with wooden seats around a wooden coffee table. Plants lined the perimeter of the fence, which made it feel peaceful. Nick hands me a cigarette and takes one for himself.
He lights his cigarette and then lights mine. I give him my thanks.
We are silent while we take our first drags, then Nick speaks up, “So I overheard you say that you’ve never been an escort before.”
“Yes, that is correct,” I respond.
“Ok, well here are the things you need to know…”