Standing in the hallway of the brothel, I had a decision to make. Before me were two doors: one that led into the office where a client was waiting to interview me, and one that led outside. The former door was filled with amazing uncertainty, fear, and possible regret. That door represented everything in the my life that was fucked up; all that was wrong with me, my insecurities and my selfishness. That door was the bad side of me, the side that not many people get to see.
Then there was door two. Door two was the door that led outside to freedom. It led to a place where the birds were chirping and where good life choices were made. That door represented my mothers love, the touch and purity of snow, working in restaurants, cheese factories and retail stores. That door was safe, comforting, normal, and filled with endless possibilities.
Before me were two doors. One was beauty and the other was pain.
When I was a kid I tried to cut myself multiple times. I held rusty knives to my wrists, applied a small amount of pressure and tried to jerk the knife down. I would always apply the pressure but could never bring myself to jerk the knife down. This angered me as some of my friends tried cutting themselves to mild results, and I thought to myself, ‘Hey, my life is as shitty as theirs. If they can do it then I should do it as well.’ But no matter how much I wanted to rip the knife across my skin, I was never able to do it.
I did, however, take up poking for a while in my teen years. I would get a sewing needle from my mother’s sewing kit and start jabbing my legs with it. Soon I realised that if I dipped the needle in ink I could start giving myself prison tattoos. I spent hours creating two small tattoos on my inner legs. On one leg I tattooed a small cross, on the other was an outline of a tiny lizard. After I finished my tattoos I put down the sewing needle for good, I was happy with my results and didn’t feel the need for pain release anymore.
Two weeks after the tattoos were finished they got horribly infected. My skin around the area started turning purple and green puss started oozing out of both wounds. I spent two days watching my skin get progressively worse. My legs started getting sharp pains that would shoot up my thighs. I was afraid to tell my parents about it, knowing they would have a major freak out. So one day I took a large knife from the kitchen, went down to my room, rolled up my pant legs and sat on the floor. With the knife in one hand and my other hand stabilising my leg, I started sawing off the infected tattoo. I nearly screamed as pain overtook my entire body. Blood and green puss ran down my leg as the non-serated blade of the knife sliced through my skin. I didn’t have to use much force as the skin was already softened from the infection. I had forgotten to bring any sort of material to soak up the blood with, so I shuffled across the floor and gathered up all the blank paper I could find and put it around my wound. Then I shifted legs and continued the same routine with the other tattoo.
I had always wanted to cut myself but could never do it without necessity.
I started opening the door that led to the client.
I tried peering around the door as I was opening it, as if seeing the client before the door was fully open would help with the shock of it all.
Sitting on the couch was someone… normal. He was a white man in a suit. He wasn’t pretty but he wasn’t ugly. Older, probably in his late 40’s. He sat with a resounding peace in his posture and smiled at me as I entered the room.
“Hello,” the man said, extending his hand.
“Hi,” I replied, we shake.
“Please,” the man gestured to the space beside him on the couch, “Sit down and tell me about yourself.”
I sit down next to him and he placed his hand on my thigh. The client’s touch soothed me in a weird way and I felt my shoulders relax. He had a beautiful innocence in his eyes, almost childlike as he gazed at my face. I suddenly realised that these clients weren’t scary monsters, just human beings searching for connection. I smile back.
“Sorry, I’m new so I don’t really know what to do,” I say.
“Awe, that’s ok.” He says and squeezes my thigh.
“Thanks,” I say again and smile, “So, my name is, um, Carl. I am a top. I do, um, massage. And I think that’s it.” I realised I forgot something so I quickly add in, “Oh and I’m 20 years old and do you have any questions?”
The man lets out a small giggle, “No I don’t have any questions. You’re cute.”
I blush, “Thanks,” I stand up, “Well maybe I’ll see you later.”
Back in the Boy’s Room, Nick asked how the interview went. I told him it was fine, and let him know what I said.
“That’s perfect. It’s good you remembered to say that you’re new, they love the newbies.” Nick applauds, “Did I tell you that I made six thousand dollars in my first two weeks?”
Robert comes into the room, “CARL!” He yells while scanning faces. His eyes lock into mine and he smiles, “He wants you.”
In the office Robert helps me collect all the materials I would need: one bed sheet, two towels and a glass of water.
“Relax,” he reminds me before I start making my way up the stairs. Robert had put the client in Room 2, “And remember you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. And get the money first. He owes you one hundred and sixty.”
“Right.” I replied. With my hands full of towels and a glass of water, I made my way up the flight of stairs. I was eerily calm, my brain wouldn’t let itself go into a panic. I knew that if I started freaking out it would quickly escalate into a full-blown panic attack in the middle of the stairwell. I didn’t even pause when I got to the door of Room 2, I just burst my way through it, giving the client a fright.
“Sorry about that.” I said calmly.
“It’s ok,” replied the client, who was in the middle of taking off his pants, “I haven’t done this much… hiring escorts, I mean.”
“That’s ok, if you want me to be completely honest, you’re my first client ever.”
“Yeah, so I’m probably more nervous than you are.” I lied, I was completely calm.
“Well don’t worry about it,” The client ensured, “We can start off easy with just a massage.”
In the end my time with my first client was, for lack of a better word, pleasurable. We had a good laugh and a nice chat. I told him about my old life on the ranch and he told me about how he wishes to come out as a gay man to everyone in his life. It was decent and it was honest. I went back into the Boy’s Room feeling confident, like this job wasn’t going to be as bad as I thought it would. Before I even get a chance to sit down, Nick eagerly awaiting to ask me how it was, Robert burst into the room and says, “Carl, another one for you right now.”
“But I didn’t do the interview.” I question.
“He doesn’t need you to, he only likes to see new boys.”
Nick’s smile turns into a frown, “No,” he says, “It isn’t leopard-print guy, is it?”
Robert replies, “You mean Arthur? Yes it is.”
Everyone in the room gasps.