Thomas tried to punch the number into his smartphone, but his hands were perspiring so badly that a drop of sweat slid down the screen, side-stepped onto the key pad, tip-toed beneath one of the buttons and shorted out the phone.
He was not having a good day. Thomas, who traditionally coal-housed two packs of cigarettes a day, had quit cold turkey this morning. As soon as he hacked himself to wakefulness, the grinning specter of nicotine withdrawal gunned at him like a stock car. In the past, he had tried everything from patches to pot to deter the specter, who ran down his quaking, pedestrian form anyway.
So he was doing it right this time, with nothing to lean on besides chugging glasses of ice water and gnawing his own gums. The ice water refreshed him and reminded him that there were things that tasted better than carcinogenic phlegm. He really didn’t know what gnawing on his gums did, other than creating enough pain to jolt himself out of cigarette fantasies that were getting disturbingly erotic in nature.
It was this line of thinking that made him call his fat, horny brother Fred. These two qualities didn’t really mix well in one person. It kinda worked during Fred’s time in college, when he would get to the hook-up bars at three when everyone was already wasted and the more desirable girls had already been spirited away to sock-strewn futons. Fred would stride in and apply an equation he had thought up one day in his Macroeconomics Class. The equation was simple:
Amount of Visible Cleavage x Amount of Inner-Ear Impairment = Chance She Will Sleep With Me
Thomas had to agree the equation worked. Of course, during the colder winter months, the first half of the equation had to be substituted for ‘Percentage of Thigh Visible Between Top of Kneecap and Crouch of Panties,’ but it was easy enough for Fred to make the substitution.
As Fred started to lose his hair and grew older, this whole spiel became creepier and harder to pull off. When the bouncers started to call him “Ol’ Scraps,” Fred had to switch to whores.
Thomas tried removing the phone battery and slipping it back in, but this just caused the smell of over-heating Matchbox cars to start drifting out of the electronics. He rubbed his slick head fiercely. God, he wanted a smoke.
After thoroughly drying his hands, Thomas managed to dial his brother’s number on the house phone without breaking anything. Every ring of the plastic-molded device seemed to ratchet up his tension like a crank tightening a high-voltage cable. When Fred picked up, Thomas yelled into the phone way too loudly:
“HEY BROTHER WHAT’S UP?”
He could hear his brother wince on the other side of the phone. Fred was such a hypochondriac that the disease didn’t just apply to sickness anymore. He was constantly worried that his senses were going to be dulled from overexposure, so he did things like wearing sunglasses in movie theaters and using earplugs when he was driving.
“Not so loud. Do you wanna pop my eardrum?”
“I read this article the other day…” Fred was always reading fucking articles. He worked from home, instructing people over the phone about how to repair ATMs, and he was smart enough to instruct people while reading whatever fucking article he wanted.
When Fred was talking about his potential diseases and impairments, Thomas thought of him as a balloon that was slowly letting its air squeak out. You just had to let the balloon make a high-pitched whining noise until it was deflated.
After Fred had deflated on the topic of eardrums, he took a well-deserved breath and asked with genuine concern about the quitting.
“Well, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I’ve just been so stressed today, trying to quit, that I really thought about, y’know, depressurizing in other ways.”
“Ho! Ho! Ho!” Fred had already figured out what Thomas was talking about. His laugh was like a pound of mayonnaise flopping down a staircase. He did it again:
“Ho! Ho! Ho! You’re talking about getting an escort, aren’t you?”
“Uh…yeah…can you say that over the phone? I’m not sure if you can say that over the phone.”
“It’s fine,” Fred assured. “You know, prostitution is practically semi-legal in this country. People really don’t get busted. It’s practically impossible with the Internet and everything.”
“Oh, really? That’s good to know.”
“I have a couple numbers. They’re not whorehouses or anything, just groups of independents that work together to get more johns. There’s about five whores working off of each number. A couple are always available.”
“Which one is better? Like, has more attractive girls?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Fred sneered. “They’re all just whores.”
“That’s a little harsh.”
“What? They are!” Thomas could practically see Fred struggling forward in his chair to stab his chubby finger again his desk for emphasis. “These…women…have chosen this degrading position in life that society calls ‘whoring’ and I’m not gonna polish it up for anyone. Fuckin whores.”
“Not that what they do is significantly different from what ‘regular’ women do in this society. For instance…” This one was an extra-big balloon, and it took a good six or seven minutes for it to deflate. Thomas came to when it was coughing up its last bit of air.
“…and that’s why I would never vote for Hilary Clinton.” Fred took a deep breath that sounded like air being pushed through silkscreen covered in maple syrup. “But do you want me to make a call for you?”
Thomas was supposed to wait in his car in front of the “Motorway Hotel” near the airport in Albany and wait for someone called Oliver. His car still smelled like stale cigarettes, an odor that Thomas hadn’t noticed until he stopped smoking 19 hours ago, but now it filled him with hot, jerking cigarette-lust. He opened the window and stuck his head out for some less maddening air. He thought this could look suspicious and weird to any passing law enforcement, so he stuck his head back in the window and continued chewing his gums. Chewing his gums might make him look nervous, though, and law enforcement could see that a mile away. A buzzing wave of paranoia descended over Thomas’s nicotine-starved brain until he could practically feel the cutting warmth of laser sights scanning over him.
Thomas whipped his head around to see what kind of law enforcement agent was firing tear gas at his car, but instead saw a pre-pubescent boy with a fedora looking into the car with a puckish grin. Ted was confused until the kid pointed at a nametag on his shirt that said:
Hi! My name is:
Using a couple of great, looping hand gestures, Oliver requested getting in the car on the passenger’s side. When he was inside, he stuck is hand out with a hustler’s unctuous grin.
“HELlo. My name…is OLiver.”
The kid had a Russian accent for some reason. His voice had already changed, so a deep bass vibrated out of his thin, hairless throat. He got right down to business, whipping out what looked like a deck of baseball cards. When Thomas peered closer, he noticed the players were young women in outfits that would not pass league regulations. On the back were stats such as “Cup Size” and “Turn-ons.” The final stat was “Does she love the cock?” to which the answer was “Fuck yeah!”
“You come early, so all available except Cynthia and Danya.”
“Danya. Is that a Russian name?”
“You’re Russian too?”
“We ALL Russian. Come over here as family, fresh off the boat two year ago.”
“You’re RELATED to these girls?”
“Some by blood, some only by name. We come across together to work in U-nited States. Danya? She my older SIS-ter. Good lay. Pussy? Very tight.”
“Oh. She’s unavailable though, right?” Thomas squinted at the cards
“Yes. You like fake tits though? Danika, she have NICE fake tits. DOUBLE d’s. She my cousin.”
“I’m more into natural ones.”
“Here!” Oliver flipped through the deck with rapid precision. “Tanya? Nice soft tits. Small nipples like rubles. Bounce like fat child on trampoline. 180 for hour.”
“Oh…” The sight of the dark-haired girl with her creamy thighs encased in pin-stripe cut-offs distracted Thomas from his fiending for the first time that day. From beneath the card Thomas could see a redhead. He liked redheads.
“What about the one under…”
“…neith?” Oliver finished his sentence while flipping the cards like a blackjack dealer. “That Zleta. She also sister. Young. Only 18 year.”
“Huh…” The girl had big, pink-nippled tits that dripped down her chest like melting mounds of white chocolate. Her alabaster ass was cocked backwards, and Thomas could see a red landing-strip of soft red hair disappearing under her.
“You want both?” Oliver pointed at him slyly with raised eyebrows. “I give you good price cause it first time for you. Also your brother very good customer. Come here twice a week. HE like fake tits.”
Zleta stared at him from the card. She had a complex look in her eyes. A sarcastic slit of a smile cocked across her fine chin. It was a little fun, a little evil and all challenge.
“330 for both. Final offer. You want? Need answer now or I leave out of car.”
Thomas had never seen a prostitute before. But then again, he had never successful quit cigarettes before. He figured the smoky, amoebic desire for nicotine in his brain could be easily be transferred down a couple feet and relieved. He was doing this for his health.
“OK.” Thomas slipped Oliver 16 twenties and, apologetically, 10 singles. Oilver leaned back in the seat while counting the cash with one hand and dialing a phone number with the other. He commanded into the phone in Russian, ending the string of abstract syllables with a final “dah,” the only Russian word that Thomas knew. Oliver snapped the phone shut.
“Room 315. You knock once…” Oliver held his hand up to focus Thomas’s attention, “then THREE times,” Oliver held his hand up higher, “THEN, ONCE!…and they let you in.” After making Thomas repeat the sequence, Oliver hopped out of the car, slammed the door, and skipped off, innocently slapping away at a paddleball.
While trying to keep his eyes on the reflection of a helicopter cast on the glass doors of the motel in case it was the FBI, Thomas edged between the gauntlets of cypress trees that flanked the concrete passageway. The glass was both tinted and reflective; you couldn’t see anything inside. It was very disconcerting to Thomas, who had been forced to give up wiping his forehead on his sleeve due to saturation. With a final deep breath, he shoved open the door to a cavernous, dimly-lit lobby with plush burgundy carpeting and no one in sight. He scanned the depths for a sign directing him to room 315, but saw nothing. He then realized that, this being a motel, the rooms were only accessible from the outside. With nervous consternation, he stepped outside and back into the parking lot. There didn’t seem to be any walkways along the vast, brick sides of the motel, but his vision was obscured by the quickening darkness. Feeling foolish, he entered the lobby for a second time. This time, there was a statuesque woman standing at the broad lobby desk looking directly at him as he entered.
“Vhat room you look for?” She had a Russian accent too.
“Well, my old friend from undergrad is in town for the night in business in Albany, good friend of mine, and he called me a couple hours ago just out of the blue and told me this, that he was staying in Room 315 at the…”
“Go out front door then take left. At edge of building take another left. Go down hall. Room 315 is in front of you.”
Thomas wanted to continue the spiel that he had practiced in his head the whole car ride up, but the concierge seemed unconcerned, so he exited the lobby for the second time.
At the edge of broad building, Thomas saw what the desk attendant meant by ‘another left.’ Around the corner, a small passage opened up in the brick and led up a flight of stairs. Fetid water dripped from unknown sources above and Thomas could hear the abstracted static of a TV somewhere ahead. He mounted the unlit staircase while trying to force his eyes through the moist blackness. He was almost upon the door before he saw it. There was only one door and it sat on the top of the staircase without any type of hall leading up to it with a dim, yellow bulb illuminating:
After a practice run, Thomas rapped the code on the door.
“Come in…” he heard a voice beckon.
The door opened to a surprisingly opulent room. The burgundy wall-to-wall carpeting was accented with great, cottony animal-fur throw rugs. The walls had gold leafing on the molding which glowed from the light of two chandeliers, one which sparkled above a king-sized bed as plush as a decaying orange, the other which hovered lovingly over the girls. Tanya, the older brunette, posed like a voluptuous mannequin to the right. She had a sultry look on her face and was dressed in a sheer, exotic, blue nighty that ended at her hips, one of which was cocked with the precision of a runway model doing a turn. Zleta, the younger redhead, was cocking her hip in the other direction to create some sort of aesthetic symmetry, but her leg was shaking slightly, probably because of her inexperience at handling 6-inch heels. She had the same sultry smile on her face, but her eyes wavered. She couldn’t seem to hold Thomas’s gaze, instead flitting her eyes from the floor to his face and back.
“Velcome, Mr. Flatterly,” Tanya pronounced with the practiced theatrics of someone who had been doing this for a while. There was a pause where Thomas felt he should be standing in silent awe of the sexuality in front of him. He did this without having to fake it; both the girls were outrageously beautiful.
“Vould you like to take a shower before, Mr. Flatterly?”
Tanya and Zleta prepared him, Tanya taking the lead and Zleta scurrying behind like a geisha. Thomas couldn’t take his eyes of Zleta, whose body and movements were like a thrush of green vine, a blooming orchid. The water from the shower slid over the contours of her glowing-cream skin like mercury.
He felt like a lion, his muscles trembling in mating-season excitement at Tanya’s feminine ministrations. Any anxiety about law enforcement dissolved, and he felt like yawping a roar above the heads of his girls, his harem.
Thomas noticed that Tanya was the only one soaping him. Thomas stared at Zleta’s petite child’s-hands lustfully. Her prudish attitude made her all the more appealing; a challenge that had already been met with money. The stress of Nicotine withdrawal had almost completely subsided, but he wanted those blushing hands on his cock.
“Are you shy?” Thomas said flirtatiously. Zleta shot her eyes down and away bashfully. This made his twitching, animal member swell afresh. Tanya turned to her cousin and commanded her harshly in Russian, breaking character. Tanya nervously reached her hand towards Thomas’ cock.
“Soap!” Tanya commanded, squirting a creamy liquid into Zleta’s quaking hand. She rubbed it into her palms, grateful for the delay. But then there was nothing to do but continue reaching out towards the twitching cock. Thomas threw his head back with a moan as her hands brushed up against him, soft and inexperienced.
Thomas turned the shower off himself, impatient to get to the bed, plush with equations and possibilities. Tanya firmly led both him and Zleta out of the bathroom, Zleta again delaying, this time by frantically, illogically drying her feet. Thomas’ maw went at Tanya’s face like he was lunging at a wounded kill, shoving his tongue into her mouth while grabbing her tits. Thomas unabashedly rubbed his dick over Tanya’s soft belly and slapped it at her hips, feeling free from cravings and the necessity to please. He wanted Zleta now. He turned his head to see her staring at him and her cousin with shining doe-eyes. Thomas wanted to rub his swollen cock all over her soft, fair face and lips. He grabbed himself like an ape and started to walk over to her, pelvis-first. Zleta’s jerked her gaze from her cousin’s eyes, to Thomas’s, to his cock, coming at her as large and slow as a wrecking ball. Suddenly her face collapsed and she started to cry. Then she said the only other word Thomas knew in Russian:
Tanya barked something at Zleta, who only cried harder, her face red and smushed between her hands. The tears doused the whole scene in Thomas’s eyes until everything was as cold and clear as a closed-circuit TV.
“I’m s-, I’m sorry, I’m going to leave.” Thomas grabbed his clothing as quickly as he could as Tanya started to berate her younger cousin.
It was night out now, misty and chilly as Thomas stepped out of the opening in the brick. He had left the 330 dollars so Tanya would stop yelling at Zleta, but he had gotten something in return. As he walked calmly to his car, he drew a long, fresh Newport 100 and a black bic lighter out of his pocket. Tanya preferred menthol. He touched the torch to the tip as he opened his car door, then inhaled as he tossed his body inside, relishing the burn of the smoke.