Roxanne

Although he’s been here before, I can’t say that he stands out. His eyes are a non-descript hue of blue – neither sparkling like a lake on a clear spring day nor murky like a wet slate roof in the middle of a rainstorm. They are blue, pure and simple. His clothes fit a similar description. Not remarkable or striking, perhaps even boring. A pair of dark pants that could be either blue or black, a sombre grey shirt, the kind you pull over your head, not button up. He can be anyone. Even his dirty blond hair, although unkempt, doesn’t leave a lingering impression. Perhaps I’ve been in the business too long to really care about these things anymore.

“Use my name,” he says, a little bit forcefully.

I keep smiling at him. I can’t remember his name.

“Randy,” he replies calmly.

“Okay, Randy.” I cross my legs. “What do you want?” I’ve given up on luring him to the bed. He will get there in his own time and in his own way . . . they always do.

“Tell me a story,” he says. He gives me an encouraging nod this time, yet he still stands still, no farther or closer to the bed.

“What kind of story would you like to hear?” I ask suggestively. Now we are getting somewhere. I uncross my legs and spread them wide apart, pulling my skirt up just a few inches to give him an ample view of the goods. Turning my knees slightly inward, just enough to be haphazard and sultry but not enough to obscure his view, I place my hands on the edges of my thighs.

I hear his breath hitch in his chest before he shakes his head, a thundering menace replacing his calm composure. He strides over to the bed and slaps me hard across my face, his palm hitting my cheek with a resounding crack. The force of it is strong enough to whip my face around to the right, the sting making my eyes water.

I spring for the door, but he’s faster.

He grabs me around the waist and clamps his free hand over my mouth dragging me back towards the bed. Thrashing against his chest, my nails gouge out small trails of damaged skin down his arms. It’s not enough and I bite down hard on the flesh of his palm, causing the bitter taste of blood to seep into my mouth, but still, he doesn’t flinch or scream out. The only noise he makes comes out as a grunt as he hitches me up around my waist and throws us both down on top of the bed. I land face down, his body muffling my descent. I struggle to breathe under his heavy weight, his musky scent invading my nostrils while his pelvis juts hard against my back. Choking back my instinct to scream, I stop fighting him. I’m panting, trying to catch my breath.

“I’ve loved you since I’ve known you,” he whispers in my ear, squeezing me tightly to him. His breath smells of mint candies. “But I won’t ask again, Roxy. Tell the story.” I expect him to let me up, but he doesn’t. He shifts his weight just enough to cocoon me in his embrace, his hand moving from my mouth to my neck. The rest of him stays molded against me as if we are two spoons in a drawer.

The intimacy unsettles me.

“I don’t know what you want,” I croak. “Just say. I’ll do whatever you want.”

“Then tell me the story of Roxanne and the red light,” he replies coolly. He runs his hand down my waist and over the edge of my buttocks before using his fingers to clamp down on my chin.

“There’s nothing to tell,” I say slowly, resisting the urge to bat away his hand. His fingers pinch tighter, catching the delicate skin of my cheek. I wince but don’t complain. I’ve felt worse.

“Tell the story, Roxy,” he breathes.

“I fuck men for money,” I reply into the bed sheet. “Is there more to tell?”

“Walking the streets for money,” he pauses and then adds almost to himself. “The morality of it . . . don’t you care if it’s wrong or right?” He starts to stroke the strands of the wig.

“Why? I do okay.” I avoid his question. Something in his demeanor cautions me.

“That’s not the story is it? Now is your chance to come clean. Give me your confession,” he murmurs. His breath is hot and heavy on my earlobe. “I will absolve you of his sins.”

His sins.

Not mine.

His.

My throat tightens as a wave of shame washes over me before dropping away into the cold pit of my stomach. The memories threaten to overwhelm me. I feel nauseous.

He knows.

“I don’t know what you’re talking-”

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