Monday, June 21, 2010
Putty in Her Hands
By Namit Arora
(An excerpt from a longer work of fiction.)
Sasha is a Russian escort, 28, slim, dark-haired, with dreamy green eyes. She needs a ride in an hour to Plaza Hotel, downtown. After a three-day break, she accepted a two-hour job today, but her car will not start. ‘I’ll make up to you,’ she tells Ved suggestively.
Ved imagines her pacing the living room in her red silk robe. He can practically smell her perfume on the phone. San Francisco at this hour would be easy to navigate. ‘I’ll pick you up in fifty minutes. Be ready and wait downstairs.’ He showers, gets dressed, and leaves.
He found her nine months ago on an escort girls’ website. Fragments of her online ad have stayed with him: I am all natural and very fit … I specialize in fantasy role-plays: nurse, housemaid, nun, schoolgirl, cop (special requests welcome). My Russian accent will make you putty in my hands, in all seven languages I speak.
In one online photo, a profile pose, she was down on all fours on what seemed open grassland. Her makeup and her ornate dress, bunched above her bare butt, evoked for him disreputable belly dancers. Another was a close-up shot of her bust, donning nothing but a two-string pearl necklace. She had large expressive eyes.
He vividly remembers their first meeting last winter in a mid-range hotel. It was Friday. After much uneasy deliberation, he had called her during the day for a two-hour tryst. He left work earlier than usual to allow time for a shower and snack. On his way out of his apartment, he picked up the Russian Matryoshka doll that a friend had given him long ago and to which he had built no special attachment.
The hotel lobby was almost empty when he arrived. No one noticed his nerves as he went through a long corridor and knocked on her room. The door opened to reveal her face. From behind the door she signaled him in. She wore a pleated, knee-length pink chiffon skirt. He gave her the doll which amused her greatly, broke the ice. He was at once charmed by her youthful voice and accent. Putty in her hands, huh.
The studio suite she had rented for the evening was tidy, clean, and bathed in a soft white light. He settled the charges upfront: $400 for the session. Just that morning when he had considered the amount, he had thought: How many infants would this vaccinate in India? Images of malnourished children from the unsolicited, beseeching mail he receives from international charities had flooded his mind. She stuffed the money in her purse and sat close to him on the couch, her knee barely an inch from his.
Raised in St. Petersburg, she had come to the US almost 18 months before. ‘I am not illegal person,’ she clarified that evening. It sounded strange: illegal person. ‘I have permit for stay but not work. How else can I survive?’ Until a year earlier, before turning into an upmarket prostitute, which she prefers for both the money and the flexible hours, she was an ‘exotic dancer’ in a nightclub. Her roommate, a Ukrainian woman, introduced her to both jobs. None of her friends or family knows of her current line of work.
She was polite and friendly. He studied her high cheekbones, the delicate chin, long black hair, gleaming white teeth. ‘So what do you like to do in your free time, Sasha?’
‘Read books, watch TV,’ she said, flashing a sweet, friendly smile, and looking him straight in the eye.
‘Do you have any favorites?’
‘I read many mystery novels, but Pushkin and Gogol are my favorites—Russian writers. Ah, you know them? I not like American TV—most of it is so stupid you know—I only see PBS and Discovery.’
‘Very nice,’ he said, letting his imagination roam her curves, her smooth burnished skin. ‘Your English is very good.’ The conversational foreplay felt decadent, delicious, for he knew it would happen. It was just a matter of minutes.
She adores the idea of being an artist and wants to do art after quitting this job: photography, or perhaps painting, she has dabbled with both. ‘I am very passionate person,’ she said that night, ‘as all true artists need to be.’ Artists are everywhere these days: body artists, computer artists, porn artists. He did not inquire about her notion of art. He shared with her the basic facts of his life: his Indian roots, job, pastimes. ‘I like Indian music,’ she said, ‘flute and sitar music.’ He gives her credit for not asking why they worshipped cows in his country.
He mentioned his visit to St. Petersburg years ago. She turned nostalgic with a far-off look as he recalled some tourist sights: Nevsky Prospekt, Peter-Paul Cathedral, the new Admiralty, summer and winter palaces. He did not tell her that a young couple with knives mugged him there one night. He remembers vividly the rage and hatred in the woman’s eyes, her clenched teeth, as she held him by the collar while her companion emptied his wallet.
She has never had an Indian client, except perhaps one who, unlike him, spoke with an American accent. ‘Why not get wife from India?’ she snickered, ‘No more loneliness.’
‘I have never considered that option in my adult life,’ he said. ‘Now it’s too late—all the good women, as my mother says, are taken.’ That made her laugh.
She inched closer, brushed a finger on his chin, slid it down his right arm, lifted his hand, and pressed it to her bosom. Well practiced, then, a professional. He leaned over, nuzzled his nose on her slender neck. She smelled nice. At the barest of hints, she turned, reclined on her back, and sidled into an embrace. He let his fingers wade through her long hair, down her shoulder, resting eventually upon her breast beneath the gauzy fabric.
Soon they shifted to the bedroom. He undressed when she disappeared into the bathroom. She emerged to find him tucked beneath the soft white sheets. Reclining on a pillow, he watched her slowly slip off the dress before him, climb into bed, and fall into his embrace. She was pliant, eager to please, and skilled at touching a man. He groped; his thirst for her body astounded him. They had intercourse missionary style. She grunted at his frantic thrusts, responding with abandon—feigned, no doubt, but well enough to make him imagine otherwise during the act. When it was over, he promptly rolled off to her right, exhausted.
Suddenly the fog lifted. For a few moments afterwards, he reflected on their coupling. Man: half reason, half appetite. How ridiculous, to be held hostage by a silly appendage between his legs. Humiliating, in fact.
They lay together and talked with her head on his chest, a pseudo-intimate moment. He gently massaged her head, neck, and shoulders. ‘I like your touch,’ she said, ‘you are good lover. I think you are good man too.’
Safe is probably what she meant, better behaved than most clients. ‘How many others do you say this to?’
‘You don’t believe?’ she asked, then explained, ‘Eyes are windows to the soul. I see kindness in your eyes, and sadness too. Is there something troubling to your heart?’
She has received many offers for marriage from lonely white men. One was so insistent he scared her. Not only did she hope to do art some day, she also hoped for true love, marriage, children, and a normal family life. Prior to this work, she had slept with only two men, both boyfriends. Now she services two or three men daily, on occasion with her roommate, i.e., threesomes. ‘I have many boyfriends now,’ she snickered. Part of her job, to put up pleasant faces: service with a smile, the secret of customer loyalty.
‘Escort girls in Moscow make one-tenth of what I make,’ she said. Money eases daily qualms. What, he wondered, would cave-in first: her body or her soul? Despite her apparent nonchalance, and her lack of visible anguish, he hoped her soul would rebel first. Yet, for the services he wants, isn’t this exactly what he would rather have: an untroubled whore?
He asked himself: is there a balance of power between them—his power of money versus her power of beauty? Alas, if only the morality of all this were as plain as the cost-benefit metrics of Omnicon’s products. He reasoned: if not he, then another man. At least she is safe with him. She even finds him agreeable. If he is using her, she too is using him: is symbiosis immoral? A form of income distribution too—didn’t the Buddha say that hoarding money is a worse deed than most?
Only much later did it strike him that such is the cunning of reason—it can rationalize almost anything the mind fancies.
‘You smoke pot?’ She shuns hard drugs but she has smoked pot with some clients. Good for sex, she said teasingly. Her roommate kept a stash for her own regular use. Might he be interested in smoking some the next time?
Her phone rang as he was getting dressed. She looked at him: would you mind? She stepped into the bathroom to take the call. He heard her giving directions. Another client is due in sixty minutes. Time enough to make the bed, replace the towels, air the room, wash herself clean of him, and slip on that chiffon dress again.
Image source: Art Offer.
More writing by Namit Arora?
Posted by Namit Arora at 12:05 AM | Permalink