Story 63

The drizzling did not stop people from stepping out on to the street at this time of the night. He did not like what he did for living, did not like being referred to as a male escort, gigolo, hustler kinds. He did not like being on this street especially at this time of the night. It felt weird standing here amidst the women who wore so much make-up it seemed as if someone had just slapped a cake on their face. Wearing tight dresses with deep necks to show off their cleavages, these women stared at him as if he was meat. He did not like looking at them, they disgusted him. True, circumstances made them do what they were doing; just like his circumstances made him do what he was doing but a few of them did it for their own pleasure and those were the kinds that disgusted him. 


The white button-down shirt he was wearing was already soaked in rain and the girls standing on the opposite side of the road were staring at him and giggling. This should have flattered his male ego but it did not. He did not want attention from them. He did not want to be on this street in first place. He was waiting for someone. A few days ago when he was on his way to a customer he had stopped here to buy condoms; that’s when he had seen her for the first time. She seemed completely out of place, the fear etched on her face, the way she stared at the road while walking; everything screamed that she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. She wore denim jeans and a full-sleeve t-shirt and her hair was tied in a ponytail. The sneakers she wore did not make any noise yet everyone turned to look at her and checked her out as she walked from one end of the famous street to the other – the prostitutes, their pimps and the customers. He was tempted to follow the girl and see that she reached safely where she was meant to reach but he did not want to scare the girl. A man like him, following her would have made her jump out of her skin. So, he kept staring as she disappeared around the corner and then he had started walking in her direction. He still remembered he had searched for the girl but she was gone.



He found himself walking down the street the next day too; hoping that he would see the girl again. She came just as he was about to leave. Once again everyone had turned to look at her and she walked her eyes glued to the ground. This time he followed the girl, keeping safe distance between them. Just before disappearing around the corner the girl had turned to look towards him. She had the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen and he knew those eyes would stay with him forever.


Present day, as he waited amidst the women stripping him with their eyes he intended to initiate conversation. She’d seen him following her a couple of times; the first time she had just turned around to look at him, the next time she had ignored him completely and the last time she had turned to see him, she had smiled at him. 


He looked at his watch, he was already late. He ran his hand through his wet hair and heard a few whistles as he started to walk away. He had almost reached the corner of the street when he casually looked back and he saw her. Or was it someone else who resembled her? He wondered. She looked familiar yet so different. She was dressed differently and she was not staring at the road. She was smiling as she looked around towards people. The change in her demeanour took him by surprise. She was dressed differently, too – white button-down shirt, the top three buttons open to show her cleavage, black bra that showed through the wet shirt, mid-thigh skirt and long leather boots. There was a disturbance on the street as the women waiting for their customers objected to her presence. A few days ago, they had stared at this girl, some with pity and some in a pervert manner but none of them had even considered the possibility that she would be a competition.


Before he knew what he was doing, he found himself walking towards the commotion. A few guys were gathered around the girl who was flirting with one of them, one hand on her waist and the other hand running through her hair. She was not bothered by the fact that the guy she was talking to was staring at her breasts rather than listening to what she was saying. One of the prostitutes pushed the guys away and was about to put her hand on the girl when he rushed towards them and stood between the two. The pimps joined in and the situation turned very serious. He knew he had to get the girl away. 


“Let’s go” he said to the girl taking her hand in his and dragging her away with him. She tried to free herself but eventually gave up when she realized that she was not a match for his strength. He did not have the time to talk to the girl, did not have the time to look at her – what mattered to him was getting as far from the place as possible. 


When he was convinced that they were at a safe distance he stopped and turned towards the girl – “what do you think you were doing?” he yelled. 
He noticed that the girl was staring at him, rather at his chest and the bulge of his biceps. For a moment he was speechless; this particular girl staring at him felt good. A smile spread over his face and his heart skipped a beat. He almost stepped into his role and considered flirting with the girl. He was known among his female customers as a mood-changer. He was paid for sex but he offered much more than that. From sad to aroused, he could change the mood of his customers within minutes. He was proud of what he could do and the way he did it. He made it a point that his interactions with the women was more about them rather than about him. Women loved touching him and often told him that he was sexy but he made them feel special. He massaged their toes, relaxed the stress in their shoulders, scrubbed their backs while bathing together and satisfied their desires in bed, leaving them asking for more. He did not notice the awkward silence as he thought about his customers and their reactions; not until the girl cleared her throat and spoke, “You can let go of my hand now”


He was spell-bound. First her eyes and now her voice; he knew they’d haunt him forever. A dull ache in his heart that had started when he had seen the girl flirting with the guy grew stronger as he realised he could never have her in his life. 


The first time he had seen her he had thought he had found a purpose. She seemed like a damsel in distress and he would save her from the world. In return, this girl would save him from the life he was living - encourage him to do better with himself.
But, she was as damaged as he was. Two damaged people could never be together. Their togetherness would be devastating for both. 


“Let go of my hand” her irritated voice brought him out of his thoughts. He looked at her and let go of her hand. “Why?” he asked without meaning to. He regretted the moment words escaped from his mouth. He knew what the girl would say and he was not prepared for it. But, it was too late now.
“None of your business” she said in an angry tone as she massaged her wrists. He had held her hand too tight without meaning to. 


“I am sorry” he apologized. She walked away from him and sat on the footpath. He looked away giving her the time to adjust herself, he did not want her to know that he had seen her panty as her skirt rode up her thigh. When he turned around he realized that she had not bothered adjusting herself. He walked towards her and sat next to her, keeping the view away from his line of vision. It took some time for him to realize that she was perhaps considering him as a customer. He wanted to get away from there, stay as far from her as possible and not give her a chance to accomplish what she wanted. If she did that he would hate her forever. 


It was not the girl’s fault but he had formed an image of hers in his mind and he did not want her to shatter it into pieces. He wanted to believe that she was forced into prostitution and more time he spent with her, he was afraid he would find out that she did it for pleasure. That would ruin him. He noticed that the girl had shifted close to him. He told her that he would be late for meeting with his client; he looked at the girl and winked at her and added “you know what I mean”. He could see the disappointment in the girl’s eyes. It had to be done, there was no other choice. He had to let go; forget this girl and what had happened between the two for these few moments. If he kept these in his memories, he knew he would be broken beyond repair. Before leaving the girl to her fate it was necessary for him to make sure she was safe, at least for tonight. Somehow, he felt she was his responsibility. 


He told her that it was not safe for her to return to this street without proper backup. He hoped she would understand what he meant. He also asked her whether she wanted him to drop her some place safe. When she shook her head, he walked away without looking back. Had he turned around he would have seen the guys she was flirting with earlier, walking towards her.


--- 


Earlier, she was not sure she wanted to do this. Sitting behind a desk and compiling reports was one thing and going in the field and gathering information was totally different. She was not even fully prepared, equipped or authorized to do that. She was just an intern. She was meant to play it safe. It was because of the pressure from her friends that she decided to take the risk. “We would be there to protect you” they had told her. All she had to do was walk down the street amidst the hookers and the ‘lookers’. The first night she went there with her friends, she refused to get out of the car. They made fun of her but she preferred going back home. 


The second night she tried again. She tied her loose hair into a ponytail and got out of the car. She felt the cold of the night passing through the fabric of her full-sleeve t-shirt and she wrapped her arms tightly around her. She was scared. She wanted to turn again and walk away. But, she continued walking. He friends following her from a distance. She walked with her eyes glued to the road, she felt everyone’s eyes on her. She continued walking, shaking with fear. When she heard someone whistling she almost peed her pants with fear. She was tempted to run but she did not want to attract more attention. She sighed with relief when she walked through the stretch of the road and reached the spot where one of her friends had parked the car. She climbed into the car and closed her eyes. 


She wanted to do it again. She had started feeling dizzy with excitement. So, she did it again the next night. This time she felt someone following her and she could not stop herself from turning around. That’s when she saw him. What it was about him that interested her, she did not know. For strange reasons she was not scared of him. It was her instinct that told her that he meant no harm to her. Perhaps he was just making sure she ‘crossed over’ safely. 


She insisted going for the third time. Told her friends about him. Before she could start walking the street she checked him out from a distance. His body language seemed strange. He did not like being there yet he did not seem to be completely out of place. She observed how he looked at the girls staring at him. He felt disgusted. She watched him buy condoms from the vending machine. That must be the reason he was here, she thought. She looked at him closely. He was handsome, had great physique, he was wearing a button-down shirt but there was no ‘show-off’ of any kind. He must be a customer, she assumed. That night after she reached the end of the street she did not look back. She ignored him completely. 


The next night, however, she smiled at him as she turned around to acknowledge his presence. By now, she was sure that he followed her to make sure she crossed-over safely. That night, as she lay in her bed, she thought about him. That’s when the plan was formulated in her mind. She decided to talk it out with her friends. 


He was going to be her project. She was going to study him and figure out what made him visit the place if he was not interested in the women present there. The night she had secretly observed him, she noticed that he was not there to put his body on display. What was it that brought him to that place? She had to find out.


For everything to go as per her plan she had to make some changes. She had to change how she looked, she had to change her behaviour and she had to get her friends directly involved in this. She packed some clothes in her backpack and left her house wearing jeans and a full-sleeve t-shirt. In the garage of one of her friends, she changed into a mid-thing skirt and a white button-down shirt. She wore long leather boots her friend had brought for her. She drove to the place in her friend’s car and before she got down she removed the band and let her hair loose. She opened the last two buttons of the shirt and tied a knot. She stepped out of the car after opening the top three buttons of the shirt. She hit one of her friends on his arm when he whistled after looking at her. She told them her plan. They were supposed to be around her as customers interested in her. She was supposed to flirt with one of them and see the reaction of the man who had been following her. It was drizzling and she decided to wait for some time. Finally, she decided to step out despite the rain because she thought she might miss him. Soon enough her shirt was wet and the black bra she was wearing was visible through the thin white fabric. She cursed as she started walking. She saw him walking away and she knew she had to do something quickly.


As planned, her friends got involved and she started flirting with one of them. She wanted the man’s attention and she got it when those around her started objecting to her presence there. The women cursed and asked her to get out of there; told her to put up her shop someplace else. The situation had almost turned violent when one of the pimps started yelling at her. Her friends, she could see, were scared as well. That’s when the man stepped in. She thanked him mentally. “Let’s go” he said and took her hand in his and started to drag her away. She refused to go initially, she was scared for her friends but when one of them nodded she walked away with the man. She did not turn around; she did not ask him to stop.


Once they were at a safe distance, the man stopped and asked her what she was up to. Even if she told him it was none of his business she wanted it to be. She could not stop staring at him. From up close he looked a lot more handsome than she thought he was. Looking at his chest and the bulge of his biceps made her want to run he hand over them. It was too late to recover; he had already seen her staring. Within minutes, he seemed to drift away to some other world in his mind. He was still holding her hand. She asked him to let go; it came out rude, not the way she wanted it exactly. 


She walked to the side of the road and sat down on the footpath. Used to wearing jeans for most of the times, it was too late for her to realize that she was wearing a mid-thigh skirt, which rode up her thigh as she sat down. Her heart skipped a beat when the man looked away. She should have adjusted her knees; she knew but she also knew that he had already seen what had to be seen. When the man turned around again he came and sat next to her. She could feel her heart beating in her throat. She was not scared of the man; she was scared of herself, of what she would do if they continued sitting there, on the footpath. She could not resist her desire to get closer to him and so she shifted closer. That’s when he said what she had least expected. All this time she had assumed that he was a customer and as shameful as it might sound, she was ready to be taken by him if he would have her; hence it came as a surprise to her when he mentioned that he was getting late to meet a client. She understood what he meant even before he looked at her, winked and said “you know what I mean”


She could not hide her disappointment. He must have seen it as well, he had to have seen it; it was so obvious but he got up and walked away without looking back. Her friends approached her and just like that – it was over. The night had changed her forever, she knew she would never be the same again. She was heart-broken. The man she was attracted to was a male escort. 
She walked away with her friends, not knowing what to tell them when they sat together to discuss the happenings of the night. She knew her friends would laugh at her if she told them how the man she hardly knew had influenced her so much. She knew they would laugh at her if she told them she had made up her mind to find out more about him and find a way to get in touch with him; even if it meant she had to hire his services. 

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