When his regular call-girl goes missing after an argument, a young man risks life and limb to find her.
Written by Gregory Patrick Travers
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure.” I said.
She sat up from the bed, resting her elbow on the pillow as she arched over me, “Why do you keep calling me?”
“That’s easy,” I said. “You’re hot as fuck.”
She shoved me playfully, “I’m serious!”
“What does it matter why I call you? You get paid, don’t you?”
“Yeah, but—I mean, do you realize the age difference between you and the rest of my clients?”
“Way old. And here you are, a handsome man in the prime of your life…I don’t get it. Why do you call me?”
I sat up to meet her, “Are you insinuating that I can’t get a girl to fuck me for free?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Because it’s never free, y’know. There’s dates, all the gas money driving them around, listening to boring stories I have no interest in…all of this in HOPE that I might get laid. With you, you come to ME, I pay you, we fuck, you go home. No games, it’s a sure thing, it gives me the things I need and keeps out the things I don’t…I don’t know what you’re so upset about, if you’re fucking a buncha old dudes I would think that coming here would be a nice break for you.”
She smiled as she pulled her hair up into a ponytail. Fuck, I loved that. “Listen to you, I should be so lucky to get your call.”
“Besides,” I continued, “This isn’t a conversation I should be having with my call-girl. This is something my mom gets at me about. ‘When are you going to meet a sweet girl?’, ‘When are you going to get married and have kids?’”
She checked her watch and, surprised at how much time had gone by, hopped out of bed and headed for her jeans curled on the floor. We never went over our time since that one incident when we fell asleep. We woke up to her driver banging on the door and yelling at the top of his lungs. She was extremely embarrassed and I was extremely scared for my life. She talked him down though, explaining what happened. He let me go without harm but promised if it ever happened again my last breath would be short to follow.
“I was just trying to give you some friendly advice, that’s all. Don’t you want to do better in life? Get a good paying job? A family?”
“I didn’t realize we were such good friends,” I said. “And who are you to give me career advice? You’re a hooker.”
Her head sprang up, a lot less friendly-like. “Hey, fuck you asshole.” She said, putting that skinny Asian finger in my face. “I make over a grand a day. I make money. I drive a nice car and have a fantastic apartment. You make shit money and live in this fucking dump.”
“So that’s what makes a man? His car and his apartment?”
“Oh, and what do you think makes a man?”
“Uh, his penis?”
She groaned in frustration, slid on her top and paced quickly out of the room.
“You’re money’s on the table,” I called to her.
I heard, “Yeah, I KNOW! Thanks!” and she slammed the door behind her.
For the next couple days Cindy’s words resonated in me. She really knew me, that girl. I realize how sad that sounds, but hey, my life had been nothing short of tragic. The reason I called her in the first place all those months ago was to help me get passed my addiction to cocaine. I figured since I was spending all that money just to end up feeling horny and alone, if I took that money and spent it on a hot Asian prostitute instead, it would be an all-round better choice.
And it was.
Whether I was paying for the sex or not, I was still having it and at that, having it with a stunningly beautiful Korean girl who I was sure wouldn’t have fucked me under any other circumstance. The sex gave me something to look forward to, it gave me more confidence to get out of bed in the morning and face the world, but most of all—it got me off the powder. It sounds weird as I sit here telling you that fucking a prostitute made me a better person…but it did.
And boy, did Cindy treat me good. Thinking about that made me feel bad I was so rude to her the last time we were together; all she did was try to give me some sound advice. I even found myself going on the internet and looking up some college courses with her voice in the back of my head. Who knows? Maybe I could become a better man, the kind of man Cindy could admire.
I wasn’t no Richard Gere and this wasn’t no Pretty Woman, but I would be lying if I said my feelings for her were strictly sexual. There was a reason that she was the one getting paid when I picked up that phone every month. She was the best.
The next month rolled around and I called once more to set up a date. Only this time Rocco, her driver, answered. “She don’t work here no more,” he said bluntly. “You want another one?”
“Oh,” I said, for lack of a better reply. “…Did she quit? Go somewhere else?”
“Listen,” he said sternly, “She ain’t here, get it? Now, you wannanother or no?”
“Uh, no…I’ll call back.”
Click. He hung up on me. I spent the rest of the day wondering what might have happened to her. Maybe she took what I said about her being a hooker to heart and quit? If that was the case I’m sure Rocco wouldn’t have let her go without some sort of fight. She told me how violent he was, I had seen it first-hand that night me and Cindy fell asleep together in my room. She looked almost as scared as I was when she heard Rocco’s screams from the hallway. I kept thinking about all the things he might have done to her. Did he smack her around and that was it? Maybe he took it further than that. I began to feel the rage build up inside of me.
If he hurt her…If he killed her…
I decided I wouldn’t be able to rest until I had learned what happened to her. If she quit, great, fine, I’d wish her the best and thank her for being so awesome to me all the time. In fact, I hoped that was the case, she just upped and left to greener pastures. But I needed to know for sure because something inside told me that she wasn’t okay.
I was going to find her. If I had to kill every pimp in this fucking city, I was going to find her…
Friday night I headed over to Panda’s Billiards on Queen. I hadn’t been there since I got off the coke and I really didn’t want to go back but if I was going to find information on any of the underground filth in the city, Panda’s was the spot.
Walking in I was immediately spotted by some familiar faces. One’s that I would have rather not seen, but tonight I was glad they were there. The greasiest fuckers in the city these guys… If anyone could tell me what I needed to know, it was them.
Mikey was the first to come over, animated as always with his arms throwing finger guns in the air. Of all the people I missed in my departure from the scene, Mikey was it.
He came in arms wide for a hug, knocked me back a few steps.
“Teddy!” he roared. I could smell the gin off him. I’m sure he had a few bumps in him too.
I laughed, “What’s good, Mikey? Been a while, still. How’s Pro-Line?”
“Yo, my ticket came through tonight! I’m up eight hundred!”
“No way, that’s sick.”
“Lost bad a few weeks ago though…I mean BAD.”
That was Mikey though. He loved to gamble. I really never saw a problem with it, when he was up he was buying everybody shots and when he was down he never got too emotional. I didn’t know shit about gambling, but Mikey seemed to have it figured out okay.
“Listen man,” I said, “I actually came to talk to Spinz tonight. But I’ll come check you before I go.”
I didn’t want to cut our conversation short, but I noticed Spinz coming out of the bathroom and I wanted to get to him before one of the regular hungry custies took him off on business leave. I left Mikey there and headed for Spinz, who quickly saw me coming.
“Oh shit,” he said, “Teddy fucking Grams. What’s good b? Long time, no see. You been avoiding me or something?”
I dabt him up, “Yo, I need to talk to you… go for a smoke?”
He agreed, probably thinking I was looking for a score. But when we got outside and I told him the story he barely could responed. And Spinz was never short on something to say.
Finally, he came out with it, “You are fucked.”
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” he started, “I haven’t seen you in months, now you’re coming here asking me to help you find some prostitute you’re fucking? You’re fucking prostitutes because it keeps you off coke?! Are you fucked? Are you serious? This is why you brought me out here? Jesus, fuck…”
He started towards the door, but I grabbed his arm.
“Spinz, please hear me out. Don’t fuck me on this; how many times did I have your back, huh? How many times?”
I saw him stop in a guiltful reflection. But I thought I would remind him some more anyway.
“Remember when we got pulled over last spring? They took you away to the tank but who held on to your shit? I did! They could have searched me too, but I did it anyway!”
He turned back to my attention and ceased for the door. I went on anyway.
“Remember in eighth grade when Tommy DeLuca wanted to kick the living shit out of you for touching his girlfriend’s tits at recess? Who jumped in and saved your skinny ass from getting knocked the fuck out?”
“You’re fucking right I did!” I screamed. “So please…Just help me out on this. She might be in trouble.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he said, conceding. But for one last shot he added, “She probably just told them to block your wack ass ‘cuz she was tired of fucking you.”
Spinz knew some people that could trace Cindy’s number and find out the address of wherever they were working out of. From there it was up to me. It only took a day until I got the text from Spinz telling me where I could find this prostitution headquarters. The only other piece of information he could wraggle was that it was tied to Columbian gangs and headed up by a guy named Rocco Saltino, who I had come to know myself in the recent months. It’s hard to forget a man who says he will kill you the next time you fuck around. To quote Spinz’ description, he was “fucked in the head” and would “shoot my motherfuckin ass without a second thought.”
It would be foolish to assume that in my search for Cindy I would not have to cross paths with Rocco. I was going to have to face him, that was for sure. The question was, would I be prepared for it or not? With that in mind, my next request of Spinz was to find me a gun.
With some stroke of chance, he was at the moment looking to unload a heater he had used in a street mugging the night earlier so we met back at Panda’s. Of course he was adamant that if I fired the gun, even once, it was my problem and I would owe him for the purchase of the weapon. After the lectures were over he took me into the alley and showed me how to use it.
He modeled the gun in his hands for me, “This is a trigger safety, so you don’t have to worry about leaving the safety on. But at the same time there’s a greater risk of shooting yourself in the dick. Keep it tucked in the back. The bullets that you got is the bullets that you got, so once you’re out, you’re out. Don’t go getting in a dramatic shootout, aight?”
Then he handed it to me. I had not been a stranger to guns in the least, but this was the first time I held a loaded one in my hands. It made me wonder what the fuck I was getting myself into. What if Spinz was right and Cindy just told Rocco to ignore my calls because of that little spat we got into. Imagine I went all the way there? And that was the case? I’d feel like a fucking idiot. A creepy, gun in his waistband, stalking a hooker idiot.
But even with that in mind, I had to do this. To tell you the truth I was even feeling a little heroic about it. In the movies, the hero always defeats the bad guys and gets the girl…But in real life? From what I’ve seen? The hero always gets a bullet in the head.
I thanked Spinz and said goodbye. He headed back inside Panda’s and i got in the car, resting the pistol on the passenger seat. I started the engine and gave myself a quick pep talk in the rear view mirror.
“God dammit Cindy…” I muttered, “Hold on, I’m coming.”
I woke up around 11 am, parked across the street from the address Spinz gave me. I was surprised at the area; it was in one of those office complexes on the edge of town, just by the car dealerships on Dixie. I don’t know, I always pictured a prostitution layer in some unknown alley near the lakeshore and not beside and H&R Block and a passport photo joint…I was kind of disappointed a little.
At around 2pm was when I saw Rocco come out, followed by one of his escorts—a black woman. I never really got into the black girls. I’m sure they were great people; I just couldn’t get passed the contrast of that black skin to the pink pussy. Asians always were my go-to, I don’t know why. A friend told me maybe it was because my small dick enjoys a tight pussy…Makes sense. I just thought the Asians had really nice skin is all…
I watched them get into Rocco’s car, which I had become familiar with from all the times he came to drop off Cindy. Once they took off I got out of my car and headed around back to look for the yell-pipe. If you weren’t a shit disturbing kid when you were growing up, then you probably won’t know what a yell-pipe is. Let me learn you…
A yellow pipe is located in the back of many strip mall buildings, connected to the gas dial and stretched up to the roof where in connects to the receptor. We used it to climb up onto the roof, kind of like climbing a rope in gym class. This allowed us access to the roof entry into the building…It wouldn’t mean shit if you didn’t have the keys to each store, but if you wanted to smoke a joint in a warm place during winter—this was your sanctuary…Smoking in the back hallway of the complex. No cameras, no problem.
So I headed up the yell-pipe and dropped into the roof entrance, leaving me in the long hallway of the complex. I found the door and made my way in. How? Well here’s another lesson for you: If you kick a door directly below the knob, usual locks can’t hold up against the force. Four hard kicks and the door swung right open.
Inside was like any other office. A desk with a computer and a file cabinet in the front and then a long hallway with a few separate rooms—all closed off. I figured my best bet was to go room for room thinking maybe he had her tied up somewhere. I realize how fucked that sounds but obviously I wasn’t thinking too straight for a guy who was breaking and entering with a gun tucked in his back waistband looking for a missing hooker he was slowly falling in love with. Normal had kind of gone out the window.
One by one, I kicked my way into the hallway rooms. There was nothing, they were completely empty as if no one had been occupying the space at all. No sign of Cindy.
I headed back into the main room, figuring maybe if I broke into the file cabinet I could find something…Don’t ask me why. I started pulling at the cabinet box trying to break the lock. I was making so much noise bouncing that thing back and forth I must have not heard the door open and him come in…but I definitely felt the blow across my head that sent me straight for the floor.
“What the fuck is this?!” I heard a familiar voice say. Rocco had returned.
As I was on the floor, dazed by the hit to the head I just received, I felt him take the gun from out my waistband. He grabbed me and threw me over so I was on the floor facing him. When he saw my face I saw his reaction change from relief that he knew the culprit invading his business to anger that some bitch custy had the balls to break into his place. He took Spinz’ gun and pressed it hard against my forehead.
“You!” he screamed. “What the fuck is wrong with you, kid? You wanna die or something?”
“Don’t kill him!” another voice said. A woman’s voice. I looked behind him to see the black escort he had left with earlier. All I could think was, “I’ll never say a bad word about black pussy again…”
“Where’s Cindy?” I said. “What did you to her?!”
Before I could wait for a response, I felt the butt of the pistol hit me hard against the face under the eye. I fell right back on the floor.
“You got some balls!” he screamed. “Either that or you’re fucking stupid! What the fuck are you doing chasing this girl, huh? Can’t you get no pussy for free?”
“It’s never free, Rocco.” I said. “I mean, there’s dates, gas money driving them around everywhere and listening to—“
“Shut the fuck up!” he barked, throwing a hard, pounding kick to my ribs.
I felt like I was going to puke. He took the gun and forced it into my mouth. I felt the cold metal press against the roof of my gums. I had never been so scared in my entire life. I’d like to lie to you and tell you I would have taken death easily for the honor of a woman, but the truth is when that gun entered my mouth I forgot all about Cindy. All I could think of was how shitty I had been living my life. Why was I fucking with prostitutes when I could have been out looking for a real woman to wife? I didn’t want to die alone in a suburban pimp house! I was pissing myself…No, literally—I fucking pissed myself. Make fun all you want; see how you react when a gangster shoves a loaded pistol in your mouth.
See you in the diaper isle.
Over the accompanying escorts whimpers I heard Rocco crystal clear, “I’d shoot you right fucking now but, knowing your type, you probably told some of your faggot friends where you are and when you turn up dead, I catch a murder charge. So I’m going to do things different and try the honest approach…She’s gone! You understand? She took off! I haven’t seen her but, trust me kid, I’ve been looking. If I find her, she gonna get it worse than you! Now get the fuck the out of here!! Don’t ever let me see you and don’t ever call that number again, you hear?!!”
“What?” He took the gun out of my mouth.
“Yes, sir.” I repeated. I got up to my feet and headed for the front door. The escort witness took a few steps back, avoiding any possible confrontation.
Once outside, afraid to get in my car for fear of Rocco spotting it, I hailed the nearest cab and headed to Panda’s. I needed a drink.
“The usual?” said Panda.
I nodded as I slid my jacket off and rested it on the stool behind me. It wasn’t a moment before Panda brought over my pint of Bud when I felt a pair of hands around the back of neck that made me jump out my seat.
I spun around to see Mikey there with his lovable shit-eating smile.
“Jesus, Mikey,” I said. “You scared the fuck out of me.”
He gave me a good once over, noticing the swelling below my eye. “What the fuck happened to you, dude?”
“Forgot to leave a tip,” I joked.
“Nice…Well you looked fucked, just so you know.”
Thanks, Mikey,” I said, taking a swig of my pint. “Always nice to see ya.”
Just then I heard a voice on the other side of me say, “Ted?”
I turned my head to see, to my surprise, the black escort that I had seen with Rocco not hours ago. I say Black escort because, for some reason, Black Hooker just sounds racist. Either way, politically correct or not, she was sitting beside me. I thought she was there to kill me to be honest. But then she spoke…
“Don’t be worried,” she said. “I followed you here…Rocco doesn’t know.”
I stared at her blankly.
“Anyway, listen,” she said, pulling out a small piece of paper from her purse. “I know you’re okay. Cindy talks about you all the time…She says you’re good people, I trust her.”
Thanks,” I said, for a lack of a better response.
She handed me the paper, “Here’s where she’s staying. She’s okay…sort of. Rocco can’t know about this but…I trust you….SHE trusts you…Go to her.”
I took the piece of paper and nonchalantly slipped it into my jean pocket like the grams I used to grab of Spinz. And that was it, she got up from the stool and left.
After she was gone, Mikey turned to me, “What was that about?”
“You got your car here?” I asked.
He gave me a funny look, “Duh.”
“Down for a ride?”
“Fuck yeah,” he said with a smile. “Where to?”
“To Cindy.” I said.
“I’ll explain on the way,” I said, dropping back the rest of my drink and handing Panda a ten. I turned back to Mikey, “Ride out?”
He threw his head back in laughter. Mikey loved a good adventure. “Fuck yeah, boy. Let’s go fuck shit up…”
“Gross! You pissed yourself?” said Mikey, looking at the seat I was sitting in regrettably.
“Not, like, fully…but there were some definite squirts.”
“Fucking nasty, dude.”
“He shoved a gun in my mouth! What was I supposed to do?”
“I don’t know…NOT piss yourself, maybe?”
“Yeah, yeah. Everyone’s a critic…”
Mikey gave me a “pee-eww” look and rolled down his window. “You still have that gun Spinz gave you?”
“How do you know about that?” I asked, lighting a cigarette.
“That night he gave it to you he came back into Panda’s and told me ‘if that guy doesn’t get that piece back to me he’s gonna owe me some fucking loot.’”
“Well, I guess I owe Spinz some loot then.”
“Rocco took it.”
Mikey laughed. “Didn’t go down like you thought it would in your head, huh?”
“You didn’t even get to pull it out, huh?”
“Nope. Lost it within the first minute.”
“What an action hero you are,” he teased. “What a crazy story though. You should write a book or something.”
“Fuck, who reads anymore?…Hold up, here it is.”
We parked the car in front on the townhouse complex and I got out, Mikey stayed in the car. I kept walking until I got to the unit number written on the piece of paper. I knocked on the door and waited. It seemed like an eternity waiting for someone to answer but when it finally opened I was face to face with Cindy. For a moment we stood there silent. For all the effort I put into finding her and for all the things I thought I would say…I had nothing.
Finally she broke the spell, “Ted? What…What are you doing here?” Her eyes widened, “And what happened to your face?”
Immediately I started tripping over my words, “I, uh, I called and Rocco said you weren’t around…I thought maybe something happened to you…Arrgh…Sorry, I actually feel really stupid right now…”
She opened the door wider and motioned for me to come in. We walked into the sitting room by the kitchen and I told her everything, from breaking into Rocco’s to her friend letting me in on where to find her.
She put her hands up against her mouth and, in almost a whisper, she said, “Oh my god…You are so fucked.”
She only said what I had been thinking to myself through this whole ordeal. I pressed my hand against my forehead, as I usually did in times of high turmoil. But I watched her look of disbelief grow into an, almost impressed, smile.
“Aww!” she continued. “Are you for real? You did that? For me? You are…wow…They say chivalry is dead…”
She threw her arms around me and tackled me onto the couch. Then she KISSED ME! We fucked at least seven times but we NEVER kissed! I have to admit, it felt good to know that she didn’t think I was a crazy stalker, but I was started to get the vibe that a kid in grade six after he gets the balls to ask an eighth grader out– Like, “That’s sweet…but c’mon.”
But I knew that all along I guess. I’ll admit that in my head I had hoped for a fairy tale movie ending, but my life had been far too real of a performance for me to truly believe it would turn out like that, holding her close in my arms as the screen went black over our final kiss. I didn’t know WHY she was about to shut me down, but I knew she was going to shut me down. Even still, I had to know…
“Why’d you take off?” I asked.
She looked up at me, “I’m pregnant.”
I responded with, “Holy fuck.”…Always a good choice. I decided to try to redeem myself, “Do…Do you know whose it is?”
She had a fucking boyfriend, of course. That’d definitely be the WHY.
“You have a boyfriend?”
I must have looked like such a chump because her face just melted with flattery. “Yeah…Oh, Ted…You’re super cool and everything…but…you’re a client, y’know? Right?”
I straightened up quick. I was good at that. “No…yah, for sure. So… So how can I help? I want to help. Rocco said he was looking for you; you must be looking to get out of town somehow?”
“We have train tickets out of the city tomorrow. We’re just staying at his mother’s for now.”
“So…you’re totally okay.”
She laughed despite herself, “Aww, Ted…”
We wished each other well and she decided to walk me back to the car where Mikey was waiting to say a final goodbye. As I got to the door, we stopped in some awkward silence; both of us unsure of exactly how to part. I wish I could have stayed in that moment forever. But, of course, that moment was interrupted as the sound of tires squealed around the corner and Rocco’s car started darting quickly toward us. Without a thought Cindy took off hard to the townhouse, slamming the door behind her.
Before I knew it, the car was parked and Rocco had gotten out, gun in hand.
I jumped behind Mikey’s car for cover as two shots went off. BANG! BANG!
“I’m gonna kill you with your own fucking gun, motherfucker!” I heard him scream. I couldn’t see him, I didn’t know where he was. Discouraged with my current hiding spot, I leaped from behind the safety of the car and sprinted across the street in hopes to find refuge behind a green electrical box.
I heard two more shots fire BANG! BANG!
He missed! And I was only a few yards from safety. Then another two shots went off, BANG! BANG!
I jumped behind the greenbox, unscathed…or so I thought. It wasn’t until I was crouched on the grass behind it that my leg began to sear with pain. The only way I can describe it is like a really bad grease burn, if you’ve ever had one. The pain becomes so intense that your body tries to numb your senses and you become trapped in a state of shock. Your only hope is to try to control your heartbeat to slow the bleeding. The only comfort I had was knowing that, if Rocco was indeed using Spinz’ pistol against me than, he fired off six bullets. And as Spinz had told me, “Once you’re out, you’re out.” Rocco had done himself the disservice of finding himself in a dramatic shootout.
But then I heard another three shots, different from the noise of Rocco’s shots. In stupid curiousity, I peeked my head up from where I hid. There I saw Rocco, lifeless on the ground and over him a young man dressed in blue…a cop.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” I muttered to myself. “They shot him.”
After they took the body away, they took me over to the hospital. Before I left, one of the officers took my information and told me that he would have to meet with me when I got out of care to discuss the whole ordeal. I’m sure Mikey had a wonderful time in that station creating up some bullshit reason why he was again in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mikey was always superb with the cops. A clever kid, that guy. Maybe, I guess, since he was so into the gambling, he just knew how to play the odds.
As the paramedics pulled out of the street, I caught a glimpse of Cindy looking down on me from the top floor window. That was the last time I ever saw her.
I don’t remember much of the hospital, they had me fucked up on all sorts of painkillers. All I remember is walking outside where Spinz was waiting for me. I got in, we lit a cigarette, and we drove. In the whole drive he only said two things…
“I’m glad you’re aight.” And “You fucking owe me for that gun.”