Dani in the City Pt. 03
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Over the Edge
My phone buzzes inside its armband, but it’ll have to wait.
I’m thirty feet off the ground, clinging to a boulder in Glen Canyon Park. My fingers are wedged in a narrow crack that runs almost the entire vertical length of this infuriating climb that I have been trying to beat all morning. I have gotten this far twice already and had to bail out onto the ropes both times.
Above me is a natural ledge that I need to grab if I’m going to beat this route, but it’s maddeningly just out of reach. No matter how much I stretch and contort, I can’t get hold of it, and now I’m all out of ideas.
Better take a rest and gather myself. I secure my footing, spread my knees, and hang low, allowing the ropes to take the strain off my arms.
The early fog has lifted and the sun warms my back. A chattering pair of cyclists ride past together on the trail below me. I watch them roll out of sight, then close my eyes and just breathe.
I haven’t worked since Charles’ party. Last week I rode my bike down the coast and spent a few nights with an old girlfriend. Yumi and I went to community college together back in Modesto. She used to dance at the titty bar for extra cash, and I was curious. Yumi got me a job and that’s how it all began.
Yumi got out of that world a while back, but she’s still basically my only friend who won’t give me shit or ask dumb questions about sex work. It has cost me a few relationships over the years. Debbie and Oren stopped calling me after I told them what I did for a living, but they always were prudes. Karen texts me now and then, but her husband’s some kind of evangelical and he won’t have me at the house. Amazing to think these attitudes persist.
Yumi owns a small farm with her partner, Nathaniel, just outside San Gregorio. The farmhouse is falling to pieces, but they’re building a new home on the land. They don’t make much money, so Nathaniel does most of the work himself, but it’s coming along. One evening, Yumi and I sat on the roof, drinking wine and nailing shingles down, watching the sunset while Nathaniel tended the barbecue. I’ve always been a city person, but I could get used to a life like that.
A few days at Yumi’s was enough. I got back into town two days ago and spent some time working out, watching movies, and just enjoying having no plans for a while. But I have to go back to work tonight. Usually I don’t mind working so much, but some clients are more fun than others, and I’m kind of dreading the guy tonight.
The client’s name is Rav, and I’ve had the dubious pleasure of his company twice before. I’m fine with getting a little nasty — even some rough stuff is all right, to a point. Sometimes I even like it like that. But Rav goes a little out of my comfort zone. It’s not the things he does, necessarily, but the way he does them. He gets off on pushing people’s buttons — likes to try to break you down. His only redeeming feature is his wallet. I make as much in a couple of hours with Rav as I can in a week with regular clients.
At least I won’t be alone. Rav double-booked me and Rhiannon, one of Antonia’s senior girls. Rhiannon’s a little older, maybe thirty or so. She did the hardcore kink circuit for years and she knows Rav. Rhiannon is also the only girl in Antonia’s stable who could probably put me on my ass in a fight. She’s six-foot and built like an athlete; I heard she went to school on a sports scholarship before she got into this work. I wonder how her career took such a detour. Maybe I’ll get a chance to ask her about it tonight, if Rav leaves us in any state to talk.
So tonight is weighing on my mind. But I know I’ll feel a hell of a lot better about things if I beat this goddamn climb.
“Better get back to it Dani,” I say, my focus returning to the rock.
Scoping things out, I see that there’s no stable spot to put my feet that will let me reach the ledge. But just to the right of my hip are some black scuff marks where previous climbers’ shoes have grated over the rock.
I ponder the scuff marks, the location of the ledge, and put it all together in my head.
?”Got you, you fucker,” I whisper.
I’m going to have to smear a foot on the flat face, trusting friction to give me enough purchase so that I can lunge for that ledge. It’s a suicide move — if the foot doesn’t stick, I’m dangling on ropes and cursing, just like the first two times.
The high sun tells me it’s almost noon. Whatever happens, this is my last chance to summit.
Shifting my weight so I can free up a hand, I press my face into the rock, catching a vegetal smell of lichen and a scrape on my cheek for my efforts. A quick dip in the chalk bag hooked to my belt loop and I’m ready to go.
I feel my phone buzz again, but it might as well be in another dimension.
Bearing all my weight on my arms, I stretch out a foot toward those scuff marks. I open my hip and flatten the sole of my foot against the rock to maximize the friction, then ball up my muscles and prepare to spring for that Demetevler Escort ledge. I visualize myself shooting upwards, rehearsing each limb’s trajectory in my mind.
A bead of sweat breaks over my eyebrow and falls, leaving a thin dark stain on the rock beneath me.??I tense up and launch.
My shoe slides on the rock right away and a stab of fear cuts through my gut. But then the foot sticks and I’m shooting upwards, powdered hand locked into a claw, straining, flailing. Flecks of chalk patter onto my face, blinding me. There’s a giddy sensation of falling as I stretch out into the blackness.
Then my hand slams onto rock. The ledge! My smeared foot skids right off the rock face, but my hand grip is solid and I do not fall.
I dangle from the ledge by one hand, feeling around for purchase with my feet in the crack where my hands were moments before. I wedge in a toe, giving me just enough grip to slide my free hand up and over the lip at the summit.
A few moments of scrabbling and scraping my knees later, I haul myself onto the top of the boulder. I un-click my rope from the karabiner and roll over onto my back in the sun-baked dust at the top of the climb. I whoop, blasted with elation, chest heaving.
“I beat you.”
Just as my breathing slows, the damn phone buzzes again. I better check it.
There’s another message from Mike, which I delete without opening. Since things got a little weird last time, I’ve decided I’m done with him.
But there’s something else too: three missed calls from Antonia’s office.
Maybe Rav canceled? This brings conflicting emotions: anxiety at losing out on an obscene amount of money, but sheer relief that I won’t have to deal with his shit.
I take a cigarette from the pack wedged into my belt, light up, and call Antonia back.
“Hey, it’s Dani. Sorry I was tied up.”
“Darling Dani. Normally I wouldn’t bug you, but something’s come up. Rhiannon can’t make it tonight. Says she’s sick.”
My mood plummets. “Oh shit Antonia, I’d rather not do this alone. It’s Rav.”
“Yes yes, I know darling. But you won’t be alone. Bianca is filling in.”
This strikes me as a terrible idea. Bianca’s good at her job, but I know that she won’t do a lot of the things Rav likes to do. I’m also a bit wary about her past — specifically that abusive boyfriend she had back in New Mexico. Abuse is kind of Rav’s thing. I can handle his bullshit but does Bee know what she’s letting herself in for?
I take a deep drag on my smoke. “Antonia, not to question you or anything, but I don’t know if Bianca is right for this job.”
“I know what you are thinking my dear, but there’s nobody else available. Rhiannon has kind of screwed us with this last-minute crap. What would you like me to do? I’m looking around my office right now but I don’t see any spare girls lying around. I’m looking through my drawers, under my desk, but guess what? No girls there either. Do you have any you can send me, my darling?”
“OK, I get it.”
“Bianca’s the only one who answered the call. The client is fine with the change of plan, and you two have worked together before.”
“Of course she wants the job, it’s a pile of money. She doesn’t know—”
“And she’ll get the money. Almost as much as you will. Listen darling, I have to go. You take care of each other and give me a call, ok?”
Before I can even reply, she hangs up on me.
I finish the cigarette and pitch it over the edge, shaking my head.
“I can’t believe you did that! Like, how dare you?” Bianca is pacing up and down in my apartment, her dusty-blond mane of hair whipping about like a flame. “You spoke to Antonia about me like I’m some kind of child. You’re not my mother. What I do is none of your business.”
Apparently right after she spoke with me Antonia called Bianca and tried to give her an out. I respect Antonia for that; she took my concern seriously and was willing to take the hit in her purse. She’s a businesswoman, and she acts like a hard-ass, but she does give a shit about her girls.
But my name came up in the call, and now Bianca feels like I betrayed her. She tore into me as soon as I let her in the apartment.
“Ok, enough! Don’t lose your shit at me, Bee. I was just looking out for you. You can see that, surely?”
“Three grand you nearly cost me! Three grand for one night. Do you know how long it takes me to earn that kind of money? Is that what you call looking out for me?”
“It’s three grand for a reason.” I figure now would be the wrong time to mention I’m getting paid closer to four thousand. “Rav’s not like the other clients.”??”Oh so I can’t handle it? Like, Dani’s such a professional and what am I? Like some stupid little girl?”
“No, I mean—” I pause. What do I mean? “—there’ll always be other clients. What’s the rush?” I say, weakly.
“That’s easy for you to say, look at your place.” Bianca Otele gelen escort gestures wildly around the kitchen, face glowing red with rage, voice cracking a little. “I don’t have all this nice stuff. You saw where I’m living at — like a freaking box.”
“Hey, this didn’t happen overnight. I worked hard for everything I have.” In truth, it wasn’t that hard. I saved a bunch in Modesto before the move, enough for first and last month’s rent, and with some left to tide me over until I set up some clients. I have few expenses apart from rent, my bike, gym membership, and a few bottles of wine a week.
But Bianca’s accusations rankle me. It’s presumptuous, and I’m starting to lose patience.
“Listen, Dani. You been good to me since I moved here and I want you to know I appreciate that. I really do.” Her tone is faux-conciliatory and I sense there’s a “but” coming. “But you don’t really know me. You don’t know my life. I got people who depend on me. I send money to my sisters, my mother. How can you understand that? You don’t have anybody.”
That comment catches me off-guard. I feel like I’ve been slapped. It hurts, I realize, because it’s true.
My visit with Yumi flashes back into my mind. I had a good time, but after a few days I was ready to get back to the city. In fact, I couldn’t wait to get home. I told myself it was my need to be alone, to do things on my own terms. I’ve always been like that. When I was a kid I’d take off on my own, drag my toys out into the yard and do my own thing, barricade myself in my room for days on end. I was twelve the first time I ran away from home. Being alone has always felt right to me. At least it always used to.
But when I got on my bike to leave the farmhouse and looked back at Yumi and Nathaniel waving goodbye, I wasn’t really thinking about my independence. The truth is that I resented them. Seeing the life Yumi has now, what they’re building together, the closeness they share — I was jealous.
A tinge of self pity catches in my chest, but it’s driven out by a blast of indignation.
I called Antonia to protect Bianca. I was prepared to go fuck this creep alone tonight, for her! This city is full of dumb girls making dumb decisions every day, so why am I putting myself on the line for this one? And she has the audacity to try and make me feel like shit? I don’t deserve this.
Something ignites in me and I slam my palm on the counter with all my strength. A deafening crack rings out. Bianca recoils in shock.
“You know what, fine. Whatever. Bianca knows best. I really don’t give a fuck what you do,” I shout, sweeping up her overnight bag from the kitchen counter and flinging it straight at her. She clutches it to her chest, a stunned look on her face. “Get ready in the den. Car’s here at ten. I’m done with this shit.”
I storm into the bedroom and slam the door. My hand shakes a little as I light a smoke. I slide down the door and crouch there, taking deep drags on the Marlboro. A tear stings my cheek and I wipe it quickly away.
I can’t deal with this now. I need to get my head straight for tonight.
“You soft bitch,” I say to myself. “Get it together.”
I turn my mind to my routines. If I can just focus on getting ready, get into that groove, I’ll calm down and things will be all right. I hug my knees tight for a few seconds then pick myself up off the floor.
In my en-suite bathroom, I drop the cigarette into the can, undress, and turn on the bathtub faucet to warm it up. I put a few drips of peppermint oil onto my aromatherapy diffuser and set it next to the tub. Then I take my douche and a tub of vaseline from the cabinet and step into the bathtub. The hose slides onto the faucet and water squirts from the tip; I test the temperature with my elbow. When the water is just right I turn the flow down to a dribble, smear a dab of vaseline over the tip, and ease the end into my anus.
Lying back in the tub, I clench my sphincter as my backside bloats with water. When I feel full, I hold the tip of the douche in place to stop it from slipping out, and let my ass relax. A warm flood spills from my rectum, which feels kind of nice, until the backwash pools around my butt, which feels icky. It smells a bit ripe too, but the peppermint helps. I don’t look down at whatever comes out. After three more flushes, I unplug the hose and turn the shower on high to wash myself and all my mess away.
After towelling off, I sit on the toilet, lube my finger, and push it through the snug tube of my anus and into the velvety cavern beyond. I use my middle finger to go as deep as I can, probing around in there for any surprises, but it feels clean. I pull my finger out and inspect it, sniffing at it. There is a faint bitterness, aromatic and savory, but it smells — well — kind of sexy to me.
I pick out an outfit and leave it hanging on the back of my bedroom door — a red chiffon slip dress, boring but dependable.
Warm breeze drifts Balgat Escort through my open window and I feel calm. I light another cigarette and lie on my bed in my underwear, blowing smoke plumes into beams of orange evening light slanting through the blinds.
Bianca and I ride in the car in frosty silence. I can’t tell if she’s mad or upset or just too stubborn to reach out to me. But I don’t want to be the first one to break the ice either, so that’s that, I guess.
When we arrive at Rav’s downtown hotel, the concierge is expecting us and ushers us into a dedicated elevator that shoots way up to the penthouse floor.
Before we can even knock, a woman opens the door to Rav’s suite. She is dressed in business attire, hair scraped into a bun. She gives us a cold scowl before turning and walking back inside. Some mainstream-sounding rap music blares out into the corridor. I catch the door before it swings shut in our faces and we follow her inside, wading through a blue haze of cigar smoke.
The suite is vast — at least twice the size of my apartment. Twelve-foot-high floor-to-ceiling windows span two sides of the room, offering dizzying views of the moonlit ocean and the bustling city lights, glimmering what must be fifty floors below. A pair of flat-screen TVs, several speakers, and a collection of large abstract paintings adorn the walls. Several doorways lead to what I guess must be bedrooms or bathrooms. Recessed accent lighting gives the whole place a subtle, purplish glow that gleams off the polished black hardwood floors.
The woman walks down a couple of steps near the center of the room into a submerged, thick-carpeted lounge area, furnished with a large recliner and an L-shaped couch — all upholstered in white leather — arranged around a circular glass coffee table. The woman brushes cigar ash from a laptop keyboard and gathers papers that lay strewn around the table. Muting the music with a remote, she calls in the direction of the one open doorway, “Your friends are here, Mr. Kappas. I think we’ve done all we can tonight. I’ll be in touch about your case in the morning.”
“Not too fucking early, Candace,” comes the gruff reply. “And it better be good news. I want this thing buried as soon as possible.”
“There’s no problem on my end. It’s your associates you need to worry about.”
“Just stick to what you know, Candace,” Rav snaps, raising his voice. “Let me worry about them. No fucking way they’d flip. They know what Rav would do if they did.”
“Then we’ll speak in the morning.”
Candace picks up the laptop and snaps it closed. She slides the papers into a briefcase and breezes past us in the direction of a mahogany-and-glass bar stocked with dozens of bottles. The swish-swish sound of her nylons rubbing together seems loud in the sudden silence. Candace pushes aside empty glasses on the bar, finds a set of keys, and exits the suite. She doesn’t look at us once. The heavy door swings closed behind her with a muted clunk.
Bianca and I stand there dumbly, clutching our overnight bags, unsure what to do.
After a pause, Rav strides through the doorway. He’s wearing black, pinstriped pants, and a mauve dress shirt with a white collar and cuffs that are rolled up over hairy, tattooed forearms. Rav’s a huge guy, at least six-three, almost as broad as he is tall, tough-looking but carrying a large gut. He walks with the arrogant swagger of a self-consciously muscular man, arms wide like he’s carrying a pair of heavy, invisible suitcases.
Mirrored aviator sunglasses sit atop his hair, which is cut in a close military-style with a couple of shaved lines running back from one temple. His wide neck seems to run directly from his ears to his broad shoulders, a goatee beard giving him the illusion of a jawline. Gold glints in rows of small teeth clenched around a cigar.
“So you met my lawyer.” Rav shrugs. “Nice bit of skirt, ain’t she?”
I can never place Rav’s accent. British, but not quite. Maybe South African.
Rav points his cigar at me and grins. “I remember you from the boat. We took a nice dip together, you and me. You like the water, don’t you? A real mermaid.”
The last time I worked with Rav, there were three of us from the agency catering to a party on his yacht. Towards the end of the night, out on the starlit deck, he bent me over the railings and fucked me in my ass. He was drunk and had already gotten a blow-job from Tegan earlier on, so it took him a long time to finish. I remember the cold railings cutting into my hips as I stared down into the water, watching the waves slap up against the hull as he pulled my hair and grunted and sweated on my back.
He’s looking for a reaction with that mermaid line, but I know better. “It was a good time,” I lie. “You have a beautiful boat.”
Rav seems bored. “Get me a beer, mermaid. Fridge is over there.” He waves me towards the bar then drops his bulky frame into the recliner. The chair creaks under his weight as he pulls the lever and leans back, pulling out a phone and scrolling with his thumb. “She a Mexican?” Rav says, without looking up.
“You can ask her. She speaks English.”
“All right, don’t get smart.” He turns to Bianca. “You were supposed to be a beautiful big black princess. Mexicans really are taking all the jobs,” he says, letting out a belly laugh. “What’s your name then, shorty?”
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