Jack Moody

A Series of Poor Decisions, Part 2

You are more drunk than you can ever remember being, although you can’t recall much of anything anyway, including how or where you arrived at this state of inebriation in the first place. What you are aware of is that you are alone and you are driving a car, and that the car you’re driving isn’t yours.

The awareness of your loneliness seems to operate through a game of extremes; that is, you are able to stave off the guilt and self-hatred while living in the happy gray medium of handleable intoxication, but it is while existing whether in the overwhelming sensory acuteness of sobriety in the morning, or while struggling through the suicidal depression that inevitably comes at the end of the night after drinking far too much, that you are unable to focus on anything but the exact thing you’ve been drinking to avoid. Tonight you find yourself at the latter end of the spectrum.

You realize that you need to do something to quell the urge to drive your car into a guardrail, something that will flood your brain with however many endorphins can still get through.

This is when you get the idea. On a main road not too far from you is a popular strip club. Next to that strip club is what has only been explained to you as a brothel. It’s called the Cat Club and it has been there for as long as you’ve lived in the area. It’s a tiny little shack of a building with multi-colored lights strung up around the entrance and a sign next to the door with the silhouette of a voluptuous woman and the words: OPEN 24-HOURS. PRIVATE MASSAGES.

You’ve never understood how something so blatantly a whorehouse could have sat on the side of this high-traffic road for so long and remain in business, but you don’t know what exactly goes on in there. You’ve never been into the Cat Club, but tonight you decide you will find out.

You pull up to the side of the Cat Club at three in the morning, open the door and fall out of the car. It’s the only building on the entire road that still has its lights on other than the 7-11 down a block or two. Stepping towards the entrance you remember the rumors that went around for a while that one of your old friends from high school started working here after she became addicted to meth and heroin. You hope she’s here because it would be nice to see her again.

Inside, the Cat Club is narrow and claustrophobic. The lobby is hardly larger than a prison cell. A little desk sits to the left of you with a call bell sitting atop it, and ahead a small corridor runs down about thirty feet with two doors on either side that each open up to a private room. Small TVs are attached to the walls in the corners, playing softcore porn with the volume off. The video quality is bad, and combined with the miniature size of the screens it looks more like two vague collections of beige squares slamming into each other. The lighting is low and glows red. This is your favorite part about the Cat Club so far. You’ve never liked bright lights. You can hide in this kind of lighting.

Before you can ring the call bell, a woman drifts out from one of the rooms. She is a little shorter than you, with long brown hair and blue eyes. She wears an appropriate amount of makeup for her line of work. Beneath it you can see the age etched into her skin and in the fading glow in her eyes earned only by people who have endured the kind of pain that would break most. There is a weathered beauty in her face. You imagine she must be around thirty-five. A see-through black negligee drapes over her body, tied together with a satin ribbon around her stomach—underneath perhaps the biggest breasts you have ever seen in your life. They spill out quite on purpose, mountains of white flesh pushing out against the negligee as if at any moment by sheer weight they’ll tear open the seams and break free.

There is some kind of brief exchange that you immediately cannot recall, and she smiles and leads you by the hand into the first private room. You smash into the wall on the way in and almost trip on an electric fan sitting on the floor beneath you.

“You okay there, honey?” she says, and laughs.

You nod and try your best to sound reasonably sober, but all that comes out are nonsensical mumbles spoken with a swollen tongue. If she didn’t know before, you know that she does now. This doesn’t bother her though, and she continues leading you into the room, and sits you down on a wide, cushioned bench against the wall.

The room is just an extension of what you’ve already seen: Attached to the walls are two small televisions playing porn with the volume off. The walls themselves are decorated with vague Thai designs and paintings of positions from the Kama Sutra. Lining a few shelves nailed into the walls are dozens of unlit candles and various statues of fertility goddesses from entirely different cultures. In the center of the room is a basic massage table. Beyond that, in the corner opposite you is a small bed with a purple curtain pulled back around it.

The woman smiles, standing over you with the door open in case you turn out to be a serial killer and she can escape when you pull out the meat cleaver. “So what’re you looking for, honey?”

“How much do you charge?” you manage.

“If you really want to have fun I’m three hundred. But that’s full service. You get everything: a massage, hand job, blow job, fuck my tits. Even you’ll come once I’m finished.” She laughs and taps your nose with the end of her fake nail. “Otherwise it’s one-twenty for just the lap dance. Then you can watch and finish yourself.”

A literary magazine just recently paid four hundred dollars for one of your stories. You decide that buying a prostitute with money you’ve earned from writing is simply putting that money back into your writing. This is research for your next book. This may even count as a tax write-off.

“Whole thing,” you say. “Three hundred.”

She grins and strokes her hand down your chest. “Perfect—ah…I’ll just take your card and charge that down the hall then.”

You nod and pull out the card, and inexplicably tell her, “I’m a writer. I spend my writing money on you. You cost one story and you are worth one story. Spend money to make money, right?”

She looks around the room and giggles uncomfortably. “Sure, honey. Be right back.”

When the woman returns she hands the card back to you. “It was declined, babe,” she says. “You got another one?”

“Don’t think that’s right,” you retort. “My writing money. It’s in, uh—savings.” It is not lost on you even in your advanced inebriation that you are attempting to dip into your savings account to buy a hooker. You assign yourself the mental note that cash is much less uncomfortable for both parties if you find yourself in a similar situation in the future.

She takes the card back out of your hand, eyeing you up and down with a flicker of pity. “Alright then. One second.”

The next time she returns, she appears a bit less annoyed with you but the margin is still wide. “It only let me charge two hundred. You may need to go to the 7-11 down the street and pull out the rest of the cash yourself.” She pulls you closer into her chest. You can smell the cheap perfume masking the sweat of whoever was in this room before you. “Can you do that for me? I’ll be right here, babe.”

“Yes,” you say. “Yes I can.”

She takes off your hat and places it onto her head. It doesn’t fit right. “Just in case,” she giggles. “Now you have to come back.”

You stumble under the harsh fluorescent lights of the convenience store and weave to the back where the ATM waits for your bad decision. The store clerk says something as you pass but you just throw your arm up over your shoulder and say you’ll give him twenty bucks, and to fuck off and get off your back.

The ATM is a foreign construct. You stand in front of it for a full five minutes before the memory returns to you how one is supposed to access the thing. You go into savings, do the mental math, fail, and attempt to pull out two hundred dollars. It declines. Without reading what comes on the screen you try again. Declined. On the screen again pops up the warning you’d ignored: Suspicious activity on account. Cannot withdraw more funds.

You’ve attempted to take out too much money too many times from different devices. You are—as you have been countless times in different ways—cut off. You stare at the screen. You have been defeated.

The store clerk yells at you as you leave, and you charge out the door without answering. You really would have given him those twenty bucks.

The woman is waiting for you in the lobby. “Missed you, babe. You got that for me?” You explain what happened, and the woman frowns. “Well, you won’t get the works. That’s too bad.”

She leads you back into the room and instructs you to sit back on the cushioned bench. She closes the door. Her bare legs straddle you and she leans back, thrusting against your limp cock. The negligee falls to the floor. Without the clothing’s support her breasts are too large and sag down to her stomach under the weight of age and gravity. You begin to unbutton your jeans, and reach up to touch her hanging tit with the free hand.

The second you make contact, as if waiting for this to happen, she jolts up from the bench. “Nope, nope. You grabbed my tit too hard. Get the fuck off me. You grabbed my tit too hard, we’re done.”

“Wait, what? What?” You’re confused. You had barely brushed against her.

Her entire demeanor has shifted. “You grabbed my tit too hard, we’re done here. Have fun jerking off to porn and get the fuck out.” She tosses you a tissue from the table adjacent and walks out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

You immediately stand up, button up your pants and wobble back out into the lobby. The woman is there standing alone, drifting into a different room. “Hey, hey,” you slur, “what did I do? I didn’t do anything to you.” You realize you are leaning against the desk for support.

“Doesn’t matter,” she says. “You’re done, goodbye.”

“My money, lady.”

“What did I say? You’re done—get out. Go ahead and write about this, dumbass.”

She glides away into the private room, aware of what she’s gotten away with.

You are too drunk to form an argument. You have no one to argue with any longer anyway. You are too tired.

After six tries you are able to get the key into the car door. You throw the keys on the front seat, close the door and begin walking home. The smoke from the cigarette in your mouth twirls up towards the streetlights and disappears.

A prostitute just rolled you for two hundred dollars.

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