Ethan wasn’t driving over to grandma’s house to eat her oatmeal raisin cookies at his mother’s request but driving to meet someone he had never met before. It wasn’t in his best interest to be so daring but staying in his apartment no longer suited him on this Saturday night. His mindset had changed after a good night’s sleep, actually it was a whole week of rest that pushed him into new territory. Nobody liked to hear his finger tapping or change jingling in his pocket when he was bored. His friend had given him a fidget spinner for his birthday a year ago, but eventually it found a home in the back of his closet.
This someone he was meeting was for a simple transaction. He would give her money for an hour of companionship. He doubted it would ever end up going beyond that, but it had been a secret of his to do this exact thing. He had wanted to know about this seedy lifestyle for a while. There had been a tiny bit of hesitation because nothing was failsafe, but there were ways to make it one’s business except his own. They had agreed upon a place to meet up, near a supermarket called Coulson’s, like two casual friends. It took five minutes of Ethan waiting and scanning the area from his car to be assured this was not a sting operation. The thought crossed his mind what his parents would think if he was caught with a prostitute. It almost convinced him to turn his car back on and get out of there.
He slammed the car door shut, making sure it wasn’t locked if he needed to get back inside quickly. It wasn’t good to leave your car unlocked, but he wasn’t going far. He could keep an eye on it. It wasn’t as if he left his keys in the ignition. With his hands stuffed into his pockets and after a few people glanced at him, he waited for that someone to arrive. It was a quarter past seven when she appeared. It was clear she was there for one purpose, but she was dressed nicely as if going to a dinner on a blind date. His eyes shifted to the area around her, looking one more time for any hint of cops.
After she exchanged her working name of Cindy for his actual name, they chatted about cost for her services. He was confident she wasn’t a cop when she agreed to go with him to a motel, but the further they traveled away from Coulson’s, the more anxious he became. When he looked in his rearview mirror, he noticed a car trailing behind him. It was close enough to not lose him, but far enough away to not arose too much suspicion. He wondered if this was normal anxiety he felt or a sign of something else. His gut reaction was to dismiss it, but he found himself driving around in rectangles and circles. When Cindy demanded him to pull his car over, he told her he didn’t want to.
“I don’t care,” she said.
“The only free space is red.”
“Do you always do what your mommy tells you?”
“Fine,” Ethan said, pulling his car over and putting the car in park in a residential neighborhood. He imagined mothers putting their young children to bed and fathers having one last go of whatever fathers did before their free time was up. He thought back to his childhood when he felt Cindy’s hand on his knee. It didn’t take long for her move her hand from his knee to his thigh.
“We need to talk,” he said.
“Isn’t that what we’re doing?” she asked, her hand going further up his thigh.
“I mean with your mouth.”
When she leaned into him, he placed his hand on her forehead to stop her from moving closer to his crotch. “I mean words, words coming out of your mouth, like sentences.”
“I can do two things at once,” she said.
“I’m sorry, but I think I made a mistake.”
“Mistake or no mistake, you still owe me.”
“Yes, right.” He reached for his wallet and stopped himself. “This probably sounds silly, but I get the feeling you’re a cop.”
“Do you want me to be a cop?”
“Um, of course, not.”
“I’m not a cop.”
“I don’t want to go to jail.”
Ethan looked behind him. The car that was trailing behind him was nowhere in sight. This felt like a dream to him. He had no choice but to continue and hope he was still a free man by the end. He removed five twenty-dollar bills from his wallet. The second it left his hand for hers, he held his breath and waited for the ball to drop. When nothing happened, the joy of knowing he wasn’t going to jail overwhelmed him and blurted that he belonged to Mensa.
“Good for you,” she said.
“My ex-girlfriend didn’t believe I was smart enough to be a part of it, so I took an IQ test to prove her wrong.”
“Again, good for you.”
“She told me I was the biggest mistake she ever made, and I was a piece of shit. I was tantamount to a worthless person who should choke on a bone and die.”
“You’re the best mistake I made tonight, if it makes you feel any better.”
“It should,” she said, opening the door.
“I can bring you back to where I met you.”
“I have a ride.”
The car from earlier appeared and pulled to the curb. Cindy ignored the driver’s impatience and told Ethan to cut himself some slack, and he deserved happiness. He found his way back to the main road and not a few blocks from his apartment, he saw flashing lights behind him. He let off the gas after saying shit, but the cop moved into the other lane and zoomed past him with sirens now sounding. After he parked his car in the garage, he made a point to look up before walking to the elevator. He knew he was lucky this time. Maybe, the seedy part of life wasn’t for him. He wasn’t a journalist. He wasn’t looking for any career change. He was an average looking man with an above average IQ. He was what people called being a part of the mainstream.