He couldn’t go to the party alone. It would make him the laughing-stock of the firm, John just knew it. As he was getting ready for the occasion, combing back his hair with compulsive strokes, he could hear their laughter with absolute clarity. The worst part was that John knew, unequivocally knew, that it was all his own damn fault. He was too competitive, that was his problem.
John had never considered the trait a problem before. Being competitive had gotten him into both Yale and Harvard. Being competitive had helped him land a cushy position at the premiere law firm in the city, as well as garnering him the respect of his colleagues. Now, being a competitive bastard was going to completely ruin his reputation.
The other lawyers at the firm had all been married to well-spoken beauties with soft thighs and nice tits; John couldn’t let himself be outdone, at least not in description. It never occurred to him that he might actually have to come up with somebody.
That’s why he called her. John wouldn’t have known the first place to look for services like that, naturally, not him. It was a sign of approval from on high that the night before, he had found the flier some low life had left in the back of the taxi he had taken home.
Three and a half gin and tonics helped him work up the nerve to dial. He finished the final half while he was on hold.
A buzzer whirred shrilly in his ear. John held down the button that unlocked the building’s front door. He felt a little awkward about it, but ultimately decided that God wouldn’t mind him praying that she wasn’t a hideous cow.
He opened the door to the polite knock and was blinded by the wide smile the girl had plastered over her thick lips. The woman extended a hand through the doorway, shaking her blonde hair out of her pale green eyes. “Hi there. My name is Evangeline. Of course you can call me whatever you want.”
John didn’t give a flying fuck what she was called. Hell, he didn’t care if she even knew how to talk. He just sent a little thank you upstairs that she was at least a C cup and had an ass to match.
Years later, when John thought back on that New Year’s Eve party, a few things stood out in his mind. Evangeline’s dress, so formal and yet so completely inappropriate at the same time, the glossy black silk leaving nothing to the imagination; the way it fell over her hips and the way her hands flitted over the fabric at her abdomen every time she laughed at some half-pickled senior lawyer’s off-color joke; the bad champagne and how he had had three glasses of it before he realized how bad it really was. But more than anything, John remembered the praise he had received about his so-called ‘wife’.
“Oh, so this is the lovely lady we’ve heard so much about….” “John, you should take her out more often. She’s quite the catch…” “Just like you said, buddy; what a figure!” “Damn, I wish I could get a hold of that every night…” “And here we all thought you were full of shit, John!”
John had assumed that the anxiety would subside. What with all the slaps on the back, the compliments, surely he was out of the woods for now. However, as he watched Evangeline from over the rim of his never empty glass, John could feel the pressure building behind his eyes. Here she was, a woman like that, shaking hands with the most powerful men in the city, and they didn’t care.
Not a one of them cared.
Hell, he could have gone right up to them and said “Hey, could you hurry it up? This bitch is costing me three hundred an hour”, and they still would’ve thought she was the sweetest thing since Hershey.
She was doing better with them then he ever did. Then he probably ever would.
All the years of work, the building of a picture perfect reputation, acquiring so much taste it was practically pouring out of his ass, and they still respected the whore more than him.
John wrapped his fingers around the sticky stem of his glass, tipping the golden liquid back into his mouth. He didn’t know which of them was the bigger faker; him or Evangeline. He felt small and worthless, as if he had become eight years old all over again, his mother shouting at him from across the kitchen which smelled of rotten food and booze about how he had ruined her life, how the only reason he existed at all was that abortions had been too expensive back when she still young and beautiful. Everything he had tried to make himself into was a lie and everyone knew it; the only reason they didn’t call him on it was that they were all lying too.
John was so engrossed with his shrinking self-esteem that he hadn’t even noticed the lights go down, hadn’t heard the loud, drunk chorus of voices belting out Auld Lang Syne, hadn’t noticed Evangeline standing in front of him. He would have continued to be oblivious for the rest of the evening if Evangeline hadn’t rested her small hands against his chest, stood on the tip-toes of her flattering heels, and kissed him.
They had agreed on no physical intimacy. He was paying exclusively for her time and good behavior, that was all. It was best; safest. It was, therefore, with the greatest surprise that John kissed her back. The taste of her plum lipstick, the weight of her body against his, the numb tingling in his hands and feet; for the first time in a long time, John’s mind went blank.
Evangeline drew back with a suspiciously gentle smile and patted him on the shoulder. “Happy New Year, John.” She sighed and turned to stand next to him, running a hand through her flaxen hair. “I’ve always loved New Years. Always makes me feel like I can be anything I want.”
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