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  • Roxanne Noor

Pay For It

 Room 305 in the Bowery Hotel smelled like sex and hard candy, salty sweat and something sugary. Jack was dripping in heat, and Sitara thought her left arm was going to become more muscular than her right. “Grip me tighter and jerk me exactly twenty six times.” Sitara held Jack's hard cock in her small hand and squeezed.

Sitara was around jerk fourteen when she lost count and stroked Jack as many times as she pleased. He came either way. He frowned at the puddle of semen on his hairy belly. “I don’t get why is it so difficult for you to count.” 

Sitara held his crumpled face in her hands. “If I was good at Math I would go off and be an Engineer, I wouldn’t be sitting here in bed with you. Anyway, I think your OCD is getting worse. I’m doing you a favor by refusing to submit to your neuroticism.” Jack laughed because he knew she was right. 

He lifted himself from bed with half a hard on to pour them his favorite coffee from Ethiopia. Jack was not like other clients who rushed to the shower. They’d sit naked together at the coffee table to chat and watch New York play its games from the hotel window. After sex, the city looked different and shinier to Jack. It was some kind of halo effect derived from his own elation. He wished joy could be self generative, but the truth was Jack extracted it from Sitara. 

Everything became more clear to him after sex, more lucid. Sitara participated in his lucidity. He did not pay Sitara for her body, but for the sensations she gave him. She made him remember what it was to be alive. To be a body that could sweat and fuck and feel. 

More than the fucking, it was the feeling afterward that counted. With the blood circulating, and the electric rush of energy, Jack was youthful one again and the world opened to him. He did not see Sitara late into the night, but first thing in the morning. She was his most necessary start to the week. As much as he needed her to feel, Sitara needed him, but for what exactly, she was unsure.

Jack’s sexual needs, his confiding in her, and the dynamic itself gave her something without a name. It was a mix of understanding through the introspection of contradictions. Through knowing Jack she could see and dissect her own complexities. But Jack did not know Sitara. 

Sitara liked to think of her sex work as a durational art performance. This made her not only a performer, but allowed work to be a creative pursuit. This approach allowed her to distance her from herself, and observe her behavior from the outside. She was another woman, whoever she chose to be. 

With some clients her body was machine like, automatic in its motions to obtain the final result, and as quickly as possible because that’s what some men needed. A fast fix. That sex was like eating junk food. Cheap dopamine that makes you feel sick right after. But with Jack, sex was artful. It was different, not mechanical or pre-disposed. The sex was not necessarily good, but always interesting. What made the sex interesting was that Jack loved her. 

Today, he was in the clutches of his OCD and their sex was mathematical, calculated, and strange. Last week it was slow and soft, each caress was a wordless message. There was experimentation and freshness because Jack listened to her body. Other men had technique, and he had the tenderness of his love. Jack’s love was the way love always is; for no reason and for every reason. It was illogical. It made no sense. 

Sitara was easy to fall in love with. She knew the laws of seduction in a psychic sense. She was unpredictable. One week she would wear a cream slip, no makeup, and a loose chestnut braid. She’d look like a forest nymph. The next week she’d wear a pant suit and black patent heels, and her eyes would be painted with kohl. She was a different woman depending on her mood or the emotion she wanted to provoke in her ‘durational art performance’. Jack could not figure her out, and like all wild women, he couldn’t tame her. 

To tame a wild beast there must be a strong lure. There must be something to pull them in with. This proved difficult because  there was nothing solid Sitara truly wanted from him. Yes, his money helped her, but she was not enamored with his obscene wealth. She was not moved by his status, or his semi fame as a director. Jack couldn’t figure out what touched Sitara. He could not recall her speaking passionately about her beliefs or dreams. She seemed to hold life loosely.

They talked idly over coffee and he watched Sitara examine New York from above, her intelligent green eyes scanning the crowded streets below and her stoic unmoved face. He had just penetrated her and still somehow she felt impenetrable. Jack made her promise to see him again next week. She agreed. 

When Monday rolled around Jack decided he’d try a different approach to intimacy. They would talk first over coffee and Jack would not fuck her until there was some clarity. He’d attempt to decipher her feelings for him, and see where he stood in her consciousness. 

Today Sitara looked as casual as could be, she wore sky blue jeans and a black cotton t-shirt that clung to her breasts. Her beauty was effortless. Jack poured her a mug of coffee and she asked him about his most recent film. It was a philosophical art house movie about the multiverse. Jack liked the idea that in this reality Sitara was his secret woman, but on another timeline she could be his wife, and in another reality, his best childhood friend. Now they were in a hotel in Manhattan, but in a parallel reality they were under an olive tree in a village in Sicily or in the suburbs of Wyoming raising twins.

Sitara listened intently as Jack spoke. Those intelligent lagoon eyes narrowed in focus. She nodded and asked him a slew of other questions. Jack promptly realized this is what Sitara consistently did. This is why he could not figure her out. She was figuring him out. Each question he asked her, she reflected back to him. Each comment she made was a reinforcement of his own commentary. Sitara didn’t let him in, though she unlocked so many doors within him.

Jack felt robbed. Here was a woman he was foolish enough to believe he loved, and he realized he could only believe he loved her because he knew nothing about her. In her self containment and anonymity she could be anything he wished her to be. She had only seemed open and vulnerable because she was sexually. But that was her job. It dawned on Jack that he was the vulnerable one, for he was the one who loved, and to love is to open oneself. 

Jack continued to pry something out of her, anything at all, but she remained shut. During one of his probing inquiries Sitara silently slipped off her jeans and t-shirt. She stood in front of him. Her porcelain skin and thick brown hair was no longer familiar. Who was this woman?

Her body was bare, yet her mind was covered and clothed to him, completely hidden. He had paid Sitara dozens of times to stand here this way, naked and barefooted. Jack no longer felt longing, but a subtle fear. His dick was limp, and his balls shriveled and hid.  

Sitara moved on top of him and pressed her lips into his. For the first time she felt cold, and he realized he was kissing the lips of a stranger, the lips of a whore.

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