“Have something for me?” asked Unsexy Victor.
“Not huge, but progress. I think I found my girl. She agreed to meet for coffee Wednesday morning.”
“What time?” He asked that as though it mattered.
“She said 9:30. Doesn’t want our meeting to interfere with her business.”
“Smart girl. I like it. Keep me in the loop.”
It never occurred to either men how ironic it was for such wordy people to use short, uninteresting sentences like that. If they were more self-aware, I guess they’d be doing something else with their lives.
They met on St. Laurent at the corner of Guilbault, in a small quiet cafe run by a Moroccan. She said she might have 90 minutes for him, but he wasn’t counting on needing more than half that. You were never too careful; interview subjects can bolt easy. And besides, if you can’t make your case inside of an hour, you don’t have much of one.
“Ah, a handsome man in a dark red sweater,” she said as she walked in. “You must be Marc.” She sat down. “What are you reading?”
“Oh, I’m just studying for the next play I’ll be covering for my other column.”
“I guess. Coffee?”
Usually his interview subjects had a keen interest in having the conversation even though they didn’t care one bit about him because he or she had something to communicate with the broader public and Marc was a convenient conduit. Public relations people usually had a script and stuck to it, so perhaps “conversation” was the wrong word to use in this context.
Journalism isn’t as civic-minded as its practitioners want to believe. Most of the time it’s not. It’s a very selfish business, if you happen to know the right people. The kind whose back you scratch and who know when to return the favor.
This young woman had no particular interest in being interviewed. Quite the opposite, considering how much she was risking, not the least of which was potentially having to deal with the cops. Prostitution itself was not, technically, illegal in Canada, but everything around it — from solicitation to living off the proceeds — was very much against the official morality code.
Like many working girls, Sophie advertised her services in two different newspapers. Which was sort of like solicitation, except nobody got arrested for that. Marc wasn’t sure why not.
Their ads didn’t say: “Come have sex with me I’m a whore” or “$100 for a jolly shag,” not that these wouldn’t be awesome ads when you get right down to it. But no. Everyone used euphemisms, even though most wouldn’t have been able to spell that word. “Julie, 24, for a friendly experience” or “Manon, young with blue eyes, offering tender moments” or “Asian with big chest for your pleasure”. Mark would have to ask the cops; why was this sort of thing tolerated if it was illegal? But they might not want to answer. Better ask a former cop. They always talked so much more freely.
Yeah, that would be the thing. And such a fellow might even help with the other problem Marc had with this proposed series: How to get in the heads of straight guys who paid money to sleep with women like Sophie. Wouldn’t a burly ex-cop be able to do that?
“What I find fascinating,” Sebastian said the night before, just before Marc fell asleep, “is to hear stories about the guys. What do they want so badly that they have to pay so much to get it? Couldn’t they just buy a couple of toys and masturbate instead?”
Marc had no answer to that question, but was determined to find one.