Hurt Love


“I’m in the lobby.”

“Okay. I’ll be right down.” I felt a nervous twist in my gut and sighed as I stared at the wall. My head remained hot where my hands had been supporting it and small beads of sweat had appeared in the valleys of my furrowed brow. Resting my mouth upon my knee, I tied the laces and straightened and brushed my pants clean. The hard hotel bed creaked as I rose. The door was heavy to open and the smell of the hallway polluted my sinuses. I checked my pocket for the room key before clicking the door secure.

In the hallway the fluorescent glow hummed and delighted in its job. The ice machine bubbled and gurgled. A language of manmade machines telling us they’re working. The elevator clicked and hummed, not in a bright, helpful note but a dark and empty one. My eyes spoke to me in the reflection of the mirror opposite the elevator. You don’t have to do this. What about a movie? The doors opened and I stepped in. “L” lit up without a sound and the sandwich doors softly clapped shut. Hum and buzz all around and the sensation of a controlled free fall.

I hate this.

The lobby was bright and bustling. The Easter holiday weekend brought visitors from surrounding states to celebrate in a city that I have tried to escape from since I had a mind and two feet. Luggage carts colored with candied baskets all dolled up to rot a child’s teeth and frazzled parents trying to calm the already sugared shits; every traveler’s distress hushed to an even background noise. Mothers’ fingers licked and wiping chocolate and fathers’ eyes watching the other mothers.

One woman was not a mother, or at least not with her children. Her name was Denise and she stood 5’10”, had a 34c cup, and remained youthful despite her age of 35, old for her line of work. I approached and attempted to seem as commodious as possible.

“Denise?” With hand outstretched and a poor fabrication of a smile, I waited for a response. She looked around the lobby as if she didn’t know where this voice, my voice, was coming from.

“Why did you choose this place?”

“Can I tell you upstairs? C’mon. Let’s go.” Her heels clicked in a professional manor and her smell masked a place I never wanted to go to. An elevator waited with doors open. I watched and apologized with my eyes to the family that screamed, “Hold it,” as the doors closed. “You see, Denise, I live here.”

“Whoa, whoa. I told you I don’t come to private residences, only hotels.” Her apprehension was evident and I had no idea what to say to let her know that I wasn’t going to hurt her in any way. You dumb bitch, you’re going to be hurting me.

“I’m not coming with you to your room.”

“Let’s be fair, honey. It seemed ludicrous for me to pay for another hotel room when I already have one.”

“That makes no sense.” She took out a compact and checked her lipstick. After a few flicks with her pinky nail, she continued, “It’s for my own safety, you understand.”

“Listen, I’m not a creep or anything…I just…”

“No, whatever your name is. Rules are rules.”



“That’s my name. Brian.”

“Well, Brian, I don’t care what your name is and I am not following you anywhere.”

“I was hoping you could rough me up a little, that’s all.”

“Rough you up?” With a ding the doors opened to the fifth floor. “Like hit you and stuff?”

“I guess, yes.” I exited and held the doors open for her to follow. Denise remained with her eyes fixed in wonderment and a mild disgust. “Can we continue this conversation in the room?”

“No, here is fine. So, will you be tied up?”

“If that’s makes you feel better, then, sure. That’s fine. I haven’t really thought through it. This is my first time.”

“First time for what? Spending time with a professional?”

“Yes. I’m an alright guy. Right now I just want to be hit and pushed around a little bit. Punished.”

“Every client of mine is an alright guy, Brady. Nothing wrong with any of them.” She lowered her head and exited the elevator. Our eyes met and she raised her brows insinuating, “Well, battered playboy?”


“You called me Brady. It’s Brian.”

“I don’t care.”



“How’s everything going, man?” Greg’s voice shot a feeling of guilt through my body. As I raised upon on arm, the evidence of my abuse became tangible. Welts and bruises covered my chest and arms and my feet remained tied to the bed.

I sighed, “Fine. Just starting the day, you know.”

“Yeah. It’s finally a little warmer outside. I was thinking we could grab some lunch at that one place you like.”

“Harold’s. Yeah, that’s good. What time?”

“Well, soon. It’s noon.”

The quick motion of turning my head to look at the clock winced my eyes and stopped my breath. Damn, Denise. Damn you, too. “Right. Meet me there in forty-five minutes. Does that work?”

“I’m hungry now. You’re really just starting your day? What did you do last night?”

“I just stayed in. I’m really tired, Greg.”

“It’ll be good for you to get out. Meet me in thirty.”

“Alright. Bye.”

I raised up and whispered, “ouch,” to the demons. Luckily my fingers were not bruised and I unfastened my ankles from their restraints. The tingling in my feet celebrated the return of the prodigal blood and I remained motionless for a few minutes to adjust to the waking life.

Questions followed questions. Where did Denise go? When did I fall asleep? What happened? I shuffled to the bathroom and pissed completely clear. Movement to my left turned my aching head towards the mirror. A note blew in the wind from the heating fan. Blue ink and a graceful hand:

“I think I knocked you out. Took the money you owed me. –D”

I couldn’t help but smile. I moved over to the mirror and gazed at the bruised fighter. Left eye a bit swollen and a fat lip, but all in all not too bad. I felt much worse than I looked. People will still ask, though. Nosy, nosy people.

A quick shower and dressing and I was back in the lobby. The families were gone, sight-seeing or shopping I assume, and it was only the employees and a few businessmen quietly getting through the day. Little of no eye contact and absolutely no concern for fellow man, we all moved in the dance of life. The only person to acknowledge me was the lovely girl behind the front desk. She only did so because it was her job, I know.

“Yes, sir?” She cleared her throat and looked away. I had only been in the hotel a week so we were not on first name basis, but she knew that my face didn’t look like this the day before.

“Any mail for 523?”

She turned quickly to avoid any more unpleasant sights and retrieved an envelope. “Just this, sir.”

“Thanks. It’s Brian.”

“I’m sorry?”

“That’s my name. Hi. I’m Brian.” She accepted my hand in a wet tissue shake.

“Paula. Nice to meet you.”

“Yeah. I’m gonna be here for a while so I just thought, you know. Well, have a nice day.”

“You too, Brian.”

I turned and smiled. After facing forward I winced again at my body. My poor, broken, puffy body.

The revolving door wooshed a synthetic comb whoosh as the controlled air changed into an asphalt salt air. Horns, jets, construction, yelling – the soundtrack to the outside. The sun was high in the sky and with the warming weather a glimmer of hope stunk up the entire city. A family was returning after a shopping excursion, the bags and smiles reading the names of their favorite stores. Mother and children hurried in while father paid the taxi fare. We exchanged glances as he passed and I motioned the cabbie to hold it while I felt the father’s eyes on my back. After seeing my face, I wondered if he thought about the safety of his family sharing the same building as this rough-looking man. I glanced back after giving the driver my destination and there was no father gawking. Maybe he didn’t look at all.

The sunny streets appeared hot to the touch and the buildings seemed to stretch upward as if just waking. With each bump the cab hit my body answered in a scream. I got what I asked for but was it what I deserved? It seemed so at the time.


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