Caveat Emptor

You'd think all those ads in the back of the weeklies would

come with the warning: Buyer Beware. But no ...

Caveat Emptor by Joshua Swainston

“You look nothing like your picture,” Aaron said as he peered through the peephole of the hotel room door. In the picture she was a nymph with electric pink Hot Topic streaks in her hair. The arching softness of her pale body and the exposed canine in her smile hinted at an animal lust Aaron desired.

“Baby, if ya don’t let me in the room, I’m’a make a scene.” But it was reality that knocked at the door: deflated tits and mouth scabs magnified in the convex bubble of the glass lens.

“Hey, ahh,” Aaron struggled to remember the girls name from the online ad, “Crystal. Yeah, I’m not interested anymore. Is that alright?”

Crystal leaned into Aaron’s door, attempting to look through the peephole in reverse. “Ya don’t want it, ya shouldn’t’a called.”

“Please, just go away. I’m not interested.”

“I’ll count to three, and ya betta let me in or else.” Aaron watched Crystal place one hand on her boney hip. “One.” She elongated the “wa” sound the way mothers warn bad children.

“I could give you money,” Aaron attempted to negotiate.

“Not if ya don’t let me in.” Crystal held up two fingers. “Two.”

“Come on. We’re both adults. We can work this out.”

“Don’t make me get ta three,” the woman threatened. Aaron continued to watch. “Ya sure ya wants this? I warned ya.” Crystal took a deep breathe. “THREE! OH BABY, YOU KNOW YOU WANNA FUCK ME. JUST LET ME IN!”

“Oh shit.” Aaron worked the series of locks serving to keep Crystal out. “Stop, please,” he said as he flipped the deadbolt.


Aaron opened the door. “Get in here.”

Crystal’s voice instantly fell back to normal conversation volume. “Thanks,” she said as she strolled into the room.

On either side of the hotel hallway, guests watched from their doorways. Most of the reactions consisted of scowls and head shaking. One elderly man in a blue button-up dress shirt and sock suspenders gave a thumbs up. No one in the audience made the situation better.

Aaron secured the door and turned around to find Crystal straddled the corner of the queen bed. Her black mini skirt pulled against her thighs, creating a miniature cave to her unshaved crotch. “So,” she winked, “whatcha wanna do now?”

Aaron kept his distance, making his way to a stiff hotel armchair. “How much to make this mistake go away?”

“Who ya callin’ a miss-take?”

“Never mind.”

Crystal lay back on the bed and rolled around to face her client. “If you like it or not, that’s on you.”

“I’m not from here. This is a work thing. It doesn’t matter. Anyway, a couple of us were drinking. One of the guys said he gets a girl whenever he’s at a convention. I was drunk and horny. It sounded like a good idea at the time. I’ve sobered up.” Aaron made his case in hopes that any rational person would understand the mix-up.

“Ya not horny anymore?” She smiled. “I can make you horny.”

Aaron focused on an olive green bruise and track marks in the crook of the Crystal’s left elbow. “I’m sure you are a nice girl, but is there a way I can just pay you to leave.”

“Six hundred,” Crystal spat out a quote.

“Six! The ad said ‘two to fuck’. Why would I pay you six to go away?”

“Cause you want it more,” she said without hesitation.

“You’re screwing me, you know that?”

“One way or another, baby.”

“I don’t have six hundred on me.”

“It’s five for Greek.”

Aaron looked at Crystal, tilting his head to the side like a confused dog. “Greek?”

“If ya gotta ask, it’s not for you.” Crystal stood up from the bed and walked around the room toward her client.

Aaron pulled out his wallet. “I have three hundred dollars. Take it and go. Please.”

“Ya got a girl at home?” Crystal asked as she fingered the items on the nightstand: a complementary hotel pen, three Jolly Ranchers, a black iPod Touch, and three quarters. She took a watermelon candy, unwrapped it, and put in in her mouth. “A few guys are like ya,” she said. “Most just fuck even if they feel weird about it.”

“I don’t have anyone, no.” Aaron held the collection of dollar bills in one hand, ready to pass it off.

“So what’s the problem? Ya need pills to get it up? I can get you pills.”

“I never thought I do this sort of thing.” Aaron sighed. “It’s just, this is not the type of person I am.”

Crystal sat on the arm of the hotel chair leaning over her client. “What’s wrong with payin’ ta fuck?”

“I had the same girlfriend since my freshman year in high school. We broke up a few months ago. She’s in college, veterinary school. I think she met someone else. Doesn’t matter, it’s over.” Aaron rested his head against Crystal’s emaciated frame. She smelled of baby powder and Pall Mall cigarettes. The two huddled on the chair for five minutes without a word. Aaron’s breathing calmed. “Maybe, you could stay? I mean, if you wanted?”

“Nah baby, ya had your chance.”

“I don’t understand? I can give you cash.”

“I’m not inta this sad shit. Ya really know how to get a girl in the mood, ya know? This is business. We ain’t friends.” Crystal stood up. “I want the iPod.”

“What? But I thought…you’re a whore.”
“The iPod and the cash, and I’m gone. Don’t do it, I call the cops. Say ya tried to rape me.”
Confused, angry, frustrated. “This isn’t how this is suppose…” Aaron gave up. “Fine. Fucking take it. Here.” He thrust the wad of cash at Crystal. “Get out.”  

The woman palmed the three hundred dollars, snatched the iPod, and left.

Joshua Swainston has worked as a mechanic, merchant sailor, courier, loan shark, club promoter, Ryder truck rental agent, MC Donald’s grill cook, taxi driver, valet, coffee roaster, wine distributor, psychologist assistant, UPS man, Disney Story stock boy, and played Santa Clause. His short stories are printed in A Twist of Noir, The First Line, Fuck Fiction as well as others. His self-published novel, The Tacoma Pill Junkies, was released in February of 2013 and can be found at