A low and gentle breeze stirred the dry leaves and styrofoam cups covering the sidewalk. Ryan clenched his cold fists in the pockets of his coat and lowered his head, presaging the icy gust of air that followed.
"C'mon, C'mon," he muttered.
He saw a black Prius break away from the current of commuters and slowly approached the curb.
He acknowledged the driver with a wave, and the car came to a stop. Ryan slid in the back seat and greeted the driver.
"Hey, how are ya?" He asked.
"Good," she replied. "And you?"
"Fine fine," Ryan said.
The driver looked at the GPS receiver mounted on the windshield.
"So let's see we're going to 4453 south whatever," her voice trailed as she finished reading the address.
"Yeah," Ryan confirmed.
Her eyes flashed in the mirror. Ryan could infer she knew precisely where he was going.
Ryan felt his phone vibrating. He pulled the device out, the name "Karen" was highlighted at the top of the screen.
"Shit," Ryan muttered. He inhaled deeply and accepted the call.
Ryan saw the driver's eyes in the mirror quickly turn away.
"I'm working a double at the hospital tonight I probably won't be home till 1 or 2," said Ryan.
"Oh, shit, Kendall's game is tonight?!" Ryan said, sounding surprised. He was quiet for a second.
"I'm really sorry I don't know what to tell you. They have me in the ER till midnight. Oh my god, I'm so sorry."
Ryan looked at his watch while he waited for Karen to finish talking.
"Christ, Karen, there's nothing I can do about it. Just tell her I promise I'll make it up to her, and I swear I will be at the next one even if I got use sick time."
"Ok, I'll see you tonight."
"I love you too,"
John ended the call when he looked up, he saw the driver's eyes in the mirror again. Ryan ignored her gaze and looked out the window. He knew what she was thinking but as far as Ryan was concerned he was a excellent, and in 11 years he was never once unfaithful to Karen. Besides, what he was doing wasn't infidelity, as it wasn't the real thing, just the next best thing.
The car stopped in front of a stately looking brownstone mansion on a quiet back street tucked away in the shadow of the city's steel skyline.
"Here we are," the driver said.
"Thank," Ryan said politely. "Have a good one."
Ryan ascended the old granite steps, and the door opened in front of him. Welcoming in the foyer was a massive security guard and a petite elegantly dressed woman with shoulder-length blonde hair.
"Hello, Mr. Connor, how are you today?" the vivacious young woman asked.
"Pretty good, how about yourself?" Ryan replied.
"Great, great, your room is all ready. It's number 108, the last door on the right." She handed him a key.
"Thank you," Ryan said as he hurried up the stairs.
Despite the gilded age charm of the building, the rooms themselves were decorated and furnished in the fashion of any modern hotel. A flat-screen TV mounted on the wall, phone on the nightstand, and USB outlets under the slender metallic lamps attached to the twin nightstands.
A gorgeous redhead in a skin-tight black satin dress that ended mid-thigh greeted Ryan.
"Hello," she said softly.
"Hi," Ryan said with a satisfied grin.
"What's your name?" She asked.
"Ryan, and yours?"
"What do you want to call me?" she asked.
"Let's go with Lindsey," Ryan decided.
"Ok, Lindsey, it is." She stood up. "Do you want me to take off my dress, or do you want to take off my dress for me?"
"I'll get to that in a second," Ryan said, taking off his coat and throwing it on a chair. "I gotta warm up and freezing out there."
"The temperature right now is 38 degrees Fahrenheit with a 62 percent chance of precipitation," said Lindsey. "If you'd like, I can pull up the seven-day forecast from the national weather service." She offered.
Ryan stopped undressing for a second. "Um, no, that's ok."
When Ryan was finished, he collapsed on top of the moaning redhead writhing beneath him. His cheeks were flushed, and beads of sweat glistened on his forehead.
"Holy shit, that was amazing," he said, trying to catch his breath.
"Hmmm, you were fantastic," Lindsey purred, biting her lower lip.
Ryan rolled off her and stared up at the ceiling. He looked over at Lindsey, who was resting her body against the nightstand, looking off with unblinking eyes. This was the part Ryan always had trouble with. They never cuddled, and they never had any pillow talk. She merely waited with dead eyes for him to acknowledge her again.
Ryan was startled by his vibrating phone, thumping against the surface of the nightstand. He picked it up and saw it was Karen.
"Shit, it's my wife," John whispered.
"If you would like to find out about couples rates, please ask at the front desk or simply visit our website at…
"No, that's ok," Ryan cut her off.
He rejected the call and toss his phone on the bed. The guilt started creeping back.
"This doesn't hurt anyone," Ryan reminded himself.
The sound of glass shattering startled Ryan. He could hear muffled shouting, followed by a sudden burst of gunshots.
Ryan jumped out of bed. "What the fuck was that?!"
"I'm sorry I didn't get that," Lindsey said with detachment.
There was screaming and the sound of shuffling feet, more glass shattered, and the floor vibrated with the shocks of heavy smashing objects.
Ryan cowered behind the bed. "Go see what's happening out there!" He pleaded with Lindsey.
"Ok," Lindsey said calmly. "Would you like anything from the bar?" she asked.
"No!" Ryan snapped.
He could hear the sound of stomping feet storming through the hallway.
"Oh my god, they're coming," Ryan whimpered.
The door burst open, and three figures wearing baggy black hoodies and with their faces obscured by crimson scarves invaded the room. Two of the thinner ones grabbed Lindsey by the arms and forced her to the ground while the more heavy set one walked around the bed where Ryan was hiding.
"Get up!" the assailant ordered in a female voice.
Ryan raised his hands and tried to stand up on his trembling knees.
"Please, please just let me go. I'm a doctor I have lots of money…"
"Shut the fuck up!" she said, thrusting the gun into his chest.
"Turn around and put your hands behind your head!" She barked
Ryan did as he was told. With surprising strength, she grabbed his wrists and locked them in handcuffs before pushing him back onto the bed.
Someone in shades and long blond hair flowing from her hoodie handed her a crowbar. She gripped it with both hands. "I want you to watch this," she told Ryan.
She walked over to Lindsey and brought the crowbar down on her head. Ryan winced, but Lindsey didn't cry out. The attacker raised the crowbar and brought it down on the same spot with much more force.
Strands of red hair went flying into the air, and Lindsey's head collapsed in where the crowbar hit. She struck once more this time Lindsey's eye shot out of its socket, and a mess of frayed wires burst from the empty hole. The two accomplices let her go, and she collapsed on the ground. Two of them started smashing her together while a third took out a can of pink spray paint and began scrawling something on the wall.
They only stopped once Lindsey ceased to move. Her fractured plastic joints had torn through her silicon flesh in bloodless fissures all over the body. A clear fluid leaked from her nose and mouth, and the eye she had left was colorless cracked glass.
"Alright, let's get out of here!" the stocky one shouted, and they all followed her out of the room. They left Ryan naked and handcuffed on the bed. Hastily sprayed on the wall in hot pink spray paint were the words
"Sex workers united!!!"