It was over a week before I returned to the massage parlor. Part of that was general busyness, the other part was a reluctance to return to the depressing basement “office,” Joe’s reluctance to accept hygiene and safety protocols, the low client volume and lower rates, and the unfortunate manner in which the place is run.
For my second foray into massage, I convinced Severine to go with me. We were going to work the night shift on a Friday and provide moral support for each other in the midst of the boring, depressing sleaze of the massage parlor.
I left work early and we took the bus to the spa, stopping at Family Dollar to waste some more time and stock up on candy. We spent twenty minutes in the “Games and Activities” aisle complaining about the basement office and learning about the popularity of sand art kits before we wandered across the street to hopefully make some money.
We let ourselves into the terrible office and carved out a space for ourselves on one of the dingy couches. We were comfortably ensconced, eating candy and complaining some more, when another girl walked in. This was apparently Gia, the girl who Mia had been complaining about on my first day. She was pretty enough, but like Mia, she wasn’t the kind of polished, glossy whore I was used to.
After saying hi, Mia went out for a cigarette and Severine and I were left alone. I went to the water cooler and filled one of the little cups, but when I looked into the water, I saw what were unmistakably mouse turds. I was horrified. There were mouse turds in my water, the water I was about to drink. I couldn’t even figure out how mouse turds would get into a water cooler, and what was worse, I’d drank from the very same cooler on my first visit! Awful though it was, I didn’t even have time to experience the necessary stages of disgust before I got a text from Marjorie telling me I had an appointment in three minutes.