Liam Neeson in Taken (2008)

Taken (2008)

In the last Harlotry, our resident sex worker explained how she was tricked into a terrifying situation with a friend in Florida. Check out Part 1 here.

After a few hours of sleep, Severine and I were ready for whatever horrors awaited us at the office. We got ready to leave, and then had to wake Eric up.

For maximum creepiness, Eric lived in the model home with the rest of the girls. I went across the hall and hammered on the door.

“Come in,” came a muffled shout from inside the room.

I was going to do no such thing. Instead of coming in, I cracked the door and yelled “time to go!” before slamming it again. I hoped that would do the trick because I sure as hell wasn’t going to darken the door of the filthy room myself.

Fortunately, my attempts were successful. Eric soon staggered out of his room in the same filthy jersey he had worn the day before. We piled into the filthy minivan and Eric drove us to the office.

Neither of us was sure what to expect, but we certainly didn’t think the office would be what it was: a small storefront in a rundown strip mall with printer paper pasted over the windows and door. The marquee above the door simply read 211 6th Street Private Office, as if posting the address would deflect attention from the shadiness of the building.

We rang the bell and were buzzed into a dingy little windowless room. Half walls partitioned off a little office area where an angry-looking woman in a cheap, matted lace-front wig sat in front of four telephones. A dark hallway lined with doors led to the back, and the whole place smelled faintly of clothes left too long in the washing machine. There was a big sign on one wall claiming that the office was a drug free workplace, and a sad, pathetic, two foot Christmas tree in one corner. There was a terrible aura of desperation around the whole place.

Severine and I were given “Model Application” forms to fill out and asked to present our IDs. Upon considering our options, we decided it was better to have a record of our having been there than not, gave the woman in the ugly wig our IDs, and filled out the application forms. When we handed them in, we were each given a sheet to read. The title was the first sign something was wrong; “How Escorts Can Make More Money,” it said, and went on to list a lot of obvious tips and tricks, such as “bathe regularly” and “make sure your hair and nails are well-maintained, clients like classy girls.”

There were a few problems with this. First, these were obvious things that I already knew. It didn’t speak well of the agency at all that the women they hired didn’t know to bathe regularly. Second, and most importantly, Severine and I were not there to be escorts. I went to the office area and explained this to the woman in the wig, who looked at me blankly.

“Then why are you here?” she asked.

“We were supposed to make videos,” I told her, “there wasn’t any escorting mentioned at all.”

“Well,” said the woman, “we don’t make videos here, so I don’t know what to tell you.”

This was not good. Here we were in Florida, without a reliable way to get home, expected to work on our backs for not even $100 an hour. We found our way to a small yard at the back of the building and say down on the broken lawn furniture to smoke cigarettes and regroup.

With no-one outside, we discussed our options. We could theoretically buy plane tickets home, but we weren’t sure how to get to the airport, which was almost an hour away, and besides that, a ticket home would undoubtedly break the bank. There was also the fact that we had been promised reimbursement for our tickets out. All things considered, Eric definitely owed us tickets home.

The problem was, we weren’t entirely sure how to convince him of this. We tried calling, but Eric wasn’t answering his phone. Things were starting to get legitimately scary. There was no LTE in the yard, and there were what looked like buzzards, or possibly vultures circling overhead, which couldn’t possibly be a good sign.

We discussed the various ways we could convince him to get us home, but it wasn’t looking good. We couldn’t exactly blackmail him–we weren’t exactly well connected with the community and besides that, we suspected that no one in the community would care. We had just started trying to figure out how to get in touch with Liam Neeson when it occurred to us that Eric had broken the law when he transported us from the airport, and also when he convinced us to come to Florida under false pretenses. We were technically trafficked women. We didn’t need Liam Neeson; we only needed the FBI, or even the local police department.

The next step was to actually get in touch with Eric. Considering that we were refusing to work, we were pretty sure that threatening him with the long arm of the law would seal the deal and get us the hell out of south Florida.

By the time Eric called us back, we’d called him about twenty times between us and left at least six messages. “What’s going on?” he asked.

“Wow!” I replied, “so much is going on, especially how you lured us out to south Florida on false pretenses and then transported us from Miami to here for the purposes of prostitution! That is definitely a thing that is going on. Also, we want to go home–”

Eric cut me off. “Look,” he said, “you can go home whenever you want, but you didn’t honor our agreement. This wasn’t the deal.”

He was right on that at least, this really wasn’t the deal. The deal was that we were going to go out to do video work, stay for a couple of days, maybe a week if we were making good money, be reimbursed for our tickets, and go home. I told him exactly that.

“Also,” I said, “I’m sure the Broward County Sheriff’s department and possibly even the FBI would absolutely love to hear about your little operation here. Would you like me to call them?”

That seemed to do the trick.

“There’s no need for any of that!” He exclaimed, “What do you want?”

“We want to go home, and we want you to pay. So within the next twenty minutes I expect us both to get flight confirmations for either tonight or tomorrow morning in our emails.”

Eric was silent for a moment.

“Yes?” I asked.

“That’s not fair,” he finally said, “but fine, I’ll get you girls home.”

It was not the admission of guilt I was hoping for, but the fact that he was willing to get us home would, for the time being, have to be good enough.

“Great,” I said. “I can’t wait for that confirmation email.”

Eric hung up, and we waited. I refreshed my email at least six times before I finally got the trip confirmation. We were flying out at 6:30 the next morning.

The next step was to get back to the model home–something that proved easier said than done. When we asked in the office if there was a driver who could take us back, we were told no one would be available for almost four hours.

With nothing else to do, Severine and I decided to take a walk. We looked at a lot of palm trees, took in a beautiful sunset, gazed at a lot of pink stucco, saw what looked like the Barbie Dream Whip which might also be the ugliest car ever made, and ate some mediocre hamburgers. We managed to kill about two and a half hours, and went back to the “office.”

We smoked more cigarettes in the back yard, and complained some more while we waited for the driver to take us back. Seven o’clock came and went and there was still no news. We listened to a girl explaining conspiracy theories on the phone, which taught us many things and was very entertaining. Did you know the twenty dollar bill predicted 9/11, which was an inside job? How about how the fifty dollar bill predicts nuclear war? One super cool thing I learned is how the holographic strip in the new hundreds is related to the inevitable switch to Bitcoin, a currency that will be used to track us all. Her thoughts on how it’s possible to see the hidden messages in television programs, but only if you watch them on acid, were especially illuminating.

Finally, conspiracy theory girl went off to speak with her spiritual advisor and a driver showed up to take us to the model home. By the time we got there it was nearly 10:30 at night, and we abandoned all hope of sleep. Severine and I packed our suitcases and spent the next five hours watching American Horror Story until it was time to go downstairs and wait for our ride to the airport.

The drive to Miami was interminable. All I wanted was to be on the plane so I could sleep, and as I gained distance from Adorable Escorts and Premier Fantasies, my anger at the bait and switch grew. By the time we got to the airport, the only thing stopping me from getting the car to turn around so I could set the whole place on fire was my exhaustion and the knowledge that there were superior legal channels I could go through.

I had calmed myself down by the time we got to the airport, and by the time we reached our gate the exhaustion hit and I was entirely unable to feel anything but a desperate need for sleep. I passed out before the plane had even started taxiing and didn’t wake up until we were pulling into the gate at O’Hare. We were home and safe.

I learned a couple of things from this disastrous trip. The first was that I should probably think and research before I jump at the opportunity to have an adventure. The second thing is that the law, or at least the threat of it, can be my friend. There are a couple of other things, but those are the main ones.

Fortunately, I’m not stupid (well, not usually) and I am going to pull down every last brick of both Adorable Escorts and Premier Fantasies. It may have been my thoughtlessness that got me into the terrible situation, but it isn’t right for them to prey on girls who are more desperate than I am. They will burn, and I will smile, confident that I made the world a safer place for hos everywhere.