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The ghosts in the room.

Grief is something I quite frequently come across in my work amongst the myriad of clients I see. For some it is a past grief, others an incredibly painful recent grief. For others it’s the sharing of a slow death of their loved one due to terminal disease.

The needs and expectations of these clients are incredibly intimate, filled with guilt and requiring a large degree of my compassion and empathy. The wine infused “quick fuck” or porn star style sex isn’t what they need.

They need my ears more than they need my arse, they need my gentleness rather than they need my passion, and they need my empathy more than they need my technical skill.

I often get the sense that there is a “Ghost in the Room”. It is often a subterranean psychological presence for both of us in the booking – Deeply ingrained memories of the touch and caress of the departed or departing loved ones echo in the way we interact with each other.

I watch him awkwardly undress. At twenty-eight the fitness of youth has half turned to softness across the arms and chest. Beautiful eyes are paired with hesitant hands that shake as he removes his various articles of clothing. Half masked by the stench of bars and scotch, he mumbled an apology.

“I’m sorry, I haven’t done this in a while. Let alone with a hook-I mean prostitute. Sorry.”

“It’s all good. Would you like a hand?

As I walk over to him I see the tremor rise as his dutch courage starts to fall away. Joking with him as I remove a belt, fumble with a button, dis-engage a sock and carefully place a shoe under a chair. A jolt runs through me as I fell him slowly place a hand on my arse.

“You’re so soft.” I smile.
“It would be a bit awkward if my arse was calloused and hairy, no?”
He laughs and relaxes whilst his hand carefully starts moving across the curves of my body.
“Can I touch them?”

His eyes linger on my breasts and his palm hesitates. I nod. Sliding underneath the lingerie layers of lace and gauze he cups the underside of my breast, measuring their weight. Fingers flick across nipples.

I love watching their breathing intensify, the chest expand, pupils dilate. My hand rises to his jaw and caresses it, tracing along half grown stubble, my half parted lips circling around his ears and down his neck.

“Can I kiss you?”
“Of course you can.” He tasted half boozed tinged with the hint of cigarettes. His tongue started on my lips circulating before he bit my lip. I could taste his need in the back of my throat and my back arched as his dug his fingers in so hard I gasped.

There is an incredible sensuality that is created in those that have been deprived for so long. In his speech, movements and intentions there is an echo of the love that was there before. Your body listens, knows, responds, senses, acknowledges and understands that this is a dual layered encounter. Ultimately there is us and also her providing the bed on which we have to make a step forward.

The soup of emotion in which we swim is viscous with fear, guilt, loneliness, need and insecurity. Within him is the desire not to disrespect a living or dying partner. It’s an incredibly intimate sexual experience with a stranger.

To treat you as a service provider as any less than his wife, girlfriend or love that has passed only ultimately disrespects what went before you. To have anything less than that connection seems like a betrayal. Yet you cannot be another. You must begin to assert yourself and pick apart the threads.

We left the room and he asked if I could spend the night at his house. The silence in the taxi was followed with stumbling apologies over mess and pouring of bourbon in his townhouse. Leading me outside we began to laughing and joking as we occupied his courtyard, drink in hand, world contemplating.

“Would you like to come upstairs?” Barefooted I skipped up the stairs, pausing on the landing. I gazed the assorted instruments stranded near mixing equipment.
“You play guitar?”
“Not for a while.” He took my hand.
“Bedroom’s to the right.” The half-darkness concealed the dishevelled sheets and half empty glasses of bourbon scattered across the bedside tables.
“Sorry for the mess again.”
“All good – my room isn’t much better to be honest.”
“Lights on or off?”
“Honestly? Maybe off. I spend so much time having sex in broad daylight or high light, it almost feels naughty to have sex in the dark.”
“The idiosyncrasies of your job perhaps?”
“Perhaps.”
“Can I get you anything?” He hesitated.
“Come here.”
“Wait – you like showers?”
“I love showers. I could spend half my life with water cascading down my back. Only thing that makes me feel quiet I guess.”
“You are a fucking hundred million miles an hour you know that?”
“I know, but I feel calm inside If that makes any difference?”
“Eye of the storm? Sort of makes sense to us poor dumb bastards that get caught in the rain around you.” He was good at making me smile.
“Wait here.”

Spread-eagled amongst the sheets I contemplated the ceiling. What an unusual job I’d chosen for myself. Wanting, desiring to be so intimate with strangers on such a regular basis. Nothing else was as exciting, so exposing, so forming, so constantly life changing as this.

“Ready?” He came back in the room and stood in the doorway naked.
“You coming?” I slowly disentangled myself from the sheets.
“Give a girl a second.”
“Come on. I need to tell you something.” I followed him into the bathroom.

It was alit with hundreds of tea candles. Across the basin, the bath, around the shower screens.

“You like?”
“Yeah, it’s beautiful. Thankyou.” He smiled.
“Come here bubble butt.”

We entered the shower cubicle. His palms pushed against my belly forcing my back against the shower screen. I shuddered as the cold of the glass pressed against my arse. My nipples hardened.

“Hey, step back OK?” His palms guided me slowly to a corner, his left hand pulling back to play with the water temperature.
“I don’t want you to burn yourself.”

I am in an industry in which I am an object. I’m a fuckable hole and something to be degraded, debated and bantered about amongst men. Yet these constant, continuous moments of consideration, care and respect between two adults is the reality in which I inhibit. Perhaps it is not men that is the problem, but the forced behaviour in groups of men which is the problem we all debate.

The water cascaded down upon us as we enacted yet another slow, sensual, timeless exploratory consideration of each other’s bodies in the warmth of the illuminated bathroom.

My hands toyed with the shower caddy as I fingered some body shop products, strawberry shower gel and a female razor. Contemplated playing with him, hands slick with products.

“I must admit, I noticed you have unusual beauty products for a male.”
“It’s hers.”
“Who is she?”
“Katie, I loved her.” He crumpled a little.
“She, is, an ex?
“She died. Some cunt of a fucking doctor gave her the wrong fucking drugs and they reacted. One minute we were in love – twenty four hours later she was dead.”
“How long ago?”
“Almost eighteen months. I haven’t been with anyone since.”
“Do you miss her?”
“So fucking much it hurts.” His back slid against the tiled wall until he was squatting in the shower. I followed him with the line of my body. Back braced I spread my legs. Identical twins physically, I laid my hand on his thigh.
“Come here.” His body found its’ way between my legs. Back against breasts, head against shoulder, both dripping wet.

“I know some pussies wrote some lyrics about crying in the rain, but I’m glad you can’t see it.”
“Doesn’t mean I can’t feel it.” I pulled the wet strands of hair across his forehead. I feel so much like my mother in these situations. Touch. Caress. Console.
“Are those products still hers?”
“Yeah, I can’t get rid of them. I don’t know how to begin without her. I can’t talk about her to others because they tell me to let go. I can’t fuck anyone else because they aren’t her. Thank you – for giving me a genuine depth to something I don’t still understand.”
“I bet she was beautiful.”
“So incredibly beautiful.”

I sat like a mother for a few hours, as the raining of the shower turned into a hybrid mix of his tears and my empathy, and I just listened. I talk so much it is almost cathartic to often share so much pain with a stranger, for once I can be silent and truly learn. As a woman, it is in these moments I feel truly in tune with the generational compassion that flows with the women in my family.

He’s not the only one. There’s a multitude of clients I’ve crossed paths with in my lifetime with similar stories. Some are fucking away the grief of love from divorce or a break up. Others are supporting a partner through a terminal disease.

They are often the most guilt ridden – health issues have removed the possibility of intimacy in a relationship full of love. From a psychological perspective these males have become the bearers of responsibility both financially, mentally and emotionally within the family unit whilst other pillars are crumbling. Momentary respite is paramount and healing.

There’s an infinite shades of grey in my work. I am often left with more questions than I am answers. But within the façade of my work – these private moments are what I truly love and gain the most worth from my work.

For all the ghosts in the room that have watched me, I hope I gave no disrespect.

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