It was so easy, before.
It was black and white. She was young, he was old. She was broke, he was rich. She was beautiful and sexy, and he was a fat, disgusting pig in a three-piece suit.
Once a week, when both her roommates were out, she would turn on Skype and click on his fat little face. He knew to answer her call quickly, regardless of where he was, as it was understood that each ring past the first was an extra thousand dollars.
He’d answer and there he’d be, red and sweaty and usually out of breath, crouching down in an empty cubicle in the middle of some law firm or brokerage, his lips trembling, the camera shaking because his hands were shaking.
Then out it would come. All the frustrations and aggravations since their last call – roommates late on their part of the electric bill, a nagging mother, disappointing friends – would come firing out at him, sharpened words, about his fat ugly face or swollen neck or beady little fucking eyes or hideous suit. She would rain down abuse on him, zero in on the slightest imperfection or flaw that caught her eye in that moment and let him have it.
It was almost over when he started crying. I’m getting bored with you, she’d say, maybe I won’t call you again. And he’d plead, he’d beg, he’d tilt the camera to show he was on his knees.
A dollar amount. It started off small, only a couple of hundred dollars. Until she found out how rich he really was, until she blackmailed him into giving her access to his bank account and she saw the balance with her own eyes.
By now she wouldn’t call him unless she had a specific number in mind, something to buy with it. She would name it, then make him transfer it to her while she watched. The moment the transfer went through she’d hang up.
Except this time.
While they waited for the confirmation code, he spoke up in a small voice. He asked for her mailing address, said he had something for her, a gift. She figured why not – she could bankrupt him with only a couple of mouse-clicks. She said her address, watching the status bar, and disconnecting the moment it went through. He would have to figure out the zip code.
A package in her hands, delivered by FedEx while she was at work. A card inside: For my own personal demon, to better torment me.
Digging her hands into the tissue she lifted it out, translucent, shimmering, strong black bands running its length. Very expensive. Tailored to her.
A bottle of lubricant. She closed both the curtains and the door to her room, and, for good measure, turned off the lights. Clothes off. Lubricant cool against her skin. First one foot, then the other, then she shifted her hips, until it was snug up against her sex. Her arms through the straps and it slid into place, hugging her closely.
She looked at herself in the mirror and found her breath had left her, that her heart had betrayed her with his rapid beating. It was her hands that were shaking as she opened her laptop and clicked on his picture.
His face filled her screen, calm and ambivalent.
Yes? he asked. He’d not spoken like this to her before.
I got your gift, she said, trying to keep her voice steady. I just wanted to say – I just – I like it very much.
Stand and let me see you, he said, sitting back. Something had changed, she knew suddenly. Everything had changed. She found herself standing and stepping back, so from knees to hair she appeared in the monitor.
A text box popped up. An address.
My apartment, he said, now. Heels, overcoat, nothing else. No phone, no keys, nothing else. Do you understand.
Not a question. She nodded.
Take a cab, he said, you have ten minutes.
Something had changed, alright.
Somehow everything had changed.