My first roommate when I moved to Las Vegas was an escort named Melissa.
That was her real name anyway. Her professional name was "Katrina." A year later when that infamous hurricane hit New Orleans I thought of her.
She had her own card. The ones they hand out on the strip, the men hitting them against their cargo jeans as they press them into the hands of men walking by. They wear t-shirts with neon lettering "HOT GIRLS STRAIGHT TO YOUR ROOM". Her card showed her squatting, her legs spread, her bare breasts in her hands, a sultry look at the camera. There was a star between her legs with the number of her escort service company. She worked on call, so I never knew when she would be gone. She had long white blond extensions and high cheekbones. The card said she was Russian but she wasn't. She was from Medford, Oregon.
I hadn't known she was an escort when I found her on craigslist. Her photo on there had been of her sitting on a couch, her legs crossed wearing jeans and a white sweater, reindeer antlers on her head.
Hope your holidays were awesome!!!! Need a roommate STAT after my last one bailed!! I'm a laid back girl from the Northwest, love to HIKE! and eat FINE DINING! and HAVE FUN!! Please be clean and please be NONDRAMA. Security deposit will be 1 month's rent! E-mail or call me!!
She looked like someone that might work at a florist. Someone who might volunteer at the animal shelter on weekends. Someone who had a boyfriend who spent the night a couple times a week. Someone who might go to church every so often, who drank socially. Someone who participated in breast cancer walks.
She was some of these things. But mostly she was none of them.
But the rent was cheap and I was new to town. She lived in a gated community off Tropicana that was close to my work. It would do.
The first night I met Melissa she had just been in a car accident. She had rear ended someone on Pecos while talking on her cell phone.
I had told the people I had bought my mattress and boxspring from (also on craigslist. They have furnished my adult life for the most part. In so many ways.) to meet me at her house at 6. When I got there at 530 she called me sobbing.
"Alison! OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGodohmyGod, girl! You won't believe this! I just rear ended someone!" Imagine being able to hear the saliva and mucus from the sobbing. It was a messy voice.
"Oh no! Are you ok?"
"Yeah. I mean no. I mean maybe? I don't know, I am SO FREAKED OUT. The front of my car is crunched and leaking and the guy in the truck I hit is screaming at me and I just want to get out of here! Can you come and get me?"
"Um. Sure. What cross street are you at?"
"Pecos and um... Shit. I don't know. I don't know! I think Eastern?"
"No, honey, that's impossible."
"Oh right... duh. Oh wait I know. I'm at Pecos and Russell."
"Ok, that's fine. I will be there soon. Are you on the north or southbound side?"
"Alison, I don't fucking know, I just was in an accident! Just get here!" Click.
I stared at my cell phone. I considered many things. I considered calling the mattress place and cancelling the order. I considered never picking her up and trying my luck on another roommate site. I considered packing up my Jeep and driving to another city. I considered doing it all over again.
I did none of this. I drove to Pecos and Russell. I picked Melissa up.
Imagine the most obnoxious girl you ever met. Imagine someone from the Jersey Shore times 1000. And then add another 3000. Imagine a girl with a short jean skirt on and a bikini top. Imagine she is wearing Uggs. Then realize this was January. It doesn't get freezing cold here but it gets cold enough where wearing a bikini top would be considered a sign of insanity. I was wearing a peacoat and jeans that evening. Imagine this girl arguing with the very sincere tow truck man who has had the misfortune of coming to pick up her neon green Honda Civic. Imagine a belly chain with a marijuana leaf charm on it. Imagine acrylic nails, yarny yellow hair, pock marks. Imagine a fuzzy Hello Kitty dangling from the rear view mirror, hating it's own life. Imagine a backseat filled with clothes and shoes and money order receipts.
This was not looking good for me.
We got home just as the mattress people were driving away. I chased them down and begged them to come back, that I was sorry I was late. They made me pay 20 extra bucks for the trouble. (Oh scandalous Vegas craigslist.)
Melissa was still sobbing, had BEEN sobbing for the entire ride. I know accidents can be traumatic but this was a little overboard. It felt like theatrics, like she was putting on a show. I had turned on the radio to drown out the awkwardness and she had screamed at me to turn it the fuck down, I'm in shock here! Oh Jesus. Oh dear, sweet, Jesus. Save me from myself.
Once the mattress guys had left I was able to take account of my surroundings. Melissa owned a three bedroom one story home. It was clean enough. There was a huge hole in the wall in the hallway that was shaped like a stilleto had been thrown through it. Ok. Otherwise I was relieved to find it completely fine for what I was paying. My room and hers were next to one another but she had her own bathroom and mine would be the guest one. It was decorated in seashell decor. It was the first normal thing.
Just keep to yourself. She says she works weird hours, that she's not home a lot. It will be fine. Make it work. Always can look for something better down the line.
That first night I awoke to the sound of music. LOUD music.
I looked at my cell phone. It was 3 am. I could hear the cackle of Melissa faintly over the sound of Ginuwine asking a nameless woman to ride his pony. Oh dear God.
I got up and lightly rapped on her door. I realized my mistake and began to pound. The music was lowered and a very cracked out Melissa opened the door.
"WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?" she roared. Her pupils were huge.
"Um. You mind keeping the music down? It's loud. It woke me up."
"So what? Don't you LIKE MUSIC?"
"Yeah. Sure. But not this loud at 3 am. I have to work tomorrow morning."
"Tomorrow is SATURDAY."
"Yes. And I work on Saturdays. So..."
The door shuts in my face. The music is turned back up to what sounds like maybe 1 decibel lower than it had been before I knocked.
No. This is not good.
The next evening Melissa is getting ready to go to work. She is showing me her card and I smile, internally noting that she looks almost nothing like the girl in the photo.
"Why does it say you're a Russian tease? Aren't you just an American one?" I inquire.
"Hahaha! You're funny! Yeah, men like the Russian, eastern European thing. I don't get it, but whatever. Once I am there, they don't care." She opens up her compact and starts dolloping a dark blush on her cheekbones. It makes it look like she has two huge bruises on the sides of her face.
"How did you get into this? How does one become a hooker?"
"Um. ESCORT. I got in through my friend, Heather. She moved to LA last year. I had been stripping at Little Darlings FOREVER. And it was just getting so old. The hours, the managers, the shitty tips. I wanted something more consistent," she angles a strip of fake eye lashes above her lid, "And there's not a huge difference in the work. Just penetration."
You know how the off hand things people say sometimes stick with you forever? This is one of those things.
The next night it was the music again. This time it was sweet, lyrical lullaby of Tool pulsating through the house.
I banged on her door for almost ten minutes. I fiddled with the knob. Locked. She never answered.
The next day I knocked on her door to talk to her about the music issue. She opened it a crack and asked me in a shaky, froggy voice if we could just talk later, she thought she was getting sick. The plumes of marijuana smoke drifted through the hallway. I nodded, she closed the door and I went to the kitchen to eat the danish I had bought the night before at Albertsons.
I padded through the kitchen and saw the plastic container on the counter where I had left it. It was opened and the danish was gone except for the flaky crusty pastry part that didn't have the strawberry and cream cheese on it.
The girl had eaten 6 pieces of danish middles. MY danish middles.
I was pissed. I was done. I had been there barely three days and I knew that even if the rent was FREE I wouldn't be able to take living with this one. And let me be clear... I am not a great roommate. Ask any of the girls I roomed with in college. I kind of suck. I'm lazy, I'm messy (not dirty leave garbage out messy, just clutter leave my clothes on the floor and never make my bed. Ever. Messy.) I can put up with a LOT.
I decided in my head that I would move out tomorrow when she was sleeping. The girl slept in til 3 pm almost every day. I would rent a little U-Haul truck. I would put my stuff in storage. I would go stay at Budget Suites til I figured out my next move.
That night there was no music. Just loud... orgasms?
At first I wasn't sure of it. It was 1 am and I had gone to sleep early, anticipating the 3 am wake up.
But yes, I heard her yelling theatrically. "YES.YES.YES.YES. IS THAT WHAT YOU LIIIIIIIKE?'
Had she brought a client HOME? She had sworn to me she never brought men home, that she worked the hotels, that she didn't even use her real name. Perhaps she had lied? Perhaps this wasn't a client but a... boyfriend? She hadn't mentioned one. I listened for a male voice, a grunt, a whimper. Something.
Only her. Going on and on. And then abruptly... nothing. No sound.
What if she was dead? What if this "guy" had just strangled her. What if he wasn't even aware I was here?
Then I hear her muffled voice again. I think I hear her say "Yeah. Slow night. That one was a weirdo."
Completely confused I get up. Knock on her door. This time, she answers it and doesn't immediately scream at me.
"Sorry, Alison. Was I loud?"
"Um. Yeah. Is there someone here?"
She looks at me confused and then laughs "Oh God no! I thought I mentioned it to you? During the week when I am not on call I do some phone acting."
"Phone acting? You mean you're a phone sex operator?"
"Uh, yeah. Money never sleeps, boo. I gotta get back on my phone. I can't promise it won't get loud again."
A few minutes later I hear her say "You want me to bark? Like I'm a little doggy? RRRRRUFFFF! RRRRRUUUUFFFF!"
I grabbed my keys and drove to a hotel. The next day while she was sleeping off her shift I quietly packed up my things and left. I didn't even bother taking the mattresses.
I figured it was the price I paid.