"So tell me why exactly do I have to go out with you and not my friends?" I was nothing but a collateral victim. I knew that from the moment my brother came in and asked to come with him out.
"We are in Amsterdam. Do you know what I'd like to do in here, Anna?" He started. I scoffed. I had a few ideas. "The red district has been mocking me from afar. Don't you hear it?" David moaned, acting like a spoiled child.
My younger brother rolled his eyes. He was 20 but the number didn't mean a thing because he was still acting like a teenager.
"The red Heaven is calling me!" I stared at him as if he was stupid. He really was.
"I'm going to the hotel." I was ready to turn around and leave when he grabbed my arm and pulled me back.
"I'll owe you one if you help me here," He put up his innocent puppy face and blinked. He knew I could hardly ignore that face.
"What's the plan?" He jumped in happiness and hit the air excitedly.
"We're supposed to go around and look at the architecture. While you go do that and find something you like, I will go do my job."
"But it's night. How am I supposed to look at the architecture? Besides, you are the architect, remember?" He sighed.
"Just go around and do something." I rolled my eyes, noticing him preparing his money, and leaned in.
"Not until dawn." I threatened, David agreeing before leaving happily. I was in some place unknown in Netherlands. I knew something bad was going to happen
I walked around for approximately an hour. I know that because I checked from ten to ten minutes. It was boring and I had no one to speak with. Some people were staring and some other people were ignoring me to the point where they rushed past me and almost hit me.
Somehow, I ended up in the red district as well. I was watching the models on the display with mixed feelings; that was a job even if it was one of the oldest and most shameful. I stopped in front of one girl who looked to be my age. She was blonde but her roots were black; she was truly beautiful but her eyes were empty. She was just like a shell.
"That's the risk of the job,"
I blinked quickly and looked around.
There were many people around but only one was staring straight at me. The lady crossed the street and walked over, lit a cigarette and even pushed one towards me. I refused the offer, not the smoking person even though my parents do smoke.
"They are taught what kind of mask to wear for each client," The lady continued in a very weird accent.
I tried to keep that for myself and turned towards the model.
"She is unfortunate." The woman scoffed.
"She got herself into it willingly. She is not unfortunate. She chose to be there in the first place."
"Life isn't fair, is it?" I sighed and bit my lower lip as I watched the model change her pose.
"It depends. Just because you show something doesn't mean you sell yourself. Some people only use temptation for fun." I was a curious person and that sounded interesting enough. "Do you want to see a place like that?"
I nodded eagerly, feeling like that woman was going to show me something truly remarkable. I didn't know why I was getting that feeling but it was mesmerizing. The woman chuckled. Her face, her behavior and even her voice; everything was reminding me of a fox.
"Do you know what a succubus is?" I frowned at the strange question. The woman smirked and turned the corner.
"A mythical creature that feeds with sexuality."
The woman laughed loudly; even her laugh was so cheeky. If I wasn't awake, I would have bet I was taunted by the Devil but that wasn't realistic. I wasn't dreaming and didn't consume any type of drugs.
"Men. Succubus feed on their energy. They suck it all out until there is not even a small drop of life left in their eyes." The woman continued, her eyes narrowing yet not moving off the road. "By the way, my name is Gigi."
I nodded and slightly bowed out of reflex. I spent way too much time researching in South Korea.
"I'm-" Gigi interrupted, making a sign to stop.
"You're going to enter a place that will seem like a dream but it's not. It's the world of sin, where you get to live as you had never lived before. It's the world where every sin you commit won't be judged. You're just a mask through other masks," The woman inspected me from head to toe and noticed the shoes.
Gigi opened two black doors and led me through the veil.
A man dressed in red walked towards Gigi and started to talk to her. That let me to check out the room I just entered. My eyes widened and I gasped at the scenery. There was a stage in the front, enlightened by reflectors, in the form of a semi circle and it was empty. It had no décor; only a woman who was singing with her soul on the sleeve. She was a little chubby but she was beautiful, the curtains behind her making everything even more mysterious. I was curious what was behind those curtains and what kind of secrets they were hiding.
A set of black couches with a wood table at every three couches were decorating most of the middle part of that place; it was definitely bigger than what she imagined; there was a bar on each side of the entry; the lights were dim and I could barely see the faces of the people there. However, I noticed there weren’t many; maybe 15 at best. It was still early, probably but that definitely didn’t sadden the singer. Overall, the place looked like a scene from a movie. It looked nothing like Moulin Rouge and I had seen it and even helped my brother make a paper about it but it had the same feeling as the movie Moulin Rouge. It was surreal.
I got out of my reminiscence when I heard the man and saw him pointing at me. Gigi smirked and looked straight into my eyes. In that moment when our eyes met, I could feel something grabbing me and taking me into the abyss. Actually, it felt like I entered some kind of magical place. It was dangerous but I didn’t feel threatened by it.
"Chaussure Rouge. That's her name." Gigi responded in my place.
I was getting entangled into something I never expected to ever see and feel on my own skin.
That night was surreal. I witnessed women and men getting in and out of a dreamy state. It was just like a storm. They would get completely compelled by the burlesque singers and dancers. No matter how much I tried to understand and stop myself, I would always find myself with a full glass of alcohol in hand.
"This is incredible," I gasped. Gigi nodded and took a smoke.
"Appearances can be deceiving. Just because they look at you tauntingly and seduce you doesn’t mean they cross the line. They are nothing but normal people with normal lives." I tilted my head to the side and noticed a man following a young girl through a side door. "That's the Paradise. But don't be scared," She could already sense the tension and fear crawling up my back. "They do not have any sexual interaction. I don't let my girls do that."
"Then what happens?" Gigi shrugged.
"Anything the girl wants. It's not about what the client wants. It's about what you want him to him want. She can read him Mobby Dick for all I care," The woman continued, taking another smoke from the cigarette elegantly held between her fingers.
But my eyes were still locked on that wood door.
“So she’s manipulating him,” The older woman raised an eyebrow at what I said.
“I prefer the term seducing. She seduces the money out of him for practically nothing. That’s true art.” Gigi quenched her cigarette and grabbed my chin. "There is one golden rule in this type of business. Remember this because it's the cornerstone. Romantic relationships are forbidden. Do not fall in love with a client or with a colleague. It only brings bad news."
I nodded, understanding where she was coming from. It was bad for the business and for the employees.
"Why are you telling me this? And why did you take me here?" Gigi chuckled darkly and I could feel myself getting further into Gigi's dark world.
"Because you looked like you needed a break." I frowned and fidgeted.
"From what? My life goes smoothly," I added quickly, reassuring myself more than anything. My life has been quite a roller coaster for a while with broken hearts and commitment issues.
Gigi lit another cigarette and asked for a drink. She turned her head and looked into my brown eyes. There was something squirming in those eyes. A desire to break the rules and go against the flow. Gigi could see it clearly. She had seen it from the moment she laid eyes on me and she was aware that I knew that. From the moment she caught me staring at the model, she realized I was actually looking at my reflection on the glass.
"You need an escape. A break from the conventional. A break from who you are and your smooth and boring life." Gigi walked away and entered the same mysterious wood door.
I was blown away. I found myself with another glass in hand and drunk it quickly. At some point, while I was watching the show, I started to feel dizzy. It felt exactly like someone was coming towards me. I couldn't move but I could stand there full of anticipation. I felt two hands wrap around my waist and pull me backwards. I glanced over my shoulder but that person covered my eyes with his hand.
"Just let yourself free,"
It was a man, I was sure. He pulled me towards the side and from the corner of my eye, I noticed the wooden door. He pushed it open and pulled me inside.
Behind that door was a long corridor with more doors on each side. He opened the closest one and pushed me in. I could barely make up how the room was like because my head was numb and so was my body. I could only let myself be pulled around.
One thing I knew for sure, though. There was a double bed that looked very inviting.
The man pushed me softly on the bed and hovered over my small body. He kissed my neck and went downwards. I was in a euphoric state. He chuckled and bit my lip playfully.
"Never forget this night-" He whispered and I only had power to nod absentmindedly. "-and never come back." He continued and I nodded without even registering what he said. He laughed bemusedly and got off."Adieu, Chaussure Rouge,"
My vision was getting blurry and I started to hear some buzzing sound. I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
"Anna! Come on, Anna." I mumbled something and wiped my mouth groggily before I opened one eye and saw someone hovering over me. I didn't realize who he was at first since my vision was still blurry. "Anna, it's morning. Where the heck have you been?" I recognized that tone instantly; it was David. My eyes widened and I took a look around: I was on the street, exactly where we split last night. I frowned and got up. "Did you stay here for the whole time? I'm sorry I took so long but when I came back I didn't see you here." David added, helping her up. I only stared at him questioningly.
"Here?" I asked, a bit confused. He nodded and pointed at the place I just got up from.
"You were leaning against the wall, sleeping like freaking Sleeping Beauty. People were staring at you," He didn't seem very ashamed of that last fact. He was worried, though.
The whole way to the hotel, my brother was speaking about this and that. He started to give details about his night but I only blocked his voice out from that point forward. On the other side, I had my own problems like, how did I get back on the street? And what actually happened?
"Was it all a dream?" I mumbled under her breath. It was really weird. I could still feel that guy's hands and kisses; those spots he touched were still burning. I touched my lip and sighed.
If it was all a dream, why did everything feel so real?ns 188.8.131.52da2