When Again?

The clock above his computer was a big one. Its tick, tick, tick could be ignored some nights, but not tonight. Tonight it was a big band in the bedroom.

He hit return. She came on, gave him a name he was sure couldn’t be real, and quickly ran down what she did, what she could do.

He told her he was as far from having a foot fetish as his feet were from his eyes. “Sorry,” he said, “but feet actually turn me off.”

“So you don’t want to suck on my toes, I take it?”

“I’m kind of gagging a little bit just thinking about it,” he said.

“And you’re not a sipping champagne out of my shoe kind of guy, right?”

“Again, sorry, I’m seriously gagging.”

“So why did you choose me?” she asked. “You read my profile, right? You know my specialties.”

“Well,” he paused. “To tell you the truth, it’s your face. Has anyone ever told you that you look like Marilyn Monroe?”

She gave him an actual half-smile, shook her head. “No, no, I can’t say that anyone has. Most guys who log on to see me here, they’re too young to know who she is.”

“But you do know who she is, right?” he said. “You’re not too young?”

“Well, I may be young, but Monroe is a legend. Like Audrey Hepburn. They’re timeless.”

He stared up at the clock, watched the second-hand move quickly, knew how the other hands would follow at pace.

The screen saver kicked in. “Dammit!” He hit the escape key. The screen came back to life.

“Are you still there?” he asked, surprised that the computer would do that. Couldn’t it tell he was using it, even if he hadn’t hit a key in a while?

“Yes, yes, I’m still here. You’ll need to give me your credit card number if you want to go on.”

“Didn’t I give it to you already?” He was so nervous he couldn’t remember.

“No you didn’t,” she said.

“How is it we’ve been talking all this time then?”

“The first three minutes are free,” she said. “Is there something I can do for you? If not, I’ll log off. If so, I need your credit card info.”

“If you were blonde, you’d be her,” he said. “A Marilyn Monroe dead ringer.”

He looked up at the clock again. The second hand was still moving very fast, a swift second at a time.

“Well?” she said, sounding a little impatient.

“I’m thinking,” he said.

Her screen went blank. He hit the escape key. It wasn’t his screen, it was hers.

Sometimes he’d get so lonely he’d think foolishly about actually giving one of them his credit card information. But in the end, he never did. He’d had a great fear that they’d run his card out to the limit before he could act, call the company and either cancel or dispute the charge. That the folks who run these sites knew a way around all of that. Collect his money immediately. Take him to the proverbial cleaners.

Still, he knew he’d be tempted again. Always on these nights. The next night he couldn’t sleep, thinking about the possibility of online sex. It made absolute sense in these times. He was afraid to get too close to anyone in person. Felt like he could get Covid and die just because he wanted companionship, would find someone equally desperate online who was also willing to die for sex.

The clock drew his attention again. He sat transfixed by it. That relentless ticking. It just kept running and there was nothing you could do about it. Time was wasting. What to do, what to do? The night is old, he thought, and so am I, going that way, always that way. How long before he could get out there and meet people again? Never again always came to mind, making for many sleepless nights of longing and temptation.

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