The one sure way to protect anonymity in the Toronto escort community is to write about Don. Everyone has slept with Don.

I thought I would have difficulty over envying my clients. Much of the time I do envy them. They appear to have a lot of advantages and very few worries. I imagine it’s easy to think that someone you know for an hour has few problems, we’re both trying to keep ourselves at an emotional distance, but the men I see seem to be either fortunate enough or unintelligent enough to be unburdened by worry. They are at comfortable places in their careers, they speak of their children in glowing terms, and they have at least $300 to spend on a maximum of two orgasms. Sometimes I do envy them.

I didn’t ever really expect that they’d envy me. The very thought breaks my heart, so I try not to dwell on it too much. For every happily married undersexed man, there’s the guy in the crappy high-rise apartment in Pape Village because he’s going through a separation. For every stockbroker who can’t be bothered to get a girlfriend, there’s the guy within the autism spectrum who couldn’t possibly meet a woman at a bar or at the supermarket, held back by his condition, but deserving of company nonetheless. And for every bored business man who seems to have his shit together, there’s a Don. Don, who I feel profoundly sorry for every time I see him. Don, who I want to save, but wouldn’t even know where to start. I wouldn’t even know where the propriety of my helping could start, the same way I have no idea where my spectatorship of his self-destruction ends and my participation in it begins.

The whole idea behind this hooker thing is that I have to go to every call I get. Of course, if I show up and meet three guys twice my size in the hotel room, I can be back in the car before I can say “grossest bachelor party ever,” but unless I’ve explicitly blacklisted a client, I have to go. To put it very un-delicately, my clients are often the “dregs” of the male sex. They deal with a lot of rejection from women and come to me for the “sure thing.”

It sounds bad to an outsider but the issue is this: if I see a client’s name come up on my phone, after he’s booked a call, and I tell my agency I don’t want to go, the agency has to give the client a free hour. The girl who works that hour gets paid out of the agency’s pocket. I don’t get penalized at all, really. It’s not slavery, or even cruel, but it is a business. Most business don’t want employees who cost them money. No one beats me, no one even raises their voice. They just might not send me any other calls that come in. If you’re business-inclined, it makes a lot of sense. Flake out enough times and a girl will find a polite but frank email in her inbox asking her not to send her schedule that week and that’s that. Toronto’s a big city, but word gets around and no matter how hot you are, you can easily run yourself out of the game by being picky.

So the evening I walked out of the Holiday Inn and my driver, Khalid, asked me if I had ever met Don, I wasn’t really sure. I had always argued that hooker’s brains aren’t wired any differently than the general population, but I had seemed to develop a very useful habit of selective amnesia, meaning that I completely forgot a client as soon as I left the room. But if I ever saw the client again, I could instantly recall every intimate detail we had shared, but in between calls, he evanesced like cigarette smoke.

So I told Khalid it was entirely possible I had met him before, “Oh, you’d remember Don.” Khalid explained. Khalid was a gruff-looking Palestinian student who drove a Ford Windstar. He was studying to become a day trader and paying for school with the money he got from driving us from call to call. If we were waiting on another girl, we would pull out his portable DVD player and we’d watch Lost episodes with Arabic subtitles. Drivers are our closest thing to coworkers, and men we can have professional relationships with. Adele warns them that she’ll come after their balls with hedge trimmers if they touch us, so there’s rarely any sexual tension.

Khalid explained that Don was somewhat of a marathon client. He didn’t always use our agency, but he could see escorts in 48 hour spurts. When one girl leaves, he has another one the way. He doesn’t sleep during these times. He often has two at a time in the room, either girls he’s picked up at the bar or different escorts.

“Where does he get the money?” I asked. “Wouldn’t someone with that much money have to, you know, be at work?”

When prostitution is legal, the rules change. The security is somewhat lax. In most American cities, before a client can see a higher quality escort, the client has to go through a sort of vetting process. The agency will take your name and number as well as the name and number of the person or people who referred you. They will ask you your exact professional title and a work number where they can reach you. They will call your references. They will call your work, not to say anything, mind you, but they will ask if you work there and usually hang up. If a temp is in for the receptionist that day and doesn’t know you, or your reference’s wife picks up his phone and won’t put him on, tough luck, fella. You won’t be seeing anyone at that agency.

In Toronto, the agency asks which hotel to send the girl to, a number and the time you want to see the girl. Make sure to have cash.

I assume the thinking for American agencies is this: fucking a hooker and killing a hooker are both illegal. A man who is willing to subvert the law in one way is as likely to violate it in many other ways. The agencies want to know you have a life to ruin if you turn out to be a psycho, and in the same vein, psychos have a difficult time building lives to ruin, holding jobs and friends and so forth. In Canada, we all but welcome the psychos into our agencies and bodies.

Sometimes legality doesn’t always equal safety.

But concerning Don. Don hasn’t hurt anyone, yet.

Khalid said he thought Don’s money came from some peripheral role in a construction company. He either owned it or inherited it or managed it. It sounded more like Don was on some kind of payroll. The Mafia doesn’t have a huge presence in Toronto, the same way unidentified hair doesn’t have a large presence in a Denny’s Grand Slam. There’s always a little bit.

The most surprising thing about Don was the woman who answered the door. She was around 30 and already high. Two three-quarters empty bottles of Smirnoff were on the bedside tables, next to sundry 6-inch lines of cocaine, longer than any sane person would ever do at once.

“Bianca! You’re so gorgeous.” She said.

“I’m Bianca.” I said. I’m not gorgeous, I didn’t say.

“I’m Jenny and the this is Don.” She gestured to the naked man lifting one of the clear bottles. Don had shades of gray around his temples but was generally youthful looking. He had a slight paunch, blurry red eyes and a small, sad flaccid penis. He said nothing motioning for me to come over.

Jenny removed my clothes. Fifty-percent of my calls start after 10 minutes of conversation. The other half, the client will just jump straight in n. At this point I’d been booked for one hour.

Typically, I enjoy working with couples. It’s a special moment for them, maybe an anniversary or a birthday. Everyone is there to enjoy themselves. Since I can hardly stand the bored men who keep one eye on Two and a Half Men through all of our time together, I much prefer to work with couples who might actually have a good time.

Don leaned over one of the many rails on the dressing table and inhaled all of the contents. It suddenly made a lot of sense why he could not rise to the occasion. He lay on the bed, saying very little other than expressing his enthusiasm for going downtown on escorts. Jenny seemed somewhat peripheral to the whole experience, as Don rarely came up for air as I hovered over him for the entire hour. Jenny was more interested in oscillating between the vodka and coke.

“Do you like being an escort?” she asked.

“I guess. It’s more fun than my real job.” Trying to maintain a conversation while hovering over someone’s face is more difficult than I’d previously figured.

“We need some fun,” she said, “We can’t have fun the usual way. The only way we can have fun now is coke and hookers and a hotel room.”

It was hard to tell which saddened me more. Her admission or that she considered this fun.

Of the many strange things the hour contained, nothing puzzled me more than the juxtaposition of Don’s enthusiasm for putting his mouth on lady parts and his absolutely abysmal skill at it. Clients have surprised me before with their amateurish carnal performance, but Don truly took it to new lows. It became the kind of thing where I stopped trying to experience any good moments and just tried not to get hurt. Oh, Don.

Fairly humiliating porn stayed on the television throughout the whole experience. Jenny would occasionally ask me for my services while Don watched. Both offered me a glass of vodka straight-up

When I got the text message that I had five minutes to shower and get out, Don said probably his longest utterance of the hour and asked me to stay an additional two.

When this happens I have to call the office and let them know that I have not been dismembered, but rather my services are still required.

Over the course of the next two hours, the only vodka remaining was the contents of my glass. I genuinely feared that I would puke if I drank straight vodka. They offered me some of their cocaine many, many times. So many times in fact they began to get offended when I refused. I made a mental list of infractions to report back to Khalid that could affect Don’s booking of escorts in the future. Forcing drugs on a girl was pretty far up the list.

The time finally came when Don made his most repulsive move yet. He asked Jenny for the elastic holding her hair up. As he lay on the bed, my mind reeled over what it could be used for. As he finally wrapped it tightly around the base of his piece, my stomach went a little weak. To say the least, it didn’t have the desired effect, certainly not enough to counteract the more-than-recommended daily dose of cocaine in his bloodstream. He claimed that after I covered it, elastic and all with the condom and touched it he experienced some pleasure, but I struggled to believe it.

I saw Don about every other week after that. After the third hour each time, I would make up some excuse to leave, another call or commitment. The last time I saw him, a few months ago, Don seemed sad. I stayed for only one hour and he slept. This relieved me, as he looked immensely tired.

I scheduled a coffee with Adele last week. I brought up Don. She said she hadn’t heard from him in a while.