My real name is Harvey Mathers, but tonight, I’m Steele Johnson.
I’m a phone sex professional.
I’m six foot two, blonde, and have enormous pectoral muscles that will make you rip your clothes off in five seconds flat. That’s right, you dirty little thing—a thick, nine-incher that will make you beg.
In the phone-sex field, there aren’t as many of us men as there are women. This is Tempe, not the Bay Area. For every two dozen men out there looking to jerk off to some woman named Bambi, there are at least a few others guys who prefer to call me.
Maybe one of out fifteen clients is a woman. That’s one of the few perks of my job because I’m not gay. Women clients, they keep me from slitting my throat at the thought of what I do for a living.
It’s not exactly every little boy’s dream.
Still, as jobs go, it beats flipping burgers at McDonald’s. You never have to leave your house, for one. Forget about brushing your teeth, changing out of the same sweatpants you’ve been wearing for the last three days.
The first time they call, they say: I’ve never done this before. After that, they drop the act and get to the point. That’s when my job actually begins.
On the coffee table behind me, the phone waits for my next customer as I blast the shit out of some Nazis on the television screen. My thumb pistons the green button on my X Box controller and computerized blood splatters everywhere. My son, Grover, turned me on to this game last Christmas.
Okay, go ahead, laugh your friggin’ head off. See, this is exactly what I said to Kim at the hospital when it was time to name the baby. Really? Grover, like the Muppet?
“Yes, Harvey,” she’d said. “My father’s name was Grover and his father’s name was Grover and his father’s father’s name was Grover.”
So you see my dilemma. Try arguing with a woman who’s just spent the last twenty-three hours in labor and see how you fare.
Almost sixteen now, Grover lives with his mother and, on account of the layoffs and me losing my house, she tells me that Grover “isn’t comfortable” coming around anymore, now that I’m holed up in a trailer park here in the middle of Tempe. Ah, Arizona, that vast desert wasteland where people who need to live for cheap can definitely live for cheap. And people like Paul, that asshole stepfather of his, can live in a three bedroom ranch house just by working six hour shifts as the manager of Lane Bryant. Sell enough Capri pants to overweight housewives and you can afford a pool. A barbecue grill, for Christ’s sake.
The phone rings and it’s time to go to work. I prop the phone between my shoulder and chin. On television, I’m checking the perimeters of an abandoned house with my machine gun ready. As not to kill the mood, I turn down the volume.
With a typical call, you first ask them a leading question. Mine is, “Are you calling to play?”
If the person says yes, you’re on. Give them the lowdown. The rate is $3.25 per minute with a 10 minute minimum and the charge is billed under Kryptonite Associates, Inc. The call starts after I get the credit card approval.
The kid stammers the card number and the name on the card: Randall Parker. Right away, I can tell he’s no older than twenty.
There’s residue in my lungs from smoking too much weed today, and it creates a raspy effect. I drop my voice an octave. “This is Steele Johnson, at your service.” To impress, I give the kid my stats, tell him what a hunk I am.
He says nothing.
I say, “Don’t be shy. I’m all alone and ready to have some fun.”
His throat clears. “Uh . . . hi.”
And I say, “So, Randy, you sound like a baby.”
“Yeah,” says the kid. “Yeah, I’m eighteen, though.”
Listen, if they say they’re eighteen, they’re eighteen. What can you do?
“You’d better be. Any younger and I’d have to turn you over my knee.”
Some of these rich little shits have their own credit cards. Forget about swiping the mother’s card while she’s not looking and hoping she doesn’t inspect the Visa bill later. These kids have pagers and cell phones. New jeeps and two hundred dollar shoes.
A surprise ambush blows me to the ground, gun sticking up from my dead hands.
“Fuck,” I hiss.
“Fuck . . . me.” With one gulp, I empty the beer can and go to the fridge for another. “Are you ready to fuck me?”
“W-well. I haven’t done this before.”
This one, I believe.
The first thing I ask everybody is if they have any fantasies.
The kid says, “Um.” He says, “I dunno, I guess.”
“Would you like to share?” I say.
With a big sigh, the kid thinks. “Sometimes I fantasize that I’m on American Idol. And everybody likes me.”
I say, “What’s not to like?”
In the fridge, four cans of Budweiser line up beside a rotten piece of meat that’s about to stand up and walk out.
I say, “What happens next?” Okay, I’m thinking creatively here. Simon takes him in the back and blows him. Watching, Abdul masturbates to the entire thing.
“Nothing happens next,” says the kid. “I win, and I’m famous. That’s it.”
“How about sexual fantasies. Do you have any of those?”
Now he gets the picture. “Oh,” the kids says. “No fantasies. I can’t believe I’m even doing this.”
From the freezer, I take out a tray of ice. Cube by cube, I’m loading up the bong. Honestly, I don’t give a rat’s ass if most of these pervs hang up.
But I have to pay the electric bill, so I say, “There’s nothing wrong with calling me. It helps to talk to someone. In the few minutes we’ve been on the phone, I can tell you are very special.”
The base of the bong feels nice and cold from the ice. “Really. Now, why don’t you take off your pants?”
There’s a pause while the kid does it.
I guzzle beer, stifle a burp. “Are you wearing any undies, big boy?”
The kid says, “Yeah.”
“They’re just . . . sort of . . . I don’t know. White?”
Jesus, this kid is green. “Boxers, briefs, bikinis?”
And the kid says, “Oh!” He says, “Just boxers.”
“Hot. Now, why don’t you tell me what you would like Steele to do to you?”
“But . . . we’re on the phone. How can you do anything to me?”
Six minutes already. At this rate, my beer will be warm before things even start. This kid needs to get fucked for real and stop screwing around with the phone.
“Work with me here.” I say, “How about if I get down on my knees and run my tongue up the shaft of your cock?”
“Alright,” he says and his voice shakes.
Punching the channel button on the remote, I’m sailing past a tampon commercial. A bikini-clad model tries to sell me a car.
I say, “Now I’m circling the tip with my tongue. No, I haven’t taken it all the way in yet. It’s better to tease you a little bit first.”
Over the phone, the kid’s breath hurts my ear because it’s so loud and close to the phone. On TV some idiot eats a plate of raw bull testicles in an effort to win fifty thousand dollars.
I say, “Now I’m taking your cock all the way in, pushing it way back in my throat and sucking.”
The kid groans in my ear. He mutters, “Dammit,” and I hear tissues swish from a box next to him.
“Good boy,” I say, like he’s a cocker spaniel.
“Um . . . wow, okay,” says the kid.
To stroke the ego, I say, “This was the most fun I’ve had all day. We have to do this again.”
Then he says something I don’t even want to touch. “Do you think . . . well, does this mean that I’m, you know, a queer?”
So, I’m thinking, Listen, kid, you wanna ask these questions, talk to the preacher. Write ‘Dear Abby.’ Ask Oprah.
The thing is, a customer is a customer. I’m no therapist, but I have to keep these guys happy if I want return business. I’m lousy at advice, so my approach with this kid is the same as with the others. Keep it neutral.
“Why do you think you’re gay?” I say, like I’m not thinking the same thing he is.
I pick some weed out of a film container.
As I pack a bowl, the kid says, “Sometimes my step dad walks around naked. It’s kinda hot.”
See, this is what I meant by fantasies. I want to tell him that, but I don’t. It hits me that he’s just given me solid evidence of probably being under eighteen, and now I’m feeling like a piece of shit. Me and Michael Jackson. Where’s the dividing line?
And, anyway, didn’t I suspect this all along?
Furthermore, he adds, “The other night, we were home alone. He let me watch some porn with him.”
Remind me. What is wrong with flipping burgers at McDonald’s?
I should hang up the phone, tell him not to call back and keep his dick in his pants when it comes to the step dad. But hey, the longer he’s on the phone, the more money I make. So, I ask, “What went on while you were watching porn together?”
Quickly, the kid says, “Nothing. He was pitching a tent. So was I. I mean, he didn’t touch me or anything, but I kinda got the feeling he wanted to.”
I go, “What makes you think he wanted to touch you?”
And the kid mutters, “He just said some things, that’s all.”
Somewhere in the distance, the kid’s mom starts calling for him.
“Shit, I gotta go.”
This teen angst shit is more that I bargained for. I’m not interested or equipped to hold his hand and listen to his “my daddy touched me down there” sob story. To avoid it, I need to just tell this kid not to call back since he’s underage. I check the paperwork for his name. “Listen, Randy . . .”
Before he hangs up, the kid says, “Sorry, I should have said something earlier. My name’s Grover. You know, like the muppet.”
© 2009 Monica Rowan
Excerpted from her novel in progress, “The World’s Dirtiest Man.”