The Industry

Francis was older than Marcel by twenty minutes. Even though they were fraternal twins, acquaintances often confused one for the other. Both were tall with chiseled facial features, blue eyes, short hair, and light sideburns. Their main difference was that Francis had a bigger nose while Marcel had a longer chin. Francis was also half an inch taller.

Their physical appearance was enhanced by a shared obsession of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and strength training, which partly explains how Francis got a job as a bouncer at the most exclusive club in the city—the type of club where men hope to exchange their status and wealth for the attention of beautiful girls who hope to exchange their beauty for status and wealth.

Francis was not prepared for all the female attention he was set to receive. It came not early in the night, when the crowds were begging to get in, but at the end, when girls realized that he was far better than the insecure men who were trying to impress them with pink cocktails and Grey Goose vodka. The girls would simply touch his big chest, ask for his name, and proceed with compliments about his muscles. If he didn’t take the hint and get the number, the girl would simply say, “Why don’t you take my number?” And it would be done.

He got into a routine of sending text message blasts on Sunday to line up dates between Monday through Thursday. Then he would work on the weekend and repeat the cycle. After two months on the job, Francis was able to lay 19 girls. It was hard to keep up his training in the face of such a rigorous fuck and work schedule, but he was managing well.

Marcel was jealous of his success—a brotherly jealousy that didn’t come with designs of sabotage or passive-aggressive criticisms. He hid his irritation when whichever girl Francis had over took too long in the bathroom or ate his roasted cashews. He didn’t want his brother to think he was a hater.

“Can you get me a job at the club?” Marcel asked one day.

“I can try, but they’re not hiring right now. I took the last spot.”

“It’s insane how much tail you’re plowing through just because of this job.”

“I’m starting to get used to it. I know I haven’t been working at the job long, but I have to think a while to remember when I wasn’t fucking as much.”

“Don’t take it for granted,” Marcel warned. “But please, ask again if they’re hiring. Hell, I’ll be a barback just to get my foot in the door, I don’t care.” Francis promised he would ask, and he did, with the utmost sincerity, but they were not hiring.

Several more months passed and Francis started to get bored of banging. His new thing was quality. He didn’t just want to bang a lot of sluts, but one very high quality girl that other men would envy him for. You would think there would be a lot of these girls coming through the doors of the club, but Francis became skilled at seeing behind the makeup mask and skimpy skirts. He wanted true beauty.

One night he saw such a girl in front of the club. While he stared, mesmerized, the club manager, a balding Iranian man who got into the business just to get laid, popped out and greeted her with a kiss on the lips.

Francis later asked his co-worker what was the deal. “He just started dating her. Houman goes through women quickly so you’ll see him with another chick in a couple months.”

“I would be happy with something like that,” Francis said.

“Houman doesn’t like it when people try to get on his girls.” This did little to deter Francis.

He quickly found out that she was a hair stylist at a local salon that has live DJ entertainment for its customers. It would seem suspicious that a man with already cropped hair is making an appointment for a $47 haircut, so he decided to get his hair colored from brown to surfer blonde. For the 20 minutes she attended to his scalp (her assistant did most of the coloring work), he was able to strike rapport with her by sharing tales of people acting stupid and drunk in the club. For good measure, he threw in a story of him beating up a tough guy who wanted to fight someone for stepping on his Steve Madden shoes.

“What do you do in your spare time?” he asked.

“I’m a bit of a yoga addict. I like to party a lot and have fun, but I need to balance it out with yoga and meditation. Have you heard of yin and yang?”

“Not so much, but I’ve always wanted to try yoga. My muscles get tired from my Brazilian jiu-jitsu training. Foam rolling is not helping me as much as I thought it would.”

“Jiu jitsu? That’s cool.”

“Yeah it keeps me active,” he replied. “It’s a useful hobby when you’re a bouncer.”

“In the studio I teach an introductory yoga class, in case you’re interested.”

He signed up two days later, and turned out to be the worst student ever in the eight-year history of the studio, remaining in Cassandra’s class well after others moved on to learn more intermediate forms.

Houman showed no intention of dumping Cassie. Francis could see why: she was sweet but energetic, beautiful but modest. She didn’t even have a Facebook account, stressing that she hated how it made her “narcissistic” and “obsessive with checking things.”

After most classes, he would squeeze in a brief chat. This graduated to walking out the studio together and soon they would have the occasional drink at a nearby local bar. One night, she relaxed her inhibitions and had a second drink, and then a third, and then a fourth. And so this is how they had sex, the best sex that Francis ever had.

“It was amazing,” Francis told Marcel. “Her body, her face—everything was perfection. When I was beating it up, it almost felt like a dream, that I got this girl. But at the same time, I felt like I deserved it, that I was worthy.”

“Good job, man. You’re fucking your dream girl while I’m trying to run game in the mall. I think I have a smoothie date tomorrow.”

“Yeah I need to hook you up at some point. Come to the club this weekend.”

“Fuck the club. I’m working on my day game. I read this book that says I have to act elderly to not scare the cat.”

“Scare the cat?”

“It’s not important. So what are you going to do now? Isn’t she still going out with your boss?”

“Yes, she is.” I’m going to take it slow. There’s no rush. Tomorrow I will go to work and pretend that nothing happened.”

Francis did not account for the guilt Cassie would feel for cheating on Houman, who overall did treat her well and gave her the status that she could never admit she deeply desired. She tearfully confessed to him that she slept with Francis, and that it made her realize that she loved Houman with all her heart. She begged him for his forgiveness.

It’s hard not to forgive a beautiful face covered in tears, so she was forgiven. Houman, to his credit, did play-act some toughness to not seem like a complete pushover, demanding that she never go out unchaperoned with another man, in accordance with Sharia law. She agreed.

Francis arrived to work and was told that Houman wanted to see him.

“Do you think I’m stupid?” Houman asked. He was nervously scratching a keloided scar that crawled down the left side of his face.

“No, of course not.”

“I know you fucked my girl.”

“I…” Francis had no words. He couldn’t believe he found out already.

“You’re fired. I will make it my mission that you will never get a job in a club again, not even as a bathroom towel boy. Now get the fuck out.”

Francis was indifferent, because he still had Cassie, or he thought he did. She refused to return his calls or text messages. The manager of the yoga studio said that his presence made Cassie “uncomfortable.” He made an appointment at the hair salon under a false name, but was asked to leave upon showing up.

To cheer himself up, he took his brother’s advice and decided to call up a couple of his favorite sluts. They asked him if he still worked at the club. When he said no, they stopped responding to his messages. He slacked off on his training, moping around the house. What hurt him most was how Cassie could reject him after they made love. He didn’t understand why that meant nothing to her when they obviously had a connection, built from months of genuinely getting to know each other.

Marcel came to Francis’ room when he was playing video games. “Do you need anything?” Marcel asked.

“Nah, I’m good.”

“Hey, there’s something I want to ask you.” Francis looked up. “Houman called me today and asked if I wanted to take your spot in the club. Of course he added that if I fuck his woman he would fuck me, but he needs a bouncer and he knows I’m looking. Do you mind if I accept?”

Francis thought for a couple seconds. On one hand he could feel the jealousy rising up in his stomach, but he wasn’t going to deny his brother an experience that he wanted. “Yeah, go ahead,” he said. “I don’t care.”

“Awesome! Thanks.”

Marcel’s experience wasn’t so different from Francis’. Lots of numbers, dates, bangs, and so on. It’s as if they traded shoes. Marcel did throw Francis a bone now and then with a homely broad that was friends of the ones he was fucking, but it was a far cry from Cassie.

Francis saw her one afternoon in the old town. You would have thought she was a sprinter and not a yoga practitioner with the way she ran into her car and got away from him. Francis could only wonder why she hated him.

One night, Marcel was working at the club for a modeling industry party. He was spotted by a scout who said he had the perfect look for the new “beefy aesthetic” that was sweeping the industry. Marcel never considered being a model but figured it was worth a shot. He didn’t tell Francis when he went to get photos done.

The scout eventually introduced him to an agent who pushed a contract in front of him. Marcel signed. Two weeks after that his first gig came in—a shoot for a Men’s Health article titled “99 Ways To Do Bicep Curls Using A Squat Rack.” His high vascularity and aloof grin helped send more offers his way until Marcel was spending more and more time away from the apartment.

“You up to some shady shit?” Francis asked.

“No, I just… kind of fell into modeling.”

“What? How did that happen?”

“I was working the door one night when I was spotted by a scout. It sort of snowballed from there.”

“You were working… the door?” Francis’ face turned red. He went into his room, slammed the door, and started yelling profanities. He knew that if he was working, the likelihood that he would have been given the same opportunity was high, but he fucked the wrong girl who refused to even acknowledge his existence, and true to Houman’s word, no one in the club business would hire him, so now his brother was getting all the girls and soon would be doing runway shows in New York, LA, Milan, Paris, Stockholm, and Barcelona. Marcel wouldn’t just be fucking cute girls, but mind-blowingly hot models. Francis withdrew into the world of Call Of Duty while Marcel was traveling the world.

In a rare moment that they were both home, Francis went to Marcel’s room and demanded to see pictures.

“Pictures?” Marcel asked.

“Yes, pictures. I know you’re banging models. I just want to see what I’m missing out on because of my mistake.”

“There’s not much to show.”

“Don’t bullshit me, man. Let me see.” Marcel reluctantly pulled out his phone and opened the “Banged models lol” folder. It took twenty minutes to go through it.

Francis sat down on the edge of his bed. “I’m happy for you, bro, I really am, but at the same time, I’m upset this is not happening to me.” Francis gave Marcel a light pat on the back and returned to his room where he lay face down on his bed.

Marcel had to abruptly quit his job as a bouncer because the modeling gigs were keeping him busy. Francis was hoping to get a call from Houman, giving him a second chance, but it never came.

It was inevitable that Marcel got bored with the girls in his modeling clique. He was a rising star and felt that he deserved the absolute top. Perhaps the famous actresses and musicians? He wasn’t sure, but it did seem to him that he was one of the only guys who hasn’t yet banged Taylor Swift, so maybe that would be a good start.

A part of him wanted the heart of a beautiful girl instead of just her vagina. With his rising stardom and bank balance, he felt the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place to make that happen. How he would maintain such a relationship with his busy travel schedule, he had not considered, and if you asked him what exactly he wanted, he couldn’t give you a clear answer, but he was sure that he wanted more than what he had now.

When he was offered a spot for a runway show in Moscow, he became excited at the opportunity, in spite of the fact that male models never went to Russia. He had heard many things about the beauty of Russian girls, their flawless doll-like faces, their hypnotizing blue eyes, their icy feminine charm—all of which would serve a much needed breath of fresh air to the industry’s incestuous carousel. But he also heard about the danger. He knew Houman had been to Russia years earlier so he sought him out in the club office to get some advice.

“Houman, what do you think of me doing a show in Russia? You lived there, right?”

“Yes, I was there for three months.”

“And?”

“It was the most amazing time of my life. I always dream of going back.” He looked out the window of his office in reminiscence. “It’s a curious culture and the women are the most beautiful in the world, as I’m sure you already know.”

“But people say it’s dangerous. Is that true?”

“I had no problems.”

“Okay great. Hey,” Marcel added, “no hard feelings about me having to quit on short notice, right?”

“Nope, none at all.”

With Houman’s endorsement, Marcel went ahead with the Moscow show. It was a success in spite of some language misunderstandings. He was able to meet models from Estonia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan (a country he never heard of before), and of course Russia. He gravitated towards the Russian models, who acted stoic and firm throughout the show. Even when he reminded them that he was American, they barely gave him more affection than if he was a gopnik right off the street.

Nighttime came and everyone went to the hottest club in town. Unexpectedly, an ugly bouncer delayed Marcel’s entrance, thinking he wasn’t part of the modeling group. Marcel went ballistic, remarking how he had never been treated so poorly before. The mistake was quickly settled and he calmed down inside at the table by drinking vodka shots and bobbing his head to the electro music.

He vainly tried to get in with the Russian models. They were polite, but unlike slutty Western models, they weren’t throwing themselves at him like he expected. When he asked them to dance, he received “maybe later” responses.

Frustrated, Marcel started looking around at the club, noticing that some of the regular girls were even hotter than the models. The vodka courage helped push him to approach a perfect ten who was partying at the table beside him. He couldn’t identify a single flaw in her appearance. He ignored the two obese, old men that were with her and leaned over the couch to speak to her. She shook her head sideways. “Did she not speak English?” he wondered.

The obese men now focused on him. One started spraying words that Marcel couldn’t understand. If he spoke Russian he would have identified the words immediately as threats, but he persisted in trying to talk to the girl.

The girl noticed her friends were upset so she put her hand up to Marcel’s face so he would understand the rejection was not coquetry. He stood there, confused, until one of the fat men stepped up to Marcel, a laughable face-off since Marcel was much taller and stronger. “Go fuck away,” the fat man said. Marcel furrowed his brows and flicked his hand towards the man’s face before turning back to his table. If Marcel knew who the man was, a top manager for one of the largest shipping companies in Russia, he would not have disrespected him so.

Fifteen minutes later, Marcel went to the bathroom and picked a stall to piss in. Midstream, the door crashed open on his back. His head was shoved into the tile wall, crushing his nose. He stumbled onto the floor, bracing his fall on the urine-soaked tile, and then one of his hands was stomped on with tremendous force. The attack lasted only ten seconds, but it destroyed his face. Metal pins would be required to reconstruct the bones in his now monkey claw of a hand.

Francis was a fine nurse, serving Marcel chicken nuggets and banana shakes, telling him he will be back to normal even though the plastic surgeon told him that everyone had to be “realistic” about Marcel’s physical recovery. His modeling career was over.

With bandages still on Marcel’s nose, and a plaster cast covering his hand and half his forearm, Francis came into his room and reluctantly told him that he received a call.

“Your modeling agent called me today,” he began. “He said the beefy aesthetic is still in. Since our shape is similar, he wants me to come in for photos.”

Marcel hesitated for a long time. “I don’t mind, but the work is very hard. I don’t know if it’s worth it.” He went on to detail all the downsides of the job, and how it wasn’t a walk in the park. Francis nodded, as if he was considering his arguments, when the appointment with the photographer was already made.

Across town, Cassie was in Houman’s bed, snuggling against his swarthy body. “Did you hear what happened to Marcel?” she asked.

“I did. It’s a pity.”

“Didn’t he come to you asking for advice?”

“Yes, and I told him he’d be stupid to go. It’s how I got this—“ he pointed to the long scar on his face. “Russia is uncivilized and full of thugs. It’s sad that some people just don’t want to listen.”

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