The Paris Review: Young, Slender, Blond, Blue-Eyed

Édouard Louis, The Paris Review, 22 Jan 2024

I climbed the stairs two at a time. I no longer know what I was thinking about in that stairwell, I imagine I was counting the steps so as not to think of anything else.

 

I arrived at the door, caught my breath and rang the bell. The man approached from the other side, I could hear him, I could make out his footsteps on the wooden floor.

 

I’d first met him on the Internet just two hours earlier. He was the one who’d contacted me. He’d told me he liked boys like me, young, slender, blond, blue-eyed—the Aryan type, he’d insisted. He’d asked me to dress like a student and that’s what I’d done—at least his idea of a student—with an oversized hoodie I’d borrowed from Geoffroy and sky-blue trainers, my favorites, I’d done what he wanted because I was hoping he’d reward my efforts and pay me more than he’d promised.

 

Finally, he opened the door and at the sight of his body I had to tense my face to keep from grimacing—he didn’t look like the photos he’d sent, his body was flabby, heavy, I don’t know how to put it, as if he was sagging or rather oozing to the floor.

 

Just coming to the door had been a strain for him, I could see his fatigue, his shortness of breath, the dozens of tiny drops of sweat shining on his forehead. I tried to look at him as little as possible, I wanted to avoid seeing the details of his face. In less than an hour you’ll be out of here with the money, I thought. His odor reached me, a synthetic smell of vanilla and sour milk. I focused on that sentence—In less than an hour, the money— when suddenly I heard voices behind him in the flat. They belonged to men, several of them, maybe three or four. I asked who they were, he smiled and said: It’s nothing. Pretend they’re not here, they’re used to it, I often bring in whores, you’re not the first. We’ll go to my room and you ignore them.

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