Amy Choi stood by the open window of her 16th floor apartment and watched the sun slowing fade beneath the horizon. It was Friday night and the 36-year-old Korean was not looking forward to another night of what the television networks insisted in calling 'must see TV.'
She really hated the winter, with darkness falling as soon as she got home. That and the long hours she had been putting in at work lately had given her a first class case of the blues.
She'd left work early in order to stop off at D'Angelo's book store to pick up the latest Anne O'Donnell book that she ordered. In keeping with the way this day had unfolded, the book had not come in. Amy had been really looking forward to reading that novel over the weekend.
A successful businesswoman, the short black haired woman had been divorced for four years. The cause had been listed in the court papers as irreconcilable differences. In reality it had come down to her husband's inability to accept the fact that she been more successful in her chosen career than he had been in his.
Originally she'd had a dinner engagement for this evening, but that had fallen through when her date had hurt his back playing handball. It was no great loss she told herself. Stephen Shapiro was a nice guy and all, but he wasn't really anything more than someone to have dinner with. Dancing afterwards was also a possibility. Then again, if things really went well, an early morning breakfast might've been in the cards as well.
In retrospect, Amy thought it was the last possibility that she was really missing. It had been too long since she'd had male companionship in her life. She might as well be honest with herself, she was looking forward to having a man in her bed come the morning.
"Might as well face it," Amy said to herself. "Looks like it's another Friday night with a couple of D batteries for companionship."
That idle thought made her remember that the last time she had wanted to use her "old reliable" the batteries had been dead.
"There should be a fresh pack in the junk drawer." she recalled, deciding to make sure while it was still early enough to go out to the corner store if there wasn't.
The junk drawer, as Amy liked to call it, was the large top drawer of the buffet in her small dining room. Filled with papers, small booklets, old bills and assorted odds and ends, she was always promising herself that she would sit down one day and clean it out. As it were, it was so full that she was barely able to open the drawer.
"I really have to clean this." she admitted as she finally pulled it open, sending some of the overflow spilling onto the floor.
Sifting through the pile, she quickly found the batteries. She also found two years worth of birthday and various other holiday cards. Enough pens and pencils to equip a first grade class. A combination lock to which she had long ago forgotten the combination to, and a varied collection of souvenirs.
Carefully she sorted through a pile of envelopes. Old bills, advertisements, two letters she had written to friends, but had forgotten to mail. A bright red envelope caught her eyes. Popping it open and shaking it out, a card fell into her hand.
"I can't believe I kept this." Amy said as she turned over the small embossed business card.
She remembered the day she had won the card. She had been attending what was supposed to be a serious business luncheon, but instead turned out to be just another meeting of the old boys network. Originally, Peter Larson was supposed to be her company's representative, but he had a family emergency at the last moment.
The other members of the circle were quite surprised when she walked in and sat down. Still, she always tried to fit in and keep her contacts current. It was in that spirit that she tossed in her twenty dollars for their monthly raffle, even if she wasn't exactly sure what they were raffling off. It must be something worthwhile, she concluded. With over twenty people around the table, the pot was almost five hundred dollars.
The funny look on the face of the guy collecting the money should have told her that something was wrong. That look was reflected across the table when it turned out she was holding the winning ticket.
"I guess this is my lucky day." Amy laughed as she reached for the prize envelope in the middle of the table."
She wondered what the prize was as she dropped the envelope into her purse. Probably theater tickets or something like that. She wondered why were some of the men around the table were grinning from ear to ear.
She noticed Jim Shoeman, the unofficial leader of their little association, wasn't smiling as he whispering something to George Haleman. He'd been a late arrival to the meeting and hadn't been in on the raffle. The silver haired gentleman seemed none too happy about it all.
Twenty minutes later when the luncheon was breaking up, George pulled her over to the side and told her what Jim had told him.
"There's been a little mistake." George said in a quiet tone. "You really weren't supposed to be in that raffle."
"I don't understand." Amy replied, a little confused.
"You haven't looked in the envelope yet, have you?" George asked.
Now very curious, Amy reached into her purse and pulled out the bright red envelope. Opening it, she found a small business card. It simply read, 'Special Delivery' and had a small twelve digit number in the lower left hand corner.
"I still don't understand." Amy repeated.
"How do I explain this..." George said hesitantly.
"I've always found that straight out is the best way." Amy suggested. "I'm a big girl, I don't offend easily."
"Well simply put, that card you're holding is sort of a gift certificate." he said.
"What's 'Special Delivery'?" Amy asked, more than a little curious now.
"It's sort of an escort service." George said a little embarrassed.
It all made sense now. They were raffling off a night with a hooker. No wonder Shoeman was so worried when she won. If that kind of thing got around it would be trouble for everyone at that table.
"Mr. Shoeman said he offers his apologies and he'd be happy to replace the card with something more appropriate." George said with a smile.
Amy thought about it a little and then smiled back. She didn't get where she was by making enemies over little things. You fought the battles that were important and let the little ones slide on by.
"Tell Shoeman that his apology is accepted." she said. "But I think I'll keep this little card as a souvenir. One of these days I might have to ask him for a favor."
"Of course." George agreed. He knew, after all, how the game was played.
Amy had never called in that favor, but it was nice to know she could have.
"Maybe I should just call Special Delivery." Amy joked as she tossed the card on top of the buffet. "That's one sure way to get laid."
A half hour later, three quarters of the junk drawer filled the waste paper basket. She picked up the last few papers that were left and one by one they followed into the trash. Then only the gift card was left.
"I must be really bored." Amy mused. "I'm wondering how this works."
She stared at the card for a while and then thought.
"What the hell, it couldn't hurt just to call up and ask. Not that I'd really do anything like that."
Making herself comfortable on the end of the couch, Amy dialed the number. It rang a few times, then a soft feminine voice came on the line.
"Special Delivery, Laura speaking" she said. "May I have your certificate number?
Impressed by the professionalism in her voice, Amy read off the twelve-digit number.
"Thank you." Laura replied as she paused a few moments, no doubt checking the number on her computer.
Amy tried to picture what Laura might look like, but came up blank. The stereotype would be to imagine her as some scantily clad, sexy young thing. The reality was more likely that she was someone's grandmother. A second later, Laura came back on the line.
"How may I help you this evening?" she asked.
"I'm not very sure." Amy replied. "I sort of won this as a prize in a raffle and I was wondering how it works."
"Well I'll be happy to explain it to you." Laura went on. "Are you interested in a male or female escort?"
The question took Amy by surprise. Female? She didn't think she could ever be that adventurous.
"Definitely male." Amy answered.
"All right." Laura said. "Any preferences ... age, race, body type."
"I'm not sure, I really haven't given this much forethought." the 36 year old replied.
"Perhaps I might make a few suggestions." Laura said. "We do like our clients to enjoy their evenings."
"Well I do like surprises." Amy said, a little surprised that she was really getting into this.
"Perhaps a fantasy then." Laura offered.
"That sounds right." Amy replied.
"We do specialize in making fantasies come true." Laura said. "Can you tell me a little about yourself?"
Without even thinking about it, Amy did just that.
"I think I have just the thing for you." Laura said, the smile on her voice evident in her voice. "If you could just give me your address and phone number, we could have your package delivered in about an hour."
This should have been the point where Amy simply hung up the phone. Her little game had gone as far as it should have. Instead, she heard herself giving Laura her address. The phone representative thanked her and hoped she had a good time.
.... There is more of this story ...