Euphoria by Aaron Golden

Monster and Friend
ON A CLOUDY SUNDAY in May, a pale young man with a pale young gut stands outside of Euphoria Massage reading its sign. His head pulses with an eager hangover and he wears a baggy hoodie so no one will see his face. So no one will shout, “Hey everybody, look! It’s Mark Leary and he’s going to Euphoria Massage! What a creepy fucking asshole!”

(323) 842-4859 WELCOME
FOOT & LEG $25

He glances around: none of his colleagues or acquaintances seem to have spotted him. No Channel 7 news van. In fact, the only person who’s noticed him is Cindy, a forty-three-year-old Korean woman in a skin-tight turquoise dress, who glanced away from the Korean reality show she was watching in the break room of Euphoria Massage to discover Mark and his hoodie in the front camera monitor.

“We’ve got a juicy one for you tonight!” the host of the show announces, his glittery jacket sparkling in the studio lights.

Cindy watches Mark shuffle up to the front door. By the time the copper bells jingle, she’s already on her feet, smoothing out turquoise wrinkles.

Mark finds an empty waiting room, save for a water cooler and a tired copy of Us Weekly sprawled out on a coffee table. A glass window hangs on the back wall next to a door. Under the window, a ledge holds a bell and a Credit Cards Welcome sign. Above it, there’s a camera.
“Hello?” he asks the lens, but before it can answer, the back door flies open.

“Herro, come in!” Cindy darts into the room, takes him by the arm, and starts pulling him toward the back. “You hee for massage?”

“Hi, yeah, my… friend told me about this place.” Mark is dragged into a long white hallway.

“Oh yeah, you’re friend. You so handsome, where you from?”

“Near, uh… New York.” She opens another door and ushers him into a dimly-lit room. A well-used massage table rests in the middle of it, while in the corner a small bookshelf holds a bottle of moisturizer and a box of Kleenex.

“Yeah, I rive in New York for rong time, but… my first day in LA.”

“… is today?”

“Uh huh.”

“Oh, okay, that’s… odd.”

“We do foot and reg for twenty-five, or back and arm for -”

“I think I’m gonna go… full service.”

“Furr service! Ok, sixty-five, prus good tip.” Mark slides his wallet from his back pocket and shakily counts out five twenties. Cindy takes the money with an approving nod and turns to the door.

“Do I just… get naked?”

“Yeah, arr crothes off.”


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