The boy with the curly black hair from room 1402 zippered his dark puffer jacket as he pushed the door open. The air outside was chilly, the temperature flirting with the goosebumps on his neck. He ran his right hand through his curls as he walked with intention toward the intersection, looking both ways before crossing Spruce Street. Behind him glowed multicolored lights provided by the LED setup of his fellow neighbors on floor 14.
The Financial District was always calm at night, and that’s what he loved most about it. He smiled to himself as he roamed the streets, reminiscing on the promising outcomes of nights past. As he made his way toward Stone Street, he shed the skin of Zachary Taylor and slithered into Jackson Jones. Becoming Jackson was Zach’s favorite part of his nightly routine. Jackson had a winning smile and charming personality. He had money to throw away and designer clothes. Jackson didn’t have a mother in a mental institution or a father who had ended his own life. Jackson had two sisters and a brother, and they all vacationed in the South of France. Jackson had a Summer home in Florence and a Winter lodge in the Swiss Alps.
His mantra was interrupted by a blurry figure crossing his path. A beautiful girl with light brown hair and doe eyes glanced at him for a second before blushing and continuing on her way. This would be his prey for the night.
“Hey, my friends and I are going to Mad Dogs for a tower and some guacamole, want to join?”
This simple invitation always made women feel at ease and intrigued, instead of suspicious and threatened. Zachary knew that she would join him to eat, and after a few drinks he would look at his phone and tell her that his friends had cancelled, but that he was having such a good time with her and didn’t want the night to end. He would beckon her to come see the amazing view of the Brooklyn Bridge from his dorm room and she would happily oblige.
Walking into the front lobby of 1 Pace Plaza, Zachary nodded at the security guards who returned a smirk and a subtle shake of their heads. He lived for these small exchanges, these small stamps of reluctant approval from the men who went along with his routine every night.
Towards the beginning of his freshman year, they used to stop him and make him sign each guest in with a photo ID, but they grew to appreciate his craftiness and simply let him escort a new woman into the building every night.
The girl next to him gave a small wave to the security guards and a smile. Pete, the security guard who usually high fived Zachary as he walked the girls out of the building, had a peculiar look on his face. Zachary assumed it was due to the wave his date had given them. Usually the girls he brought in avoided eye contact with the guards and followed him to his room. This girl seemed different.
Tara, she had said her name was, lived “somewhere downtown” but hadn’t specified a location, and Zachary hadn’t pressed her. After all, he didn’t need to know where she lived, or even her last name. She was just his partner for this Thursday night, or rather, she was Jackson’s partner for the night.
He had told her that he was a New York native, which couldn’t have been further from his true upbringing in Miami. He couldn’t quite remember where she said she was from, but that didn’t bother him. It was always easier when there was no emotional attachment.
Tara walked confidently toward the elevators, and Zachary wondered if she had been to the building before. Maybe she was friends with a student, or had a previous rendezvous with another tenant of the dorm tower. Either way, he didn’t want to know.
The elevator was heavy with tension, and Zach wondered if the pressure would cause the doors to pop open while rising.
A ding signaled their arrival at the 14th floor, and Zach again morphed into Jackson, opening the door for Tara, ever the gentleman. Her eyes widened as she saw the glowing lights from the city below. “Wow, this view really is romantic. How did you say you got this room again?”
Zach shifted his weight between his feet. He caught himself and steadied his nerves.
“It’s my friend’s place, I’m just watching it for him while he’s gone.” Jackson answered coolly. She nodded, seeming satisfied with his answer. Zach chuckled internally at her admiration of the view, knowing she would never see the room again after this night.