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ƒαєℓєη ℓєιgн




A Dark Night - Part 1

 
The night blinds me, as I walk. My soft soled shoes make the barest whisper on the wet pavement. My follower’s shoes, sound with a resounding tap that echoes against the abandoned buildings. This dark alley wasn’t mine alone tonight.
 
This was my usual route, away from the hell hole I worked at. Granted, most strip joints are hell holes, but mine seemed the worst. Even the crack whores refused to work there. But, it was pay, even if it wasn’t good.
 
Ha, you’re thinking I dance right? You’d be wrong. I clean. Though, not for my lack of trying. Despite my dancing abilities, and the fact that I taught most of the new girls, my face is that only a mother could love. Nope, I’m the one that gets to clean the rooms after the dancers go home, and the freaks make their way to the next joint down the road. It’s a disgusting job. The half drank bottles of beer, used condoms, ripped clothing, vomit, and a fair share of used bloody tampons, hastily tossed aside to make that extra buck. That was the worst part, knowing that woman disgraced themselves to that point.
 
But, its pay, and it’s better than nothing, even though it’s not good.
 
As I said before, this dank, dark, rotten alley has been my only path away from that place. I’ve stumbled upon people here before, the sleeping homeless drunk, the occasional pimp, and even his crack whore as he raped her for his share of the money she didn’t make.
 
And as always, I walk by, keeping myself distracted, by counting the number of rats that cross my path. I used to be scared of this alley, but that was years ago, when my boss called me a “fresh young thing”, which was more approval than I‘d ever been given, in my 14 years of life. That was four years ago. Today, it was nothing more than a passing of time. Even the man, standing beside the dumpster, with a knife hidden in his coat, didn’t scare me. He was just another soulless wretch, waiting for his chance at money to come along.
 
As I came to the first cross street, I didn’t pause to look for traffic. There wouldn’t be any. People, who could afford cars, didn’t dare come to this part of town. They’d never leave it again. Even the standing joke: the police force, didn’t patrol down here. This was rock bottom, the Hell Pit, as most of us had, rather affectionately, come to call it.
 
I crossed the street, watching the gang of boys, loitering at the mouth of the alley, on the other side. Of all the people out here, they might actually cause me trouble. Nothing more than to rip my clothes, or pull my hair, but trouble all the same.
 
And yet, I still wasn’t afraid. I approached, wearily, keeping my eyes on the oldest of them. I’d learned before, that he was in charge, although he was barely more than 16 himself. He nodded at me, as I passed, and I knew they’d let me be. I also knew, he’d show up at my window later.
 
My follower didn’t make it through the gang so easily. I didn’t pause to know for sure, but judging from the sounds, they mugged him. No feelings of remorse came to me over this. After all, if you’re going to chance this alley, something unpleasant is bound to happen. I didn’t hear his footsteps behind me, after that.
 
My place was just up the alley. A tall, abandoned warehouse. Over the years, a few others, beside myself, had staked claim to it. It still had electricity, for its sprinkler system to run on. The city had established a law recently, that mandated the owners of buildings install working sprinkler systems, after a warehouse a couple blocks down, burnt to the ground, killing 12 people that had moved in. It seemed someone out there had a heart for us, the miscreants or parasites, as our latest mayor called us.
 
I’d laid claim on the fourth floor. The entire fourth floor. The ramshackle elevator was the old kind, that had the sliding gates that closed. I’d found a lock, with a good key, a decent length of chain, to keep people from sliding the grates to the fourth floor open. Not your typical door locks, but so far it worked.
 
My floor, had been some sort of office space before. It was littered with tables and chairs, and even had working bathrooms, with hot water. Two summers ago, I’d found a length of hose, that attached to the faucet, and with it I was able to rig a shower of sorts. It wasn’t the best, but it worked. I even had what you could call a kitchen. It consisted of nothing more than a hot plate, scavenged from the local homeless shelter, and a beaten up fridge that’s covered in graffiti.
 
The bed, another item taken from the shelter, was big enough for three people to sleep comfortably. It’d happened once, and a particular stormy night, when two of the girls from work had been beaten up pretty badly. Now, the only person I share it with, is the boy from the gang.
 
I like to think we care about each other, him and I. Its not love, for sure. But more of an understanding. Its comforting to be wanted, for more than an excuse to get off. There’s no comfort like it, to be enfolded in a warm body on a cold night.
 
He comes, when the loneliness gets to be too much for him. Sometimes, we’ll sleep together, needing the physical touch, others its nothing more than company. Always, he climbs the fire-escape, and comes in through the window near the bed. He’s the only person I know, agile enough to do it, and it always makes me laugh when he suddenly appears in the window. I always wonder if he does it more for my enjoyment, than for himself. Though, I’ll never ask.
 
We met last summer, on a night similar to this. It’d been raining, and I walked alone, as usual, down the alley. Had a guy try to rough me up, and pulled a knife on me, when I fought back. He’d managed to cut the skin of my neck, before Luca had happened upon us. Luca carried me to the first car he found, and after hot-wiring it, took me to the nearest ER. I never found out what happened to the guy, nor do I really care.
 
I tell him I owe him more than the few nights we share together. He tells me to hush, that those nights are all he needs.
 
I expect him tonight.


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