Monday, January 30, 2006

Rinse, and Repeat

Sylvie snapped her gum as she twirled her curly bleached blonde hair around her finger. “I was taking to Tony about breaking into houses and stealing stuff. I told him he shouldn’t be breaking into our apartment building. He said ‘okay’.”

“That’s good. You don’t want to be stealing from your neighbors. They get pissy about that,” Mattie replied. She fluffed her hair and checked her reflection in the newsstand window as she pushed her breasts up and together.

“Yeah, I think Charlie was ready to do more than just stab Tony in the arm. Thankfully the pigs showed up and took them both away.”

Mattie looked down the street. “Crap. You better take off, Frank is heading this way. He said he’d beat me senseless if he saw me with anyone who wasn’t a paying customer.”

“He’s a prick.”

“He keeps me safe.”

“Like when he’s doping you up.”

“Don’t start,” Mattie warned. She didn’t need to be nagged about her addictions. She dropped her half-smoked cigarette on the ground and extinguished it with the tip of her shoe.

“Stop by when you get off,” Sylvie said then ducked into the shadows of a doorway so she wouldn’t be seen.

"Hey, Frank honey. I got your money," Sylvie heard her friend call out as she tried to run in her stilettos and skin tight dress. Frank, a large balding black man in a badly fitting suit, waited for Mattie to reach him.

She watched Mattie hand the pimp a wad of cash. Frank counted it quickly and smiled. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a needle. He lightly tapped the full syringe and unceremoniously jammed it into the streetwalker's arm. He held it there until it was empty then jerked it out.

Sylvie gasped. Mattie suddenly convulsed and collapsed in a heap on the sidewalk.

Frank looked around nervously to see if anyone had seen what had happened. He dropped the needle and ran like he’d been shot from a cannon.

As soon as Frank was out of sight Sylvie ran up the street and knelt down by her friend. She felt for a pulse. It was too late, Mattie was dead.

“Dumb bitch,” Sylvie whispered as she reached down Mattie’s dress and pulled out the cash she knew was stashed in her friend’s bra. She quickly counted it then shoved it in her purse. There was enough for a few packs of cigarettes and some cheap wine to go with Tony’s getting out of jail celebration.

She pulled a quarter out of her jeans and walked to a nearby pay phone. Sylvie dialed the local precinct. She informed them another one of Frank’s girls was dead and gave the body’s location. The desk sergeant thanked her for the call and said they’d send someone over when they got a chance.

Sylvie paused by her friend and said the prayer her grandmother had taught her when she was a little girl. This was the only funeral service Mattie was likely to have.

She wiped away the tears that had formed then quickly looked around. The street was empty. Sylvie bent down and took the nearly full cigarette pack and lighter from Mattie’s purse. As she continued her walk home, she lit one of the cigarettes and inhaled deeply.

As she got closer to the apartment building, she noticed a woman standing near the entrance, she was wearing a dress and shoes nearly identical to the one Mattie had been wearing. “Hey, the name’s Sylvie. You new around here?”

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