By Saira Viola
Nikki was a five and dime hustler. She had a fake-bake glow, red fish lips, and the kind of hips that can straddle a 6 foot mobster on ice. Her dreams stapled with 20 dollar bills and those cheap throwaway thrills a man gets when he feels lonely.
‘So what’s it gonna be?’
‘I don’t know, I’ve never done this before.’
’20 buys you a blow job and $100 takes you to heaven’s door.’
‘Well I guess that’s the closest I’ll get to heaven’s door.’
They left the curb and Nikki sat in the passenger seat flicking her blonde fringe and blowing gum bubbles at the same time.
‘Hey mister can I ask why you’re out here so late?’
‘Sure you can ask .’ His voice was blunt and frigid .
Guys like these scared Nikki the most. They were closed and out of control. She’d been lucky so far, nothing serious, just a few bruises and a busted mouth.
‘Just sayin’ it’s pretty late is all. I was about to head home.’
‘Yeah well, I’m paying for your time. You’re mine while the clock’s ticking on my dime.’His lips parted into a savage little smile then he leant closer staring at her thighs and her awkward blue stilettos. They were a little large for her and she had stuffed them with paper towels . It didn’t show but her feet were hammered raw.
‘You wanna smoke?’
‘No I’m good.’
He lit up a cigarette and drew in deep his eyes fixed on her blouse. It was tight and stressed the curve of her breasts, leaving a nipple imprint on the surface , which turned him on.
‘We’ll pull up after the next lights.’
Nikki could feel him undressing her – it made her wanna spill her guts out and puke . She reached down and fiddled with the strap of her shoe, revealing the tattoo on the nape of her neck, a rose with the petals trailing her shoulders. She looked up. They were in a deserted mall.
‘I come here sometimes when I need to be alone. I work over there.’ He pointed to the depressing grey building .
Great, just what she needed, a fucking mall clerk.
She nodded hesitantly feigning interest.
He stared at her with a dead lust, the kind that feeds evil.
‘Take off your shirt – do it slowly.’
Nikki unbuttoned her blouse, trailing her open lips with her fingers, faking a smile. She was play-bunny cute going through the same old mechanical routine.Just as she was about to reveal her breasts, he leant forward and kissed her hard on the neck. It made her shudder. He tasted good so good, Nikki felt bad. He pulled her by the hair and lifted her face to his, inches away, then locked his lips on hers spreading her legs wide with his hand. She gasped, the heat was intense. As they lay wrapped in orbit for what seemed like an age, Nikki opened her eyes to find the man had vanished and in his place was a hybrid with hooves and a male torso. She screamed and tried to kick him away:
“Jesus Christ – what is this – who are you? Get off of me, get off me now.” Terrified, she struck him in the face and tried to pull away. He looked at her and leant back in his seat.
‘You’re only tripping, you’ll forget all about this in ten minutes flat.’
‘What, so now you talk, what are you, I mean Jesus Christ.’
‘I’m just your imagination I’m the rock star who injected you with meth the boy next door who left you for dead and your best friend’s lover you found in bed.’
Nikki was freaking. The car door was open, she got out frantically clipping the car park, her heels scraping the ground with a noisy clack. She dug her phone out of her purse and tried dialing 911 but the keys got jammed. She could still feel him the taste of rotten food spiking her mouth .
Got to get out of here, Jesus was I tripping! I don’t know, like I did take some blow earlier.
She checked her watch: it was almost five a.m. Ari her pimp would be calling soon.
Maybe I should just wait until Ari calls. The car’s still there and no one’s come after me.
Then it started, a creeping asphyxiating fire that swallowed her whole , tugging at her soul.
‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.’ Her mottled sobs turning the pavements red with fear. She staggered to the ground, her head falling to one side and her body limp.
That night it rained for five hours straight, but the morning brought a freshness to the town -dew drop new. A little girl and her mother were shopping for groceries. While loading the SUV the child spied a plastic doll on the tarmac.
‘Stop mommy, look – see it’s a doll, mommy, a doll without a home.’In her hand a macabre looking toy with bright red lips and yellow hair. It wore mini blue heeled shoes and a short tight skirt , and on its Barbie style body, a rose tattoo intricately stenciled across its shoulders.
‘Oh Catherine, it’s cute but it’s not ours. She doesn’t belong to us.’
‘Please mom please, can I take her home?’
‘I don’t know sweetie, she looks awful messed up, and those clothes and that strange tattoo. . . .’
‘I’ll fix up her dress when I get back and make her pretty again.’
‘Well okay, but no tattoos and short skirts for you, Catherine.Nothing good ever comes out of short skirts and tattoos!’