It was the wind that woke her, bringing a cloud of dirt and the revolting odour she now realised had come from her own putrid limbs. She had absolutely no recollection of who she had been before now. She felt nothing but the emptiness in her stomach and a sensation of having lost more than she could remember.
Years ago she had deluded herself into believing she had once been a woman of great stature, great worth; a side-effect of the struggle, a pretty veil for all that was currently visible to her…the remains of a body that biology had once doomed feminine, and a empty crack-pipe which reminded her that she now had work to do.
It is early yet. Just enough time to grab a quick wash in the gully down below. Funny, her filth never seemed to bother her clientele, themselves not much cleaner. She is optimistic afterward, the evening cool. She stretches her arms and inhales the smog, and it does not bother her, lungs already polluted by her habits. She lights a cigarette and searches for the spot she’ll claim her own tonight.
There is turf-war among the independents so she is prepared for blood, prepared to bleed, suffering is her earning and this is nothing new. She bends the corner now and pauses to assess her competition, bringing few things to the table herself; she was vastly overweight and could barely fit into the clothes she wore, tattered as they were, and she did not know that she was beautiful. This corner will not be hers tonight. She searches for another.
People grimace as she walks pass them on the street. Children, point and snicker. Some old men whistle. The old men usually do; the old men are her regulars and one hands her a beer as down payment and asks where she’ll be…he’ll check the spots, he’ll find her, get his due. They all laugh and drink to that, she lifts her own bottle to her lips, and nods in appreciation before continuing her search. She needed something stronger but it would have to do. She would have to sip at it for a while, the night ahead looked to be long.
As she walks along a Nissan Sunny pulls up alongside. Geoffrey, she knows him well, more than she desires, though she had long ago removed any association of pleasure with sex. She did not need to desire him. He just needed to pay enough. No one paid well. Geoffrey is middle-aged and has “a thing for the plump and juicy”, he would only pay $1000, but would only last about 5 minutes, so she didn’t really mind.
“Waa gwaan fatty? Jump in nuh? Yu a gwaan like yu shy…”
Without a word, she takes a swig of her beer and gets in the car. He drives a short distance to an old junk yard and tells her to get around the back. They both squeeze in, he pants and sweats on top of her for an agonizing 5 minutes, their odors mixing to create the feeling of nausea, before giving her his payment and leaving her there to finish her beer. It wasn’t strong enough, but Geoffrey had just provided her the means to find something stronger.
There is a crack cocaine house at 35 Sutton Street, Central Kingston, defiantly close to the Central Police Station. This is the closest to a feeling of home, of family that she has found in the years she can remember and she tells herself that this is why she returns. The usual people are here but tonight, as with the night before, there are more. The children are here too.
She makes her payment and tries again like before to reach that place, that celestial place where she felt she had seen, had felt God. The night of that first hit. Before she knows it, she’s out of tries, out of funds, out on the streets again.
This is how she keeps going, the walk she walks. She does not feel then she realizes she’s walked a distance and feels thirsty, dizzy, hot and cold. She stops, she could use a shot of rum. In front of a store window, she does not recognise herself and stands gazing into her eyes until he asks her…
This one’s new, has an accent, stinks of rum, came out of nowhere. He’s a little jittery, keeps looking around, afraid someone will see him – she knows the type, ‘The Sinnerman’.
“What yu want, that depends?”
“How about we get in the car, and we negotiate in there?”
She knew of the dangers of these strange encounters, but never hesitated getting into a car before this one, it had a familiarity that was threatening. The hesitation was brief, the hunger was great.
The car sputters, but eventually starts and she notices something glistening in the pocket of her door, he reaches over her and removes from it a very sharp sword. She is only slightly frightened.
“I like to be tied-up, and I want you to cut me”.
Now she’s frightened, yet not surprised, she knows the type, but found them disturbing nonetheless.
“I’ll pay you ten grand”.
She laughs, hysterically, in disbelief. Imagining what she could buy with ten grand, she looks over and realizes he is serious. She gains her composure.
“Ten gran’ soun’ alright to me.”
Now he laughs hysterically and then jerks the car to a halt. She fumbles with the door handle and his hands tighten around her neck…
“Ten gran bitch! You want ten gran’ a my money whore!”
Choking, she grasps at his hands, angry at herself and this man for messing with her money. He doesn’t know there’s a razor blade in her hair, and before he does he is dead. His pockets are empty except for $200, and she is far away from her den.
But there’s a bar a little down the street and she could use a shot of rum.