She moved like heroin through a junkie’s veins. Never rushing, there was no point. Her prey always came to her. In the two AM light she was just another girl walking the street. No girlfriend experience just heat and sweat and bliss. That’s what everything she wore told you, from the black latex that sculpted her legs like swords to the thick leather belt straps that pretended to be a shirt. Black cherry stained her lips and eyes. Always moving; slow strides, a predator waiting for the right moment.
If she saw me she didn’t say a word. We have a way of playing coy with one another, professional courtesy maybe. The other girls on the streets didn’t seem to notice when the neon from the bar across the street actually bothered to work. Maybe they didn’t care that every time the purple green rose sparked to life part of her seemed to snap out of focus, slipping back out of the shadows.
Two AM and the heat still rolled up from the asphalt in waves of rubber and tar. I thought about lighting my cigarette but what was the point? My job was simply to stay still and pretend I was just another spectator.
A low growl eases around the block. Headlights cast a robotic smile from behind a ram prow. The other girls scatter. They were too far from the red light district to pretend they were just walking home. Not her. Eyes stare into mirrored window of the police vehicle challenging them. I can feel her tell them to drive on without uttering a word. The light strip on the roof goes red yellow and back off. She watches expectantly. The police click their siren once and move along.
The whir of the siren kicks off again as the turn the corner as if to say, we showed them. She hadn’t broken her stride as she paced the block. Looking at the concrete below me I force down a smile.
Once I was naive enough to think cops took the job because they wanted to do the right thing. I was six. Now I wonder how many on the force weren’t just bullies that grew up or cowards waiting to prove how tough they are with their toys. Maybe I shouldn’t think that. It’s the kind of thought that if overheard meant you were never going to make it home. The kind of thought you’re never supposed to think even though you no longer bothered to play with those old toys.
Another set of headlights, softer this time, radiating waves of guilt and fear. Inside the car was a tired looking man. Grey hair draped over his face in shame. The exchange was quick. She slipped into the car with hardly a word spoken. Timidly the vehicle lurched forward and into an awaiting alleyway. The engine idles with a purr.
Dark shapes move inside the cab of the vehicle. She’s judging him. This was our third week together. She had to know I was judging her in the same way. Rummaging my pockets there’s a half used book of matches. Jáubā Lilly, I can’t help but look to the bar at the end of the street, absently tapping the matches against my hand.
From below the yellow haze I watch as she mounts him. Bodies move awkwardly as they search for their rhythm. Arms slide around his neck as she leans in. Maybe it was a sense of tradition. Wincing I strained to see past the shadows. Lips graze his cheek as her head dips to just above her arms.
A deep inhalation turns my cigarette into a vermillion flare. I was never good at following orders. We’re separated by half a block and a two lane street. My mind filled with a single message, let this one go. Under the shadows of towering buildings and the grey of the city night the spark seemed to catch in her eyes as they locked on to me, burning orange.
Let this one go. You know who I am, what I am. Tonight you can be discerning, you know the ones, bastards, the beaters and abusers. There’s no point for this one. I had felt her message to the cops. No reason to expect she couldn’t hear me now. The question remained though, was she listening?
He’s finished before my cigarette. All the while her eyes remained fixated on me. I don’t know if she could hear me but that was good enough. Out of the car, she hadn’t finished adjusting the vinyl thong that masqueraded as pants before it was out of the alleyway racing off at a speed I didn’t think it was capable of. Dropping the remainder of the cigarette my foot pivoted snuffing out the trail of smoke. She was moving towards me.
It could have been that I was bad at following orders or maybe it was just time we met. Either way she was coming for me now.