Call Me Daddy(2)By: Jade West
My numb feet splash through a puddle and it turns out they aren’t as numb as I thought. My teeth are chattering, arms folded tight, my wet cardigan so cold against my skin that it feels like an ice bath. Everything seems darker here. I can’t hear any distant bass from nearby clubs, just the occasional drone of a car and the drumming of the rain. The streets are narrow, a rat run of back alleys, wheeled bins piled high with crap. It smells rancid, and even though the dim lighting and the rain make it damned near impossible to get my bearings, I’m sure this isn’t the way to the sea front. I haven’t got a clue where I am or where the hell I’m going.
Shit, shit and more shit.
For the first time through this sorry mess I feel fear creeping up my spine. I’m out of my depth, and the tequila is wearing off fast. Way too fast.
My nerves are chattering worse than my teeth. I would kill for a cigarette, just to take the edge off, and as I turn the corner I may be in luck. A solitary figure is propped in a shadowy doorway. He’s wearing a hoodie, so I can hardly see his face, not that I’m looking. I’m far too focused on the glow of the cigarette between his fingers.
“Hey,” I say, smoothing back the wet hair from my face. “Could you spare me a smoke?”
He stares at me, I can feel it, but I can’t see his eyes in the shadows. He’s big, much bigger than me. He smells of weed and stale body spray mixed with sweat, but right now none of that matters.
I launch into a monologue, telling him my name’s Laine, and how I was out with a stupid friend who took my phone and keys with her when she left. I tell him it’s my birthday, that I’m having the crappiest night of my life and he’d make it just a little bit better if he’d please give me a cigarette. I realise how stupid I sound, how weak my voice is. How weak I feel.
How alone I feel.
But I’ve felt alone for longer than I can remember, this shit’s nothing new.
He hands me the cigarette from his fingers, and even though it makes me feel a bit icky, I take it from him.
“Past your bedtime from the look of you,” he grunts. His voice is thick and raspy, and it makes me feel uneasy.
I press myself against the wall, trying to hide from the downpour and protect the cigarette.
“Everyone says that.” I take a long drag. “I’m eighteen. Perfectly legal, at least from today. Yesterday. It’s not even my birthday anymore. Talk about celebrating in style, things can only get better, right?”
My stupid giggle and attempt at humour seem to go right over his head. He grunts again. Perfectly legal. I regret my choice of words.
I keep puffing away, looking at the floor, concentrating on nothing but the welcome rush of nicotine.
“All alone, then?” I can hear the sneer in his tone. He has an accent, a hint of cockney. It’s gruff and deep and laced with the underbelly of this place.
I realise the fine hairs on the back of my neck are standing up and it’s not from the cold. I realise I’m in a dark street with nobody around besides a man who makes me feel like a mouse in a trap.
I force a smile, gesture aimlessly at the road ahead. “My friend will be along for me soon,” I lie. “She’s coming back, such a ditz.”
He laughs. “You just said she’d bailed. Make your mind up.”
“Figure of speech,” I lie again. “She’ll be back… anytime now…”
“Sure she will.” He takes a step towards me and I take a shuffle back. “You can drop the lost little girl shit.”
“Sorry?” I keep my smile bright, even though my heart is thumping like a bastard.
“How much for the works?” I feel his eyes on me, all over me. He takes another step my way. “How much for a go on that cute little ass? Don’t be shy now.”
“But I’m not…” I drop the cigarette. “I’m not a…” My eyes are wide, but I still can’t see his. “My friend’s coming right now… she’s on her way…”
He nudges the door behind him, and the stench of weed hits me. “Come up, get warm. I’ve got weed, or stronger shit, whatever you want. You’d like that, right? I bet you ain’t so fucking innocent as you look.” I can hear his smirk in his voice.