Life Under the Light of a Lamp Post

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Life Under the Light of a Lamp Post

A few shots ring out just beside my window, but I barely notice them. First the screams come – the please for help, the threats, the calls for a wild chase through dark city alleys – and then the rhythm of feet as someone escapes. Then silence, a haunting and deafening one, filled with the gurgles of a man choking on his own blood, all the rest slowly leaking out of him as he either alone or cradled by some waste of a woman who knows nothing but how to curse. Then sirens, the plain shrieking and flashing of too bright lights. It’s the fourth time the sirens have flashed in this neighborhood. As for a shooting, the second time since Friday. It is early Sunday.

I squint at the glare from the clock, glowing blue and filling the empty space of a sorry shack of an apartment. It reads 2:30 in blaring block script, proclaiming the late beginning of a new morning. A shitty one, nonetheless.

I glance at the guy who picked me up at one, a Drake Something-Or-Other, sprawled across the sweat and cum filled bed and sheets, barely breathing, hardly alive. The needles, the packet, the spoon, and new Zippo lighter all lie on the small table beside the frame, dirty, shared, overused, and probably holding Hep A or AIDS or something. More than likely he's gonna be dead before sunrise, with all that he used as I had gone to the bathroom to curse myself. The cracked mirror had shards falling out, doing so as I leaned on the grimy sink. I couldn’t see my eyes, or anything below my chin, but I saw gaunt cheeks, grim lips, creased forward, and limp hair. The smell was beyond belief, and I retched and left to find the guy passed out. Douche bag. 

I grimace and lean forward to pull on my heels, the last pair that I remotely like and are actually mine. The six-inch, strappy, stiletto kind that the guys always ask for me to leave on. Not this one. He just wanted a good fuck and a good high. I snort, and begin to buckle the straps around my ankles, pointing and flexing my feet. The ballerinas in my mother’s tales and lessons would do that to warm up, I remember her telling me. Point, and flex, point and flex, then relevé and all that French shit. I wanted to dance once. It was a love of mine, as was writing or photography, the type of artsy crap.

Then it all went away, under the water. It would have taken thirty seconds to cross that god-be-damned bridge. There had been less than ten left when the creaking and crack came. We were all so close to making it. All the others had, but we were left behind, and everything was swept away by the raging current of the water.

Later, I was told that I was found washed up on a sandy shore, found by a few stray hikers who had carved their own path through the woods. I was in their way, a soaking piece of flesh, crying steadily for her mother. When the hikers found me, apparently I found reality too harsh, wading deep into the river to where the car was filled with water. I nearly drowned if not for the one came in for me.

All of this I was told. I hardly believed it, but growing up without anybody teaches a lesson true.

The cracks that spiderweb across the glass of the mirror across from me distort the image of my figure as I rise, and I tug my skirt down when I see the bottom of my ass showing. It was a cheap spandex thing. The button down shirt I wear easily gives a view of my lacey bra, not to mention the few buttons left undone. My greasy hair needs a wash, coming down in string around my face, and I sweep it up into a messy knot on my head.

My bag and jacket lie by the doorway in a heap on the floor, and I resist the desire to groan when I begin to think of what shit is probably now smeared over my few quality pieces of clothing. Mold, rotten food, bugs, some leftover powder from rails done when this place was a little cozier. Great. I go to pick it up, trying to keep quiet even if the guy is ninety-percent dead. Anyone living downstairs will here, and who knows what they’ll do if I make one step too much sound.

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