Fractured Breaths(2)

By: Zoey Derrick

Each night I walk out of this shithole with the confidence that tonight is the night. Tonight is the night I’m going to get away, but each night I come crawling back here like an idiot.

I rub the back of my neck as a gentle reminder to myself that I’m tagged, like a dog. If I run, they’ll hunt me down, beat me, rape me and maybe, if I’m lucky, they’ll kill me.

It’s pretty pathetic that I’ve welcomed the inevitable prostitution or solicitation arrest. It’s a nice little reprieve from coming back to this shithole. At least there I get hot food and an actual mattress to sleep on, even if it’s just for a night. I’ve nailed drunken and drugged up, which usually means they’re forced to keep me overnight until I sober up.

The slob tosses me out the door and right into Deets’s waiting paws. “Let’s go, sweetheart.” The pet name sends a chill up my spine as he grabs my arm and forcibly drags me toward the waiting black Escalade.

A long time ago they quit hooding me when they took me places because I keep coming back. I’ve somehow managed to gain their trust. Unlike the other girls who were dumb enough to run away the moment they got the chance, I’ve always returned. I learned long ago I needed to mind my p’s and q’s so they’d loosen the reins on me, if only for a little while. And my persistence has paid off. I’m usually taken to the location, told what room I’m supposed to go into and then left there until I call for my pick-up. Usually an hour or two later.

Deets roughly shoves me into the backseat of the Escalade and someone else, Vinnie, or some shit like that, is waiting in the driver’s seat. See, no one in the organization wants to handle the trafficked girls voluntarily. But when they piss off the big boss, they get sent here for pussy control.

I’m one of nine girls in the house currently. It’s a lot for this bunch of idiots, though not uncommon in the organization. The big guns usually keep this house smaller, around four or five girls, but the slob has gotten careless and maybe even a little reckless. The smaller numbers draw a lot less attention, but nope, they’re getting greedy or they’re getting desperate. Or, I shiver at the thought, they’re getting ready to ship off the girls.

Because I’ve been around the longest, the girls come running to me. For some reason, once they realize their fate, they lean on me for answers. At first, I hated it. I hated that the girls got attached to me because when I decide running is finally going to happen, I don’t need them running to Fat Tony when I don’t show up. That will give me less time to get away. Now, not so much. I never had anyone to cling to when I got here, so I see the value in being that girl for these girls. They’re less scared and more cooperative. Then again, I’m the one they all come running to when they got problems.

The problems I can deal with, I do. Usually it’s the emotional bullshit that comes from girls, especially ones as young as the lot that’s shown up lately. Fourteen, fifteen, maybe even sixteen if I had to wager a guess. When they come here that young, they get moved out of the city and sometimes out of the country pretty quick. The problems I can’t handle on my own, I’m stuck running to the slob with. Yeah, telling Fat Tony when one of his girls gets knocked up is never fun. The girls leave and never come back.

The first time it happened, I was naïve enough to believe the slob, to believe he’d taken her to a different house. Until four days later when I caught a glimpse of the morning paper being put out in one of the hotels I was working in. On the cover was a girl, her eyes closed, laid out on a metal table with a headline that read something about Jane Doe’s body found…help identify her. A couple days after that, they’d identified the body. Though I never got to read the article, it made my chest hurt. She was a good girl, a friend of mine. Next to me, she’d been with Tony the longest.

The memory sends an icy shiver down my spine.

After that, I knew the drill. So without telling the girls what their fate would be, I stressed the importance of birth control and condoms. Most girls got wise after it happened a couple more times and when they went to the doctor, because the slob made us all go, they got the shot behind Tony’s back. Meanwhile, Tony and his goons handed us birth control pills the minute we woke up.