Chapter 24
by Branden Hart

In the midnight darkness, under flickering flames from a nearby bonfire, Tim and I sit in the corner of the biggest room in the warehouse drinking, watching a group of people shoot heroin in their own little corner of this world.

"How the hell can they afford that stuff?" I ask, gulping down the last of the bottle of Jim Beam Tim got for us the night before. Tastes like what I'd imagine motor oil tastes like. It's a chore to get down, but it does the trick.

"This is America. Easiest place in the world to make a buck. There's always someone willing to pay you to do something nobody else will do," he replies, getting out another bottle, cracking it open, and taking a long, hard pull.

I've gotten used to the place. At first it was intimidating, but I stuck close to Tim and he showed me the ropes. I met a few other people, and by the third day, there was a little group that I fell into. Tim and a girl he would fuck occasionally named Lisa, her friend Angie who seemed to be stoned out of her mind all the time. Then there was Terry, a rough-looking black kid who was one of the nicest people you'd ever meet. Tim thought Terry was the reason people didn't fuck with us. He's the kind of guy who looks like he could put you six feet under with a single stomp of his foot. But once you know him, he'd give you the shirt off his back, just to keep you warm.

We pass the days drinking, mostly. Terry goes out every few hours and shows up with food for us. We never ask where or how he gets it. Other than that, we huddle together in our little corner of the warehouse, trying to avoid the junkies, meth addicts, and other folks who are the reason this place stinks like piss and shit.

But I'm getting used to that as well.

"Like what?" I ask Tim.

"I'm sorry?"

"Like what are people willing to pay to do?"

"Shit man," he says, his speech slurring as he passes the bottle to me. "Just about anything. You name it. Sex, BJs, hell, most of the chicks in here will let you plow them in the ass if you have enough cash. Pay even more, they'll let a couple other guys join in."


"Fuck yeah man—prostitution's the oldest profession there is. And we've got some professional ho's around here."

"So why don't you get with any of them?"

"Besides Lisa? She's cool, but those other chicks, I wouldn't fuck these bitches with your dick, son!" he says. "They got what we call Petri dish pussy. No tellin' what's growing in that shit. Plus, I got no money. I rely on Terry to get me food. Other than that, only thing I need is my booze. And that's free."

"I do," I say. "I have money. Two thousand dollars I found stashed away in the back of my foster father's closet.

I thought Tim would be pleased. But he wasn't.

"Listen up man, don't you ever say shit about that to anyone else. You shouldn't have even told me. People in here man—they'll rip you off second they find out your worth more than the puddle of shit you're sitting in."

"Yeah, but you won't."

Tim looks down at his feet, sighs, takes another long pull from the bottle. "Nah man, I ain't gonna do that to you. Money ain't nothing but trouble. But you need to keep an eye on that shit man. You don't keep those cards next to your tits, trouble's gonna come looking for you."

"So who do I talk to?"

"Talk to about what?"

"About getting laid."

"You serious?"

"Yeah I'm serious. I'm drunk. And I'm horny."

And I'm not thinking straight. Not thinking about germs. About what he said about the Petri dish—that's the kind of comment that might have sent me into panic attacks a month ago. But right now, with the warmth of the bourbon coursing through my veins and nothing else that I want to think about, I want sex.

"I wouldn't be a friend if I didn't try to stop you from doing this," says Tim.

"You're forgiven. Now who do I go to?"

"You've had too much to drink."

"So have you."

"Yeah, but I'm not about to go puttin' my johnson in a Home for Wayward STDs."

"It isn't your problem."

At first, he looks like he's about to speak again, but then an anger washes over his face. I start to notice the other sounds in the warehouse. If you listen, there are moans coming from everywhere. Some are painful, some sound like they come from people banging like crazy. Some don't sound human at all.

"Angie'll suck you off for ten bucks. Screw you for thirty. Anal for fifty. For a hundred, she'll let you and a friend pull a train on her."

"You interested?"

"Fuck's wrong with you man? What's gotten into you tonight? You're gonna fuck up big time if you don't watch out."

"Won't be the worst thing I ever do."

"And how exactly do you know what the worst thing you ever do will be?"

I can't help but smile. I know, because I already have part of it planned out.

"Where is she?"

Tim drains the rest of the bottle and throws it up against the wall in disgust. It shatters, glass raining down on some of the people sitting nearby.

"Fucking where she always is. Getting high out back."

I take eighty dollars with me. Might as well get both.

She can barely stand, but smiles when I walk over and whisper in her ear what I want. She opens her eyes, looks at me, and through the haze of smoke lazily drifting from her mouth, she says, "Oh honey, I thought you'd never ask."

She passes her joint to the person to her right, who takes it without any acknowledgement. She takes my arm, leans heavily into me, and starts to lead me back inside. We wind down a couple of hallways, and begin passing rooms with closed doors. The rooms emit noises I've never heard in my pornos before. Melissa didn't make those sounds, and my foster mother sure as hell didn't.

"Thirty for regular, fifty for anal," she says as we enter a room and close the door.

Inside is bare. There are blankets and sheets, all of them filthy, lining the walls. She begins to take her clothes off, her shirt getting tangled in the matted mass of her hair. I wobble and fall against the wall, the alcohol really setting in by this time. The moonlight streaming in through the solitary window in the room casts beautiful shadows on the contours of her body. Even the filth of this place couldn't mask the beauty of her breasts, the outline of her legs.

She comes over, gets on her knees, and starts to undo my pants.

"So what's it going to be cowboy?"


"Both, eh? Then we'll start off with a little freebie." The last part is muffled as her mouth envelops me.

There's something different about sex when you pay for it. It's simpler. There are no emotions. There are no expectations. It is purely physical, a force of raw power with nothing to hold it back and nothing to weigh it down. The sensations, while the same, take on a completely different context.

"Where'd you get your money baby," she asks when we're finished an hour or so later.

I remember Tim's advice. "I stole it."

"Well," she says, as she hoists her dirty clothes over her head, "you stumble across some more, you come see me, kay?"

I nod. In the act, I didn't notice what the alcohol had done to me, how fucked up I was. I only noticed the sex. Now, afterwards, my stomach rocks like I'm at sea.

I stumble out the door, and make it about three doors away before I double over and puke on the floor. I lay there, hoping it's the only time it will happen, when a door behind me opens and voices flood the hallway.

"Fuck man, that was some good shit."

"Yeah man, these homeless chicks give it up like no other."

Two guys, leaving a room. I hear their steps slowly click down the hallway away from me. I can hear a girl sobbing from inside the room.

"Shut up bitch, you got your money!" yells one over his shoulder.

"Bet it's better than that fucking Chandler ho, huh?" continues the other one.

"Pfft, Melissa? Shit, that bitch is still crazy. But it ain't as fun anymore—not since we don't have to run around behind her crazy ass boyfriend."

The nausea both subsides and multiplies at the same time. I turn around. The two have their back to me, and I can't make anything out in the limited light.

"You're still gonna keep fucking her though, right?"

The other one laughs. "Hell yeah. Tap that shit till the well runs dry. Fact, I'm going over there on Friday. Her mom's out of town. You down?"

"Wouldn't miss it for the world, brother!"

The last thing I hear is the slap of their hands together as they turn the corner.

Friday is only three days away. No matter what, I've got to get everything ready by then. It may be my only chance.

But that will have to wait until tomorrow. Because the booze is coming back up again.

An Audience of Shadows Archive


Oh oh oh, this ain't gonna be good for anyone.

Good job man!


Revenge tails...shiver.


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