Saul lifted up his face to a stills shy early-spring sun. God, it was so good to be outside, finally, after almost three weeks of a heavy pneumonia and fever… He was still a bit shaky and weak but those weeks sucked him dry (doctors, drugs, food, rent) so he desperately needed the money.
He would have gone out earlier, still weak and unsure on his legs if not for Crazy Sally who insisted on him staying with her till the full recovery. She was the only one he knew, who’s been on the streets longer than him, hell, by her look, she’s been there forever…
“You ought not die out there, boy,” her heavy southern accent soothed him as well as the hot, awesomely cooked chicken soup, she made for him every day. “All johns still be there, no need to hurry,” she said feeding him the next spoon.
With the exaggerated sigh, sinking back on the pillows, he had neither strength, nor will to argue with her. After all, the soup was good and she was much stronger then him right now.
But weeks have past, money ended and so here he was again, on the same corner, in the same time, dresses with the same hoodie as always. Sometimes he wondered if it ever going to change or he just destined to end up like Crazy Sally: lingering around in the half-open robe and fancy hats with always differently colored veil, talking to herself, arguing with her 30 cats, searching for some food in the dumpsters…
A car stopped nearby. Black, slick and rich. A man came out of the driver seat, walked around to the back of the car. He was tall, too tall, bald and wardrobe-sized…
Bodyguard, Saul thought as the man opened the backdoor looking at him expectantly, waiting for him to come in closer.
The car, the driver’s black suit and the fact of a bodyguard himself was way too posh for the neighborhood. May be it is my lucky day, after all, Saul thought approaching the car.
Leaning on the door, he looked inside, game smile on, only to strike upon all too familiar face.
Oh, no… out of all people, Saul thought still smiling, “Mr. Dickans! What can I do to you today?”
Man sited on the backseat didn’t even acknowledge his presence, writing something in this notebook. Pause lingered as Saul waited patiently.
Mr. Dickans or the Richie Dick, how all the boys he ‘patroned’ called him was a tall, lean man in his mid-forties, always dressed sharp, too good for his line of work.
Looking more like a successful businessman than like a pimp, Richie Dick was still a man to deal with. Having a pull in the local police department he arranged that no patrol were stopping on “his” streets or even looking into those directions. None of the boys under his protection were ever caught in the “act”, or arrested. No other bands or gangs were ever seen in the neighborhood… Of course accidents happened; boys, who crossed him, disappeared, but all and all he was a good pimp. Better then any Saul had after Uncle Tony caught a bullet in some foolish skirmish couple of years ago…
Finally Richie looked up as if only now noticing Saul fidgeting from foot to foot near the car. “Get in,” he sad simply continuing writing.
Saul knew better than to argue. Pulling his hands into the pockets, he mounted in. Goon closed the door behind him and in a minute they took off, none of them saying a word.
Trying to understand where were they going, Saul looked outside. It was very rare but still not uncommon for Richie to pick up boys himself, mainly for high-class clients, who wanted to stay anonymous, for private parties or ‘group performances’, either way it usually paid well, very well. So Saul let himself to keep his hopes up…
“Saul, how long have you been working for me?” Richie asked after a good five minutes ride in the general direction outside downtown.
“Wha-? Mr. Dickans, I,-” startled by the question Saul jumped a little, mumbling, trying to put his thoughts together.
“How long, Saul?” with voice all business and seriousness, older man repeated after a long exasperate look deep into Saul’s eyes.
“Almost two years now.”
“Almost two years now,” he nodded. “Plenty of time to learn the rules, isn’t it?”
“I… it’s just… I’ve been ill, sir.” Definitely not liking now where it’s going Saul started only to be silenced with the raised hand.
“I’m not interested in neither your reasons nor excuses, Saul. You damn well know the rules, right? It’s either you do your job and stay under my protection, or you don’t, and … well I’ll find someone who will.” Saul wasn’t that stupid not to hear the thread in this statement.
“Yes, sir, I understand that.” Pause lasted long, getting on Saul’s nerves, he shrank under Richie’s heavy unblinking cold stare.
“I’m highly displeased with your performances lately,” he finally spoke turning away to the younger man’s relive, “I’ve got complains on you, Saul… Lot’s of complains…” At that Richie took his notebook, flipped several pages. Saul wondered what he did wrong and who rat him out and seriously… a notebook? Who does that?
“Ah” finding the right page, Richie began to read, “You rejected regulars, several times and after what you did last time Mr. Cumble refuses to deal with us anymore. I’m loosing customers and this three week absence from work. I’m not getting any money with you. And if I’m not getting money…Saul?” He stopped, looking expectantly at Saul.
“You are losing money, sir.” Having heard this “you are a bad, lazy worker” speech not once young man knew that it’s better just to let him speak. Bending his head down, Saul sited patiently, trying to look at sorry as possible, hoping it would end soon and he could return to the matters at hand, like there were they going.
“Yes, losing my money. The thing I hate most is to lose my money,” pimp’s voice changed, metal and ice.
The car slowed down turning right into seemed abandon alley between old, wear-off warehouses and stopped right after.
Richie got out of the car and gestured Saul to do the same. It was getting dark and very quiet for the city: no sounds of passing by cars or people. Only somewhere not far away Saul could barely hear music playing and other faint sounds. It looked like a closed party, rich people usually held outside the city if something illegal took place there, like dog fighting or some such…
“And after all this time I’d think that you might show some appreciation of my hard work…” Riche started, “But with you… there’s no chance for that, right?”
“Mr. Dickans, I really appreciate your… work, all that you’ve done for me!” Saul really tried to sound sincere.
“Yeah, right… Not good enough Saul” sneering taller man continued, “So here is what we are going to do about it. You owe me. For every day you were off, you owe me 50 bucks,-”
“What? Mr. Dickans, please, I,-”
“Do not interrupt me, Saul, never interrupt me,” now Richie voice was full of the uncovered menace.
“Sorry, sir… But, please, it’s more than thousand bucks; there is just no way I… please,-”
“Shut up Saul!” Richie’s face soften a bit, he paused, as if deeply in thoughts, “You are lucky I like you…”
Yeah, right, lucky, Saul thought bitterly…
“You have two options now, only two: It’s either thousand bucks in a week or…” He dwelled a bit on the ‘or’ part.
“Anything, Sir, please!” Saul was begging now, understanding that he won’t be able to pay such debt and it was surely a death sentence for him.
“There is a way… It’s Kim’s party out there, -”
“Oh, NO!!!” Saul cried out, fully understanding the implication of that, “Please, sir!”
“Saul!” Richie came closer hovering over the younger man, “Here are your two only choices. Don’t disappoint me, son. You go in there right now and perform well or God help me, I swear…” He just let the threat hang in the air to make younger man to think of the worst.
Saul clenched his jaw, restraining desperate cry. He fucking planned this! Bringing me here, cornering and giving me no choice what so ever! Fucker!
There was only one unbroken rule left for Saul in his job after more that 3 years: “never Kim’s parties”… There were rumors about them, not many people left to confirm anything though… but if even third of all were true… Pete still had nightmares, after four months had past… But thousand buck in a week… It was a sure death. At least at this ‘party’, if he played his cards right… there was a chance to get out in one piece…
Taking a deep, shaky breath, “Ok, then… I’ll do it.”
I can handle it… I can handle it… sayings it over and over in his head, Saul followed Richie to the sounds of people having fun…
No one had seen Saul after that day…
Some people said that he got out, found a decent job, had a family now and that they just saw him week ago, others said that he was arrested, served time in the nearest jail and that he was due to come out in a year or so…
But people who actually knew him said that he wasn’t that lucky for the first or that stupid for the letter… and that they probably won’t see him again…
Crazy Sally wore black veil ever since…