LIVING DEAD GIRL
Alone in the apartment prison, I didn’t know how many days had passed with no sign of my abductors. The wall had no clock. There was no phone, and Shane had bolted the front door and sealed the windows shut. I wondered if I’d be stuck in that prison forever.
At least Ice never showed up with tricks. No one knocked at the door—a much-needed break, a luxury, for my body. Yet the lingering smell of the men who rape me permeated the room. And the ache in both my body and soul rarely ceased. Sometimes I felt as if I were in a dream, never to wake up.
Each creaking footstep in the hallway rattled me, for at any moment, they might return to torture me, or I’d have to turn another trick. Unsure of why no one came to the door, my heart raced in fearful anticipation of the next horror. The ever-tightening stranglehold of fear kept me terrorized—even at the slightest sound. My eyes watered and my whole face cramped from continually clenching my teeth.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten. The antiquated refrigerator held only spoiled Chinese food, a bottle of ketchup, and rancid milk. Canned food lay scattered across the peeling drab green countertop, but still no can opener. Brown water dripped from the tap. Water bugs and cockroaches crawled all over the counters, in the sink, and on the stove.
Stale, dusty air clogged my lungs. The last inhaler Shane bought me was almost empty. Like my grandfather, I had asthma. It killed him; maybe it would kill me too. How nice that would be.
The apartment was glacial, and I was of course freezing. I cocooned myself in bed and stuffed the sheet into my mouth to muffle my sobs. My crying worsened my breathing, but I no longer cared. I’ve always felt hidden and safe buried under bed covers, but the feeling was losing its grip.
Nausea and a grumbling in my stomach stirred me. In a Twilight Zone kind of dream, I craved saltines and a bowl of hot soup. I reached out for a spoon. It wasn’t there, and I tumbled back into reality. Death seemed to invite me, and I longed to accept the invitation. But overwhelming hunger and a sudden will to live broke the spell. I woke up. I mustered all my strength to get out of the bed.
Squinting, I staggered down the hallway, zigzagged toward the kitchen, spread my hands across the counter to hold myself up, and finally reached the stove.
When I ran away from home, a few years earlier, I found shelter at Horn and Hardart, the automat on Broadway that stayed opened twenty-four hours a day and didn’t throw the homeless out. There I learned how to make ketchup soup.
I shook a roach out of a pot, filled it with the rusty tap water, and put it on the stove to boil. As I took the ketchup from the refrigerator, a key turned in the door. I cringed.
Shane strutted in with Dani. Her face was ashen, her gaunt body purplish and blackened. Her poked eye seemed to be getting better, but her gaze was vacant, as if there one were noone inside her body. Behind the two of them followed a foul-mouthed, unfamiliar skeleton of a man with sunken, bloodshot eyes. Shane called him Snake.
I willed my body to be still and prayed that Shane would ignore me. Instead, Snake approached me, holding a syringe.
I drew back. Tony had used the same kind of syringe when I lived with him after I ran away from home. I was certain that it was filled with heroin.
“Nooo!” I screamed, but it was too late.
Snake twisted my wrist and stabbed the needle into a vein in the crook of my elbow. He pushed the plunger until was empty.
A rush of nausea and a bitter taste in the back of my throat sickened me, but then a surge of heat shot up my arm and into my brain, causing a blissful wooziness. It felt so good that I didn’t want it to end. Then everything went fuzzy, and I blacked out.
I don’t know if I ate or drank or even went to the bathroom or how much time passed before I begged for that white powder they melted and put into a syringe. Each time I woke up, Snake shot more heroin into my arm.
Snake turned me into a junkie. I could no longer function without the drug, and I would do anything for another hit. It was now easy for Shane to use my addiction to control me, so he stopped bolting me inside of the apartment and sent me into the streets to pick up tricks.
He knew I wouldn’t run away. I needed him. I needed his heroin.
Without him I had no roof over my head, no food, no heroin. And to make sure I still wasn’t tempted, he convinced me he had eyes everywhere. If I tried to escape, he assured me that he’d find me, kill me, and slice my family up.
Shane owned me body, mind, and soul.