Another Next Girl
I used to watch him from my window. I had nothing better to do, so I would lean on the stark white windowsill of my second floor apartment in the dingy part of town. My apartment was cold and dreary, I tried my best to cheer it up with my paintings, but it didn’t stop the winter from ravaging each ounce of cheer out of my futile attempts at being an artist. It didn’t matter though, because even on the sunniest of days a chill in the air would become apparent at his appearance.
I would lean on the windowsill, just observing. The way he moved was sinister, cold, calculating, he knew exactly what he wanted and what he was doing. When the chill brought the night, he would drag the women out of the dilapidated building opposite mine, his dark overcoat flowing, he would swing the scantily clad women out onto the pavement, smirking as he said: “Go and make me some money darling”. The same thing happened every night.
The girls, always seemed to be wearing nothing but an oversized white tee-shirt and potent black high-heels, would smile back shyly and reply something along the lines of “Anything for you, my one and only”. He would then smile, so wide and open with just a hint of intimacy to make it seem like it was only for her. She would melt like putty in his hands, turn and smile at an indistinguishable character in a darkly coloured car exchange a few words, and then enter the car. The man would stand in the shadows only partially visible until she left in the car, then he would disappear into the building again and bring out the next girl, who would be wearing something equally as provocative and the sequence of events would unfold as before.
This happened five or six times on a good night, and each time the girl would return, she looked dishevelled, used and abused, but when she saw the man, she would perk up immediately, he never ever returned the emotion. He would swagger, that over confident strut, long strides, the second time he never smiled, only opened his right palm demanding that she give him the money acquired from her customer. Some would oblige immediately, others, not as easily and when he did not get what he wanted he would slap them around demanding for more than what they had. There were several occasions where a girl would return to him, trying to hug him, but he would shove them away roughly and towards the next dark car, always with tinted windows.
There was one night when a young girl of about 16 who I had never seen was sent out, the custom tee-shirt and high heels looked very out of place on her slight frame. Her whole disposition was downcast; her shoulders slumped, never making any eye contact. He watched from the shadows and when he saw a third car drive away from her he stormed out from the cover of darkness and into the burnt orange hue of the streetlights. He grabbed her chin with such sheer force that she stumbled towards him. I could see the pain in her red-rimmed eyes more; emotional than physical and her goose bumps were almost visible. She was the only one out in such freezing weather, roaming the streets taking small steps with brittle bones and yet, he had the audacity to slap her repeatedly and push her around yelling on the top of his lungs. “Get me more money you dirty whore!” he spat at her as she lay in a heap on the cold lifeless concrete pavement. She pulled herself up off the ground coughing and sputtering as the first pure white snowflakes began to fall. The girl registered their presence and laughed cynically, probably remembering a time when she was that pure. She climbed in the car waiting for her and a while later returned handing the money over to the man. He snatched it from her hands and shoved her towards the next car.
What stuck in my mind however was not the atrocity of the events unfolding before my eyes, but the look in his eyes as he flipped through each newly acquired stack of money. He would savour the moment, silently pulling his mouth in a half smile, the noise of the surroundings seeming to fade away as he counted. He seemed satisfied until he got to the end of the stack, and a look of disgust crossed his face seeing the end of the stack looking up as though being awakened from a dream, he then jammed the money into his breast pocket, hastily disappearing inside to bring out another next girl.