She slumped down, bone-weary and bitterly cold, on the hard metal of the bus stop bench. In was a raw night with the slushy wet snowfall just freezing over. A wind blew in off the lake, peppering her with icy pellets that were the precursor of yet more snow. That was the last damned thing she needed in a week when nothing was going right. Hell, of late, that was any week.
She glanced at her wrist in a pointless attempt to see the time. Her eyes weren’t focusing right and the crystal of her watch was cracked, allowing condensation to fog it over. She shook her head to try to clear the cobwebs from her mind. It was still, most likely, too early to try to sneak back into her flop.
McGilny liked to stay up late to watch the news and he’d hear the front door open. As usual, she didn’t have the rent money for him. As usual, he’d threaten to toss her “goofy crack-head ass” out and, as usual, would relent in exchange for…services rendered. A shudder, totally unrelated to the weather, gripped her at the thought of his sweaty hands; once again, taking liberties with a body she no longer felt right calling her own.
The last place she wanted to be tonight was out here in the concrete jungle. She wasn’t well and the predators could be savage when they scented wounded prey. But she needed the money…the things the money could buy. She needed shelter and heat and a rumbling gut reminded her how desperately she needed something, anything to eat. In reality, she’d be lucky to make enough tonight for a few cans of soup and a pint of something alcoholic.
That would do for now, she mused.
A flash of headlights caught her eye and she stumbled to her feet. A wave motioned the driver over. Hushed conversation ensued and she slipped into the car. It dropped her back scarce ten minutes later, her face wet with tears, saliva and fluids she preferred not to think of. Within her torn coat, however, were a handful of small bills.
She looked to the sky, as if in supplication to a God she no longer believed existed. At length, she lowered her gaze and scrubbed one grubby sleeve across her face. Her makeup was a mess but she felt a bit cleaner.
Jamming her hands into her pockets, she walked toward the coffee shop. T would be there by now. She didn’t have what he’d ask for an eight ball but some “negotiating” in the dingy restroom would fix that. Maybe he’d even spot her a burger. Whether he did or not, the harsh smoke from the rock would make it all go away, make it all just a little less scary for awhile.
Tomorrow was another day and, all too soon, it would be here. Tonight, she just needed to float free before it all came crashing back down on her tomorrow.