Siobhan. With hair the colour and curl of black carrot peelings dumped atop a soft, round face and emerald eyes. A smattering of freckles across her nose and a body made from scoops of flesh which tumbled and spill with each step she took.
Phil offered her the job.
I watched from my station, how he leaned over like a mantis to stare down her top. Phil had been cautious, but he still thought from between his legs. Siobhan had seized on it without making it obvious, wearing a cardigan and a good shirt underneath, suggesting her shape without drawing attention to it.
She was covering her bases, which drew my admiration. Then my attention.
When she left, she smiled and introduced herself.
Phil punched the air when she left and I wanted to join him.
My eyes itched from the Demerol but the sight of her, the eye contact raged through me, cutting through the junk that clung to my cells, scraped off by the right dose of the right drug. We all needed chemicals to function, but I needed more than most. I had access to a lot of drugs, being a doctor but had fucked things up.
The shaking hands were the drugs, I told myself.
Her first shift was uneventful on the surface. She played down her experience, asking questions to make other people feel special without being irritated.
Between us, we stoked an invisible fire, fed it with glances and surreptitious contact, touching at the hip or the back of the hand. I nursed an erection which could hammer nails, and when Phil came in, I fought a surge of primal jealousy.
A cigarette break framed our first kiss. Her suggestions became plans and beneath her fingers, I burned bright like the cigarettes smouldering to ash.
We laid in my bed, sheets pooled at our feet, wreathed with the perfume of frenetic, messy sex. She asked me about Phil, which raked nails down the lining of my stomach. It made me want to reach for a pill.
‘What have you heard?’ I said.
She gave a smile that chilled me.
‘Some stuff. Like Phil’s got things going on.’ she said.
Her coyness aimed for cute but it made me itch. I should have gone to her place but then she stroked down my thigh and I smoothed out..
He was the biggest drug dealer in Whitehall. The restaurant laundered money, gave him a name and address to give the IRS. Working for him had made it obvious. The restaurant was sacred ground and I risked getting fired for the pills. I made sure I functioned, cutting my dosage for my shifts to stay in his good graces.
‘I have an address.’ she said.
I raised an eyebrow and shook my head.
‘No, Siobhan, I can’t talk about this with you.’ I said.
She grazed my thigh with her nails.
‘We’re just talking, hun.’ she said.
A tremor came from deep within my gut. It was cousin to the need for pills, but it dressed better, whispering for a chance to wreak havoc with my life again.
The addiction to an easy way out.
This was my world, pinned to the flaws of others. Her magnetism pulling out a deeper set of flaws from within me.
Siobhan had it down to a rip and run. Anything smarter would have a lot of known unknowns, and she alluded to scams which were messier and less profitable. We would have to run afterwards but I told her we could run on what we took for a long time.
She smiled and asked how I knew what she was thinking.
I told her and she frowned.
‘What’s a raisin debtor?’ she said.
I frowned and asked her if she was serious.
She giggled and rolled her eyes.
‘There’s Cajun in my people. Plus it impresses people if you know a language.’ she said.
I chuckled and shook my head.
‘Not around here.’ I said.
The stash house was like a lesion next to an abscess, home to a large, chaotic family, mother, father substitute, a sister and her kids. I thought they were a family but Phil drew in flotsam and jetsam, made them useful to him.
It didn’t matter, she said.
They had kids. If you controlled them, you controlled everything.
I blanched, but she petted me, reassuring me it would not come to anything bad.
A drive to an outlet mall got us smart clothes. Three hours in a Denny’s parking lot got us a pair of guns, a 9mm with two magazines and a.38. I handed Kris a roll of notes and he counted them whilst licking his lips before winking at Siobhan and driving away. We went out and practiced with them, ended up so turned on we fucked over the hood of my car in shunting, clumsy thrusts, her wrists in my hands as she lifted her head and shouted my name.
We drove through Whitehall. Phil was away, dealing with a distributor in Canton and Lee, his second in command was drunk on the pussy of an eighteen-year-old stripper called Candice. There would never be a good time to do this, but there was time.
We knocked and when the woman answered the door, her face turned bovine with boredom and simple carbohydrates, Siobhan pushed the gun against her forehead and shouted in French, forcing her backwards as my heart leapt into my throat.
My eyes met with the little boy on the couch, his thin, pale legs smeared with something I hoped was chocolate and his eyes shining with an expectation which ran a knife down my cheek. His oversized t-shirt hung from his shoulders and I saw a livid bruise on his neck.
Siobhan pointed the gun at the boy and asked where the shit was.
The woman juddered, flat breasts swinging underneath her olive vest, raising arms scarred with jagged tattoos and keloid scars.
‘Don’t hurt my boy.’ she said.
Siobhan kept her face still and pulled the hammer back on the revolver.
‘Then get the shit.’ she said.
I swallowed, wished I had taken something before we started out.
‘Hey, you don’t have to do that.’ I said.
She raised her eyebrows and pouted.
‘Shut up and stick to the plan.’ she said.
The sound of the shotgun filled the room, a rolling front of noise as the front of Siobhan’s shirt exploded into stained rags. She collapsed against the door, banging her head against the doorknob before her head fell forward. Every breath tasted of gunpowder and blood.
The known unknowns had fucked everything.
Ten years old and holding a shotgun, butt against the wall and angled upwards, her eyes cold and hard like marbles in the sockets. She wore a neon green bikini, tattooed with bruises across her chest and stomach, and the woman stood beside her, lips pulled back over her teeth as she cackled and ruffled the girl’s hair, sticking up in blunt tufts from her scalp..
I turned and ran. The little boy on the couch, smiled, proud of his family as he gave a small, fragile wave.
Someone was screaming as I bolted to the car. I think it was me.
I got behind the wheel, tried not to vomit all over myself in panic, remembered cracking jokes whilst I touched the distended liver of a congressional candidate and threw some dirt on my fear. There was less than half a tank of gas, but Phil was away and Lee would be slow.
Siobhan had burned bright in her ambition and part of me wondered when, not if, she would have fucked me, but with each mile out of Whitehall, the wound in my heart grew massive like the world.
It was a pain there was no pill for.