When afternoon dropped to dusk she prepared for evening. Dressed in black pleather jacket, half top, yoga pants, and heels. Her dirty brown hair tied off with a rubber band. She departed her apartment, melded into the darkness of night. Two bus trips later she arrived at the seedy motel full of transients and met her pimp. He stood in the hallway just outside the door to the room. She stripped down to a thong, her hip bones protruding, stomach distended, blue eyes the only color on her skeletal face, track marks on arms and behind knees. The pimp collected twenty bucks for fifteen minutes as eight men entered the room in just two hours. After the last, the pimp entered the room.
“How is it going Mandy?”
“I’m bored King! “
He reached in his pocket, pulled out a bag of pills, gave her two.
“There you go, that should make you happy.”
King returned to the door and for over three hours collected twenty after twenty as the men came and went. There were migrant workers, old men, down on their luck men, frat boys who didn’t care who was on the other side of the door. The last to enter were four frat boys who King charged one hundred and fifty bucks for a half hour. When they departed, King entered the room. He untied the pillow cases that held her hands to the bed post, picked her up and placed her in the shower. She walked out and dressed. A pizza arrived and the two ate. When finished he tied off her bicep, took out a needle and injected heroin. King placed one hundred and fifty bucks on the night stand as Mandy began to nod.
“Same time tomorrow night Mandy. Don’t be late.”
She curled into a ball on the bed as King left the room.
Early morning light seeped through the blinds. She stirred, eyes blurry, muscles and bones ached. She pocketed the money, left the room and caught her buses home. When she unlocked the door her mother greeted her.
“Honey, you look so tired. That factory job is wearing you down.”
“We need the money Mom. How is Angela?”
“She is ready to go to school.”
The little girl ran down the hallway and hugged her Mom. Mandy went into the bedroom and changed into a sweat suit and sneakers. The two walked to Angela’s school, Mandy kissed her on the cheek.
“I’ll be back at three for you.”
The little girl smiled and walked into the school.
At three Mandy met Angela and walked her home. The two went over Angela’s homework as the grandmother cooked dinner. As dusk fell into night Mandy left for work. King was waiting by the door.
“It’s going to be a busy night. Those frat boys are coming back for some more.”
“They were rough King, before you let them in you’re going to have to give me a shot.”
And so the parade began again, one after another for two hours. Then the frat boys arrived, six of them this time. The tall preppy one asked King if the price was the same as the night before.
“There’s six of you, so no it’s not the same price.”
“Four hundred for half an hour.”
“There’s six of us, a half hour isn’t long enough.”
“Six hundred for an hour.”
The boys were pulling bills out of their wealthy pockets as King smiled. The tall one handed him the cash.
“Anything goes, right?
“Anything you want, it will be just a minute.”
King entered the room and told Mandy the boys had arrived. He told her no hot shot. He gave her three pills. King waited for fifteen minutes and departed the room. The boys entered as King laughed at what losers they were, such easy money he thought, they didn’t even haggle. As the door shut King walked away down the hall and out to his car. After an hour he returned and walked into the room. A fat kid was still on top of Mandy. He pulled him off and told them to leave. One shoved him, he decked him. The others picked the kid up and departed the room.
“So how did you do?”
“It was degrading, more than normal, I hated it.”
“You know what you signed up for.”
“They said they paid you six hundred.”
“Their kids, they talk big, you know the normal rate.”
The after ritual commenced with the shower, dressing, pizza and then the hot shot. King left one hundred and fifty bucks on the nightstand and left the room. He began to rethink using Mandy as she was just a bag of bones now and soon customers would complain and he wasn’t a ten dollar pimp. In the morning Mandy woke, took her bus trip home, and began counting money in her head and what she was paid.
It was her last night of work for the week. She met King at the door and they both entered the room.
“So you have a problem believing me about the cash?
“I just told you what they said.”
King slapped her across the face, she fell onto the floor.
“You’re just a big bag of bones, useless!”
“I’ll be good, anything for you King!”
He tied off her bicep, injected a double dose, left the needle in her arm as she drifted into the abyss.
He wiped down the doorknobs and furniture, even the needle as it dangled from her arm. He took her purse, left the room and went to his new spot where his new bitch would meet him in an hour.
Margaret took to walking Angela to school. Mandy hadn’t been home in a month. There were other times when Mandy took off for half a year only to return. She knew Mandy wasn’t a factory worker, it was just easier for her to make believe. Months turned to years and Mandy never came home and Margaret didn’t want to know. She had a new chance with Angela, this time it would be right. Ten years had passed and the remains of Mandy sat in a box cremated as unclaimed. Soon she would be taken with five hundred others to Laurel Hill Cemetery buried where a thousand others rest under a marker simply engraved, “1500 Citizens Consigned to the Earth – City of Philadelphia 2010.”