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Chapter 1


The room was voiceless; yet murmurs of the ceiling fan and an outside lawn mower replaced a lover’s morning whisper. His body was still paralyzed atop scrambled sheets in a display of post-war delirium. The chill of the churning ceiling fan descended upon his naked body. Sobering morning after’s had become a weekend routine, he caught bodies like a dope fiend. But where was the body? His onyx eyes surveyed the room but all he could see was barren eggshell white walls and nostalgic companions on his dresser. Stuffed animals stared at him with happy faces of innocence and he immediately closed his eyes. Though he was a boy inside, he was a web of tattoos and trust issues, on the outside. Nobody had ever made him feel as comforted as those stuffed animals; the Dalmatian, the smiling monkey, the cabbage patch doll with life in his eyes. The bodies never stayed through dawn and he had make sure the door to his studio apartment was locked.

Locked doors weren’t enough for him to feel safe. After all, he was the one responsible for the scavengers he let in. The way Alphonso, or is it Mike…Christopher? Held him after the penetration, almost made him feel wanted, protected…but no kisses danced on his neck that night. No inspiring text messages lit up the screen of his Android, just the landlord reminding him about “next Tuesday.”

“FUCK!” He yelled, as he threw the phone on to his bed of loneliness. He looked at his calendar. There was a circle on the next Saturday, but that gig would only pay two-hundred and he needed eight. The only way to get that would be to call Leroy.

Being called boy and pretending to be turned on by excess saliva wasn’t on his to-do list. However, it was Leroy, or going back to Samira’s couch.

“I can’t deal with that Bible thumping closeted super slut again,” Terrance mumbled as he turned the water on in the shower. Something was off about the soap on the dish though, it looked smaller and had a few strands of black hair on it.

“That nigga done took a shower and didn’t even clean the soap!” He thought to himself while feeling filthy.

“I hope he didn’t steal nothing, wait, I aint got shit for him to take…where did I put my wallet?”

He spoke out loud to himself as he often did.

Terrance darted from the bathroom with the water still running, his penis flopped up and down, making a loud slapping noise as it constantly hit against his legs.

The wallet was still in his man purse and so were the nine one dollar bills that were left to his name.

“Africans always wear that cheap ass cologne that smells like cow sweat…” Terrance mumbled to himself as he re-entered the bathroom.

And there it was again, it was happening again.

The water felt like knives on to his skin. It hurt like hell and Terrance screamed like he did in ninth grade. The room started spinning and he could hear the laughing of demons.

The water turned red and rivers of blood snaked across the bathtub.

“They’re going to kill us! Don’t you get it?! This is what they are doing to us!!!!” Maria screamed at him with her usual annoying high pitched voice. He never saw her, just heard her. He saw the blood, he felt the pain. Sharp edges slashed the soles of his feet.

“How are you here?! I thought I killed you!” Terrance fell into the tub letting out a scream from the pain. He buried his head in his arms, sobbing like he used to on mamas lap.







Maria started laughing, as if her vile mouth was right up against his left ear. John was present and was in control. He joined in the laughter and they mocked him. Their voices were in and around him.

He waited, enduring, because he knew it would soon be over.

However, thanks to the voices, he could not hear the knocks at the door.

It was Marcus, from the night before.

He stood there confused, with a bag of breakfast from the bakery.

“I left a note, he had to get it, I said I would be right back with food, now I wasted ten dollars on food I can’t even eat!” Marcus thought to himself as he turned away from the door.

Terrance laid passed out in the bathtub while the post-it note Marcus left, fell off of the refrigerator door.

Warm bagels and hot coffee that he could barely carry, heated his palms. He descended the one flight of steps and back onto the west Baltimore streets. Marcus looked back at a five story gray building and shook his head. He found Charles, a homeless Veteran singing Amazing Grace on a park bench. That morning Charles had breakfast, he forgot what breakfast was like and forgot that coffee was hot. He burned his tongue.

“No excuses this time,” A new text message lit up Terrance’s Android as his wet body laid seemingly lifeless in the bathtub.

Maria was quiet and so was John. Blood trickled out of Terrance’s knee and mixed with the water from the shower that still rained on to his naked body.

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