The bulb flickered in and out in the dark desolate alley, every few seconds it made a noise like a bug zapper. She quickened her pace back towards her run-down car. Images of the last horror movie she seen filled her mind. The university student walked toward her car, alone in the dead of night. The shadows crept in around the unaware victim. Their inky darkness got closer, deeper and darker as she unwittingly walks right past the unseen ax murderer and then… Prim tried to stop the rest of those pictures from flooding her mind as she moved quicker.
She peered around nervously as she stepped out onto the sidewalk. Broken windows and boarded-up entrances adorned the bankrupt and condemned businesses. The shadows stretched out over the area, making for good places for bad people to hide. Bums and bag ladies dominated the area, while most of the other tenements had unsavory residents.
The street to the back alley, which led to her new apartment, appeared to be worse. Old, worn brick walls had stood here for decades. Bits and pieces crumbled away as entropy ate away at them. Graffiti scarred the surfaces, telling a story of the countless gangs that had come and gone over the years. The motifs, layered one over the other, showed who ruled the streets. The artwork was a timeline onto itself.
Fear drove her feet to move faster. Her heart raced as the hairs on the back of her neck prickled. She cast a wary glance all around. Prim clutched her arms across her chest as if that alone could protect her while she headed through the alleyway.
Never in her wildest dreams did she believe she would end up living in a place such as this. The strong reek of human waste and natural decay mingled with the steam drifting up from the sewer vent at the entrance to the alley. The overpowering odor made her gag a little. Prim hoped with all her heart she wouldn’t have to live here for long. Although, she realized that her slim salary wouldn’t be enough to find a better place to live.
A small flurry of movement caught her eye. A piece of plastic was partially trapped under a garbage bin a little further up the narrow passageway. The section of old tattered yellow crime scene tape snaked around on the ground in the night breeze. This was an eerie reminder that a month ago a young man lost his life for fewer than twenty dollars and a cell phone. The sight made her move faster as she did not wish the same fate for herself. This was more than a disparaging neighborhood, it was a dangerous one, as the crime scene tape testified to.
The night air had a bite to it that chilled her to the core as she rushed to grab the few remaining belongings from her beat-up old beetle bug. Her car groaned out a squeaky complaint as she opened the passenger side door. The noise echoed out into the barren streets around her. She could barely perceive the distant sounds of police sirens ripping away into the night over the car’s noises. It made her wish for the quiet rural home she left back in Tiny Creek, Alabama.
She bent inside the car to grab her belongings. The dome light flickered in and out. Although she had a faulty bulb for several months now, she never got around to fixing the problem. Slapping the dome light, it stabilized and shone without further trouble.
“Hey baby, you wanna come party with us?” a young man’s voice asked from behind her. Prim froze instantly.
The fear crept over her like icy cold tendrils snaking along her slim frame, her skin crawled as the fine beads of sweat started to slide down her back. She had no gun, knife or pepper spray. At this hour of night, there was no one else out here. Even if she screamed, she didn’t think anyone would care. The images of the horrific things this man could do to her ran through her mind. Prim was fully aware of the fact that a girl all by herself here was a prime target and she didn’t want to learn firsthand what that would entail.
The scream began to bubble up from deep in her throat. Her heart threatened her as the irregular thumping intensified over her imagined impending demise terrorized her.
“Sure baby, as long as you’re paying I’ll be up for some partying,” a thick drunk sounding woman’s voice said. The scream stayed just before her lips as Prim hazarded a peek. Standing several feet behind her, off of the alley’s mouth, she spotted three men wearing baggy pants, white muscle shirts, and black baseball hats which sat backward on their heads, they were talking to a young woman.
She wore a black knit skirt that didn’t hide the fact her panties were white and her shirt was basically a black bra. Prim could tell the other woman had been an attractive girl once, now the woman’s appearance was used and abused, with the dark circles under her eyes and her sunken in cheeks. She was pale and thin, and she seemed to have bruises all over her neck. Her face was painted heavily with makeup, and the whole image made her look more weathered.
Prim was stunned momentarily, she’d never seen a prostitute in real life before. As she carefully balanced her last load and headed for her new place, she thought how Hollywood painted the picture of a hooker’s life. After seeing this prostitute she didn’t think they were very accurate. Making sure to give the four a cautious wide berth, she hurried to the door. Just before she reached the entrance; she heard a zipper being undone from behind her. She could make out the low sucking sounds and a guttural moan from one of the men; she turned bright red.
Prim always blushed so easily, she hated the fact she was shy, it made her an easy target to be made fun of in school. The embarrassment rolled up inside her at the sounds of their dirty deal. The scene reminded her of the time she walked in on her dorm mate and her boyfriend in the middle of the act. These people were going to have sex in the alley and didn’t even care that Prim could hear them. Great she thought, not only did she have next to nothing for money, a dead-end job, and lived in a dump, but hookers did their Johns in plain view of the residence here.
She walked by the propped open door and peered up the stairs in the filthy narrow area, her skin crawled as several cockroaches crept up the wall. The paint on the tired old walls was peeling and chipping away and as several of the disgusting bugs moved along its surface tiny slivers of paint fragments fell to the floor. A big hole was above her head height inside the narrow space. It was about the size and shape of a fist, she assumed someone punched through the wall.
The unpleasant urine odor in here was strong and so was the equally hostile smell of vomit, and again, she fought the urge to be sick. Scraping aside a small pile of old flyers with her canvas deck shoe, she gingerly set her boxes down on the cleared spot before she went back to move the large brick holding the door open.
She was immediately mortified. No less than twenty feet away, squatting down with her white thong exposed as well as most of her rump was the prostitute. Her head bobbed back and forth in front of one of the men, his hand fisted in her hair. She naturally peered up to his face and caught him staring right at her with a grin on his lips. Prim froze in shock at what she witnessed, his eyes rolled in his head, he grunted loudly and the hooker gagged. The scene before her gave her ghastly knots in her stomach and she quickly closed the door and locked it. This was not a good start to her first night living on her own.
Prim tried to shake the sight from her memories as she balanced her last three boxes of possessions. She walked precariously up the narrow stairs to her new bachelor style apartment on the floor above the tavern. She deemed herself lucky to have gotten the small run-down place at the last minute considering her dilemma. The four one-bedroom bachelor apartments were overtop of the old run-down place called the Liar’s Den.
The stink in the air upstairs was not as bad as in the entryway thankfully; however, it still lingered here. The paint was peeling off the walls and two of the lights were burnt out. That bothered her, as one of them was down by her apartment at the end of the hall.
She struggled to keep her balance as she fumbled for the last step up and the weight of the boxes shift. With a deep breath, she managed to stop a small disaster from occurring. All of her breakable keepsakes were contained in them; the only belongings she had left from her father. Making the landing safely she headed to her place, as she walked by the first apartment she stumbled over a small object in the hallway. The thing wailed out mournfully as it got caught up in her feet. Prim crashed to the floor with a loud yelp escaping her lips as the three boxes tumbled out of her grasp.
The smashing of broken glass resounded in the hall. She let out a low curse as she eyed her collection of small statues scattered across the floor. All except one of them were shattered. Prim fought to hold back her tears while she picked up the broken pieces. They had been gifts from her father. The ones he sent from all over the world as he traveled with the Navy while she was growing up. Now they were like the rest of her life, shattered and broken. She placed the remnants of her precious items back into the boxes from which they flew out of. A sharp sting seared her hand and let out a hiss.
She peered down as the bright red fluid welled up in her palm. The blood began to drop to the floor on the last statue her dad gave her before he died. The stone squid like statue seemed to be the only one not damaged. The tears welled up over her lower lids and streamed down her cheek. This was more than she could take right now.
“Are you all right?” A deep masculine voice asked from behind her and a shadow cast over her as she sat on the floor. Slowly, she turned her head and glanced up. Way up, to a set of intense icy blue eyes.
“I...I’m alright,” she mumbled picking up the unbroken figurine and placed the keepsake carefully in with her uninjured hand.
“You’re bleeding, here let me help you,” he said as he took a step closer to her. His feet made no noise on the floor as he walked, and it was a bit more than creepy. The stranger wore all black, his perfectly pressed dress shirt, with black denim jeans that fit him in a most flattering style and expensive shoes. He reminded her of a model. He was out of place in this decrepit setting. His black hair was thick and shiny. The contrast against his flesh made his skin look pale.
My god, he is handsome, she thought as she met his eyes and held them for a second. Her face grew hot and she knew she must be turning red. She turned away, believing her checking him out was more than a little obvious.
“I’m fine really, it’s just a small cut,” She glanced at him nervously. Great here is the ax murderer, she thought as he moved in closer.
“No I insist, I have a towel in my apartment. I’ll go grab it,” he told her before he entered unit one.
Prim realized that this was the superintendent’s unit. The owner Mr. Capet told her if she needed anything or had a repair within her unit that needed to be done not to bug him. She was to go to apartment one, and a Mr. Hellstrum would fix it. Staring at the door he went in, she caught sight of something small and black on the hallway floor.
The cause of her fall was obvious. The cat sat a few feet away from the man’s open doorway. The animals licked a paw, purring away as if the furry feline accomplished its mission in life to ruin Prim’s. The creatures intense blue eyes locked onto hers and Prim grew more uneasy. The blackface and near glowing eyes reminded her of a movie she saw once. A possessed cat stalked a young man for days. One night it cornered him in an alley and scared him and he fell into open sewer grate. Hundreds of other cats lay in wait and they ate him alive.
The door to unit one opened as the man strode back out carrying a towel and she snapped back to reality. You need to stop doing monster movie comparisons with every situation you get into, she thought, this is getting to be a bad habit.
“Here let me,” he said and knelt down to help her up. His hands were so cold against her arm that it gave her a little shiver.
“Really, you don’t need to do this,” she stated as she followed him.
“Well, it’s no trouble. Come on in.”
He led her inside his apartment and sat her in a chair in front of a table meant for only two people. Her mind raced over every horror film and novel she had ever seen or read. The handsome charismatic man all dressed in black luring young witless victims into his apartment where he turns them into puppets. Prim blinked several times at the thought...Puppets. Yup, she thought, I’m doing it again making monsters out of normal people. Concentrating on her surroundings instead didn’t help her train of thought.
“Are you sure your wife won’t mind?” she asked.
“I’m not married. You?”
“So I see your just getting moved in.”
“Yes, I hope I didn’t make too much noise.”
“No worries, just a bunch of bachelor’s living here. Besides with the bar downstairs we are used to a bit of noise this hour of the night.”
“Oh you have roommates?”
“No, I meant in the other apartments. You’re our only lady tenant.”
“OH, I see.” That really didn’t help ease Prims nervousness of being alone in his apartment.
She scanned the place over and noted that his pad mirrored hers, right down to the old worn-out furniture. The aged white walls looked to not have been painted in decades and were also cracked. In some places, the putty that once had been used to cover any nicks or holes had fallen away decades ago. It left a scarred appearance to the place. The small appliances and the tattered old brown love seat and matching chair reminded her of used motel furniture.
She was glad she had bought a huge can of bug spray to thoroughly coat the furnishing in her place. She continued to scrutinize his place over, a window faced out the alley and it was open. There was a fire escape that he had access to and by the wear and tear on the window ledge, it got used a lot.
His tiny kitchen was adjacent to hers, which meant their bedrooms would be as well, that bothered her for some reason. She thought about it for only a second and understood the cause. It was because he was so breathtakingly handsome with his gentle way about him, his caring touch and silky smooth voice. He was a nice complete package and that meant he probably had lots of company. The last thing she wanted was to listen to the rhythmic thumping sounds of her handsome superintendent having sex. Those images had surprised her; no horror movie references came to mind. The sudden cool touch of his hand on hers made her realize how she was thinking, and her face heated with embarrassment at her own images of him in a sexual way flashed in her mind.
She never daydreamed about men, romance, sex or anything else. The men in her life had been pretty backwoods compared to this place. Prim grew up in a nice quiet spot where everyone knew everyone else. They lived in a small quaint house near the river. It was a pleasant place to live even if she and her mother hadn’t gotten along. They went to church on Sunday and attended social functions. Her mom made sure to keep up appearances of the happy family. Mother was a stickler for wanting people to believe her family was better off than they were.
Mother began to dip into Prim’s tuition funds to keep up appearances. Over the last five years, she spent every last cent. After Prim graduated high school, she needed to get a student loan. She only spent two years at University before she quit because of what happened with Sam. Now she was trying to pay it back, with nothing to show for it. She didn’t mind working for what she wanted, that’s the way things were done. You work for what you get, you’re not given it, as her daddy had always told her.
tart writing here…