The clouds rumbled above me as I walked down the deserted street, everyone else safe in the warmth of their homes or vehicles. Please hold off until I get to work, I silently prayed to the sky. After a full day of classes I am already exhausted and didn’t exactly cherish the idea of being soaked before a long night of work. As if to taunt me another clap of thunder roared above me. I picked up the pace and scurried towards the diner, my headphone cord bouncing off my chest above my hoodie.
Why didn’t I wear a coat? Stupid stupid stupid.
The pale light of the diner was visible as I rounded the corner, thank God. Just then the sky opened up and the rain poured down around me.
“Ugggggggggh!” I groaned and bolted for the door fifty feet ahead.
The scent of apple fritters, pasta, stale coffee and steak hit me when I opened the door and stepped in.
“Amy! You’re soaked darling! Come, come. I’ll get you a towel, get yourself some tea. How was school my love?”
I looked up at the owner, Greta, and smiled. She is beautiful, her salt and pepper hair pulled up into a loose bun on her plump face, her 1980s dress covered with her apron and the biggest grin on her face for anyone who walks through her door. She is like a mother to me, constantly shoving food down my throat, checking on me, making sure I’m safe and warm. I wished more than once that she was my mother.
“I almost made it before the rain hit.” I said sheepishly as I followed her behind the counter, pulling my wet hoodie over my head.
“It worries me that you walk darling. These streets are not safe by the time you are finished your shift.” Her soft, slightly wrinkled skin pulled down into a frown as she passed me the small towel.
“I know. Don’t worry, I have pepper spray.” I winked and started drying off my hair.
“So you keep reminding me.” She muttered and wandered to check on customers.
I glanced around the diner as I poured my tea. It was as busy as it usually was at 6pm. Most of the dinner rush cleared out by the time my shift began, majority of the customers being elders who ate supper at a ridiculous 4pm. A few regulars scattered the area, more worn green tables empty than not, and a few newcomers sat in the booths. By the time we closed at 9pm, I am usually the only one left. Greta leaves for home around 7:30pm after it dies down to a few stragglers, the cook at 8:00pm and I finish the clean-up before closing. No one ventures out after 9pm on this side of town, rightfully so.
This diner was Greta’s moms, purchased before Mott Haven became the ghetto in the 60’s. Greta has persevered through the downturn of the area and kept her mothers dream alive. I wish I had the chance to meet her, from everything Greta tells me she was an amazing woman, just like Greta.
I looked up, Greta’s worried eyes meeting mine. Oops, I zoned out.
“Where’d you go, darling?”
“Oh nothing, just thinking.” I smiled.
“You’ll have to tell me later. Table five wants more coffee though love. I’m going to finish up in the back.” She rubbed my shoulder before disappearing around the corner.
I started on my waitress duties, filling drinks, bringing out food, cashing people out, wiping tables. There was only a few people left by the time the clock hit 7:30pm. Greta had left for the night, ensuring I promised to message her that I made it home safely later as she always did. I made my way through the people, telling them the kitchen was closing in a half hour and if they wanted anything requiring the stove, oven or grill now was the time to order. I joked with a few of the regulars, loving the family feeling of the restaurant. As I walked past the booths towards the front I heard a throat clear.
I shrieked and jumped sideways, nearly falling on my ass.
“Oh my God I am so sorry I didn’t notice you sitting there!” I blurted as I wiped up the coffee I sloshed on a nearby table.
A man, a young man, sat in the far corner of the booth virtually invisible from the counter and occupied tables. His brown curls fell into his golden eyes, the olive skin around his lips dimpling as he smirked at me.
“That’s okay, I haven’t been here long.” He said in the most attractive voice I’ve ever heard. Can voices even be attractive? Well damn his is. His sweater pulled tight around his body displaying what promised to be a muscled frame, his eyes held a mischievous glint as he stared at me, as if to tell me he had in fact been here a while. I bet he could show a woman a good time. He looks like an Italian God. He probably performs like one too.
Oh my God snap out of it Amy you’re being a fool.
“What can I get you? Would you like a menu?” I managed to say as I reigned my thoughts in.
His smirk grew wider as if he could read my thoughts before he answered me, “A pepsi, burger and fries will do.”
“Coming right up!” I rushed back to the counter, positive my face is flaming red.
After I brought him his drink and put in his order I sipped my tea and opened my phone to check my messages. One message from my best friend and roommate, Rose, and a missed call from a random number, likely a debt collector calling for my dad. I rolled my eyes.
Rose: Man, this fucking essay is killing me. Bring me home allllllllll the yummies.
Me: Okiedokie. The hottest guy is here, he’s like a fricking Italian God!
I set my phone down and headed to the pastries to box some for Rose. Greta insists I take everything left over at the end of the day home before I leave. She claims that she cant use it the next day but I know that’s not true, she used to get two days out of everything before she hired me. I usually leave most of it for that reason, but Rose is a world class stress eater and Greta’s baking is her favorite.
I had just finished when the order for the ‘Italian God’ came up. I walked it over to him, chanting don’t be a fool, don’t act like an idiot, over and over in my head.
“Here you go. Can I get you anything else?” I smiled at him.
“No, thank you.” He smiled back before returning to his phone.
I wandered back to the counter and checked my phone.
Rose: Ooooh send me a picture!
Me: Oh my God Rose no! I am not being that creepy.
Rose: Puss. Do it.
Me: No. How is the essay?
Rose: *crying emoji and gun emoji*
Me: That good huh. I’ll be home in a bit, I’ll help.
Rose: Kk. Don’t forget my goodies!
I rolled my eyes and put my phone back under the till. I really had nothing left to do until I could lock up and mop. The evenings are always so boring, at least on the weekends I work 8-4 so it stays pretty steady. I walked over to check on the few people left, an older man alone likely working based on his laptop, two elderly men having a slice of pie, a couple who appeared to be in a heated argument and the Godly man.
I had just finished talking to the lone man and the friends having pie, all of which asked for their bills, when my phone started to ring. I looked towards the counter startled because my phone was on do not disturb. Someone had to call three times in a row for it to ring. I ignored it and moved over to the couple who paused their hushed argument when I got near.
“Can I get you anything?” I smiled at the both of them.
The girl just glared, the man snapped, “The bill.”
“Coming right up.” I moved on and continued trying to ignore my phone that hasn’t stopped ringing for more than a second.
“Hi, can I get you anything else?” I asked
“No, I’m okay. Should you get that?” The Godly man nodded towards the counter where my phone continued to ring.
“No its okay. Are you sure you don’t need anything?”
“Nah, I’m good.” He smiled in my direction and stared at his phone again.
“Okay.” I trotted towards my phone, annoyed at it for incessantly ringing.
I snatched it from under the till and unlocked the screen.
11 missed calls from Rose
3 missed calls from Dad
2 missed calls from Unknown Caller ID
What the hell?
I called Rose back quickly.
“Amy, your dad was just here with some fuckin’ creepy looking guys!” She blurted as soon as the line connected.
“What? What did they want?”
“I don’t know. They were asking for you, asking where they could find you. I didn’t tell them of course, but watch out. They were not nice.”
“Okay, thanks. Just keep the door locked,” I glanced at the clock which now read 8:10pm, “I’ll be home in like an hour."
“Okay, be careful.”
“Always.” I smiled, not that she could see it anyways.
I opened my messages and scrolled to the conversation with my father.
Me: What do you want? You scared Rose.
Incoming call from Dad. Ignore.
Me: Stop calling me! What do you want?
Dad: Where are you?
Dad: FUCK AMY JUST FUCKING ANSWER ME
Me: What do you need???
Dad: Where the fuck are you?
Me: Okay, talk to you later.
Dad: I need to talk to you! Tell me where you are so I can come see you.
Me: I’ll be home in an hour.
Dad: Fuck sakes Amy I don’t have time for this. Are you at that diner?
Me: I’m working! I will call you after!!! I cant do this now!
I put my phone back and started ringing everyone up so I could take them their bills. My dad had officially ruined my mood, now I’m just angry. I have tried to cut my dad out of my life more times than I can count but he just wont leave me alone. As soon as he needs money to pay off a loan or drugs or his gambling debt its ‘hunny I love you and miss you. I’m your dad you cant hate me forever. I'm sorry.’ But as soon as I give him the money he continues with his abusive tendancies and then disappears. After my mom and siblings died in a car crash when I was nine, my dad has become the biggest piece of garbage I’ve ever met. Instead of grieving with his last daughter he turned to drinks, drugs and gambling. He was never home and when he was he was wasted and mean. I often got caught between his debt crap, guys would show up when he “forgot” to pay them and use me as a form of leverage to make him pay. As if he even cared. I felt bad for him though. Instead of dealing with his grief, he turned to his addictions and completely lost himself.
Though he kind of deserves it after everything, I thought to myself.
I scoffed and grabbed the paper stack, pushing those thoughts back into their box hidden in my mind.
I went passing around bills before heading back to the counter to do my last wipe of everything. I brought all the ketchups into the fridge before most of the customers started coming up to pay.
The lone man, a regular named Joe, came first.
“How was everything tonight Joe?” I asked
“Spectacular as usual. Leo sure knows how to cook!”
Leo, Gretta’s grandson and the cook, really was fabulous. He used Greta’s mothers recipes and made the greatest food I’ve ever had.
“He sure does!”
I continued ringing everyone up until it was just me and the Godly man left.
“Can I get you anything? We close in twenty minutes and the kitchen is closed but we have a large variety of pastries and desserts.” I said when I reached his booth.
“Oh,” He looked around, “Sorry. No I'm okay thanks. Ill be right there to pay.”
“No rush.” I responded, smiling at the man.
I grabbed the broom mop from the back and cleared off the last of the tables. I swept the floor while I waited for him to gather his things.
“Child at home?” He asked when he walked up to pay.
My eyebrows shot up, “What?” What did he just ask?
“Your phone call, I accidentally overheard some of it. Sounded like you have a child at home?”
“Oh, no. My roommate.”
It was his turn to raise his eyebrows at me, I’m assuming because of the whole “I’ll be home soon, lock the door," portion of the conversation.
“Oh.” He finally said.
“So are you new around here?” I asked him.
He laughed and I smiled back, not understanding what was funny but not wanting to be rude. His laugh was musical, I can just picture all the bimbos swooning at his feet at the mere sound.
“Something like that. What about you? How did you land a job in the ghetto?”
Wow, that was blunt. “I grew up here.”
“That sucks.” He smirked.
I titled my chin up and glared at him, “It was fine.”
“I’m sure it was. Thanks.” He said before walking towards the door.
I rolled my eyes and headed to the mop. It didn’t take long to mop, I was out the door and locking up at 9:05pm. The rain had stopped but the air was still frigid and damp. I slid the keys in my pocket and pushed my headphones into my ears.
Woooah its just me myself and I, solo ride until I die cause I got me for life. Woooah, I don’t need a hand to hold, even when the night is cold I got that fire in my soul, blared into my ears as I hummed along and headed towards home. Rose's box of treats tucked safely under my arm, the large box would likely be gone by the end of the night.
I didn’t realize my mistake until it was too late.
Never walk alone at night with two headphones in, especially around here.
Pain hit me like a mac truck across my back and I screamed out as I fell to the ground.
I groaned and yanked my headphones out, attempting to roll over through the pain radiating across my back throughout my body.
“…her and go. My debt is repaid.” My dads voice cut through my mind.
“What?” I managed to get out in between gasps.
A hand fisted into my hair and yanked me to my feet. I cried out as I was lifted into the air and black spots danced in my vision.
“LET ME GO!” I shrieked as I was yanked up against someone’s body.
“You’re ours now, sweetcheeks. Your daddy gave you to us as payment.” A vile voice growled in my ear and then laughed.
“You cant keep me! Let me go you freak!” I fought against the hands on me as one slid down towards my pants. I looked around and caught my fathers eye. “YOU BASTARD! This is a new low even for you! Mom would hate you!” I shrieked at him. “GET OFF OF ME!”
“I like them feisty baby. Keep fighting.” The voice whispered in my ear, his hand cupping my sex through my jeans.
I gagged, the black stars growing larger as his other hand tightened on my hair.
“HELP! HELP!” I screamed, continuing to kick and elbow the person holding me.
“I’m sorry Amy. I had no other choice.” My father said before he walked away.
“YOU PIECE OF SHIT! I’LL KILL YOU!” I screamed after him.
I started hyperventilating. He left me here, surrounded by thugs while one groped me. He actually sold me. Oh my God. Oh my God.
“Please, please let me go. I’ll pay his debt. How much does he owe you? Please let me go.” I pleaded with the men I could see, both of them extremely large and scary.
“Oh no, our boss is going to have lots of fun with you. And then we will have a turn.” One of them laughed at me, the scar across his face wrinkling with the movement.
I’m going to die. No more college. No more Greta. I’m going to die. If not tonight, soon. Oh my God. Rose is going to be devastated.
The man holding me released my hair to grab my breast, still rubbing my jeans.
“LET GO!” I yelled, throwing my head back and connecting with his.
He roared and shoved me forward. I stumbled onto the wet cement, scraping my knee before jumping up and running.
“You bitch! Get back here! Don’t make us chase you!” One of them shouted. I didn’t look back but I could hear footsteps following me.
I made it across the road when I heard “Ready or not, hear we come!” followed by chuckles.
I ran harder, pushing myself faster than I had ever run before. My chest burned, my back screamed in protest where I had been hit but I ignored it and kept going. I raced past houses, searching for a place to hide. I couldn’t breathe enough to scream for help again so I prayed someone would look outside and see that I was being chased.
“You’re fast for a little bitch!” I heard, much much closer than I expected.
I whipped my head around, one of the men was nearly on my heels. I pushed my body harder, relying on the adrenaline to help me run faster.
I was almost to the train station, I’m sure there will be people there. These thugs wouldn’t dare take me in a train station would they? Surely someone would help, right?
“Oooof!” All the air rushed out of my lungs as I was tackled to the ground. My head smashed against the concrete and my vision blurred.
“You’re going to pay for that.” A voice said from above me.
“Just kill me.” I whispered as my head rested against the cement. I could feel something trickling down my face, blood I’m sure.
“Oh no sweetcheeks. You’re not getting off that easy.” He said as I drifted out of consciousness.
The last thing I heard before the world went black was a gunshot. I prayed that gun was pointed at me.