she hadn’t eaten in a week. was so hungry it felt as if her stomach was consuming itself. a carnivorous hollow. quickly scanning the duwop (42nd street and 8th avenue) she saw none of her cronies. no one there that would care to share food with her, which was the imperative issue at hand. walking toward 7th avenue, the tantalizing scent of cooking meat pulled her into the diner. maybe willie was there, he’d get her something to eat.
crazy george was getting ready to bite into his hamburger when they spotted each other. she had only met him once or twice through willie, but…
he had food.
she tried to casually walk over to him. just to ask where willie was, but it seemed that her stomach was leading, the rest of her just following. she sat down on the stool next to crazy george and focused on not drooling. she could do nothing about the sounds emanating from her stomach though and just shrugged when he looked at her sideways, breaking a small piece of his burger off for her. it was the first kindness she had experienced in weeks. almost in tears she tried not to shove the small but savory piece of hamburger down her throat.
crazy george said he had some errands to run, asked her if she wanted to go. she shrugged and acquiesced. nothing else to do, nowhere else to go and there was always the chance he’d feed her. he and his brother went to look at an apartment, she went with, feeling odd and out of place. her spidey senses were tingling, something didn’t feel right, but since she was hungry she ignored the twinges of her intuition.
‘concerned’ for her apparent exhaustion, he rented a hotel room. they dropped her off and left. she was naively ecstatic. quickly set about stripping down and getting clean, saving as much soap as possible of the tiny hotel sized square, to try to wash her jeans. what was she thinking? it crumbled before she had dragged it down one leg. she had tried to wring them out, gave up and hung them over the shower rod.
lying down, wearing just her wet semi-clean underwear, she fell fast asleep.
the door swung open.
she bolted upright. crazy george, his brother, and a young woman walked through the door. everyone made short work of disrobing and climbing in the beds. george and the young girl in the other bed, his brother climbing into bed with her. her eyes wide in shock, fear, and dismay. she was clutching the sheets to her chest as if they had magical protective powers.
she was frozen solid.
couldn’t move at all. after a little while had gone by, she moved over to the edge of the bed, and laid down, willing herself to be invisible. she was used to that. unfortunately, she was facing crazy george and the nameless young woman. she finally understood what was expected of her. she closed her eyes to avoid watching the scene in front of her. she willed her being so tiny and unseen as she prayed for a way out of this crazy situation.
during that night, the brother tried to elicit a response out of her once, but feeling her ramrod stance in reply to his gentle inquiry, he turned over and left her alone. she was so grateful for his decency, she breathed deeply and slept for a couple of hours.
morning came, everyone got dressed and piled in the car. she said nothing to anyone. didn’t know what was going to happen, didn’t even know where they were. she was so grateful that she got to eat breakfast. she silently hoped for something much better than what was coming. they were crossing the williamsburg bridge, stuck in traffic when george leaned over her legs, opened the door, and shoved her out of the car. she looked up at him, feeling nauseous, a cold chill traveling all over her body. he threw a few dollars at the tall girl, with whom he had shared a bed and said, ‘get rid of her’.
what to do? private school had not prepared her for these experiences. she followed the girl into a store, where a brush was thrust in her hands, admonished to do something about her hair. they then went into a pizzeria where the older girl bought her a slice. she was so busy devouring the gooey, cheesy slice, she didn’t notice when the older girl disappeared. getting up she asked the guy tossing pizza dough in the air where the other girl had gone. he gestured to the stairs. she slowly descended, feeling sick to her stomach. she hadn’t understood that eating so much on a food deprived stomach wasn’t wise.
stepping onto the hard cement of the basement floor, she looked around to find the older girl bent over the lap of an older man sitting on a washing machine. she blinked to make sure she was seeing correctly, felt everything spin and passed out.
her eyes flickered open as she felt tugging on her jeans. that old pizza guy was trying to pull down her jeans. she got up, pushing him aside and ran up the stairs and out onto delancey street.
she showed up at her mother’s job at quitting time. she didn’t want to go home, but she had no choice. still stunned over the events of the last 24 hours, she was hungry, didn’t feel good and wanted nothing more than to take a shower.
her mother came down in a cloud of expensive perfume, looking as beautiful as always. she wrinkled her nose in disgust at her daughter. they said nothing to each other as they got on the train. no one sat next to the young girl, even though it was rush hour, even though the train was packed. the mother pretended not to know her daughter. when they got home, she pointed at the shower, and gathered the daughter’s clothes, throwing them away.
the young girl felt as though some of her dignity had been thrown out along with her clothes.