Rating: (Hard) R (Violence, Language, Mature themes)
Word Count: 2,417
Summary: Johnny finds Jack on Skid Row and takes him to get a fix. With a twist.
Author’s Notes: Skid Row is a famous (or infamous) area near downtown Los Angeles which is basically a drug-ridden homeless encampment. Also, feedback is greatly appreciated as I’m considering possibly turning this into a series. (And I'm still working on Part 3 of 'don't leave me high and dry', but I had the misfortune of being attacked by this cracked-out plot bunny)
Quote: Johnny grabs Jack’s hair. It feels like a grainy steel wool sponge. He sucks in an anticipatory breath and kisses him. Kisses those cracked, sun-chapped lips, those yellowed gunk-gummed teeth, that foul, belly-rot, tooth decay, moldy garbage and stale dog-shit breath.
Disclaimer: I know that legally these mean nothing, but they do establish good faith. Fiction. Completely. If it had happened, and I’d seen it, I’d have a pile of money for which Jack and Johnny could sue me.
Johnny threads his way through the dense press of decrepit patchwork tents, screwing his face as the harsh, Skid Row stew violates his nostrils—vomit, piss, decay and the burnt-plastic smell of crack-cooking.
“Ah’ll suck yo dick fo three dollahs—“ a hollow-cheeked junk-ghoul claws at the sleeve of his tailored, Armani coat with blood-red acrylic talons.
He slaps her with the back of his hand. “Don’t fucking touch me.”
The gaping, bloodshot eyes shoot wide to demi-globes floating in her skull.
A muffled, disembodied “I’m sleepin’ here!” arises from a distance as the sole protest.
The whore shrinks backward into the greasy shadows until all he can see are those protuberant, yellowed eyes.
Johnny wipes his knuckles on his slacks and proceeds undisturbed.
His destination gapes before him like a cave mouth—the alleyway on Stanford Street between the Foot Locker and the abandoned Korean barbecue. He ventures forth, swallowed in charcoal night. In the middle of the alley sits the man he’s come looking for.
He sits on an overturned milk crate, hands folded on a splintered cable spool that acts as a desk. His office. He’s a short, chubby older man in the middling stages of AIDS. He’s bald, but wears a dusty blonde wig that’s better suited for a blue-eyed cherubic choirboy. On his head sits a green, dog-chewed card-dealer's visor, and he’s got a filthy oil rag tied diagonally across his empty left eye socket. There’s always a brown spot of dried blood over that spot where the eye had been. Oh yeah, and in case you haven’t deduced, he’s insane. But he’s the only reliable heroin hook in this shit hole, so Johnny goes to him.
“Good evening good sir. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Armand Arpeggio Sforzando Medici and I shall be your concierge to coke, your help to heroin, your tour guide to tweak—“
“Lewis, shut up. I don’t have time for theatrics.”
“Strange, I thought you were an actor.”
“Hey—I told you. My name’s Jerry and I’m a stockbroker.”
“Oh, how are the futures for Boeing right now…Jerry?”
“For you? Terrible.”
“Why do you say that?”
“You can’t collect the interest if you’re dead.”
“Well aren’t we just snippish tonight.”
“I get antsy when fruity dealers stall a perfectly lucrative dope deal. I wonder what he’s planning to do when I turn my back.” He fingers his coat lapel.
“All right, all right. God, I hate it when you go all Sopranos on me. So what shall it be today? I’ve got a special on tweak. Two g’s for the price of one.”
“You’re like Costco man, but I left my club card at home.”
“You can apply for one now.”
“Sorry Lewis, if I wanted hillbilly crank I’d go to Riverside and buy it cheap. Now, as much as I’m enjoying our witty repartee, just give me my fucking drugs before I tear your other eye out.”
“Like a fucking grape. Kill Bill style.”
Lewis swallows. “The usual?”
Lewis pulls his scale out of a battered, leather valise, but Johnny grabs his wrist before he can set it on the cable spool. “You must’ve made a mistake, you accidentally pulled out the ‘punk’ scale. You wouldn’t try to short me now, would you Lewis?”
A grimace cracks the corner of Lewis’ slit-narrow mouth, and just as quickly smoothes over. “My mistake,” he replaces the scale and pulls out his other scale. He measures out five grams and bags them.
“You’re lucky you amuse me Lewis, otherwise you’d be dead. ‘Course, I always did have a short attention span.”
Johnny reaches inside his coat. Lewis jumps back with a gasp, thumping his be-wigged skull against the wall.
Johnny laughs, pulling out his wallet. He scoops up the baggies and drops the cash on the grit-grimy pavement like litter. Walking out the alleyway, he doesn’t hear Lewis scramble for the bills until he’s assumed that Johnny’s out of earshot. He laughs again—and trips over a long pair of legs sticking out from behind a battered blue dumpster.
“Fuck!” The sticky gray street sludge is printed stark down his front where his body had connected with the pavement.
Snarling, he tears aside dumpster, revealing the dark figure of a filthy, bearded bum. He yanks the bum off the street by his ragged brown jacket, not giving a fuck that it reeks of the iron vomit stench of curdled blood.
His face comes into view under the sallow light of a distant street lamp. Emaciated, filth-smeared with stark sweat trails running down it and dirt stuck in the lines around his eyes, aging him decades. Hair so thick with oil and dirt that it’s stuck together in stiff, uneven clumps like haphazard dreadlocks. Sea foam green irises ringed red--Oh shit!.
Johnny drops him, the crash of his body to the concrete echoes cracking—like a bundle of sticks.
“What the fu--?” a rough, accented voice begins groggily.
“Johnny?—No!...No.” He rolls over and pulls a chunk of cardboard over his filthy head, “You’re a hallucination!”
Johnny yanks the cardboard away.
“Do a touch test if you don’t believe me.”
“Because then you’ll disappear and I haven’t hallucinated you in months.”
Johnny kneels over and shakes him—hard. “Real enough for you yet?”
Jack smiles through his grimace, “Nope. You could just be some crack-crazed mendicant trying to murder and rob me. I must tell you sir, you’re in for a disappointment.”
Johnny grabs Jack’s hair. It feels like a grainy steel wool sponge. He sucks in an anticipatory breath and kisses him. Kisses those cracked, sun-chapped lips, those yellowed gunk-gummed teeth, that foul, belly-rot, tooth decay, moldy garbage and stale dog-shit breath.
“Whores don’t kiss on the mouth. It must be you.” He smiles a bitter smile, but his eyes are glazed as donuts and Johnny knows that Jack would never want Johnny to see him cry.
He helps Jack up from the asphalt. “Let me get you cleaned up. Then I’ll take you to the West Side for a good, uptown fix.”
Jack looks decidedly awkward in Johnny’s clothes. The black shirt-sleeves fall just an inch short of his wrists, and the jacket doesn’t quite reach past his hips. Johnny’s trousers had never fit him before, but Jack is so alarmingly thin that he can wear them loosely around his waist—though they only reach his ankles, but the black socks hopefully camouflage that.
His hair’s still wet, but the cool rush of night air in Johnny’s Mercedes convertible is quickly drying it. Johnny used an entire bottle of salon-quality shampoo washing the dirt out of that hair—and soap wouldn’t work on his skin. In desperation, he used a brillo pad to score it off, but Jack didn’t complain. Just stared blankly at the wall as Johnny grated off dirt with skin like cheese.
He swerves wide around the corner of Sunset Boulevard, setting off an angry chorus of car horns.
“Now what I don’t understand is why you’re using that downtown shit. The best stuff is in West LA.”
The light at La Cienega switches to yellow, Johnny guns the engine, racing toward the light. It blinks red when they’re only meters from the intersection. Johnny slams on the brake, clutching the wheel to prevent them from swerving, even though he’s listing dangerously to the right. They screech inches short of a flood of twentysomething pedestrians issuing from the Key Club. “Fucking short yellows.”
“Why do you drive a flashy car like this? Mid-life crisis?” They both laugh. They know the irony.
“No. God, I hate this thing. I just drive this for my trips to the West Side.”
“Think of it as a fishing lure.”
Sure enough, “Oh my God, it’s Jack Sparrow! And it’s…that…guy.” A bite.
A young woman in a cut-off mini-skirt and a low-cut, red tank top over a waist-long wife-beater runs out of the cross-walk and throws herself on the hood of the Mercedes, nearly impaling herself on the hood ornament. Her eyes are deer-wide and her pupils are big as dinner plates. She must be drunk, and by the looks of it she didn’t buy her own alcohol. Probably can’t even go to her senior prom. No one moves to peel her off the hood. Must be alone, too.
“Take me with you. I wanna be your pirate wench!”
“She take your fancy, Commodore?” Her legs are like big, vanilla ice-cream scoops, and her extra weight bulges in rolls under her too-tight ensemble, but her tits are squashed like pancakes on the hood affording a generous view of her cleavage.
Jack shrugs noncommittally. “’That guy’ has no problem with it.”
“Aye little missy. Hop aboard. I’ll take ye to me home port. Just hop onto me first mate’s lap.”
She hops over the door, crushing Jack’s legs beneath her as she lands. “Avast matey! Swab the poop deck!...Ok, Ok. I’ve got a question. Why would you have a deck just for poop?” She sways drunkenly on Jack’s knees. Johnny smiles, and lowers the hood with the convenient press of a button.
“Yeah, why do we have a deck just for poop, Commodore?”
Jack scowls, but the warm body on his lap, against his chest, breathing on his neck makes him feel like his ashen heart’s beating again.
Johnny’s new house is large, but generally unassuming, situated in the middle of an unincorporated piece of desert adjacent to Lancaster. It sits in the valley between two chaparral-covered hills, so from the house you can see no other houses, or even major streets. Which means that it can’t be seen from any other houses or major streets. In fact, it’s a five-mile dirt road away from the nearest bastion of civilization—a Chevron station, which, if you strain, you can see it from highway 14.
It’s an ideal place for junkies to rot.
Jack notices that the girl is wearing a pair of fur-lined snow boots. It’s July. It’s Los Angeles.
“Aren’t you a bit warm in those?” Jack asks.
“Yeah, but, like, ten million people wear them.”
“Can ten million people be wrong, Jack?”
They pull into the drive-way. Johnny kills the headlights.
She sits on the couch between Jack and Johnny, a slight little thing between the much taller men.
“You’ll take me to the next premiere?! Tight.”
She fumbles around her handbag, extracting a pink, bejeweled cell phone. “I gotta call my sister. She’ll never believe me.” She flips it open, the LCD screen casts sharp shadows on her face.
Johnny gently captures her tiny hand in his. “You can call later. You don’t want to put off the best part of the evening any longer, do you?”
Fingering the keypad, she starts gnawing on her lip. “Y-yeah…Yeah. You’re right. I just need a ride home later tonight.”
“That won’t be a problem.”
She replaces the phone in her purse. “Hey, are you and your friend gonna double-team me?”
“In a matter of speaking, darlin’.”
Johnny empties a pinch from the baggy into the red wine when his back is turned to the girl. He swirls it around.
“Just picking out the best vintage.”
“The most expensive.”
He hands the glass to her. “You’re old enough to drink this right?”
She chews her lip, smearing glittering red lip gloss on her teeth.. “Oh…Yeah…Totally.”
Her head’s lolling, and she’s a little loopy, but still responsive. She leans heavily against Johnny on the leather-upholstered couch. Jack sits on the other side of Johnny, his hand thrown possessively around his waist. Every time Johnny touches her, he squeezes tighter.
“I have two questions for you, dear.”
She nods, mouth slack-open, dribbling a bubbly rivulet of drool down her chin.
“How much do you adore me?”
Seizing his shirt-sleeve, she responds in a low, husky voice, “I’d die for you.”
“You just answered my second question.”
“I’m treating you Jack, so you take the first hit.”
Johnny extricates himself from his position between them. Unsupported, the girl totters and falls heavily into Jack’s lap. Limp, but deliciously alive.
He sweeps aside her hair, exposing her flushed neck. It’s as startling as if he’d yanked her clothes off. Her pulse seems to thump in time with the stale blood thrumming inside him.
Leaning over, he realizes that the angle would be difficult for him, so he settles beside her on the floor, kneeling.
He’s in the vacuum where the world seals itself up and all that exists is that well that’s his bliss and his curse. A fucking junkie, that’s all he is.
He bends forward, opening his mouth. His heart drum-rolls in his ears—and he tears her throat open like an animal. The pressure of the carotid blood is so powerful, that it shoots into his mouth like a hot jet of come and he’s subsumed into the unthinking, unyielding madness that’s predatory and sexual and divine all rolled into a ball and fucking rolled.
Muscle fibers tear like the humming rip of cotton sheets and the heady taste of her blood arouses every fiber of his body.
His arm flings out, grabbing her leg, and hauls her down to floor where he falls on her like the sky.
Jack’s lying on the floor in the shredded nest of the expensive clothes he’d torn from his body. His hollow cheeks have filled out, flushed with pilfered heat.
Johnny taps his shoulder.
“I let you have all the junk, Jack. Now share a bit.”
Jack’s fists clench and his muscles tense, unwilling to yield a single drop of the night’s dope. He snarls.
“Now now, don’t be like that. I’d hate for you to have to go back to getting your fix off of that Skid Row trash.”
With effort, he relaxes.
“Good. We’ll get more tomorrow night. Maybe two this time.”
“Twins,” Jack mutters, not opening his eyes “…boys.”
Johnny straddles Jack’s hips, “Girls,” he amends “Boys might be a bit ambitious at the moment, even for two of us.”
Johnny taps a finger over Jack’s burning lips. “Shh. When you’re stronger. Now relax.”
Johnny’s teeth slide smartly into his neck, singeing like an iron-brand, and Jack almost regrets the sad state of his dormant cock. Blood ebbs from him in waves, but his body’s alive with doped satisfaction.