WARNING: This is the first installment of a story I wrote a couple of years ago.
The protagonist is a young addict that sells himself as a rent-boy on the streets of Brighton.
The content is therefore gritty and intended for an adult audience.
It contains references to drugs, scenes of a sexual nature and strong language.
However it is meant to be a moving account of one night in the life of someone's brother.
How had he got there, lying on a wet, dirty floor, breathing in the pungent smell of urine, the sweet, metallic taste of blood filling his mouth, aching as if every bone in his body had been broken?
Slowly, Ryan pushed himself up on his arms, spitting out blood.
He crawled to the wall and leaned his back on the cold, cracked tiles, pulling his worn out military green coat over his chest. He tried to move his legs and was relieved to discover that he could bend them without experiencing too much pain. The worst aches seemed to be located on the upper part of his body, his stomach, shoulders and face. His face felt swollen and hot to the touch, as his fingers explored it, wet with sweat, blood and tears.
He could feel them burning his eyes now, slowly rolling down his cheeks, reminding him he was a worthless dog that could be beaten up and left to bleed in a pool of piss, a vermin, a nothing.
Just an addict.
Just an addict.
He let go a loud groan, almost a desperate cry for help. Would someone come? Would someone take him out of that stinking, dark loo, buried somewhere in the back streets of Brighton, out of that hole he had fallen in, lower and lower, for the past five years?
He cried again and his voice echoed in the empty room like a distant sound, bouncing off the urinals, the cubicles doors, the worn out steps that from the outside pavement led down to the filthy lavatory.
He cried and knew that no one would come.
It was four o’clock in the morning and the streets were deserted and silent.
Who cared what would happen to him? If he lived, if he died… no one gave a shit, him least of all.
He had no life left to live, trapped in a whirlpool of empty days, fixes and withdrawals, brief moments of euphoria followed by sickness and cravings, hellish nights made up of self loathing and desperation, the sense of defeat that for a moment beat him each time the needle made another hole in his veins and in his soul.
At times the way out had seemed within his reach: there was the door, there was the station and home was only a few hours journey away.
But she would not let go of him.
As soon as he had thought of escaping, she would pull him back, shaking him, punching him, hitting him with a desire of her he could not be freed of.
He could feel it coming on now: the chills and shivers, the nausea, the cold sweat. It would all be with him shortly and then the shame, the anger, the pain of the beating, everything would be banished from his mind to make space for one thought and one thought alone: where and how to get another fix.
He knew where and as for how… well, it didn’t matter anymore.
He had stolen, he had sold himself on the street, he had no dignity and no morals left. It was all just a mean to an end.
Now it was early morning and he had been robbed.
A night’s work worth of money was gone and he had none left to pay his dealer.
It was going to be a long, painful morning.
He could, of course, try his luck again, go back on the street, hope for another perv in search of easy sex to come along, but at that time, most punters had folded in, alone or with company, and there would be nobody left for him.
He had already given a blow job in a car, followed a customer to a cheap motel, and had been approached for a quick one down the public toilet. Except the guy was another desperate loser. He didn’t want sex. He had an accomplice hiding in one of the cubicles. They had beaten the crap out of Ryan and run off with his money.
Painfully Ryan pulled himself up in a vertical position and managed the few steps to the sink, where he washed away the blood from his face and rinsed his mouth.
He tried to catch his breath. The stench lingering in the air and the tightness in his chest were making it difficult for him to inhale. He coughed that dry, persistent cough that had been rasping his lungs for the past few days, and held his ribs as they shook. Maybe they were broken, after all.
How was he going to make it home? He could hardly stand, let alone walk.
Perhaps he should just sit there and wait to die. It would be a fitting place for him to end his twenty-two year old life.
Ryan coughed again.
God! He was not going to die. He was going to go through hell, if he didn’t find some money and get another dose soon.
Normally, he would be meeting his dealer, now, get the stuff and walk home, the small, damp, messy flat he shared with Lola.
It would be the spoon, the candle, the syringe, before a dreamless sleep lying on a stained old mattress on the floor, some food, another fix and time sitting with Lola, transfixed by her six foot three figure, her enormous, manly, immaculately manicured hands, her long jet-black hair draping like curtains on the sides of her face, her deep voice softly lulling him into a daze.
She was good, Lola. She let him use the box room virtually for free, only taking money whenever Ryan could pay. She even shared with him her junk, letting him inhale too when she smoked it.
All she wanted from him was his company and a bit of help around the flat, the occasional washing-up, a few trips to the grocery shop to get food and booze.
He would wake up around three in the afternoon and on the kitchen table, among the unwashed crockery and leftovers, he would find a list waiting for him: “get milk, bread, teabags, eggs, bacon and a bottle of vodka. On account, as usual.”
It was always on account. Lola would not trust him with money and she was right. He had already nicked and sold her mobile phone once. After that, she had chucked him out and for a few days and nights, Ryan had lived on the street, until one day she had walked into the greasy spoon where he sat sipping a weak tea, desperately trying to get warm after having slept on the pavement. His sunken eyes and ill appearance must have moved her, because she had taken him back in, but from that day on, she had been very careful not to leave anything of any value in his grasp, locking her bedroom when she left for the gay bar where she worked as a singer.
Occasionally she would let Ryan go with her, when her boss wasn’t around, and he would be able to get clients without walking the streets, which was not only safer, but also better business. Although he would still end up being fucked by some stranger in the back of a car or, at best, in some seedy hotel, on bar nights the money was guaranteed.
He didn’t have great difficulties pulling customers: he was a good looking young man, with delicate features that gave him an almost androgynous appearance, well proportioned despite his height, straight dark hair contrasting with his pale eyes. His addiction gave him a ragged edge that only added to the allure. Heroin-chic.
Bar nights were good nights. He would make enough money to pay for heroin and have some left for Lola. It was an unspoken agreement between them: she’ll take him to the customers, he would pay her the rent.
Selling his body for sex had become routine, something he could easily switch off from, his mind firmly focused on the brief euphoria he would shoot up his arm, but it hadn’t always been like that.
When he first had arrived in Brighton, almost three years earlier, he had lived off the more usual means of thefts and burglaries. Two months inside had cleaned him up, and on his release he had thought it could have a go at a different life, but his good intentions had lasted less then forty-eight hours and he had spiralled down, falling into her arms once more
It had been almost by chance that prostitution had opened up for him, one night that he leaned by a lamppost, desperate for money and drug. A car had curb-crawled by him and a well spoken man had invited him to get on board. They had ended up in a badly lit alleyway, where Ryan had his first experience as a rent-boy.
It filled him with shame and self disgust, but it earned him easy money and soon he had found himself doing it again.
Two years on, he had become numb to everything.
Most clients would go straight down to business, taking him or asking him to perform oral sex. He had had his fair share of violent encounters and abuses, finding himself bruised and humiliated on various occasions and had soon learned that they came with the territory. He was prepared to take the risk every time he followed a stranger in his car or to a room somewhere. He never knew what was in stock for him and just had to hope that he would come out of the experience alive and in one piece.
He had become more and more reckless, accepting to be tied or to use no condoms. For money and for her he’d do anything, these days.
For the most part, they were casual encounters, men he would never meet again, or at least who had not embedded themselves in his mind enough for him to recognise them. Faces tended to become a blur very quickly.
But he had also come across regulars who would seek him out, like the fetishist that wanted him in stockings and suspenders, and made him wear make-up, or the shy gay man looking for company and someone to talk to, as well as sex.
Regulars were good to work with, regardless of their habits or requirements: he knew what to expect and how to behave.
At least most of the time…
Continues in Part Two
Continues in Part Two