Half in, Half out.

“Sit down.”

Leb’s heavy weight coming down on my shoulder. Solid hand forcing me back down to the chair.

“This ‘aint your business.” The bitter smell of hard liquor wafting from his mouth.

I want to yank out from under his grip, and make this my business. I’d be stupid if I did. I feel like a chump sitting here watching her get a scolding from this leech, at the same time, self-control is the one thing that’s going to get me out of this. If I’m lucky. It’s infuriating, and takes every drop of composure I can collect.The size of his hands. The broad shoulders, and hefty chest. The nostrils that flare slightly when I fidget. The eyes that dart towards me, with every sound, or heavy breath I take. I imagine the young blond girls in Russia, sold into the sex trade. I imagine them in those bath houses, in the multi roomed brothels. Trapped. Intimidated into frozen sick dolls. Robbed.

I can hear She’s voice, travelling from the small confines of the bathroom.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry…I’m gonna clean up okay? and I’ll go. I’ll go…”, the voice hushed and vulnerable. Shaky. Tremulous.

The door closes with an unexpected slam, and I jump in my seat. Fists seizing up, forgetting to breathe, and I’m immediately remorseful of my natural reflexes. Babyface, walking towards us and taking his stop, in between me and Leb. Leb on the couch across from me. Babyface standing in the middle of us, off to my left side a bit, cigarette in hand. The long fingers, and dark shiny knuckles, holding it.

“This bitch better not play me man,” he says, shaking his head violently.

Pulling a deep drag from the thin, white cigarette. Glaring right at me. Into me. I can feel the red poking hatred that lies behind those yellowed eyes. The blackness of his pupils, bleeding into the dark irises. Looming and constant. I feel like a deer, cornered by two hunters. On a beautiful spring day when the flowers have just begun to bloom. Mayhem tearing its way through. Unforgivably barbaric.

“Are you playin’ me?” he asks. It’s calm and direct. My heart beating loudly in my chest. The cheeks getting hot, flushed.

“I’m not playing you Babyface.” Eyes locked, the unnerving pounding in my ears. ” I swear man, I just want her to take a shower and get ready. Just like you do,” Eyes still locked. He’s just sitting there staring at me. Reading me. Watching. The sound of water rushing from down the hall. She’s in.

“You know what’s gonna happen if, either of you fuck, with me. ” Tapping the cigarette on the ashtray in front of me. I think of all those scenes in the movies, where the pimp burns the girl with his lit smoke.

” Imma’ take from both of you what I gave, you understand?” Leaning in closer towards me. “Seeing as neither of you have any money, what ‘chu you have to offer is yo’ ass. It’s business. It’s all business up in here, you understand? I don’t wanna have to do you like this. But, like I said it’s all business, and if your bitch plays me, Imma take what I’m owed.” Another long deep haul off the cigarette. Still, the calm voice, the undertone of pure control. Disturbingly candid.

I honestly don’t remember what all was said in between this moment, and She coming out of the bathroom. The weight of this short time was so heavy, and the fear completely unbearable. Holding my breath while clips of violating rape rush through my mind. Imagining what it would feel like to get punched with those hands. Searching the room with my eyes, looking for something, anything I can use as a weapon. Can I get to the kitchen in time, would I make it to the cutlery drawer, in attempts to get my hands on a knife. What if they keep the steak knives somewhere else. They’d get me before I could find anything. How much do you think Leb weighs..maybe 250-275 pounds. How helpless I would be underneath that. The sheer defenselessness of it.

I remember just doing my best to convince him, that I agreed with him. That he had a right to be angry, and that I, myself was annoyed with her dramatics. Saying things like, she should follow through with her word. That going back on your word was unforgivable, yes. That I would help her get ready, and motivate her. She’d be going out and not to worry. It would be fine. Just to only, give me a chance. Hating myself for throwing her under the bus, but having to, in order to gain, at the most, a small amount of trust. Just enough, to allow me the opportunity into the bedroom with her. Alone.

By the time She turned the shower off, Babyface was sitting down next to Leb, having poured himself a drink. At least he wasn’t pacing around anymore. Lighting smoke after smoke. Hovering over me in antagonizing skepticism. Turning to face her, Babyface shouts,

“Your girl ‘aint got your back man!” Heat rising up my chest. “You best go get your ass ready you trifling bitch!” She’s eyes accusing me. The anger shadowing her face and I can’t say a damn thing. I need to get in that room. The adrenaline starts to pump. The hands start to vibrate as I look over to him, and ask if I can go help her. He clenches his jaw, eyeing me suspiciously. The heart pounding louder. Deafening me. He nods his head yes, and I slowly stand up.

Robotic and terrified.

I see my purse resting on the linoleum floor next to the front door, and walk over to grab it. The moment my hand envelopes the fabric handle, Babyface barks at me. “What the fuck you need your purse for?” My hand drops it instantly. He stands up from his spot on the couch. I’m shaking so bad, it’s embarrassing.  “You leave your purse with me. How do I know your not gonna take off? you think I’m fucking stupid?” Blood runs cold as he hovers over me once again.

“I had some make-up in there. That’s all. Imma girl, I need my purse.” I say. Hoping he doesn’t call me out.

“Don’t fucking touch it, it’s mine.” I nod my head, and tell him I’m sorry. Turning around slowly and walking towards the bedroom. My coursing adrenaline, like I’ve never felt before. Everything is slow motion hysteria.

Walking through the door, I close it gently, leaving it open just enough to be safe. She has her back to me, angry and talking shit. She’s telling me I’m a bitch for selling her out, but I don’t care. All I can see is that window. Rushing over and finding the locks as fast as I can. It’s one of those windows with push locks on the top  and bottom  of the screen. Where you have to push them inwards at the same time, and pull it open. It hurts your fingers, every time, and you reel back, sticking the tip of your finger in your mouth, and sucking on it. Right now, is not one of those times. I can hear She behind me panicking. Putting on the hooker shoes, and whispering, “Your fucking crazy!” Getting her clothes on as fast as she can, as I violently pull the screen open. There’s a loud crack as the metal drags against itself, and I seize up. Motioning to her quickly with my waving arm. Mouthing the words, hurry up! Now!! NOW!!!!!

She runs over and throws her leg over the window sill, the long heals scraping against the siding of the house. She’s out, awkwardly falling down onto the grass of the backyard lawn. My heart beating ferociously as I throw my leg over. In this same moment, Babyface charges into the bedroom. The door crashing loudly into the wall behind it. The drywall cracking.

I can hear him swearing rage fully as he bounds towards the window, grabbing my foot. My side digging into the window frame as he pulls me back. Each rib, dragged across the metal with burning hot traction.

The skin tearing. She’s hands reaching up to pull on the back of my jacket…half in, half out.

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