The Price

“Well?” the ice-eyed blonde snaps. “Are you ready?”

“Yeah,” he says, standing, scrubbing his lips with the back of his hand, wincing as he swallows, feeling bloody glass and fire on the back of his tongue. “Get it out of me,” he rasps.

“Don’t be so fucking impatient,” she hisses, reaching up to slide her bare fingers against his cheek. It would be an intimate gesture, sweet, if either of them wore anything except exhausted hate on their faces. She holds tightly to an empty leather glove in her other gloved hand.

“Be gentle. Watch your mouth. And hurry up,” the third of them murmurs, staring out into the night. His breath fogs in the cold, a nimbus of shadowblue and orange under the arc-sodium flood lamps, gravel crunching wetly beneath his boots as he paces. This is taking too damned long.

“Let go,” she murmurs, frowning.

“I’m trying,” he promises, gasping, leaning in to her touch.

She recoils from his sweaty, filthy frame, shoving him back and breaking contact with a low sound of disgust.

When she releases him, he hunches over, hands to his head, and utters a long, keening cry.

The slowfastslowfast pitterplack of droplets smacking the damp concrete is swallowed by the sounds of the industrial laundry. He crouches a little longer, hunched over, and the muscles in his back bunch and flex beneath a dirty T-shirt as his throat finishes the impossible translation between whatever the fuck it was he swallowed last and whatever the fuck is landing on the floor between his boots.

Mostly, it looks like blood now.

“Jesus,” she breathes. “You can’t keep doing this to yourself,” she says. “One of these days, I’m not going to get to you in time.”

“Like you care,” he wheezes, going to his knees. “You don’t get to me in time, you call for a crew, and it’s all over.”


“Both of you shut up. Don’t have time for this,” their third murmurs. “Is it done?”

The blond leans down and smudges her boot through the thick puddle, staring at its contents, making a face. “Looks like,” she tells him.

“Good. Let’s go.”

“But what if–” she begins, looking over at the young man on the ground.

He’s no longer kneeling, but has slumped to the ground, his cheek pressed to the damp concrete, his eyes gone glassy. “This one was rough, Vale. What if he doesn’t wake up before shift change?”

“Not my problem. One less piece of filth for you to dirty your hands on. Now let’s go.”

4 responses to “The Price

  1. Pingback: And now I’ll just spend the next 500 or so words saying nice things about other peoples blogs | Corned Beef Hashtag·

  2. Jones, stop running away on me! I count on you for excellence. If I read one more goddam poem or post about someone’s monotonous Sunday dog stroll, I am seriously going to lose it. Come back and write something so that I know there are people with actual imaginations out there.


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