On regular days, Rue stood at 5’1. She was a mutt in her own beautiful way; her mother was very French, right down to her cunt. Her father was some kind of German- Dahl.
But on Thursday nights like this one, she towered to 5’9.
Rue twisted her damp braids as she leaned against the glass of the phone booth. It was nearly midnight. Maxwell would be calling. The street was emptier than usual, she thought to herself.
It had been raining for 5 days in a row. The gutters were flooded with filthy water, pushing wrappers and a used condom down the street. She wished she had brought her coat.
Rue gripped the handle of the phone and wavered.
Ring, ring, ring.
She had never missed a call from Maxwell. He had a quick hand and an even quicker temper from what she heard from the other girls. But tonight, on this Thursday night, she let it ring until it exhausted itself.
Her breath fogged up the booth. It didn’t matter, anyway. She had already made up her mind. By sunrise, she would be collapsed in the alley way behind the after-hours club, sprawled beneath the flickering No Smoking sign. One quick injection and it would all be over.
Rue lit a cigarette and picked up the phone book. With an exhale of smoke, she closed her eyes and threw her finger down on a page.
Hannah. Stephen Hannah. 4673 Juniper Street Apartment 103. She picked up the phone and sank to the wet floor of the booth, cross-legged. She dialed her unknowing friend.
The sleepy stranger answered.
“I’m going to kill myself tonight,” said Rue in a low voice unfamiliar to her own ears.
She twirled the steel chord in her hand.
A deep sigh ahhhhed from the receiver. “On a Thursday night?”
Rue’s eyes glanced at her watch. 12:06. “It’s Friday now, man.”
“Fuck. So it is,” replied the stranger named Stephen. “Who is this?”
“You can call me baby, baby. Listen, I need a drink. I need to get out of here. I’m two blocks away from you.”
“You can’t just fucking call a stranger at 12:06 and request a fucking drink and expect them to join you.”
“Well,” she answered blowing smoke from her lips, “you answered. You shouldn’t answer calls in the middle of the night if you’re not ready to jump at an emergency.”
“What kind of fucked up game are you-”
“Do you get high?”
The stranger paused. “What?”
“Do you get high? Do you want to?”
“Fuck. What the fuck… baby? Okay, fuck it. Where do I meet you?”
A smile stretched along her face. On last drag, smoked down to the filter. In a low whisper she said, “Apartment 103.” Click.
The stranger opened the door in a tattered blue robe. Rue held out a bottle of whiskey. “Drink?”
“I’m dreaming,” said the stranger as he partly opened the door. In she went. She slipped off her heels and found her way to the kitchen. The door closed behind them. The apartment was lived in, to say the least. He must have been some kind of writer. There were papers strewn about, clippings from magazines and encyclopedias. The sofa had multiple ink stains on it from calligraphy pen spills. Rue pulled herself on top of the kitchen counter to reach the cabinets.
“Hey, hey- watch it… what the hell is your name anyways? Hey get down!”
She looked over her left shoulder. “I told you to call me baby. It’s nicer this way. You got glasses up here?”
“Yeah, on the right.”
Rue brought down two whiskey glasses and poured them full.
“Jesus. Alright, baby. You got my attention. What do you have for me?”
Rue pushed the glass in front of him. “Is that all I’m good for? What ever happened to talking? You know, getting to know a person before you get blown?”
The stranger took a gulp from his glass and she did the same. “Alright, you like music?” asked the stranger. “Never mind. Hold on. Just, sit down over there.” He motioned to the orange sofa in the living room. The one with all the ink spills. He disappeared into the dark hallway. A record needle scratched. Crackle. Cue Sleepwalk, Santo & Johnny. “What’s good, baby? What’s this talk about dying on a Thurs- sorry, Friday night.”
“I was only joking, mister. I needed to get the hell out of there. Maxwell was coming to find me. He would have killed me anyways, you know, if he just saw me standing there.”
“What the fuck kind of joke is that?!” yelled the stranger, spilling some of his whiskey.
“Hey, calm down, honey. It’s not a joke. I really could have died tonight.”
“Who the fuck is Maxwell? Your boyfriend?”
Rue stared down at her drink. “No, man. He’s my…boss. He’s my boss and I was supposed to work tonight, but, fuck it to hell, right?” She took a long, loving swallow. The stranger’s eyes followed her silhouette from her tangled hair to the bottom of her pink fishnets. His face softened. “Hey, let’s talk about something else, honey. I found you in the phone book. You must be single. No way a woman would let you live like this.”
The stranger drank. “No woman. I don’t need a woman telling me what to do. Women are trouble.”
The record was on repeat. Something about the apartment was comforting to Rue. Suddenly, she pulled out a little bag full of white magic from her purse, along with a razor blade and mirror. Methodically, she placed each item on the coffee table between them as if they were offerings. She hummed quietly to the song that was playing for the third time.
Eight exquisite lines of cocaine begged to be consumed in front of their faces. Rue bent down, bowing to the stranger, and took a long inhale. She looked up at him with big, blue watery eyes. Her nose was powdery and pink. With a $100 clutched in between her teeth, she melted onto the floor and crawled over to him on her hands and knees.
“Blow, baby,” said Rue groggily.
The stranger bent down over her and sniffed up a couple of lines. The room begun to buzz. “Jesus, baby. That’s some strong-” Her lips fell onto the strangers lap. He took her chin into his hand and stared into her bloodshot eyes. “You’re high baby.”
“Blow, baby?” said the groggy girl with pouty lips.
The room continued to vibrate as he fucked her mouth. The song played 10 more times.
Sometime between her first orgasm and the sound of the garbage truck’s squealing brakes, they fell asleep on the carpeted living room floor.
Gently, Rue began to wake up. The stranger slept peacefully with robe undone. She checked her watch one last time. 7:09. The sun was threatening to rise. She rolled over and gingerly kissed his shoulder blade.
Quietly gathering her shoes and purse, she hit the last couple lines of coke. She took her watch off and set it beside a napkin on the coffee table which read, “I’m so happy I called you. -Rue Dahl”
Out she slipped into the morning dew to meet the flickering No Smoking lights.