New York's Dolls: pt II


J. Edward Tremlett

There was a banging on the door, loud and insistent. Jeffrey got up from where he was sitting in the squalid, threadbare apartment to answer it. He thought it was his bro, Smiley, back with the rocks.

Instead, it was his worst nightmare. Standing there, holding up a detective's badge, was some ugly guy in a grey trenchcoat.

"Hey there," he said: "I'm Detective Brown, NYPD. I need to come into your home and look around. You don't mind at all, do you?"

"Uh..." Jeffrey started to say, and pissed his pants again. Anthony took that as a yes and strode in.

"Where the fuck's your furniture?" he asked, looking around the place. He knew the answer, of course: sold off to pay for rock. He just wanted to give the idiot something to twist his mind over while he was figuring out how to get upstairs.

"I think... uh... credit cards repossessed the shit," the guy was saying. Anthony wasn't listening, though. He was looking.

Straight back was a kitchen. There was a door to the left of the hallway that was probably a bathroom, and an open space across from it that was probably leading to a stairwell. The hallway leading back to the kitchen was full of old, moldy pizza boxes and stunk like something had died. He inhaled again, and a sickening realization hit him.

"Uh..." the guy was saying as Anthony headed back there. He didn't know if this was relevant or not, but something told him it was. He'd learned what happened when he didn't listen to those somethings a long time ago.

The smell got worse as he got closer, and he realized that it was coming from behind the door. That door was locked.

"Who's in there?" he asked.

"Oh," Jeffrey said: "I think... my old bitch... Lisa. She had a kid... and... well..."

His train of thought went off the tracks for a minute, and as he did Anthony could hear something else.

Please mister? a little girl's voice came from behind the door. Will you tell him to stop saying mean things about my mommy?

"How long has this door been locked?" Anthony asked.

"Uh... since she left... I think."

"How long ago was that?"

"Uh... maybe two months... what month is it?"

"It's November," Anthony said, trying so desperately not to do the obvious thing with his fist and this guy's face.

"Oh. Then it's been six months. She left... and she left her kid with us... and... uh... bitch didn't give us any money to feed her and shit..."

Please mister? the voice came again. There was a scratching on the wood that Anthony knew too well. He'd heard it dozens of times now. That sound. The sound of someone who can't get out of where they died. Someone who just wants so badly to move on but can't. Frightened little faces who don't understand what's just happened, even if it happened a hundred years ago. Little faces lost in time, waiting for someone to tell them what to do and never hearing it.

"... so..." Jeffrey was going on: "She got in there... one day, and, well... you know-"

"Hey," Anthony said, looking past Jeffrey: "I think someone's here with your rock?"

"Oh... cool... I mean... wait-"

Jeffrey didn't see the fist before he was on the ground. Blood flew from his nose and his eyes spun.

"Damn, I hope you don't have AIDS," Anthony said, shaking the flecks from his hand and looking at the door: "Honey? Where's your mommy?"

I don't know. She left me all alone here. She said she was going to go get food and I never saw her again.

"Why are you in there?"

Mommy said if her boyfriend started smoking I should lock myself in here until they stopped or she got back.

He had a sick feeling, but he just held it in. This was probably the tip of the iceberg.

"What's your name, Honey?"

It's Sammy, mister.

"Sammy? You can go, now," he said, trying the obvious: "I don't think your mommy would want you to stay here."

I can't go.

"Why not?"

The man upstairs won't let me.

"Why won't he?"

He says it's all his fault. He says he has to take care of me, now.

"Okay..." Anthony said: "I'll see if I can get him to change his mind, okay Sammy? Is he upstairs?"

Yes, mister. But some of the others don't want to go. Billy's really mean. He'll hurt you if you try to talk to the man.

Anthony nodded, and lit up, putting the business card he'd made the crackhead think was a badge away.

"It's okay. I'll be okay. You just..., sit tight and I'll be back soon, okay?"

There was no answer from her. However, there was an answer of sorts from the kitchen.

Get out! A young voice screamed.

Anthony turned and looked at the voice's owner. It was a little boy, maybe ten years old. It was hard to tell just how old he was because he wasn't altogether, and the sight of him made Anthony feel the whiskey he'd drunk come back up.

Someone had worked him over slow and good. He was wearing tattered, bloody clothing, and his visible skin was sliced and cut so much that he almost looked like a patchwork boy. He had no hands and no feet, and the flaps of his cheeks and his nose had been removed as well. Someone had carved the word TOY on his stomach, with the O circling his navel. It showed through the hole in his shirt. It was an outie.

"Um... hi," Anthony said, somehow knowing this was Billy.

Get out of here, mister, Billy said, pointing to the door with the stump of his left hand: I don't wanna go nowhere.

"Who says you have to?"

You're here for them, aren't you? The Devil sent you?

"No," he said: "I don't work for the Devil, Billy-"

Don't you call me that!!! The boy screamed. As he did the floor shook and the the drawers in the kitchen all rattled and thumped open. Anthony could hear metal things rattling around in them. This was not a good sign.

"Okay... okay..." Anthony said, holding up his hands: "It's okay. What should I call you?"

Filthy, the boy said: That's what Daddy calls me.

"Filthy... that's no name for a little boy."

It's my name! Daddy gave it to me.

"Okay... where's your Daddy now, Filthy?"

He went out to sell my movie.

Anthony swallowed - hard: ""

Yeah. We made a movie. When I grow up I'm going to be a movie star.

The whiskey was almost at the breaking point now. But he could deal with that later. Right now he was trying as best he could to steady himself and not vomit. If he puked it was all over. They'd see he was weak, and then they'd have him and he'd have to run for it. Then, the next time he came back, he'd be at a real disadvantage.

"Okay," he said, looking at Billy: "Filthy, listen to me. Your father isn't coming back. Your father did something very, very bad to you... and he's not going to come back here ever again-"

You're lying!

"No. I'm not lying. Your daddy left you and you can't leave because of the man upstairs-"

No! You're lying! The man upstairs is keeping us safe! The Devil wants to take me! I've been bad! Daddy said so!

Anthony did his best to bite down on the obvious. He could only hope that daddy, if he really was the kid's father, was doing a slow roast over the pit in Hell right now. Heaven help him after this..

"The Devil doesn't want you, Filthy."

You're lying!

"No. I'm not lying. Let me go talk to the man upstairs and we can get all this-"

Billy screamed. What he said didn't make much sense, but Anthony had a bad feeling he was about to find out.

The house started to shake. The metallic rattling he heard from the back room became a lot more insistent. There was a sound like a thousand small swordfights going on at once: a swarm of metal on metal; a subway car hitting the emergency brakes over and over, overlapping.

And then, around the corner, something that looked like a man-shaped swarm of large, metal insects walked out into the half-light.

It was cutlery. All shapes and sizes, flying around one another end over end.

Anthony had just enough time to wonder why the junkies hadn't sold it for Rock - and then think of the obvious answer - before the cloud exploded and flew right at him.

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