It just began as that everyday craving for a fag, except that this time it happened in the wee hours of the night.

Dylan tossed the sheets off his body, feeling ten degrees cooler in his boxer shorts and nothing else. He could hear his father snoring heavily in the other room like hells own option, no doubt after his daily tête-à-tête with a bottle of Night Train.

Sitting up on his bed with its herniating springs, he can make out the dim lines of his cracked dresser with the pile of rumpled clothes on it.The musty smell of his room is really starting to close in on him, so he gets of his bed and pushes at the shutters of his window.The rusty hinges of the shutters let out a horrible groan and open outwards like the gateway to some long forgotten dungeon.

He turns back towards his bed and feels under the pillows for the tiny wooden box where he stashes his stolen cigarettes. He lights one, exhaling the smoke towards the ceiling. The faint neon lights shining through the window provide an eerie appearance to the swirling smoke.

Putting the box in his pocket, Dylan climbs out of the window and scrambles on to the ledge. Sitting ten feet high above ground level, he stares down at the dark alley below and at the city skyline in the horizon.

Faint rap music is heard, coming from a nearby dive. Below in the alley someone is vomiting continuously. His miserable retches are punctuated by the barks of Mrs. Delovitch’s mongrel, which took it upon itself to serenade the neighborhood every night.

"Shut up mother fucker", Dylan says to the dog. "Christ!", he thinks, “If he continues this way I’m gonna have to end that mangy mutts life”.

Still inhaling the smoke, Dylan takes in the scene below. At the nearby corner some prostitutes are plying their wares. Occasionally their pimp walks by and threatens them; this results in a swearing contest, which continues until the pimp moves off.

Sitting up on that ledge Dylan feels like he is the ultimate boss, a great warlord surveying his kingdom.

“Just another day in mah hood baby”, he murmurs to himself and hawks and spits in the alley, hoping that his saliva lands on the vomiter.

A spider lurches off the ledge and hangs by a thin thread jerking up and down like a puppet on the strings.

Dylan watches the spider intently. BOINGG! It jerks on the thread. BOINGG! BOINGG! BOINGG! Its movement reminds him of the afternoons and the nights when he has lain awake on his bed listening to the sounds of the bed springs bouncing in the tenement above. BOINGG! BOINGG! CREAK! CREAK!, the shouted whispers and endearments and then at the end of it all THUMP! - the sound of a mans feet hitting the floor.

Her name was Amber, one of the most popular whores in that area. Dylan could never stop dreaming about her. Once while he was racing up the stairs he had caught a glimpse of her. Since that day the memory of her in fishnet stockings and kinky red heels have never left his mind.

From that day on, whenever he passes by her place it is with a sense of reverence. It is as though he is standing in front of some great storehouse of treasure. To him she is the sum of every adolescent boy’s fantasies and sexual understanding.

He imagines one day knocking on her door with the requisite $30 in hand; (Dylan had started saving his spare change ever since he had come to know about this piece of information. His stash box now contained the princely sum of $5.75) and sweeping her into his arms when she opened the door wearing a teddy/ bra and stockings/ a diaphanous nightgown: depending on what his mood was today, and then....

Dylan is shaken out of his reverie by the blast of a horn. Below him the vomiter has finally quit and is now negotiating a shaky pathway back home. Mrs. Delovitch’s dog has fallen silent too. All seems to be peaceful in the alley for a while.

He rubs the purple bruise on his shoulder; the latest example of his father’s love for him. He smiles, shrugs and lights another cigarette. Maybe he can convince Amber to agree at a lower rate. After all they are practically neighbors.


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