- Downtowns dizzy traffic howled around
Trash, who walked always looking down, eyes fixed
half a meter beyond her feet, walk-man at top
volume, avoiding people out of habit. One month,
Rover said. One month at
least. Time crawled like a snake since that
subway issue. A single card with the old
mans name was enough for
cops to let them go at once, Boss and her, after
taking them in at the last station. But
theyd got too exposed and
now they had to really dissappear for a while,
let them believe they were out of work, let them
absolutely nothing to do but trying not to die
from boredom. And Kao just about to finish his
second month at the clinic. A thorn in her side
refusing to be removed without a lot of pain, and
promising even more pain when done so.
- She absently waited for the light to cross the
broad avenue and got into a dim street. Stopped
by a door and knocked twice. A small fat man
showed up, smiling from behind his white apron,
and let her in.
- Trash followed him in silence to the big kitchen,
where two cookers and three waiters were having
lunch at a table in the furthest corner.TThey
also smiled at her and kept on eating. The man
opened the freezer and took out a box smelling
vegetables and meat.
Youre lucky. Today we had a lunch
for twenty he said handing it to her.
Trash just nodded and closed it carefully
Want a bag ?
Go eat. Im taking it.
The man smiled again and sat back at the table
with the others. Trash crossed the kitchen, put
the box into a plastic bag and walked back up to
the shops doors. From the rounded glasses
at the upper side of them, she could see almost
all the restaurant insides, expensive, warm,
almost empty at that hour. And straight ahead
from her, the midday sun lighted a well-known
profile at a small table by the window. Run?
Run with his arms folded before a cup of coffee,
listening to and staring at the man in front of
him, who slightly leaned forward as he spoke.
Dont let the manager see you
she heard one of the waiters was saying.
Trash withdrew at once, thanked them for the food
and headed at quick pace to the side door. Five
minutes later she was on bus that crossed the
poor suburbs belt, the citys most dangerous
and miserable zone. She sat alone at a double
seat and lit a cigarette. Those drivers knew her
well, and considering that lines usual
costumers, it surely was the only one in town
where passengers were allowed to break some
...What was Run doing at that fancy restaurant,
with that guy ? Despite he was always very
careful about how he looked, she noticed he had
done his best for the ocassion, simple but
elegant, just like the other guy. She saw them
again sitting face to face at that small table.
The attention on Runs expression, the vague
grin on the other guys face as he talked to
him... the distance between them, so scarce...
Who could that guy be to behave like that with
Run, always so messured and circumspect ?
- * * *
- She got off the bus ten streets after it entered
the first suburb, on a soil streets corner
bordered by dirty water drainages, the sewer
blocked with lots of rotten garbish. She headed
for an alley, too dim for a car to drive into,
and stopped at a wooden cabin a few meters before
the first corner. Two children were playing in
front of the old ruined door ; they played with
small broken cars, both of them in bare feet,
their cloth as old and ragged as their toys. Both
of them raised to her their dirty little faces
and gave her wide smiles. One of them ran into
the house calling out loud for her mother, the
other threw his arms around her neck and happily
kissed her cheek. Trash lifted him up and walked
into the cabin. A young woman was coming from the
inner rooms, drying her hands in a stained apron.
Hi ! Didnt except you ! Come on, we
already had lunch, but I can cook you something
if you want.
- Trash followed her to the small kitchen and left
the box on the sinks counter. There she
noticed four plates and gave a fleeting glance
over the courtain playing the door between the
kitchen and the cabins only bedroom.
I already ate, thanks she said,
putting the kid down to light a cigarette.
I brought you something. Did you fix the freezer
? Else, you must eat it tonight.
The womans smile surprised her, and
followed her eyes when she looked to the corner
where the frezeer used to be. There was a new one
Tommy bought it right today her
voice was full of pride.
Trash sat down on an almost borken chair and
Tommy ? she repeated. Tomás ?
And where... ? her face and her voice
hardened all of a sudden. Wouldnt he
be stealing, would he, Fanny ?
The woman quickly shook her head.
No ! How could you think that ? He got a
job ten days ago. They pay him weekly, and as
soon as he got the first bill, he signed up for
its credit... Well, his boss did it for him.
Trash grimaced looking away. Tomás was
thirteen... what kind of job could he got to earn
enough in a single week to afford that credit ...
? And getting his boss signing for his debt...
Its nothing illegal.
Trash raised the head at once, facing the boy
standing at the bedroom doorway. That voice and
that expression werent what youd
expect from a boy his age, but he had to play
the-man-of-the-house role there. Anyway, what
surprised her was how he looked. New expensive
clothing, his brown hair fell over his shoulders
clean and bright, his tennis were as new and good
as the clothes.
Tomy ! Didnt mean to wake you, I...
the woman apologized.
Its okay, mum the boy crossed
the kitchen towards Trash, but didnt lean
to kiss her cheek as he used to. Im
glad youre here. You dont need to
bring us anything anymore, now Im working
and I can support mum and the kids. Your aunt
lost her job again, so you can take it to her,
she should be needing a hand.
Trash stood up before the boy, barely taller than
him, and stared into his eyes with no trace of
Tell me what the fuck are you up to
The boy held up her glare without a blink, and
even grined, refusing to answer. She turned to
the mother, who avoided any eye contact shooking
her head, and faced the boy again.
If I get to know youre up to
Cut it off. Already told you Im not,
and that I dont need you to help us
anymore. From now on, Im taking care of
Trash nodded still drilling into his eyes.
Careful what you do, you prat she
snarled. You better stay out of trouble
she dodged him and walked out of the cabin
without a word. The boy grined again turning to
his mother, who looked concerned at the door
Trash just got through.
Easy, mum. You know how she is.
Shell forget it in a few days and come back
like nothing happened.
- * * *
- Are you sure ? Youre gonna get a
kick in the ass...
You just stay cool and learn some stuff.
Im picking her up.
Boss agreed with a sigh and sat straight back
again. Slash slowed down to brake just by a
fifteen girl selling flowers by the streetlight.
When she saw him smile at her, she hurried to the
van, handing out to him an already withered
You wanna earn some, baby ?
The girl pretended not to understand and tried to
look surprised. Flowers, sir ?
My bud here and I, you dare ? Im
paying you all your bunches left plus some more
Excuse me, but what...
Slash rested the arm on the window and the chin
on his arm, smiling as he looked down at her from
above his sunglasses. At his right, Boss was
triyng to anticipate the exact moment when the
girl would slap him and turn away.
You ate today ? I can pay your lunch too.
The other shook the head and looked away waiting
to hear the slap, but it didnt come.
Instead, he heard Slash talked to the girl
laughing softly and stepped out of the van to let
her in. The girl sat in between them with her
head down, trying to avoid any contact with Boss.
Slash gave the finger to the driver behind him,
sat again by the wheel and speeded up before the
streetlight turned red again. He turned the radio
on as they drove downtown, singing aloud as he
used to, hidding the girls silence. Boss
felt her shiver, saw her hands grasping the
bunch, her teeth biting her lower lip. Salsh
offered her a cigarette, she shook the head
always looking down. He laughed again clapping
Come on, baby, be my guest.
Boss noticed how the girl stiffed and the wet
glimpse on her eyes. He glared at Slash, but his
grin told him to stay aside. They stopped by a
one way comercial gallery, where only the two
front shops were open. Slash parked the van and
stepped down, signaling the girl to do so and
holding her hand, pretending not to see when she
tried to step back. Boss followed them noticing
how the flowers were shaking on the girls
free hand. The shop on the left was full of
guitars, keyboards and drums, and the man reading
behind the till grined with a blink when Slash
waved a hand at him.
Hi, Fish, Im upstairs for two hours.
Slash dragged the girl again heading for the
gallerys bottom. By the toillets there was
a narrow stair, which they walked up to a door
that Slash opened with a key he took out from his
pocket. On the other side they found a square
room, with no more forniture than the large bed
on the opposite wall and a table with two chairs
by a small window. Boss came in after the girl
and turned to Slash, still at the last step by
the open door.
Ill be right back, gonna get some
food. Lend me some cash, just in case.
Boss did as he said shaking the head.
Bring her something good.
Okay, daddy. If you get bored before
Im back, remember what she's supposed to be
Dont be such an asshole and hurry
up, will ya.
Slash closed the door with a giggle and they
heard him jumping down the stairs. Then Boss spun
around drawing in a deep breath to face the girl,
standing in the middle of the room, the head
always down, still gripping tightly the bunch. He
saw her quiver when he got closer to her, closing
her eyes when he rested a hand on her shoulder.
Easy, its allright he said
with the softest voice he could manage.
Whats your name ?
Boss touched her chin to make her face him.
Never done this before, Stella ? Why did
you come ?
Im... hungry... her voice was
but a whisper, refusing to look at him.
When did you last eat ?
Boss smiled again pressing her shoulder.
Allright, then. All we actually want is asking
you a few questions about your boss.
The girl gawked up at him, though her face soon
showed her fear. But... when they see
Were gonna pay you as we said, and
as soon as we have lunch, were taking you
back to your corner.
Think youre gonna have any trouble for this
No if I get the money...
Relief and confussion mixing in her dark eyes
moved him, and smiled at her gently. Then
you dont need to worry.
- * * *
- They walked side by side in silence, matching
pace, no hurry, their shadows casting beyond them
as the sun slid down to sink behind the
buildings. Run looked at León out of the corner
of his eye; his constant grin, that strong
presence that always made him stand out, no
matter who he was with.
I cant believe you still dont
dare to ask it, Rosschild León said, his
eyes always moving over the
faces they crossed.
Maybe Im still waiting for you to
explain it yourself.
The other man tilted his head grining wider.
Youre harder than a sixteen.
They walked in silence some more streets, up to a
wealthy apartments building. They crossed
the lobby and a broad hallway to the elevator. It
left them on the twentieth floor, right into the
hall to a large and enlighted loft, which style
just matched the buildings look.
Let me see if Marron is still here. Make
some coffee, Rosschild.
Run headed for the large kitchen, so clean and
nice as the rest of the place, and turned the
He heard Leóns laughter as he found his
mate. A soft, short laugh. He heard him walking
back, stop, a giggle, the unmistakable sound of a
Cool down, Im not alone. Get dress
and join us for a coffee before you leave.
Run took a deep breath before spinning to face
Marron, forcing himself to smile.
Hi, Rosschild, didnt know you were
here Marron was standing by León, nothing
on but underwear.
Its allright. Coffee?
Thanks, but let me get dressed first.
León was already back at the kitchen. He sat at
the table and pointed a chair in front of him for
Run. He observed his friend before tasting the
coffee. You still cant manage it
seeing me with him.
Run raised the eyebrows trying to smile again,
but didnt answer.
Youre not leaving the sixteen's pose
to play the mother-in-law, arent you ?
As though anyone could try pokking into
your life, huh?
León just laughed at his tone, half mocking,
half irritated. He didnt need Run to tell
him anything, but the temptation of teasing him
was just too funny to refuse it. However, Run
spoke again before he did.
Im waiting for that famous
explanation of yours.
León agreed with another grin. What Joel
did was just like ripping a feathers pillow
open in the wind, Rosschild. No matter what I
would do, nobody was to treat me like before
after he blurted it out.
But we all knew he did it out of envy, for
he knew we liked you more than him and he
couldnt stand being just your right-arm
Ok, Rosschild. But you gotta see I just
couldnt stay ; for the teams sake if
you want it to be so, but I had to leave. All of
you knew me well and accepted me, but think about
the younger boys parents. They
wouldnt allow a homosexual trainer sharing
the showers with their kids.
So you had to leave like that, without
warning, in the middle of the night like a
thief... Leave and be careful enough to keep
anybody from knowing where to find you...
Run looked away as he spoke. But León saw the
old impotent rage within his bright green eyes.
He reached out and held his hand for a fleeting
moment, withdrawing before Run could do or say
anything to reject him.
I didnt do it on purpose, Rosschild,
not to you he whispered. You were the
very last person I wanted to hurt, but please
understand I really had to vanish. For the sake
of all of you, and my own too...
Marron joined them then. Tall, athletic just like
León, but pale and blond. Looking at him, Run
thought he was just the perfect match for his
friend. But there was still something about
Marron he couldnt stomach for good, though
he couldnt find out exactly what it was
either. Marron swallowed his coffe in one gulp as
he wore his jacket.
Dont wanna be late. Meet you there
he turned to Run smiling. See ya,
Rosschild, dont keep him later than ten,
were having a hell of a night at the disco.
Run smiled back at him watching their brief
good-bye kiss by the elevators door. León
came back with no hurry, his dark eyes staring at
him from afar with an ironic glance.
Hes jelaous about you he
poured more coffee for them and grined at
Runs surprise. Its okay, he
knows youre too straight for my nerves. But
he also thinks you look too alike to him to like
it leaving us both alone too long.
- * * *
- The house was unusually quiet when Run got back
that evening, about nine. The dinning room was
empty and dark, and there were no lights on at
the hallway when he headed for his bedroom. He
changed his clothes and went back to the kitchen.
Then he found the note, written in a childlike
handwriting he recognized as Trashs. "Boss
and Slash still hunting pimps, Ill be home
Fiteen minutes and a sandwich later, he took his
bike out of the garage and got onto the street
again. If Trash was out alone, he knew where to
find her. And it wasnt a nice place to walk
through, not even for somebody like her. He drove
away from downtown towards the first poor suburb
passing the Third Highway. Ignored the
teens gangs gathering at every corner and
headed for the "square", a thousand
meters far from the highway.
Barely lit by one street light at each corner,
two rotten wooden goals bordered the dusty soccer
field, while on the opposite corner some huge
concrete pipes painted in bright colours, a
broken slide and two swings marked out the spot
for the neighborhoods kids. He guessed more
than see the shadows beneath one of the goals and
stopped at once, turning the bike off. Then he
pushed it back to the corner and hid behind the
first cabin. He also sensed the eyes fixed upon
his back from every opening around, but ignored
them as well. Two dark shapes came closer from
behind him trying not to make any noise. Run
didnt turn around, he just let his 9
mms butt show up at his waist. The boys
stopped at once.
Its Anitas bud one
whispered. He heard them retreat and dissappear.
Trash didnt seem to be in any hurry,
sitting with a dozen boys, their ages between
twelve and twenty, sharing the grass and the
cheap wine as they chatted. Run gathered all of
his patience, always ready to react at any
movement from behind him. Finally, almost an hour
later, he noticed the group was moving. They were
standing up, waving their goodbyes very aloud.
The two tallest boys set at Trashs each
side and walked with her towards the highway. Run
waited to see them go into the parallel alley,
engined the bike on and drove back slowly,
waiting to see them cross each corner before
going on. At the suburbs border he speeded
up, crossed the first street and hid in the
shadows under the highway. From there he watched
Trash saying goodbye to her friends and walking
alone to the bus stop. Not five minutes later a
taxi drove down the highway, slowing down by the
girl. Trash frowned at the driver, checked out
her watch, got in. There was still half an hour
left to the next bus. Then Run drove out from
behind a pillar and speeded up in the opposite
- * * *
- Trash stood in the garden by the kitchens
door, smocking one last cigarette before coming
into the house. There was light on Runs
bedroom, and she didnt want him to smell
the grass in her breath. He wasnt to say a
word about it, but she knew that night rides she
used to take worried him a little. She thought
about what she had just known. Tomás working at
that downtown disco... the boys assured its
customers werent only young wealthy people.
"A whorehouse for screwed old men" they
told her. She tried to keep her anger in control.
He worked at the kitchen, they said, washing the
dishes, and also cleaned the toillets to earn
some more. But his friends were already
distrusting his words. Theyd seen his
expensive clothes, the new freezer he bought for
his mother. Too much for a kitchens boy...
She squashed the cigarette and came in.
Nice slow music from Runs room. That old
English pop he loved. She stopped before his door
and drew in a deep breath before knocking. Found
him laying on his bed with a book, ready to go to
sleep. Run lowered the book and faced her with a
She nodded trying to smile back.
You ate? Youve got cold meat and
beer in the freezer.
Freezer. She shooked the head frowning.
I think I got something she
said. Some disco. They must be running a
whorering in there.
Run sat up straight at once, staring at her with
a questioning look. She just shrugged.
Ive only got the name of the place.
But we could just check it out.
Where did you get it?
Somebodys son is working there
and...he seems to be earning more than he should.
Run observed her for a moment, then he looked
down at his watch.
Go take a shower before you go to bed.
Tomorrow, when we are all here, well see
what to do.
Trash held up his eyes for a moment, trying to
guess why he was telling her so. Run gave her
another brief smile before turning to his book
again. She nodded and walked out in silence. If
Slash got home within the next two hours and
found her with those redened eyes, he
wouldnt repress his tongue. And Run just
wanted to read some more and go to sleep, instead
of having to stop any possible answer from Trash
to help the other big mouth from getting injured.
- * * *
- Boss and Slash left the van at the garage and
came quietly into the house by the kitchens
door, surprised when they found light at the
other twos rooms. Slash stopped by to take
a beer, still laughing under his breath.
- Were gonna lay it nice for that son
of a bitch he said. Since Runs
still awake, Im gonna tell him about it
right now, so we can get moving right tomorrow.
All yours, Im going to bed.
Sleep tight, honey.
Slash followed him to the bedrooms up to the
first door on the left. Boss went on to his room
mumbling his goodnight. Run was still reading,
and chose not to argue when Slash forced him to
move aside his long legs an sat by him at the
edge of the bed, the beer in one hand and a wide
smile on his face.
Weve got him, Run. The fucking son
of a bitch is a rich sucker. He has several guys
to do his work, but all of them grassed him with
a little squeeze.
Run just raised the brows, waiting for him to
He picks them up from the street, both
boys and girls. He washes and dresses up the
better looking ones and puts them to work on his
disco, for the joy of any old crock with a bill.
For the others, he sends them to the street to
sell flowers, cards or whatever. Thats why
he has some managers, to deal with the kids on
the street and...
Slash noticed Run's eyes had narrowed, his trade
mark sign that he was figuring out some puzzle,
gathering things he heard or saw somewhere else;
in those cases, he used to be able of decoding
something the other three had completely missed.
You already got it, for a change.
But Run slowly shook his head, still thinking.
- Nop. Trash came up to something like
Slash just nodded, giving him time. Runs
eyes blindly stared at the painting in the wall
in front of him, but soon he shook the head
Tomorrow well see what youve
got, you and her. Then well decide how to
The other stood up grining. Ok. But
dont even dream of waking me up before
midday. Tomorrows Boss turn to do the
Run watched him going out without a word, his
eyes turned back to the painting, but they still
didnt see it. He wondered why he still had
on his mind, so clear, the picture of León and
Marron ("so alike to you" his friend
said) kissing at the loft door.
An angry voice and the sound of something heavy
falling down startled him up. He jumped onto his
feet and looked out at the hallway just like
Slash, who got the picture first and laughed out
loud. The bathrooms door slammed shut as
Boss, wearing only his boxers, tried to
straighten up covering his mouth with one hand.
Wrong approach, lover boy Slash
mocked, clapping his back when he passed by him
towards the kitchen.
Fuck off! snarled the other, yanking
away from his hand.
Run stopped Boss and asked him to show his mouth.
Seeing the blood dripping from the lower lip, he
told the youth to get some ice as he went for the
first aids box at the bathroom. He knocked twice,
not stepping back when it burst apart and Trash
almost jumped over him, her fists ready to beat
Antiseptic he said, stopping her
only with his usual serenity.
Trashs head was pouring water all over the
t-shirt, which wasnt enough to hide the
fact that she was naked beneath it. The girl gave
him the box breathing hardly.
Next time gonna really knock his lights
out she growled.
You were having a shower ?
She agreed snorting. The very sucker
brushed away the curtain and...
Dont think its gonna happen
again Run spun on his heels and headed for
the kitchen, telling Slash, who was about to go
back into his room : I dont want a
sinlge word about this tomorrow. Not yours, at
Boss was waiting for him by the sink, pressing
against his mouth several cubes of ice, wrapped
into a napkin already stained with his blood. Run
took a briek look at the wound.
A right punch from below, huh? You bit
your lip. Take, do it yourself, you know where
you need it more he took the ice from his
hands and looked for a clean napkin.
I heard the shower, and got scared when
nobody answered Boss managed to say,
bearing the antiseptics burn.
Didnt know it was her, and didnt
She takes her walk-man to the shower
Run nodded allowing himself a fleeting
grin. It would be better if you sleep with
the ice on your mouth, so you dont have a
Boss agreed mumbling something like "gonna
look like a fucking monkey" and thanked him
before going back to his bedroom. Run watched him
grining openly now and turned the lights off,
hoping now he would be able to finish the chapter
and go to sleep in peace.
Sayaki - 4/2k