Fifteen Shards of Broken Glass 5
A letter from the author: Fifteen Shards of Broken Glass is based on a true story. Names, places and scenarios have been changed to create this work of fiction. Due to the confronting adult themes, this work is not recommended for persons under the age of eighteen. If you have suffered abuse, or are being abused, please seek advice from a victims of crime unit near you. You do not have to suffer in silence. ~*~ 1999
I made my way from Staten Island over to Brooklyn before ending up on the lower East side of Manhattan where my luck ran out in the fall.
I was living on the streets for about a year, sleeping my way around when I was busted in an alley for solicitation by one of NYPD’s finest. He got me good, posing as a customer and when I went to unzip his pants, he flashed me his badge.
He unceremoniously hauled me to my feet, spun me around and pressed me against the wall as he held my arms behind my back and slapped a set of cold cuffs on my wrists. I should have known something wasn’t right with him. He was far too handsome than any other jerk who usually paid for it. This guy could have had any woman willingly – he didn’t have to pay. My drug addiction left me exposed, hungry, vulnerable and blind to the obvious signs he was a cop.
I tried to look on the bright side – tonight, I’d have a roof over my head and if I was lucky, a blanket to keep warm and food in my belly come morning.
‘What’s your name?’ I asked him as I sat cuffed in the back of his vehicle while he drove to the station.
‘Bradley – Oliver Bradley, but you can address me as Sir, or Officer.’
I smirked. ‘Are you also a gentleman, Officer Bradley?’ My shoulders ached from sitting with my hands behind my back and I was dying to scratch my inner thigh, so I squirmed and did my best to rub against the seat to relieve the itch.
He glanced in the rear-view mirror at me with a disapproving scowl on his brow. ‘Stop trying to get off back there. Think I haven’t picked up hookers like you before?’
‘Please, I’m not like other hookers. I didn’t have a choice.’
I’d never been in trouble with the law before, but knew that sooner or later, my lifestyle would lead me down that road, and I’d have to deal with it. I heard horror stories from some on the street about women’s prison. I didn’t want to end up there.
‘Save it for the judge,’ he murmured as we stopped outside the station.
I didn’t try to bribe, or bargain with him for my freedom with empty promises. ‘Please don’t send me back to him…’ My voice trembled with fear, fearing someone might recognize me and report back to Steve. Ever since I heard that Steve never did any jail time for what he did to me, I figured he must have dirty cops in every part of town. I wasn’t even sure I could trust this cop, but my adrenalin and hunger made my thinking foggy. I was on the verge of spilling my life story to him. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because he had kind eyes?
My captor must have interpreted the genuine fear in my voice. It softened his demeanor toward me.
‘Who is he
‘My step father,’ I quietly replied. ‘He lives in the Bronx.’
‘Rough neighborhood…’ I heard it in his voice, and his comment spoke volumes that he understood without me explaining it to him. ‘Do you have a name?’
‘Annie.’ I shied away from his gaze in the mirror. I was ashamed of what I had become. Maybe I shouldn’t have given him my real name. My stomach growled and I couldn’t control the itchiness crawling all over my skin.
‘Is that your real name? No last name, Annie?’ I didn’t detect any sarcasm in his tone.
I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. ‘I’m scared to give it to you in case I can’t trust you and you notify my stepfather.’
There was a brief pause as he glanced out the window at the 7 th Precinct. ‘What about your mom?’
‘She’s dead. He killed her in a drunken rage…’ I stopped myself from saying another word. ‘He killed my little sister too, but I never told anyone that. He made me swear never to tell.’ A lump formed in my throat. I had tried to suppress all memories of my family – Damn him
! The empathy in his voice brought my lifeless conscience back to life, and for the first time in what felt like forever, I felt the emotional pain of being alone and vulnerable. You couldn’t afford to feel that when living on the street. Survival of the fittest meant, at times, behaving like an animal.
‘How old are you, Annie?’
‘Eighteen next Tuesday.’ I couldn’t help fidgeting with the cuffs to scratch my wrists. Since I couldn’t control the urge and satisfy the need for a chemical high, the next best thing was feeling pain. My fingernails dug into the delicate skin and after the initial sting subsided, I continued to dig, pick and scratch to keep the stimulating rush going. It was such a release to be able to let go of the reality this cop exposed within me.
He tapped his thumb on the steering wheel. The sound made me nervous. ‘Strange how your ID said you were twenty-one, almost twenty-two…’
When Johnny made a break with me from the club, I didn’t realize I put on a pair of shorts that had my fake ID and ten bucks stashed in the back pocket. I was kind of glad I still had it, but now, I wish I didn’t. I panicked and blabbed.
‘I didn’t do it. My stepfather traded me to some seedy club boss in Philly and forged my ID. They made me strip and dance for them in a club. That’s how I ended up on the streets. That’s why I can’t go back. I’d rather you kill me than send me back.’ Our conversation got wildly out of control. I said too much and I whimpered as I dug too deep into my wrist and the stinging sensation that made me feel in control was suddenly gone.
He started the car and drove away from the police station. I didn’t know why he did that, but I got scared he would take me somewhere I’d regret. I was confused as to why he didn’t book me. He had me cuffed, in his car, ready to lead me into the station and throw the book at me, but something changed his mind.
‘I’ve heard all the excuses under the sun from hookers, but I’ve never heard the truth from one of them.’
‘How do you know I told you the truth?’ I could feel the blood draining from my wrist down my hand, making the cuffs sticky and rest my head against the cool frame of the car door.
‘You opened up real easy about your past. Hookers never usually do that. They normally blame their pimp, or how they’re trying to support a kid, drug habit, or a fictitious grandma,’ he paused and glanced at me in his mirror. ‘I vaguely remember a couple of suspicious deaths in the same family that came out of the Bronx. I wouldn’t send a dog I liked back to that neighborhood, let alone a pretty young woman like yourself.’
‘I’m not pretty,’ I whispered as my wrist throbbed.
He glanced in the rearview mirror again. ‘Yes, you are. Under all that makeup and mask you wear, I’m sure there is a good girl. That’s why I’m not bringing you in.’ Was he going to let me go
? ‘Are you letting me go?’ My feelings were mixed. On one hand, I’d be spared women’s prison and all the horror stories I’d heard on the streets from other hookers, but on the other hand, the beginning of winter was only five to six weeks away, and then the snow would fall. I didn’t relish the thought of spending another winter out in the cold after surviving the wind, rain and storms of the last few months.
He shook his head. ‘Not exactly. I’m taking you to a shelter that a friend of mine runs in Queens. You’ll be able to clean up your life and be safe.’
‘Queens?’ I didn’t know what to say. There had only been a couple of times in my life where a complete stranger had shown me kindness. I didn’t want to mess up this opportunity. ‘Thank you, Officer Bradley. I’m truly grateful for your kindness.’
‘Don’t let me catch you on the streets again, or next time, I’ll lock you up and throw the book at you. Everyone deserves a second chance, Annie.’
I burst into tears – something I hadn’t done for a long time. I couldn’t believe how fortune had a way of smiling on me when I was at my lowest. ‘You won’t. I wanted to be a teacher, once. Do you think I can study again and become one? I’ll need a good job if I’m going to get my life back on track. Do you know of a place that will give me a job? I’m pretty smart, for a girl…’
Officer Bradley chuckled. ‘Have you always talked so fast? I ought to give your tongue a speeding ticket.’
‘I’m sorry,’ I murmured. ‘I didn’t mean to get over excited, but this is the first time in years that I felt anyone has had any faith in me.’ I silently prayed his charity wasn’t going to be as brief as Johnny’s had been. I hoped I never had to see him again, but as life had taught me, you don’t always get what you hope for out of it.
Once we arrived at the shelter in Queens, Officer Bradley removed my cuffs and I rubbed my bloody, chaffed wrists. He was even so kind as to remove his coat and place it around my shoulders and didn’t even comment on the state of my wrists. I figured there was nothing that would shock this guy or that could rattle his cage.
‘Come on, I’ll shonhw you inside.’ His voice was kind, caring, and almost sympathetic. I hated that. He even held open the door for me. He seemed like the perfect gentleman, but the pity in his eyes when he looked down at me, made me feel uneasy.
Standing under the florescent porch light, I could finally appreciate how handsome he was, and envied the woman he was with for having such a kind man. His eyes were a unique shade of pale blue. Looking into them made my knees weaken and a feverish rush came over me. The deep, authoritative tone of his voice made me gush, inside out. His smile, floppy blonde hair and boyish good looks reminded me of Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie posters from Titanic. I tried to sneak in to see the movie once, but got kicked out for not paying. What was I meant to do?
I was living on the streets at the time.
‘Thank you,’ I was sure I blushed as I passed him. I couldn’t control the impure thoughts flashing through my mind. They left an icy shiver that tingled up and down my spine, radiating through my arms and I decided to keep my head down in case he could read the betraying thoughts in my eyes.
I waited for him in a small, well-lit area with walls littered with posters and signage for victims of crime and crisis hotline telephone numbers for homeless women, but the most confronting posters of all were the domestic violence ones, pleading for women and children to seek help. I rolled my eyes and turned my back on them, trying to block out all the painful memories those posters dredged up for me. I focused on trying to memorize the rape crisis hotline phone number that I could barely read on the opposite wall from where I sat, but couldn’t sit still. I was aching for another hit. My legs had already begun to tremble and shake. The demons inside my head were screaming at me to find another fix fast to appease their compelling urge to harm myself further. I was so hungry that my own blood appealed to me and I licked the clotted scratches on my wrists, trying to make the pain go away. Once the feelings of doubt got a grip, I knew I’d be lost, and the slave within me would do anything to steal, cheat, lie, or fuck my way into getting what they needed in order to calm down.
Just as I was on the verge of losing it, a portly, dark skinned woman sat beside me and took my bloodied hand in hers and placed a cold damp cloth on my wrist. I drew in a deep breath as it stung and I tried to pull away from her. Oliver was there to stop me lashing out at the woman. He grabbed me and forced me to sit back down on my chair next to Petra.
‘Show this lady a bit of respect, Annie. She’s only trying to help you.’ Oliver said in that firm voice of his that commanded my attention. I had no more fight left in me, so I did as I was told.
‘Hello, Annie. I’m Petra. Oliver here tells me you’ve been living on the streets.’
I gazed wearily up at Officer Bradley then back at Petra. ‘I’m tired of running, but I can’t go home.’ I couldn’t hold it in any longer and burst into tears again.
Petra put her arms around me. ‘She’ll be in good hands here, Oliver. I’ll keep you posted.’
‘Thanks Petra,’ he said then placed his hand on my head. ‘You keep your nose clean, or I’ll be back to lock you up, you hear?’
His voice was firm, serious, but also compassionate. I gave a nod to acknowledge I had heard him before he picked his jacket up off the floor that fell off my shoulders when I tried to get away from Petra, turned on his heel and walked out the door, leaving me in the arms of this strange woman.
~*~ Continue reading Annie's journey in Fifteen Shards of Broken Glass. Will this promise of a new life last, and for how long? Stay tuned for the most compelling part of the story yet. Coming soon! I must apologize to my readers for any odd typo you come across. I have done my best to read, edit and re-read everything before posting. Thank you all for your support, for reading, and sharing.
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