||Locust- Straight From The Horses Mouth
Shards: Glass Shatters
Used For Glue
Chapter One – Ten Solid Feet Away From Retribution
“You better watch out, oh what you wish for. It better be worth it. So much to die for.” Hole – Celebrity Skin
What am I doing here? Am I sure that I even wanna fucking be here? It’s a big risk I’m taking. What if Ken finds out? I asked myself while the waitress walked away. I was shit worried. I was betraying Ken to his rival- Antonio Harcroft, but I was doing it for a reason. Revenge. Don’t get me wrong, I was planning to ditch Ken when I was all sorted for higher shit, but I was never planning to get rid of him. This thought only popped into my head when I found out from a snitch that he was going to ditch me once he fully used me to get to the top himself.
I know. Never trust a snitch, but in this case I do. The evidence was right under my nose. The way he said that he’d make sure I’d get what I want, and the way he’d tell me that he’d always be behind me every step of the way. I know that they most of you would be thinking that it was only natural of him to be caring, but it wasn’t. I was one of his girls, nothing more than that. There were another dozen or so girls there and he didn’t give them the attention he gave me. So he wasn’t that caring at all. He saw something in me; something he could use.
I shouldn’t have opened myself up to him, but after a year under his arms, I’ve found it to be quite useful. I’ve learnt how to handle myself, and now I have the four Ss as well as the enthusiasm. Thanks to him, I could probably be stealthier than an agent, although he was never helping me. It was about him all along. Fucker. I shouldn’t have been so naïve, but I now I know better and I know exactly how to handle it. Revenge is so sweet. I should know. I’ve played that card so many times. Where has poor old Joe Klarke gone now? Stuck within the trash of a canal, that’s where. Can I sure pick the card or what?
It’s gonna take a lot more to bring Ken down. He’s educated in crime and he knows everything there is to know on every subject of the Underworld. He probably has a book on the matter somewhere. It would take a lot more than my wits and knowledge to draw up his death certificate, and that’s why I went looking for Harcroft. Ken always called me his Barbie. Dunno why, I have black hair and green eyes. Far different from the bimbo-style blonde and blue. But Ken’s gonna find out how scheming Barbie is. I’ll even surpass Marylin Monroe. He will hella regret the day he ever decided to use me for glue. I’ll sell my soul to the devil myself, if I have to.
But first I need an ally who knows all the filth. Someone knows Ken’s weaknesses and every ounce of crime he’s ever committed. That guy is Antonio Harcroft. A rival to Ken. I often heard Ken speak of him in such a snobbish tone, and I was damn sure that he somehow resented him. He had the perfect reason- the power Harcroft had. They were friends at first and headed into Underground gangs for the same reason I did. Power. Their priorities changed and both started to hate each other… been at each other’s guts ever since Harcroft set up his own gang in Los Angeles.
And I was going to meet this infamous guy who was gonna hopefully help me. Didn’t stop me from worrying. In my head, I was a fucking headless chicken going around in circles of anxiety. If Ken found out, he’d have my guts for lunch. I’d be nailed to a cross in no time at all. I looked around the café… maybe I should have picked where we meet up. I would feel a little more comfortable in a more desolate area. The location was just outside of Leeds, a little too close to home for my liking, but Harcroft said to meet him there. I adjusted my baseball cap so other customers there wouldn’t see my eyes.
I didn’t want them to see the worry that was splashing around in the irises. I still couldn’t believe that I had managed to get a hold of the old dog. Couldn’t exactly look him up in the Yellow Pages now, could I? Still managed to do it. I glanced at the watch and stared at the door. He was ten minutes late. Was he stitching me up? Was he going to go tell Ken to wind him up? I didn’t know. It was depressing me really badly. My mouth was dry and my cheeks felt sore. I had Rage’s Calm like a Bomb running through my head, and I knew that if I unclenched my hands, they would be shaking.
And then… suddenly… there was something blocking the light from the windows. I was near enough relieved, even though I wasn’t sure who it really was. I lifted my head to look at this tall figure and saw a man- early thirties, good-looking, but he had the look of a man who had seen too much. It was attractive, no doubt about that. He was beautiful in a sense; so powerful and majestic. He was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans, and I knew that he’d much prefer to be wearing a suit and tie, but like me, he was trying to blend in. Not cause suspicion. “Stephanie, right?” He asked in his American accent. Despite the nasal type of talking, his own depth of voice was one to make the low self-esteemed go suicidal.
“Aye… I am.” I practically tripped over my Bradfordian accent. So, so annoying. I doubt I even sounded intelligent. His lips twitched a bit and he seated himself down. There was a brief moment of silence. I couldn’t think of anything intellectual to say to such a powerful figure. How the fuck was I supposed to ask him what I’d brought him down here for? I drummed my fingers on the table trying in vain to think of something to kick-start what I had to say. He looked around; it was easy to see that he was observing the surroundings placed around him. I had to think of something to say before he decided this was a complete waste of time. “So…” I began.
“So what?” He said as he leaned forward, from under my cap, I could see he was frowning. Very focused and prepared for what I would throw at him. Truth was, I didn’t plan this through. Shit… shit, shit, shit. I looked down on the table and hoped that he’d excuse my poor prep work. At least he decided to show up. He must have cleared at least two appointments to book me in. Well, maybe he did. Anyway, I sighed and looked desperately ill to think of something to say. “Have you got something to ask or not? You did say something about Ken.”
I smirked. If I were still the girl I was a year or two back, I would have blushed to save the bloody canal waters from winning the ‘richest red’ award. “I need information on Ken. Basically, anything that can help me.” He gestured to hear more. I really wasn’t in the mood to tell him the life and crimes of. “Well, I can’t get help from snitches or people who used to work for him. They either: don’t know anything about Ken, or they’ve been silenced. I want something on him, something that I can manipulate for my own personal needs.”
“So you want me to give you all the files I have on him?” He asked, eyebrow raised. “Aren’t you a little young to play this game?”
“Please. I had my own father shot to make sure he didn’t fuck things up for me. I know what game I’m playing, I-”
“Just need the instructions.” He finished. He looked down on the table. “It all sounds far-fetched to me. Despite what you know, you’re still young. If you fuck up, it’s your own blood down the gutter. Now, if I decide to help you, you’re gonna hafta tell me exactly what you have in mind. Ken’s pretty damn clever, you’ve gotta give him that.”
“Yeah, but I only need the information to measure him up. From there on I can play-by-play myself.” I said. I didn’t need anyone to kill him for me. I could do that myself. Harcroft was pretty patronising and it was pissing me off. He could have cut me some slack. “Whaddaya want me to do to prove that I’m serious about this? Sleep with you?” I snapped. I could feel my temper rising. He was treating me like a fucking baby bat, and I was damn sure sick of it. I felt like giving him a punch. It was only his powerful presence preventing me from doing so.
He laughed. I glared at him. “I can really tell you work for Ken. All of you resort to sex when something doesn’t go your way.” Was I just a prostitute to him? I couldn’t believe that was what he must have thought. I could fight; I could do more than what a normal street kid do. This is what you get for asking for help, told you that you shouldn’t have bothered. You can manage it yourself, leave this fucker outta it. You’ll just end up hurting yourself if you ally yourself with a person. There, those thoughts were my last line of defence. It was my cue to leave. God had better send him to Hell so I could eternally poke his eyes with a red-hot iron rod.
I stood up and made way to leave. I would have seriously punched him, but I wasn’t even midway on the Hierarchy of Hardasses. “Hey, you’re not gonna get anywhere if you leave like this.” He said. I stopped. He was right but I didn’t care. I threw him a look before I left the building. Customer services were shit there anyway. As I headed out to the main road, a large force threw me into the neighbouring alleyway. My back hit the floor and I looked up to see who had done that. No prizes for guessing who. “Don’t you have any manners built into you?” Harcroft said as he looked down at me. Pretty rich coming from an American. My cap flew off and I took in a deep intake of air. That was it. I was ready to kill even if he was one of the top dogs.
I stood up and looked him straight in the eye. That’s what you do. Never ever show them that you are afraid. He cocked his eyebrow and on cue, a flash of red momentarily took away my vision. I didn’t care if I was a head shorter than him, or had a weaker frame of body. I threw a sold twenty-four caret gold punch and it hit its target. I could hear the sirens go off in my head. If I wasn’t so angry, I’d be amused. A kick brought him down to the ground. I kneeled over him and smirked. “You’re average hooker? You money-grabbing dicks are all the same. Too much use of the head” I said.
He was shocked I tell you. Absolutely gobsmacked. I couldn’t help swell up in devilish pride. “Where the fuck did you learn that?” He asked.
“Mate, when you piss me off, I ain’t gonna be nice and answer your questions.” I retorted.
“So Ken didn’t teach you that.”
“Ken only teaches the basics of the basics. Not enough to save you from the date rape drug.” I said as I stood up. I only remember those incidents far too well. Fourteen, a growing body, started periods… ready to use. I’d make no big deal outta it when I learnt that it was something I had to give. I just had to self-manifest disgrace for a short while before I got what I wanted. It was no deal once one of the girls passed me some Roofie to make sure I’d have no detailed recollection later on. I felt really sick and weak; I always did after I thought about it in such a way. I stood up and moved away from Harcroft so he could get up.
“Didn’t expect that outta you.” He said as he brushed away dirt that clung onto his clothes.
“See something to use?” I said bitterly. Last line of defence, I warned myself.
“No. I’m not into the whole prostitution business. That was always Ken’s thing. However, I do like the fact that you can look after yourself.” He said. “It adds more character…”
“I’m looking to get rid of Ken, not to fucking hook myself up with another user.” I said politely as I could.
“And am I asking you to come back to L.A. with me? I’m offering you help.”
“Make sure you’re have insurance to his company-slash-business-slash-whatever. If you can prevent the next in line from claiming the assets, the company’s yours. Give or take a few prying eyes. But I want the company in my name.” He said.
“Then I’m left with absolutely nothing at all.” I said, not liking the idea.
“I’ll raise you up, don’t you worry. Even sign a contract on it.” He said as he held out a hand.
I looked at the hand. It was so goddamn risky. Harcroft could be launching me into another Ken style deal. I couldn’t really trust the guy on his words. It was so unorthodox. I could be giving up everything for a guy’s promise. What if he went back on it? “I keep my promises. I told you, I’ll even send over a contract with the information if it makes you calmer.” He said. I took out my left hand and leaned to shake the outstretched one. There. It was a done deal. I had placed my trust on the table for the first time in ages. “Right. D’ya mind turning around for a minute. I’m just gonna put this chip into you.”
“What the fuck?” I exclaimed.
“To keep track of you. This shit is highly advanced.”
“Why the fuck are you gonna put that into me?” I said as I saw him take out an electronic board that was the same size as the plain ring I was wearing on my little finger.
“This. This monitors your blood pressure so I have some idea of what you’re doing… It is also a homing device.” He answered as he fiddled around with it. “It transfers the information into a text type language that I can understand. It knows when you’re in fear.”
“Like a hidden camera.”
“But why would you place that in?” I asked
“One. To make sure that you’re okay and everything, hence the heartbeat monitoring. Two. I don’t trust you all that well. I mean, who can trust a girl who killed her own dad? Like you, I’ll be happy when we’ve got this agreed on paper.” He smirked.
“Fair do’s.” I commented. “But what about you? What am I supposed to do. I don’t trust you all that well either.” He took out a mobile phone and handed it to me. I was ready to laugh. This top of the range mobile phone was going to ease my worrying. It was more of a use to him rather than myself. He motioned for me to turn around. I looked at the size of the chip and told him to fuck off. No way, if he was serious about what it was, he would have to place it near my bloodstream or something. It’d also leave a suspicious mark.
“I’ve done this a number of times already. Trust me.” He said. I hesitated before turning around to face the wall. I put my hand on the sooty wall to help me keep my balance. He held my hair up away from the hairline on the neck. This was where it would hurt. I braced myself for an extreme amount of pain, but nothing came. I realised that it was because after inflicting so much physical pain on myself, it was normal. Cutting into my skin was the same as someone shaking my hand. That was how it felt like. I grinned at the wall. I had near enough rid myself of physical pain. I could feel the chip go straight in and winced slightly. I hoped I wouldn’t have a huge lump there afterwards.
He shoved it right in until I could feel complete numbness in that area. It had probably hit a vein or something. I could feel him adjusting it and it felt sick. It was funny. Having this thing stuck into you. I held my hair while he sewed it all up. For a moment I felt like Frankenstein’s monster. Made up of unwanted bits. I wondered where Harcroft had learnt to administer stitches, but I guess it was all part of his job. “There. All done.” He commented as he touched the skin around the stitched skin. My back arched a little, what a reflex. Hell, I hated myself for it. The sooner I got outta Ken’s grasp, the better. “It’s flattering, but I have a wife.” I smirked. What a Mafia family man.
I turned around and flexed my neck. It was a little sore, but I could live with it. I still had my hair up, and moved my fingers down to where the stitches were. No lump or anything. I hoped Ken wasn’t too suspicious. “Don’t move it around so much, and take out the stitches in about a week’s time.” I shoved the phone in my pocket and nodded. He looked at his watch. “I’ve gotta go now, running late for another delivery I hafta pick up. I’ll send details of the contract and files when I get back.”
“Yeah, thanks.” I said.
“Nice meeting you.” He said as he walked off into the distance.
“Where have you been?” John asked. Meet John, the regular suck-ass, bum-licking Kenny’s pet. In other words- Ken’s right-hand man. Why ever did Ken choose this twit of a man to be his right-hand man is beyond me. He was so… horrifying to be honest. He was the stereotypical burly figure you’d expect to safeguard a businessman. All he was missing was his sunglasses. I ran my fingers through my hair as I tried to think of a suitable answer. “Well, what have you been doing? Ken’s been looking for you.” He said as he folded his arms.
“He has? Why?” I said, changing the subject slightly. Now see how stupid Mr Hitman Two was. It was certain that he’d answer with a reason. Always did. Besides I wasn’t that worried about Ken. He’s always looking for me so I can complete one of his pointless tasks. He then forgets and goes on to pester another girl. It’s the way he is, the way he’s always been. Demanding, greedy and lazy. It was so naïve of me to believe that this guy could help me get to the top. Right on cue Ken came into the room. His hair was damp as hell and he was fixing his trousers up. I shook my head and rolled my eyes. Ever the bad boy.
“Where the hell have you been?” He asked while he gestured for John to leave the room.
“I’ve just been out. When’s that been not allowed?” I asked. “So what did you need me for?”
“Never mind.” He said as he sat down on the table. “Where did you go?”
“Out and about.” I shrugged. “Nowhere special.”
Ken was a pretty good-looking bloke. There was no point telling a lie even if I hated him. He had soft blue eyes and light-brown hair. He looked about twenty-five, when in actual fact he was twenty-nine. His bad boy looks were also an attractive feature; he looked experienced and hard-hitting. What every woman wanting an affair needs. I often wondered why he didn’t just opt to be a gigolo. He’d make a better job outta it than all the rest of those gay men out there. Ken scared me sometimes. He’d sometimes have that look in his eye that reminded me of a psycho-killer.
He lit up a cigarette and passed it to me. I took it and sucked in all the tar, nicotine and all the rest of the shit that was in there. I was meaning to stop, but I just couldn’t find a time to do so. I was sure that I wasn’t addicted; I probably just did it as a past time. I stayed a distance away from him because I was still a little worried about the stitches. “Something’s up with you. I can tell by the face you’ve got on. You gonna tell me or am I gonna have to find out?” He asked. I was good at keeping emotions hidden, but I wasn’t the record holding non-expressive person. Ken tugged at my trousers but I pushed him away.
“I’m starting today.” I lied. He would have probably known if he’d taken much notice of my menstrual calendar, but all guys tended to avoid talking about such a vulgar topic. Ken still pulled me towards him and sat me down on his leg while lighting up a cigarette for himself. I know what most people would be thinking. ‘How disgusting, he’s old enough to be her father.’ I was turning sixteen in November, which was a few weeks away. It was no big deal anyway; like I said, he was okay for a man of his age.
I brushed some of his hair away from his eyes while he continued to smoke. I wanted to tease him so much before I put him down. I sounded so evil and yet I wanted to be. I was sick of being the pathetic victim; it was time to fight back. I took off my coat and stubbed out the remaining cigarette on the table. Ken didn’t seem to mind at all. He was too busy thinking about something. I tried to get up because I wanted to put my coat away, but Ken still had this tremendous grip on my thigh and waist. I was bound to him. It was almost accurate to believe that I had given up one prison to be transferred to another one overseas.
His hands slid under the ripped T-shirt I had on. It was almost hypnotising. The smoke fogged my vision slightly and I was thankful to have such light around in the room. The door suddenly burst open and I stood up to see who it was. No one was allowed to bother Ken at these hours, there must have been a big problem happening somewhere. I just hoped that it was with in no relation with my little meeting with Harcroft. “Boss, it’s Andy and Mike again. They’ve gone fucking mental. They got caught pickpocketing and have gone. Police can’t find them at all. You’ve gotta come and sort this out before we all get nicked.” John said urgently.
“Fucking bastards.” Ken commented as he left the room with Big Foot slowly trailing him. At least I had got outta that one. I was about to head off into my room when I heard a noise come up from the cellar. I cautiously tiptoed down the stairs to see what it was, although I didn’t have to wait long to find out. A hand clapped over my mouth and another down by my sides. I tried to release me legs so I could kick whoever it was, but my foot was caught between some objects on the floor. I tried to bite the hand as well, but they had obviously anticipated my reactions. I stopped continuing to struggle. It was pointless anyway.
“Don’t scream, kick our balls, punch us or whatever.” Said the voice. “We’re being nice to you so just be considerate.” I looked up at the assailants with shock written all over my face. It was Mike and Andy. They were here the whole time! They saw Ken and me and were probably laughing their heads off silently. I wanted to punch them so badly, but I nodded and they let go of me. “Right… well… As you may know, we’re not on Ken’s good books.” Andy said.
“But, we don’t wanna be.” Concluded Mike.
“That’s because we’ve taken a leaf out of your book.” Said Andy, grinning a little.
“We’ve ditching Ken for Harcroft. We made the pickpocketing obvious because we wanted to get caught and cause Ken some trouble. Also to bide us some time.” Mike continued.
“But Anisah caught us both and before we could leg it here, she told us to pass you a message.”
“What?” I asked.
“School gates at half past five, tomorrow evening.”
“Now, that’s all we got time for, Steph. We gotta fly. Gotta go to the airport before Ken catches on.” Mike said as he kissed my cheek.
“Get in touch with you real soon.” Andy added.
“Whatever you do, keep Ken’s grubby hands away from you. You seriously don’t need to put up with his shit. If you want, you can come with us. It’s L.A!” Mike said as he held my hand.
“I’m not going anywhere until Ken gets what he gives.” I said, a little dazed by their sudden announcement.
“Right, well… nothing we can do about your decision.” Mike said as he and Andy ran out of the house. I was dumbfounded for a moment. They were heading off to L.A. with Harcroft. Un-fucking-believable. I was astounded. Bloody hellfire. I didn’t think they’d have the guts. They were always the screw-ups in Ken’s eyes. Good thieves but major screw-ups. That’s why John commented on their escapade as an ‘again’ for Andy and Mike. They were inseparable brothers. I doubt I’d ever meet any pair like them again. I closed the cellar door shut and made my way to my room. I guess that was the end of that again.
I slumped onto my bed and stared at the ceiling for a while. Just going over what had happened in that one day. Incredible. This was only the start. I could feel it in my bones. I yawned and went over what Andy and Mike had said to me before leaving. Anisah wanted to see me. How the hell did she manage to find out where I worked? Why would she wanna see me anyway? I seriously fucked up. All the things she said not to do, I ended up doing. Sleeping with guys, taking drugs. I felt hella guilty. It was hardly my fault. This was what I had to do! To get to the top you have to sacrifice something. I never saw Anisah after I told her I was planning to runaway.
She had other friends. I couldn’t keep her down with my problems all the time. That wasn’t fair of me at all. I sighed. Too depressing and emotion-provoking. I heard the door open and I sat up. It was Ken. He resigned to sit on the bedside table; he breathed heavily and dropped his hands to his legs. “They got away.” He simply said. I wasn’t bothering to waste any of my tears on him. I stared at him as he was burning up in anger. I knew what was going to come next. I’d hate relating it again. I reached out and grabbed a bottle of Evian tainted with the date rape drug.
It was raining a little. I couldn’t help smiling as I leant against the wall opposite the school grounds. I hadn’t visited this place for a long time. I was sure that no one would recognise me either. I had my hair dyed red and decided to go for the cap again. I loved it when it rained; it was so refreshing and full of energy. I don’t know why the majority of people hate the rain. Always on about it as though its some bad omen bringing seven years of depression. I hate it when people say stuff like: ‘Oh, I hope it doesn’t rain for you.” It’s piss annoying. Yeah, okay, so I understand that Britain is prone to long bouts of weather, but it’s rain for Christ’s sake! Without it, so many bad things could happen.
It was bang on half-past five and I was scanning the school gates for any sign of Anisah. What if I didn’t recognise her? That was one helluva stupid question. Of course I’d be able to recognise her, I mean, she couldn’t have changed much in over a year or so. Then again, I had managed to… Suddenly a girl my age sat down on the wall, you could tell it was Anisah. Her super-straight hair and calm like features separated her from the rest. I didn’t know what to say. In my opinion we always talked better over email and stuff like that. “Hi.” She said.
But… I could talk. I could do nearly anything I wanted. I didn’t have to feel so resentful and depressed about stuff I couldn’t do because I could do all of it. I didn’t have any parents that hated who I was turning into. This was brilliant! Fuck that, it was some sort of supernatural assurance. “Hey.” I said, reserving all my energy for later talk. I wasn’t mellow and deep anymore. I was the reformed Marie Allen. Hell, that black and white movie was ace. It’s a real shame I can’t remember the title. Like Marie Allen said at the end of the movie- ‘For a forty dollar heist, I sure got an education.’ Damn. Can’t even remember if those were the words she said. Fuckin’ A.
“I know what’s been happening to you.” She stated. “My brother knows Mike well. Your name cropped up a number of times.”
I avoided her stare. “I guess I’m just a teenage whore.” I joked. “Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get where you wanna be. That’s all I’m doing. This is just a stopgap. Temp work.”
“Just be careful. You shouldn’t mess around with dangerous people.” At least the conversation was more exciting than the ones we had before.
“They’re not that dangerous once you get to know them a little better. Like the rest of the population, they have seams that aren’t fastened tightly. I just wanna live, y’know? Be what I’ve missed out on.”
“But you’ll be saying that in another two years when you find yourself in Juvie, or in another guy’s bed. I don’t know why you got involved with Ken… You should have come to me and my brother would have fixed you up with Antonio straight away.” She said.
I felt fucking guilty. She was the one person who put up with my shit without ever complaining. Not even to another person although what she must have been thinking inside. I was Sid all over. I hated myself for never being an interesting, talkative, happy friend. I dunno what Anisah thought. It could have helped although I hated tough criticism. “So, is Ken anything like Dalton?” She asked. Haha! I would never have expected his name to crop up in this conversation. For you people who live under rocks, Dalton was a ‘bad’ gang leader who appeared several times in Eastenders- ‘the most talked about soap’.
“Maybe, I dunno. It’s like asking if Harcroft is anything like Dirty Den.” I said. (Dirty Den- one of the most charismatic characters in the soap, he was also a bit of a bad man).
“He probably is. I can only expect his wife trying to pretend she’s dying to get a bit of attention.”