Mick Rose

Hump Day

Suckin’ my unlit Winston, I swerved the Buick longside the curb, on the corner of Grape and Vine. And fought to squelch a yawn. Twelve-hour-grinds three days straight dancin’ the graveyard shift, and my weary old ass shoulda been crashed, in my otherwise empty studio.

But Slim Grady owed me money. Accordin’ to his ex, Slim had slunk off like a skunk five nights earlier—to shack up with some ho out here in the Red Light zone.

I almost stepped in dog shit climbin’ out the Buick. While the dank, rank air that greeted me smelled like Godzilla’s ass. Graffiti choked the chipped brick buildings—all the doors and first-floor windows barred with metal gates. Shards of broken glass—in every color of a Skittles rainbow crunched beneath my boots: the gutter strewn with cans … needles, bottles, bloated condoms—and chunks of rotting puke. Not a single red light anywhere. Looked like a cockroach zone to me.

If his ex was right, and she wasn’t slingin’ bull to protect her man, Slim lived half-way down this block on my side of the walk. This time in the mornin’, most of the human roaches had holed themselves away, and wouldn’t scurry out till nightfall. But closing in on Grady’s squat, I spied a piece of tail, leanin’ against a shit-box Civic, idlin’ at the curb. New to the streets for sure; she still had all her curves. Since drugs had yet to waste her … smooth coffee skin still gleamed as sweet as melted caramel. And jeans not yoga pants: bonus points for me. By the time I reached them, the Civic sputtered off.

“Can you bloody believe that?”

“Believe bloody what exactly?”

“Guy wanted me to blow him for a measly twenty bucks. What is he fucking nuts? I gotta get me thirty for the likes a that.”

“Well, today’s already Wednesday, doll. Dude’s probably low on cash. Most folks don’t get paid till Friday rolls around again.”

“Hell, you’re probably right. But if he wanted me to blow him, he shoulda thought a that before blowin’ all his cash.”

She amped her smile a thousand watts: “How ‘bout you, baby? You got any money?”

Greed filled her drug-starved eyes when I reached inside my pocket—

Her mood sinkin’ like the Titanic when I flashed a badge instead. “I get paid on Fridays, too, doll.”

Gotta give her credit. She rebounded like Dennis Rodman in his NBA prime—ampin’ that smile brighter than all the marquee lights in my little corner of China Town. “Why didn’t you say so, baby. Five-O’s always free.”

I cupped her elbow in my palm, steered her toward the Buick. Kept her pressed against my side: in case she thought of boltin’. My boots and her silver stilettos grindin’ those Skittle rainbows.

“Best news I’ve heard all week, doll. Let’s get this Hump Day party started. We can launch with fucky-sucky.”

I bought that badge in a fucking dollar store. Best money I’ve ever spent.

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