Her high stiletto heels clacked along the pavement while those of the others, with their svelte ankles and smooth calves, clicked expertly. The sound of their heels slicing through the night causing the men with watered-down sperm to shrink into the shadows and gaze in awe. Sapphire clacked; an observer might perceive her to be a squat duck waddling in the wake of majestic swans, but at least the observer would have an opinion of her. If asked how she perceived herself she wouldn't be able to answer because she didn't see herself at all.
She stumbled on a rough stone at the edge of the pavement and swore softly. Her habit was to bear more weight on the left leg as she walked and the protective rubber cap had worn off the bottom of the corresponding shoe. The stem of her heel had grated down an eighth of an inch, giving her a lopsided and unattractive list. Sapphire wore cheap shoes and cheap perfume. She wore 'downtrodden' like a designer label.
She stopped at the corner of Anton Street. It was cold and the wind was her first punter of the night. It groped at her breast with its cruel uncaring fingers, pulling her nipples roughly erect. Brutally it forced her back into the meagre shelter of the wall and flattened against her body, mauling her in exactly the same way that others would do later that night.
"Ya' wan' some?" she half-heartedly asked a young man, who passed her wide with obvious distaste lest she infect him with her circumstance. "I got it, I got it goin` on." She continued her spiel but tailed off as she remembered once again that in fact she didn't 'have it' at all. "Fucked up jerk," she yelled at the man's back, before sniffing and allowing the collected snot to slide thickly down her throat. She curled her nose up and looked about twelve as she thought of other viscous bodily fluids that she would swallow that night; at least the snot was her own. She could charge an extra fiver a time for a blowjob without a rubber. One of the other girls had taught her the trick of putting the extra money in a plastic bank bag and inserting it high into her vagina at the end of the night. Vic handed out johnnies like sweets. He liked to keep his girls clean - it was better for business that way - but he took eighty percent of the cash that the girls earned; most of them relied on their 'extras' to live. Sometimes Sapphire ended the week with the salt of thirty dicks on her lips. And she was getting better at it too; most of the time she could swallow without gagging. One man had hit her hard round the head when she had turned from him and vomited into the gutter of the alley, but that had been in the early days. Sapphy had come a long way in the last two months.
Sally Slater was a statistic. Thrown out of her parents' house at sixteen and left to make her mark on the world, she had been spotted by Vic after only one night of roughing it and 'saved' from the hostility of the city streets. She was raw and unsophisticated but some of the punters liked that. He gave her a grown-up name, a name he said she would grow into as she learned how to turn her tricks; a name that one day all the rich johns would know and request. Something to aspire to indeed. Sally became Sapphire, Princess of the Night, and felt that she owed it to Vic to do well. She had been on the street for two months now and still walked like a duck behind the more experienced whores.
Dan Gates was driving home from work. He had taken this route ever since he had first seen her. He still had no idea what had caused him to deviate from his normal route home that night, but he had. When he saw the woman-child falling over her feet he had been instantly reminded of his sister dressing up in his mother's fancy clothes. Kizzy would smear bright red lipstick high on to her upper lip and wear shoes with an expanse of empty sole at the back because her feet didn't fit them. Dan felt a lurch of pity for this girl, and he felt the shame for her that she didn't have the dignity to feel for herself.
Dan was eighteen, only two years older than Sapphire. Life had thrown him a bum wrap as well. His parents had divorced and each had gone on to build new lives with new partners. Dan was the link that neither wanted; to be reminded connected one to the other. He was 'welcome' at both his parents' new homes, but welcome as a guest. Welcome as someone they hoped would not stay too long. He had taken the hint and moved out alone and into a small bedsit on the cheaper side of town. In fact he lived just a few streets from where Sapphire now stood, shivering in the darkness.
Tonight was the night that Dan had decided he was going to make contact. But he was still unsure as to how to approach her, what he would say. His hand closed around the wallet in his pocket. Sixty-eight pounds lay within the silken slits; he hoped it would be enough. Maybe when she knew of his intention she wouldn't charge him at all. Everything would be all right. They were going to be so good together. All she needed was the opportunity to make something of herself. Her confidence was broken. Dan knew that with time and patience he could fix her shattered spirit, and teach her how to fly.
Dan cared; maybe he cared too much about things. If he could do some little thing in the course of his day to make someone else's life a little better, then he felt that his own was bearable too. He was a looker, tall and strong with thick black hair that fell in boyish locks over his right eye. He was shy and uncertain with girls, and no matter how hard he tried to be with them, to make them feel comfortable with him, they always made him feel stupid and clumsy. But he had so much love to give, if only one of them would trust in him and give him a chance to prove how gentle and loving he could be.
Dan had always had a soft heart. As a child he brought in numerous broken birds; little fledglings with smashed wings and rapid heartbeats. He wanted so much for them to trust in him and let him make them well. He had a shed at the bottom of the garden and he would spend hours making splints and suitable cages to house his 'finds.' Some got better, and he would keep them for years in their little cages, feeding them religiously and waiting to see love in their eyes. But he always felt so bad about the ones who didn't make it. If only their little hearts had been stronger, if only they weren't so frightened of him. All he had wanted to do was to make them better and have them as friends.
He pulled up at the curb-side. She was singing to herself, such a sweet, soft song. He hurt with a need to make her life better. How sad she sounded; perhaps soon she would sing for him and they would both be blissfully happy. She cut off her song mid-melody and sauntered over brashly to lean into the car window. Dan was ashamed as he felt his penis pushing stiffly against the front of his pants. This wasn't what he wanted. He didn't want it to be like this. What would she think of him? He only wanted to be her friend. He thought briefly of his animals and then there were the children. He didn't want to think about the children. Not now, not when he was about to take his little bird back to his place to make her better. He had to go softly, quietly, he didn't want to scare her off. He wanted her to sing sweetly for him.
He wondered if she would sing for him or if she would scream like the children.