May 15, 2004

Better Than That

Her eyes were heavy lidded with heroin. She had a black eye and on the other side of her face, a purple jaw to match. She spoke loudly, in a voice that made it clear that for her there was no one else on the bus but the old mustached man next to her she was talking to. Her face, if it were not bruised and marinated would have been cute. Round and chubby and I thought maybe even beautiful if she’d been smiling in a beam of sunlight.

She talked about her wife, she’d been married for three years, but left her and now lived with her girlfriend in the Coronado. It was her girlfriend she’d been fighting with. They fought like men she said. They fought for two hours, taking breaks to rest and then starting again. She said she broke her girlfriend’s nose, that it bled for an hour. She said it with a laugh.

They live in one room at the hotel, and work out of another that is registered under someone else’s name. The police had been there that morning, and they had been sure they were going to knock on the door that they work out of, but instead knocked next door at their friend Steven’s and arrested him for dealing speed. He was their runner, and now they didn’t have one for business. They sell drugs out of the second apartment. Heroin, crack, pot, speed, whatever. Right now they have 3 ounces of h to get rid of. They let their friend who has nowhere to live stay in that room. She said with a knowing smile that he works for them and they don’t have to do anything but get him high.

The man said it was lucky no one called the police when they were fighting. She laughed and said no one calls the police there. She said you could get raped, murdered, and robbed, and no one would call the police. She laughed again. She said after they fought she walked out, and could see the hurt in her girlfriend’s eyes. Too bad for her, she said, “If you mess with my paper, if you mess with my dope, if you mess with my hustle, I’ll kill you.” And of her bruised face she said, her face is how she makes her money, so the bruises, they were messing with her paper.

The crack heads bring them TVs. They have a 27 inch TV, a VCR, a DVD player, a stero. Someone even brought them a fax and a printer once. What the fuck were they going to do with that she asked. They live in a hotel. They don’t have a phone jack.

“At least you got a place to live,” he said. “Hell yah,” she said. “I’ll never rest my head on the sidewalk... I’m better than that.” She’d been on the street and in the hustle since she was 13, and shit, she’s almost 30, and she would never rest her head on the sidewalk. That shit wasn’t for her. She has everything she needs now, and she’s happy. He asked if she was happy with the girlfriend, even with the fighting. She said she wasn’t worried about the fight, there was always someone to fight. She loves the girlfriend in spite of the fight... But if she ever messed with her paper or her dope, she’d leave. Her ex used to do all of her dope, she loved her, but she left her. “You don’t mess with my dope,” she said.

And that’s life.

Posted by allison at May 15, 2004 04:35 PM