What is love? Does anyone really know? To some it brings great comfort, a sense of worth, and the feeling of belonging. To others, love is the basic building block of life; without love, life has no purpose. Some people see love as the one thing they’re longing for. Yet to this particular person, love is inescapable, yet horrifying. Love is the enemy she fears in the darkness; it is the reason for her nightmares. And it has always been that way.
Amanda’s apartment reeked of the worst smells imaginable. Dishes holding month-old burgers sat on the coffee table. Trash blanketed her floor like snow after a blizzard. Paths had been made between the door, the couch, the kitchen, and the bathroom.
Amanda’s thin, lanky body lay motionless on the couch as the TV emitted only static noises and a snowfall picture. Her eyes were open and staring somewhere, at something, yet past it. Every few minutes, her hands moved down near the floor, where she picked up a joint and took a puff, then retuned it to the floor. Hours passed like this. Until the phone rang.
“Got you a bait job tonight.”
“Oh man, I was hoping to… to…” she took a puff on a joint. “To relax.”
“Your rent is due tomorrow, isn’t that right?”
“I thought so. So I’ll see you at ten.”
And he hung up.
“There you are.”
“Yes, Dexter, I’m here,” she said, as she stepped inside his small run-down car. Dexter seemed more like a young teenager than the mid-thirties that he was, being barely five feet tall and built like a pole. His high-pitched voice cracked as he talked, and his demeanor was close to that of a court jester. But this was no laughing matter.
“I’ve got a rich one tonight,” he said, as the car left the apartment parking lot. “Been a client before. Not of yours though. And his wife is out of town. And he’s been looking for a little bit of… outside affection.”
“How do you know this?”
“Oh you know… I have my ways.”
She stared at him.
“Oh, fine, darling. He’s an old friend of mine. Meet him for coffee each morning and---“
“This is how you treat your friends?”
“We gotta make a living, don’t we?”
“And you need a place to live, don’t you?”
“Just doesn’t seem right.”
“Of course it’s not right. It’s life. Do it or hit the road.”
“There you go. And here we are.”
“Where is here?”
“Right along the path he walks every night. He’ll be by in five minutes.”
“Here’s the key. Room 303 at the Cliffside Motel. He’ll know where it is.”
Amanda stepped out of the car, and Dexter sped away. She stood there next to a light post in her large coat that hung down to near her feet. Within minutes, a figure appeared in the distance, walking in her direction. Amanda cleared her throat and stood up straight, focusing on the job ahead. He walked by.
“Hey there good lookin,” she said, and he stopped. “You look like you need something.”
“I need many things,” he said, almost ready to walk away from her.
“I may be able to provide some of those things.”
He looked at her, slowly approaching.
“And what do you have to offer?”
With that, she flung open her coat, revealing her naked body underneath. His eyes widened.
“My house is nearby---“
“My hotel room may be safer for you,” she said, covering herself back up. “Less of a mess to clean up.”
“I know it well.”
Within minutes, his luxury car sped to the motel.
“What’s this gonna cost me?” he said as soon as they stepped inside the room.
“More than you know,” she answered, dropping her coat to the floor. “Strip and get on the bed.”
He quickly did so, dropping his clothes on the floor. She clapped her hand twice, and a large bearded man stepped out from the closet, holding a pistol.
“No fun for you tonight, buddy,” he said in his low grumbling voice. He glanced at Amanda. “Looking good tonight, sugar.” She rolled her eyes and put her coat back on. The large man picked up the man’s clothes and placed them in a plastic bag. He picked up his car keys off the floor.
“Jaguar, eh? Nice."