Isaac’s fingers traced the faded flower pattern on the bate mattress as he inhaled the heavy cloud of Tiffany’s perfume. They had no water- it’d been off for a couple of months- and the option to wash in the standing toilet water was gone when Tiffany came home a week ago vomit drunk. The bathroom door stayed shut, now.
“Fucking drink it, Tiff,” he said, watching her back muscles twitch as she struggled into her dress.
“I hate that shit. It’s gross.” She looked at him through a dress strap. He didn’t move to help. She shifted out of the dress and threw it on the floor. It fell onto a pile of cigarette butts.
“I called in an ask to my family and you know how much I hate that shit. Drink it. You’re not working and that’s causing problems for me.” He tossed a small polyurethane bag filled with yellow fluid at her back. It hit with a thwack and fell to the floor with a thud.
“Don’t fucking throw shit at me, Isaac.” She spun to face him, eyes filled with fire, top lip trembling. He said nothing. She lifted the bag and dangled it in front of her face between her index finger and thumb. “It’s not gonna even work.”
“Drink it or get the fuck out.” Isaac’s voice clouded the room as Tiffany’s perfume had- dense and oppressive. She twisted a tube and squeezed the contents of the bag into her mouth. Isaac didn’t look away from the rage in her gaze. “We can’t afford the hormones. And that ain’t my fault. I do the best I can for us. I got you those tits, didn’t I? You know we make more money when you’re on hormones.”
Tiffany pressed her palms against her nipples. “It doesn’t even work like that. And how do you even know it’s the right stuff? Maybe your cousin gave you his own pee. Then what, huh? Then you just paid for me to drink Casey’s pee.”
He held another bag in his palm. She took it, opened it; drained it.
“Ain’t Casey’s piss,” he said, smiling. “Now, look. I’ve been working out out there so I can open up my asshole to a bunch of closet fucks that can’t get over getting their dicks up on their high school quarterbacks. If I’m working, you bet your ass I’m getting you out there, too.”
“Didn’t say I don’t wanna work, Isaac. It just won’t help anything, me drinking this old piss.”
“There’s more in the freezer, you ungrateful bitch.”
“You illiterate donkey.”
They stared at each other, fists clenched and teeth grinding.
Tiffany sighed. “I don’t wanna fight with you,” she moaned. “I drank it. Fuck you.” She bent over and grabbed the dress from the pile of trash, shaking the ash into the air. “Help me get into this.”
He stood behind her as she pulled the dress onto her shoulders. Guiding her arms through the dress, he kissed the side of her neck. As he yanked the dress down, he slapped her ass. She laughed and turned into his arms, arms that wrapped around her in muscle memory, arms that held her like no one ever had.
“I need a line, baby,” she whispered into his chest. “Can you fix me up one while I find my heels?”
Isaac fell back on the mattress, his fingers in his pockets. He extracted a half-full baggie of powder and a $5 bill. “Tiff, where’s that book?”
Tiffany grabbed her shoes and an old science textbook and sat on the bed next to him. She pulled the straps around her ankles and kissed his neck. He separated a mound into two clean, fat lines. She took the rolled $5 and bent over the book. Granules disappeared quickly through the cash until only one line was left. Her body fell, arms over her face.
“Fuck,” she groaned.
Isaac’s nose slowly cleaned the textbook and he tossed it to the floor. He stood and his foot caught a pair of pants. He stopped himself from tripping and kicked them into the wall.
“Can’t you fucking clean this place?”
“Bitch, can’t you?” Tiffany somersaulted in slow motion from the bed and landed standing, now towering over Isaac. “I know what you’re thinking and don’t you dare put another hole in that fucking wall. Tell me I look good and let’s get out of here. Where am I going?”
“The Bun Boy. Guy’s name is Tom. Wait. No, Richard. My guy’s name is Tom.”
“The BB? That’s a long walk, Isaac.”
“So take sneakers. Don’t got money for a cab. I gotta get the water back on.”
“What about you?”
“I’m at the Castle.”
Tiffany’s hand twisted the doorknob, but she didn’t open the door. “Why couldn’t you get me in at the Castle? You always do this.”
“You’re not welcome back at the Castle and you fucking know it. C’mon. Let’s go.”
Twenty minutes into the walk, Tiffany regretted not bringing her sneakers. Her nose bled onto the concrete and she shivered in the night’s humidity. She looked up into a streetlamp and stopped walking, the strong yellow light making her feel like she was on a stage, standing over an audience of zero. She could be anything, anyone she pleased, with no one here to witness. Escape, complete her metamorphosis, become this butterfly that formed ages ago in the cocoon of her mind. Flutter away and no one would even notice except Isaac and maybe he’d look for her but probably he would just replace her- but how would he recognise her if he found her? He’d never see her as a butterfly. She could float right by him and forever away.
She kept walking, trying not to limp. How did anyone even take care of a butterfly? What did they eat? Releasing herself from that cocoon would probably kill her.
Inside her bra, she found a lighter and her cigarettes. She lit one cigarette, savouring the nicotine and cheap tobacco flavour, and exhaled her stress. Four months since she last worked at the Bun Boy. So, yeah, she was maybe a bit nervous. And Isaac was working tonight, too. So he wouldn’t be waiting for her. They must be hard up if Isaac was working. She shouldn’t’ve puked in the toilet. Isaac made enough pushing that she didn’t have to hook so much. They could afford their place and most of the utilities. But something was always off and she was always the reason it had to get turned back on. So she’d work tonight and tomorrow they’d have running water again.
She didn’t realise she’d entered the Bun Boy parking lot until she was spotlit once more, this time by headlights. When the lights went off, she limped over to the car and leaned into the window.
“Please say you’re Diamond,” the man implored.
“That’s me, baby,” Tiffany answered. “You must be Tom- no, Richard? Why are you sitting in your car? You know there’s a waiting room.”
“Never been here before.”
“Oh. Well. C’mon, get on. Let’s go inside.”
The car door opened and the man poured out of the driver’s seat, his limbs tangling into themselves as he tried to stand.
“You’re more fucked up than I am,” Tiffany laughed. “You know you’re paying for my time, baby?” She grabbed his arm and he fell onto her, stressing her ankle and breathing tequila up her nostrils. She guided him through the cars to the glass window. “Fra-ank,” she called through the bars, into the mouthpiece. A buzzer sounded inside and she pushed the man through the metal door. “Sober up,” she warned and pushed him away. A wall stopped him from tumbling over.
“Hey, Diamond,” Frank greeted her as she entered the waiting room. “Two-three-seven. You got him?”
She laughed. “I’ve had drunker.”
Tiffany led Richard through the hallways. She pulled his wrist and used the walls to stop him from falling over. The 2 was missing on the door of room 237. Inside the room, everything was brown- the carpet, the bedding, even the walls were tan. Stale cigarette smoke dominated as the room’s primary odour; it barely masked the scent of pussy and cheap cologne.
The immediate sobering effect on Richard was obvious- a slap in the face by an ice cold hand. He sat himself on the bed and removed his shoes.
Tiffany extended her fingers. “Cash first, baby.” She counted the wad he placed in her palm and laid it on the nightstand. “Alright. I’m not taking off this dress. It’s hell to get into. I’ll show my tits, though. That good for you, baby?” She knelt before him and unzipped his pants. Working his flaccid penis out of the prison of white briefs, she inspected it. Satisfied, she gently tugged before placing both his cock and balls into her mouth.
Animated, he pulled away from her. “You’re gonna make me come.”
She chuckled. “That’s what I’m here for.”
“I’m not ready, yet. Lemme see your tits.”
She relocated the items in her bra and yanked at the straps of her dress until her nipples pointed toward her face. She smiled at him, rubbing her breasts, and placed her fingers over Richard’s. He stroked himself, her hands over his, but the moment she placed her lips against the head of his cock, he pulled away again.
“Let’s just fuck, baby.” She tried to hide her agitation. “You wanna feel my tight little asshole hug on this big dick, right?” She pulled his pants over his ankles and lifted her dress to her back. Her waist wiggled, ass in his face, as she dug a condom from her bra. She quickly tore it open and put the rolled-up tube in her mouth, bent over him, and gently slid it onto his dick with her lips and the tip of her tongue. “Mmm. Yeah, let me ride that big dick. I’m starving for you, baby.” She tried to climb on top of him.
He shook his head and pushed her away. “From behind,” he insisted.
She rolled her eyes and leaned on her elbows on the brown bedspread. “Alright, baby, any way you want it.” She wondered if she could fake it as she spat onto her fingers and massaged them into her asshole, but he was inside shortly and she moaned and pretended pleasure as best she could.
He put his fingers to her throat and she forced them away with her palm, holding both their bodies up with her other arm. “I don’t do the rough stuff, honey,” she said. He put them back and she hit at them. “Stop it.” She allowed her voice to deepen.
The third time, he tightened his grip and when she hit him, he hit back- hard, in the back of her head. He was still inside her, no longer thrusting. She hit out from under him and he reinforced his grip, still punching at her head.
“Hey, you fuck-” And his fist connected with her eye and the stars were out so bright and she went
Back to the brown of the motel room and she could feel the dead weight of a body over her own and smell the cigarettes and vomit of the room- though, as far as she could tell, none on her. She grabbed his cock between her index and middle fingers and slid carefully away from him. The peeling shed pelt of the condom looked cartoonish, strangling the limp dick skin inside. It was intact and- discounting the shriveled penis- empty.
She kicked him. “You dumb fuck!” she screamed. He didn’t move.
One hand took the cash from the nightstand as the other grabbed his pants. Keys, no wallet. Hopefully he’d left it in the car.
She took the back exit and ran around to the front of the motel. No doubt she’d be banned from the Bun Boy now, too.
His wallet rested in the centre console. She looked at herself in his rearview mirror. The black eye was already forming. Though nothing hurt, yet.
So she walked. When she passed the gas station, she stopped and bought water and snacks with Richard’s credit card. The walk felt twice as long and she wished she had her sneakers. When the heels became unbearable, she sat to take them off, shivering and trying to remember where she was going and thinking that she’d somehow missed it and maybe she should turn around.
When she finally made it home, her bare foot slid over a piece of glass in the carpet. She didn’t notice. She collapsed to the floor and the water, plastic bag, and heels fell with her. Isaac turned on the mattress. Seeing her, he sat upright so abruptly, he immediately fell back to the bed.
“What the fuck happened to you?”
She clawed in her bra for the cash, then threw it in his direction. “Fuck you, Isaac!”
He collected the money before crawling over to her. She moved away from him when he touched her face. “Hell, Tiff.” He saw her feet. “You’re fucking bleeding.”
She gestured at the water. “I want a bath.”
“You barely got enough water to brush our teeth.”
“Then get more!” And the tears. “Goddammit. Isaac, I want a bath!”
“Tell me what happened, goddammit.”
“I’m not drinking your cousin’s fucking piss and I’m not doing this anymore, Isaac! I deserve better than this.” A realisation. An epiphany. “I deserve better than this.”
“What don’t I do for you?” Thunder. “I provide for us. I keep you here and you rarely pay a dime. I’m always out of money because of you. And now you think you don’t gotta work? You’re some fucking kept bitch now, huh? Talking about what you deserve.” Lightning.
“I was doing just fine before I met you, you lousy trashcan pimp.”
“I’m a pimp, now?! You want a bath so damn bad, who’s the pimp that’s going to get your water back on? Huh? I ask you to do one thing, Tiffany. And you somehow manage to fuck that up, too. Christ.”
“Fuck you, Isaac!” She tried to stand, but her knee stiffened beneath her and she came back down. “I’m leaving.”
“Where you fucking gonna go?” He leaned over her. “You can’t. I won’t let you. You’re mine.”
She struggled against him. He pinned her down.
“You know I take care of us. I take care of you. I wouldn’t let anyone hurt you.”
She cried. He kissed the tears into her cheeks.
“I love you,” he told her. “I won’t let anyone hurt you.”
When his lips met hers, she could taste the salt of her despair on his tongue, but something else. Something that tasted of truth. Something delicious that filled her with hope.
She kissed him back.
Time sped up, the room spinning around them. He pulled off her dress and tore her bra. He laid on the carpet and kissed her face, her neck, her breasts, her navel, her penis and testicles. She moaned, real pleasure, as he worked his tongue around her foreskin in the way he knew could make her orgasm instantly and she did. Her semen was still in his mouth when he leaned in to kiss her. She played with the thick fluid on her tongue before he put his hand in her mouth and pulled away the saliva and ejaculate, cupping it in his fingers until he could push them up her ass. He followed with his cock, looking into her eyes as he thrust, her testicles rubbing against his stomach. She sighed as he entered her completely and fell in kisses to her shoulders. Her fingers slid against the sweat pouring over the muscles of his arms and neck. She moaned louder with every thrust.
His cock was harder than ever, she was sure of it. She was sure of many things: that she wanted to keep him, that she loved Isaac and he loved her; that he took care of her better than anyone had ever tried.
“Come inside me, baby,” she whispered. “I want to feel it. I want to feel you.”
The force of his ejaculation pushed him into her and, momentarily, she couldn’t feel where he ended and she began and she wanted to keep this moment of the two of them becoming inseparable, so she held him tightly and didn’t breathe.
“I love you, Tiff,” Isaac exhaled into her body.
Somewhere safe, she heard her voice tell Isaac she loved him, too.