The Dividing LinebyAdrian Leverkuhn©
Sara Wood kept to the shadows, tried to blend in; failing that she would simply disappear into the nameless warrens of the city. Sara Wood was an expert on urban camouflage, at falling through the cracks in whatever systems there were left to deal with girls like her. There was no home for Sara Wood, there never had been. There had been foster homes. Homes where bespeckled fat-thumbed men had tried to introduce Sara Wood to the finer arts of oral sex when she was nine years old; where wild-eyed women pushed her to her knees - Bible in hand - to repent for sins she had never committed. There was in Sara Wood's life no fridge in the kitchen to feed her empty belly, no television in the den to fill her empty time, nor were there chat rooms or the 'net late at night in a darkened bedroom were she could learn about the carefree, empty lives of teenagers spread over the American landscape like a thin coat of white paint.
So, Sara Wood kept to the shadows of the city, although there were times when it felt like the city did it's very best to keep her there in the dark light of day, out of sight, out of mind. What little comfort in this word she could buy she paid for in the currency of her soul; on her knees in alleys or spread apart in the front seats of suburban sedans, a short smelly cock in her mouth or a reedy whiskey-soaked tongue up her vagina. She didn't use drugs; she couldn't afford them. Dealers and pimps didn't hook her and sell her; the market was glutted with teenaged boys and girls who sold their cocks and cunts and mouths for very nearly free just to get enough to buy a burger and a coke. Sara Wood couldn't rock the boat - there was no boat to rock. She couldn't beat the system - the system was gone.
So in Sara Wood's shadow-world, she knelt on the altar of poverty and justice for all, her face poised before urine soaked khaki trousers sucking on the three inch dick of a fat, smelly man named Bob whose plastic name tag identified him as an employee of the New Life Christian Family Bookstore. Bob had Sara Wood's hair grasped tightly in his hands and he was pulling on it roughly, calling her a dirty little whore, telling her to suck his cock, to eat his cum. His half-hard dick, Sara Wood thought, was about the size of her little finger and she had been sucking on it for what felt like an hour. Bob would not - or could not - cum, and the more apparent this became to Bob the harder he pulled on Sara Wood's hair. Bob looked down at Sara Wood's face and noticed tears in her eyes when he pulled her hair especially hard, and Bob liked this. A lot.
Bob gave Sara Wood's hair a vicious tug, and she cried out, pulled away. Bob could feel his dick harden and twitch in response to her discomfort and flight, and he told her to hold still, that he was going to cum. He held her head forcefully to his groin and tried to pump away, but Sara Wood was now in a fair amount of pain, getting afraid, and was in fact trying to pull away from Bob with a fair amount of effort. Bob both liked this and disliked this. Bob liked the fact that he could frighten and hurt someone; this was something very rare in his experience. Bob disliked the fact that he was probably not going to be able to cum in this girls mouth, which, too was a very rare experience in Bob's life, one that he had paid good money - about five bucks - for. Determined to prevent not coming in the girls mouth, Bob decided to shut her up, and with his fist he swung down with his not too considerable strength and hit her smartly on the top of her head.
Bob's cock was at that moment seated rather deeply - deeply for a three inch penis is of course a relative term - in Sara Wood's mouth. At that moment, as well, Bob still had a hold of Sara Wood's hair and he was holding her tightly in place within this grasp, pushing her against his right knee, which he had lifted to brace Sara Wood against. As Bob's hammer blow connected - driving Sara Wood's head downward as a result - her lower jaw, now supported against Bob's right knee, was in effect being driven up. Unfortunately for Bob, Sara Wood still had all of her teeth, and they were in pretty good shape.
Bob screamed and reached for his groin as he fall backward in agony, his groin on fire. He fell into a thrashing heap; as he tried to come to grips with what had happened, he felt his groin, felt the bloody stump of his cock, and brought his hands to his face. The scream that ensued was reportedly heard five blocks away, and over city-traffic, at that. Bob tossed and twisted; unfortunately Bob was losing a lot of blood at a not inconsiderable rate, and his gyrations slowed to a crawl as shock set in.
Sara Wood had, at the same time Bob dropped, fallen to the ground under the impact of Bob's blow, fallen in a completely unconscious pile of ragged disarray. There was now, in fact, a large raw patch on the side of her head where a substantial handful of hair had been pulled out when Bob's penis had come into full contact with Sara Wood's teeth. Bob's penis was, by the way, lodged under Sara Wood's tongue. The only visible evidence of this was the small trickle of blood that leaked out of the corner of her mouth down onto the grimy asphalt of the potholed alley.
In due course, an ambulance arrived, and a squad car from the police department followed not long behind. Bob was stabilized by the fire department's paramedics; firemen who responded with the paramedics searched they alley and the nearby garbage cans and potholes for the missing seven-eighths of Bob's penis. The street-waif had been ignored by the medics as just another piece of garbage; they had concentrated their attentions on the man who was bleeding profusely, and who was, in fact, in very serious condition.
The first police officer on the scene was Paul Edward McCarley, a twenty four year veteran of the department. McCarley's glacial demeanor stood in stark contradiction to his open, friendly face; his slow movements and quick eyes belied his careful observations and endlessly analytical observations. He was the first official to move to Sara Wood's side, to see the blood and the raw patch on the side of her head. He looked across at the man on the ground and saw hair twisted in his hands. He felt inside her pockets, found a sweat-grimed five dollar bill inside, and shook his head knowingly. He felt a twisting churn in his stomach as he took a silver Cross pen out of his shirt pocket, and pried open her mouth.
"Get me some saline and a baggie; I got the penis right here," McCarley called out. A couple of firemen came over, and of course these firemen all had something quick and clever to say about the penis in the young girl's mouth. McCarley just grimaced as he put on his latex crime scene gloves, pried open the little mouth, and swept the penis clear of the girls mouth with his gloved finger.
An ammonia stick was produced and cracked open, waved under the girls nose. She stirred, her eyes fluttered, and she sat up in startled confusion. She looked around wildly, and coughed and wretched when she tasted blood in her mouth. She sat holding her knees to her chest, breathing in shallow fear. As Sara Wood regained awareness of her surroundings the first thing she noticed was, and this was a very dangerous thing in Sara Wood's world, a police officer kneeling beside her. It didn't matter that this man was speaking gently to her, holding her shoulder with kind, steadying hands. What Sara Wood saw was a navy blue uniform, a badge, a black leather belt, a holster, a gun, a nightstick and radio, and most dangerous of all, handcuffs. She saw a system that could hurt her, a uniformed man that represented a system which had been manifestly unjust to her, even as it swore to uphold justice.
The policeman asked what her name was, where she lived. He wanted to know what had happened. She was non-responsive, a deaf-mute, a shadow-girl. She didn't exist; she knew that this man would know that simple fact of her life better than anyone else in this alley. He told her he didn't want to take her to jail, that he thought he knew what had happened. If he guessed right, would she tell him he was right, he asked gently. He talked to her, told her what he thought had happened, told her about her missing hair, why her head hurt, what the taste in her mouth was - where that bloody taste had come from.
Sara Wood turned away and wretched, would have vomited all her stomach held but for the simple fact that her stomach was empty. She didn't even have what little nourishment there would have been in the creep's cum. She lay on the earth and felt the world spinning out of her reach. She lay on her side and drew her knees up to her chest and cried like a baby, cried like the baby she had never had the chance to be.
Ed McCarley sat in his squad car writing a police report on a battered aluminum clipboard, listened to calls on the car's radio to respond if anyone needed back-up, and checked his watch. Ten minutes until he could check out for lunch. He turned his attention to the report, wanting to finish it now in case calls backed up in the afternoon.
"Hey there!" a girl's voice said.
Lost in his paperwork - a rookie's mistake - Ed McCarley jumped in his seat so tightly wound-up were his cop's instincts. His head swung to the left, taking in his surroundings, analyzing threats, as he unsnapped his holster. What he saw was a girl, one that looked like a ghost from one of those concentration camp survivor photos. It took a moment or two, then he recognized the girl.
"Sara Wood, right?" he said
"Yeah. Howya doing?"
"Good," he said. "What's going on with you?"
"Nothin' much," she said. "Actually, I just wanted to thank you for what you said to those D.A. people. They told me if you hadn't done your job right I'd be spending a long time in jail."
Ed McCarley looked down; he never knew how to take a compliment or an expression of gratitude. He just nodded.
The girl apparently took his silence as rejection, stepped back, and started to walk off.
"So," Ed McCarley asked, "how are you doing?"
"Oh, you know."
All Ed McCarley had to do was look at this girl to know how she was doing. "Hey, I'm going to check out for lunch in a minute. Care to join me?" He could see the conflict roll across her face. Trust. Fear. Trust. Fear.
"Yeah, I guess," she said.
He thought he could see her salivating. He picked up the microphone hanging from the side of the squad car's radio. "2141, 25 code baker kilo 114" In that jargon, he checked out for lunch at the Burger King in Central District southwest. He rolled up the window, got out of the car, and locked the door. "O.K., let's go!" he said with a little forced enthusiasm.
Inside he ordered, and asked her what she wanted.
"Guess a glass of water," she said.
"Sara, I'm buying. What'll it be? Come on, sky's the limit!" Sara Wood ordered two Whoppers, a large order of fries, a large Coke, and a small chocolate shake. The girl behind the counter repeated the order, called it out over the order system, and shook her head. They got a table and waited for their order. Ed McCarley carried it to the table when the surly girl slid it toward him on the counter.
Ed McCarley sat back and watched the show as Sara Wood tore into her meal. It was almost painful to watch, and he was sure that as shrunken down as her belly was it probably would be pretty painful in an hour or two. He didn't say a word, didn't want to interrupt Sara Wood as she piled the food in, which took about three minutes. "Still hungry?" he asked.
Sara Wood made a laughing noise that came out her nose, her mouth was so full of food. She nodded her head and got out, "Double Whopper?"
"Comin' right up." He walked up to the counter and placed the order. He waited until surly-face slid it to him, then took it back to Sara Wood. He put it on the trey in front of her. "Well, bottoms-up!" he said. He started on his grilled chicken sandwich, sipped his Diet Coke, and looked at Sara Wood's face for the first time. As he did he flinched; for as he looked at the pale blue eyes, the weathered skin, the scabs on her arms, he recognized something lost and loveable in her abandoned and forsaken face that tore at his humanity. 'Fuck, I'm getting old,' he thought.
"So, filling up?" he asked.
Her mouth full, she nodded, saying, "Yeah, this is really good!"
He smiled at her. "Alright!" he replied.
After they had both finished eating, she asked him where he worked, and he told her at Central Division, and gave her one of his cards. "You can call me at the station if you need me; if I'm not in they'll know how to get in touch with me." he said.
'Now just why the hell did I do that,' he thought.
Sara Wood took his card as if someone had just given her a burning stick of dynamite, or a one pound bar of gold, the conflict was so instant. She looked at the card intently for a moment, then stuck it in her pants.
The radio on Ed McCarley's belt came to life: "2141." He slipped the radio free of it's holster and brought it to his face. "2141, go ahead."
"2141. 17B Main and Oaklawn, possible fatalities."
"2141, 10/4," he said into the radio, and to Sara Wood he said, "Sorry, gotta go. Really. You need me, call me!" And he was gone, trotting out the door. She watched him as he got into the car; the red and blue lights turned on, the he pulled the car out into traffic as the siren came on. She watched the car as it sped away, went to a window to watch the blue and red lights until they disappeared from view. She didn't know it, but she was standing on her tip-toes, biting her lip, afraid for him. She was afraid of all the unknown dangers she knew were waiting out there on the streets, waiting out there for Ed McCarley.
It was Friday afternoon, and Sara Wood stood across the street from the Central Division sub-station, in the shadows. She had watched until she had seen Ed McCarley's car pull into the station parking lot, seen him walk across the lot and into the station; now she waited to see if Ed McCarley would walk out of the front door. She just wanted to see his face, know he was alright, maybe talk to him. About twenty minutes later he did walk out, dressed in jeans and a white shirt, wearing sneakers. He carried a gym bag. She wondered where his car was parked. He stopped to talk with a couple of other - she guessed - cops. The he crossed the street in front of her and headed down Grant. After two blocks, he turned left on 21st Street. She followed him, but stayed well behind him, in the shadows. After a couple of blocks, on a block lined with narrow two-story apartment buildings, he turned out of view at a grey brick apartment building, hidden by a wooden fence and a thick row of hedges. She darted forward to catch up, to see which apartment was his. As she got up to the fence she flew around the corner and ran into - Ed McCarley!
As she ran into him he caught her in his arms and brought her gently to a stop. "Whoa, there, girl," he said. "Didn't anyone ever tell you not to follow a cop before?"
Sara Wood just stood in Ed McCarley's hands, mute.
A couple of moments passed; his face was awash in a befuddled grin. "Well, c'mon then. Let's get you upstairs out of this heat and get you a Coke." He led off toward an apartment house one block over and toward the station. Sara Wood knew then that he had known he was being followed almost from the time he had been in front of the station.
He walked up the flight of stairs, took out a key and opened the door to number 7, and walked in. He turned the thermostat on the air conditioner down, way down. He put his gym bag in the hall closet, and went into the kitchen. He poured two Cokes over ice, and went out into the entry hall. McCarley knew he lived in a modest apartment, but when he looked at Sara Wood's face it looked as though she was gawking at the White House. He walked up to the girl and gave her the drink; it was then that the smell hit him. Pure, rank, unadulterated stink. He looked at her skin and saw that the dirt he had thought was on her skin was in her skin...ground into the pores of her skin! Her hair was greasy. The fabric on the Salvation Army jeans and t-shirt was...thin, and foul with dirt and body odor. He thought the worst would be the shoes, but he had no intention of finding out. One thing was for sure, he had to get her cleaned up before the neighbors complained! Cleaned up and maybe out to a shelter.
"Well, sit you down, Sara Wood, and tell me a story!"
She looked at him quizzically; she still hadn't spoken since he'd caught her following him. "What kind of story?" she said.
"Well, maybe your story, Sara. What you're doing followin' me home."
"I was scared. I wanted to see you was O.K."
"What were you afraid of, Sara?"
"Afraid of you gettin' hurt, or worse."
"Don't you have any family or friends, honey?" Sara Wood shook her head. "Well, Sara, how old are you?"
She shrugged her shoulders, shook her head. "Nineteen, I think. Nobody's sure. Maybe twenty. "
"Where did you go to school?"
"Didn't go to no school."
"Where do you stay?" he asked, not wanting to hear the answer. She just shrugged. "Well, O.K., you got any other clothes?" She shook her head 'no'. "When's the last time you took a shower, or a bath?"
"At the jail, when you took me there." He remembered now, the case of the missing dick! That's where he knew her from. Street girl, sucking dicks for food money. His stomach turned. "Do I stink?" she asked.
"Well, honey, Sara, you kinda do."
"You can call me honey if you want to. I like it when you say it." Ed McCarley looked down at the carpet, embarrassed. "It makes me feel like you're not goin' to hurt me." McCarley looked away, hurting inside for this poor human being so badly he wanted to cry.
"Well, O.K. then. Let's get you cleaned up" He stood and took her Coke into the kitchen. She followed him like a puppy, almost thoughtless devotion, he thought, childlike. He felt intensely uncomfortable. He went into the apartment's only bathroom and turned on the shower in the bathtub, adjusted the water to warm. "Alright, Sara, you come on in and get cleaned up. There's soap and shampoo in the shower. You take your clothes of and put them in that hamper," he said, pointing at the white plastic basket next to the sink. "I might have something to fit you in my kids' room."
"You got kids?"
"Yeah, well, they live with their mother out in Oregon. I see 'em twice a year now. But I have some of their stuff here; I'll bet I can find something for you to wear... Now come on in and get yourself cleaned up."
He closed the door behind her, went into his kid's room. He found some pretty generic lightweight sweat-pants and a couple of t-shirts. Socks wouldn't be a problem, but shoes might be. He pulled out a couple of pairs from the closet that looked like a 'maybe'. He gathered them together and put them just outside the bathroom door. He called out to her where to find the clothes, and she answered O.K. He looked at his watch, and went in and phoned the D.A.s office, got shuffled around, then asked a clerk to look up some information on a Sara Wood, unknown DOB possible 19 to 20 years old, arrested in May, he thought. When he was informed she was nineteen he breathed a little easier. Not much, but a little. He asked if the had done any blood work, wanted to know if he'd been exposed to anything.
He sat in the living room, turned on the evening news which was, as always, full of Iraq news. He heard the water cut off, the shower door sliding open; a few minutes later he heard the door open and close as Sara grabbed the clothes he set out. "Can I use your brush?" she called out.
"Yeah, go ahead. Oh, yeah. There are some new toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet over the sink. Help yourself."