Blood. Smelling it as I come into the building. Seeing it staining the filthy floor. Following it to the huddled body curled in a dark corner. It’s hard to recognize him. Beaten. Bruised. Bleeding.
I think it’s Del. Delano. One of the hookers who live and work here. I’ve seen him around. A tiny thing, pale, too thin, always tired looking. But still he always gives me a smile and a few words of greeting. More than I give him.
First temptation—ignore him. Not my business. But. Kneeling to see if he’s even alive. A small groan tells me he is.
He needs help. I start to call for an ambulance. Feel a hand barely touch my arm. “No,” he whispers, his eyes pleading, fearful. I nod, pick him up, carry him up to my room. Settle him on the bed. Go to get a washrag, dampen it, come back to sit on the edge of the bed. Washing away the worst of the blood.
He’s unconscious again, moaning softly though. His body is as battered as I had thought, from what I can see of it. Someone did a job on him. Poor kid.
Wait. Me, feeling sympathy? No way, no how. Finish cleaning him up. Need to get him out of my bed, my room.
Instead, take him to my miniscule bathroom. Fill the tub with warm water. Strip him down. Fuck me. He needs a doc and bad. The hell with what he wants. Put him in the bath. Hold him there as I start to make the call.
“Please,” he moans, eyes trying to focus on me. “He’ll find me, kill me.”
“Who?” Delaying the call for a moment.
“The john. I got…away.” His eyes close again. “Escaped. Cab. Home.”
“Does he know you live here?”
He shakes his head. Barely.
Taking a deep breath. “You might have internal injuries that could kill you.”
“Better…if…” His voice goes silent, his head falling forward.
I catch him. “Why me?” muttered as I hold him, carefully washing him. Washing away the blood, the dirt. From his body, his hair. Lift him out. Dry him off. Take him to the bed. Find a shirt of mine to put on him. Pull the sheet over him.
Then, sure he’ll be out for a while at least, leaving. I know a quack doctor. Not far from here. He’ll be better than none. He’s not happy when I knock on his door 'til he answers. Agrees to come with, though.
An hour later I know Del’s not broken, just battered. The doc gives me pills for his pain.
Now I sit and wait for him to wake.