"Dark Tricks" by Lorenzo Porricelli

Categories: ISSUE 02: Billie

Dark Tricks

Peeto stood at the brass rail that ran the full length of the Haymarket Bar's north wall on a floor-to-ceiling glittered mirror. A dozen other young hustlers joined him on the rail, and most faced the bar and the dwindling prospects for work that night. But Peeto stood with his back to the bar. His palm brushed one side of his hair back, and he stood easily. His eyes caught a quick glimpse in the mirror of the only mark that still remained at the bar. He was inspecting Peeto, like meat, and comparing him to the others. Though wet from the rain, Peeto looked good. The jeans bulged in the right spot, and his white muscle shirt not only clung to his slight form, but missed making it to his waist by an inch, which added at ease to the view. Peeto had smoothed leftover baby oil on his shoulders after his last trick, and they glistened under the neon. But this one wouldn't be another two-hundred dollar hit like the one he'd worked an hour ago from that Hollywood bigshot, and he might have to go as low as fifty to score this closing-time action. The last bar marks were street-sweepers looking for a deal.

The bar clock, like one of those old black-and-white school clocks that hung on the wall above the classroom door, read 1:55 AM, and though the clock was ten minutes fast, the bar closed in five minutes. A one-trick night. Peeto hated working the streets. Too many sickos and pervs, and drunks with no cash. At least in this bar he knew the marks were legit. Or why the hell would they come chicken hunting in a bar? Too many witnesses. But if he had to walk the street, he had to walk the street. Maybe west a block, off Santa Monica, to the Formosa Restaurant parking lot. Wouldn't be too much competition for the trade, most working guys hung close to the bar area. Cheap motels that charged by the hour and were run by foul-smelling Pakis were right there, and once a trick was scored it was back on the street for the next one. Boys were working, money was being earned.

"Young man, how you doing?"

Peeto kept his pose, but turned slightly, and his lips lingered between a smile and a scowl. "I'm okay," he said as he checked the mark out top to bottom.

"You're working, aren't you?"

Peeto shrugged. "Yeah." He looked at the mark's left hand. Bingo. Big band. Solid gold. There was a wedding ring. He relaxed, just a little. The married ones were safe and clean, and paid the most. Many times they shoved money at him. But a bush of gray hair spurted out of this guy's shirt like a Chia forest on acid, and Peeto didn't like it. Hairy ones were tough marks. They got their money's worth, for sure. And they usually didn't pick smooth boys like Peeto.

"How old are you?"

"Twenty-one."

"And I'm the pope."

"Okay, eighteen. How's that?"

"I don't know."

"You here to have some fun or ask a million questions?"

"Well –"

"Well hell. I'm working, the next question costs you twenty bucks."

"All right, keep your shirt on. At least for now."

"So?"

"You got a place?"

"Sure, the Century Plaza." Peeto scanned the bar, was there someone else other than this question mark? Vic the bartender was flashing the house lights first call to get the hell out. And it was still raining. "There's one next door – the Carter Hotel."

"Let me finish my drink. You like to dance?"

"We going to be on Dancing With the Stars?"

"You're quick. And cute. How long you been on the street?"

Every mark asked that question, but Peeto smiled. "A week."

The mark smiled back. "That's great."

Fantastic, Peeto thought. He's looking for a quickie with an almost virgin. Peeto knew he'd score big if he played this mark as daddy. "I ran away. My father did drugs. And mom's boyfriend thought I was his bitch." The guy had to like that. He'll want to be family and take care of Peeto. At least for this stormy night. Very gently and with big dollars.

"Terrible," said the mark, "I'd have done the same."

"It's been tough," said Peeto. Peeto pressed his lips together and cast his eyes down.

This bear would be a hugger and nothing more. Maybe they could play till morning. No more work this night. No singing in the rain. Maybe he'd even get to sleep without anyone else in the bed if the mark leaves early. The room would be paid for till noon. That would be better than a holiday in Heaven. He could retrieve that orange kitten he had found wandering in the alley and stashed in a box earlier that night. They would snuggle up on the bed and watch television shows.

"What do you want, kid?"

"Two-fifty."

"For the night?"

"An hour." Peeto gambled. "Three-fifty for the night." Why not. These kind were one-shot and out, sometimes less than thirty minutes. Their dreams were big but they never made it.

"No drugs?"

"Don't use them," Peeto said, and flashed his arms out for the mark's perusal. None of his business, maybe some coke, a little acid, or a lot of acid, depending on the mark. "But I smoke weed."

"Who doesn't? And I got a few bones right here in my pocket."

"You're not a cop?"

"No – are you kidding?"

"Prove it."

The mark put his hand on Peeto's shoulder and slid it down his chest, slowly. He stopped at Peeto's waist and leaned over and kissed him on the lips.

Peeto closed his eyes. This mark was going to be sweet. He might leave him some money for clothes. A few bones. Maybe some champagne. He just had to get this guy over and done with quick, they always leave after that. And the room would be his. And the kitten's.

"Thanks," Peeto said, and placed his head on the mark's shoulder.

"Let's go," the mark said.

Peeto grabbed his windbreaker off the rail.

"I have an umbrella," said the mark, "my car's a block away."

"The hotel's next door, we don't need to drive."

"I got to get some stuff."

"Like what?" Peeto said, but he knew the answer.

"You don't mind a few items, just to add some fun."

"Cuffs?"

"Yeah, and maybe a whip. A small one. Light action."

Peeto looked outside. The rain was coming down harder and had flooded the curb. Santa Monica Boulevard was Splash City. "Five hundred. Up front. One hour."

"Deal young man, deal."

Peeto moved to the door. "Let's go. Rain is good for business. I can score two more tricks after you."

"You are fast," said the mark.

"Things happen fast," said Peeto.

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Peeto was spread-eagled, face down on a stained mattress with no sheets. His wrists were cuffed to the bedpost, and his feet tied to the bed supports with torn sheets. He tried to shake free, but any move he made was accompanied by the mark's signal whip, which replied with a snap to his back or his buttocks like an exclamation point, and Peeto felt the warm seeping from the slashes. He screamed, but a piece of the torn sheet the mark had shoved in his mouth made him sound like a sheep. The television blared.

A soft knock on the door was momentary salvation, and the mark went and opened it and pulled a big guy into the room. Peeto pulled on the cuffs and shook the bedpost.

"What the hell are you doing?" said the big guy, "That kid is five-thousand bucks to us and you're whipping the shit out of him? I thought Ruiz's clients were the pervs."

"Ruiz is going to pay us ten. He can't be more than fourteen. He's a smooth one."

"Ruiz does like them young. Maybe we can get ten. But you're fitting him for a casket."

"This kid will remember me with affection after Ruiz gets him." The mark unhitched his belt.

"Now? We got only an hour before Ruiz leaves!"

"We'll make it. I found him. Put him out."

The big guy brought a hypodermic out of his breast pocket and took the cap off. He moved towards Peeto, but Peeto's frenzied movement shook the mattress off the frame and it hit the big guy's knees. He fell forward and his elbow slammed into Peeto's side like a cop's baton.

"Asshole!" said the mark. He grabbed the hypodermic on the mattress and plunged it into one of Peeto's contracting buttocks. Peeto's shoulders shot upward and his body writhed for several seconds before collapsing to the mattress. The mark yanked the gag out and put an ear close to Peeto's face. "You're lucky he's breathing, you fucking stonehands. I ought to massage your head with my fists."

"Fuck off. We have to get him cleaned up. Quick!"

"I got time." The mark dropped his trousers.

"I have to watch this shit?" said the big guy.

"Get rid of the goddamn kitten in that box. The boy brought it with him."

The big guy picked up the kitten and scratched its head. "Its mouth keeps mewing, but no sound's coming out." He snapped the neck and dropped the kitten in the box. "Hurry up, you make me sick."

 

--Story by Lorenzo Porricelli

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--Background photo by Sarah Edwards
--Foreground photo by Eleanor Leonne Bennett