Roxy didn't recognize her reflection in the mirror anymore. Her soft curves had turned to sharp edges long ago. And she was hurting. Hurting from poverty, loneliness, and from rejection. But most of all, she was hurting from the drug that was slowing killing her. Or more precisely, the lack of it and the longing for it in every cell of her being. Because for a few precious moments, the magical substance turned all her pain into ecstasy.
A knock on her door distracted her from the job at hand. Two cops in street clothes, and a pretty lady, stood on the other side. The woman was a stranger but the cops she knew well. Though she should have been wary, they were a welcome change from the men who usually came to her door. And she'd known plenty. But the cops had smiles that were genuine and their eyes were the colors of the ocean on a sunny day. She could get lost in eyes like theirs. If she hadn't already been lost.
Despite the john sitting on her bed, she ushered them in.
"Come on in. Let's have a party." She wrapped her thin robe around her thinner shoulders and smiled as prettily as she knew how. Roxy's client hastily zipped his pants and pulled his t-shirt over his over-sized belly, looking sheepishly from one to the other of the intruders, as if already thinking how he'd explain a bust to his wife.
But the newcomers practically ignored the nameless man as he brushed past them and scurried out into the hall. It wasn't Roxy's means of earning a living they were interested in. They'd come for something else. The name of Roxy's source who may be passing off strychnine-laced Horse. She would have helped them if she could. But she couldn't even help herself.
"Business hasn't been too good lately." Roxy wasn't above begging. She chewed her lip and rubbed her arms against a chill only she could feel.
The blond cop's soft heart got the better of him. He pressed some money in her palm as his dark-haired partner and the woman, apparently a reporter, hung back. "Buy yourself something pretty," he told her.
She squeezed the money in her fist with grateful desperation. "Come back when you're off duty," she felt compelled to invite him, in spite of herself.
"I would, but my Catechism teacher would have a fit," the beautiful, golden man replied and gave her a little wink as he left. Somehow she knew it wasn't just his sense of morality that kept him from her bed. Plenty of her johns were married. They just weren't in love or bound by loyalty. This man was full to bursting with both.
Sometime later, not that time mattered anymore, someone put a mellow song on the juke box in the bar downstairs - a welcome respite from the nearly constant hockabilly twang and squalling guitars. The music floated up from the bar and into her room as she pulled a baggie from her bra.
"When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you."
She heated the powder to liquid over a candle and tightened the strap around her arm.
"I'll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down."
Roxy felt the sting as the needle pierced her vein, then a rush of ecstasy. Then she felt nothing at all.