Denizen, Not Citizen

The bell rang, sounding harsh against ears which hadn't gotten to sleep until too early in the morning. Gathering his book and folder, Satin slid out of the desk and trundled to his locker for the next class' books. He rubbed his hands over his eyes, trying to push the sleep away from his brain. As he shut the locker door and turned to go to class, he didn't think about the night before.

It had been no different from any other night.

Satin let the day's lessons trickle off him like water, leaving no more mark than the rain showers. They weren't important anyway, the things they taught couldn't help him where he was and he wasn't going anywhere else. The only reason he went to school at all was to get out of his home for seven hours-- he'd go anywhere to do that; he also enjoyed being around people his age... even if he couldn't trust them. But Satin liked pretending he was just like they were, for a few hours every day.

During lunch he found he couldn't stay awake; he ate as fast as he could and pushed his tray across the table. Folding his arms and trusting the bell to wake him, he drifted off to sleep in the cafeteria.

"Hey, Satin, get up!" A voice woke him. Satin looked up, blinking once to clear his eyes. David was standing nearby, holding his backpack.

"Is lunch over?"

"Nah, man. We have a game! Get up, lazy bones, you're the only goalie we've got." David grinned.

"I'm the only one dumb enough to stand where Sanners can aim for me." Richard Sanners was a forward on the other team, and infamous for his hard shots. Satin got up and followed the other boy out to the playing field. Christie waved to him as she warmed up. Satin smiled. She was one reason he liked playing soccer. She was a fullback on David Musckers' team... she was also part of the reason Satin played goalie. Satin waved back and jogged over to the goalie's box. Their forwards took potshots (practise shots) on him to warm up.

Satin knew he was too tired to play well, but then lunchtime games didn't count for anything except fun. He was right, but Christie and Marcus took up the slack and kept most of the shots away. For awhile, as he played, Satin forgot about nights, forgot he was different, forgot that if any of these kids really knew who he was they'd avoid him like the plague. He instead thought about the curve of Christie's legs as she ran after the ball, watched her hair stream behind her; he tensed, then relaxed when she tumbled after a collision with Richard and stood up unhurt.

When the game ended 3-4 in favor of Richard's team, Satin jogged a couple laps with her to cool down. They talked about the next 'real' game, on Sunday. Satin promised to sleep Saturday night, and deflected her questions with ease, on if his mother would come to this game. Christie grabbed her bag and headed off for the girls' locker room, Satin sat down on the grass to let the sweat dry. He hadn't brought clothes to change into, not remembering this was a scrimmage day. He let himself think about Sunday's game, as if it were the most important thing happening in his life. Then he had to think about reality.

He couldn't sleep Saturday night, but he could sleep late Sunday morning. Saturday was too busy, had too many chances to make a lot of money, that he couldn't stay in. As he brushed dirt off his shirt, Satin felt the illusion slip away again, and he knew who he was again. He stood up and headed for class, trying to keep that knowledge from showing on his face.

After school Satin walked home, leaving his schoolwork in his locker where it would be safe. The walk was long, nearly an hour to reach the harbour neighborhood. The buildings here were old, dating from before the turn of the century. Some even had steel frames, and asbestos for insulation. They hadn't been condemned yet, because they were too useful in keeping the transients, bums, and poor trash concentrated in one section of town. Satin saw an ancient diesel fueled truck broken down by the curb and grinned. That was old man Rascel's home, and old man Rascel was usually good for a story and a meal in exchange for a package of cigarettes. Satin reminded himself to get a package out of his mother's cupboard, maybe tomorrow or the following day.

He saw the tall, filthy brown building he lived in with his mother. It was right near the old train track, thankfully no trains ran this track anymore. The vibrations would have knocked down half the buildings it ran past, down here. Slipping the front door aside, Satin ran up the two flights of stairs to the apartment. Wondering if his mother would be home.

He pushed the door open. "Momma?" He called softly, not wanting to wake her if she was home, sleeping. The lights were off-- no surprise, the electricity hadn't been paid. He walked through the front room, stepping over the scraps of cloth and debris on the floor. He had given up cleaning anything but his own room and the kitchen long ago. He glanced into the kitchen, not really expecting her to be there. Satin found her in her bedroom, sprawled across her bed.

Stoned.

It wasn't as bad as it had been last week, when she had been getting drunk and staying awake most of the evening. She'd been lucky at the gambling houses she frequented, looking for rich old men who would settle for someone like her, giving her a meal, a drink, and a small handful of chips. By the look of it today, she'd had to resort to trading favours for a friend of hers, a scruffy black man named Toller. Satin wasn't sure what Toller had his mother do, but he did know Toller was one of the lower class drug runners. She probably muled for him. Satin didn't really care.

"Momma?" He said again, to see if she would wake up. She mumbled, and rolled over, and began snoring. Satin crept back out of her room. He wished she'd woken up, he didn't want to wait around the apartment all day waiting for her to get up and want her breakfast. He went back to the kitchen, and searched the cabinets, making sure she hadn't taken anything while he'd been at school.

She hadn't. Satin wasn't surprised. He didn't think she'd even been in the kitchen since he had started fixing meals, when he was only five. That was the way he liked it. He didn't trust her not to break something, or ruin some of the food he managed to buy. Satin sat down at the 'dining room table'-- a card table with bricks under two legs, and waited. She would probably wake up soon.

An hour later he heard her call his name. He hurried to her door, and stood in the doorway. "Yes, momma?"

"Satin, where's my breakfast? I asked you twice already."

"I'm sorry, momma. I was studying and didn't hear you. I'll bring you some tea, while I make it." She liked to think he was working hard in school, and hardly ever yelled when she thought he was doing homework.

"No, I don't want any tea. Just bring my food. Some toast, okay?"

"Okay, momma." Satin went back to the kitchen. It was always the same. She liked being offered tea, made her feel genteel, she said. But she never drank it. They didn't have any anyway, Satin learned quickly not to bother buying it. He made her toast and eggs, like always, and took it to her. He left her then, not caring that the dishes would not find their way to the sink. But he was ready to get out of the apartment.

Even if it was to go to work. Satin put clean but ragged clothes on, after scrubbing his body with a damp cloth. He ran his fingers through his hair, and was ready. He looked in the polished hubcap he used for a mirror, and nodded. This would do. He left quietly, so his mother wouldn't know he'd gone, wouldn't call to him to do something else for her, keeping him doing errands all night. She never understood that he had to go, had to work, so they could have food, heat, sometimes even electricity-- cheap as the solar generators made it. Satin walked down the street away from the apartment building, headed towards a section of town he liked to call 'The Concrete Hell'.

The sun was about an hour away from setting, Satin figured he'd have time to set up shop before any customers came cruising around. He found a place near his psuedo-usual alley, near an abandoned warehouse. It hadn't been barricaded, which made it a good place for when the alley was too risky. Satin hadn't been here in a few days, so it would be safe. He couldn't stay in one place every night, or even in one of a couple places. It wasn't that he would get caught; his customers would.

The joy of being underage-- not being responsible for breaking the law. Satin reveled in his freedom to do anything he damn well pleased, knowing the cops couldn't do a thing. Except slap his wrist and tell him to stop. Satin jumped up on a crate, sitting on the edge, waiting. As it got darker, he leaned back, looking bored, looking uncaring, looking like prey.

Drawing his tricks. Satin was glad minor prostitution was a class 1 felony. It let him charge more.

Twenty-five dollars for ten mintues, ten dollars extra for each added 'give'. That meant Satin would drop his jeans for ten minutes (per $25), and the john could do anything he wanted. If he wanted Satin to do anything, it was $10 more per job, per ten minutes. Satin usually made an easy $60 or $70 bucks per trick. Some of his regulars paid as much as $150. But this was Thursday night, and the crowd would be slim. Satin hated Thursdays, because the only people liable to be out were psychs and trips, who were likely as not to hurt him. Satin never got out of a Thursday without bruises, but so far he'd only been ripped up twice.

Satin scooted around on his perch, and made eye contact with a slender young businessman. From the furtive, guilty glances he got in response, Satin knew he had one. He made eye contact, slid his gaze towards the warehouse next door, and slowly slid down and walked around the corner. He waited by a loading door, and a moment later the man came around. Satin lead him inside, where no one would chance upon them.

Satin had to explain his fees, apparently the man was new to town, never been to this part of the city. Satin smiled, and tried to hook the man into becoming a regular. Satin was one of very few child prostitues, and once a john found a reliable whore he rarely shopped around. Satin took the man's money and wished him a safe trip back.

Then he wandered around, to the other street lining the warehouse. This was near a dark alley, and was a good place to get high rollars, and pyschs. Sometimes they were the same person. Satin made sure the money was tucked out of sight in his collar, and watched the street.

About an hour later with no tricks, a large, scruffy man came up, and walked directly into the warehouse, not looking back to see if Satin would follow. Satin hesitated, knowing this man. He was a beater, and never tipped for breaking skin. He was the one who'd ripped Satin once before. But he took a long time, and paid extra for no screaming. Satin reluctantly followed the man inside.

The man faced him, standing in shadows. Satin dropped his jeans, letting them fall to his ankles. He grabbed an old pipe, to balance himself and brace himself. Then the man came forward, and Satin began timing.

Keeping time to himself helped him endure, ignore what was happening. He felt himself writhing a little, and tried to stop, the man's wet cold lips touching him. He felt dirty hands grabbing his legs, and went back to his internal clock. Ten minutes. Twenty five dollars. Click. Next round.

The man continued his ministrations, ignoring the time. Satin said nothing, keeping very, very quiet. Finally the man got off him, and moved around behind. Twenty two minutes. Fifty dollars, going on seventy five. Satin tried to relax, hiding the scared he felt, because so far he hadn't even been more than rough. As soon as Satin thought that, he felt an impact on his left buttock. The fingers grabbed, dug in, and Satin tried very, very hard to concentrate on counting.

He felt something go inside him, it felt like the man's hand. Satin held on to the pipe, bracing himself against the pushing. Suddenly the pressure disappeared, and was replaced by something else, something cold, hard, and rough. Satin felt a sharp pain along his insides, and bit down on his tongue. Ripped. He kept counting, choking back a whimper.

Forty six minutes, one hundred and twenty five dollars. Plus a forty dollar tip. The man only sneered at the blood Satin had to clean up, as he tossed the money down and left. Satin couldn't even sit down and cry, because it hurt too much. He bent over and picked up the cash, and pulled his jeans up. A small rag torn off his T-shirt was stuffed, holding the blood in, trying to bandage as well it could. Satin leaned against the wall of the broken down forgotten warehouse, wondering if he had to go back out there tonight.

Two hundred and fifteen dollars was ok for a Thursday-- he could go home. Besides, he consoled himself, tricks might get put off by the blood. Slowly and carefully he left the warehouse, and headed down the street, staring straight ahead as if he had no business being anywhere but here. He vanished the 'prey' look, for a predator's, and people left him alone as he left the Concrete Hell.

Satin had just stepped onto Rose Avenue, when he saw one of his regulars, a middle aged man with a wife and four kids, who always just wanted a blowjob, and left before his time was up. The john made eye contact, uncertain that Satin was tricking.

Satin sighed to himself, and glanced towards an open doorway. Another twenty five, and he'd still be safe. He walked into the old apartment building, and into a side room, open, filthy, and abandoned. The john came in behind him, and Satin opened his jeans. The john dropped, and started, Satin stared at the wall, not bothering to count.

And then there was a man standing in the door. Uniformed, a cop. Satin's john moved away, suddenly looking like he was facing death. Satin backed up a step, pulling his jeans together, and spun around and jumped out the window. He ran as fast as he could with the pain stabbing him with every step, down the alley and across a street, hiding himself in shadows and debris. Without him, maybe his john would get off easy. No proof, no minors laws broken. Not to mention what they couldn't do to Satin if they didn't have him.

Satin ran down the alley to another street, and ducked behind a heap of dumpsters. His insides were stabbing with fire, he could barely breathe. Satin curled up next to a pile of cardboard boxes, unable to run any farther. Tears were streaming down his face, he wiped his cheeks with the back of his hand. It shouldn't hurt that bad, he told himself.

But it did. And he was scared-- he'd never been seen so close by a neighborhood cop before; he didn't know if the john had been caught, if they now had any description of him. With the weekend coming up, he couldn't afford to lay low for a while to let the cops stop looking. As his breathing and heart rate gradually slowed, Satin realised how scared he really was, how much pain he was in. Would he have to stay home anyway, until his body healed... with his mother? What would she say? What would she do?

Satin huddled deeper into the mess of trash, shaking. If he could calm down, maybe he could think of something.

Satin jerked awake. He'd not even noticed falling asleep. The night had gotten darker and colder, indicating that it was probably early morning. Almost nobody was out, if he wanted to sneak home now was the time to do it. Satin started to get up, and felt a tremendous rush of pain. He couldn't bite back the cry of pain, but he sucked in his breath to keep it from becoming too loud. Satin wanted to curl up and go back to sleep, didn't want to move, didn't want to go home to face his mother. Then again, at this time of night she wouldn't be home.

Satin pushed himself up, leaning heavily against the dumpster. He was cold, and stiff. He moved slowly, so as not to start the bleeding that had surely stopped by now. With one hand on the dumpster, Satin stepped slowly out of his hiding place. His legs felt like they weren't working properly. This was bad. He'd never hurt this much, when he'd been ripped before. Maybe... maybe it was just the cold.

Satin had to hold onto the wall as he walked out of the alley. When he reached the street he pulled away, it wouldn't be safe to look like walking wounded out here, not with money on him. He looked up and down the street carefully, and started home.

He didn't make it very far before a police car, lights on and sirens off, pulled alongside him. They shined the light low on him, Satin leaned up against the wall and didn't try to move. He watched them climb out of his car, and tried to look like-- feel like, he hadn't done anything.

The two cops were out of the car, one stayed by the open door- the driver; the other came towards him. She stood behind the shine of light, Satin couldn't see her face. "You're out rather late, aren't you?" She said it like he wasn't in trouble. Satin knew better. Satin didn't say anything. "Where do you live?"

"Water Street." He gave the technically unofficial name for the harbour area... more than one street was included, so they wouldn't really know where he lived.

"Maybe you'd like a ride home?" The question was almost harmless. Had he been a 'normal' teenager, he'd love a ride home. If he were normal, he wouldn't have been in the Concrete Hell to begin with.

"No." Satin tried to say it neutrally. He wasn't sure he was convincing them.

"What's your name?" She stepped closer, still beyond the light.

"Daniel." He knew a guy named Daniel, at school. Tall, dark headed kid. Looked nothing like Satin.

"Daniel what?" She sounded like she might believe him, he'd been fast enough with the first name.

"Rothman." It was something he'd practised, after all. Told himself, silently, the name Daniel Rothman. The last name he'd gotten from the phonebook, there were dozens of 'Rothmans' in the greater area. He'd said it without hesitating, beyond a teen's normal belligerance. Satin thought maybe he'd gotten her.

"Why don't you climb into the car, and we'll take you home? I'd imagine your parents are worried about you. We can call them from the car." She held her hand out, everyone was pretending nothing was wrong. Satin knew they still suspected him. Especially since he couldn't let them take him home, they'd insist on speaking to his parents. If he took them to his real home, and his mother was gone, they'd take him to JC.

"You think if my parents were home, I'd be out in the middle of the night?" Satin asked in a 'are you dumb, cop?' tone.

"Where are they?"

"Working, out of town. Colbert city council took 'em down. Some stupid highway project."

"Your parents work for the highway department?"

Satin shook his head. "They just consult. They get all-expense paid trips to all over the country, laid up in hotels, eating at fancy restaurnats, to tell the city code-heads where to put their streets." He sneered, like he didn't think much of the city, or parents. Inside, Satin was cold. He hurt, and wanted to sleep.

"Who do you stay with when they're out of town? We'll take you there."

"I'm old enought to stay by myself."

She laughed, once. "Apparently not, if you're out in this neighborhood, at this hour. Come on, get in the car." Satin suddenly felt like he might not get out of this by talking. The problem was, could he run fast enough? If he stepped any forward, she'd be able to grab him. And her partner was still by the wheel.

He had no choice. He jumped back and sideways, away from her, spinning, running. Heading away from the street so the car couldn't follow him. He heard the gunning of the engine, and the squeal of tires as the cops turned the car around to follow. He assumed the ladycop would be on foot, following. Satin jumped over some boxes, and cans, and tried to duck through an alley.

He stepped on a bum, asleep in the trash. The man yelled, and Satin could hardly take the time to apologise. He'd find the guy, later. If he had a chance. Satin didn't dare glance over his shoulder, to check if the cop was still there. The sirens were waking up the entire neighborhood, Satin hoped no one would spot him, point him out in hopes of collecting a favour from the cops.

Satin slipped inside a building, one of the abandoned warehouses he knew so well. He tripped on some pipes, going in. Scrambling up, he felt a warm liquid running down his leg. Bleeding. He groaned, wanting to just sit and hold himself, and pray for the pain to go away. His heart beat to loudly, the adrenalin pushed him on. He hurried through the machinery remains, and dark corners as fast as he could. He stumbled more than once, he felt sick, and scared. He rounded a corner, and stopped for a moment, to listen. He couldn't hear if the cop had followed him into the building. Either she was quiet, stopped, or had lost him. Satin tried to breathe quietly, straining to listen.

He waited for several minutes. He didn't even hear the siren anymore, it had faded long before. Maybe they'd gone. He waited a while longer, until his heartrate fell, and his breathing slowed. He still didn't hear any sign of the cops. Carefully, he crept out of his hiding spot. He made his way through the dark, to a door on a different street than the one he'd come in. He went slowly, ready to jump and run at a second's hint of cop. At least, that's what he told himself. He wasn't sure he felt like moving, much less running.

He felt dizzy, actually. He'd better find a place to hide, and sleep. He wouldn't make it home, but he'd better get to a different neighborhood. He eased the door open, and slipped outside. He took a few steps, searching the street. Seeing it clear, he began walking as if nothing were wrong.

A spotlight hit him, after ten steps. Satin froze, staring into it. "Hold it right there, kid. Put your hands up, and don't move." It was the cops, and there were two cars. As two cops came towards him, he caught a glimpse of a heat detector- they'd known where he was all along. Satin wanted to cry.

The cops looked down at him, one reached out to grab his wrist. Satin suddenly felt the world go out of focus, and he blacked out.

"We'd better take him to the hospital." The cop nearest the unconscious boy had caught him, and carried him to the car. His partner opened the door, and he laid him across the back seat.

"Has he got any ID?" She asked.

The cop checked Satin's pockets. "Nothing."

"We'll have to run his prints against the school records." They let the other car leave, to continue their patrol. The cops drove to the hospital, calling ahead, and alerting JC. At the hospital, the medics took the boy, and the JC worker arrived moments after they'd carted the boy to examination. The cops took a copy of his prints, and ran it while they waited for a medical report.

"It says here the kid's name is Satin. No last name given. He's a tenth grader at West Midson High. No father listed, only a mother, unemployed. Address on Water Street, like he said. 15 years old." He said that last with a sigh.

"We'd better pull the mother." The ladycop turned to the JC worker. "Can you handle the paperwork, here?"

"Sure."

"We'll either bring the mother here, or call from the station." It depended on what they found, when they found the mother. Before the cops left, the doctor approached. They stopped, to hear the report.

"What'd you find, doct?"

"Well, we know why he collapsed. He'd lost quite a bit of blood. He had a rather long tear inside his rectum."

"In-- how--?" the cop began to ask. Then his eyes got big. "Was there sign of sexual activity?"

"Yes. And we found this, in his collar." The doctor handed him a folded amount of money. "It's two hundred and fifteen dollars."

"Oh, my gott." The JC wroker sighed.

"You suppose he's the kid Malley called in earlier?" The ladycop asked her partner, refering to a call they'd received from an earlier patrol.

"Must be. He fits the description, all right. Ok, let's pick up the mother." They left the JC worker to deal with the kid, and left to find his guardian.

They found her as she came home, stopping by to find her other pair of shoes, after her first pair had broken a heel-- running away from an over-eager drug pusher. They stopped her, talked to her long enough to discover she was high as a meter reader, and took her in to detox. They registered the Satin as officially under the care of JC, and returned to their patrol.

Satin woke up, feeling funny. He was thirsty, warm, and no longer in pain. He noticed he was lying in a bed, and as he remembered what had happened, he felt his blood freeze. He opened his eyes, and his fears were confirmed. A hospital.

He saw through the window in the door, that somone was outside, probably a JC cop, making sure he didn't leave. Satin looked at the IV on his arm, and thought even if he could get it off, he wouldn't sneak out in his patient's gown. He felt a thick pressure between his legs, where they must have sewn him up. At least there was one good thing coming out of the night.

He wondered if he could get a drink, and saw the nurse's call taped near his hand. No. He wasn't about to call. He craned his head aroud, and saw nothing that looked like water. No pitchers, glasses, or anything. The room was stark, even though painted soft blue, with faint hints of pink, here and there. Satin hated it. He wanted to go home.. at least there he didn't have to wonder what was going to happen to him.

The door opened, and a doctor came in with a chart. A lady followed him, Satin guessed she was from JC. "Good morning. I'm Dr. Holebern." He waited for Satin to say something. When Satin didn't, he continued, still smiling. "You're actually lucky you were brought in, young man. You had lost an awful lot of blood, and you'd started bleeding again."

"I wouldna been if they hadn't chased me."

The doctor looked at him, frankly. "And you wouldn't have been if you hadn't gotten injured in the first place." His stare said he knew exactly what had happened, probably knew more than Satin wanted to know, himself. "You've got a lot of scars. I imagine you've been hurt before, but there's no records from any of the hospitals, or clinics." Satin didn't answer. Of course not, then he'd have been picked up by the JC. "This is Ms. Wallace. She's in charge of you. She's from the JC. I'm sure you'll give her as much cooperation as you have me." Dr. Holebern nodded to the lady, and left. She came around and sat by Satin's bed.

"He's been working all night, or he wouldn't have been so cross. Satin, I'm going to tell you up front, you're going to be kept here for two more days. Then you'll be taken to the JC. Your mother has been revoked of her guardianship rights. She's in a city detox center, by the way. If she and you both get back on track, you may be returned to her.

"But right now, I'd just concentrate of staying out of trouble. Let us help you, and we'll take care of you. Now, I wonder if you'd give me some information, about your... clients."

Satin sneered at her. Like he'd blow them. He felt no loyalty towards any of them, but Satin prided himself on his principle- on his rep, as being a clam. He didn't even bother shaking his head.

"I know you don't see the need, but we'd like to get this information. And if you know of any other kids, working the alleys..."

Now Satin knew she was dumb. If he blew on them, they'd get into JC, and know exactly who to come after. Satin stared at the ceiling. "Well, if you change your mind, I'll be here. I'll be back and check, this afternoon." She stood up and left, leaving Satin to lie in bed, alone, scared, and facing a totally unknown future, at the hands of the JC. He wanted to roll over and curl up, but the bandages and IV had him fairly immobilised. Instead he stared at the ceiling, and cried.

A few hours later, after dosing on and off, a nurse came in with an IV bag. Lunch. Satin said nothing as she hooked it up, didn't even bother watching. She patted him on the arm, and gave him a smile. Satin couldn't return it, but after she left, he half-smiled. She, at least, seemed nice. He thought for a moment. He was still thirsty... even if he couldn't eat (stitches) surely they'd let him drink some water.

After psyching himself for another ten minutes, Satin hesitantly pressed the buzzer of the nurses' call strapped to his wrist.

The same lady came in a few moments later, smiling. Satin almost smiled back. "What can I do for you, Satin?" She asked, like there was nothing wrong with him being there, bothering her.

"Could I have some water?" His voice even sounded dry. He was glad to see her nod, and say she'd be right back with a glass. He waited only another few minutes, until she came back- still smiling. She held the glass as he drank from the straw- apparently he wasn't allowed to sit up. When he finished she took the glass away... still smiling at him. This time he managed to smile at her, before she left and couldn't see.

As the door swung shut, Satin closed his eyes. Maybe he'd sleep, while he could... moldy mattress. He discovered he had a remote control for the lights, and he dialed them down. He could almost pretend he was comfortable, here.

Why did he still feel like running, then?