Casualties of Pretty Things -- Chapter Four -- WARNING: VIOLENT CONTENT

speakeasy alley | ... Restaurant - End of Freeman Alley, nr ...

Previously: Carl, Cybil's father, kidnapped a young teen girl with the intention of performing a surgical procedure that would alter her behavior and render her helpless while he used her as a sex doll to substitute for the daughter he used to rape. She revealed she was pregnant when she pleaded for the life of her unborn child but Carl was undaunted; Cybil, who had previously ran away from home after her mother died -- whom she believed was killed by her father -- met Bertha on a city bus; Deloris, the best friend of Cybil's mother and a former prostitute who operates a half-way home for teen girls being trafficked, went to the police to demand they do something to find Cybil. She may have found some help off the books; Now, Carl searches for his next doll.  


The restaurant was closed and the alley was dirty with trash strewn about from the day’s business. Dumpsters waited to be emptied by collectors who never came. The backdoor opened and someone from the kitchen, probably the dishwasher, walked out carrying a few bags of heavy trash. He threw the bags on a pile against the dumpster and walked back to the  door, where he propped it open to let the heat from the restaurant escape. He sighed and wiped grime from his face onto his shirt. He enjoyed the night air with a sigh, then disappeared back inside. 

A car rolled into the alley and came to a stop a few hundred yards from the back of the restaurant. Inside the car Carl put the car in park and let it idle. A non-descript music played over the radio just below the sound of the car’s engine, indicating an unknown mechanical problem. Carl looked down at his phone displaying the Facebook app. He was looking at an older picture of Cybil with her mother in this exact location.

Denise, a young server carrying a purse, came out of the restaurant with her boyfriend Jamal close behind her. Carl heard the couple arguing in the alley and looked up. He shut the car off and watched them with growing interest. He decided the young server looked a lot like Cybil with short hair.

Jamal yelled at Denise. Denise yelled right back and turned to go back into the restaurant. Jamal grabbed Denise by the arm and kicked the device (whatever it was) that was propping the door open. It slammed shut.

Carl put his phone away with one hand and put the other hand on the door handle. He saw Denise struggle with Jamal. She pushed against him. He pulled Denise away from the backdoor of the restaurant. She stumbled and fell away from him into the filth surrounding them, She dropped her purse and its contents scattered.  

Carl opened the car door to get out and with a cold demeanor he closed it behind him. He walked toward the fighting couple, never taking his eyes away from Denise. 

She scurried away from Jamal. He reached down and grabbed her by the back of the hair. She screamed when he pulled her away from the back of the restaurant. 

Just as Jamal made to strike Denise Carl took him by the back of his own hair, forcing him to release Denise. She fell forward and spun around.
Carl kicked the back of Jamal’s knees and he went down. Jamal tried to hurry to his feet but, caught in Carl’s grip, only writhed about. Before Jamal could turn on him Carl put him in a choke-hold. 

Denise, watching it all, panicked. “Oh my god! What are you doing?”

Carl said, “Gimme a sec.” 

Jamal, red  in  the  face, eyes glazed  over, passed out. Carl released him and the body smacked hard against the pavement. 

Denise cried out, “Jamal!”

“That’s better,” Carl said. “What were you saying?” 

Denise froze, not sure of what just happened. She asked, “What did you do to him?” 
“Oh, he’ll be just fine.” 

“Is he…?” 

Carl laughed. “Dead? Not hardly.” He nudged Jamal with a foot. “Just dreaming.” 

“Who are you?”

He said, “I was sitting back there in my car. Saw what he was doing. Couldn’t let him hurt you.” 

Denise gathered her senses and brushed any dirt and grime off herself. Carl pulled his phone out of his pocket. He said, “Let me call the police for you.” 

“What? No, don’t do that. Jamal’s a jerk but I don’t want to fool with  the police.” 

“You don’t want to press charges?” 

She tried to make an excuse. 

“Oh, I get it,” he said. “This your boyfriend?”

“Look, I… let him sleep it off. I’m done with him anyway.” 

Carl collected the contents of her purse, pocketing her phone into his pocket before she could see it. Denise went to her knees and helped gather up her purse, looking for her phone.
Carl said, “At least let me call your parents.” 

“I appreciate your help,” she said. “Whatever your name is, but I just want to get home.”

Carl rose to his feet and looked around to make sure Jamal was still unconscious and no one else was watching. He said, “Guess your boyfriend was your ride home?” 

Denise looked down at her boyfriend. He was moving, gaining consciousness. She asked Carl, “You see my phone?” 

Carl nodded a no

“My manager is going to fire me. This is the third time he’s pulled this  shit on me at work.”

“Come on. I’ll take you home. You can find your phone later.” 

Denise hesitated. She thought about going back into the restaurant.

He assured her. “I got a daughter about your age. I know I’d be worried if she was in the same situation. Be nice if someone was there to help her.” 

“You sure it’s no trouble?”
“‘Course not.” 

Jamal pulled himself up to his knees. He rubbed his head, squinted his eyes. Carl and Denise watched him rise to his feet, shaking. He grunted at Carl. “What the hell?” 

Carl said, “You were getting out of control.” 

“Yeah? And who the fuck are you?” 

Carl closed the distance. “I’m the fuck who’s gonna wipe my ass with your face.” 

Jamal withdrew and considered the challenge. “Fuck this.” 

He made his way out of the alley and flipped Denise the bird. “And fuck you, bitch.” 

She said, “You’re lucky I don’t press charges, Jamal. Got a witness this time.” 

Carl walked back to the car, telling her, “Let’s get you back to your folks.” 

Carl took his seat behind the wheel. He turned the ignition when Denise got in and closed the door. It resisted and he remembered he left it running. She rummaged through her purse. He asked her, “Where you live?” 

“About twenty miles outside the city.”

“Pretty far to go for work.” 

Denise did not look up from her purse. “Yeah, sorry about  that. Usually I have a ride I can depend on. Hope it’s not—" Denise looked up from her purse and into Carl’s eyes. He was staring at her with an expression of malice. He was no longer a helpful stranger. She was paralyzed with fear. 

“Are you—” 

Carl hit her hard in the face with a fist. Her head shot back into the window. He took it in both hands and slammed it into the dashboard once—twice—three times! He dropped her head and Denise fell over limp and bloodied in the passenger seat. 

After a moment of watching her lie there motionless Carl’s expression changed to satisfaction. He reached into his pocket and pulled out her phone. He examined it, removed the battery, and placed the two pieces into her purse. He looked through it and found a wallet. He pulled it out and looked over her driver’s license.

He decided he liked her name. “Denise? You and I are about to have all sorts of fun.” 

In the alley the car moved forward and pulled onto a street. It disappeared from view. 


The sun had set and Cybil was beneath the overpass of an expressway. She was careful to avoid the few cars driving by when she crossed the street to walk up the incline. She sat down at the top and scooted back where she was protected and out of sight. She pulled off her backpack and sat it next to herself. She drew her knees in and clutched herself close. 

Two pedestrians walked by at street level. They talked. She listened, a quiet observer. She watched until they were gone. 

She opened her backpack and pulled out her phone and a charger. She was hoping to activate it. For a moment it tried to power up, displaying an image of herself with her mother and Deloris. 

It shut off with no battery life. 

Cybil returned the phone and charger to her pack, pulled out a bottle of water and drank. She finished off a candy bar. 

With nothing left to do she pulled out her jacket, wadded it up like a pillow, and curled up into a ball. The night air was her blanket.

From Covenant House

For more than four decades, Covenant House has helped transform and save the lives of more than a million homeless, runaway and trafficked young people. We offer housing and support services to young people in need – currently reaching 74,000 youth every year.

Coming off the streets, the young people we serve are usually disconnected from their families and other social support – kids who have endured traumatic and adverse childhood experiences. In addition to living on the streets, many have survived abusive homes, spent time in juvenile justice facilities, aged out of foster care or have been victims of human trafficking and exploitation.

Our comprehensive program model builds a life-affirming bridge for young people by engaging youth on the street (Street Outreach) providing no-barrier, safe, short-term housing to meet their immediate needs  (Immediate Care), and longer-term transitional housing (Rights of Passage) to assist those who are ready for more independent living.

Our strategic plan

We are aggressively stretching to reach more youth each year in our residential programs as well as through outreach, prevention, and education. From 2017 to 2020, we are opening new houses for youth in Anchorage (AK), Asbury Park (NJ), Berkeley (CA), Chicago (IL), Elizabeth (NJ), Grand Rapids (MI), Mexico City (MX), Toronto (ON), Vancouver (BC), Washington D.C., and York (PA). Our plan outlines a series of innovative strategies to make us a data-driven, learning organization that employs high-quality, evidence-based practices to effectively achieve — and constantly strengthen — results for and with the youth we serve. The plan commits us to enhance our quality of care, ensuring that safe, mission-focused, and purpose-driven services and facilities are offered to all youth who come through our doors. We are in the midst of a capital campaign, Our Great Promise, to help us achieve these goals.

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