There was a stabbing on the hill yesterday. Jorjian Brown couldn’t help but wonder what that meant for her. Was she selfish for wondering such thoughts? Wondering if she was going to get mugged too? Stabbed in the neck. Throat slit like a pig? How much blood there must have been and yet at five-thirty pm, did no one notice? Stop to help? She walked hazily on Harvard, peering up to Howell. Right there. Not far at least. She wouldn’t be a target in her thick scarf. At least Jorjian’s neck would be protected. She wanted to kiss someone. Hug the soft spot of flesh in between the ear and the face’s abdomen. It was a belly of sorts, the neck. A connection of this degree could be just the thing she needed. A warmth to ignite her drying lips.
Who’s next on this hill of lies and steel, motorcycle repair shops and dismal dreams of speeding to grandeur? Jorjian wondered if she could make it to Canada within a few hours. She would hop a train, a Greyhound, anything to get her out. Vancouver was safe of knives and crack. Or so it seemed. She knew this was untrue. Yet how could she not regret the time wasted sitting in a tunnel of furrowed cement, rising like a tidal wave on either side of her split associations. She took another sip but it didn’t suffice. Her appetite was for the bland. The smoke that made her jitter. And it was only twelve o’ two. She had been up for two hours and she needed a nap.
He was a tall gentleman. A spindly dandy of the olden variety. Yet even with him in front of her, Jorjian’s depression lagged on that Thursday and she challenged all that had taken place within the spectrum of a week. There and back. A lie here. A fall there. She was strangely drawn to this man. He poured coffee into already black cups of dusted beans. Did she need another haircut, Jorjian wondered? Anything to offset the pace of doomed repetition. Sometimes he worked there too. At Rudy’s barbershop. And Stumptown coffee. He would walk the shallow tunnel hiding behind the two businesses, lurking in the soot of grinded beans and shredded human hair. A brush. That’s what he needed. He haunted the hill. With his head of shaved skin. It seemed to fizzle on his face, his scalp, his palms. Everywhere but the neck.
Things seemed to be unraveling. Why had he pulled her so close when they were talking? It was raining hard. Jorjian’s scarf had tucked away her face into a plume of deep pink and black.
“What. Have you gone Muslim on me?” Rob snorted.
“Naw. It’s like she’s a pilgrim.” Vinny vindicated.
“It’s just a scarf. Because it’s pouring out.”
But it was more than a scarf. It was protection from them and everything they could do to her. He pulled Jorjian close to his lap, sitting on the counter. She could sense a magnetic attraction to his gun.
“You wanna touch it.”
“I don’t like guns.”
“You gotta protect yourself.”
“I’ve got mace.”
But she needed a tazor. Or pepper spray. Or tear gas. Not for him. But for herself. Jorjian went home and lit a cigarette. American Spirit yellow. Within a second she had a burn in the center of her hand. Not her palm but the back of her hand. Where a man would smack a woman. Jorjian hadn’t felt anything but a slight tug from God pulling her hand away from the smoldering brush.
“Drop it.” God said to herself. “This is not for you to decide.”
But the cigarette smarted and Jorjian smiled. A masochistic curse and pleasure. Where were the stabbers now? She howled up at the gray of the shelter above her. To the gray cement of balconies beside her. To the gray of blistering rock below her.
“Come and get me now!”
But they never came. And Jorjian was forced to go back inside again, intact and defiant. Solemn that her neck was still unslit.