(Scene Setup: Rakim takes everyone hostage and it's up to Tanya to save them.)
"I'm a woman. I'm smart. I never lose an argument. I can cook. I like to read fashion magazines. I love to be right. Men don't understand us. We must have secret powers, because I don't understand us, either."
The balmy late-summer evening rolled over the Raval like a salve as Madame sank further into the loving arms of her favorite recliner and let the hurries and worries of the day drift off like untethered balloons. She was looking forward to a quiet, early dinner now that the last of the girls had finally vacated to spend the night with their boyfriends or husbands, all except Tanya of course. She had no boyfriend to lure her with promises of romance or a husband who'd inspect the goods like an accountant calculating depreciation. No, this is Tanya's home, and Madame; her adopted mother, provider, and protector. She could always rely on Tanya to be there for her, to help with the burdens of the business that she sometimes feared would put her into an early grave, and to be her counselor during those times she was sure her mind was abandoning her.
A wise girl for someone so young, Tanya was. An old soul that always seemed to know the right thing to do, the best course of action to take. She was her rock; the daughter she never allowed herself during those years working the streets of the El Raval just to stay alive. The burden of a child was unthinkable then and would inevitably have pulled her down like an anchor and drowned her, drowned them both! Besides, she would have never brought a life into this world of pimps and drug addicts and persons of such disgust that even El Diable would turn them away. No, she could never conceive a child to this life.
But then along came Tanya, a helpless thing lost in the maze of these terrible streets, a scared little rabbit surviving by scratching and begging for crumbs brushed from the lowest tables of society populating the darkest back alleys of the El Raval. It was a horrible, hour-by-hour existence where fear so constantly consumed the girl that it became her only comfort, even kept her alive, though barely. She was on constant alert to the dangers lurking throughout the barrio as if she were prey in a forest of beasts always ready to eat her, bones and all. Like a fawn, but without a mother to protect her, she remained quietly hidden during the day. Overflowing trash cans and dumpsters reeking of composting rot and decay were her bush and flowerbed sanctuaries in this forest called, El Raval.
With necessity as her tutor, she adapted quickly, becoming, like most creatures of the barrio, including those plying Madame's trade, a nocturnal animal where the Raval was the ideal cover. The fattest harvest moon could not spread its reach to the streets in this quarter. Even daylight was virtually prohibited by the four and five-story buildings nestled so tightly together that even the air had difficulty finding its way in. But for Tanya, darkness meant survival. She used it as a cloak to wrap herself and evade the monsters chasing her, the same ones who'd stolen her from her homeland and made her a slave to pornography and sadistic pedophiles.
It was cruel existence for a girl barely in her thirteenth year. But there was one night, yes, one night when God finally looked down at her and took pity.
She hadn't eaten for two days and was trying to hush her growling stomach when a car sped by, and a partially eaten sandwich flew out the window into the street presenting itself as an invitation to a dinner party. She could hardly believe her luck, and without looking, she sprinted into the street to retrieve the prize only to be spotted by her tormentors. Before she could take even a single bite of the nutrition that her small body so desperately craved, she was off like a greyhound, with her tormentors in hot pursuit. She could have probably lost them, but when she took a wrong turn and found herself cornered like a rat at the dead end of an alley, she knew she was doomed. She had no chance of escape this time. The two men approached her like salivating wolves reveling in their turn of luck and already counting the money she'd bring when a door opened, and a hand reached out snatching her into the house. The hand belonged to Madame.
The ring of the doorbell cut through her serenity like a serrated knife, but that was okay. It always brought a smile to Madame's tired face because it was the sound of her cash register after all, and long day or not, it was the most welcomed of sounds.
Thank goodness she had her little hummingbird, Tanya. The customer would not be disappointed. She only hoped that it was not a group this time.
"Tanya, go to your room and prepare yourself to welcome the gentleman. I will finish the cooking and you, you lucky girl, will be enjoying another meal in bed if all goes well."
"Oh, Madame, but I wanted to cook for you tonight and give you a night off."
"Another time girl, this is business, and business feeds us, so go, hurry, hurry," she says shooing the girl off.
Oh, God, Tanya pleads as she hurries to her room, please let this be an older, tired gentleman who seeks only company to watch television. Not another youngster needing to prove that he can give me the orgasm of my life. What am I saying? I must be grateful for what Madame has given me. But I am so tired tonight, and I know Madame is too. She is such a workhorse, never rests it seems, always working so hard from sun up to past midnight, every night. And Wednesday! It is our only day off.
Wait, Tanya thought to herself. I know. I'll try that spray Victoria gave me, the one she uses when she needs an easy night of it. The cheater spray. How did she say? Spray it where the horses like to feed. That was it. A vaginal spray. Said one lick then count to sixty and they drop dead asleep. For hours! Said she'd used it one time and it was lights out for three footballers all at once. It was the funniest thing when she said she had all three stuffed into her when they all went nighty, night. Then she had the most difficult time prying herself out from under the one behind, the one who'd fallen on her and sandwiched her to the one beneath. Said the blow from that big stud knocked the breath out of her and she nearly choked on the third guy in her mouth. Ha, ha, that was the funniest.
Should I reconsider? No. Now, where did I put that . . . Here it is! Sandman Sleep Spray, cinnamon flavor.
It must be a new caller, Madame thinks to herself walking up to the peephole and flipping on the small light for illuminating the front stoop. The regulars know we're closed on Wednesdays.
When she flips back the cover and rotates the telescopic eyepiece, thoroughly inspecting the caller, she's impressed with the handsome young man behind the clear, fashionable wraparounds. Tanya will like this one she thinks and opens the door to welcome their newest guest.
"Señor de benvinguda," (Welcome sir) she says with a smile. But when the man pushes a Cesid ID into her face and his way into the house, her smile vanishes taking her good nature with it. She's reminded of the old days, the Generalissimo days when the secret police would push their way into anyone's home at any time and for any reason, day, or night. You never knew when. You only knew one day they'd come. Seems right now, the Cesid's no different.
He quickly shuts the door behind him and even throws the deadbolt before turning around to face Madame, and this worries her.
He's afraid of something, and now he appears nervous. Is he on drugs? Why didn't she see this before, when he was outside still standing on the landing and not in her house? Why was she so careless not to inspect this man? She could have even answered him using the outside intercom instead of just automatically opening the door. She's getting careless.
"Where are your whores old woman, bring them forward," he demands his eyes shifting around the room like someone on meth.
"No whores here young man, this is a hospitality house, and all of our comfort companions are off this night. If you would like to make an appointment ..." she says.
"I am not here to fuck your whores old woman. I am here to ..." he abruptly breaks off when Tanya comes bouncing around the corner in her baby-doll costume.
"Oh, Mama, I did not know we had company. Please forgive me," she says shyly inserting her thumb into her mouth and turning to leave.
"Stop!" Rakim shouts to the girl then turns to Madame, "So, no whores tonight, huh? I suppose this is your daughter?"
"Yes, she is my daughter, and she is not a whore. Now if you will please ... The girl has school tomorrow." She turns to Tanya and orders her to finish her homework and go to bed while taking Rakim by the arm to lead him out, but Rakim breaks the woman's grip and slaps her hard across the face causing her to stumble and nearly fall. He yells at Tanya.
"No, girl. Come here this instant."
Tanya turns to run, but Rakim pulls a pistol and puts it to the Madame's temple. "Come here this instant or your Mama will be no more, do you hear?" Tanya complies and cautiously makes her way to Rakim.
"Señor, please do not harm my Mama. She is all that I have in the world. It is I that you want. I will give you anything you require. Just please put the pistol away and let my Mama go. She is old, and she is of no use to you. I can satisfy any of your desires, please, Señor."
When Tanya comes within reach, Rakim pushes the old woman to the floor like discarding trash and grabs Tanya by the hair, laying the pistol to her head.
"I do not care for you, you little bitch. Nor do I care for your Mama. I am here for Tucker Blue."
"Tucker Blue? Who is Tucker Blue, Señor?" Tanya pleads, and Rakim slaps her across the head with the pistol causing her legs to buckle and nearly drop out of his grip. He grabs her by the throat squeezing off her air until she's writhing like a snake, and he can no longer hold her and lets her drop to the floor, choking and coughing and gasping for air.
"You bastard," screams Madame lurching for Rakim's legs, but he sidesteps her and delivers a hard kick to the woman's stomach knocking the air out of her.
Tanya screams, "Mama," and throws herself on the Madame protectively. Rakim leans down and grabbing Tanya by the hair, he pulls her to her feet and puts the muzzle of the pistol against her temple and says to Madame, "I know that Tucker Blue lives in the next door apartment, and I know that you have the key. If you want your daughter to see the school again old women, then get that key and open the apartment. Do it now. I have no time to spare for you."
Madame struggles to her feet and walks over to a small, elegant reception desk retrieving a key from the drawer. "Follow me," she says and leads the way through a connecting door and into an underground passageway until they come to another door for number 24 1/2. She opens the door and walks through with Rakim following, pushing Tanya ahead of him. Once inside, he shoves Tanya to the floor and closes the door behind him quickly throwing the deadbolt. "There is no one here?" he asks.
"No," Madame answers.
"Where is Tucker Blue?"
"I do not know where Señor Blue is," Madame answers glancing toward the ceiling.
Rakim's eyes follow hers. When he sees the spray nozzle pointed at him, he is just about to open his mouth and ask about it when a stream of gas shoots out hitting him square in the face.
"Arrgh!" he screams covering his face with his hands then quickly turning and tearing off his wraparounds, he fires the pistol into the ceiling then shoves it into Madame's face just as she's about to tackle him, stopping her cold.
"Stop! You fucking bitch! Stop! Or I'll kill you where you stand."
Madame stops cold and drops to her knees begging Rakim, "Please Señor, do not shoot me, please. I was only coming to your assistance, Señor. I thought you were hurt. This apartment is full of so many things ... I never come in here, Señor. It is too dangerous."
"Shut up, woman," Rakim says wiping his face with a handkerchief. "If it hadn't been for these wraparounds, I might've been blinded."
"I didn't know, Señor. I am sorry. I didn't know."
"What do you mean you didn't know? You were looking up at the nozzle. You knew!"
"I was wondering what the nozzle was, Señor. I did not know. I never come into this apartment, Señor. It is too dangerous."
He turns to Tanya and orders, "Get me a wet washcloth girl and hurry. Do nothing else, or I will kill your Mama. Now!" And Tanya runs to the nearest bathroom and quickly returns.
"Lie down on the floor, both of you," he says waving the pistol then proceeds to wipe his face. "God, this is disgusting. I should kill you both for this."
"Please Señor. Please do not kill us," the two women plead.
"Get up and walk into the bedroom," Rakim says waving the pistol at them and pushing them to the master bedroom making them sit in the two large armchairs. He removes a pair of handcuffs from a leather pouch attached to the backside of his belt and locks one of Madame's wrists to the arm of the chair. He then rummages through the bedside nightstand and comes up with another pair of handcuffs.
"Well, well, it appears Señor Tucker is very much into some disturbing playtime, no?" he says laughing and holding up the handcuffs for the women to see. He goes to Tanya and handcuffs her to the chair and drops the key into the pocket of his trousers.
"Sit and do not speak a word between you," he orders and leaves the room to inspect the remaining apartment. He's gone for some time and returns with a stun gun that he tosses onto the bed.
"Quite a setup here," he says, "looks like there're enough weapons in this place to write you up for gun-running. And enough disgusting sex toys that I can easily add charges for deviant behavior, not to mention influencing a minor." He turns to Madame, "Woman, you will surely lose custody of your daughter, and she will go to a foster home."
"Oh, Señor, please do not take my little girl. She is all that I have."
Tanya picks up on Madame's act and bursts into tears, "No, Señor. Please do not take me away. I will do anything for you, Señor, just, please do not hurt my Mama or take me away," only putting all sorts of ideas into Rakim's head.
"Yes, Señor. Just say it, and I will do it. Only please don't hurt my Mama," Tanya cries, and when Rakim turns away to think it over, Tanya glances toward Madame and gives her a wink.
"Okay," Rakim says turning to Tanya. "I have something you can take care of while we're waiting for Señor Tucker," unzipping and presenting himself. "See what you can do with this."
Tanya looks at it with eyes wide. "No Señor, not that! I didn't mean that! I don't know what to do with that. I have never seen such a ... Oh, my! What is it I am to do?" Rakim places one hand on the back of the girl's head and with the other, rubs himself against her closed mouth.
"Take it in your mouth girl. Has your mother not taught you anything? Or, would you rather she show you how to do it first?"
"No, Señor. I can do it." And she opens her mouth and allows Rakim in. He pulls her head to him using her like a Fireman's Pump.
"That's a good girl, just keep it up," he says, his temperature and his tempo increasing. He takes her head in both hands and jams himself into her as far as physiology will allow. She gags and tears stream down her flushed face, but Rakim keeps pushing like he's trying to kill her. When he finally does erupt, she does too, spewing everything from her stomach at him like a fire hydrant uncapped.
"Shit!" he screams and jumps back so quickly that he slips and nearly falls in the vomit.
Tanya is bent forward, racked with coughing and spitting. Madame screams at Rakim, "That is not how you win a girl's heart, you idiot!"
A click from door tumblers cuts through the melee like a crack of a whip pinning everyone in place. Rakim grabs the pistol and the stun gun from the bed and shushes the two women with the threatening pistol. Everyone's as quiet as church mice and as still as dead ones.
When the door opens two harried voices come through, along with their owners.
"Just drop that stuff and take your overnight bag back to the bedroom. I'll be there in a minute. I've gotta make a restroom stop," Tucker says.
Nanette drags her weary self back to the bedroom--it's been a long and trying day. When she pushes the door open and sees the woman and a girl sitting in chairs, she freezes. And if that wasn't surprising enough, she nearly empties her bladder when the hard barrel of a pistol pushes against her and a man's voice whispers, "One peep, and you're dead, Julia."
Rakim tells her to go lie on the bed while he shuts the door behind her. When Tucker finishes his business, he opens the floor safe and drops the money bag in then makes his way to the bedroom. Seeing the door closed, he assumes Nanette wants privacy. He knocks lightly, and Rakim nods for her to answer.
"Come in, Tucker," Nanette says.
The door opens on a fully clothed Nanette stretched out on the bed. He feels bad that he's going to tell her she's to sleep in the adjoining bedroom, but he must. And just as he's about to say something he pushes the door wider, revealing two more people oddly sitting in the room's two upholstered chairs.
"What the ..." is all he gets out before the terrible jolt bites into his neck and throws him to the floor where his entire body folds into a cramp and begins jerking and shaking like it belonged to someone else. The single thought running through his mind is, 220 volts?
As he slowly settles into a more permanent, paralytic state, a face appears overhead, hovering. It's Rakim. His mouth is moving, but nothing's coming out. Then, ZAP! Another terrible jolt but this time into his chest, knocking the breath out of him and he's jerking and writhing uncontrollably across the bedroom floor. The third time the vicious punch comes, he blacks out, but funny enough, he can still feel himself violently flopping across the floor like an animal in its death throes.
"Stop you, idiot. You're killing him!" seeps through the thick cotton that must be stuffed into his ears. Surely it began as a scream, but it's all muffled now, nearly incoherent.
"Shut up slut. I'm just giving back to him what he gave to me."
Nanette launches off the bed at Rakim, but he stops her dead in her tracks when he raises the pistol and cocks the hammer pushing the barrel into her face. "Lay down," he orders.
He takes a pair of handcuffs from the bedside table and locks one of Nanette's wrists to the wrought-iron headboard then walks back around the bed giving Tucker a swift kick along the way and attaches Nanette's other wrist. On his return trip, he hits Tucker again with the stun gun, and while Tucker is seizing like an epileptic, Rakim flips him over onto his stomach, drops his knee into the man's back and handcuffs him.
He looks around the room at his captive audience and admires his work. "Now we shall have some merriment."
He sets his eyes on Tanya. "Little one, I've got just the thing for you," he says and walks out of the room returning moments later with a step stool, and a short rope with a hook attached to one end. He places the step stool at the foot of the closet door then, takes his time to fashion the other end of the rope into a noose. Satisfied with his work, he approaches Tanya and slips the noose over her head, tightening it around her neck. He retrieves the key from his pocket and frees her from the handcuffs then re-cuffs both wrists in front of her.
"Come with me little one, we're going to play a game," he says leading her to the step stool. "Stand up here so your Mama can watch." When she does, he tosses the hooked end of the rope over the door and attaches it underneath the door and tightens it.
"Are you going to hang me, Señor? Are you going to hang me on this door so my Mama can watch me die?" Tanya asks pitiably, and Madame screams, "No! Please, Señor, do not hang my little girl. I beg you."
Rakim looks down at Tucker, who is still lying on the floor; his head raised and appearing only now becoming aware of the unfolding events.
"Señor Blue, do you think the script you possess is worth this daughter's life?" Rakim asks him.
Daughter? Is that what he heard?
"No, it's not. Let the girl go. I'll give you the ticket. Just let her down and leave and you can have the money."
"Well, that was too easy," Rakim says pondering Tucker's response for a hint of trickery. "I will accept your offer, but first I think I will hang this girl, and we will talk again when it is Señora Julia's turn. She will be next."
"No Señor," wails Madame, "I beg you, please let my little daughter go. She is innocent. She is but a virgin."
"No one is innocent old crone, and be glad that it is not your neck in this noose. Another word and you'll follow Julia Libica."
"Señor, if I must die, please grant me a second wish before I go. Can you do that, Señor?" cries Tanya.
"That depends little one. Your second wish? What was your first?" Rakim asks confused.
"My first, you've already granted. It was to have you in my mouth. I have always wanted to taste a man, but I was too young. I knew I had to wait. You gave me that, and I thank you," she says with enough conviction even Rakim believed her. He visibly puffs like a rooster.
Men! They are such fools, Madame thinks.
"And your second dying wish little one?"
"My wish is for you to grant me the same favor, that I shall feel the touch of a man's tongue."
He puffs even more at this girl's odd request. How could he possibly refuse such a last wish from a dying girl? He could see that she wanted him and wanted him enough that he'd be her first lover and her last.
And the taste of a virgin, Santa mare de déu! He thought none were left, and now one's begging for him! Maybe he'll taste her and then take her, afterward. It is only right and proper that he should do the dying girl such a little favor after his tongue works its magic.
Even a better idea! He'll kick the stool out from under her just at the moment of orgasm! She'll have a send-off she'll never forget! He read somewhere an American actor killed himself while choking himself masturbating. Angel Lust, they called it.
"Okay, my little one. I will grant you, your wish and these people will witness that I am a man of compassion," he says removing a switchblade knife from his pocket and shredding the baby-doll outfit from the girl. As the last tatters fall to the floor, he steps back to admire his work and is nearly knocked over by the stunning beauty of the young girl's naked form.
He can barely contain himself. He turns to Madame and says, "Watch this Mama. Your little daughter is about to become a woman." And with that, he leaps at Tanya onto his knees and buries his face between the girl's thighs like a starving animal.
Tanya screams a wail of pleasure while giving Madame a conspiratorial smile. Even Nanette can't help smiling at the girl's manipulation. To what end, she has no idea, but she's sure the girl has something up her sleeve, even without a sleeve. After all, what are a woman's powers but her body and her cunning?
Tanya's mouth begins silently counting: One, two, three ... She moans, "Oh, Señor, your tongue is like a magic carpet ride! Twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two ...
Rakim pulls away licking his lips, perplexed by the familiar taste. Then it dawns on him, "My God, little one you taste exactly like Big Red! My favorite chewing gum in the world!" Then he dives back in.
Forty-six, forty-seven, forty-eight ... Tanya starts up with a whole new series of wails of pleasure all the while throwing smiles to Madame as if she was the happiest girl in the world.
Fifty-eight, fifty-nine, sixty ... And Rakim's still at it like a prisoner at a Sunday picnic. Tanya's smile drops like a bear market and worry crosses her face when ...
THUD! Rakim drops to the floor, his tongue lolling like a dead dog.
"What?" Madame screams. "You killed him little one!"
But, when Rakim dropped, he also managed to knock the stool out from under Tanya, leaving the poor girl flopping against the door like a landed mackerel. Tucker hurries to knee-walk across the floor to Tanya and pushes his face into her crotch to help lift her up and relieve the tension from the noose. He didn't mean to use this particular approach except to save the girl, and as he's kneeling under her, straining to keep her lifted, he knows this doesn't look good for him.
Couldn't he have done this some other way? He thinks to himself.
In the position, he now finds himself, and honestly, it's the only position that ensures that her weight doesn't break his own neck. Her legs are wrapped around his head and draped over his shoulders and, not by design or forethought mind you, but his mouth is pressing directly against her ...
Well. . . Damn! So, that's what that crazy Rakim was talking about. Cinnamon! It does taste like Big Red. He loves that chewing gum too.
Whoa. He's feeling a bit ... CONK.
"Tucker, Tucker!" yells Nanette. No answer. Tucker's out. He hasn't fallen over, but he's slumped, and Tanya's doing all she can to stay balanced on his now limp form.
"Tanya, Tanya, are you all right my little one?" hollers out Madame. "Hold on my hummingbird. I'm coming to get you." Madame rocks back and forth in the chair until it falls over sideways, and she goes down with a yelp and a thud. Wiggling and kicking for all she's worth she can't seem to get anywhere. The chair is too big and bulky.
"Tanya, hold on honey. Stay on Tucker. Do not let Tucker fall-out from under you honey," Nanette says to the girl all the while squirming hopelessly across the bed.
"It's okay. I think I can do this," Tanya says as she digs her heels into Tucker trying to position herself for maximum leverage. Tucker begins to slump away, but she catches him with a foot and pulls him closer to the door until she gets both of her feet set on his shoulders. She closes her eyes and counting silently to herself, on the count of three she springs off, pushing Tucker's dead weight to the floor, and herself into a reverse somersault flipping over the top of the closet door and dropping, not so elegantly, to the floor on the other side.
It was an Olympian feat of gymnastics worthy of a solid eight-point-five (a nine had the dismount been a little more controlled). To the three judges who witnessed the effort (including Tucker's absentee vote), it was a unanimous ten.
"My God! How did you do that?" screamed an excited Nanette, who looked like she'd just witnessed a biblical miracle.
"I was a gymnast in Romania as a child."
"Oh, my sweet hummingbird! You are saved!" yells out Madame who's lying in an impossible position with her face pressed to the floor under the heavy upholstered chair. "Now, please come rescue your Mama."
Kicking Rakim's dead form to make sure he's out; Tanya retrieves the key from his pocket and frees Madame and Nanette and the prostrate Tucker. Before she approaches Rakim with handcuffs though, she enlists Nanette and Madame to help her flip him over onto his stomach. The two women sit on him, one holding his hands behind his back and the other his ankles while Tanya clamps on handcuffs and leg shackles. Madame then picks up the stun gun and gives him a shot to the neck and rides his jerking body like a rodeo cowboy while the other two roll across the floor laughing like fools.
"So, they're just asleep? How?" Nanette asks.
"Oh, Tanya. You did not," says Madame.
"I am sorry Madame. I just wanted you to have a night of rest."
"She didn't what?" Nanette asks.
"Nothing really. I broke Madame's rule about using it but ..."
"Turns out it was a good thing. You saved our lives my little hummingbird," Madame says.
"Well, tell me. What did you do?" Nanette presses on.
Tanya goes on to explain the Sandman Sleep Spray.
"And cinnamon flavored too. Oh, my God, that's too much girl. You are a genius!" exclaims Nanette.
"I heard that," comes the voice of a waking Tucker as he rustles himself into a sitting position.
"Are you alright, Tucker?" Tanya and Nanette say in unison turning their attention to him.
"Yeah, fine," rubbing his eyes, "Heard what you said about the Sandman Spray and all I can say to that is: Takes A Licking And No More Ticking."
All three women look at him, dumbfounded.
"Hey, I'm an ad man. It's my nature. Don't you get it?"
"Sorta ..." says Nanette.
"Maybe ..." says Madame.
"No," says Tanya.
"Come on ladies. Timex watches. Takes A Licking And Keeps On Ticking?"
All three women look at each other then back at him like he's lost his mind.
Nanette turns to Tanya. "So, there're side effects to this Sandman stuff?"
"Just sleep, I think."
"Something, I desperately need right now. Mind if I have a taste?" says Nanette.
"Me too?" says Tucker.