I had never been to the main warehouse before, only heard stories of the strange way they run things over there. Apparently Jeremy, Spenser, and Cai had worked there before being transferred when the smaller warehouse went into use. From what I could tell, Jeremy didn’t like going there much; he didn’t even like to talk about the time he spent there. I had the feeling that something had happened, but no one would admit to anything, so in the end, I just let it go and assumed he would tell me when he was ready.
I wasn’t prepared for what I encountered when we opened the door to go inside. The room was pretty loud and filled with cigarette smoke. Raucous laughter filled the air and more than one hooker was in attendance. There were five tables, and even then, some people were sitting on the floor with their backs to the wall. This was a rougher crowd than what I was used to. They served the inner city, while our warehouse served the suburbs and the less dense areas of the city.
When we walked in, everyone hushed up pretty quick. There were a few snickers, and then a voice called out, “Hey boss, a few of those uptown wimps are here.” I heard some giggles, and a freckled guy with brown hair shouted, “Lookie, lookie. It’s Jeremy. I wonder if he still earns his money the hard way?” There was some more laughter. I was starting to see why Jeremy didn’t like coming here, and I wondered how he managed to put up with this every night. I looked at him to see how he would respond, but surprisingly, no emotion played across his face; he just kept his increasingly pink face aimed at the floor. It was clear that he was trying hard not to let his pride get the better of him. I decided that it would be better if we got out of here fast, because I didn’t know how long his noble efforts (or mine) would last.
We dropped our bags off with the guy in charge, and it seemed like everything was going to be alright because we were almost to the door. That was, of course, until a guy walked up to Jeremy and said, “How about a little lick for old times sake?” and started to unzip his pants.
Jeremy completely lost it.
He pulled his knife and held it loosely in his hand as he shouted, “I’m not your whore anymore! If you want to see what I do to cocks these days, come a bit closer and I’ll show you.”
Jeremy lunged with the knife and I knew that something serious might happen if I didn’t do something, so I threw my arm around his waist and held him close to my body. With my other hand, I pushed his wrist in a way that would break it with only seven pounds of pressure. He took the hint and released his grip on the knife so that I could take it away. I practically dragged him toward the door, and Zarry followed us.
When we got outside, Zarry said, “Well this is all well and good, but I’m going to the bar.” and promptly wandered off.
I kept a tight grip on Jeremy until we had gone a fair distance, at which time, I turned into a dead end alley and let him go.
In a fit of rage, he threw himself against the brick wall scraped his hands down it. I almost considered grabbing him again so that he couldn’t hurt himself, but figured that it would probably only make him even more mad.
Then he turned on me and shouted, “You dumb bitch! You humiliated me! I’ll never be able to live this down.” and hit me across the face, hard. I felt something crack in my nose, and blood spurted out as I doubled over in pain. Jeremy just stood over me, staring and breathing heavily. I must have given him a kicked puppy look, because the look on his face softened, and he muttered quietly, “I’m really sorry, Amelia.” I stood up straight and blood ran down my face. I pulled a handkerchief out of my pocket, and held it to my nose as I cracked it back in place. I then proceeded to wipe my face and hold the cloth to my nose until the bleeding stopped. During this process, Jeremy had begun to shake and tears ran down his face freely.
He had hurt me, and yet, he was still the best friend I had, so I went over to him, and held him close to me. Through his tears, he managed to say, “I didn’t mean it. I swear I didn’t. I thought you would be angry with me for hitting you, but you’re so nice. I love you.”
We stood there for the longest time. Jeremy, with his hands covering his face, and me, with my arms wrapped around his small and shaking body. We stood there, not as lovers, but as friends, and in the end, I think that made all the difference in the world.