The pair approached a large brick apartment building that had seen better days. Officially known as The Rosecrest Apartments, it was more commonly referred to as The Roachcrest. Welfare cheques paid the rent on the vast majority of the suites.Most of the apartments had one or two official tenants, and many more sleeping on floors and couches on any given night.The building caretaker tended to turn a blind eye, but often would ask for favors in return. Mostly from the girls who frequented the place. Rhea had run into him once before, on her way to another apartment. He'd blocked her way in the hall. "Nice tits" he'd leered at her, and she hurried around him. She wasn't about to screw some dirty old man!
"Who do you stay with?" Rhea asked Martin.
"This dude named Brad."
"Is Brad a big fat dude?" Rhea asked.
"Yeah, fucker's huge!" Martin replied. Rhea had seen him around, then. He was a lot older than she and Martin, and had a reputation for being just a little crazy. But what else was she going to do? Go home? Not fucking likely. Martin pushed the buzzer, and they walked up to the second floor apartment. Martin entered first, and Rea followed him in.
"I brought someone with me" Martin announced. "She needs a place tonight, that cool?" A very overweight man with a dye job that had faded to a strange shade of pink was sitting on the sofa. He glanced at Rhea with bloodshot, stied eyes.
"I don't know, she gonna bring any heat?" Martin answered
"No, she's cool." The man who Rhea guessed would be Brad, shrugged his shoulders.
"Guess she won't take up much room. OK, it's fine." Rhea smiled and stepped past Martin.
"Thanks dude! Brad, right? I'm-" she broke off as she noticed a red flush rising on his face.
"Stop right the fuck there, bitch!" He growled at her. Rhea stood still and silent. Brad continued. "This is my fucking house and you will respect that. Take your fucking boots off before you enter!" Rhea glanced at the dirty carpet. It was dotted with cigarette butts and unidentifiable wet spots.
She tried to argue. "Really, I keep my boots on all the time-" Brad cut her off. His voice was cold and matter of fact.
"I don't give a flying fuck what you want, girlie pops. You want to sleep in the alley tonight, go ahead. You can keep your precious boots on there. But in here, you do what I say or you get the fuck out." Rhea sat down and unlaced one boot, then the other.Her hands shook from a combination of anger and fear. So far, this guy had lived up to his reputation. As she did what she was told, Brad said nothing further to either of them. He simply sipped from the bottle of cheap beer in his hand and gazed at the ceiling.As she stood up, Martin put his arm around her shoulders.
"Let's take our stuff to the other room" he muttered. They grabbed their bags and went to the bedroom. Martin opened a second door, revealing a large, walk in closet. "This is my room!" Martin announced proudly. Shaking her anger away, Rhea giggled.
"You live in the closet?" She asked, incredulously.
"Yeah,now you do too!" he said excitedly. He grabbed a blanket from the shelf above his head and spread it on the floor. Sitting down, he patted the space beside him. "Come, sit" he grinned at her. She sat and pulled the door closed behind her.Martin wrapped an arm around her. "I'm sorry about Brad" he told her. Rhea looked up at him.
"That fucker worries me, Martin" she admitted. "I'm scared." Martin's eyes were serious.
"I am too" he answered. "But I won't let anything happen to you." Rhea rested her head on Martin's shoulder. Somehow, she wasn't completely sure she was going to be alright here.