Black Smoke

. • • • .

My name is Yuuki Tsukino, and today I'm running away.

Basically, my whole life is shit. I've never had a single moment of joy in this hellhole of an orphanage. Yeah, orphanages aren't supposed to be the happiest places ever, since they're full of family-less children, but this one's absolutely the worst.

From what I've heard, my mother was only sixteen when I was born, and my grandma would not let her keep me. It was one of those baby-in-a-picnic-basket kind of deals and she left me on the front stoop. The man who owns the orphanage, who I'm gonna dub as Satan, found me and took me in. Today is my sixteenth birthday. I'm now the same age my mother was when she gave birth to me.

Anyway, why is this orphanage so bad, you ask? It's a fucking dog-eat-dog world, that's why. It's survival of the fittest, and I was a scrawny, pale, bed-wetting little snot with no backbone. No matter what I did, the other kids found a way to ruin it.

When I was twelve, a guitar was donated to the orphanage, and I grabbed it. I managed to learn some frets and chords, as well as a song or two. One night, they woke me up, took my guitar and I to the playground and they gave me a black eye, burned my guitar and pissed on the both of us. The only material thing I owned, they took it away from me.

Whenever they saw me, they would pull back the corners of their eyes, the racists pricks. They would even call out, "Chink!" which was even more racist and insulting since I'm not goddamn Chinese.

Because of my bruises and cuts and constant gloominess, no one would adopt me. I saw evil people putting on a show of being good and cute, and getting adopted. It made me furious, but I couldn't do a think about it. I couldn't fight, and even if I could, I would get in trouble.

The worst thing, though, puts all that to shame. The headmaster, the most evil man in all of existence, caused me the most scarring, both physically and mentally. Not only did he join in the other kids in the bullying, but he contributed far more, and worse, than they did.

I remember quite vividly, one night when I was around ten, he woke me up while I was sleeping. I wondered what in the world he wanted me for this late. He led me to his room. It was dark, and the floorboards creaked and moaned under our footsteps. There was only one dingy lamp on his desk, emitting a dim, yellow light over the room, spreading the shadows and turning them into monsters. I did not notice him locking the door until it was too late.

Suddenly he grabbed me roughly and shoved one of his disgusting, moldy socks in my mouth. He wrapped a cloth around my mouth to keep me from spitting the sock out. He tore off my clothes and tied my hands together. He threw me onto his bed, the sock muffling my screams. As he came closer, I saw him undo his belt. Before he did anything else, he slung his belt at me. It stung and made me stop screaming. I was only crying, then, feeling the red burn of his belt on my skin. I did not notice him undoing his pants, my face was buried in the covers of his bed, saturating the musty sheets with my wet face.

He raped me that night.

When I woke up the next morning, all I felt was a dull pain in my heart and a sharp pain in my back. I didn't want to get up, to see him, to see the other kids. I wanted to die. But I didn't die, and that hurt most of all.

That was not the last time, either. Several other times did he steal me from my bed and steal from me what little sanity I had left.

I hope I've explained to you sufficiently why I'm running away. Now, let's continue.

Obviously, it's a secret that I'm running away. I don't even have any suitcases. It's not like I own anything, anyway. I stole some food from the kitchen and put it in a bundle, and tonight when everyone is sleeping, I'm running away. Screw this place, screw high school, screw the headmaster. Once I step foot on the street, I'm a free man.

Only a few more hours. I just do what I normally do to pass the time; I get beaten up, set fire to shit, smoke, and sit and do nothing. Rather productive, aren't I? This is basically what I have been doing for the past my-entire-life. Sometimes my life gets spiced up a little bit when the headmaster decides he wants some "fun" but other than that everything's pretty dreary.

Half of the things I do are actually looked down upon by everyone else at the orphanage, and by that I mean the smoking and setting things on fire. But it's only me. The other dicks that live here can do whatever they want and no one gives a shit. They could slip poison in my food and I'd die and everyone would be like, "Good riddance, that kid was a little bitch anyway." Fucking hate them all.

And so once I get some time away from fists and feet, I manage to nestle myself into my secret hideout. In reality it's just a hole in a tree that only I really know about (and can fit in). Once I found this place, I started to spend most of my time here. I hide my shit in it so it doesn't get stolen. I just have to be quiet, but it's not like that's a challenge for me. So I go in there and have a smoke or two, read a book and take a nap.

During the witching hour I make my move. Tonight I wait until the entire orphanage is silent. Until I hear no creaky floorboards, no squeaking mattresses, no ruffling cloth. Until the only breath I hear is that of sleep, and my own bated.

I peel off my dirty, never-washed blanket and tip-toe out of the room. I'm already dressed. I go to my hiding spot and grab my cigarettes and the food I had stolen. So far, so good. I make my way to the front of the building, and face my greatest adversary: the wire fence. I hold the bag straps in my mouth and start to climb up. It's quite a drop down once I get to the top, and I'm sure all the noise I've made so far has woken up at least one person. Hopefully that person is not the headmaster and that they just go back to sleep. Damn, I sure am glad there isn't any barbed wire up here.

I get over the fence and the sound of my shoes hitting the sidewalk is music. I almost don't realize the actual weight of this reality. I'm free? I'm really, truly free? Holy fuck. Jesus-tapdancing-Christ, man. I'm free.

·.·.·.·.·.·.·.·.·.·.·.·.

My first day on the surface is pretty cool. I feel like Ariel from the Little Mermaid, I'm in a whole new world or something. I wonder what I'm going to do, now that I'm on my own. I suppose normal kids my age go to school? Well, screw that. They'd just send me back to that pit. I'm not about to go there.

Well, what do I know how to do? Not much. I can fellatio the shit out of just about anything, though. That has to count for something, right? Well, I doubt I could land a respectable job doing that.

It's not like all those years of sex with an old guy made me like it, or anything. If anything, it made me completely apathetic about the whole ordeal. I can do just about anything sexual without the slightest change in expression.

I have no other skills to think of. I mean, I can put my food behind my head, but what is that going to do? There's only one job I can think of that I could even hope to make any sort of money in: prostitution.

Well, look at that. I'm running away from sex to get more sex, but this time for money! Looks like things are finally turning around. I'm going places in this world!

So I run around until I find a hobo, or some other shady-looking person. I ask him, "Hey, where's the red-light district?"

He just looks at me with an antagonizing kind of expression and points down an alleyway without saying a word. I travel down the alley a little ways until I finally reach a street. Looks like I've found it.

The street is dark and musty and heavy with lust. This is the red-light district I'm entering. There are scantily-clad women roaming the streets, trying to lure men in for the kill. They're ugly masses of thick makeup and skeletal waists, wearing nothing but a tutu, thong and tube top. I already hate them. I have to remind myself why I'm even here in the first place.

As I walk down the street, some prostitutes flock over to me.

"This isn't a place you should be hanging out, darling," one of them says to me, patting me on the head.

"Yeah, you should run back home, puppy-dog," says another. What's with these degrading nicknames?

"Um," I begin, moistening my lips, looking at them. These girls are pros. "I came here to become a prostitute."

They just stare at me in shocked silence, then burst out laughing. Damnit.

"Sweetie, you?" one asks.

"Yes, me, what's wrong with me?" I ask, frazzled.

"How old are you, hun? What's your name?" they ask.

My name? Should I tell them my real name...?

Suddenly my eye catches sight of a silhouette in the distance bringing a cigarette to its lips. My mind whirs. I remember that English-Japanese dictionary I found on the headmaster's desk one day.

"I'm sixteen and my name is Kemuri," I tell them distantly. "Kuroi Kemuri."

How original of me. My name means black smoke. But it's oddly fitting. I, like black smoke, am filthy, contaminated and not good for people to be around. I like it.

"You're only sixteen? How cute!" one of them exclaims, hugging me. Her gigantic tits nearly suffocate me.

"Alright, kid, we'll help you out," one says. "We'll be your mentors. I'm Clarissa."

Clarissa has bright, strawberry blonde hair and a Monroe piercing. The others introduce themselves as Abby and Monique.

Being the apprentice of three prostitutes is rather interesting, but they're really nice. They haven't been eaten by apathy like I have. I follow them around and they treat me like a little brother. I learn tips and tricks and soon I'm on my way to being one of the best lays on the street. I have the experience of sex, but not so much the knowledge. I need to learn how much to charge for what. They teach me techniques.

Most importantly, they teach me that I have to pretend I like the sex even if I really don't. If, say, a sweaty, fat, old man comes up to me and is a willing customer, I have to make the sexy faces and sounds and make him think that he's the best fuck I've ever had. This is somewhat unappealing, but I guess it works as long as it brings in revenue. It's not like I have sex because I like it, anyway.

Finally, after maybe a month or so, I'm on my own. My three guardians each give me a peck on the forehead and about 50 bucks each to start off with. I can't believe the only people who have ever given a damn about my existence sell their bodies. Oh well, I can't say I'm any worse.

The first thing I do with my money, instead of buying food, is to get a couple piercings. One on each earlobe to start off. I buy some clothes. If I dress like a girl, I'll probably get more customers. I look girly enough as it is, and as long as something has a skirt, customers don't really care what they stick their dicks in.

I'm standing on the curb, trying to look all pretty (or something), hoping that maybe a customer will come along. A car pulls up and whoever's inside rolls down the window. They seem to be looking me up and down like I'm some kind of meat. I sigh and walk over. I lean into the window.

"See something you like?" I ask indifferently. The man inside seems somewhat surprised at my masculine voice.

"You a hooker?" he asks, grinning.

"Of sorts," I reply, still not used to how I'm supposed to talk when getting a gig. "You gonna take me out to dinner, buddy?"

"Get in," he says. I do, and he drives me away.

He isn't particularly weird-looking or creepy. The ride is a bit awkward, or maybe it's just that way to me.

He has me pinned down to the bed, and is trying to arouse me or something like that, though he's doing a pretty shitty job of it. I look up at him and attempt some sort of bedroom eyes thing, but then I stop. My vision flickers. Instead of my customer over me, I see the headmaster. The bright, florescent light becomes dim, like that night, and I hear the sounds of floorboards creaking and the muffled screams of a much younger me.

I gasp, push him off me and tumble to the floor. In a sweat, I back into the wall and gape at him, eyes wide. He's thoroughly freaked out at my sudden outburst, and I can't really blame him. Everything goes back to normal.

"I..." I begin. "I'm sorry, I don't know what happened. I can't do this; you can keep your money."

I grab my clothes and run out the door.

Maybe I'm not made out for this kind of thing. How else am I going to survive other than to sell my body, though? I need to get over this thing — it's taking over my mind. So I make up my mind to just ignore it next time.

Three years go by. Seems my plan to just ignore my horrible images of the headmaster worked, or I wouldn't have an apartment, 14 piercings, or a big-ass oriental tattoo of a crane on my back. Oh yeah, I have food too.

I still get those visions whenever I'm with a customer, but I close my eyes and hope for the best. I'm now 19, and legally old enough to be a prostitute, isn't that great! Anyway, I figure I'll probably just die of some kind of STD, abuse or some stupid thing. It doesn't really bother me. I'm not really too worried about the future, though I should be. I have some friends, a few of the female prostitutes. Some of the other male ones seem to hate my guts, but I don't even really give a shit about them. I'll enjoy my tea and crumpets with the girls, thank you. But then again, some of the girls hate my guts, too. Oh well, can't please everyone.

I wonder how long I'll continue to live like this, though. Will I pick myself up and become a respectable member of the community? Will I ever forget my childhood? Will I ever fall in love? I say I'm not worried, but I really am. Will I have to face the headmaster again? What if he finds me and takes me back there?

I'm laying in bed next to my most recent customer, staring blankly at the ceiling. I can't sleep. Too many thoughts are wafting through my head. When are these thoughts not going through my head? Never.

I sigh and just decide to take all the money out of his wallet, get dressed, and leave. Only $150, what a gyp. As I step out into the cold, musty air I look back into the motel room, reeking of sex, and wonder what I'm doing with my life. I just let the door close behind me and head to my tiny apartment, staring at the wet pavement the whole way, hands stuffed in my pockets, cigarette to my lips. Every once in a while I pass a potential savior, unbeknownst to him. Why doesn't he stop me and ask me what's wrong? Why doesn't he tell me that he can help me? Why doesn't he tell me he cares if anything happens to me?

I suppose no one really cares about what happens to a prostitute. I'm just another anonymous face in the crowd. I have no family, no friends. What's going to happen to me?

I sigh again and discover I've been walking in circles. I'm in the red-light district again. Maybe I just need to sit here and clear my head. I lean against the hard, brick wall, bringing my cigarette back to my chapped lips. Everything is a blur.

Suddenly a figure appears on the opposite side of the street. In the shadows I see big-busted women with cat grins curl their lips at a prospective customer. It's a man, and a rather nervous-looking one, at that. He doesn't look like he belongs here. He gets flocked by hookers and I can hear him yelp helplessly. Maybe he's not here for sex. Maybe he's just an innocent passer-by who wants to go home. Then again, if he is, why would he cut through the red-fucking-light district?

I push off the wall and walk over to the group. Maybe this guy is the change I need?