The Purple Man always stood over me when I screamed and he always smiled. I think he liked it very much when I lifted my voice, yet I couldn't help it. It hurt most of the time.

He stood over me now, but he didn't laugh. Instead, he only shook his head and scratched absently at his short curly-haired beard. I felt fear because he wasn't his usual self tonight. He seemed more thoughtful and worried. This was not a good thing.

This time as he stood over me, watching the tears pour from my eyes, he didn't jeer or say things like "Now, baby, that's a plowin' most girls couldn't handle!". He didn't even shout the usual words with his hot breath as he wrestled with my body for what seemed like hours on end. There was no pulling of hair, no comments on how good he was going to give "his gift" to me. None of that. Just another night in his bed with the purple satin sheets and slippery silken blankets tangling with his ebony muscles and stunted, scruffy beard.

The actions were far from romantic, though.

The Purple Man surveyed me from my head down to my toes. I wasn't sure what he wanted from me. Hadn't I given my all?

"Alright", he said, his stony eyes scraping over me like a whetstone to a dull blade, "This is our last night together, baby."

He must have seen the shock and fear in my eyes I tried to hide. My toes cringed together, and my muscles tensed.

"But, Mr.-"

He drew back his hand sharply and struck me across the cheek.

"What have I told you to call me?!", he roared.

"Adoration.", I cried.

He liked that. His greasy smile returned at my whimpers. My hand shakily lifted to touch the growing welt on my face.

"Don't worry, baby. I'm just giving you over to my apprentice."

I hated the way he exotically tried to roll his tongue on the "r" of "apprentice". But... his apprentice. The runner-up in the ranks of his sick whore trading pack. The Purple Man called it a business. We called it a pit. One you'd never get out of once you were drafted into it. Still, we sought it out when there was nowhere else to go, no supply of various addictive waters that have run dry, no protection... or love.

The streets were bad, but they were worse when no one was looking out for you.

I found myself not wanting to be given away. I was familiar with the ways of The Purple Man. They were mostly bad ways, but they were familiar. Begging would get me another chastisement for sure, but the pleading words still tumbled out of my mouth.

"Adoration, please, I don't want to be given away! You're in charge. Let me stay here."

His lips rubbed against each other and he sighed. His fists balled into hard, cold weapons and he began one of his so called "lessons".

Between each driving attack, he'd give out his rules.

"Now, baby, not on our last night!"

One. A deep, dull pain setting in my lower back.

"I make the rules, but I'm an honest man."

Two. Dark fire in my rib cage.

"He asked for you oh so politely."

Three. Knuckles across my forehead.

"And, I just don't think I want you anymore."

Four. Driving into my collar bone.

"I've become bored with you."

Five. A strike that drew blood from my nose.

I collapsed into a bawling heap on his plushy carpet. My thoughts drifted back and back to a place I often thought about. A place that brought me great pain. From that place, I heard The Purple Man laugh heartily.

Suddenly, his dark hands pinned my pale white shoulders to the wall. He shook me roughly, only making me cry louder.

"You thinkin' of your ma, girl?", he growled. "You remember. She traded you to me for a bag o' China White. Crack, girl! Your mama was a druggie whore who sold you to me! You were sweet as sugar when you came to me, not but ten years old. Now look at you! My fine, white honey's all grown up. And I will do what I please with you."

He pulled me up in his strong hands and threw me, still naked, to the ground. He began to dress himself in his tacky, purple suit complete with the top hat he took from a young man selling the wrong kind of supplies in the wrong kind of place. The Purple Man took up his cane encrusted with jewels too big and too shiny to actually be real, but he always claimed they were. (What the hell do you know about fine jewels, girl? Where'd you get such ignorant schoolin'?)

Standing over me for the millionth time, gazing at me with narrow eyes and disgust written all across his countenance, he produced a pretty pink bow from his purple jacket's pocket and tossed it to me like an owner tosses his dog a treat.

"Fix yourself up, Sugar Cookie. I want you looking very nice for my apprentice."

He smiled that same greasy, horrible smile before sparing me one last statement.

"He is my son, after all."