When the Rump saw Rosemary stumbling down the alley—mumbling to herself, a dirty baby clutched in her arms—he licked his lips and eagerly approached her.
The Rump was a notorious heroin dealer who roamed up and down highway 101 delivering large quantities of smack on a circuit from Seattle, Washington to Portland, Oregon, and finally down to Eureka, California. He was a small, troll of a man, with a craggy, pock marked face, balding with a comb-over of greasy, jet black hair. He had a slight hunchback, which was how he got his nickname the Rump. He was an almost mythical presence in the heroin scene and was often described as looking like Danny DeVito’s version of the Penguin in Batman Returns. Though he was known as a smack dealer he didn’t confine himself to just heroin; he was always on the lookout for any score he could make a few bucks off of. So, when he saw Rosemary wandering by the rundown motels in Eureka, obviously strung out, what he noticed right away was the infant in her arms. The little, fat faced girl in a dirty, pink princess dress couldn’t have been more than 18 months old. He knew a child porn and snuff film syndicate in Tijuana that would give him fifty grand for a baby like that.
Rosemary had awoken that morning in a filthy motel room, junk sick as hell with her baby screaming. Everything hurt. Her eyes poured water and her nose ran a river of thick, green snot. The pain was unbearable. Her boyfriend Mark was gone. She didn’t know where. He had left yesterday to try and score and had never returned.
She managed to get up, trembling and shaking, and spoon some baby food into little Jennifer’s mouth. Once the little girl had a few bites of food she stopped screaming and started toddling around the cramped room, dressed only in a sagging diaper, waving her arms and happily babbling nonsense. “Na na. Naw nan a na.”
Rosemary flicked on the television, found a child’s program and hoped it would occupy the little girl for a few moments while she tried to decide what to do. She lay down on the bed and drew her knees up to her chin, wrapping her arms around them she rocked slowly back and forth. She was flat broke and needed to score. Badly needed to score.
Where was Mark?
If Mark was here he could watch Jennifer while Rosemary went out and tried to turn a trick or two and get them some dope. There weren’t that many johns about this early in the day, but she might find something. She often found construction workers looking for a quick blowjob on their lunch breaks. She had just started whoring herself out three months ago and already she was used to it.
When she tried to piece together how it all happened nothing made any sense whatsoever. One minute they had been free spirited hippies, the next she had been sucking cock in a dark alley to fix that hole in her arm.
She had met Mark three years ago when they both attended Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. They both had loved the band Phish and had decided to drop out of school and travel the country with the band, making their way selling grilled cheese sandwiches they cooked up on a portable cook stove.
When she had gotten pregnant it hadn’t seemed like that big of a deal. There were lots of people with kids on tour. They were gypsies after all; the whole tour community considered themselves a large family. That’s what they called themselves: family. Phish family.
The birth had gone smooth as pie. They made a stopover in Arcata, signed up for Medi-Cal, and birthed little Jennifer in less than five hours. Then they were right back on tour.
They had loved smoking pot and dropping acid while listening to their favorite band play live. It made the music that much more alive and vibrant. But somewhere along the line they had tried heroin. And now she was in this dirty, roach infested hotel room, strung out and whoring her body for dope.
She clenched her eyes shut as another spasm of cramps shook her, a cool sheen of sweat lacquering her body. The pain was so intense; she couldn’t take it. She had to score. Somehow. With a moan she pulled herself up and got out of bed.
“Come on, Jennifer, we gotta go.”
“Ma ma, ma ma, na nan a na, ma ma,” Jennifer babbled as she toddled happily toward her mother with outstretched arms and a heartbreaking smile on her round little face. Rosemary wept as she scooped up the little girl, changed her diaper, and pulled a pink princess dress over her head. Her mother had sent her this dress, with a note explaining that she would no longer send her any money.
She wandered out into the bright sunshine of the day, staggering and barely able to walk she was so sick. In an English class back when she was still in school she had studied the Beat poets and a quote came to her, from Allen Ginsburg’s Howl, “roaming the junk sick dawn looking for an angry fix.” In that long ago time of her past she had loved that poem and thought it a romantic image. It no longer held that allure to her anymore. Nothing held much allure to her at all anymore, but she mumbled the fragments of the poem she remembered nonetheless.
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked…”
Staggering down the street with her baby in her arms, teetering and leaning on alley walls to stop herself from falling, mumbling fragmented lines of poetry, this is how the Rump found her.
“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” he had asked, saddling up beside her. “You don’t look so good.”
“Yeah, I got the flu,” she mumbled, rocking the baby who was starting to fuss in her arms. “Can you spare a few bucks, mister? I gotta get my baby some diapers.”
“Yeah, I got a few bucks for you.” He handed her a fistful of crumpled bills.
Her face broke in gratitude. “Oh, thank you, thank you, mister. You are a life saver.” She quickly started to wander off, suddenly energized by the idea of being able to score.
“Miss,” the Rump mumbled, reaching out and giving her sleeve a tug with his dirty fingers, “you look sick. I have something that might help you.”
He leaned forward to whisper in her ear, “China white.”
“Oh, Jesus, mister. I am so sick. Please. You need a date? I’ll suck your cock. Whatever you want.”
“Well, let’s go someplace and get to know each other better. I know a place we can go.”
The Rump took her by the hand and led her through the busy streets of Eureka to the Samoa Bridge. As they started down a refuse strewn path she stumbled, clutching her baby in her arms.
“Careful, sweetheart,” the Rump exclaimed, reaching out a hand to steady her. “Don’t wanna drop the baby.”
She nodded and sniffled.
The path curved under the bridge to a slab of dirty concrete. Trash was strewn everywhere: broken bottles, abandoned garments, used rubbers. The walls were covered in graffiti and the air was thick with the fishy scent of the Humboldt Bay.
He let her suck his cock. Why not? She seemed eager to do it. To earn her dope.
She had quickly dropped to her knees and grappled with his pants, pulling him into her mouth, sniffling and trembling, kneeling in the broken glass and grime while he arched his back and came in her mouth, gripping the back of her head by her hair and pushing himself down her throat till she gagged. Tiny Jennifer watched, sitting amongst the trash in the pink princess dress her grandmother had sent her, staring at them with a strange uncomprehending look on her round, baby face, a small line of drool dripping off her chin.
When Rosemary was finished, pulling herself away from him with a wet gasp, he had pulled up his pants and laughed.
“You’re good at that,” he said, winking at the little baby who still stared up at them with that strange look.
Rosemary had simply nodded, wiping a thin line of come off her chin.
“Now for dessert,” the Rump said, pulling out his works.
He loaded up the blackened spoon with a few grains of dope he sprinkled out from a glassine bag, added a bit of water and a clump of cotton from a cigarette filter. He gave it a little heat and a stir and pulled the plunger of the syringe to pull the dark liquid up into the needle. He handed her the syringe.
It was good dope.
He knew she would be out like a light and he doubted she would ever come back.
Rosemary awoke under the bridge.
She looked groggily around. It was dark now. The syringe still dangled from her arm. She plucked it out, leaned over and wretched, puking up black bile.
For a moment she couldn’t remember where she was or what had happened to her.
Then it came back to her. The small, hunched over little man. The taste of his come was still salty and rich in her mouth. Where was he? Then she remembered Jennifer. Her baby. She had had her baby with her. Where was her Jennifer?
Adrenalin coursed through her and she leapt up, squinting in the dark and shadows, searching for her baby.
She screamed, horrified, “Jennifer?! Jennifer?”
She frantically searched around the trash and rubble, still off kilter and dazed from her fix. Her baby, her infant, her tiny little Jennifer was gone. She shrieked in terror and howling, ran out from under the bridge, clawing her way up the dirt path to the street above.
“My baby, my baby,” she screamed.
A hooker she knew ran up to her. “Honey, what’s wrong? What happened?”
“My baby is gone! A man took my baby! Help me. Please help me.”
“Okay, hon, okay. Who was he? What’s his name?”
“I don’t know,” Rosemary blubbered, weeping hysterically. “I don’t know his name.”
After inserting the brand new car seat into his car, the Rump pushed the screaming infant into it. He mixed some Benadryl into the bottle of formula and shoved the nipple into the baby’s mouth. She sucked on it greedily. That should knock her out, he thought. It was a long drive to Tijuana and he didn’t want the brat screaming the whole way down. He idly wondered if the kid’s mother was alive or not. In the end it didn’t make any difference to him. As long as she didn’t know his name.
Written by HumboldtLycanthrope