‘Asset Mapping in Stoop City’

New Work

By Kristyn Dunnion

Sheela rocks heel toe, heel toe, making her hair swing, she’s so mad. She’s kicked out of the donut shop, who cares, she’s sick of that fucking place, that guy wants to call the cops let him. Loser. And who cares, now she’s officially off the fucking property line, okay, she’s on the public property sidewalk. “Okay?!” She’s officially on the corner. Her corner. Morning traffic and somebody is going to want a little love this morning, no two ways about it. She swings her hips sharply. Arms flail and she tries to rein them in, cross them in front or let one hand hold the other, fingers twitching. Her arms do what they want these days. Bubble gum helps with the jaw, can’t stop chewing. One decent thing Gord did was give her the rest of his pack of gum. Gord is up in the motel room holding out on her. And they better not smoke the whole stash while she’s out here. They better not or she will fucking destroy them. Fucking Gord.

Twenty bucks would do it, even ten. Five’s a foil hit, but she needs more.

A silver SUV slows and Sheela twirls so he can get a good look. Fancy car means lots of money and that’s good news. She wants a twenty, hand job is okay, she’ll use her mouth a bit to get him hard, the usual. She hates swallowing, that burns her throat and gurgles her stomach and gives her the shits and then she’s out of commission for the rest of the day, no thank you mister. Sheela does a few high kicks so the driver can see how nice her legs are, guys always tell her, plus she’s wearing her lucky white jean shorts that used to be so tight her ass cheeks peeked out but she is skinny now, not much in the caboose.

“Hey guy,” she says, waving. High kick. The man in the car looks at her, but does not wave back. “What are ya, shy?” she hollers. The stoplight changes to green. The car speeds forward, away from her, and Sheela screeches, “Fuck you, man.”

There goes her money. That guy just left with her money, he robbed her.

“What the fuck!”

She swings around the bus stop pole and who cares about that fag, she is looking great and there will be another guy in another car, someone better. Pest control truck, Sheela turns her back and pretends to study the bus schedule. She’s not doing him, forget it. Probably bugs all through the seats, probably bugs all over that guy. She had them at her old place and that was a frigging disaster, she had to dump all her shit, lost everything more or less, that’s what you get with bugs. That’s how she ended up with Gord.

All she’s got left is a plastic bag with her favourite jeans and that pink top with the sparkles for nighttime and the plastic jelly sandals with the wedge heel. Not throwing those out, forget it. Everything else, gone to the dump, burned, whatever they do with garbage. Her whole magazine collection, everything.

Sheela sits on the bus bench inside the shelter. Probably the chicks in that house went through her stuff when she got turfed, who wouldn’t. Some kind of boarding house for headcase broads. Said she didn’t pay the rent. Liars. She made a lot of money up there, of course she paid rent. Those chicks probably still have her stuff, bugs and all, probably fought over her room, it was pretty nice, a window and everything. Hard to open and once it was open you couldn’t really shut it, but you could see the tip of the church spire from there and at night with all the lights it looked like Walt Disneyland, a place she’d never been but hey maybe, you never know. She’s pretty bummed now, thinking about all the stuff she left behind. A mirror from the Dollar Store with fuzzy pink trim and rhinestones, it said “Gorgeous!” across the bottom. She loved looking into it, every time she did, she said, “Gorgeous!” All the shitty things those chicks were doing to it now, laughing at it or wearing her clothes around or cutting up her magazines. Those bitches.

She should march right down there and see for herself. Straight down Lansdowne into the middle of Parkdale, pretty far, but she’s done it before. Get so riled up thinking about her stuff and how some other girl is in that room, nicest room she had in a long time with the view and all, the view was real good and the fire escape came right up under the window, she could go in and out never mind a key, just do her own thing and invite the guys up that way, saved going down the stairs to buzz them in. She made good money up there and barely had to leave the joint. Should have hid the money better, that was a sad day.

There’s a fucking racket coming down the sidewalk, old broad in a garbage bag pushing a shopping cart piled with empties. Sheela jumps up and covers her ears with her twitchy hands. She paces back and forth on the sidewalk. “Shaddup, shaddup! Shaddup, Can Queen!” She can’t even think. “Ahhhh!”

Sheela marches through the parking lot. She should go inside, not fair she has to listen to this, she’s trying to work. She puts her face against the glass and that same turd is still behind the counter. Looks pissed. He picks up the phone and waves it. She is not in the mood for cops today, that is some total bullshit. She marches back across the parking lot, arms swinging, and that can queen is crossing the street heading for the beer store. Thing is, once you start collecting cans, no one will fuck you. Some people say Sheela has a crappy job but canning is way worse, that’s only for when your pussy dries out. No teeth is still good for gummies, no excuse. Sheela knows an old broad who still rakes it in on cheque day, working the stairwell at the motel. Good for her. Although it cuts into the competition. Gord says she ought to charge more on cheque day not less coz that’s when guys got their money. “Everyone loves to spend,” Gord says. “Look at ’em, lined up at the corner store for soda and pork rinds and smokes. They should be dropping it on us. It’s our money.”

Sheela says, “I don’t know, I’m not too good at math.” Better to have a ten than a five. Better to have five than nothing.

Another red light and there is a line of shiny cars. Lots of cars means lots of men. Sheela lifts her T-shirt and presses herself against the passenger window of one of them. Her tits aren’t big but lots of guys go for it, some prefer a flat chest, they tell her that all the time. “Hey you want some tit, you want some good tit times,” she shouts. “Come on, guy,” and then she shouts, “What the fuck are you a guy or what?” The chick driver starts honking at her. Fucking chicks. “Sorry,” Sheela shouts, “You look like a dude, what can I say,” and now the other cars are also honking, it’s confusing, everyone’s so mad so fucking mad in the morning. Jesus. If anyone should be mad it’s Sheela, ripped off again by that dickshit Gord, and his junkie retard friends.

“Get off the road, Lady,” yells someone.

“I’m trying to make some money,” she yells back.

“Off the road!”

“Everyone’s gotta work, you know!” Sheela high kicks a few times. She’s got great legs, they should know. Someone might pull into the parking lot. Someone might come back on their morning break. It’s happened before. Or the next day, or the day after. They could sit there at their work, whatever it is, what the hell would any of these people do for money, them sitting and thinking about her legs and her flat titties and they could decide they want to spend a little time with Sheela. It could happen, you’ll see. The important thing is to not give up.

“Make the most of your assets,” a social worker told her that once, and she agrees. If you got a great ass show your ass. It’s also best to just come clean. Let ’em know what you’ve got straight up and don’t waste anyone’s time, she’s all business that way. She’s no liar. Sheela’s got a set of pins on her and not so much in the tits and ass department these days but let them make up their own minds. She needs money and they’ve got it, look at them driving big cars of course they got dough. Ten, that’d be okay plus a toonie for a donut. She loves the confetti sparkle ones, only get them certain times a year and there’s three left inside. That guy could give it to her, or save her one if he wanted. She’d owe him, she pays her debts, she pays her fucking rent.

Sheela’s legs are great so there they go, up in the air, high kicks in the intersection. More cars honking means more men noticing. Free advertising. At this rate she’ll be making a shitload someday.

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Kristyn Dunnion

Kristyn Dunnion is the author of three novels, one fiction collection, and numerous short stories. The Dirt Chronicles (Arsenal Pulp Press), was a 2012 Lambda Literary Award Finalist. Previous novels include Mosh Pit, Missing Matthew, and Big Big Sky (Red Deer Press). She is the 2015 Machigonne Fiction prize winner. (www.kristyndunnion.com)