Ybor City, 1901
Salvador finished his rum and realized he’d had more to drink in the last three days than in the entire last year. He didn’t want to think anymore, he just wanted to have his way and be gone. “I’ll pay you back,” said Salvador as he took the money and headed for the stairs while Juan Carlos grinned and the men returned to their game.
It was not Salvador’s first visit to a brothel. He had gone to a few when he was with El Matón, before Olympia and Josefina came into his care. Salvador’s opinion of these girls was that they were of the lowest class; unfortunate to the point of emptiness, yet sassy and savvy with the dollar. Efficient and biased in their ways, as if they had experienced every man in the city and had settled, for that one moment, on you. They were soulless and worthless and yet he needed them badly.
Salvador was greeted at the top of the stairs by the madam, a boisterous Cuban woman of roughly fifty with a low neckline that thrust her bust upward for men to judge. He handed her five dollars, and she pointed to a hallway with four closed doors that looked very much like the inside of an apartment building. “Melina is free,” she said. “Number two.”
Salvador pushed the door open and saw a young girl sitting on the bed wearing a black negligee about to strike a long wooden match and light the cigarette that dangled from her lips. Salvador immediately thought there must be some mistake, that this girl was too young. She couldn’t be any older than Lázaro.
Melina froze with her match in hand and raised an eyebrow. Even more youthful was her voice. “Gonna be hard to see me from all the way over there. Why don’t you come in?”
Salvador closed the door behind him. “How old are you?”
“Seventeen,” she struck her match and lit her cigarette. “So what?”
“How old really?”
“Sixteen. Is that better? Or would you like I say fifteen?”
Sassy indeed. He said, “Either way you’re younger than my daughter.”
“Whatever turns you on, pal,” Melina said as she laid back, her cigarette still burning in hand. She noticed his black eye but said nothing. Salvador unzipped his pants.
He thought he would struggle with the girl’s youth but the shame of the act made it more appealing. Melina was charming in her lewdness and Salvador felt unperturbed and become a younger version of himself, Salvador the Bandit, spirited and agile. Her flesh was soft and unblemished by age, and her eyes welcomed him in a way that seemed they had known each other many times before. The alcohol helped him last, and when it was over Salvador dressed and left her alone without giving her a look or a farewell.
Excerpt from Chapter 22…comments are welcome!