You stare at him with the same vulnerable, searching glance you used when you met him at the McDonald’s off 44th and the I-10. It’s the kind of look lost four-year-olds and bugshit old people use when their memories go on the blink.
It’s the victim look.
It’s the dead and floating face down in an aqueduct look.
It’s the look you’ve cultivated and mastered over the last three years.
Most of the time, the look does exactly what you want it to do, especially as you’ve grown older and you’ve started to vibe Lolita.
Pink cherry lips.
Pale, creamy skin.
Long, sun-bleached blonde hair.
Bare, tanned legs with scabby tomboy knees.
Baby blues glistening with barely contained sadness and confusion.
When you were younger, the look got you attention from all the wrong people: Women.
Soccer moms, kind old ladies watching their grandchildren, working moms grabbing a quick lunch and feeling guilty about their kids being stuck in daycare and picturing their little girls lost and alone at some filthy burger place. In those early days, you would respond to their kindness with tears and allow them to buy you lunch and drive you back to your mom’s apartment complex even though you hadn’t seen or spoken with your mom in five years. But you couldn’t very well have them take you back to your real home.
Mom’s apartment complex was dirtbag central, it played into the latchkey image.
Dad’s six-thousand square feet of stucco and air-conditioned comfort did nothing but scream entitled little rich girl playing victim.
When women approached you these days, your look changed. It became hard, glassed over, ready to shred their faces with your dull, chipped pink polish nails. You let them know you were a predator, but they weren’t the prey you were hunting.
They were background noise; extras in your ongoing tragedy of lust and revenge.
Well, maybe revenge was too strong of a word?
And lust? That one didn’t fit either.
Hobby was closer, but it didn’t have enough oomph. It made her seem like she spent her free time painting watercolors or scrapbooking.
The men who approached you usually weren’t the bad sort. They weren’t chatroom creepers, or the kind of guys who kept an eye out for gloryholes anytime they went into a public bathroom. They weren’t even they types who had hundreds of hours of kiddie porn stored on their home computers.
That was you.
No, these men were just like the soccer moms and put upon grandmothers. They were husbands and fathers and grandfathers and business owners who took their families to church every Sunday and volunteered down at the local homeless shelter at least once a month. They were they type of men who made this world of shit just a little more bearable.
You can’t exactly say you hate them.
You can’t exactly say you like them, either.
But then again, you don’t like much of anything.
Except for this.
Except for these moments when the men you meet wake up in their tidy suburban homes or immaculate condos that they bring you to so you could use their phone to call for a ride (You always wonder why they just don’t pull out their $800 smartphones and let you call right then and there? The move played into your theory that all men were natural liars and pervs), or give you a cool, safe place to stay until you could get a hold of your mom.
As they woke, their left arms sore from where you jabbed them and ejected them full of your dad’s doctor prescribed dope, you loved to see their bodies tense as they realize they’re naked and ducted taped to one of the dining room chairs their wives debated months over before buying them.
The real terror comes when they realize they have thumb drives superglued to their chests, their foreheads, their knees, their shrunken cocks, their rank balls. They have no idea what are on the thumb drives, nor do they realize what you’ve been doing to their computers after you stripped and strapped them.
All told, you own a hair over three terabytes of child pornography. It’s surprisingly easy to find. Plus, over the years you’ve bullied the neighborhood kids into posing for you and promising not to tell because they all know what you’ll do to them. Katie Moran even stuck a plastic coke bottle in herself. It was a truth or dare thing, the little dyke wanted to see you splayed open, too, but for entirely different reasons than you wanted.
It’s when their panic truly goes into high gear is when you really turn on the vulnerability. Your eyes soften, the barely contained tears dig runnels through your make-up, your lips tremble and pull down at the corners as you pick up the phone and dial 911, your voice a panicky squelch of tears and lost innocence.
When you hang up, you never look back. You walk out the front door and down the quiet sidewalk, hail an Uber from your phone, and quietly hope the driver doesn’t show up before the cops.