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Ghostface Killer

By:M. Never

Stevie ~Age 14

PAYDAY.

I catch sight of a well-dressed man exiting a limo right outside the world-famous Cipriani's. The sidewalks of New York are packed with holiday shoppers providing me the perfect cover-another faceless person on the street. A no one, to no one.

Keeping up with the foot traffic, I align my steps in the direction of the man in the long black coat and dress hat. The December cold has most people bundled up, leaving little opportunity, but a passenger emerging out of a warm car is the perfect target.

With unnecessary urgency, I slam right into the man's chest before he has a chance to button up his coat. He's a foot taller than my five-foot- two frame and double the width. In the split-second I have, I lift his wallet right out of his inside pocket and gain an extra score with his pocket watch, too. Word to the wise, keep your valuables in separate pockets if you don't want to be cleaned out all at once.

"'Scuse me," I mutter, faking polite, and the man unexpectedly grabs me. My heart lurches in my chest as he squeezes both my arms, locking me against him. I can barely breathe as he peers down at me with the brightest but most intimidating green eyes I have ever seen. My instincts kick in as I stand there like a statue. I'm so fucked if I get caught. One more strike and it's juvie till I'm eighteen. Fuck that.

As a defense tactic, I innocently bat my big brown eyes. "I'm so sorry," I speak swiftly, like I'm caught off guard. "I think I slipped on some ice or something."

The man looks down at me with a dead facial expression, and my eyes grow wider on their own. "It really was an accident." I actually believe my own desperate words. This guy is fucking scary. His grip tightens for a fraction of a second, causing my pulse to flutter before he lets go. There's no response on his end, not even a grunt. Our linked gaze lingers for a moment more, trapping me like a wounded animal before a pedestrian bumps my shoulder and kick-starts my feet. With a hammering heart, I let the moving crowd swallow me up, thankful for the swift separation.

I keep up with the herd a few blocks more before I cross 42nd, turn down a side street, and then duck into a dark alleyway. If New York City is good for one thing, it's hiding spots. Behind a large, smelly dumpster, I rip the black bob wig off my head and turn my reversible, fake, black fur jacket inside out. In a flash, I'm a blonde with long platinum waves sporting a loud, obnoxious, leopard print coat. I pull out the pocket watch and examine the smooth silver metal etched with the initials BV before opening the wallet and checking out the contents. A bunch of credit cards-useless-but a shit load of cash. I count eight hundred dollars. Yes! I really did get paid. My stomach rumbles louder than it has in days, knowing it will soon be stuffed full of cheeseburgers and French fries. I'll be able to eat for a month with this much money. 

I stash the cash in my ratty purse along with the watch. I can hock it tomorrow.

Not able to think about anything but a greasy burger and the biggest milkshake I can find, I all but run to the nearest diner. Tonight, I'm splurging; no crappy fast food to celebrate this score.

The strong, delicious smell of a hot grill has my mouth watering and my hunger burning a hole through my stomach. I can't remember the last time I ate a real meal. An honest-to-goodness real meal on a plate and everything.

The red lettering and interior lights of the diner against the dark nights backdrop mesmerizes me. Letting my guard down is my biggest mistake. I always watch my back. Always. On the streets you have to. I learned that early on when people thought they could take advantage of me because of my age or the way I look. I can't be bought or intimidated or beaten. But I can be blinded by starvation.

Which I am at the moment. Blind with hunger. Blind to my surroundings. Blind to the fact someone has me on their radar. I never get close to the front door of the diner. I only see it disappear out of my sight as someone clamps their hand over my mouth and drags me into a shadowy alleyway. What did I say about loving New York and it's hiding spots? I take it back.

I kick and flail as I'm dragged deeper into the darkness. No one can hear my muffled screams or see my fighting body.

"You have some fight." A man pins me up against the brick wall as I continue to thrash. Screaming behind his palm, I attempt to knee him, but he blocks my strike.

"Now, now, that's not very nice behavior for a young lady." He kicks my legs apart and presses his whole body against mine, crushing my small frame between him and the wall. I scream louder, and he laughs.

"No one can hear you, little fox, so stop fighting," he whispers terrifyingly. "You stole from the wrong man."

With only a sliver of light from the full moon shining down through the small cracks of the tall buildings, I can just make out the outline of his face and the glint of a cold green eye.

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