Shopping is, like, my way of getting over Steve... until the meds kick in anyway.

Been to Wal-Mart buying stuff I dont need or want - picked up my fourth pair of Ugg boots for Chrissakes - got them under my arm as Brad Johnson squeezes beside me in the elevator to math class, starts his shit again.

Been trappin’? he says, leaning in close enough to let me know hed sprung for a second chilli-dog at lunch.

Excuse me.

What Dad calls it when my mom comes back all bagged up like a fur trapper, a laugh on his last word, like, for no reason. This jock shit has me weirded out, but I’ve got good cause. 

The elevator jolts and Brad rocks forward on the heels of his Nike Airs, I get a feel of his semi and I’m thinking, whoa . . . that stuff about me putting out is such fiction already. But my heart’s racing. Pounding and pounding because this is my first day back after . . . The Incident. Brad and I haven’t even spoken about The Incident.

This is my floor! I say, edging away real fast, I’m sweating, shit, this is too full on. 

Your floor, my floor...I dont mind one bit!

That’s not even funny. Six weeks past, at Trish Jacob’s party, Steve caught Brad on top of me, doing stuff. I was way out of it, can’t remember a Goddamn thing, but Steve and me are so over now. And Brad, I just feel way too strange around him. Real strange.

I’m shaking as I turn to push the button and he smiles at me, moves in close, all slimy-like. In the polished elevator door I see him eyeing my ass, pursing his lips and flicking out his tongue like a snake or a lizard or something. It’s all for his jock buddies, they high-five, and I want to hurl. No shit, I want to throw chunks here and now.

Brad’s hot hands grab my hips, pull me back. His semi feels more like a hard-on now. I cant move, I want to say something but I’m too choked, what a wimp-out!

“You remember this, Alana?” he says, smiling, laughing.

My heart goes from flat-out to stopped in a second. I feel chills all over me. But I remember nothing.

Ding! The elevator stops; feel a judder.

I shake off Brad’s hands and run out.

I'm in such a rush I nearly drop my new Ugg boots.


Hey, someones been to the stores, lets see, says Louisa. She comes running over and takes my bag with the boots, Oh my God, Alana, these are so awesome!

I’m too pissed to respond, my heart is, like, racing as I think of Brad and his buddies laughing at me. What the hell were they saying?

What the fuck is this? cries out Louisa, she holds up a little white box I took from the pharmacy. I mean took, I never stole before, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. I’m acting real strange since The Incident.

I snatch back the box, tuck it away. “It’ know, a test.” I whisper on the last word.

Louisa’s eyes widen, she drops her voice lower than mine, mouths the shape of the word, “Pregnancy?”

I nod.

Louisa rolls her eyes, “But, you and Steve...I thought you never did it!” I can take hearing his name from Louisa, shes my friend, she makes me laugh, but I still dont like it.

“We never.

Louisa sticks her tongue in her cheek, rolls up her eyes again, “Oh.

I don’t think she understands.

Shit, I don’t think I do.


I sit through math but I don’t think I’m learning a frickin’ thing. My head is full of Steve and how I’d promised he’d be my first and the way his face looked when he said about catching me with Brad. He roared and cried and said I was like all the other dumb chicks jumping in the sack with an asshole just because he gets his daddy’s Porsche on weekends.

I cry, too, when I see the little white stick go blue. I cry and it hurts because I don’t know why I’m crying. Is it because that’s my life, like, over already? Or is it because I’ve done one more thing to hurt Steve? I don’t know anything anymore.

“Alana, you dumb bitch,” I say. I’ve been sitting in the girls’ john for an hour; took me so long to build up the courage to pee on the little white stick but now I have the answer I wish I didn’t. I wish I was never born, Christ, how did this ever happen?

I pull up my panties and take Mom’s gun from the strap thing on my leg. Mom loves this little gun; she saw it in a movie once and Dad bought it for her, strap thing and all. She laughed and laughed that day. That was a long time ago. All the happy days seem a long time ago now. I look at the gun, it’s small, says Beretta on the side but Mom calls it her Bobcat, like, why? I dunno. I don’t know anything. I don’t even want to think about anything.

I put the gun in my mouth and close my eyes but I can’t pull the trigger. All I see is, like, my mom and dad and Grandpaw crying and crying and crying and the tears are just too much. I don’t want to cause anymore tears. I didn’t want to cause any tears, ever.


“Hey, ’bout a replay? shouts Brad to me.

Am I, like, underwater or something? My mind feels all fuggy, could be the tears but I feel changed. My thinking just doesn’t work. Dr Morgan said I’d feel different when the medication kicked in, but I don’t think this is what he meant.

“Are you talking to me?” I shout back.

Brad’s jock buddies slap him on the back, there’s white teeth lighting up the whole corridor as all the queen bitches stop to stare and you could hear a fuckin’ pin drop, like they always say.

“That night at Trish Jacob’s place was, ehm, y’know...”

I sure as hell don’t know.

“Was what?”

More back slapping, one of the goofballs gets so excited he drops a folder, papers swirl about when the door to the schoolyard opens and the breeze takes them.

Brad puts his hands out. “What, you don’t remember?”

I shake my head. I’m just so glad Steve’s moved to Lincoln High and can’t see any of this.

“Well, how about I give you a re-run tonight?”

This is, like, tennis or something, eyes flitting up and down the hallway to catch what I’m gonna say next. I don’t even know, only, I’ve said it before I realise.

“Okay, sure.”

The silence breaks into uproar.

Woop-woop-woop,” carries down the hall and Brad’s buddies try to lift him up. The noise brings out Mr. Martinez from the history department and he smacks his hands together to get everyone to shut the hell up.

Soon all I hear is the queen bitches slipping past me and muttering, “slut” over and over.

Like I give a fuck, now.


The black Porsche 911 is sat outside our front porch for, like, maybe a minute before Brad’s hitting the horn and yelling.

“Who is that?” asks Mom.

“No-one,” I say.

“Don’t you lie to me, missy!” She goes to the window, pulls back the drapes, “What in the name...who do you know drives a car like that, Alana?”

“No-one!” I’m pulling on my Ugg boots and then I’m running for the door when Mom starts to flap.

“Now, just you hold on a minute my girl...I know you’ve been a little out of sorts but remember what Dr Morgan said about taking things easy!”


The horn again.

“Alana, I don’t think running about all over town is the way to get your head together.”

“I’m not running about, Mom...I’m just...”

“Alana, I never...I didn’t mean that.” She looks concerned, starts to undo her apron strings at her back, then moves towards me with her hands reaching for my face.

“Mom, please.”

She clasps her hands round my face, her eyes are all misty as she speaks, “You’re such a pretty, pretty girl my darling...You could have anything you want, anything in the whole world.”

I want to say, “Anything?” Like it’s a real choice or something, but I know it’s not. I can’t have Steve.

I pull away and run for the door.

I can hear Mom yelling after me as I get into the Porsche.

We drive, like, forever. Brad talks and talks about a whole heap of crap, what the Dodgers need to do next, how his daddy knows President Bush, his vacation in France and England and wherever. Eventually, we’re parked out by the flats. They have crags and rocks out here and they say some serial killer used a scope-gun to shoot kids who were making out way back. I dunno if that’s true, but it’s what they say. I think about that a little as Brad turns off the engine and swivels round to face me. He has that shit-eating grin of his on. I never noticed before now but the grin’s crooked, too.

“So, here we are,” he says.


He's sat on the edge of his seat with his crotch facing me, like maybe that serial killer’s scope-gun once looked.

He touches his lips, sways a bit. Goes on and on. Says Steves name, like three, maybe four times, I lose count. I’m, like, hearing Steve,



              Steve, and I’m thinking, why? Whys he keep on him?

Enough. Enough already.

All the while I just look into him and want to hear this is all, like, a nightmare or something. That my lifes a bad dream Im soon gonna wake from. But I dont hear it. Nothing like it.

“Hey, c’mon, you know I wanna fuck you again, Alana, and I know you aint getting none from old loverboy Steve, so Im guessing you could do with the action.

This is the best he can do?

I’m tuned in to what he’s saying and I’m, like, is that it? We done? You had your say already?

He reaches out and tries to pull me towards him but I pull away.

“Oh, I get it.”

“You do?”

“Yeah, you want some stuff.”


Brad goes into his jacket and pulls out a baggie, I can see a little white powder in the corner. He takes a few pinches and lays out a line on the dash and offers it to me.

“Go on, it’s what you want.”

I shake my head.

“Go on, go on.”

“I don’t do drugs, Brad.”

Now he does the eye-roll thing, looks through me. “Oh, yeah.”

“What do you mean, oh yeah?”

He starts to tie a knot in the baggie, tucks it back in his pocket.

I ask him again, “What do you mean, oh yeah?”

“Nothing, I mean, were pretty out of it back at Trish’s place.”

I feel my heart beat fast again.


“Hell, yeah.”

He leans in again. I feel him start to breathe close to my neck. He starts to kiss me, then his hands move over me.

“Where did you get the coke, Brad?”

A laugh, then, “Connections.”

I feel his tongue come out, it runs up and down my neck, onto my chest. He starts to unbuckle his belt. It seems to take him, like, forever to draw down his zipper, but when I look up at his face I see hes grinning and trying to tease me or something, yeah, like he was some strip-joint dream boy, I dont think.

“Your connections, they can get you anything you want?”

He’s on top of me now, pops it out, starts grinding, pulling at my panties. “They can get me anything I want.”

He’s grinning and acting like some frat boy whos just got the town slut in the back-seat of his daddys Buick.

I lay there feeling my head pushed against the door and my ass jammed against the stick shift and I want to scream but my voice is so weak I can hardly get the words I have to say out. “Like Rohypnol?”

He puts his hand on my ass, says, “You know, Steve ain’t coming back, Alana, why don’t you relax?”

He moves fast, now. Theres no, like, struggling with buttons or straps or whatever, he’s ripping at me.

Stop! I tell him.

What? He looks pissed with me. I cant stop now!

His hands move fast but mine move faster as I slip the Beretta out of the leg strap and point it at his crotch. As he feels the cold metal touch his balls his face looks white as death, but that might just be the moonlight. Hes sure as hell stock-still...until I pull the trigger.

Blood splatters the window behind him instantly. I move the gun about and I’m firing and firing until there’s smoke everywhere, so much I can taste it.

For a moment, I lie there.

I can feel the gun smoke burning my throat.

My lungs fill up and I start to cough.

Brad’s mouth isn’t crooked any more. It flops open and his lips spill blood on me. I’m like, yeuch. He’s a dead weight on top of me as I slide out from under him. I wonder, does he know why?

Oh yeah, like I’d care if he did.

Tony Black's first novel, Paying For It, was published by Random House in July. Allan Guthrie, called it ‘a fine debut’ adding: "Black is the new noir". He lives and works in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. More of his fiction can be found at Thuglit, Pulp Pusher, The Outpost, Demolition and in Out of the Gutter. Find him at: