My mother was once a beautiful whore. I don’t remember her that way, but I’ve seen photographs, and for a time, she was quite stunning. My biological father is forever lost, reduced to just one of the countless cocks she took inside of her. He could be anyone, but is no one. And had he been around, he’d be just as dead as she is.
Apparently, my mother made one hell of a living for a while as a high-end call girl with a rather notorious agency in Jacksonville. It wasn’t Miami, but in Jax, she was a starlet—the one every man wanted and most got, provided they could pay. She was often on the arms of tycoons and lonely businessmen from out of town—and on the dicks of those who could only afford her for a few hours, or who couldn’t afford to be seen in public with a hooker.
On top of a stupidly high salary for a girl not long out of high school, she often also received lavish gifts—jewelry, clothes, electronics, shoes; one of her clients even bought her a car off of his own lot. A few proposed marriage. My mother was smart enough to know better. Then.
She was only twenty-two when she bought the house I would grow up in, with cash, and still had a tiny fortune stashed away.
Then disaster. Even before I was born, I was a force of destructive reckoning. I’ll never know why she decided to keep me. Maybe she envisioned a better life where she wasn’t deep-throating every prick in Jacksonville with money to spare. A pregnant escort has approximately the same value that I place on human life, and the agency dropped her as if she’d never existed.
She met Cruz when I was an infant. He was a small-time gang thug who married her, got her strung out, and pimped her for street value when the money ran dry. He was a perfect parasite. For nearly ten years, I watched him suck the life from my mother, leaving nothing behind but bruises and a few broken bones. He was cruel and clever, never leaving marks where they’d be seen, and he always stroked her check with the back of his hand, saying: “una cara tan bonita,” just before he’d punch her in the stomach or kidney. Other times, he’d shock her with a cattle prod, then tell her “comportarse, mi pequena vaca”—“behave, my little cow.”
Whereas I was largely ignored by my otherwise occupied mother, Cruz provided me with plenty of attention. My punishment was most often a vicious twist to the tender flesh of my inner, upper arms. Whether it was the radial or ulnar, there was rarely a time that he missed a nerve, and my rather remarkable memory fails to recall a time that I didn’t have extensive bruising surrounding my armpits. Though he was (of course) not the virtuoso I have become over the years, my father was quite proficient at pain.
This was our existence until I was ten. Then one night Cruz just stopped coming home. My mother never spoke of him again.
It would be six years before I found out what happened.