This is the second part of a fiction serial, in 1050 words.
Candy liked Jack, though not like that, but it was so obvious he had the hots for her. She knew what doorway he would be in, and also knew she could get some money off him easily. Let him think he had a chance, give him a good look up her skirt, and sit very close to him. Easy. She said she was going for coffee, but that was never going to happen. As she turned the corner, she looked at the coins in her hand. Almost six pounds, that was a start. She would wander up to Aldwych, and see if Darius had any customers in the hairdressers. If he wasn’t busy, he would usually buy her a coca-cola, and sometimes let her wash her hair too. Dragging up the shoulder of her waistcoat, she wrinkled her nose. It was really stinky, but she couldn’t afford to get it cleaned, so would have to spray some perfume on it. Diverting into the big branch of Boots, she hovered around the counter until nobody was looking, then snatched up two testers, as well as a couple of eye liners. Bending down as if to lace up her Converse, she slipped them into the shoulder bag, turned around, and walked back out onto the street.
Playing the little lost girl had worked out fine at first. Sitting on a bench crying, someone would come over. Usually a concerned older couple, the woman feeling maternal, the man awkward. She would say that she had lost her train fare home after coming to London with friends. Scared to tell her mum, but twenty pounds would get her home. Lots of them fell for it at first, but others got wise. Offered to take her to a police station, or go with her to the train station, and buy the ticket. She couldn’t keep up the phony accent either. One minute she was putting on as if she was from Liverpool, the next it sounded Scottish. And they all thought she was a kid, even Jack. The joke was on them. She could be home in east London in twenty minutes on a bus, and she was almost eighteen, though she knew she looked much younger. Saying she was only sixteen made it seem as if she was pretending. Candy was a good name to choose too. It suited her, and made her sound silly and girly.
Mum treated her like an unpaid baby sitter. Knocking out kids with different blokes every couple of years, falling for all their sweet talk, and then they were off. Candy had stopped going to school, told her doctor she was depressed, and told her mum what she could do with her shitty flat, and four kids. She shacked up with Sammi and her boyfriend for a while, then headed off into the West End to earn some money. Looking sorry for herself had worked at the start. Jack had certainly fallen for it, though she had to be careful who she tried it on with. Then she met a girl who was clipping. Tash told her what to do. Hang about looking sexy, and wait for some bloke to ask her how much. Give him a price, and tell him “Money first”, then he could take her into Brewer Street car park and do what he wanted. Soon as you had your hand on the money, run away as fast as you could. If he chased you, shout “Help! Rape!”, and keep running. Chances are someone would stop him, or he would be too embarrassed. Not likely to tell the police either, as he wouldn’t want to admit to asking an under age girl for sex, even though she wasn’t actually under age. That worked out well for a while too. She could often get over a hundred a day, sometimes a lot more.
Tash was a good mate. She could doss down on her sofa most nights, in the squat where she lived near Waterloo. She taught Candy how to pinch stuff too, and helped with her new look. “Sassy and sexy, girl”, Tash called it. Except for the Converse of course, but she needed them for running. Trouble was Tash did like her crack, and it wasn’t long before Candy was on it too. Now she needed that hundred a day just to stay straight, and that took time, and work. Candy was on the go from morning ’til night. Cadging, fleecing, conning, pinching, anything to get money, or something she could sell or trade. If she had a slow day, Tash would help her with a couple of rocks, but she expected the same in return. So far, Candy had been lucky. Chased out of shops a few times, and spotted by people when she tried to nick their phone or wallet as they sat at a cafe, or waited to cross a busy street. But no arrests, not yet. A few talking-tos from some local policemen, but she copped an attitude, and they had to let her go.
Darius had a customer, but he gave her a wave through the window. Candy crossed the road, and branched left in the direction of the University. Under the big sign that read LSE, she saw a chubby guy texting into a phone. looked like he might be Indian, or something like that. Screwing up her face, she jogged up to him, arriving breathless and looking as worried as she could manage. She put on her posh voice, sounding like she came from Surrey, or some place like it. “Excuse me, I’m sorry to ask you, but do you think I could use your phone please? I got separated from my college group, and I’m scared I will miss the bus back, if I don’t contact them”. She finished with her sweetest smile, noting his eyes wandering up from her tiny skirt, to the fishnet top with no bra underneath. He grinned back, all white teeth and pink tongue. “Sure”. As he extended his hand, she grabbed the phone, and ran off at speed, with the dumb bloke just standing there, as if he expected her to turn around and bring the phone back.
To be continued…