The Stairwell by Fiona Morgan
That crazy old hag is sitting in the stairwell in her fucking nightie again. She stinks of piss. A tell-tale trickle winds its way across the grimy, crumbling concrete and drips onto the step below, glimmering in the feeble fluorescent light.
She’s blocking our way up, so Jay stands in front of her, chest out, legs apart, a jerk of his chin saying “fuck the fuck off”. Usually that’s enough to make people scarper, but the old bint is no part of his pecking order. I stand mutely behind him, waiting for things to play out, part of it yet not, the way I always am. The way I’ve always been, since forever.
Jay sucks the air through his teeth. "You're disgusting," he says to her, like he's starting a conversation. “You know that, don’t you? You’re disgusting.”
Like the old bint is in any position to answer back. She just stares blindly ahead, wringing her hands, muttering who knows what crazy shit under her breath.
Jay can’t handle being ignored. Not by anyone. He lifts his shirt, shows the old lady the piece tucked into his jeans, nestled against his stomach like a second cock, placing a hand on it in suggestion.
She still doesn't react, so he bends his head. Puts his lips right next to her ear. Pauses. "Boom!"
Even though I knew it was coming, I flinch. But it’s like she never hears him. She doesn’t even fucking blink. She's not afraid of him, not like us. Stupid crazy old bint.
She looks up at him with pale, dead eyes. They terrify me, those eyes. Like there’s everything and nothing behind them. They latch onto him, see straight through him. See everything cruel and twisted about him and do not give a shit.
She reaches out a clawed hand, fingernails jagged and dirty. Clasps him around the wrist in a vice-like grip. He tries to take a step back, but the old bint half rises off the step, using her weight to hold him in place.
She starts laughing, deep and low, head titled to one side. The hairs rise on the back of my neck.
Her eyes snap into a sudden focus.
“Do it,” she spits, reaching for his gun with her other hand, “Do it!” Her voice rises until she’s chanting it in a vitriolic scream, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”
It's like an ambulance siren stuck on permanent. I clap my hands over my ears.
"Shut the fuck up you stupid cow!" Jay shouts, wrenching his arm away, twisting out of her reach. The old bint staggers, but she doesn't stop screaming. He shoves her, pushes past her. Takes the stairs two at a time. I slither along behind him.
From the top of the stairs, I look back. She calms immediately now that he’s gone. She sits down again, stroking her frayed nightie over her knees, muttering to herself. I know, without anyone saying, that we’ll never take that stairwell again.