“I’m sorry, but he’s still not here,” Benny said as he looked at the young teenager who had spent the better part of that day, asking about Jason. Poor kid, Benny thought, as he watched him walk away.
Tommy walked about two feet before he realized that he had forgotten something. He turned around and said, “Thanks.”
“No problem,” Benny said with a slight nod.
Tommy looked at him for a moment before he moved to punch the down button on the elevator. He wanted to ask the guy to tell Jason he stopped by, but then he decided against it. He had bothered him enough today. He didn’t want him to go back and tell Jason that he was a pain. Besides, how would Jason contact him to see what he wanted, he wondered. He couldn’t call him at home because his grandmother or Elizabeth would become suspicious. He couldn’t give him Gina’s number because she’d have a fit and tell his mother, and he definitely couldn’t give him Simone’s number because he’d rather fight a tiger than deal with his mother’s wrath if she knew he asked a mobster for a job.
As the elevator doors opened and he stepped inside, Tommy wondered what path he should take now. When he left the hospital, he was confident that he could find a job with Jason. Doing something. Doing anything that would put enough cash in his pockets to take care of his responsibilities. Now, he wasn’t so sure. What if Jason looked at him as a kid and told him to get lost? He’d have to come up with something else. Just in case, he decided.
He stepped out into the fall night and started walking. He didn’t have a real destination. He was content to let his feet take him wherever as he thought about his dilemma.
As he moved from the ritzy part of Port Charles to the red light district, he remembered that he told Simone that he would be back soon. When he left, he didn’t know that soon would mean hours later. He hoped that she wouldn’t be too upset when he did go back. He loved his mother dearly and the last thing he wanted was for her to be upset with him. He could handle her anger, but he’d rather not have to face it. Instead, he’d rather face her with some Benjamins in his pocket. He chuckled when he recalled the word, “Benjamins.” He’d heard Sly, or was that Jordan, use the term and like so many odd phrases, it stuck.
Tommy looked at the many people who milled around the streets. They all seem so sad and alone. He could relate because that’s how he felt when he first came back to Port Charles. He felt that no one cared or would ever care, but he didn’t feel that way any more. He had friends and he had family. As his eyes glanced over the faces filled with weariness and despair, he felt sorry for them. He hoped that in time, they would discover ways to ease the loneliness of their souls, too.
Tommy released a long sigh as he shoved his hands into his pockets. He needed some cash, and he needed it now. His mind was on that very problem when he felt a light tap on his shoulder.
Tommy turned when he heard the voice and felt the hand on his shoulder. He took a good look at the man who had spoken to him. He was much older than Tommy, maybe around his grandmother’s age, probably a little bit younger. His hair was blonde with streaks of silver. He seemed to be relatively fit. He was about Tommy’s height, give or take an inch. And from his clothes, Tommy guessed that he was not a resident of the area. Tommy wondered what he wanted with him.
“Yeah?” Tommy asked, cautiously.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
“What?” Tommy asked, with a slight frown.
“You look like you could use a meal,” the man said as he looked Tommy up and down.
“I’m not hungry, but thanks for the offer,” Tommy said as he moved to walk away.
“No, um…wait!” the man called as Tommy began to walk away.
“Yeah?” Tommy asked as he stopped to see what the man wanted.
“What’s your name?” the man asked as caught up with Tommy.
“Tommy,” he answered, suspiciously.
“Hi, Tommy. My name’s Charlie,” he said as held out his hand.
Tommy shook Charlie’s hand. “Nice to meet you, Charlie,” Tommy said, as he took his hand back and began to move away.
“Tommy, wait!” Charlie said as he began a light jog to catch up with Tommy again. Once he caught up with him, he laughed, “You’re a mover, aren’t you? I like that.”
“What do you want?” Tommy asked, now irritated with Charlie’s insistence on following him. For the life of him, he could not understand why the man kept bothering him and he hoped he would leave him alone before he had to become rude.
“Well…um…I’ve never done this before,” Charlie began, as he subconsciously licked his lips.
“Done what?” Tommy asked, confused.
“You know. I’m new to this, but I do have money,” Charlie said.
“Money? For what?” Tommy asked.
“Boy, you sure do drive a hard bargain! If you didn’t look so young, I’d swear you were Vice,” Charlie said with another small laugh. He looked into Tommy’s green eyes and felt himself become aroused at the possibilities. He took a closer look at Tommy and then it dawned on him, that Tommy had no idea what he was talking about, but he did perk up at the mention of cash. Maybe Tommy would be interested in what he could do to earn the wad of cash Charlie had in his pocket. “Are you low on cash?”
“Yeah,” Tommy said, suddenly interested in what the strange man had to say.
“I know a way you could get some,” Charlie answered, licking his lips in anticipation.
“How? And how much?” Tommy asked, folding his arms across his chest.
“Follow me and I can give you the answers to both of your questions,” Charlie said. He moved away and headed towards an alley. He smiled to himself when he heard Tommy behind him.
Gina was angry. She’d spent the latter part of the afternoon, looking for Tommy, and she still hadn’t found him. Where the hell was he, she wondered. He’d better have some pretty damn good answers when she found him, Gina decided. Otherwise… Otherwise, she’d give him one of her special Gina Cates’ tongue lashings which didn’t carry as much punch as a Simone Hardy one, but was almost as effective.
Gina had gone to every one of his friends and no one had heard from him or seen him. She believed Jordan, Sly, and the newlyweds, but Lucky made her suspicious. She was certain he knew something, but he was determined to keep it from her. Tommy and Lucky were thick as thieves and she knew if Tommy had a problem Lucky would be the first he would go to, followed by Nikolas. Boys! They have such a screwed up code of honor. Why couldn’t Lucky understand that in this circumstance, filling her in about Tommy would be a good thing?
Gina turned her headlights on as she decided to try a new neighborhood. She’d never been to this part of Port Charles before and she had serious misgiving about being there, but something told her that one sweep wouldn’t hurt. She didn’t expect to find Tommy in this seamy part of town, but she’d feel better knowing that she’d looked everywhere.
She forced herself to slow down as she cruised down the street. This part of town made her skin crawl, but on the off chance Tommy was there, she didn’t want to miss him simply because she was driving too fast. As she signaled her car for a right turn, she hoped Tommy was not so desperate that he would venture to this area. There might not be an over-abundance of funds to cover Simone’s medical expenses, but nothing would warrant him to sink to this level.
Gina’s eyes scanned both sides of the street and she was about to give up and call it a night when she saw a young man who resembled Tommy follow an older gentlemen into an alley. As the two men passed under the flashing red “Live Nudes” sign, she could clearly see that the young man was Tommy.
Acting on impulse, Gina blew her horn to get Tommy’s attention, but she was too far away. He didn’t hear her and he continued to follow the man into the alley. Gina knew she had to act fast, so ignoring various traffic rules, she cut off several cars and parked her small Escort in the first available space she could find.
Grabbing her purse, she threw open her door and jumped out. Her heart raced as she hoped that she would reach Tommy before something horrible happened to him.
Charlie moved further into the alley. With a sick smile plastered on his face, he beckoned for Tommy to follow him. “Come closer,” he said.
Tommy hesitated at the alley’s entrance and asked, “Why? Just tell me what the job is, so I can do it, get the money and get out of here.”
“The job is back here,” Charlie replied with a little chuckle. A special kind of job, he thought to himself.
“What is it? Do you want me to clean up this alley or something?” Tommy asked as he slowly began to follow him.
“No, something else,” Charlie said. When Tommy continued to hesitate, Charlie became irritated and said, “Do you want the cash or not?”
“How much is it?” Tommy asked, beginning to believe that Charlie was lying and didn’t have any money.
“How much are you worth?” Charlie asked.
“Look man, I don’t have time for this,” Tommy said as he moved to leave.
Charlie quickly dug into his pocket and pulled out a wad of bills. “Look, I have money. Come here and see for yourself.”
Tommy squinted at the fistful of money. Against his better judgment, he moved deeper into the alley. When Charlie held up the cash, he could see the ‘Benjamins” and his eyes grew big. The cash was real. And there was a lot of it. Tommy reached for it, but stopped when Charlie pulled it back.
“Not so fast. First, you’ve got to earn it.”
“How?” Tommy asked, excited about the prospect of having so much money.
Tommy’s eyes widened as Charlie began to unzip his pants. Tommy realized what Charlie wanted from him and he felt himself become ill. Disgusted with Charlie and with what he wanted from him, Tommy moved to leave the alley.
Charlie, aroused and furious, reached for Tommy and said, “Not so fast. I’ve been out here for hours and I’m not about to go home without some satisfaction.”
Tommy tried to break free from Charlie’s grasp, but Charlie was much stronger than he appeared and Tommy was powerless. He became furious as Charlie’s hands began to grope him. He continued to struggle, but it was all to no avail. Charlie got the better of him and threw him down unto the littered ground. Charlie was in the process of joining him when a voice called out.
“GET AWAY FROM HIM!”
Charlie yelled back, “Listen lady, this doesn’t concern you. Just turn around and go back where you came from.”
“THIS does concern me! Now, get away from him while you still have a chance.”
Tommy was in a of panic. He didn’t know what to do and he was terrified. Until. Until he recognized the voice. “Gina?” he whispered.
Charlie heard him and said, “Listen, Gina, get out here! Me and Tommy are about to have a little fun. And you weren’t invited.”
Gina reached into her purse and pulled out the friend she never left home without. The swooshing sound of the switchblade echoed in the alley as Gina moved closer to Tommy and Charlie. Through gritted teeth, she said, “Back away from him. NOW!”
Charlie hesitated for a second and then moved away when saw the look in Gina’s eyes. “I was just playing with him. That’s all.”
“Get out of here!”
Charlie didn’t wait to zip his pants. He backed away from Gina and then ran back towards the entrance of the alley.
Gina waited until he left before she closed the blade. She squatted down to face Tommy and asked, “Are you okay?”
Tommy, still in shock, slowly nodded. Gina offered him her hand and he took it. After he was standing, he said, “Thanks.”
She shook her head. “Don’t thank me. Just promise me you won’t do anything like this ever again.”
“I won’t,” he said, as he choked back a sob. “I promise.”
“Come here,” Gina said, as she opened her arms to him.
Tommy didn’t hesitate as he wrapped his arms around Gina. She rubbed his back and held him close to her as the fear wore off of both of them.
“Let’s get out of here,” Gina said, taking his hand to lead him out of the alley.
When they were back on the main sidewalk, Tommy said, “Gina…”
Gina stopped him and said, “Tomorrow. We’ll deal with this tomorrow.”
Tommy nodded and followed her back to her car. He breathed a sigh of relief as she pulled away from the curb and left the seamy side of Port Charles.