The Hotel Helene/Truth Be Told
by Tony Lindsay
“Thomas, to make this thing work, you are going have to stay away from old people, places, and things. You cannot go around your old partying friends and you cannot frequent the places where you used to party.”
That was the advice the addictions specialist gave me as I left the ten day in-patient treatment program. I was mandated to the drug treatment program by the court. Fifty-five days ago I was trickin’ off and I got caught with three crack rocks and a dub of blow in my pocket.
My plan that night was to go to the Hotel Helene but the hooker I was with said she could do whatever needed to be done right in the car, if the hotel money was included in what I gave her. I had three condoms in my pocket and the car seats reclined, so I said “Bet.”
We pulled into an alley and ole girl got busy. I was so into what she was doing I didn’t see the squad car roll up on us; and it turned out that these cops weren’t right. They smoked my rocks right in front of me and made the hooker give them head.
For her services she got let go, but me they took to jail and charged for possessing the blow. I was held for two weeks; but the truth be told, I got off easy with the mandated drug treatment program. There are a lot brothers in the lock up that do some serious time because of blow or a couple of rocks, but since this was my first time being arrested for possession, I was mandated to a program.
I did learn some stuff during those ten days. I learned that I have the disease of addiction and that I am addict. Since I had never had heroin withdrawal sickness from the blows, I didn’t think I was addicted. And I really didn’t think I had a problem with crack. I was just smoking too much. I was misinformed, but the facts are the facts and they spoke for themselves. My behavior proved to me that I was an addict.
I have a decent a job for a twenty-three year old, a real decent job. I make more money than my father. I got the position by answering one of those corny ads in the newspaper that read, “Do you want to get rich?” It turned out to be a telephone sales job and from the start I did well.
When the trainer told me I could easily make fifty thousand dollars a year, I believed him. I wanted to be a success at this job because it was one of the few things I could do that paid well and didn’t revolve around my leg.
This week my check is thirteen hundred dollars. I’m back to earning the type of money I was making before I went to jail and got mandated to treatment. A brother was clocking thirteen to fifteen hundred dollars a week for three months straight; and I smoked up everything but my car note and my rent money.
Truth be told though, the last three checks before I got busted, everything got smoked up, car note and rent money, too, and I had started missing work on the regular.
The guy who trained me was the same person who got me started smoking rocks. While I was locked down, he overdosed, had a heart attack and died and the truth be told, I’m glad he’s dead. I would never introduce a dog to smoking crack, never mind a young dude.
The trainer played me good, appealed to my obvious weakness: he asked me had I ever got my thing and balls sucked at the same time. When he asked me the question I was still a virgin, a nineteen-year-old black male virgin. I’d never had anything sucked.
And it’s no mystery to me as to the cause; when girls see me, all they see is my plastic leg and thick glasses. My uncle tried to buy me some once but when the woman called me a “poor little one-legged boy” I changed my mind and left. Pity has always pissed me off.
The girls the trainer took me to didn’t even notice my leg. At least they acted like they didn’t notice it. All they noticed was how many rocks we brought. I started out going to the Hotel Helene only on big paydays, but then the trainer moved into the hotel and the next thing I knew I was over his place every payday.
Sex and crack are a wicked combination for a virgin boy of nineteen, so it didn’t take long for me to come up with the idea that I should move to the neighborhood where the hotel was, not in the hotel but close. Five blocks away proved to be far enough away to stop immediate degradation.
What it would have cost to rent a one bedroom apartment in my parents’ neighborhood rented me a whole house in the area of the hotel. Pretty soon I had three women living with me. Of course none of them paid any rent or bought any food but they did have rocks when I didn’t. I got paid on Fridays but I was usually smoked out by the following Tuesday. They managed to get me two or three rocks a day until Friday. When Friday came I bought plenty for all.
When I came home one Tuesday, all three girls were gone, along with my four televisions, all my clothes, the microwave, my new stereo, the kitchen table and chairs, the security screen doors and the bedroom set my mama gave me.
I changed the locks and never let any body else move in again; besides, when I had rocks, there was always a new woman or two around to smoke them with and they usually weren’t shy about spending the night, so plenty of mornings I woke up and rolled over into a different woman.
The truth be told, I do miss the women, but I don’t miss being dead broke, hungry, depressed and damn near homeless, which is where over three years of smoking crack had me. But; before my addiction was full blown, I had plenty of fun with the women. I don’t have fun like that now. My life kind of went back to how it was before I started smoking crack.
I never had one girlfriend in high school, not one. Never went on a date and never got a girl’s real phone number. None of the girls in high school or from my block ever really noticed me; again all they saw was my plastic leg and thick glasses. I started smoking crack and I actually had sex with two of the finest girls in my high school class! True, they weren’t as fine as they were in high school, but I still had them.
After I got out of the mandatory treatment program I went back to my place and the first thing I did was tell the neighborhood rock boys that I wasn’t getting high anymore. I had to do this because they were in the habit of stopping by my place and asking me if I was “straight.” The rock boys in this area are very competitive. After the three girls that lived with me left, the rock boys had begun extending me credit until payday. I would owe each one close to a hundred dollars every Friday. A couple of them actually offered me credit when I went to tell them I had quit.
The second day I was out, one of the three girls who had lived with me before came over with a couple of rocks but I told her she had to smoke them somewhere else. I guess she told everyone else because no one knocks on my door any more.
I’m thinking about moving back in with my parents because the main reason I moved here was to get high and since I’m no longer getting high, living here doesn’t make any sense.
I’ve been going to the meetings like the addictions specialist suggested, but I haven’t found a sponsor yet nor have I found a meeting where I really feel comfortable. All the people at the meetings I go to are way older than me and it seems like they’ve all been getting high for twenty years and have pretty much fucked up their lives. Hardly any of them work and they all be begging me for my squares. Next week I’m going to try some meetings on the other side of the city and see what’s up with them.
Today is my fifty-fourth day clean and the truth be told, I feel really good, except for one thing . . . a brother is way too horny. I haven’t had any since the night I got caught with the hooker and I really didn’t get to finish then, so a brother is way overdue for some.
I haven’t been up to the Hotel Helene since I got clean because of what the addictions specialist told me, but I can’t think a better place to go to take care of this type of need. At the hotel I’ll have a selection of ladies to choose from, and because a brother got paid today, I might get me a couple of girls: a little reward for being clean.
Pulling up in front of the hotel, I feel the same type of rush I got when I was coming here to cop; my heart is beating just as fast and my anxiousness is just as intense. Damn, I don’t like this feeling, but it’s all good though, because I didn’t come here to cop. I’m just stopping by to get a couple of females.
“Thomas! Well look at you! Darling, you are looking wonderful. You don’t have to tell me, I can look at you and see it! You left that stuff alone! Come on around here and hug me! Baby, I’m so proud of you.”
Mattie is probably the sweetest woman in the world next to my mama. And I truly care about her and I missed her; but like many old people, places and things in my life, I had to stay away from her. I got plenty high at this hotel and this was the only place I knew to come see her, so I didn’t see her.
“Boy, you better get on around here and hug my neck!”
She buzzes me in from the small entrance lobby into the larger lobby of the hotel. Mattie comes from behind the security glass and gives me a big hug.
“Thomas, I am so happy for you!” When we break loose from the hug I see her eyes are watering. “I prayed for you. I knew God had you someplace safe.”
I start the second hug. I lean into the mass of Mattie and remember how she ran me up out of the hotel the last time I was here.
I’d been getting high for three days and would have continued until every dime I had in my pocket was spent. Last year my tax refund was over twenty five hundred dollars. I told myself and the babe I was with that only five hundred dollars was going to be spent on crack.
There was less than two hundred dollars in my pocket when Mattie came into my room with a bucket of hot water and a broom. She ran me out of the hotel in my BVDs. She threw me out my pants and locked the doors on me. I saw her standing behind the glass door crying.
In her ear I whisper, “Thank you, Mattie, you saved my life that day.”
And when I look back on it she probably did. She made me stop for a while, thus giving my heart a much-needed break, but once I got back home I spent the rest of my money with the neighborhood rock boys.
“No Baby, Jesus saved your life. He told me to run you out of that room. Come on, let’s go over here and sit for a minute. I want you to catch me up. You look good, being drug-free agrees with you.”
We walk across the poorly lit lobby to a sagging forest green velvet sofa. It’s a bright day outside but none of the sun’s cheer has made its way inside the hotel lobby. Mattie rests her heavy frame; she and the sofa sigh.
“So, how long you been clean?”
Sitting next to her I answer, “Fifty-five days.”
“Mmmph, mmph, mmph, now you know that’s the Lord and it looks like He been having his way with you every since.”
Neither of us say anything, but it’s not awkward. I am in the presence of an elder who cares about me; her warmth surrounds me. When I look at her I can tell she’s proud of me and that she is truly happy for me.
“Not a day went by that I didn’t think about you.” She grabs hold of my hand. “You never belonged around here Thomas, at least not getting high. You are smart enough to do something for this community; not be part of the problem. It hurt me, seeing all that good inside you going to waste.”
“I’ve never been all that good, Mattie.”
“You have a good heart. There is a lot of love inside you. You care for people. Every crackhead and dope fiend around here knew all they had to do was tell you a sob story and you would give them some of what you had.”
“Yeah, I guess that is true.”
She pulls me into another embrace. “I hope you didn’t come here to get none of that mess, you looking good now, you should never go back to using that stuff,” she says into my ear. When she releases me she looks beyond my face and to my heart. “Seeing you like that, all cracked out and burnt up, hurt, it not only hurt me but other people in the neighborhood too. Folks notice you, Thomas. You are the topic of conversation at least once a week in this lobby; people guessing about what happened to ‘the little one-leg fella’. A lot of people around here care about your narrow behind.” She points to the mirrored wall across the lobby. “Look at yourself, see how good you look drug-free.”
I see both of our reflections in the mirror. Mattie has on her purple flowered satin finish muu-muu and I am in a white oxford button down shirt with a pair of dress black slacks and polished ox blood penny loafers. I do look kinda good.
Mattie anchors her left hand on the arm of the sofa and pushes herself up, telling me to remain seated. She goes into the reception desk and quickly returns with a photograph. It’s a picture of me and Beth, one of the girls I use to kick it with, and we’re both “tore up from the floor up.” I couldn’t have weighed a hundred and thirty pounds; on my head is a beat-up black baseball cap, my jeans were creased but dirty and my shirt was an old Chicago Bears t-shirt. I remember taking this picture, me and Beth were off to the movies: we were going to do something besides get high that night.
“Beth still stays here off and on. She hasn’t changed much from when you two took the picture, perhaps she’s a little thinner.”
Beth and I are the same height, five feet seven inches, she couldn’t have weighed a hundred pounds at the time of the photo.
“When was the last time you saw her, Mattie?”
“This morning, she’s upstairs now.”
Mattie’s looking at me hard. I never noticed the two little moles over her right eye before. Her brown eyes cast down then back to mine.
“I don’t think you should see her. She’ll pull you down before you bring her up.”
She thinks I have come to the hotel looking specifically for Beth, but she’s wrong.
“Mattie I didn’t come here just looking for her. I mean I would like to see Beth, but Jasmine, Renee or even Brenda would make me happy.”
“Oh!” She smiles a big smile that opens up her whole face. “Now I see, you didn’t stop by here just to hug my neck. They say that when you put the stuff down your nature comes back stronger.” She slaps me on my thigh. “ Well I understand Baby, as long as it ain’t that stuff. . . You know, it’s a new girl been staying here and she don’t get high, I been sending a couple of nice young men up to see her. I’ma call her down for you to see.”
“You say she don’t get high?”
“Not to my knowledge, let me call her room.”
The desk buzzer sounds, Mattie has customers.
“Hold on Thomas, be right back.”
For a heavy elderly woman she moves well, she’s up and at the glass before I could stand. One of the first nights I stayed at the hotel I experienced how fast she was first hand. I tried to sneak out the back door because I went two hours past check out time and had smoked up all my money. I was a good five steps ahead when she saw me at the back door, and before I could push the bar on the door she had me by the collar.
I offered her my watch for collateral. She laughed at it and told me a man is only as good as his word. She released my collar when I promised to pay her. I brought her the over fee the next morning and we’ve been friends ever since.
Standing in the hotel’s outer lobby is a very tall man in a green khaki uniform. With him is a tiny woman in a thin plum dress. She has on white deck shoes and her callused heels are on the backs of them. Judging by her nervous continuous smile, her anxious hip twisting, her foot patting and her consistent rubbing of his shoulder, he has already brought what she wants.
He doesn’t look like the type that gets high every day; she does. Little does he know that when they get to the room, her desire will be taken care of before his and if he’s as new to the game as he looks, her desire will become his and all that will happen in that room, will be the smoking of cocaine.
I began visualizing the tiny woman upstairs in a room with her crack pipe and lighter in hand. This is not a healthy thought for me but it is a comfortable thought. I can clearly see her taking a hit and exhaling large clouds of crack smoke. Part of my mind tells me to move past this image but I don’t. I linger in the idea of smoking cocaine.
Watching the tiny woman in the lobby twisting in expectation I become very conscious of the thirteen hundred dollars in my pocket. My toes began to curl and my butt tightens as my mind wanders to the room on the third floor; the last room on the left, the room where a hundred fifty dollars could buy an eight-ball of cooked cocaine. Crack.
The aroma of smoked crack from the upstairs rooms went barely noticed earlier, but now the scent fills my head. I shake my head hard; trying to clear the rising desire. The elevator door to the left of Mattie’s office area opens. The woman on it is wearing a house coat and it’s open at the top, exposing her breasts. She has long nipples. Our eyes meet, hers are bucked open. She’s high. She smiles and beckons me.
The door from the outer lobby opens. The big man and tiny woman walk past me and get on the elevator. The woman stays on the car with the big man and the tiny woman.
“Bitch close your clothes, he’s with me.” The tiny woman says to the buck eyed one, standing in front of the big man. The elevator door closes. They’re gone but I want to shoot up the stairs behind them. I haven’t seen breasts in the flesh for close to two months--so what if she was high, she had her titties out.
I stand up ready and notice the light panel above the elevator stopped at two. I walk across the lobby and push the elevator button. Mattie has more customers at the desk. The right thing to do would be to tell her I am going upstairs, but the elevator door opens and Miss Long Nipples with her titties out is still in the car. I step in and without hesitation I cup her right breast and began licking her nipple.
“Ohwee, lets go baby, I’m in room 305!”
We go from the elevator to her room and her nipple is still in my mouth. I stop sucking when I hear her close the door behind us. It’s a small room with a big bed. I reach in my pocket to pay her. I know I can get what I want for twenty, but because I don’t want to be rushed and I want her happy and surprised, I peel off a fifty and hand it to her.
“Oh yeah, baby, Randi is going to take care of you fo’ real now!”
She slides the fifty under the lamp on her bedside table and says, “When what I do starts feeling good to you, I want you to call my name. And call it loud!”
Randi steps out her robe completely. Her body is thin but not bony; she has curves and a nice firm ass, which I grab hold of. She unbuckles my belt, opens my pants and unzips my fly. She puts her hand in my BVDs and wraps her fingers around me.
“Ohwee baby, I’m glad you thick and ready! It’s been awhile since I had a fat one, pull these pants on off.”
Now this is where I get nervous. Taking off my pants and revealing my prosthesis is a problem for me, particularly when I’m sober. When I got high it wasn’t a problem because me and the girl were mostly concerned about the crack, not my leg, and getting naked was just a step in the process. The real event was the getting high.
But now that I am not high, there is a real concern as to how she will view me. My right leg below the knee is the prosthesis. She’s moving too fast for me to offer an objection, and before I know it my pants are down around my ankles. I step out them and pick them up from the floor. I feel for my wallet and cash, they are still in the pockets. I lay my pants across her bed and I sit on them. She pulls off my BVDs and puts her head between my legs.
She’s got skills and I am responding to them. I needed this here, a brother is close to doing what is expected, when she suddenly grabs a hold of me tight and says, “No, no, no, I gots to ride this pony.”
When she mounts, she takes it all in easily and rides. It’s wet and loose but she knows how to go from sloppy to snug and rides from tip to base. I’m about to pop but she raises all the way up off me and drops back down on me with a tighter dryer grip—this ain’t the same hole. I explode.
“You forgot to call my name,” she says. When I open my eyes she’s smiling down at me. “I told you to call my name.” She rolls off of me and I close my eyes again. I ain’t moving.
I hear a lighter click, followed by the sizzle of a lit crack rock.
Everything I learned in treatment and everything I heard at the meetings lets me know that it’s past time to leave. I don’t open my eyes but I feel her moving towards me. She is blowing the warm smoke on my nipple, the inviting vapor flirts under my nose. Her tongue is going down my stomach, which distracts me from the scent of the crack. She is between my legs. Now she has her tongue in an area that was previously only touched while cleaning. She stops and I hear the click and the sizzle again.
“Put your knees up, baby.”
I open my eyes briefly and watch her adjust my legs to how she wants them. She grabbed a hold of my prosthesis as if it was a leg. I close my eyes when she lights her pipe again. She’s blowing smoke in the area that was previously only touched while cleaning.
Now she’s licking all up in that area and this is way more than I can take. I try to squirm free but she grabs me by the waist and keeps on licking me there. I’m only half hard but I’m spurting all over my self. She has my whole body wired, everywhere she touches causes me to tremor. She’s only rubbing my knee and it feels erotic. She’s up at my chest and she’s licking my nipples again.
“What I got to do to make you scream my name?”
“Randi.” I say.
“Randi!” I yell.
The bathroom door is kicked open and out comes this big guy with a cocked pistol.
“You know what this is! Now toss me them clothes you laying on.” He directs.
I don’t even hesitate, they got me. Randi jumps out the bed and gets back into her house coat, but she buttons it all the way up and slides into some jeans. The big sucker is going through my pockets and he’s counting my cash like it’s his. I guess it is now. He opens up my wallet and smiles at the credit cards. He puts the cash in my wallet and drops it into a pillow case with my clothes and my shoes.
The big guy tells Randi to “take his leg.”
“Huh?” Me and Randi say.
“I said take his leg, I know a place were we can pawn it.” She doesn’t hesitate.
“Don’t even think about coming out of this room.” The big guy says, slamming the door.
They took my money, my clothes and my leg and left me butt naked.
This is fucked up. I’ve been laying here for over thirty minutes, uncertain of what to do next. My only choice is to wrap myself in a sheet and call down to Mattie. This is fucked up. I turn my head and look at the lamp on the bedside table. I don’t think it’s there but I look under it anyway, and it is there. The fifty dollar bill I gave Randi. She also forgot four rocks, a lighter and an antennae pipe. I’ll be damned.
Without a second thought I stuff a rock in the end of the pipe and am about to light it when I hear, “Thomas! Are you in there, Baby?”
Mattie is banging on the door, she opens it before I can wrap up in the sheet, but I do drop the pipe and lighter. She comes in with my leg and clothes in tow.
“Baby, you OK?”
“You got my stuff!”
`”Mm--hmmh, security caught they no good asses trying slip out the back. If they would have paid they bill they would have got away, you lucky they trifling. Here you go.” She puts my stuff on the foot of the bed. I strap on my prosthesis.
Not looking directly at me she says, “You go on and get dressed, then come on downstairs. I’m going to let them go because I don’t want the police coming all up in here, but if you want to slap them or something come on down while my security got hold of them. Are you OK, Baby?”
I open my wallet and see all my cash.
“I’m better than OK, Mattie.” I stand up to give her a hug, forgetting my nakedness.
She jumps back, “Boy, you better put on your clothes! I’ll see you when you get downstairs.” She turns for the door. “You shoulda waited for the nice girl I had in mind for you. You lucky that trifling ass Randi didn’t have you high up in here!” She pulls the door open and leaves.
When she says that, I look down at the pipe and lighter, which are barely under the bed. I bend to pick them up. I need a hit after all this. It won’t hurt anybody. I’ll just start over with the meetings and stuff.
I light the lighter and there is a soft tap at the door. Beth walks in, skinny, raggedy and nasty. I can smell her musk from the doorway.
“I heard you was up here, Thomas. What’s that you got there?” The pipe and lighter are in my hand. Her eyes go to the rocks on the bedside table. “Awright now baby, it’s gonna be like old times!”
Hearing her say, “it’s going to be like old times” is reality slapping me in the face. Instantly I drop the pipe and the lighter. I hurriedly get dressed and skip my stupid ass out of the Hotel Helene.