He walked out into the sweltering heat of the dimly lit hallway, closing the door behind him. As he walked down the dark five flights of stares he brushed aside several large squealing rats with the steel tip of his boot. Going out the front door of the apartment building onto Kitchen Street, he walked into a cloud of vehicle exhaust fumes and the odor of rotten garbage. He turned left and walked past the prostitutes walking along the curb or leaning against the run down buildings. Their combined perfumes filled the still air with a noxious fragrance.

He stopped at a lamppost and stood in the pale white light cast by the lamp for several minutes. “Where ya goin', Candy?" he said to a middle aged woman walking by. Her bleached blonde hair was piled into a bouffant hairdo. She was wearing a tight leopard skin print mini dress and thigh high black patent leather boots with spiked heels. On her fingers, rings sparkled.She stopped and gazed at him through overly made up eyes with a mixture of fear and disgust. “I have business to tend to,” she said, running her tongue over the thick red lipstick on her lower lip.

“I thought you were getting out of town and starting over in another city on the money I loaned you a few months back," he said.

She nervously brushed the fingertips of her left hand across her brightly rouged cheek. “I decided not to leave," she said.

“I figured that out a month ago," he said. “Where's my money?"

“I don't have it," she said. “Besides you gave me the money. It wasn't a loan."

He stepped nearer to her, out of the circle of light around the lamppost. “You think so?" he said. “Where'd you get the money for all those diamond rings you got on your fingers?"

“They're gifts from real gentlemen, not a two bit slob like you," she said.

He raised his fist and said, “I should knock your teeth out for that crack," he said.

She stepped back, nearing the entrance of a dark alley. “Listen, Stan, you can't threaten me."

He stepped forward again, within a foot of her. “I don't need to threaten you," he said, then grabbed her arm.

She looked up and down the sidewalk and opened her mouth, about to scream.

He grasped her by the neck and began squeezing with all his might and pushed her into the alley. In the almost complete darkness he shoved her against the wall with the one hand as he took out his switchblade and flicked it open with the other hand. He pushed upward with the one hand, lifting her off the ground.

As she kicked and tried to free herself from his grasp, he said, “Are you sure you don't want to rethink giving me back my money?"

She spat in his face.

He removed his hand from her throat and let her fall to the ground. He straddled her and as she struggled and tried to cry out, he took her left hand and slowly sliced off each finger of both hands. He put her fingers with the rings in his pants pockets.