"Were you nervous your first time?"
Robby didn't break stride. He could clearly remember the smelly hotel room, Father paying the money, the girl naked and waiting.
"A little," he answered his brother. "Everyone's nervous the first time."
"I guess I am too. A little."
Pete looked it. Thirteen and small for his age, lost in one of Robby's old T-shirts. But that's how Robby was at thirteen, walking into that room. And ten minutes later, he walked out a man, ready to take on the whole damn world.
Robby wished their father was there, then cursed himself for the thought. He was the man of the family now, since Father had gone away. It was his job to initiate Pete.
"How long do I have?" Pete asked.
"Long as it takes. Once you pay, you're there 'till it's done."
"Is it a lot different from animals?"
They lived on a farm, so both boys had a lot of experience with animals.
"A lot different. Think about it. A real woman, like in one of those magazines. Naked and all yours. Maybe I'll even do one too."
Robby knew he wouldn't. They didn't have enough money for two. Besides, Robby did it enough at home. He was eighteen, and picked up women whenever he liked. His boyish good looks, just this side of full blown manhood, attracted girls like flies to compost. Robby was a real lady killer.
"Are we almost there Robby?"
The neighborhood was seedy, all cracked sidewalks and graffiti and urine soaked winos. It hadn't changed at all since Father brought him here, those years ago. He could still picture the face of his first girl-- oval, with high cheek bones and bright red lipstick that made her mouth look like a wound. Her eyes were vacant, wasted on some drug, but not so wasted that she didn't moan when he stuck it in.
You never forget your first.
The boys cut through an alley, rats scurrying out of their path. Pete moved a little closer to his brother. He was nervous, but didn't want to show it. Robby was his hero.
He wanted to make him proud. He relished every story Robby told him about his times with women, forever caught between awe and envy. Now it was his turn.
"Did Father watch you?" Robby asked.
"Yeah. He watched. Afterward he said he was real proud of how I gave it to her."
Pete's face bunched up.
"I don't remember Father so good. Before they took him away."
"Father's a great man. We'll see him again some day. Don't worry."
Pete looked up at his older brother.
"Will you watch me, Robby?"
"If you want me too."
"I want you too."
"I will then. Here we are."
The alley door was brown and rotten. Robby kicked it twice.
"I got money!"
That was what Father had said five years ago, and Robby's chest swelled saying the same words.
After a moment the door inched open. A red eye peered through the crack.
"You the ones called earlier?"
The boys nodded.
"Hell no, we ain't cops!"
The door opened, revealing a short, thick man with hairy arms.
Robby took six fives from his pocket and laid them out one at a time. They quickly disappeared into the man's dirty jeans.
"You or the kid?"
"It will be Pete tonight," Robby said.
They followed the man through a hall lit with single bare bulb, down some stairs, and into a basement thick with mould. Against the wall, naked and waiting, was the girl.
She was fatter than Robby's first one, with dirty knees and smeared lipstick and so much blue eye shadow she looked like a peacock.
But there was some life in her eyes, a tiny spark that hadn't been totally dulled by the drugs.
"Hey, hey guys," she said, her voice slurring. "Untie me and we can party, okay?"
"You bring your own?" the man asked Pete. Pete nodded, patting his pocket.
The man spit on the floor, and then left the basement.
"What's you name, beautiful?" Robby asked. He put a hand on her cheek and she nuzzled against his touch.
"Candy. Can you untie my hands? I'm better when I can use my hands."
"Hi Candy, this is Pete. You're gonna be his first."
"Hey Petey," she flashed him a whore's smile, a curved mouth without any trace of warmth. "Come get some Candy, baby."
Pete licked his lips and gave his brother a glance.
Robby nodded his approval, and backed away.
"She's all yours, Pete. Do her good."
Pete looked at her, hanging there by her wrists, and couldn't believe this was really happening. It was almost as if he wasn't there, but rather above himself someplace, watching everything going on.
She protested when she saw the knife. The protest was soon replaced by crying.
Pete made some tentative cuts at first. Her screams were so loud that it freaked him out.
"No one can hear," Robby assured him. "Just mind the blood."
Getting brave, Pete jabbed deeper and harder. It was just like Robby had told him. She cried. She begged. And every sound made Pete hate her even more. The excitement built and built, and he cut faster and harder, and finally he lost control and stuck the knife in her neck and there was a gurgling choking sound and then she wasn't moving.
Pete took a step back, his heart hammering, the thick smell of blood filling his nostrils. He was excited, but disappointed that it ended so fast.
Robby patted his shoulder.
"Nice job. I'm proud of you. Father would be proud too."
"It wasn't... too quick?"
"The first one is always quick. You'll be able to last longer the more you do it."
The door opened behind them. It was the short man, with a mop and bucket.
Pete looked at the dead girl, wishing he could take her home as a trophy. He settled on the left breast, putting it in a plastic bag we brought with for the purpose.
"A breast man," Robby laughed. "Just like Father."
"When can I do it again, Robby?"
"Whenever you want. I'll teach you how to get women, just like Father taught me. It gets more and more fun each time. Remember to wipe off your knife. We'll ditch it down a sewer grate on the way home."
Robby made a show of eyeing the body.
"Good work. You really wrangled some screams out of her. Didn't I tell you it was more fun than slaughtering a pig?"
"A lot more fun. I'm gonna write Father in prison, tell him I finally did it."
"Good idea. He'd like that. Now I think you deserve--some ice cream!"
Pete grabbed his older brother and hugged him.
Robby took a deep breath, filling his lungs with pride. He thought about Tommy and Ed and Jasper, all younger than Pete, all anxious for their first times.
"After the ice cream, let's tell our brothers. Tommy's turn is coming up in October."
"He's gonna love it," Pete said, and the two of them walked out of the basement, through the building, and down the alley, searching the seedy neighborhood for a place that sold soft serve.