The Toast | Tricks and Stones Reviewed

Ele’s life was anything but ordinary. At a young age, she had suffered more injustices through sexual, mental and physical abuse than a young girl ever should. In the story “Tricks and Stones” by Eat Your Serial’s own Jessi M. Williams, we follow the

life of young Ele, who after taking more than enough abuse from the only father figure she’s ever known, Ray, decides to make an escape.

Ele manages to chance upon an eccentric truck driver, Amelia, as she’s running for life and asks for a ride. On the long journey, she begins to reflect on the past 16 years of her life. She takes it upon herself to tell Amelia she’s 18, saying, “All the abuse had to count for something.” After losing the two people that meant the most to her in life, Ele leaves her hometown and makes her way to Chicago, a place where she used to talk about like it was a wonderland. Ele gets wrapped up in a mysterious, but beautiful woman who is going to take her down a path she is nowhere near prepared for.

Kitty, who is not only pretty but also fascinating, is a prostitute who speaks part in English and part in Spanish, and takes young Ele under her wing after Ele saves her from a severe beating from a pimp, whom Ele refers to as “Cracker.” My favorite quote of the story happens during chapter five. Kitty says “Mi jefe always say he felt sorry for people who ain’t drink, cuz when they wake up in the mornin’, it’s as good as they gonna feel, all day.” Now, I can’t remember if this is a quote from Frank Sinarta or Dean Martin, but it’s definitely memorable and a glimpse of light humor in this dark and haunting story.

Kitty is no Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, but she is still an extremely likable character. She is strong willed, self-assured and motherly in a way, which is probably why Ele finds a strange comfort in her. She also takes an instant liking to Hoss, who takes care of the call girls, including Kitty, Stitch, who Ele gets off on the wrong foot with immediately after she falls asleep drunk in Stitch’s bed, Jade (or Candy) whom she describes as a “gorgeous girl” with “pink lips, chocolaty complexion, and big brown eyes with eye lashes that seem to curl back into her eyelids.” There’s also Bonny, who’s from Quebec and speaks French much like how Kitty speaks Spanish, Tam and Juney.

Sucked into a world of sex, alcohol and drugs, Ele’s life is about to take a drastic turn for the worse. Will she ever find her way back to her hometown or is she forever doomed to live her life in Chicago, under a roof of call girls.

A question I find myself asking, after meeting the character, Rex, is that even though these prostitutes are likable in their own different ways, are they really the good people Rex says they are, or are they using Ele’s vulnerability to their advantage?

While this was a heavy and dark story, it had breaks of lightness. The girls are catty, sarcastic and wild, but sometimes, that’s not always a bad thing. The story got a bit confusing when it flashes back and forth between memories and present time, but this method was essential in order to fully understand the protagonist’s descent to the bottom.

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