Tuesday, December 04, 2007

You get in the truck.

SkidRowHooker.jpg It’s cold and you’re shivering. You’ve been out here for three hours with no action and now you’re jonesing. What’s wrong with these dudes tonight? No one’s stopping. You’d call it a night, but it won’t be any better inside, so you stay put, shifting from foot to foot, hugging your arms around you to keep in what heat you’ve got.

Just one date, you whisper to the air, and I’ll be okay until tomorrow. You look down at your legs, bare under the short skirt. They’re thin and covered with goosebumps. Your knees are scabbed and bruised. Johns don’t like it when you’re marked up. Is that why no one’s stopping?

This sucks. If I get a trick, I’ll save some of the money and get something to eat. And tomorrow I’ll go and have breakfast at the drop-in. I’ll call detox and see if they have a bed. I’ll call my mom, too. This is no way to live. Just one trick, and tomorrow I’ll start getting it together. This is a common refrain for you, but you believe it. This time, you'll do it differently.

That truck’s been circling. You remember it because it has some big drums in the back. He sees you look at him and he pulls over. You bend down to peer in the window, making sure your cleavage is visible through the opening of your jacket. You open the door.

“Heya, he says. He’s a choice specimen, ain’t he? Strands of greasy blond hair reach down to his shoulders, and he hasn’t shaved in about a week. And what’s that smell? Eee-yuck. It’s godawful. You’re backing away when he leans over and throws the door wide.

“I’m awful sorry about the stink, he calls, ”but if you can stand it for twenty minutes, we’ll be at my place. I’ll get myself cleaned up, and then we can party.” He gives you a big smile that shows broken, stained teeth, and you stop holding your breath for a moment, testing the air, considering if you can stand the smell long enough to endure the ride back to his place, You grimace. Why don’t you come back to my room? It’s just over there, at the Balmoral. You can get a shower while I go and score.

I got everything we need back home. Got some rock and some down. X, too, if you want. Lotsa booze, of course. People are going to show up for a party later. I got some clothes back there that’ll fit ya, warmer than what you got on. In five minutes you won’t notice the smell. I’ll take care of everything. Just get in.

This isn’t the way you like to go, but you need to get high. Something in the back of your head is trying to get your attention, but it’s vague, like a faint red light blinking far away, and any hope you might have had of feeling the little prickle of warning is overpowered by the stench and your hunger for the drug.

You get in the truck.




Catnapping said...

This was well-written. I read it the other day, but couldn't think of anything to say. ... Only that it was a great read.

Aaron said...

I'm with Catnapping on this one. Good second-person narratives are very hard to come by, which made this piece all the more interesting.

But if I may be allowed to indulge in a moment of morbid curiosity, I was under the impression that sex trade workers are commonly assaulted by johns, to the point that it's considered something of an occupational hazard. Am I wrong to think that the "what if this guy's a psycho" idea would be a little closer to the forefront? That the warning light wouldn't have been a little brighter?

Dawn Coyote said...

Cat and Aaron - thanks.

It's almost an accidental piece, as I was trying to slip past people's defenses more than I was trying to write a cohesive narrative.

I guess she could have been more deliberate in evaluating the threat, but I think of people in advanced addiction as passively suicidal. I don't like to voice that assessment, because it's too easy then to see their fate as self-induced and not dictated by their circumstances, when that is closer to the truth. I'm tempted to re-write it, but I'll wait a while.