There They Stand

The wind cuts against your bare legs as you struggle to stay balanced in the hell called stilettos.  A wisp of clothing covers your breasts, the fabric torn and stitched together with trembling fingers.  The full moon rides the sky, seeking sanctuary behind racing storm clouds as you bend towards an open window. 

You did not ask for this life, to be treated like this.  To be a slave to the desires of those who stop and speak to you, their features cast like stone in the glare of a dome light.

And still, your own needs drive you out to lay waste to a habit that has overcome.

 ————————- 

 

Vice Squad.  Working to put pimps in jail and to get sex trade workers headed towards a life of safety and opportunity.

I will always have time for those who walk our streets, but the pimps are the reason I turned down a position in Vice a few years ago.  At the time I could not imagine trying to ‘befriend’ a pimp in an interview. At the time I found their behaviour so incredibly disgusting that I did not trust myself.

 

#

 

Last winter, I managed to get into a local coffee bar just before closing.  The girl behind the counter asked if I wanted a free sandwich along with my beverage as the sandwiches were at the ‘sell by’ date.  If I didn’t want one the food was going to end up in the garbage.  I could have my pick, she said, as there were half a dozen slated for disposal.

“No, thank you,” I said.  I bid her good night, took my coffee and headed out to my police car. 

And there I sat.

A minute later, the girl answered my knock at the locked glass door.

“I’d like to take you up on your offer,” I said, “Can I have all of them?”

 

#

 

In the following hours I scoured the Downtown Eastside looking for sex trade workers to give the sandwiches to.  I couldn’t approach a woman standing in a crowd, as she would surely be beaten for ‘ratting out to the cops’.  I  checked and rechecked for pimps, not wanting to bring any harm while trying to bring a little good. 

It took forever.

Most were grateful.  I stayed and chatted with one woman for twenty minutes.  Her children were three, six and seven.  All wards of the Ministry.  She hoped to clean up.  I gave her my ear and left her a part of my heart.  It still stings.

Another woman ran from me, her eyes huge and her hands pressed up to her face as if I were the proverbial boogie monster come to catch her from under the bed of her childhood.

  

#

 

I never drive through the Skids without really looking.  I keep track of who is still there, who the newcomers are, and who have fallen to the needle or the serial killer. 

Georgina. She had the most wonderful laugh.  Hearty and from the belly.  She is gone now, as is her friend Teresa.  One fell prey, and the other I covered with a sheet, her lifeless body on the floor, the needle marks still fresh in her arm.

 

#

 

All of this serves as a reminder – these wome have lives, loved ones, friends and dreams.  We had best not forget.

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