Photo by Tim Matsui

Photo by Tim Matsui

 

It happened one evening in early August. We saw a woman sprawled beside the road, holding her head. We looked, drove past, then my wife asked if we should stop. We did. 

 

I rolled down the window and asked if she was ok. She said she was in pain and everyone was driving by. She said all she needed was a ride. It was crushing, but I quickly understood what she was doing and probably why she was in pain. I asked where she wanted to go.

 

"Aurora," she replied. We were 200 feet from the highway. I asked where.

 

"Anywhere," she replied. "By the donut place."

 

"Near 125th?" I asked. She replied yes. That was not a go; we had a nine year old in the back and I didn't want him any closer to her. In the driver's seat, my wife asked if I'd get out and talk with her. I did, and she drove up the block and waited.

 

Kneeling down, I asked the woman if she was "working." She replied, softly, that she was. She identified as a prostitute.

 

I asked if she wanted me to call someone, that I knew of a safe place she could go. It wasn't what she wanted to hear, because she started screaming at me for not giving her  a ride, for wanting to take care of my family, not her. She got up and walked off.

 

She was an adult, she wore a short black skirt, black tank top, and had a rather large black hand bag. Her hair looked to be bleached, she wore heavy makeup, and she moved erratically. 

 

North of 125th is where the older prostitutes tend to work. It is likely that a john or a pimp hurt her then dropped her beside the highway, leaving her to find her way back to where she would earn the night's money; for the pimp, for the drugs, for whatever. 

 

For us? She walked away; you can't force help on people who don't want out of "the life." 

 

But I, we, wanted to do something, to help. We didn't want to turn away but, in the end, we did. And now our son is scared of the bad people who hurt her. 

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