Whore’s Bath: A Muse and Memory


Two years ago I spent some time on 10th Street watching hookers as they worked their rounds to make a living. I became a friend to a few of these girls (and boys…and trans) which helped me obtain a better perspective on what type a cold existence they lived. We’ve all seen dozens of movies or read books about the troubled life of a street walker, but I wanted to get my own take on the whole scene. I wanted to see them bait in strangers, hear their tales of being robbed or beaten or arrested. I suppose I’m not one to sit idle with hearsay and need to find out on my own terms. They were living people who got out of bed, took a shit and faced the world, but their daily chores were a bit more noxious than the rest of us. They sell their bodies for a living.

Street prostitution’s a horrid lifestyle and so many want to leave it, but can’t seem to break away from their troubles or addictions. I met various girls out there who were hooked on heroin, or meth, withering away while they sold their ass to a public that didn’t care at all for them. Well…the paying customers cared for them but all those man-Johns want is the pussy. They will pay for it, put a knife to you for it, anything to ejaculate and bounce. There had to be some solace here, I thought, and intended to find some good in all this hell to balance optimism with reality. Certainly someone could, if they tried, escape that madness.
I found someone who did.

This morning I was standing at the bus stop waiting to get on and hustle another Monday morning work frenzy. I was already running late and I still had about 8 minutes before the bus was supposed to arrive. While I stood there waiting, a horn blows and I see a truck go by. A thin female hand waved at me from a black pickup truck and backed up to where I stood.
“Want a ride, stranger?” she said, smiling at me. I was wondering what kind of ruse this was when it hit me. I remembered her now. One of the street girls who talked with me. One who I kept tabs on with encouraging pep talks to let her know I believed in her getting off the street. She could make it, but it was hard. The girl was selling herself on the street, started taking pills, smoking meth….smack….she got caught by the law and hauled in; that helped her. She spent some time locked up which forced her clean. After being released, the city set her up on a methadone program to help her keep off the junk. She set herself up in a halfway house and got on a work release program. I would ride the bus with her in the mornings as we both went to work and we talked during the later months of her pregnancy – the pregnancy was another pile thrown on the heap for her to deal with.

To think that two years ago, I believe it was her and me sitting on an outside brick wall where the girls use to pause and patrol for clients and cops. It started raining and she laughed and told me we were taking a whore’s bath. We just sat in the rain and talked on. Now here she was in a truck with a little baby in a car seat, all healthy looking and on her way to visit her mother. She told me she had a good job in another town now and was the happiest she had ever been. My optimism has risen. I feel a bit more faith in the human spirit.

That’s not to say the entire world is now a rose garden, because I have seen the sad cases as well. One girl I know just melted away from using meth; I hadn’t seen her in a while and when she did pop up on the street last fall, she looked clean and healthy. She did time in lock-up which gave her reprieve from drugs and food to eat every day. It didn’t take long for her to tumble off into her drug habit again and I haven’t seen her since the beginning of winter. The last time I saw her I was riding by her on the bus. She looked like she came from Dachau during the Holocaust.

My good news for the day was in seeing an old familiar face who fought hard to slay her demons, and did it. She may have to fight other foes along her path in life, but she got over that huge obstacle and for that, I applaud her. Seek out and find lost souls in your neighborhood who need encouragement…don’t force anything on them or try to ram Jesus down their fucking throat. Just be a listening, caring person because you never know who may help keep you from putting a pistol in your own mouth.


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