The darkness felt grainy like old movies shot at night or a mouth full of dry, black dirt. Neon flashed their invitations green and yellow while drumbeats pulsated through the vehicle. I could almost taste the alcohol and swooned from the smoke of weed. Cars lined the street in an endless crawl. Men lined the sidewalks, and young girls lined the walls soliciting goods.
Thirty cents a trick and treat the goods any way you want. In my mind, I moved slowly toward one young girl, 16 years old. We met many years ago. Rosa knew her chosen vocation was not a choice or something she dreamed of doing as a little girl. Old men, dirty and drunk with yellowed teeth, approached her like a father. Rosa drew toward their strength and age, and longed for a tender moment to linger in their arms. She woke repulsed next to their nakedness, whiskered face and disheveled hair. Young men came to her arrogant, fun, and eager to try it all. They left her bruised and often bleeding.
During her week in prison, guards taunted Rosa and called her “trash.” She had come to believe she was not like trash but was actually born worthless refuse. Their taunts were real to her but the words no longer hurt…except maybe some rare times alone when she dreamed of dazzling light, pretty dresses, and a Cinderella ball. But there was no fairy godmother, and she could never quite see the face of the Prince.
We drove through the streets and watched as Shame laid hands on this woman and the next. She stroked their hair and then jerked tight the chains that linked each one to her. The key dangled from her fingers. If chosen for a pittance, she traded what she knew was precious. If not chosen, she ached in poverty and weakened as hope trickled out in now broken droplets. Either way, she walked with this shadowy figure, drawn by accusation and promise.
Rosa knew her well and heard her voice cry louder as disease weakened the body once innocent. One day forgotten, she disappeared and left the way of Shame to join hands with one called Death. His form was irresistible, and for the promise of desire she grasped his hand and fell to the street. Friends gathered. The state paid for burial. Death’s promise, like so many she had known, disintegrated and when her soul awoke and looked out over the still, dry desert of scorching wind, once again she lifted hands of bondage toward the beckoning voice of Shame.
And the Prince cried…