Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Prostitute

The yellow light of 3 a.m. parking lots illuminated the two of them. He, short - shorter than me - past middle-aged, balding, hunch shouldered, I already knew was fairly crazy, from just a three minute conversation we'd had earlier in the evening. "I was in the army for thirty years, up, up, up; coulda called anyone in the country at any time of day or night and said 'watch yourself' and they would have known... I was in only in the army for three years. My son is in prison right now. And I, I, I, I'll tell yah, yeah man." And so on, without ceasing. He spoke aggressively, emphasizing each subject with guttural breath and pointing fingers. I let him talk, inputting an encouraging 'uh huh' or 'right' when he took a breath, and he gave me twenty bucks for the pleasure of audience. But he is not important, though I wondered if he actually had a son.

In her heels, she was a foot taller and thirty years younger than he. And she stood back, without expression, as he approached my taxi with the cash. "How much," he said, "for you to take her back to that motel near the strip club by the army base?"
"Well..." I said, but he hadn't stopped,
"About forty dollars?"
"That's more than fair." I said. It was certainly more than fair, but he was already rooting around in an envelope of mostly hundreds.
"How about I give you sixty?"
"Alright," I said, "I have change."

She sat in the back seat, alone. It was difficult to determine her age - she was wearing far too much makeup - but behind me, she was just a voice. We pulled out into the street and headed east. I asked her where she was from - Tampa. She asked me how much he gave me for the drive - sixty dollars. I asked about living in Florida and she told me about how she had started nude and topless dancing, "and I made so much money, so much money, but I spent it all: I went on every ride at Busch Gardens and Adventure Island, I went water skiing, sailing, jet skiing, everything."

She told me she'd made three hundred bucks off that john, but that didn't stop her from trying to convince me to give her some of my sixty. “We should split it,” she said. It's not yours, dear. “He said he'd pay me and I could pay you...” He didn't. “How much does this trip normally cost?” About twenty-five. No, I'm not splitting the remainder.

She took a call. She told her coworker her plans for tomorrow. She already spent the three hundred in her mind, and listed the things she'll purchase at the mall.

I tried to find out more about her past, her family, what forced her to move from Tampa, but any topic that didn't involve money seemed to bore her. In the end, I dropped her at the seven-11 next to the strip club. She closed the door to my taxi and went inside to buy a slurpy. Two hundred and ninety four, fifty remaining.