This is a real story. It happened 6 years ago. I had a dream about it last night for the first time ever. It still haunts me.
I remember that night clear as day. It was around 11:30 pm and I was sitting in my car on a Bronx corner under the 6 train. Palms sweating, breathing a little heavy. “Calm down” I told myself. “You need the money and all you’re doing is driving around, come on calm down.” $150 for 3 hours, not a bad deal. $150 dollars….
Then I spotted her –barely 5 feet tall, dark caramel complexion, big booty and maybe 23 years old- just like me. A nervous smile. A hard swallow. Next thing I know she’s in my car. Hi, Hey. And we were on our way. At first it was awkward, scary. She looks just like me, how dangerous could she be? So I started talking. Trying desperately to break the ice and feel more comfortable in my own car/my own space. So we got to talking- music, food, regular conversation. Never discussing why two kids were on their way to Staten Island from the Bronx to fulfill a date, to take care of business. So we talked then we stopped and then we talked some more. Traffic on the BQE. I mean when is there no traffic on the BQE? 15 years I’ve been driving and I still hit traffic every single time. The absolute worst.
We get there. I stopped the car. Look over to her. She looks at me and I see it for the first time- the sadness. Sadness deeper than my own. Real sadness, not over a boy or love or damn I’m under paid and work like a dog sadness. But genuine sadness. I see the real world, you will never understand this sadness. She grins slightly. One of those- I’ve been here enough to know that you’re scared shitless grins. I’ll be right back she says. She’s gone. And there I am sitting in a middle class suburb with white picket fences, manicured lawns and perfectly clean streets. Paradise to a kid from the hood.
Look to my right and she is walking slowly to the back of the house- slow, with a purpose, head down, numb. I turned on the radio trying to quiet the thoughts in my head. Is she ok? What if we get caught? What if a cop car decides to stop next to me and ask me what I was doing? I mean how often do you see a young Spanish kid waiting outside a house in a car at 1:00 am on Wednesday in the “burbs”? “Stay Calm Ana, stay calm.” I lowered my seat. “Great”. This will make me less suspicious. Sweat drops down my forehead. Woosah Woosah. How selfish of me, only thinking of myself. How this would affect me. Shit, I gotta be at work tomorrow. Imagine I get arrested. Shit. God forbid I lose my job. My mom would be so embarrassed. The shame.
15 minutes, 20 minutes, 25 minute… the door wakes me from my suffocating self-panic. The screaming in my head suddenly coming to a complete stop. You ok? I asked. He was rough. I’m bleeding. I need to change she says. We sat there in silence from S.I to the Bronx. It was too late for our next appointment so we just drove and drove and drove. I dropped her off, got my money and went home.
I lay in bed eyes wide open. I never asked her why she did this, why she put herself through this. I never asked her name. Not once. Never asked. I still wonder why I didn’t. I wish I could tell you that I said something to save her, to enlighten her, to make her see that she’s more than this. That her value is far beyond money. But I didn’t. I said nothing. I did nothing.
All I carry with me is what she told me in the car -> You’re one of the lucky ones.