A few months earlier, the lady had just landed in the neighborhood. Having come from a poverty-stricken family, it is quite obvious that she was meant to be the breadwinner after the death of her parents in a street shoot-out. With no one to turn to for help to raise her little sister who was still in high school, the streets were the definite next of kin for her. She moved to the new city in the hope that life would be better until she found herself downtown selling her body for a living. Life had really shown her its back, and it was definitely her against the otherwise unfair world. Her only hope was her beauty and the fact that she was black in a street that was frequented by high-end white clients; she was a hot cake for the visiting businessmen from out of town.
The lady was quickly becoming a favorite of the clients and the fact that she was a no-nonsense lady gave her the nickname ‘Iron.’ Nobody knew that she only had herself and a sister who depended entirely on her. Clients loved her for her professionalism, and it is quite obvious that this earned her enemies within the circles. She had very few friends, and it is not once that she had to evade the fight with the other girls. Landing food on the table was her utmost priority and not even a jealous ‘colleague’ or the pinching cold, or even the nights of storms could stop her. Iron was a girl on a mission – to ensure her sister was comfortable.
This Tuesday evening she was out on the streets going about her business. Just them she was approached by a man who was just out of her league by all means. He was black, not driving, and definitely raised in the ghetto from the way he talked. She outright formed an opinion. He was not going to have her by any means. He was not even polite enough to throw a random ‘hi’ before he started his conversation. A moment of silence between them showed just how apart they had grown. She tried to remember where she had seen the face, but she could not quite place it. Iron turned to move away, and he grabbed her rather roughly. His grip was firm, and his eyes were searching, perhaps for the right words to tell her. She writhed in pain as his grip got harder and the pain became more. She was not going to have him treat her like that. A scuffle ensued and seeing the imminent scene that was looming, he let go, and she walked to a darker part of the street as he followed her quite too ‘faithfully,’ and she instinctively stopped on her tracks.
Iron had seen the face quite too often when she went around uptown with friends. The streets were dingy, and she swore she could smell ‘poverty’ all around – after all she had grown up in it and knew quite well the all familiar smell of it. However, she was not willing to let this short recollection of the streets to give her up – she was not going to let this man have her. After all, she was not one of the uptown ‘chics’ as they called them. This man was always sitting at the entrance of a shanty where her friends went to buy the coke. She would wait outside for them as she could not stand the stuffy smell in the dingy rooms. He would look at her and sometimes she swore that she could see him muttering a word to the guys next to him. Once in a while, she would see them pointing at her and whisper in low tones.
As the moment passed, the man gave a wry smile. He had finally got her. He grinned rather triumphantly as he sized her from head to toe and nodded his head as if in approval for his ‘meat.’ She could see the rest of the girls stealing glances her direction and whispering among themselves. She could feel the eyes on her as she stood there rather uncomfortably and with all her guards up. She could not let him mishandle her again, and she could feel his wicked gaze all over her. She looked straight ahead into the busy lane across from her, and she wished the world could break open to swallow her. No one spoke a word between them, and she could hear and feel her breath get louder and more painful. Her life was quickly unfolding before her eyes as if on replay. She remembered the death of her parents and how she found herself in this position. She thought of her sister at home, probably sound asleep or even doing her homework, or out with friends. She really did not care what she was doing at the moment except that she was alive, okay, and comfortable.
Just them his smile faded, and he said his first word, “How much for the hour?”