Originally Posted: 2004-08-03 4:19am
I was out last night. I've been trying to get some good freelance images to sell and the serial arsonist seemed to fit the bill. Sunday evening I was on the couch, movie on tv, police scanner on the laptop. The fire calls started comming in, I got two addresses almost back to back and out the door I went camera in hand.
Both sucked. A dumpster and a back alley. It was a bust. The night before I'd heard the tone out for the big fire - should have gone but I was in bed with my girlfriend. She's got a real job, accounting. We don't get much time together and no ammount of money was worth not spending Saturday night with her.
So Sunday night was it. I was driving down Roosevelt and saw a girl that looked out of it. Not drunk out of it but hit on the head out of it. I noticed her because I was looking for someplace to stop where I could jump on a free WiFi point. There was a car beind me, trailing me.
At first I thought it was a cop. The arson watch was out all over the neighborhood and I figured a SUV that kept showing up at the fires warrented a stop. Then I noticed it was too small of a car. The car stopped two lengths behind me. They were trying to talk to the girl. Pacing her.
She passed me on foot. Smiled a scared sort of smile. My scanner had finally gotten back on the net and there were no more hints of a big fire. No hint of a picture that would pay for the gas that was burning up. The small car was still creeping up the road trying to talk to the girl.
I need to stop for a second, I'm pretty smart. I'm also pretty street smart in my way. I used to be a paramedic, I even got assigned to a pretty hard district back East after I grew up and didn't want to be a fire fighter anymore I became an IT Manager. I've always taken pictures though, I've always sought to capture that something I can see sometimes that no one else seems to catch. I'm always looking for "that" picture, the same way I was looking for "that" call that would make it all worth while.
I pulled out behind the small car, my lights filled up their back window and they pulled ahead and turned right waiting at the corner. I figured I should do something, whatever this girl's problem was she didn't look like she could deal with these guys.
"Do you need a ride"
I asked her where she wanted to go, IHOP. I asked where it was, she seemed out of it. She just really wanted to get to where she could use a restroom and get some water.
When you work in an Ambulance you develop this sense that tells you when something is wrong. You may not know what, but something is just wrong.
I told her she could use my restroom, and I had coffee and water at home.
I asked her what she did for a living, she said she's a "Bad Girl". I was pretty sure I knew what she meant, but I wanted clairification. A what, like I didn't hear, "I work the streets", was what she told me. I asked her what she did before she was in the Adult Entertainment Industry.
This is where she floored me.
I used to be a medical assistant, before that I was an EMT back home. Back home was some place in the midwest. She'd moved out here, become a medical assistant, worked out at Harborview. I was noticing things about her now.
The skin blotches, the way people look when life has run them through the ringer. When they've gone from abuse of prescriptions to abuse of moderate drugs to abuse of anything that makes them forget they were abused all day.
She got to my place and commented on how good it smelled. Now, again I'm going off on the side, I'm a single guy. My trash probably should have been dumped this morning, the cat food dishes are in the sink and anyone with a cat knows what the cat food dish smells like. The kitchen is the first thing I smelled. I know this because I went to washing it out since it smelled enough to bug me which isn't hard. She saw some hostess doughnuts, a odd thing I've recently become addicted to and she nearly tore the box open and ate 5, 6, 8, 10 in rapid succession.
She'd had a bag of cherries she'd been nibbling on. She was hungry. She asked if she could take a bath, I said sure. I got out a clean towel and hand towel. I sent her on her way.
Several hours went by - like three. There were some odd noises and while trying to figure out what part of my stupidity had prompted this good samaritain kick I knocked on the door. (Side note - my ex-wife used to bitch that I was always trying to help people. She would chide me with no body would help me so why am I helping others. Her words did start to chime in at this point.)
I finally got her awake enough by knocking on the door that she came out. I knew something was wrong. First off, the tub had a ring around it. She hadn't bathed in some time. She also seemed dazed. She nodded on the couch a few times while I was trying to learn something about her.
Nodding is what Heroine addicts do. After they shoot up the nod. Over and over till they are out. Why the fuck was this person in my house? How the fuck does someone who is smart and educated and intelligent get to this point?
I got her to move to the bedroom and left her on my bed, after a pause on the floor. My cat kept her company, I napped on my couch.
I woke up mid morning, she's still out.
I do my normal daily e-mail and search activities for the next few hours and try to get her up and going. Finally, I give up and take my cat to the vet.
I'd checked her pulse and respirations, she was alive. Her blood pressure was ok, but she'd not woken up when I checked her bp. Personally, if youpump that cuff up on me when I'm asleep I'd be up.
My girlfriend, the goddess of common sense and reality looks at me like I'm crazy when I told her a stranger was in my home. My honest thought was I didn't think she'd be motivated to do anything without a strong push, and if she did steal my most valuable things were with me or in my safe. (My cat, my girlfriend, my id.) She sent me packing from the vet appointment to evict the guest.
She's up, nodding in my bathroom again.
I finally get her out before my bladder explodes and I was direct.
"Do you shoot up"
"I used to"
"Do you still"
"Do you need needles"
The first sign of emotion .
I grabbed a handfull of 3ml syringes and some 27 gauge needles from my cabinent, she took them thankfully.
I didn't talk about much with this girl, most of her time was spent sleeping. In the bath tub. Then again when she got out of the bathtub. And again. And Again. She'd not slept a full night from what she'd said in some time. She had her clothes in two plastic store sacks. I gave her a tote from my vet.
She walked out of the door of my secured building and walked north, toward Aurora N. of the zoo. A bottle of gatorade and some day old cherries to her name.
I remember people that got fired at work for using drugs from the drug boxes or ER carts. This was before every place had narcotic safes. We had them in the wards of my last hospital but not in the ER. I remember female medics that got fired. It bared your license. You lost it - there was no apeal process.
I wonder if any of them are torn up working the streets now in St. Louis or East St. Louis? Why do I believe her story about being an EMT and Medical Assistant? Why not, what did she gain by lying. Being nothing and becomming a hooker is nothing for the imaginaiton. Going from a paying field to selling your body on the street is a bit harder to stomach.
The main thing is this. There are these women and men out there that have nothing. They have a bag or tote with their clothing in it. They have little to their name save those bags. Many of them aren't on the corner begging for change, they are walking the street. Walking wounded. Some stupid choice they made a while back has finally bled them out to the point that they are nearly dead. They just keep going through the motions because they don't know what else to do.
I don't have a way to fix this. I don't know what we should do. I just though someone should know that some girl named Amber or Jessica or Heidi is out there that bought the dream of trade school, got the job, screwed up and is now trying to just eat a bag of cherries as slow as they can.
this is in or around Seattle