Cindy had flowered as the Prom Queen of Jefferson High, and at her side was Gary Demmits, who shared the stage as the King. It was all glorious and all the wannabes and closet princesses hated her for it. She was beautiful, radiant, and, most important, she was finally popular. But, all that was seven years ago. Her once jealous girlfriends had now forgotten about her and were now married and busy raising their families, and poor Gary was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2010. She still remembered how great his hair always looked.
Things change quickly in life, like the freeze and thaw of the seasons. But, what never changes is the heartache of loss dreams. Cindy’s dad had been a trilobite of man and a smudge on the family tree. Too often she had to barricade her bedroom door at night when he came home drunk, or stoned. An angry, selfish man that always saw pass his family in search of his own dreams. He was gone now, somewhere, she didn’t know or even care. Her mom still lived in the same rundown apartment Cindy grew up in, surviving off the entitlements showered on her by the state, and the charity of others. Her mom now lived from one cigarette to another, surrounded by a menagerie of Cindy’s old prom queen photos and her many cats. A lonely woman, waiting….just waiting for any dream to come true while she relived her daughter’s depleted dream from that night years ago. Cindy’s new found popularity with the boys resulted in her getting pregnant in her senior year, just a few months after her prom. As her fragile world collapsed, her mother forced her to drop out of school. The unborn fetus never survived the third month, and like one more loss dream, it was gone. The loss of an additional welfare stipends for a newborn dependent, caused Cindy’s mom to lose interest in her daughter’s well-being once she turned eighteen. Thanksgiving week, 2009, Cindy walked out the door for the last time, finalizing an emotional epilog to a dismal chapter of her life.
It was now 2014, and the real world had offered Cindy limited choices in her life. As she walked down Piper Street, she looked up at the looming dark clouds that promised a miserable wet evening ahead. She shook her head and then took one last drag on her cigarette before tossing the butt out into the busy street. She waved at Babs, who was strolling on the other side of the street. Babs was cool, a little too much mileage for most Johns, but, far from being worn out. She could still show her nasty side when a convention was booked at the Ambassador. Cindy stepped into Delk’s Market for a diet Coke, a shooter of Early Times, and a pack of cigs. Old man Delk’s son, James, was running the register. A clean cut, naïve, nineteen year old with limited exposure to the real world. She put the can drink on the counter while James pulled her smokes from the rack behind him and the shooter from a glass case.
“How soon before you leave for the Army, Jimmy?”
“Marines, ma’am, I joined the Marines.”
“Oh my! A marine? Now that’s hot,” she smiled. “How soon before you leave?”
“I leave for boot camp in two weeks, up in San Diego.”
She paid for her purchase and as she was heading to the door, she turned and whispered, “The night before you ship out, I’ll be delighted to give you a permanent memory. In return, all I ask is that you come home safe.” She gave him a wink and left. James grinned and chuckled nervously. Out on the sidewalk, she took a long swallow of the Coke and then uncapped the shooter and poured the shot of whiskey into the can. Then she got back to work. As she strolled the pavement, she stopped in front of Bella’s Boutique and glanced into the large display window. Inside were several young girls running back and forth into the changing rooms trying on various dresses and accessories. It was that time in life, when girls truly embraced their femininity and uniqueness, by being presented to the world as beautiful young women in a gala ritual known as Prom Night. Cindy envied what they were going through, the excitement and the anticipation. She was instantly saturated with all those wonderful memories of her own grand night. Then, as her eyes became irritated by the city’s grit, she slowly turned and walked away.
“Hello sweet meat,” came a raspy voice from behind. Cindy turned around and saw a plus size black woman squirming out of the front seat of a taxi. It was Angeli, one of the alpha ho’s who was pimped by a lowlife named Perry-Boy. She was an older, stout woman, but still equipped with natures implements for seduction and commerce. She was known as Perry-Boy’s bottom bitch, which was a lot like being second in command. Her main job was to recruit and turn out other girls for Perry-Boy’s stable. She only had a few more good years before her assets would start to drift south like some kind of flabby glacier. Then, Perry-Boy would most likely replace her with some young coochie and then cut Angeli loose to fend for herself as some lot-lizard doing cheap tricks at truck stops and rest areas. “Daddy still wants yo sweet ass sugar, and he sho make it sweet fo yo. Pretty clothes and all the candy yo want.”
“Perry-Boy ain’t ever going to be my daddy, or anything else,” sneered Cindy. “I got my own enterprise and even a 401 at the bank, and I don‘t need any of his candy shit, so he can just kiss my Summer’s Eve ass.”
“Ohhh, gurlfriend! Yo do talk da shit. Well, babygurl, yo jest take care of da enterprise and sumday daddy gonna take good care of yo.” Angeli then turned and started to walk south a few blocks to the local Greyhound station to look for runaways.
The evening was running it’s course with a few regulars and some out of towners. Within five hours, she could usually count on at least ten dates. Thirty to fifty dollars a pop could easily bring in $400 a night. $100 of that went to the Russian Bratva, that kept an eye on her plus all the working girls within a six block area. $100 a night to her taxi-dude who brought her out-of-towners and convention tricks. $100 went to the night drop at the bank and the rest covered her overhead like rent, food, cosmetics and Fredericks of Hollywood. A rainy night could cut the cash flow by over half, but regardless, the Russian Mafia guy got his $100, and the last thing you wanted to do was piss off your taxi-dude with an IOU. But, when there was a convention in town, or it was just a hot steamy payday night, business could be booming.
Cindy turned west on 5th and strolled down the long avenue acting like she owned the sidewalk. As cars passed, young men would laugh and shout out vulgarisms to impress their buddies, while older men would just stare and fantasize as they rolled by. Once in a while, some lonely guy would pull over and complement her body and then review her itemized menu of services. Some would patronize her services, while others would just drive away embarrassed. The perpetual flow of amorous Johns looking for excitement, fulfillment or just a sense of dominance, never ended. They came and went with their blurred faces, forgotten dialog and sad, pathetic affection. Once satisfied, most would return home to their wives and children to enjoy the comfort and joy of family. Around four a.m., Cindy would get a quick breakfast at the Metro Diner, and then head home to the cheap efficiency she rented by the week. She would take a long, very long hot bath, then watch something mind numbing on the TV while waiting for the Percacet to rescue her. Then she would sleep well into the afternoon with distorted dreams of loss, sad remorse, and prom dresses with sparkling tiaras.