As we walked to the intersection just at the end of the block I noticed her in her usual location but in long pants. The sun was out so I decided she just wasn’t working this morning. Her normal working uniform seemed almost a parody of a prostitute’s clothes—a bright red tutu, high-heeled boots, and a black top.
When we reached the corner the crosslight had changed to red so we waited and I watched the corner to see what she would do. Two days before, I witnessed her chase down a car, her red ruffles bouncing stiffly around her hips. The old man in the car did not let her in. She now seemed less intent on finding a client even though she presided in her normal location.
A few yards away from her, another woman left the man she was standing beside and ran through traffic toward us, a strange smile on her face. No cars honked though two came very close to her. As she approached I noticed several blemishes surrounding the smile. She looked as though she had very bad acne though my first instinct was that she bore the ravages and scars of some drug I know little about.
She safely reached our side of the street and passed us to meet a middle-aged man wearing a baseball cap with a red maple leaf on the side. She skipped over to him as he walked from the other street to the sidewalk in front of our house. I wondered if he lived in one of the other houses on our block and waited to see where they would go.
He didn’t look as pleased to see her as she was to see him. He turned to go back across the street—to the park or his car—and she followed.
“Is that that little girl’s daddy?” my daughter said. It was the third time she asked but the first time I heard her.
“I don’t think so,” I said and started pushing the stroller.
The light had changed and we walked across the street toward Hastings. The man the “little girl” left behind peered intently across the street, seeing where she was going. The first woman was further up the street now, looking into the side-view mirror of a truck. I couldn’t see what she was doing but it looked like she might be applying makeup. When we passed her I saw she was brushing her teeth with her finger.