I was born and raised in Las Vegas but have been away for the greater part of my adult life. There are things which I was used to seeing that I am not used to seeing anymore. I also now see those things with a mother's eyes.
I had promised my kids I'd take them to the coolest thrift store in the world to treasure hunt with their allowance money.
It lies across the strip, which is a pain to cross and in our family we refer to it as crossing the Rubicon (alea iacta est!). My older kids joke as we cross over to the east, "Hey -we're just like Bush." "No, we don't have that kind of Gaul."-Yes, that is literally layers upon layers of political sarcasm, that would send Dennis Miller off to check his notes, coming from eight and ten year olds.
As we are sitting at the light I see a homeless person, holding a sign, walking through cars. I see it's a woman and I see she is dirty. And I think when I see that grime, that she really has no where to go. She is three lanes of cars away from me and for a second she looks up and I see her face- and I realize she is very very young.
I just stare for a minute.
I think to myself that she is only a baby.
I look again and realize she is probably is over 18 or 19, but still, I see someone's little girl.
I start scavenging for cash or even food, gather up like twenty five bucks and then she is gone. The light changes, so we loop around and circle back.
But no- I was too late.
I know where she's gone-into someone's car.
And if I could find that car I might smash his windshield in.
I felt so overwhelmed and desperate and helpless. I was hoping if I could just gather up thirty, forty bucks; that's one less blow job she'd have to give.
I wanted to tell her to go home to her mom.
I keep driving back to that corner but I'm always too late, I haven't seen her since.
Vegas has or at least used to have an awesome program for teen prostitutes. The problem is they get brought here from out of state. Some asshole finds a girl in an abusive home who wants out, he pretends to be her boyfriend, that he's moving to Vegas and she goes too- but of course, when they get here, he pimps her out.
And she has no where to go.
In the old days and in a lot of other places when the girl gets arrested she just gets sent back to the abusive home. But here they send the girl into basically a reprogramming house- stacked with rape counselors and therapists and they teach the girls they are more than what they believed they were. They teach them how to live on their own so the cycle won't restart. This girl was probably just old enough not to qualify. But to me, I saw a lost little girl.
I actually searched my jeep for a spare teddy bear that day, thinking she might need it.