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"I'M A GOOD GIRL"
One evening after work, I stopped at a local restaurant in British Columbia and ordered a hamburger, French fries and cup of coffee. Several minutes later, a young girl about 18 or 19 years of age came into the restaurant and sat down beside me. She said not a word, but just sat staring at me the entire time I was trying to eat. I could see she was looking at me through the corner of my eye, so I acted as though I did not notice her.
"Are you going to eat all those fries?" she finally asked.
I looked up at her face and saw she was rather thin and quite an attractive young woman.
"Are you hungry?" I asked.
"I haven't eaten anything since yesterday morning," she responded.
I noticed several of her teeth were missing. The ones that she had left were not far from seeing a dentist's pliers. I motioned to the cook with my finger, and asked him to prepare the young woman a hamburger, fries and a coke. I was quite shocked when she told me she could pay me for the meal.
"Why would you want my left over fries, if you could buy your own?" I asked.
"I always pay my own way," she said.
She unbuttoned the top button of her blouse and then looked down at the floor.
"Are you a prostitute?" I asked.
"Not really," she replied. "But a man's got to do what a man's got to do."
I turned and looked directly at her face as she said, "That's just an expression that we girls use out on the streets."
I told her I was married and that no payment was necessary. I also told her I would like to meet with her now and then, as I was planning to write a story about life on the street; I would be willing to pay her a little something for her time, as well as her story.
"Could I have $25 now?" she asked.
I looked at her, thought for a moment and then handed her $25.
"When can we meet again?" I asked.
"Same time tomorrow?"
"Okay, I will see you then," I said as I got up and left the restaurant.
I stood around the corner until she came out of the restaurant and then followed her, until I saw her enter the front door of a small ‘flea-bag hotel’ located in the worst part of town.
When I returned to the restaurant the next day, there was not a sign of the young woman. I waited two hours for her to appear and then headed for her hotel. I described the young woman to the clerk, who would not disclose any information about their ‘upstanding guest.’ That is, until I put $10 on the counter.
"She is my sister and I need to find her, NOW!" I yelled.
"Room 211," he said pointing toward the stairway.
I walked up the stairs and found Room 211. I knocked on the door, but no one answered. I knocked again and the door slowly opened, but just a crack.
"What do you want?" asked the girl.
As she turned her face away from me, I pushed the door open and entered the room.
"Thought we had a meeting," I said. "I would like my money back."
She ran over to the unmade bed, fell across it and began to sob. Not knowing what to do, I walked over and sat down on the edge. I slowly lowered my hand onto her back and began to rub gently, back and forth. When she finally turned over, I could see that her mouth was somewhat bloody and she had two black eyes.
"Who did this?" I asked her.
"Who is John?"
"The man who runs this hotel; the guy downstairs."
I learned that she had come to Vancouver from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan several months before and had met John in the same restaurant where I met her. She was broke and John said he would give her a free room, and show her how to make "lots of money."
When she told him "she was a good girl” and had refused to become a prostitute, he devised a scheme to get money from men by having her sit in the restaurant, hour after hour, until men approached her. She would have them pay her for sex, but she would just sit there until the men were frustrated and left without sex or their money. John beat her up when she did not come back to the hotel with enough money to make him happy.
"I just want to go back home," she kept crying.
I got up from the bed and told her to pack her few belongings. I went over to the small dresser and opened the drawers one after the other, but they were very bare.
"Go down to the bathroom and clean up. I'll be back in a minute." I said as I walked out the door.
When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I looked directly at the man sitting behind the counter.
"Are you John?"
"Do you believe in prayer?" I asked.
"That's a real shame, my friend."
I walked toward him. He jumped up from behind the counter, ran into a small room and locked the door. I looked up and saw the girl walking down the stairs. I began to knock on the door and told John that he and I had a date; I’d be waiting for as long as it took him to come out.
Then I walked over to the counter and noticed that the cash register was open. I took out $25 and stuck it in my front pocket. As I sat down in John's chair, my foot hit something beneath the desk. When I looked, I noticed a small cash box. I picked it up and sat it on top of the desk. Inside the metal box, I found pictures of six girls and cash totaling about $14,000.
"Do you know any of these girls?" I asked my new friend.
"They're out working the streets.”
"Can you find them fast?" I asked.
"I think so."
For the next hour, I continually knocked on the door trying to get John to come out, but he refused. Within the hour, four of the six girls returned and were now sitting on the floor waiting to see what I was going to do. After an hour, I figured John had long enough to show his face. I got up and walked outside, where I saw a man drinking from a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag. I told him I would give him $100, if he would sit in the chair and knock on the door every five minutes without saying a word. He happily agreed.
I took the girls, along with the $14,000, down to a local department store where I purchased them each a new suitcase, toothbrush, makeup, purse and all new clothing. I also purchased each of them a bus ticket to anywhere they wanted to go. Inside each of the purses, I placed $2,000 in cash.
I shook hands with the girls as they all boarded the bus together heading to Kamloops. They were getting out of Vancouver B.C. and away from John.
The last girl to enter the bus was the girl I had met at the restaurant several days before. She looked at me and I winked at her. We said not a word as she walked up the steps and sat down in the front seat of the bus. As the bus pulled out of the station, I saw her look back and wave at me. I held my thumb into the air, nodded my head forward and silently motioned with my lips, "GOOD GIRL."
I walked back to my car and headed for home. On the way, I stopped at the local super market where I purchased two large lobsters, two large baking potatoes and some broccoli for my wife and me.
The $128 and odd change that remained from the $14,000, I threw out of the car window and watched it blow away in the wind.