Not knowingly, mind you. It happened around 10:45 p.m. I had been on the phone with my sweetheart when Huey started barking to go out. We ended the call so I could take the dog out to do his business.
Huey and I went up the road a bit, then turned and came back when he started barking and straining at the leash. The moon was bright, since it was almost full, and I could see a shadowy figure on the other side of the road. I told Huey it was okay and we kept walking. Pretty soon, I heard a voice.
“Excuse me, ma’am, but do you live around here?’
No, dammit, I just walk in the woods with my dog at 11 o’clock at night.
Of course, I didn’t say that, it was what was running through my mind, being the sarcastic person I am.
“Yes,” I replied.
“I just had a fight with my boyfriend and was wondering if you could give me a ride up to the interstate.”
“Where do you live?” I asked.
“By the Mapco.”
Oh, okay. Only six miles away.
“Where does your boyfriend live?”
“On Crane Court.”
“His name isn’t Jim, is it?”
There is a single guy over on Crane who always stops and talks to me if he happens to drive by when I’m out walking my dingoes and I didn't want it to be him.
“It’s really not a good time for me,” I said. “I’m exhausted and I need to go to bed early tonight.”
“Please, ma’am, it’s so cold out and I don’t have a car.”
True. It was cold out and she wasn’t wearing a jacket.
“Where’s your coat?”
“I don’t have one.”
Things began running through my head.
My father told me: Never pick up a hitchhiker! They’ll kill you.
But this wasn’t exactly a hitchhiker, just some skinny chick shivering her ass off in the cold night.
Then I thought: What would Grammy do?
My mother used to tell me about how during the Great Depression, hobos (aka homeless people in today’s jargon) would come to their door asking for money.
My grandmother would tell them: I won’t give you anything, but I need some chores done and if you want to help me, I’ll give you a hot meal.
Here’s a picture of my Czechoslovakian grammy when she was a young woman (my sister looks a lot like her):
I thought about all the chores I needed done but decided it wasn’t a good idea to let a strange woman in my house to help me when midnight was approaching. I thought about how exhausted I was and thought about letting her spend the night in the room on the back of the garage but decided that wasn’t a good idea either.
Finally, I softened and said, “Okay. Let me lock up and get my keys.”
“Oh, thank you, ma’am! Thank you! Bless you! My name’s Angela.”
Angela. That means angel. What if I am being tested?
I went inside to get my wallet and my keys and kept the lights on so she would think someone else was in there besides two barky dogs. Then I took Huey with me, because if any trouble befell me, Huey, being part rottie, would take care of the trouble.
So I opened up the garage and we got in the car.
“Exactly where do you live?” I said, driving along.
“Near the Mapco.”
“Well, you’ll have to tell me where near the Mapco because I don’t know of any houses there.”
“Oh, it’s the one near Charlotte Pike.”
Charlotte Pike! Shit!
“You mean somewhere near Wal-Mart?!”
“Well, not really. It’s closer to Morrow Road.”
Morrow Road! Shit again! That’s the drug district!
By the time I got on I-40, I was wanting to dump this woman as soon as possible. I queried her on how long she had known this guy (since she was fourteen), how old she was (thirty-three) why she would even stay with a guy who would toss her out into the night like a piece of trash (which, maybe she was), and so on.
She started crying and was shivering like a chihuahua.
“He got really aggressive with me.”
“You mean sexually?”
“Yes,” she sniffed. “I took it up the rectum for him, but then he wanted to do a bunch of other weird stuff and I said, ‘I’m outta here’ and left.”
“Do you have any of your things at his place?”
“No. All the clothes I own are what I am wearing. I’m unemployed and only have 75 cents to my name. I don’t have a car and I’m homeless.”
Then where in holy hell am I taking you?!
“Do you want to go to the Rescue Mission?”
“No, they charge five dollars a night now.”
“Isn’t there a women’s shelter for abused women?”
“They want ninety dollars a week to stay there.”
Obviously, she had all the answers. I was unaware the mission had started charging, however, and thought maybe she was making that up. (I haven’t had time to check either, because, frankly, I have more important things to do at the present.)
“My mother lives over on Morrow Road,” she said. “You can just drop me off there.”
"Do you have a cell phone?”
“Can I borrow it to call her?” she asked.
I handed her my phone.
“I don’t know how to use one of these,” she said.
So I told her what to do and she made the call.
“Hey, this is Angela,” she said. “Can I stay there tonight?”
I heard a man’s voice bark: “Wrong number!”
I definitely knew then I had probably not made the wisest decision in giving her a ride “home.”
By the time we got to White Bridge Road, she told me to exit there. While we were waiting for the light to change, I saw the Waffle House and suggested she go there and get a cup of coffee and warm up.
“They won’t let me in there.”
“Because I’m homeless.”
“Well, if you pay for a cup of coffee, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“No. They won’t let me go in there.”
I knew now for sure this woman was into either doing drugs or selling herself, probably both. We crossed Morrow Road.
“My old handyman lives on Morrow Road,” I said.
"What’s his name? Maybe I know him.”
“What does he look like?”
“Long hair, ponytail, missing a mess of teeth.”
“Nope. Don’t know him,” she said.
She directed me to turn into a boarded-up Mapco station somewhere around 51st Street and she started to get out of the car. I checked the outside temperature. Twenty-five degrees.
“Here. Take these,” I said, handing her my Polartec gloves and my favorite crocheted cap my friend Tish made for me. “Oh, I couldn’t take these!”
I hate to say it, but I really hated giving up this beautiful hat.
“I am not going to drop you off in 25 degrees around midnight without something to keep you warm.”
"Oh, thank you! Bless you! You are so kind to do this for me! You are an angel!”
Well, I don’t know about that!
Then I unbuttoned my St. John’s Bay peacoat I’d gotten for five dollars at Goodwill on half-price Saturday and said, “Here. Button up and stay as warm as you can.”
She was on the verge of tears again.
“No one has ever been this nice to me in my whole life,” she said.
“I look at it this way,” I said. “If I were in trouble and needed help, I would want someone to help me. So don’t worry about it. It’s the least I can do for what others have done for me.”
Then I gave her a bottle of water and three bucks so she could go get something to eat at McDonald’s.
When I drove off, I saw her heading catty-corner across the street near some trees.
I figured Eddie would call me today. Why? Because I had thought about him last night and that’s all it usually takes for Eddie to call. At 2:06 p.m., my phone rang. Caller ID said it was Eddie.
I told him I had been over in his neighborhood last night. He asked why and I told him what had happened.
“Was she kinda emaciated?” he asked.
“Did she have shoulder-length brown hair?”
“Yes. Her name was Angela.”
"Oh, she’s a hooker!” he said. “She hangs out around here all the time. You shouldn’t have given her a ride!”
"Well, how the heck am I supposed to know she’s a hooker?!” I asked.
When I told my sweetheart about all of this, he was obviously upset and lectured me.
I can’t remember exactly how he put it, but the gist of it was: You’ve got people who give a shit and people who aren’t worth a piece of shit; you can’t go picking up shit!
Or something like that.
(Hell, I’ll ask him again when I talk to him after his gig and update here, okay?)
It’s bad enough having Rice Rocket Man living next door and the convicted child rapist in the house behind mine. Now there is a guy two streets over who brings hookers home with him.
As my friend Zeke pointed out, the man on Crane Court obviously isn’t a very good neighbor if he doesn’t provide round-trip transportation and expects neighbors to take his hookers home for him at odd hours of the night.