The day started with a light drizzle of rain and progressed into a full-on deluge by the time I arrived at my first appointment of the day. A streak of yellow lightening split the sky in front of me as I popped my umbrella into shape. Fortunately, when it rains like the world is coming to a certain end, the punks of the street take cover. Plus, it was too early in the day for most of them to be up.
So I sloshed happily down the cracked sidewalk into the front yard of my client’s ramshackle house, unmolested by the usual people of the street.
My client sat at the table picking at a microwaveable meal of gelatinous meat with a side of green mush that was representative of vegetables.
We went through the usual list of questions and finished pretty quickly. As I stashed the paperwork into my bag, I asked, “Anything else going on?”
She slyly looked at me and confirmed that my pen and paperwork were safely tucked away.
“Don’t write this down, but the prostitutes have taken over this block.”
I egged her on, “Oh yeah?”
Nodding with a grim expression, she said, “I don’t even go out to my back porch anymore. I’m afraid of what I’ll see now that it’s covered with condoms.”
She was stone-cold serious while I tried to figure out if this was a dementia thing or a little joke to get a reaction from me.
Not waiting for my comment, she continued, “In fact, my granddaughter took the trash out there last week and found one.”
I asked, “A condom?”
Disgusted that I wasn’t following the story, she shook her head, “No, a prostitute.”
“My granddaughter screamed at her because she’s got a real nasty attitude, she always has. I heard her in here and thought something happened. She came back in here and told me, the prostitutes thought this was an empty house.”
“But your lights are always on and the grass is mowed and your front door is open and…” I tried to make sense of how the prostitutes could have made this mistake.
“Don’t worry. My granddaughter set them straight, but I’m still not going out there.”
She shrugged her shoulders and returned to her meal, now cold, and started picking at it again.
“That’s just how it is,” she said, as though to comfort me.
I left certain that it might be that way today, but it doesn’t have to be that way tomorrow. Yet, I was uncertain as to what should change: the neighborhood, her living situation, or my attitude towards the whole thing.