A prostitute and her pimp have been walking back and forth in front of our house for the past half hour. As is usually the case, hes following behind her by a block or so. If Id just seen them go by once or twice, I wouldnt have thought much of it. They look normal enough. She appears to be about twenty years old. Shes white. Shes got curly brown hair. Shes wearing a knit dress with horizontal dark brown and light brown stripes. The man, the guy following her, is older. Id put him at about twenty-five. Hes my height, but probably about thirty pounds heavier. Hes a black guy. Hes wearing a dark blue shirt and carrying a silver radio thats about the size of a quart of milk. I cant tell if theres music coming out of it. I havent gotten that close.

I saw them go by twice outside as we ate dinner. I saw her, followed by him, going one direction. Then I saw her, followed by him, going the other direction. Then, when I was done with dinner, I decided to go and take the dog for a walk. I saw them again, twice. Both times, she was a block ahead of him and he was across the street, following her. At one point, she came to an intersection and looked back at him. He pointed, subtly, telling her which way he wanted for her to go.

I was debating whether or not to call the cops. I was wondering what would be better for the woman. First, I doubted whether or not the cops could actually do anything to them, unless they saw money change hands. They might, I thought, give them a hard time and tell them to move on, but that was probably going to be about it. Maybe its the OCD, but I began to worry that if I did tell the cops and that if they did question them, that she might get blamed by her pimp and beaten up later. I was torn. On one hand I wanted to help her, but on the other I just wanted her to make her money so that the guy wouldnt hurt her. I ended up not telling the cops.

This, at least in my town, is the way it is with prostitution. It takes place at all hours. It doesnt have to be midnight, and the women dont wear hot-pants and high heels. As I type this, its 7:30 on a Sunday evening. The city is quite. Very few cars are going by. Its beautiful outside. A few families are out on bikes. The prostitute could have just as easily been anyone else.

When I told Linette about it, she asked why they werent somewhere that was busier, somewhere with more traffic. I thought about it for a minute and realized that this business doesnt work like most others. You dont want lots of people. More people doesnt necessarily mean more customers. You want a quiet place where men know that, if they come there, theyll find what theyre looking for. My guess is that there are lots of places better than our street. I dont see prostitutes here very often. When I do, I rarely see them experiencing much luck. Only once have I been there when one of these women got into a car. (In that instance, for some reason, her pimp decided not to let her go. He ran after the car and threw a rock at its trunk. The car skidded to a stop, the woman jumped out, and the car sped off without her. She and the pimp limped away together.)

I suppose its like fishing. Michigan Avenue, the road that runs through the middle of Ypsilanti, is like a giant lake. Running from Detroit to Chicago, it is littered with small towns like this one, depressed little towns full of liquor stores and places to rent dirty movies. My guess is that they travel from town to town just like a fisherman moves from spot to spot on a lake, looking for a place where the fish are biting.

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  1. Posted November 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    This was a serious community safety issue. Cameras would have stopped it.

  2. Posted November 23, 2014 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    This was actually a relatively interesting post. Thanks for bringing my attention back to it, Pete.

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