Our last conversation was strung under that flickering street lamp.
And standing on busted up concrete, that sidewalk.
You wore a skirt and a bra just beneath your Adam's apple. And you were in a good mood that night unlike some others in comparison. We spoke longer than usual as if the snitch label didn't bother you. You have always been small framed since I've known you, but I always knew it was the crack that kept you awake with a quenched appetite, eating away body weight. Thin limbs with dark flesh that only clothed you darker from the summer sun. Your face was the darkest, and it made your eye's white so vivid beneath the night sky we always met under.
Just a little younger than me, did I ever tell you that? I can't remember if I had, we were born in the same year, you and I. '88. I was just a few months older.
Anyways, that night was the first time you told me it meant a lot that I cared so much about the ones on the strip. You told me the hood knew me now and kept throwing my name around. It had been a few years knowing you but you told me that for the first time that night. That was encouraging to hear, I'm not sure if I said it or not.
We mainly spoke about the usual--how much was going on over in these parts. You said you were done with the area--too much going on, people steady getting killed and too often. I knew it too. Those were things we knew together. You wanted to leave. We talked about options.
Remember a year ago when I asked you about the ones picking you up? Out of concern, I asked you about their reaction if they discovered you were born a man and not a woman as you made them believe?
You told me that was the scariest part.
I left you that night when I got a 911 call dropped in my box I had to respond to. I left you with a 'be safe' and 'don't be getting in any cars, you have a lot of value' and 'I'll catch up with you later'--like every other salutation we've had.
You agreed, you told me you were going home. I knew that was a lie and I'd come back to the area later.
I took a weekend and when I came back you had disappeared. I wondered if you had taken a break again, as you've done before. Or maybe trickin' over in Pleasant Grove. Yea, I thought that's where you were maybe.
We hadn't checked that dead end area in several weeks, partner and I. The one that rides over the bridge right above the creek bed. You know which one, all of you do. Did you know we steady hit that area in the night? We found out early on that's a frequent spot y'all roll your Johns to. I never told you I knew, I couldn't blow our element of surprise. We have always checked that place whenever there was some down time. We discovered where y'all usually take them to park, there are condoms coating the dirt grounds. And then hundreds more, just partially exposed in the dirt from all the years of rain and seasons that come and go.
Anyways, it had been a minute since we checked though, for whatever reason. Really busy summer, not much down time.
Well, in late July of this year when it was really hot, a little after 1pm, a couple of my buddies on early shift discovered a skull and a femur on the side of the road in that dead end pocket. The dead end I always check, except not recently.
It was you.
The cadaver dogs found the rest of you lying in the creek below.
I just wanted to say I'm really sorry. Maybe had I checked it as I always did before, maybe it would have changed things somehow. Maybe I would have caught the one before he did what he did to you and threw you over the ledge. Maybe it wouldn't have been too late. We had been coming up dry in that area so it slipped from my mind. I'm so sorry. And then maybe if this summer hadn't been so busy---maybe there would've been more time?
For now, I'm only thinking about how I'll never see you again. I saw you just about every night for years, and now that won't happen anymore.
If I would have known, maybe I would have changed my words a bit to you that night while we stood beneath that stupid, flickering street lamp.
Why can't they just get that fixed? Its been years, ya know. And it's still so dark on that street, no good light for any of us out there.
I‘m so angry over all the dark, I know you’d understand.