It is close to 4 am before I make it to the East Bay area. Delores is at Berkeley, and I mean to take her with me. The email I sent before I left made this trip a condition of my continued financial support of her doctoral studies. There’s no way that she’ll be up yet, and I’m too tired to eat. Figure I’ll park in view of the Marina, take a nap, watch the sun rise. Maybe I’ll be up for some breakfast, then I’ll make my way to Delores’ off campus apartment.
I find an empty lot, lean my seat back, and am almost asleep when I knock sounds at my window. I pray it’s not a curious cop. I think they frown upon sleeping in one’s car.
“Hey Mister!” Not a cop. The voice is too young and desperate and lacks any sort of authority. I open my eyes.
My God. The child can’t be more than 15. Heavily made up, in some lacy thing and high boots that create the opposite effect in me then they are intended to. I am repulsed. Disgusted. Any yet. Underneath all that is a child. I roll down the passenger window.
She leans in suggestively”20 bucks and I’ll –”
I raise my hand to stop her. “Is that all?”
“Well, I mean, for $50 I’ll–”
“Just get in”
She slides as close to me the seats allow. “So, what do you want?” Her eyes ice over as she asks, and there is a hard edge in her voice that makes me want to cry.
“First, I want you to put on your seatbelt. Then, I’d like to take you to breakfast”
“I don’t got time for all that,” she says, hanging her head.
“I’ll pay you for your time. Please. I don’t want to eat alone.”
She shrugs. “It’s your money, I guess.”
Who knew? Berkeley has a Denny’s. The girl–I find out her name is Le Ann–takes a long time to order. She’s too busy throwing suspicious glances my way from behind her menu. I’m already through my first cup of coffee when she settles on some sort of breakfast platter.
“Why are you doing this?”
I think for a moment. “Why are you doing this?”