A former sex worker recounts a harrowing night in Abbotsford, BC, circa 1980
We exit to the parking lot, where it’s dark, and half the crowd is either getting into cars or pissing up against them. I miss the city lights; better the devil you know. I rush to the phone booth between the hall and the road, digging out a handful of change, and call the Vancouver cab company I call every day. I hear the dispatcher’s familiar voice and hope she can recognize mine.
“I need a cab to Vancouver, west end. I’m at a hall in Abbotsford, but we can’t stay here. We’re four girls, and we need a cab desperately. We’ll just keep walking down the highway until we see it.” Silence. “Please … ”
“Just keep walking. I’ll send a cab right away,” she interrupts. The phone goes dead.
I am about to hang up when he pushes his way into the booth. He grabs the receiver out of my hand and smashes it into the phone box, then he rips the cord out. “You fucking whore!” he yells as I run to the girls.
“We have to walk down the highway. The cab is on the way,” I tell them, leading them past drunk bastards jumping into their cars.
“I’ll give you a ride!” one shouts.
“You can’t walk away now, you ugly bitch.”
We keep walking.
“You can trust me, baby. Just get in the car.”
“I think we can trust him,” Candy calls out to me, trying to keep up. She is the smallest of us and is wearing the highest heels.
I don’t know how far we’ve walked, what time it is. The cars pass less frequently now, but we can still hear the shouts. Candy and Mary sit down. “We’ll stay here. Come back for us when you get the cab.” I’m about to vomit when Judy lets out a cheer. We see the headlights, the light on the roof.
“You could have been waiting a lot longer,” the cabbie says as we pile in ecstatically. “You’re lucky I was — ”
Candy cuts him off: “Stop for cigarettes as soon as possible.”
As I listen to the girls in the back seat, I can’t make out who’s laughing, who’s talking.
“The bars are closed now.”
“I’m starving. Let’s get some Chinese.”
“Let’s go back to my place.”
But as we pull up to Candy’s, I’m thinking about the fathers. I’m thinking about the bride.
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