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*** DO NOT REUSE *** PLEASE CONTACT ANTOINE *** IMAGE DEPARTMENT *** Michael with Rosary The first call came Friday afternoon. “Where are you? Please! I just got out of Jail. The cops picked up me and Neesa Thursday. I want out of this place.” Three missed calls from ‘Unknown Number’ when I woke Saturday morning and four more by Sunday morning. I know the pattern. Desperate pleas, allusions to drama, finishing with, “I need to get out of here.” Then in person it is about money. Michael was, by her standards, at the end of a good three-month run. The trap was a safe place to bring dates, made her good money, and had a sometimes-working bath. It also provided plenty of drugs. Now she was truly homeless again, wandering the streets and “taking birdbaths.” I finally talked to Michael at 3 am and promised to meet her Sunday afternoon. “I am desperate. I need you to drive me out of here.” The sound of dope sickness. Before I could finish parking Michael and Neesa were at my van. They were carrying a litter bottle of pepsi and two bags. “Quick. We just lifted some stuff from the store. Drive anywhere.” Both looked awful. Dirty and smelling of perfume. I drove towards the McDonalds passing four police vans. “It is so hot our here.” Lisa, working Tiffany Street and clearly high, waved me down. “Don’t stop. She is crazy. Dirty whore. In the middle of the road with this many cops around.” We followed a police van into the parking lot. It went into the drive-through. I gave Michael and Neesa the $7 in my pocket. They started to strip and exchange clothes. Michael handed me his Rosary and left to clean up in the bathroom. Neesa spotted a date eating in his car. She jumped in and drove off. “Tell Michael I will be back in an hour.” Michael came back a half-hour later washed and with two ice cream cones and two bags of food. I handed back the Rosary. She nervously fingered it. “It is a symbol of peace and tranquility. It gives me safety and

© Chris Arnade