Shawnteese is the most white-trash girl to never hang out with white people. She can’t even remember the last conversation she had with a white person. She sees them on occasion, like the rest of the folk in her part of town. They always look lost, and those that see them driving their car down Grande, wrong way from the Stadium, the highway north is the other way….those that see them driving are walking down the sidewalk, walking to the store, or to the bus stop, or, like Shawnteese, just walking to the corner.
But she is one to talk. She talks a lot with her clients after she’s been picked up and they are driving to The Predetermined Location. She can’t help herself. She just starts talking and keeps talking, and they never know what to make of it, but with the types that pick her up, they find her entertaining, funny even.
She’ll sit in the backseat, the fourth passenger, menage a quatre, and talk about grandma, or about the weather, or about how the Quick-E Mart ripped her off 75 cents the other day, her hick turns-of-phrase eliciting chuckles or belly laughs from her braided companions blowing herb smoke in big plumes out the window of their weighed-down ‘95 Cutlus Supreme, muffler scraping the asphalt on the bumps along Haskell.
The talking continues until the moment of transaction, when her dialect, the gaps between her yellow teeth, her aged and sagging skin…they all disappear, and for a moment she gains control. Emotions are a tiring mix of power and powerlessness, desire and disgust, the warm flame of intimacy and the cold stone of rejection all at once. But for that moment, Shawnteese is in control, and she thinks to herself, “No matter what, I can always get by doing this.”
But what she really looks forward to is the ride home, when she’ll be allowed one long toke, and will tell the story about that one time, in that one place, the story of innocence. And if the car ride back to her corner isn’t long enough for the telling, she’ll sit in that backseat and finish that story, engine running, sun beating down on pedestrians walking by the dirty window on their way to the bus stop.