Sally is dressed for work.

Her short, tight dress is purple, not quite the same shade as her shoes, which of course clashes with the bright red lip gloss and fingernails as well as the bleached blonde hair.

Sally stands at 14th and K in Northwest Washington, watching traffic go by. A midnight blue Thunderbird slows and she saunters up to the window.

“Hey honey, whatcha’ know?”

The guy inside mumbles something.

“Lookin’ for action?”

He nods.

“Look honey, I gots to ask you. Are you a police officer or in any way affiliated with the law enforcement agencies of this jurisdiction?”

He shakes his head.

“O.K. honey. Whatcha’ got in mind?”

The guy thinks, drops the T-Bird into low and peels out.

Sally shrugs.

“First timer.”

How do you know?

“He ain’t quite got the balls to go for it yet. He wants to, but he can’t quite do it yet. He’ll be back, soon as he gets his nerve up.”

Sally’s been working the streets for a little over a year now. She’s a working girl.

“Working girl my ass. I’m a whore. You gots the money, I gots what you need.”

She was born in Mississippi. Came to Washington two years ago, looking for action. Didn’t find what she wanted, but she found what she could. She works 14th and K. That’s her territory. Don’t try to muscle in. Sally works alone.

“I ain’t into group scenes. Some girls, they dig that. I don’t. Just me and the mark. He pay. I lay. That’s the deal.”

On a good night, Sally will bring in $600, earned on a sliding scale of services.

“You want it straight, that’s fifty. French’ll cost you a hundred. Want around the world? That’s one-fifty. Get the picture?”

The pimp gets $400. That leaves $200 for Sally and her “expenses.”

“Hey, I gotta good connection. Gets me dynamite blow. Only one-fifty.”

The blow takes the edge off, let’s Sally cope with life on her back.

“Yeah, I do wish things were different sometimes, but they ain’t. That’s the way it is. I’m who I am and that’s the way it is.”

Even though she’s been on the street for a year, she hasn’t been busted. . .yet.

“Cops don’t care. Oh, sometimes, they gots to round us up to please the tourists, but they got bigger things to worry ’bout. People gettin’ killed all the time ’round here. Cops got bigger fish to fry.”

The T-Bird pulls back up. Sally saunters over. They talk. She gets in the car. She’s back in 45 minutes.

“Yeah, he was a newbie all right. Couple a good jerks and it was all over. Poor bastard didn’t even get it all the way in.”

She laughs. When Sally laughs, she looks different.

She looks like a 13-year-old kid.

Which she is.

–Doug Thompson

Washington, D.C.