Easter in Baltimore with Two Whores

Excerpted from my book What Would Bukowski Do? Volume 1, Easter in Baltimore with Two Whores: stories from the border of regret and consequences

These Tales from the Drunk Side may enlighten, they may offend but they are true. Consider them an opportunity to say, “There but for the Grace of God…..” Or call me up and buy me a few drinks and I’ll tell you more.

The beginning of what some call Holy Week seems the right time to begin this series. Since beginning my The End of the Road series about my utter failure to find employment, it’s the right time to tell more.

The end of Holy Week brings Easter. When I think of Easter I think of the day I spent with two whores in Baltimore.

During the Reign of Juliet, Wife Two, I lived briefly in our basement. She broke up our marriage as often as I fucked up and then some. On this particular day, Mother-in-Law Two was coming to visit so I needed to disappear. I made my way out early, it was a bright chilly sunny day; the kind of day that brings Easter memories. Taking the bus downtown, I wandered. Wandering may be a cheap way to find expensive trouble, but it’s also one of the best ways to discover new worlds.

In the center of downtown Baltimore resides a small jurisdiction of integrity commonly known as The Block. I love Baltimore for its gangster mood and willingness to accept those who occasionally wish to dip their toes in the waters of self-deregulation, i.e. minor criminal behavior. Show me a man who doesn’t break the rules; and I’ll show you a coward who wishes he had the nerve to give it a try. The first rule of self-deregulation is knowing who, where and when. I’ll write more about that some other time; I’m getting off track so let’s return to The Block.

There’s a bar on Baltimore Street that is one of my favorite places on the planet. Smack dab in the middle of whorehouses posing as strip clubs or show bars, is a small dingy bar my favorite kind. No come ons there, no overpriced drinks, just booze and illegal gambling. A bar is a community that only works for me if you can get a feel for the crowd on the first visit. Otherwise it’s just a rest stop for anybody, no need to qualify to belong just walk right in. But this bar is special.

As I sat drinking my reasonably priced and over poured Jack Daniels shot and Budweiser beer I felt right at home. It was near shift change so the Pimps and Whores were going through their briefing before hitting the clubs. Once that group leaves another appears for the end of shift debriefing. Later I thought about them as an officer in the Department of Homeland Security as Management’s Pimps told us about the latest impediment to our dignity as workers on the way to the checkpoint.

Once the bar cleared out it was me, the bartender, and two whores. I’ll call them the Older Whore and the Younger Whore. The Older Whore sat beside me and began to tell me her story. It seemed she grew up in my neighborhood and had a rough life. She told me of her parents and the abuse she suffered. She was beautiful in that authentic way. She only asked me for $10, this was not a business transaction just meal money I suppose.

On the floor behind us sat the Young Whore doing her hair and makeup. She was happy on the floor tending to her appearance getting ready for her shift at The Jewel Box, a show bar just down the street. She was beautiful and sweet in a way the Older Whore was sad. When she completed her upkeep she joined us at the bar.

It was a beautiful Easter day and I sat drinking shots and beers in a bar with a whore on each side of me. I was wearing a blue windbreaker, the one Mother-in-Law One bought me. The sleeves were frayed and the Young Whore took it upon herself to work her magic. She burned away the frays with a lighter with delicacy and care. They explained to me that they were whores: “We’re not sluts, we’re whores. We don’t give it away.”

There was sadness in their eyes if you wanted to find it, but they weren’t sad just stuck. Sure they’d do things differently, but what’s the use of regrets when there’s a life to be lived? They had something few achieve: they knew who they were and it had nothing to do with what they were. You may see them as cheap, or tawdry or tragic. They are survivors and need no one’s pity. They live by one rule: No Money, No Honey. What’s wrong with that?

As I left the Older Whore sitting at the bar, the Younger Whore walked out with me on the way to her shift. She handed me a note with her name and number. I knew when I had a little cash and a reason to not feel alone for awhile she’d burn away the frays for me. She asked me to be discreet when leaving a message on her machine as she had a young daughter at home. You may think that an expression of shame, but to me it’s a true expression of the love of a mother and the desire to protect her child from a reality that is out there, but doesn’t need to be in her home.

I returned home finding Juliet ready to reconcile. She was bi-polar which pisses me off, an instant excuse for the ups and downs. Even though we lost a child who lived only a few days, she wanted me back figuring I was better than nothing. She wanted to try to have a child again. So the next sad chapter began with this unhappy woman. Eventually she proved herself a slut, giving it away and when the final break came between us, bragging about it. She was no Whore. She had no integrity. But I know where to find it when I lose hope in humanity because I spent one beautiful day in Baltimore with two Whores. I wonder where they are today. Maybe if I get a little cash I’ll wander up that way next Sunday. It is Easter after all.

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