She asked me if I would buy some oil from her for $2.
That’s how we met, me and the girl who had once been so pretty.
I could see it in her eyes as I looked at her. She had been beautiful once, probably not that long ago, albeit before the demons called on her and changed her life forever.
I didn’t need any oil, but I knew what she really wanted.
I told her I didn’t think I had any cash, until I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out $11 – a ten and a one.
I handed her a George and told her I needed the rest to buy something inside.
As I shopped my mind argued with itself.
She’s probably hungry, my better half tried to convince me. What’s a few more bucks so she can get some chips or some water … something to put just a little bit more color in that once-pretty face.
I also scoffed at myself. Whatever was given to her was going to either get shot into her vein, or snorted up her nose before the clock struck ten.
Every so often, I do this.
I’m approached from somebody asking for just a few bucks.
Sometimes I ignore them.
Sometimes I lie to their faces and tell them I’m using plastic when a roll of bills is burning a hole in my pocket.
Sometimes I reach in and hand it over some cold, hard cash.
Not a lot, mind you. But enough to keep her going for the next soft-hearted dope to come along.
What money they have likely is going to go to drugs or alcohol. I know.
But druggies need to eat. They need to drink water, or soda, or juice to survive before the drugs finally get the best of them and they really do die.
I bought $11.28 worth of sustenance and handed the cashier my $10 bill.
“Could you change this for two fives?” I asked.
Split the difference, I figured.
Just in case.
I walked out of the store and walked up to the woman, looking again in those eyes.
“Here you go,” I said, handing her one of the $5 bills. “I hope it’s not going straight into your arm.”
By the time I let go, I saw her reaction.
I had my answer.
Her eyes told me as they looked down to the ground. The sore near her chin disappeared as she lowered her head.
She tried to recover, tried to recover and stammer out an answer.
“No,” she said. “I need gas for my car. I can show you.”
“If you had asked me to buy you some gas I would have filled your tank,” I said.
My heart sank.
“Be safe tonight,” I said, walking away from her and back toward my car.
I just got home and put the other $5 bill on my dresser.