Part 1 -- Now -- Chapter 1

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My name is a secret. A very well kept secret. Names bring along with them preconceptions of the owners: innocence, sweetness, formality, promiscuity. So naturally if asked my name I'd answer with one suited to my current needs. By not supplying a name I force people to make their misconceptions based solely on what they see. So this story begins simply with me.

I am standing on a street corner. I'm a very pretty white girl, shoulder length blonde hair. My eyes are blue-grey. I have a petite frame. I like that word: petite. I'm curvy but not overly so — slight hips, small breast — the build of an athlete, but more of a casual one: strong but not someone who works too hard at it. I'm wearing cut-off, faded blue-jean shorts. The shorts ride low on my hips and cut off high on my legs. I'm wearing a faded yellow top with spaghetti straps. The shirt comes down maybe a couple inches above the top of the shorts, showing just a hint of my stomach. The shirt has a sewn on pink flower between the breast. To be honest it's hideous. If the spaghetti straps are supposed to be daring, then the straps of the clearly seen sports bra ruin the look. I show a lot of flesh, but looking more youthful than sexual. I am carrying a small red bead-work purse. On first sight the purse might seem expensive. It isn't. I bought it for a buck fifty in a Good Will thrift store. I like it 'cause the strap lies flat against me, and the bag is small enough to be fairly inconspicuous yet still holds the things I need to carry. Currently it holds some condoms and lube, some money and an id (my driver's license), the key to my safe deposit box (the poor man's version). And most importantly it holds my little notebook, with a little pen attached to it by yarn.

A casual observer might think I was eighteen-ish. A closer look would say fourteen or fifteen — sixteen if you're being generous. And I'm trying to look older than I am. It's a carefully cultivated look. The clothes help but it's mostly just body language. I am clearly on display for the world to see, yet there's something about the way I stand that tells everyone how hard it is to be there, how insecure I feel. My shoulders a little slumped, hiding my breasts a bit. I have very shapely legs but the slight pigeon toed stance hides this. I look like I'm trying to be bold and defiant, but am only just managing not running for safety.

I look innocent. A little girl playing dress up. Only this is real — Protect me. It's an act. I'm not innocent. It's a good act too and I'm good at it. And it's working. A silver Honda Accord just passes me by but then abruptly hits the breaks and turns the corner. He'll head around the block — maybe more than once, but he'll stop. He's a regular customer. His name is Ray — sort of. I'm glad it's gonna be Ray. I like him.

When the Accord stops, I gingerly walk to the passenger door. When I see Ray's face I give my biggest brightest smile. Of course, this is all theater. I know it's Ray all along. I get into the car and he drives off.

"I thought that was your car," I say.

Ray Smiles. Ray will drive us to a nearby, nearly abandoned parking lot by some warehouses. People are working in the warehouses but we park with some other cars at the edge of a near by parking lot. It's one of those city parking lots which nobody quite owns. People nearby regularly park their cars on the edge of the pavement under some trees. I take most of my regulars here. It's secluded and no one bothers you.

"I'm not very good with cars," I say as Ray parks, "I just know it's silver, but sometimes the color's hard to tell in the dark." And then I giggle for no particular reason.

Ray laughs. This isn't true by the way. I like cars actually. I can tell most cars, year, make model from the taillights. I can tell Ray's coming and going. The driver's side headlight burnt out and has been replaced. The replacement light shines slightly less yellow than the original. Ray drives a two generations ago, ten plus year old Honda Accord with cloth seats. He has an aftermarket radio which doesn't fit with the rest of the dash. He's worked hard to make the car look good. It's nice and clean. It has original Honda Accord floor mats that don't quite match the color of the carpeting. He replaced the plastic hubcaps that came on it with decent quality fake chrome ones. The paint is a bit faded but is washed and waxed. It has One hundred and eighty six thousand miles and change, but is well maintained. No out of date little Jiffy lube sticker in his window. Ray does his own oil changes. He even brings the used oil to the city dump for proper disposal.

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