Swim Where 11
“How old do you suppose she is?” Scott asked as a young streetwalker strolled by.
Instead of driving his truck, they took a taxi to the inner city and got dropped off at a coffee shop with an outdoor seating area. The view from their table was somewhat less than spectacular, as it only looked out over some rush hour traffic amid a light drizzling rain.
“Not very.” Belinda answered. She watched the teenager looking into car windows in hopes of finding a man who had left work horny.
“Yet according to the documentaries one sees on television, underage prostitution only seems to occur in poverty stricken parts of the third world.”
“People here don’t want to see it here.” She replied.
“He especially doesn’t seem to want to see it.” The Olympic swimmer nodded over at a crossing street where a police cruiser was stopped at the curb. “Do you suppose that her apparent age would be discernable from his current location? And does it appear that she’s trying to mask what she’s obviously attempting from him?”
“Easily to the first,” the reporter replied, “not in the slightest to the other. Instead, she’s overacting her intent and physically leaning towards each car to ensure the men inside are able to plainly see that she’s not just an innocent girl on the street.”
“So one could guess that even though the cop is currently looking at a clipboard, a could look in her direction has already shown him precisely what she is up to.”
“That is reasonable to assume.”
Scott then abruptly dropped the topic and he took a drink of his coffee.
“Your point?’ Belinda urged.
“It’s not such a nice day today.” Wagner remarked. The sky had a low overcast and the air was thick with moisture in the form of a fine drizzle.
“On constant thing about the weather, is that it’s always the weather.” Belinda said dryly in frustration over his obvious stalling tactic. “And another is that regardless of what we think of the weather, it will be exactly what it is until it changes into the form it will be next – of its own accord.”
“I see she’s found a mark.” Scott observed. A late model American car had stopped at the very young girl’s position. The man inside leaned over to roll down a window on the passenger’s side. The streetwalker approached and bent over to discuss the terms. Behind the halted car, several other commuters honked their horns. “And the music of the tooting must’ve sparked the policeman to look over at least briefly.”
They watched as the girl climbed into the car. The vehicle moved forward again, to rejoin with the slow flow of traffic.
“I’m just a layman,” he continued, “but I should think that the crime of ‘soliciting a minor for the purpose of sex’ has already occurred here. Our faithful law upholder is just now jotting something in his pad, if it were the vehicle’s license number and he tagged along behind at a slight a distance, I can surmise that some other offenses could be fairly easily spotted. But obviously, the cop was oblivious to the scene. His cruiser has remained stationary.”
“He really might have legitimately missed it.” Belinda defended. “There may really be something riveting on his clipboard.”
“Your reciprocal blindness has just placed an imaginary fog to cloud what you know to be the real truth.” Scott took another sip of coffee. “But let’s wait a moment to see if this scenario will present us with more information. I’ve been here for coffee more than just this once, so I’ll give you this reality opera’s libretto. In a minute or so, the officer’s cell phone will ring. He’ll answer, listen without speaking and he’ll write something else on his notepad: I suspect it’s an address or a location.”
They watched for a few moments and events unfolded exactly as Scott predicted.
“I’ll attempt to put down my white cane for long enough for you to enlighten me.”
“The first thing the policeman wrote in his pad was the car’s tag number because he was well aware of what was going on. The phone call was from the girl, telling him where she could be found if her john turned into a bad trick. The police come down much harder on pimps, than they do on prostitutes—because pimping is the ideal moonlight job for police officers and they don’t want the competition. The overly young girl has to pay off his pretended blindness and his emergency protection with the coin of gratuitous sexual services and/or a commission of her received fee, with a dividend of insider street information. Should she refuse to cooperate, she would be arrested on a charge of prostitution and locked up in a juvenile offenders home—where her only customers would be the non-paying guards.”
Belinda was tempted to again remark on his omnipresent cynicism but she had just seen it as he did. The scenario as he described it was the most likely explanation.
“Now take the final exam.” Scott continued after a few seconds of her reverie. “Who would God think committed the worst sin here?”
“You’re the only one at this table who has had a death experience to go by.”
“That only qualifies me to grade your answer. You are as capable as anyone is of fathoming God’s mind.”
“Me.” Belinda Lyle answered after a pregnant pause. “And you, and the motorists behind who only honked their frustration over the minor traffic inconvenience.”
“That’s a perfect score. If we had done what we should’ve done, what blindness lets avoid doing, then that girl wouldn’t have her body exploited at such a tender age.”
“This has been your demonstration?”
“No.” Scott chuckled wryly. “I haven’t started that yet. This was only some gravy. Take some photos and videos of what you see here.” He set his digital camera on the table. “You should interview some of the participants.”
“I don’t really see anything going on.” Belinda looked around to confirm that only commonplace things were happening. The heavy traffic was stop and go. Several homeless men were walking between the lanes and using their squeegees to clean motorist’s windows. Because of the drizzling rain, the commuters were less than willing to pay for the cleaning of windows that would be dirtied again so quickly.
“You will.” Scott Wagner stood and removed his shirt. He walked to the nearest homeless windshield washer and with a few words, he relieved him of his tool. The famous swimmer then began to squeegee some windows.
The ‘I live In My Scuba Gear’ tattoo was instantly recognizable and the vehicle flow immediately went from heavy to a virtual traffic jam. Drivers whistled for service, and to beg for autographs. Each was eager to hand cash to Scott’s financial assistant, whereas in the moments before the Olympic swimming star’s appearance, they had pretended to not even notice that their windows had been cleaned. The squeegee’s prior operator made more money in minutes, than he had in the previous month. Belinda Lyle shot video, still photos and she inquired of both names and comments.
After a while, Scott handed back the squeegee and put his shirt back on. After a few autographs for the homeless, he and Belinda returned to their now stone cold coffee.
“That will earn you some instant revenue.” Scott grinned. “Do up a human interest piece for the television and local papers: you’ll be able to sell them by tonight.”
“They don’t mean much though.” She observed.
“They are of no value at all but that won’t stop the media from buying your work. But it isn’t finished until you’ve interviewed me on camera.” Scott called over the man whose squeegee he had used. He got him to hold the camera so that both he and Belinda could be in the same frame.
“I’m speaking with Scott Wagner. What prompted you to engage in this seemingly impromptu event?”
Scott didn’t say anything. He just shrugged.
“There you have it folks.” Belinda giggled. “Directly from the camera shy Olympic sensation, being the man of very few public words—as we’ve all come to expect.”
“This was the demonstration you planned to graphically explain your motives.”
“Exactly so. By my being a celebrity, I can make a statement about a problem like homelessness without even saying a word. The people in the cars were just driving by a serious social ill, without a thought or notice. Now for at least one day, those who have to wash windows to get their next meal will be in the public’s focus.”
“If Scott Wagner, the unknown victim of abuse spoke out, none would pay much attention.” Belinda guessed. “But when an Olympic gold medal winner says the same thing, the statement will be loudly heard.”
“Precisely. So get to work on preparing the print and video articles and I’ll wager it’ll be on the TV by tonight.”
“No.” Belinda said firmly.
“What do you mean no?”
“N-o. A two letter word indicating a negative, as in ‘no, that’s not going to happen’.”
“This is good material.” Scott protested and he tapped the camera with his finger.
“I’m not suggesting that it isn’t. But we’re still not going to release it now, and we’ll probably never use it.”
“Because homeless window washers and underage hookers are not issues that Scott Wagner is passionate about. We aren’t going to weaken his thunder with something that means practically nothing. Nor are we going to feed you piecemeal to the media sharks until we’ve lured the public onto your team.”
“How do we do that?”
“By playing your persona and reputation to the nines,” Belinda grinned, “but also by showing the folk at home that you’re not as different from them as they’ve believed.”
“You’re not a publicist.”
“We find that out soon enough because you need one but you don’t see a candidate lurking in the wings. I suspect my education and skill in journalism will give me an equal edge at being a half decent publicist, as your raw swimming ability would’ve helped you to enjoy at least a modest success, as a water polo player.
Swim Where will continue….
Russell Twyce is the Author of Shiva’s Messenger