Posted by: Dan | July 15, 2007

Clothe the Naked

What the fuck are you laughing at? Hey? What the fuck? How about I cut those smiles off of your faces, then we'll see if you're still laughing.

This, or roughly this, was what a working girl was yelling at what appeared to be a group of Christian young people on some sort of tour of my neighbourhood. I know this because I was walking behind her when she was yelling at the group — and because I wanted to say the same thing to them.

Because they were laughing at a naked woman.

A naked woman at Main and Hastings, the busiest corner in the neighbourhood, trying to walk and cover herself by pressing a small piece of cloth to the front of her body. She wasn't even wearing shoes. I am sure of this because I was looking at the ground when I stopped and offered her my shirt. As I was in the process of giving it to her, the working girl caught up to us, stopped, gave her an outfit, a few encouraging words, and then moved on. And I moved on, too. It was then that we passed the Christian young people who were smiling and laughing awkwardly. I wanted to yell at them, too… but I didn't. What difference would it have made? So I just turned to my friend, a woman who was visiting from out of town, and said: “I'm sorry, I wanted you to see more of what my neighbourhood was like, but I didn't expect you to see this.” Then, later that night, I cried while saying grace at dinner.

How does a woman end up walking through that sort of nightmare? Was she stripped and dumped at the corner by a “bad date”? Stripped and turned out by a boyfriend? Stripped in the alley over some sort of debt? Who knows. All these things have happened before and will happen again. But how, how the fuck, does nobody offer her clothes? Everybody stops and stares, but nobody does anything. Unbelievable.

Sister, I'm so sorry. Sorry for all of this. Sorry for their apathy and for my powerlessness. You have come and you have gone, and I will almost certainly never see you again. I could not save you from this hell. But this much I do know: I would rather burn here with you than laugh with those whose apathy damns you to this place.

Fire on Babylon; Lord, have mercy. Amen.

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