The Least Among Us
I was working on the streets in Vancouver during the time that some of these prostitutes went missing. Although Robert Pickton was choosing his victims from a different neighbourhood than the one where I worked, I think it's possible that I had a run in with him. When I saw him on t.v. when they first arrested him several years ago, I recognised him as very likely being the man with whom I had a very eerie, frightening experience. Not that it matters if it was him, or some other freak. There are millions of predators out there. Street people are no more safe now that he's been captured, than they were when he was free.
What strikes me as more tragic than anything else in the Robert Pickton case, is that these women spent their final moments facing the awful truth that they'd been right - they were the garbage of humanity. This monster could butcher them one after another after another, and it didn't matter all that much because they were whores. They'd known it all along, and acted accordingly, and now the truth of it was so awfully brutally shoved home. I envision Robert Pickton laughing at them, gloating over their terror, shaming them, despising them. Their vulnerability tears at my heart - even in death, as he chopped them up in his personal slaughterhouse kept for his poor pigs, they were being laughed at. They were whores. They never got to regain their dignity. They died surrounded by evidence of their utterly low place among human kind. Just this thought alone makes me feel screamingly naked and exposed.
I had a lot of bad tricks during the years I was on the streets. I was raped at least half a dozen times, I've lost count of the exact number. Once I was drugged by something, I don't know what, but it literally paralized me. He drove with me up a mountain logging road. I came to, sitting in the passenger seat with my head lolling sideways and my eyes gazing blearily out the window as we bounced along through the moonlit forest. He turned off the logging road into a cleared area, where he suddenly noticed a truck parked there, and the driver fast asleep inside. He began to punch the steering wheel and shout and swear. I was so drugged I could do no more than sit there, watching him lose control over the fact that this witness was there, cramping his style. Maybe he had planned to kill me, I don't know. Maybe he decided to let me live because the trucker was there and might be alerted. Maybe the trucker was my guardian angel who saved my life by making the choice to hole up in exactly that spot in the forest for his nap. At any rate, the man who had drugged me and taken me up that mountain, finally quieted from his outburst, and slipped the car back out through the opening in the trees. Back to the logging road where he eventually pulled to the side of the road and raped me. Then he drove me back to the city and dropped me off.
Once I was choked nearly to death. The man sat on top of me with his face inches from my own, fascinated as he watched me struggle to live as he squeezed my throat. I put out my cigarette in his cheek, but he didn't flinch. I heard my inner voice scream inside my airless brain "so this is how I died!" I went limp. He gave a final long squeeze, and removed his hands. I gasped a breath and he shoved me into the back seat where he raped me. After, he shoved me out of the car.
I don't know how many times I leaped out of moving cars, somersaulting head over heels down the road, finally coming to a rest and quickly picking myself up to run before the man could park and come after me. Brushing myself off and returning to my corner where I hoped the next man who enticed me into his car would not be a predator. Once a man shoved his sock down my throat. Once I thundered my feet against the face of the man (actually a teenage boy) who had been raping me. I believe I broke his nose, but I didn't wait to find out. As he reared back I wrenched down the passenger window and threw myself out, landing headfirst on the ground.
Once I leaped out of the truck of a would be attacker, only barely escaping his flailing hand as he swiped at my back to drag me back in. We were in a locked underground parkade. I took off my shoes, unfolded my knife, and tiptoed around the circular wall, looking for an exit. I heard his engine roar into life behind me, and just in time, found a shallow depression in the wall where I could hide in the shadow. He drove right past me, so close I could have touched the car if I'd reached out just an inch or two. He didn't see me.
I didn't hear the garage door open, so I knew he was still in the parkade. I tiptoed along the wall, and saw a door. I had to run across the open floor, I didn't know if the door led outside or was merely a storage closet. I didn't know if it was locked. I ran toward it, letting out an involuntary scream when I heard his engine roar into life just yards away. His headlights beamed on and his truck leaped toward me. I heard him yell "FUCK!" when he missed hitting me by a fraction of an inch.
These are just a few of my recollections, I have more. I keep all of this memory deep inside my head, and rarely look at it anymore. I'm telling you now, so those of you reading might catch a glimpse of what it's like out there. How scary it is for those unloved people who, even now as you're reading this, are struggling to survive. Some of them are dying right now, they didn't make it. They didn't get to find out that they were, after all, priceless.
Think of the victims who died on that pig farm. Their final thoughts might have been "so this is how I died!" And for them, it was true.