God and the Prostitute: Who’s Your Neighbor?

By: Tara Altay taraaltay.com

“Gates up.” Greg’s baritone voice crackles through the walkie talkie.

Like a reflex, I click open my silver clutch and reapply my sunset-fuchsia lip mousse. I close my eyes, let out a deep sigh and transform myself into Chastity again. I smooth out my pleather mini and step down from the stool onto the old, but soft, orange shag rug in my 6 inch high stilettos.

The gated entrance is situated at the end of a pothole punctured asphalt driveway. Hundreds of five foot high wooden slats stand shoulder to shoulder guarding the property like stone faced soldiers.

After the crack epidemic of the 1980’s this town never bounced back. Our house is registered as a Bed and Breakfast, but no one could mistake it for those Victorian style B and B’s on the coast.

No gardeners fuss over the grounds here, if you can even call it “grounds”. The front lawn is the size of a large area rug. And the exterior has the same saggy outdated look of the other 90+ year old homes on the block.

The neighbor’s backyard is so cluttered with broken down cars and car parts that they keep their grill on their front porch. They barbeque out there all the time, even in winter.

Sometimes the smell of pork chops smeared with spices and sautéed onions wafts up to my bedroom window. The $32 a day I pay for room and board only affords fruit loops and some slimy version of hamburger helper in the evening. Whenever I get my own place my first meal’s gonna be grilled pork chops and onions.

I grab my clutch, twirl toward the door and swipe my hair behind my shoulders. In the mirror behind the bar I spy one of the girls with long ginger hair in the mirror walking toward the back door too. For a brief second I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. I barely recognize myself anymore.

Somewhere deep on the inside I still see the girl who’s smart enough to go to college and build a successful career in the city. But everyday I spend in here my memory of that girl and her dream shrinks l