8 3 1 AM New moon. No sleep. New snow. March 2012
Shoveling helped her temper. She loved to lay in the snow….not shovelit. She wanted to be free. Carefree actually.
How many years or how many healing sessions would it take to not wake up fighting mad? Was that the reason she stayed up writing?
Writing, so she could heal. Write, shovel or scrub so she could channel the anger into useful energy.
Looking now at the beautiful pink origami craneshe remembered how beautiful it felt when the child gave her the paper sculpture.
She felt the same as when she was making snow angels in the Canadian Rockies.
Cool, calm, safe…peaceful…beautiful. Truly a snow angel. A snow angel worthy of a pink origami crane.
The child was almost a man. His slim fingers folded the paper carefully. Deliberately. Lovingly. She watched him as he made other things. Making magic from within himself turn a piece of paper into a beautiful crane, a ninja star or kimono tree ornament. She had no idea he was making her a gift. He quite caught her off guard when he handed it to her.
Here, Buffalo. This is for you. You can have it. I made it for you.
Tears formed at the corners of her eyes. She started to sniff to hold them back. She never cried. She had been trained not to….not to feel…not to speak…not to cry. Especially, to never ever tell anyone, how she helped her mother put the groceries on the table. She smiled at the man-child as she shared with him her thanks. She had been trained to do that. She thanked the man-child as she smiled….She turned so he would not see the tears. My eyes are leaking she said to herself. They did that a lot when she was happy. She had not been happy the first day on the job with Mother.
A story in two voices….Mother, the daughter of Magdalene starts Buffalo, her own three year old daughter down the same road.
MOTHER: (Sitting in a dressing gown. Staring in a mirror. Smoking a cigarette with a long cigarette holder)
“ Buffalo, Come here dear.
Mother wants to talk to you.“
Buffalo Coming, Mommy.
MOTHER (turning towards the child holding her cigarette holder at an angle)
Buffalo, how much do you love your Mother?
Buffalo I would do anything in the world for you Mommy.
Buffalo Anything, in the whole wide world, Mommy.
MOTHER Good girl, Mother needs you to come to work with her today.
No pre-school, no home schooling, just you and Mother.
Buffalo Mommy, I am only three years old.
MOTHER You are Mother’s big girl now.
Buffalo OK, Mommy, what do I need to do?
MOTHER One of the boarders, Mr. Trembles, wants you to bring him
his hot chocolate.
All the way from the kitchen, down the hall, to his bedroom.
Can you do that for your Mother?
Buffalo Sure, I can Mommy. Then, what do I do, Mommy?
MOTHER Set the hot chocolate in the saucer, down outside his door.
Knock on the door. It won’t be locked.
Then, pick up the hot chocolate, carefully
and take it into the bedroom.
Put it on the dresser beside the money.
Buffalo Then, what do I do Mommy?
MOTHER Anything, he asks you to do…we need the money.
Remember Mother needs the money for the rent and groceries.
Buffalo Sure, Mommy, I am a big girl.
I can do that.
MOTHER You are Mother’s big girl.
Do it for love.
Do it for love, Buffalo.
Buffalo OK, Mommy.
I will put my love for you
and Heavenly Father
in all I do.
MOTHER Wonderful, that is Mother’s good good girl.
Remember, bring the money right away to Mother.
Oh, one more thing, Buffalo.
Buffalo What is that Mommy?
MOTHER This is our secret, OK,you do not talk about “work” with anyone but Mother.
Buffalo Yes, Mommy. I can keep a secret.
MOTHER OK, Buffalo, Mother’s big girl…Let us get ready.
Here is our work…to review.
Go to the kitchen.
Get the hot chocolate.
Put it in a saucer so you won’t spill.
Bring it down the hall to Mr. Trembles.
Buffalo Then, I set it down to knock on the door which is open.
MOTHER Good girl, Buffalo. Then what do you do?
Buffalo Pick up the hot chocolate after I open the door, right?
Buffalo Mr. Trembles’ door wont be locked.
Open the door.
Put the hotchocolate on the dresser, beside the money, right Mommy?
MOTHER Right. Then what do you do?
Buffalo I take the money from the dresser and give it to you.
MOTHER Buffalo, wear your big girl dress with the big pockets.
Buffalo I can put the money in the my pocket for you Mommy.
MOTHER Right, Buffalo.
Buffalo Do everything for love for my Mommy and Heavenly Father.
MOTHER Good girl, Buffalo. An what else?
Buffalo It is our secret Mommy.
We don`t talk about work.
MOTHER Right Buffalo Do you know what else?
Buffalo What Mommy?
MOTHER You can wear your new panties without out the bloomers
The ones with the blue ruffles.
Buffalo Those ones Mommy?
MOTHER Those ones, Buffalo.
And one more surprise.
Buffalo What is the surprise Mommy?
MOTHER You can wear your black pattened leather shoes with the silver buckles.
Buffalo I love those shoes Mommy.
I love you.
I love Heavenly Father.
Let`s go get ready for work.
August 4, 1976
Phones ringing are the sound of money to her ears.
This phone call will stop all the money making.
This is her snitch on the phone.
He is calling for a three piece custom suit – which translates to -
you are being busted by three police groups….Ontario Provincial Police,
RCMP and the city police.
Buffalo has known this call was coming. All the girls in her stable knew
it was coming.
Now to action. After she calls her lawyer, so he can come to the police station…..
First, the phone tree is set in motion…with one phone call everyone will be notified. The first person on the list, Buffalo, makes one call. The second two calls and so on until all the fourteen girls of the fourteen houses are ready. Each girl has a key to a mail box that she has never used until today. Inside, there is an envelope with enough money
for travel — anywhere — and the note from Buffalo…
“Get the hell of Dodge.”
Second, write in all the trick books the names of all the known vice squad officers with the arrest officers in red.
Her snitch was well paid and gave great details.
The snitch was now a a postal worker who had been a dirty politician who had been piped for his trouble.
Piped? Beaten senseless by a hug hand held pipe. He knew Buffalo was well as anyone ever would. She would call him to have him at her private home for Valentines Day…every year.
But I digress from the action plan.
Third, pay the landlord on all the houses a year in advance. In those days there were no email transfers. He would meet her in the produce aisle in 20 minutes at her favourite Asian market.
Fourth, phone the liquor store and cancel the account. Lie about switching service providers.
Five, call her square John boyfriend that they were breaking up and she never wanted to speak to him again.
Six, get loaded….locked and loaded.
Now she was ready.
When they came she would be free — out of the life her mother took her
into with just a cup of hot chocolate when she was three years old.
The chargers were 19 indictable and 10 mus-demenors (the American term is the only one she remembers) That meant 5 to 10 years on the 19 charges and 2 to 5 years on the 10. She was going to be a guest of the Queen for a long time.
Now, perhaps, she would get straight.
Now, perhaps, she would get clean and sober.
Now, perhaps, she would write her book.
Now, perhaps, she would sleep.
Oh, hell, that meant the dreams would come. There was only one good thing about her whole life: awake, dreaming, stoned, loaded or sober….
her little silver dragon.
The one who was in the corner of the room at the ceiling the day the hot chocolate man took her “ladyness” away. The hot chocolate man who stole her childhood..
The Silver Dragon took her on his back from the corner of the room…away from the trauma on the bed…away from the violence which could have entered her forever.
He stayed with her all her life. He was bigger now and would be there for her long after the police were finished with her.
The police thought they were going to be locking her up. They were in fact, setting her free.
August 5, 1976.
Coming down hard now, from the interrogation, the arrest, the per-arrest interview….Buffalo found herself standing in front of the judge. Her high priced lawyer stood with her now.
Buffalo, was going to plead guilty and “do the time”.
A gentle man, her lawyer had come up through the ranks despite his youth and being papered in another country. He needed, now to take his education a second time in her country. He was bitter about that which gave him the edge she needed.
The fine was not an option. Keeping a common bawdy house, living off the avails, importing women into the country specifically to work in the trade — no easy charges here. She would be paying for the crime. She would do the time.
Everyday would be a poustina — Russian word for desert. She and her girls had been taking Wednesday’s off for years for Poustina. She recalls now, the small convent of a service order, there were rooms where you could stay in silence for twenty-four hours. Furnished simply with a hard cot, a feather pillow and rough grey blanket — the room had a chair, table and a wee wooden hook on the wall for your clothes. On the table was a load of dark black heavy Russian rye bread. Near it was a green pot for tea, a large container of unpasteurized honey and an electric kettle.
This was all the supplies Buffalo would need for the 24 hours while she slept. The quiet away from the phones was heaven enough for her.
Not often would she go to the chapel for services or mass. The quiet was her prayer. The poustina and the Silver Dragon together were her Saviour.
She had had quite enough of regimented life.
First, the sex trade with her mother — with its secrets.
Second, the convent where she put on a uniform to tell the world she was a lady. (Some lie that was and then the Monsieur wanted the same the the hot chocolate man had already taken. Years of study for her teaching degree would be thrown out the window unless she submitted to him as part of her final vows. She would not let go of the dream of being a lady. She would be a bride of Christ. No man would ever touch her again.) A few hours later she was not longer a nun and had situated herself in a women`s hostel.
Third, working the Military of Canada on foreign soil — cleared to TOP SECRET.
All three things were enough for her to not conform to the convent routine of prayers 24 7.
So she dreamed. She dreamed would be out of the life. She dreamed her Silver Dragon would be large enough, strong enough to carry her away forever.
Prison now had tangible bars. It was her new home.