Shepley Street and I have only been acquainted for a few years. I know it to be the walking path of prostitutes, crack dealers, inebriated folks looking for smokes, fearful tourists, and street regulars. However, most of the time the street is my shuffling ground for tobacco related activities, and my interactions with anybody who would cross my path would be mitigated by the fact that I had something that people wanted to bum. Every so often, my train of thought would be interrupted by the cold clanging of a cane up against the dented guard rails. Enter Cane Lady, the silver haired, serpent tongued harpy.
“Aw! Come on!” she shouted before beating the rails with enthusiasm. Cane Lady often wears her patented Goofy windbreaker and black, sleek fanny pack. If her hair isn’t flying behind her like broken spider webs, it’s coiled into a loose bun that screams “I don’t give a fuck”. The only time she seems to give a fuck is when she shouts “Oh, come on!” to seemingly nobody. I try to have more faith in people’s intentions, and I assume that using her cane as both a weapon and gavel has more historical implications than one might think. I began to study her extensively; I let the sun burn my shoulders as I eyed her from afar, often behind a tree or from the safety of the green space. I took notes, I collected samples. Her fecal matter contained Skittles and some trace elements of artificial sweetener, probably from a diet soda. Her hair was brittle and broken, but I deduced that she used some Pantene product – at least the shampoo. Her saliva and urine samples came back inconclusive – while I didn’t find any evidence of drug use, I did extract some DNA in case I needed to pass a paternity test or desperately need Walmart to hire me.
The most startling discovery came from her cane. While it seemed to be made from regular materials, it radiated with the intensity and maturity of a pimp. I photographed the serial number and ran it through the system. What I learned rocked my world. Cane Lady had not always been a rambling rambler, a wondering wanderer. Flipping through public records and encyclopedias about prostitution, I deduced that Cane Lady was once a very successful but very abused bottom bitch. Her pimp, Candy Cane, was a sexual entrepreneur who was able to sate the most bizarre tastes of his shady Johns, but was brutal towards his girls. He had a small troupe: Angel was a new recruit, but her blue eyes and blonde hair enticed rich skinheads around the tri-county area. Teresa was ironically called “Mother Teresa” because of her penchant for latex nun suits, but was in her heart of hearts a good girl. Terry was the discounted goods, and although it seemed detrimental to her practice, her 2 for 1 specials and free small fries with any purchase brought home the bacon where Angel and Teresa couldn’t. Finally, Hard Candy. You know her as Cane Lady, but back then, she lived up to her name. Sweet as sugar, but just as addictive, she carried fat wads of cash in her fanny pack and pepper spray in her Goofy coat pocket to protect herself from handy Harries. She patented sex moves like “The Peppermint Patty”, “The Cavity Filler”, and “Dances Without Dental Dams”. Despite her immense contributions, Hard Candy and Candy Cane fought tooth and nail for power over the Johns and the Jills, and she found herself many a time under the cold steel shaft of an angry pimp.
That is, until she stabbed that motherfucker right in the chest. She had counted her money and distributed it to the girls before sneaking into Candy Cane’s office with blade in hand. I imagine she called him Daddy and sweet talked him into whipping his dick out and putting his guard down before jamming a sharpened tampon applicator into his bony, greasy body. Not soon afterwards, crime rates in Portland began to sharply drop as word of a team of sexy vigilantes were cleaning up the streets. Hard Candy had taken over, newly furnished pimp cane in hand, and was commandeering tricksters to let their only hand jobs be ones involving a concealed weapon. They jerked off crime, they flicked the bean of justice, and took it all for peace and prosperity. The loads of justice they effortlessly produced under Hard Candy’s watch was tough for Portland to swallow. Naturally, like any stingy bitch, the Portland Police always spit, and carried around baby wipes “just in case”. Cane Lady had risen to the top but was once again fighting with the higher ups of justice.
The police chief gave her an ultimatum: Disband and live freely on the streets among yourselves, or they would hunt her troupe like a gang of wild dogs. She cared more about her girls than her own life, so made the deal in the hopes that street life wouldn’t be as bad as it seemed. She had never been more wrong, and in the span of a year, the harsh winter had weathered her body and soul. Her troupe disbanded, despite her pleas for solidarity. One by one, squinting through the snow-blind, she saw her fellow femmes die or disintegrate. Terry stuck by Cane Lady, but the HIV she had contracted from stepping on a rusty dick left her weak and weary. She died in Cane Lady’s arms on the steps of the Civic Center. As Cane Lady beat her chest, willing Terry’s heart to thump, she cried out “OH, COME ON!” into the howling wind. As her voice dissipated into the ether, so did her soul and sanity.
Today she still bangs her cane, shouting at nobody in particular, hoping that she will be reunited with her troupe, either on Shepley Street by the guard rails, or in death.