At her mother's, though, there's no money for Roxanne. Gloria still doesn't have electricity, and she still can't unlock the gate. "Look at me," she complains, dragging on a stub of a cigarette and flicking the butt onto the grass. "I'm just sitting here listening to a little radio with nothing else to do."

When Roxanne arrives at the Miami Rescue Mission's women's shelter, she is told she can sign up for a bed at 4:00 p.m., if one is available. By the time Roxanne makes it back to Checkers, more than two hours late for the promised rendezvous, her new friend isn't around. It's Saturday night, and again she is unsure about where she'll sleep. Without her good dress and boots, which she left back at the motel with her pimp, she's got to go to work in her flip-flop sandals.

Like many Biscayne regulars, Roxanne has been catching lifts a few times a week over to SW Eighth Street. Saturday nights have been good on the Tamiami Trail, almost like the old days on Biscayne, when men would actually wait in line in their cars, or engage in bidding wars over certain prostitutes. The fact that Bavonese is on duty tonight makes the option of hitting the Trail even more attractive.

As she readies herself for the ride to SW Eighth Street, Roxanne is unfazed by the two strangulations that have occurred to date, even though she was quite familiar with one of the victims, the pretty transvestite named Lazaro Comesana. She's a veteran, and she believes in her ability to sense trouble and avoid it. "Always follow your first instinct," she says, lighting a cigarette with a Bic lighter lifted from a john the night before.

That's not to say she hasn't made some bad judgments.
The last time she was pregnant, for example, a john forced her at knifepoint to fellate him, cut off chunks of her hair, and, as she fled half-clothed, hit her with his car. Another time, she got in a van with two men who took their money back by force. But she's wiser now.

She steps out onto the Trail wearing a tiger-print T-shirt, stretch miniskirt, black lace tights, and the flip-flops. Her green eyes are clear, luminous (she swears she hasn't taken any drink or drugs all day), highlighted with a touch of mascara. Still, the clarity reveals the hint of an underlying malaise, a tiredness.

Roxanne stands in the dim light of a corner near the Trade Winds Motel, shifting from one foot to the other. Across the street, at the corner of the Graceland Memorial Park cemetery, a tall, auburn-haired transvestite dressed in a business suit moves out of the shadow of a tree. To the west, a skinny girl in black leather paces up and down; a heavily madeup woman wearing a shiny green party dress stands near a bus bench. All up and down the calle cars pass, occasionally slowing suddenly and turning onto a side street. A girl will walk up to the window, words are exchanged, maybe she gets in. Roxanne turns down offers from a couple of carloads of young kids. "They woulda hurt me," she says later. At one point a Metro cop stops to look her over. When he orders her to go somewhere else, she crosses the street and stands outside the cemetery. That gives her the creeps, so she crosses back as soon as she feels it's safe.

The good johns aren't biting.Roxanne goes for a quick date with a young guy a little after midnight, and about an hour later she hits on a middle-age man in a middle-age Cadillac. He pays ten dollars for a room at the Ernesto Motel and twenty dollars for sex. It hasn't been a particularly lucrative night, but when it's over there is enough money to rent a motel room, enough to stave off for another few hours the monotonous scramble for money and the inability to escape from a relationship with a violent man.

Now and then Roxanne mentions that she's been entertaining the notion of going back to school to learn accounting. She's good with figures. Of course, with her arrests and felony convictions, getting hired would be a miracle. But can she continue like this? She feels trapped in every way. "I don't have a life," she says with no trace of bitterness or sadness. "I don't live."

Not long after this, Roxanne's mother will lose her motel-cleaning job and get kicked out of the boarding house in Little Haiti. Pop will be arrested and thrown in jail on cocaine-possession charges. The body of Charity Fay Nava will be found face-down on a roadside in Westchester; a fourth corpse will turn up a week later, and then a fifth. As the fear sinks in, hookers will desert SW Eighth Street. Some will filter over to Biscayne. But not even Greg Bavonese will have seen much of Roxanne.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help
Miami Concert Tickets