Any other night, I’d have been working.
I met Richard Scott at The Quiet Man. It’s a cop bar in Manhattan. You wouldn’t normally catch me anywhere near a cop bar, but I didn’t have a choice. I’d gotten busted (occupational hazard) and, instead of the usual fine I’d gotten a judge who bought my story about wanting to quit life as a “working girl”. She told me she’d skip the fine if I’d talk to him.
That’d sounded like a good deal to me.
Inside, it was wall-to-wall cops. Richard looked like any other cop. Well, of course he did. He’d been a cop for 10 years before he’d stopped working. He stood up, smiled and shook my hand. I couldn’t remember the last time a man had shaken my hand.
I told him, “I’m Ebony.”
“What’s your real name?”
I shook my head. “That’s the name I use.”
“All right, Ebony. Why don’t you sit down and have some coffee?”
“Look. I told the judge I’d talk to you. I’ve got an appointment in a half hour, so let’s talk.”
He began, “So - do you want to get out of the Life?”
I shrugged. “Maybe. After all, I do make a lot of money.”
“Is the money worth it?”
“Get real, officer.”
“That’s right. I was an officer. Ten months ago.”
“What happened ten months ago?” as if I cared.
He told me anyway. “Ten months ago, my doctor told me I have cancer and had only six months to live.”
Whoa. He didn’t look a day over 35, but he was so calm about dying. I didn’t know the guy, but it’s not every day I heard something like that. “I’m sorry,” I told him.
He smiled. I noticed then how blue his eyes were; they lit up the room, when he smiled. “It’s OK,” he said. “When I found out, I thought about what I’d do with those six months. I thought about the working girls I’ve met, as a cop. I want to help them have a better life.”
“My life is fine.” I interrupted him.
“If it’s so fine, why did you tell the judge you want out?” It was as though he could see right through me; as though he knew I’d lied to that judge.
He continued. He’d sold his house and bought a rundown apartment on West 39th Street. He used his money to help girls get off drugs; get straight jobs, and paid for plane tickets home.
I was stunned. “Why do you do all this stuff?”
“Because of Jesus Christ,” he answered. I should have known. I rolled my eyes and listened through the usual Jesus speech. I’ve heard it before. He didn’t tell it much differently than anyone else. Except this man was dying – and living his last days giving that speech to girls like me.
But I hadn’t bought it before, and I didn’t buy it today. And - I hadn’t really been looking to leave the life - and told him so.
“I figured you weren’t,” he told me. “But, keep in mind: in your job, there’s always a chance your next customer could hurt you – or that life could take a bad turn. Tonight is just one night, but you never know when you’ll get this chance again. Here’s my business card. If you ever change your mind, or want to hear more about Jesus, call this number.”
I took the card. It was the least I could do. Before I left, I asked, “How many times have you done this?”
He smiled again. “I don’t know. Hundreds, at least.”
“And how many girls accepted your offer?”
“Six, so far,” he answered. “They’re all out of the life, now. One girl’s even in nursing school.”
“Six… out of hundreds…why bother? That’s a really low percentage.”
But he didn’t see it that way. “If it had been only one, it would have been enough. Each of them matters to God – just as you do, Ebony.”
Whatever. It was his life. I headed for the door. But, just before I left, something inside me compelled blurted out, “Alice Decker.”
“Alice. It’s my name.”
This time, slices of summer sky gleamed in his eyes. “Thank you, Alice. Now, I’ll have a real name, when I pray for you.”
I shrugged but put his card in my pocket, before I left the bar. You never know: I might use it, someday.
This is a true story. I met Richard Scott in 1981 and heard about his ministry for working girls. He helped many girls get clean, get off the streets – and led many of them to the Lord. He passed away in 1984. Before he did, he married one of the girls he’d rescued.
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