Virginia, Summer, 1964

Human beings are variables. Failure to grasp this fact is the major failing of all Utopian visions regardless of their provenance, for such fantasies assume humanity can be controlled, made predictable, guided.

Case in point: Four whores from New Orleans should find no haven in a small Virginia town, yet this is precisely what we have found. The doctor is as good as his word- nobody asks and he volunteers nothing, stopping by daily to check on you and pump us all full of penicillin “just on general principle.” Buck Carlyle stops by every day, sometimes twice a day, just to check on you- his chivalric impulse in full control now.

The first two days are horrible as you slip in and out of delirium, the three of us having to pin you down when you lashed out, but the valium Dr. O’Malley left for you relieves the worst of it and by the third morning you are calm and lucid. Neff and Aiko are better as well, the knowledge we are not being sought by the police and your recovery easing the fear they have carried inside. We are all of us keeping true to each other, true to the need to leave the streets behind.

Once you are feeling better I have to turn my efforts to the breaking of bad habits. Our new surroundings are helpful for they are alien to you and the others. Aiko in particular seems to slip into this new reality effortlessly, cultivating a sense of reserved dignity in stark contrast to the excitable, fidgeting creature who sold herself on a New Orleans street corner. Having left the surreal horror of New Orleans behind, she has found her inner self and is amazed.

Neff, always the calm one of the three, now seems lost and forlorn. Things have changed too suddenly, her world now turned on its head. New Orleans was terrible, but there was a certainty to it, a familiarity that makes such things seem almost comfortable. Freedom is something she is not prepared for, not yet. There is time now, time to heal all manner of hurts until she feels the firmness of the world beneath her feet.

And you, as days become weeks you unfold like a flower. The drugs are gone from your body, but their hold upon your soul is far more difficult to sunder. More difficult, but not impossible: like being born you emerge from the darkness and begin to perceive the world around you with a clarity that grows deeper and more complete with every passing day. The cold bitterness of your past still churns inside you, those wounds will leave their marks forever, but there are moments when the girl overwhelms the pain, and those come more frequently every day.

So many good things, and yet the past years cannot be set aside so easily. Buck’s attentions to you, so well-meant, set you on edge. You are afraid to offend him and afraid to be alone with him. Neff and Aiko naturally seek to protect you, but none of you know how to behave around men who give you a choice. The results are sometimes comical, but also problematic. As we reach the end of a month here there is no choice but to move on.

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