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"If they're not jaywalking, if they're just standing on the street corner, I'm limited in my job," says Officer Darren King of East Patrol. "Vice helps get the job done."
A conviction on an arrest during a Narcotics and Vice Division sting can bring time in the Jackson County Jail. But the girls know how that works, too.
"Tuesdays and Thursdays are vice days," Darlene says. "Every other Saturday is a prostitution sting or a drug kick-in."
When Darlene got caught, the Jackson County judge looked at her good record of making court dates, then took a 3-inch stack of offenses and reduced it to two charges.
She pleaded guilty to solicitation for immoral purposes and possession of narcotic equipment and got two years of unsupervised probation — she was to do no drugs, no hooking. She was back on the street the next day. The same thing happened in 2004, when she was arrested for charges involving prostitution and drugs.
In 2007, Darlene missed a court date and got 33 days in the Municipal Correctional Institution. She detoxed, started treatment for her crack addiction, went to Narcotics Anonymous meetings and started counting sober time. She stayed clean for nine months. It was her first extended sobriety since she had been a teenager, but like addicts say, the streets are always only one hit away. Darlene took the hit.
"It's not that it makes you feel good," she says. "It's just, you get high. You get the rush, the adrenaline rush that you want. It's playing hide-and-seek with the cops. You know they're watching, and you're gonna get in the car while they're sitting right there. That's the rush."
For 15 years, Darlene has chased that rush into Northeast hideaways that most people would rather not see.
Darlene steps around a decapitated snake on the wooden bridge at the Kessler Park pond. She used to bring her dates all up and down Cliff Drive. "This here is like memory lane," she says as she hops over a trickling stream and follows it up into the woods. "Right in here," she says, "we put a blanket down and set here and listen to the stream."
She lingers for a second before heading toward the pond. She walks around the sidewalks that slant into the water. "Sometimes we'd just set right down there behind the wall."
Walking west on Cliff Drive, Darlene pauses at a sweeping curve with a wide shoulder. "This here was my favorite spot," she says. It's a little cut in the wall with stone steps leading down into a thick tangle of brush. Darlene steps down and climbs over a log. "This used to be all clear, down in here."
At the bottom, looking back up toward the wall, she says, "I used to set right there and smoke my shit, or over there on that rock. I never carried nothing on me. I'd leave pipes at each of my spots so I never carried nothing on me."
The good memories end at a shadowy bend 100 yards farther west.
"There have been two incidents down in here," she says, putting fire to an Echo 100 cigarette and walking along the shoulder.
She stops at the stone wall. Behind it, the ground dives 50 feet to a clearing that's marred with debris and a car tire. "That's the spot," she says, pointing. "That's the tree right there."
One summer night, seven years ago, a dishwater-blond man with brown facial hair beat Darlene into submission, pinned her arms behind her, tied them to the tree and raped her standing. When he finished, she slumped down with her back against the tree.