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IT was the money again that lured him to the streets as ‘Joanna.’ Jade, a true fashion diva, dressed him to look stunning and provocative, and so it continued. He became not a regular on the streets, but a desirable, attractive and high-priced ‘girl’ for special clients.

His mother still did not know about his line of work, but the late nights continued to make her worried. That left him with a sense of guilt though the money he was making had improved their lives greatly, even to begin refurbishing their home.

But life has a precedent to change and for Jonathan, his mother’s son and Joanna, the sex worker, there came a change.

Joanna and Jade had left a friend’s birthday bash late that night and as they drove home from the East Bank, a black SUV appeared from nowhere, almost running them off the road. Jade braked sharply, his Audi skidding off the road, but coming to a safe stop. He exited his vehicle in a rage against Joanna’s advice, unleashing expletives at the two men from the black SUV until one of the men pulled a gun.

“Shut up,” he shouted angrily, “Where is your friend who stole my gold and money?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Jade said, stepping back a little, “None of my girls steal from anyone.”
“Don’t give me that, you’re all the same.” The man said aggressively, hitting Jade with the gun.

They were both tall and well built, and would have beat Jade mercilessly if Joanna did not step out of the car.
“Please don’t beat her,” she pleaded, “We were at a party, we don’t know anything.”

The man looked at her and lowering the gun, he said with a wicked smile, “Well damn, who is this, a new girl on the block?”
“N–no,” Jade answered, scared for her life, but not wanting them to harass Joanna.

The other man slowly walked about Joanna, looking at her from head to toe and said in a threatening tone, “I’ll tell you what, we’ll take your friend here to spend some time with us until you find who stole the gold and money.”

“No,” Joanna refused in a slight trembling voice, “I’m not going anywhere with you.”
“Yeah?” the man said, with deadly seriousness and raised the gun, pointing it at Jade’s head, “You want to see your friend die?”

This was the danger that came with her line of work, and to save her friend’s life, Joanna consented to go with the men. Along the way, they said things to her that drove a deeper fear into her heart. She had not spoken to the Lord in a long while, but tonight she prayed silently.

“Please Lord, save me from harm so I can go home to my family.”
They stopped at a dark, lonely area somewhere, thick shrubs bordering the narrow dirt road.

Joanna looked around, thinking she had to try and escape, knowing something bad would happen to her. One of the men was on the phone, speaking in low, deep anger to someone about his encounter with the transgender who stole from him. The next man, gun in the waist of his pants, looked around to ensure they were alone. Joanna slipped out of her heels, just in time as she was dragged out of the SUV.

She was pushed roughly against the vehicle and the man said, “If I don’t find that one who stole from me, I will make you pay for it, so others like you could learn not to steal from their clients.”
“Please don’t,” she pleaded, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

He hit her with his fist and she could taste the blood in her mouth. They both looked at her with wicked intent and as rough hands reached for her, the sudden sound of hooves pierced the lonely, quiet area.
“What the—?” both men swore, looking up the dirt road as the sound came closer.

There was two horses coming down the road at a fast pace.
That distraction gave Joanna an opportunity to escape and she plunged into the thick bushes, sliding down the slope, the sharp twigs ripping her clothes and skin.

The men shouted angrily, following her and firing shots into the bushes hoping to hit her, but Joanna kept going in the strange terrain. She stopped to catch her breath when she could hear them no more and it was then she felt a burning sensation in her back and the bleeding.
A bullet had hit her.

She sat down, leaning against a tree, getting weaker from the loss of blood and called Jade, but the signal was too weak to reach her.
“Am I going to die here?” she asked, in a quivering voice.
And she left a voicemail on Jade’s phone saying, “Whatever happens to me, please don’t let my mother see me like this, she must never know.”
And as she laid there, in the throes of death, a bright light appeared, a most beautiful sight.

A feeling of deep peace entered her being and she followed the light but reached a closed door that did not open. And as she stood there, she seemed to hear a voice that said, “It’s not your time, return and be your true self.”
Jonathan opened his eyes slowly, breathing easily and as his vision cleared, he saw his mother sitting by his side, tears in her eyes.

He was in a hospital ward, flowers by his side, and tears streamed down his face as he realised that God had answered his prayers so he could come home to his family.
“Thank you, dear Lord,” he whispered, and tried to smile as his mother touched his face, but grimaced in pain. He had to tell her sorry and tell her about the horses and the strange encounter going into the light.
Later that day when Jade visited him, she told him she had come back with two male friends and found him through the GPS on his watch, barely alive.

“It saved your life, so now you will always wear it when you go out with any clients.”
“No,” Jonathan told her, “This line of work is finished for me; Joanna is no more, just Jonathan.”
In his mind, he was determined, now, to live his life for whom he was in pursuit of a good future and not allow society to judge him.

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