"T.J. lost her brother a while back, and her friend died here today," says T.T., who walks with a horrible limp, swinging sharp elbows to throw her emaciated body left and right. She claims she destroyed her hip playing basketball, an injury that ended her dream of a scholarship, and there wasn't much to fall back on in her broken family.
"Death is part of it," T.T. says of the scene out here, which she describes as " 'Escape From New York,' without Kurt Russell."
She's 24 but looks younger, with hair dyed the color of Sunny Delight and teeth white as powdered cocaine. With no warning, she suddenly loses the street-tough pose, and her body slacks as she cries big wet tears for the 9-year-old daughter she never sees.
"I never even had an ID," she says, ashamed of herself. It's as if she doesn't exist.
T.J., whom she calls Mama, seems to be the closest thing she's got to family here.
"She don't want me to die like this," T.T. says.
We cross the street to get away from the distraction of steady business. T.T. stops and leans against a wall outside the Midnight Mission. She sees a family approaching.
"Kids!" T.T. yells for all to hear, down the street and around the corner.
That's so anyone smoking crack or shooting up will take cover, says T.T.'s friend Molly. You've got to watch out for the kids, so they don't see too much out here.
When T.T. walks away, Molly talks about the working girls on skid row who are known as strawberries.
What's that? I ask.
That's what they call girls who turn tricks for the price of a rock, Molly says. Some of the girls don't just do business in those toilets, she says. They live in them.
Molly tells me she doesn't need to be here because she lives "in a castle" in Monrovia.
Then why is she here?
Because everything you need is here, she says.
"I'm a heroin addict."
Before midnight, T.J. emerges from her outhouse wearing the see-through top and a snappy black brim. She's flashing seven rings, a bracelet and a necklace.
Not a good day, she says. Virgil, the guy who O.D.'d earlier, was a good friend. Some of the men are just lonely, she says, and she takes them into the toilets to cheer them up, listen to their stories or share a smoke.