A few things before I begin. Regarding my unintentional cat rescue situation, it happened. We’re back at 12. Friday, as I paced, writing, robe securely caped, I looked outside to see an orange cat eating on our porch. I racked my brain for the name of this cat, baffled I couldn’t remember. When I was finally able to face reality, I tried to approach, but no luck. This morning, it was hungry enough to accept food, but I didn’t get a glimpse of gender. Looks like a new game is afoot. Death to all who abandon their pets.
Regarding my name, I have realized ‘Dubbed’ is a poor alias, which led me to the thought, hey, pen name! Long story short, I wanted it to be fun, and what’s more fun for a writer than Page Turner? I know what you’re thinking, why not Paige? Right? It’s because Paige is a common first name, and Turner is a common last name. There’s probably a ton of them, and it makes me wonder how often people don’t believe it the first time they meet. I bet it’s annoying, plus Page is shorter and I’m lazy.
Lastly, as of late, I’ve drifted away from acknowledging my own toxic traits. Instead, other people have been the focal points of my stories, and tonight is no different. To make things squaresies, I’m going to admit something I’m deeply ashamed of but can’t stop. Deep breath. The way I embody the hillbilly cliche is… I eat my steaks rare… with ketchup. When you finish cringing, we can begin.
We’re talking about Giddy Up western store again. More precisely, my final few months employed there. We didn’t have time to discuss the credit system in our last chat, but any employee or ‘playmate’ could take anything without paying. Instead, we wrote a ticket, signed it, and put it in a basket with dozens more. It got out of hand fast, but there was nothing Don could do.
I’m sure you remember Don; older guy, ran his wife’s dead sister’s store into the ground? You see, Donnie boy thought he was being clever. Not only was it cheaper to pay his playmates in merchandise, he thought “they’re paying monthly” sounded believable. Unfortunately, he didn’t consider how it would look when his “charge accounts” became a stack totaling thousands but never actually received payments.
Even worse, he didn’t realize actual employees would want to utilize the same benefits. It’s Psychology 101, of course people want what others have. Our merchandise was marked up 1.65, it added together quickly. Remember, Jane and Sara are our managers, Liz and Phoebe (from Rain Showers) are other workers like myself. That should be all you need beforehand, now let’s get into how this mess played out.
We set the scene on a warm Monday morning when Don introduces his newest pet, Cindy. This one was truly a piece of work. She wore skirts with no underwear, and we saw her noonie often. Why one would feel a need to brag about deep throating skills, I’ll never understand, but I hear ecstasy is a heck of a drug to do regularly. Personally I’ve only tried it a handful of times, but much as I appreciate a good high, it just isn’t my thing. If you can use it responsibly, props.
Normally, his new girls waited a few weeks before taking free clothes, but Cindy was clearly special. “Hey Gurlz! What’s up!” Cindy arrived her second day, late and stoned on a pharmaceutical cocktail.
“Tell me this bitch ain’t come in here wearing pajamas.” Sara muttered.
Exasperated, I glanced up. “Yea, that’s exactly what it is.” I turned away, refusing to acknowledge it further.
“I can’t take another day of this.” Sara began texting Don. I didn’t get my hopes up, knowing even her voice would be ignored in favor of a playmate.
We sat quietly until Don’s reply. “You kidding me?” She cursed under her breath, glaring at the message.
“What?” I was afraid to know.
She turned to Cindy, “Mista Don said go pick an outfit. Shouldn’t be wearing pajamas to work. Act like you got some sense.” Sara shook her head. Adding, “Ugh, white people! Oh… no offense.”
“Nah, that’s fair.” I shrugged.
Cindy clapped gleefully, “Really? Yay! Thank you, I didn’t have any clean clothes this morning.” When she finished playing Fashion Montage, she was decked out in $389.99 (before tax) worth of merchandise.
“It was ballsy to include the ostrich boots.” Liz grumbled, angry Cindy was wearing the boots she wanted but couldn’t afford. “I mean, it’s bull! She’s been here two days! Does Don know she got boots?!”
“I text him when she was trying them on. He said start her a ticket.” Sara answered exasperatedly without looking up from the calculator.
“I don’t see why you all don’t just start a ticket. You guys hide all this stuff in the back until you can afford it, why? Take it home today, pay later. Not like he can tell you no. What’s he gonna do? Admit they are paying him, just not with cash?” I was being sarcastic. I didn’t even look up from whatever phone game held my attention back then.
“…Why don’t we do that, Sara?” Liz asked.
“… Because I hadn’t considered it. I mean… I am going to pay. I ain’t gonna be like all them. But it would be nice to get those new jeans before Friday… I’ll do it if y’all do.” Sara said
“Oh I already know what I’m getting.” Liz agreed. “What are you getting? You gotta find something too.”
“Ew, I don’t want none of this redneck junk.” I replied, enduring the slaps I knew were coming. My distaste for country-life still baffled them, but they enjoyed teasing me about it.
“Hey! If y’all are doing that, I got stuff I need for my sister’s birthday.” Jane shared my preference for Hot Topic, but came from the same hillbilly breed as the rest of us.
“See, even Jane is, you have to find something.” Liz pressed.
“Fine, fine. Actually, if we’re serious, Hubby could really use some new Red Wings…” Go big or go home, as they say.
“This store won’t make it another year the way he going. That new girl just showed up in pajamas on her second day. What happened? She’s going home in over $400 worth of clothes and a day’s pay! I’m serious.” Sara was already filling in her ticket.
Mob mentality is a strange thing. Before I knew it we each had our own tickets, though mine substantially lower. Try as I might, nothing appealed to me. When Don arrived, Sara and Jane casually asked if they too could “charge a few items.”
Don agreed after a slight hesitation, but weeks passed before he understood how far it went. At that point it was too late to complain. He couldn’t figure out how to tell some to pay up when so many with longer, higher debts never made payments. It was then he realized the store, and subsequently his entire lifestyle, could very well be coming to a tragic end.
“We have got to figure out a way to make more money.” He complained on a day when he and I were co-existing peacefully.
“Everything in your store only appeals to one demographic, why don’t you try buying some Pacsun and Hot Topic? Set it up in the clearance room, there’s plenty of space back there. Me and Jane could run it.” Again, it was sarcasm. I pitched the idea every few months since beginning work there, but never was it taken seriously.
“I don’t know, hell. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea.” Don pondered.
“Really? Because I can bring some magazines for you to look at tomorrow…” Jane pounced like a cheetah. I silently cheered her on, stunned.
Hell, don’t we have a bunch of that stuff laying around? We got stacks of dealership magazines somewhere. More of it’s coming in the mail every day, we ought to.” Don grumbled, nodding his head in the general direction he wished us to search.
For once no one complained. We went about the task enthusiastically and were rewarded for our efforts. Whose familiar with BUDK? They sell all kinds of weapons. Swords, knives, blow darts, you name it. Full disclosure right away, I didn’t buy arsenals of battle ready weapons as you will immediately realize when I share the costs. The knives are real, but the swords would take great effort to cut.
“Ooo! Now this is what we need! I’ve never heard of the place, but look at all these weapons! Tasers, mace, samurai swords, they’re… they’re beautiful!” I threw the magazines on the table, saving them for later, and continued my search.
I hadn’t realized Don picked them up until he asked, “Y’all think we should get some mace and tasers? Lots of women might wanna carry one in there purse, look, there are pink ones!” Don held the magazine to Jane.
“Yea, I know I would.” Jane took the magazine, flipping through as Don and others watched over her shoulder. All seemed interested.
I stood back, afraid to break whatever magic spell was creating this miracle. They can’t be serious, I’m not that lucky. Even when Jane took the necessary information to contact the company, I expected nothing. The next day, when they asked my help choosing items for our first order, I threw myself into the task with vigor.
“This is just torture, look at all this stuff I can’t afford! I’ll go broke trying to buy everything we order.” I complained to the girls. Only Sara, Jane, and Phoebe were present. Don and his playmate were on their daily breakfast run.
“You looking at the wrong price. That’s what they want us to charge regular people, we pay the dealer price, look.” Sara pointed to a smaller number. Each item listed a recommended sale price in large, bold print, but underneath, much smaller, were our dealer prices.
“That can’t be. It says $16 for this $80 Ichigo’s Zangetsu… what’s the catch?” My brain couldn’t comprehend such a thing.
“How you think we suppose to make money? They dealer prices.” Sara rolled her eyes and I decided not to push my luck.
An hour later, our order was ready. We started small with mace, tasers, pocket knives, and Zangetsu. The wait seemed forever, but the ship time was only a few days. I was disappointed with its smaller size, but reminding myself of its low cost, a new addiction was born. Upon receiving my $60 at closing, I returned $20 to Don and took my new prize home.
The tasers sold well, and Don asked us to make a new order. Before I knew it, I added an Alien Vs. Predator battle axe with detachable knife for less than $20. I was highly impressed, but when it came time to pay, I couldn’t stop thinking about my measly $175 ticket piled amongst others who owed 10x my current total.
“We have rent due, can I charge this one?” I asked Don afterbeing paid.
He waved me off, knowing he couldn’t say no. Our fancy hunting knives sold like hotcakes, but the more money we made, the more dates Don arranged. None of us complained, we long ago accepted Giddy Up’s fate. The other girls charged boots and Cruel Girl jeans while I expanded my weapons collection.
For our next order, we found truck nuts in all colors and sizes. The ones that lit up were returned by angry customers who were pulled over for their flashing lights, otherwise they sold better than anything in the store. I found a lovely Kit Rae dagger; I’ve never seen the show, but again, pretty and cheap.
Around this time, Don angered Cindy by not having cash when she wanted it. For revenge, she shared their texts with us the next morning. Phoebe, Jane, Sara and I gathered to see the words in print as she read aloud. For your convenience, I will add punctuation and correct spelling, but know the real text was enough to give a Grammar Nazi an aneurysm. These are people who couldn’t distinguish between or/are, won’t/want basics.
Don: Can we meet tonight? I’m having a hard time with the store and family right now. It feels like everything is falling apart, I really need someone to talk to.
Cindy: Poor baby, usual place?
Don: Yea, thanks darlin’. I’m already here, I didn’t know where else to go.
Cindy: Okay, I’m with Baby Daddy, be there in an hour.
Don: Oh. Okay. Well, please hurry, I need somebody so bad right now.
Cindy: Do you have an extra $100 with you? We’re low on diapers and formula, I can tell Rick I’m going to the store or something.
Don: I didn’t bring money, I can’t get more cash without Kay seeing the bank statements. You know I’ll take care of you tomorrow, someone always pays cash. Maybe we can sneak those Montana Silversmith earrings ;).
Cindy:You don’t have ANY money?!
Don: I will tomorrow, you know I’ll make it up to you. We don’t have to do nothing, I just need someone to talk to. All this stuff going on makes me wish I was dead…
Cindy: I’m sorry, the baby has a fever. Rick wants me to stay while he goes shopping. Wanna hang out tomorrow? I can say you need me to work late.
Don: Wow, I see how it is. I actually thought you cared about me, but I guess you only care about my money. Maybe I should just kill myself.
Cindy: Don’t be like that, I got a sick baby. See you tomorrow.
Don: You’re nothing but a liar and con-artist! Just like all the others! Don’t even bother coming in tomorrow.
Cindy: Are you firing me for not coming to see you after hours when I have a sick baby?
We think that’s when Don understood the great power texts hold. He never responded to that message. The next morning, Cindy arrived early for the first time. “Anyway, I just thought you ladies would be interested. I’m afraid I may be coming down with a cold, does anyone mind if I take a sick day?” It was rhetorical, she was already gathering her possessions, knowing she would never return. She blackmailed Don with those texts for a long time, at least as long as the store was open. I doubt he could afford it after.
Don didn’t come to work that week, citing flu as the reason, but we knew better. None of us were brave enough to say anything directly, but the tension when he came around was at a new high. We all grew bolder with our charge tickets in the following weeks. Mine, still drastically lower, never topped $1,000, but some of the other girls came close to $5,000. I bought nunchucks, and tried to learn how to use them via YouTube. Several bruises later they were for display only. I bought a chain whip for no reason other than wanting to say I owned one. Same goes for the crossbow which was cheap and broke a few years ago.
Liz bought a blowgun first, but I got one on the next order, unable to tolerate someone owning a weapon I didn’t. Along with several styles of throwing knives, I found a nifty thing I can only think to call a pocket throwing star. Last but not least, I’m sad report I can’t find my weird chakram. I searched all over Google before I found a picture, but I believe it was labeled as a Soul Calibur rip-off. All of which is moot to me, I just thought it looked neat and it’s genuinely sharp. I have the scar to prove it. Remember the cousin I talked about in Breakfast of Champions? He stabbed me with it on accident. Well… technically it was on purpose, but not with malice… more like a test.
After officially beginning work for Hubby’s aunt (Slushy), I happily resigned. The store was open a few more months before it closed down, but the drama was far from over. Next time we discuss this time period, I’ll tell you about convincing Sara to hire a different cousin who just moved back into town. I was completely unaware she developed a drug addiction, I honestly do feel poorly about what it put the girls through.
Honorable mentions include Urahara’s Benihime, Naruto kunai, Kill Bill samurai swords, and a taser made to look like a Nokia brick-phone. My nephew, who I haven’t had a chance to tell you about, has inherited most of these. He’s 19 now and currently living in another state, but I’ve asked him to send pictures. I figure we have a 20/80 chance he’ll remember, but if he does, I’ll add them later. He is Hubby’s oldest sister’s son, and was 7 when we met. He is my mini-me, my prodigy, and I love the little stinker to hell and back, but holy cow did he have a shit childhood. That’s going to be a longer story I don’t want to write sober, but absolutely worth telling.
I know my last few posts were on the longer side so I wanted to keep this simple. Plus I ran out of internet again and waiting on Hubby’s hotspot makes publishing difficult. I haven’t decided the next topic yet, but I hope to have at least one more Halloween theme before the holiday is over. I appreciate all of you who take the time to indulge my Blogger fantasies, and remember, stay safe out there. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.
Hubby and I lived in our first apartment for 18 hellish months. By that time, I had a work bestie, Phoebe. I suggest imagining her as Phoebe from Friends, but if she drank heavily and popped pills. She was my age but dating a 45 year old creeper. It wasn’t a fling, last I heard they were still together. Phoebe stayed with Mike through several beatings and trips to rehab, but that all came later. At the time we’re discussing, they were 6 months into their relationship and living together.
Mike owned a double-wide 45 minutes outside of town. There was one gas station 15 minutes away, otherwise they were alone with a few scattered neighbors. His home sat between his grandmother’s and aunt’s, but Aunt (Dee) moved in with the granny when her husband died. He committed suicide five years prior after being fired, and his affairs were made public knowledge. He drove to a secluded area to shoot himself, but Dee never went into their house again. I can’t blame her there, but personally I wouldn’t have left my diary behind for anyone to find.
During a particularly bad rant to Phoebe, she told me about Dee’s situation. Apparently the 4 bed, 3 bath house needed cosmetic repairs, and was available for rent to anyone capable. Due to the work required, rent (water included) was only $300. Life in the country is cheaper in general, but to give you an idea of living costs in my hometown, the rent for our tiny crap-hole was considered cheap at $550.
Hubby and I were ecstatic, it was exactly the kind of work he does. We followed Phoebe and Mike there that evening. The money saved on rent would be more than enough to justify the extra gas cost. “Is… Is that a house or a trailer?” I asked Hubby as we pulled into the driveway.
“That would be a trailer with extra rooms built on each end.” He explained, slightly unsure. After a full walk around, he corrected, “It’s actually two trailers with two additions, none of which match.”
“They don’t expect you to do anything on the outside. There’s no leaks; structure, electrical, and plumbing are solid, but the rooms need to be cleaned and painted. They had pets inside, so they want to rip out the carpet and install linoleum, but that’s the worst of it” Mike reassured as he struggled to open the front door. If his assessment had been accurate, everything would have worked out fine.
“Are the utilities already on?” I asked, too entranced at the prospect of living far from Rob and Amy to be suspicious.
“No not yet, but she already started the process, they should be on by the end of the week.” Mike answered and lead us through the house.
The stench of carpet repeatedly soaked in urine and left to dry assaulted our senses upon entry. The woman was clearly a hoarder, it quickly became apparent why the extensions were done haphazardly. They built where they could when they needed more space. The living room, kitchen, one bedroom, and bath were free of clutter stacks, but the remaining rooms were so full you couldn’t enter. Look, I know this has more red flags than a date who casually mentions living with his mother, but that’s why I wrote Breakfast of Champions first. If you haven’t read it, you can’t follow the thought process through this decision.
Sure, the place looked and smelled bad, but at the time, I was working from home and Hubby did these kinds of repairs for a living. We figured we could be cozy in a week and clean the spare rooms at our leisure. The living room and kitchen alone were bigger than our entire apartment. Honestly, we already had our eyes on a few things. There were all sorts of buried treasures, including a loaded gun hidden in a curio cabinet, but that’s for another day.
We moved the following weekend when utilities were restored. The house was so filthy we asked friends and family for help, but we only got Amy. My parents came, but stressed me out so badly we let them leave. Amy was excited to come, she was fighting with Rob and packed for the weekend. It was better than no help at all, we were grateful.
After checking each appliance and faucet, we learned the fridge was broken, the kitchen had the only functioning sink, the washer didn’t spin, most outlets didn’t work, nor did the guest shower, and a dead rat floated in the toilet. Every second I suffered from Amy’s Xanax delusions were justified when she reached in, grabbed the rat’s tail, and dropped it into a trash bag. “Huh, that was gross.” She shrugged it off as if she were discussing inconvenient weather.
Mike delivered a new fridge, otherwise nothing else was repaired for the 6 months we stayed there. Hubby wears 4-5 outfits daily, we can’t go long without washing clothes. Desperate, I tried to clean them without spin cycle assistance. I rung out each item before throwing it into the dryer, but the best way to describe the resulting pain in my hands is wet-burn. Plus, drying heavily soaked clothing broke the dryer inside two weeks.
We learn fast, it didn’t take long to understand our landlady had no intentions of making the home livable. We delivered our first rent payment in person, believing we would make fast introductions, hand them money, and retreat. Standard procedure. Not for these ladies. Dee and her mother were lonely, chatty women. They insisted we come in to “set a spell.” Thats hillbilly for “we want you to sit and listen to us talk a few hours.”
Scared and nervous we entered the witch’s lair, and again, were immediately assaulted by the pungent oder of urine, but fresh this time. Imagine you’re in a movie theater wearing flip-flops. You know what it feels and sounds like walking on those floors? That’s exactly what their carpet was like. Yes, I said carpet. Let that sink in a moment. If I was going to be trapped anyway, I wanted the conversation to be beneficial. I gave her a list of our major issues, most importantly the plumbing.
“I think we need to address these items before we begin cosmetics. The house isn’t livable.” I wanted to be polite, we wanted this to work.
“Oh my, I don’t know what could have happened, everything worked perfectly when I lived there.” Dee reviewed my list. “But there’s no reason to wait, my son is a plumber and I’m sure he can find a washer real quick.”
It was hard to resist pointing out the last time she entered the home was seven years go, but I managed. “That sounds great, but we can’t wash clothes until then. If he can get it quickly, it shouldn’t hurt to wait. We (Hubby) go through clothes too fast to dirty more with house work. My parents live outside the opposite end of town, it’s almost an hour from here. That’s too far to take clothes every other day.” I made a conscious effort to maintain a smile.
“Ah, I see! Well that’s no problem at all. You can was clothes here while we wait on the new one.” Dee beamed proudly.
I would have worn each pair of underwear for a week before I did laundry in that house. They would smell worse leaving than going. As it is, we burned the clothes we wore inside this first day. I’m not joking. I would like to take a moment to apologize for the sins we committed against the environment, but I was raised in a place that doesn’t believe in science. I didn’t know better, I am truly sorry. They were old clothes anyway, so when the smell clung to us we threw them in the burn pile.
By Sunday afternoon, we filled five 42 gallon trash bags but had no clue what to do with them. We hadn’t made a dent in our closet, where we were surprised to find clothes piled floor to ceiling. No hangers or baskets, nothing folded, just clothes thrown in until it was full. “But wait! Can’t you donate the clothes to charity?” You ask. That was also my initial response. Unfortunately, it was soon apparent we found the rat queen’s nest.
The smell was our first warning sign, but tolerable by our new, lowered standards. Armed with rubber gloves and face masks, we initiated contact with the pile. Rat feces fell from each item we picked up. Some things were chewed and matted together, some were stiff as a board. When the first live rat fled from the pile, we changed tactics. Newly armed with shovels and rakes, we scooped clothes into heavy duty trash bags. Hopefully you now understand why I would be averse to have them in my car, especially for multiple trips. Burning them honestly seemed like our only choice.
When Amy left Monday, we considered our living spaces almost as good as it would get. We obviously couldn’t waste money fixing the house, but we ripped out the carpets for our health and sanity. Once the living room and bedroom were clear, we saw there were very few places not permanently piss-stained. The thought of walking on it everyday was unsettling to say the least. Are you familiar with the felt paper used underneath shingles?
Far from glamorous, but we had tons of the stuff and it put something clean under our feet. After the first two months, we adjusted to our new routines. We learned to brush our teeth in the kitchen, took five minute showers, and never left the safety of our living areas. It was around this time, the complaints about plumbing got serious. We accepted we would never have faucets or the other bathrooms functioning, but Hubby found a leak under our good bathroom. That scared us. If it stopped working, we were beyond screwed. I do not ‘pop squats’ no ma’am.
Every day for weeks I sent messages to Dee and Phoebe, “We have a leak, I’m really worried about it.” I understood they weren’t capable of concern for our general well-being, so I decided to appeal to their needs adding, “I’m mainly concerned because of your water bill. I’ve seen leaks cost several hundred to the water company alone.” That one always earned me a response, but not one I wanted.
“Oh goodness me! My son is a plumber, I can ask him to fix it. Can you maybe just fill up a couple buckets to flush and wash with, then you can cut the water off?” Dee suggested this as if it weren’t the same son who was supposed to provide a new washer. I was skeptical.
We tried it for a few days, but the shutoff valve was ridiculously hard to access, and when days turned to weeks we were beyond our limits with Dee. Each time I spoke to her she behaved as if it were the first time. At the end of the first week she let slip, “My son is a plumber, I can call him to come fix it!”
“You said that last week, have you still not called anyone?!” My calm facade fell momentarily, but I struggled to regain it in her awkward silence.
Finally, she said “I did. I did… but he was busy, maybe he forgot. I’ll call again right now.” It was the first time she ended a conversation voluntarily.
As I’m sure you can all guess, this continued until they received a $400 water bill. Dee called crying, sucking snot back every few words. “What… what happened?!” I thought… but you said you could keep the water off. You… you said… you didn’t mind!”
I never cared for her poor me act to begin with and now she pushed me far past caring about etiquette. “Never once did I say we didn’t mind, I said it was doable for a few days! That was over two weeks ago!”
“I… I’ll call my son… he’s… a plumber.” Dee hung up, but she didn’t call her son, she called Mike.
A few minutes later, Mike knocked on our door, a sheepish Phoebe standing behind him. I knew what was coming. “Ah, let me guess, you heard about the water.”
“Yea, look. We really need to work something out. You have to see it’s unfair to tell her about a major leak and decide to turn the water back on when she can’t get it done the next day.” Mike tried to hand me the water bill, but too many things pushed my rage past the limit of control. I’ll leave out my curses, they’re unbecoming.
He was use to commanding fear and respect from Phoebe and the two old biddies he cared for, he forgot you can’t treat other people that way. I was already in defense mode before he tried to bow up in my front door to push that cray on me. I ignored his outstretched hand completely, and looked past him to Phoebe. “Do I need to show him the texts and calls from the last several weeks or do you want to explain it to him? Because the way we’ve been living it’s not going to be pretty if I have to relive a play-by-play.”
Phoebe tugged his shirt sleeve, “She really has. Non-stop. I told you.”
The look on Mike’s face said it all. Dee called him crying her pity story, he wanted her to leave him alone, so he believed her hogwash without an ounce of thought. Caveman then decided he would bully his way through like he did with everything else. It was only a few weeks until the water was shut off completely. Dee claimed she couldn’t afford a plumber or water bills. She invited us to use her facilities, but if you’ve been paying attention, you know that wasn’t a valid option. Instead we drove to mooch water from family.
Life wasn’t too terrible. It was genuinely better than dealing with Rob and Amy until Hubby had a wreck. We were less than a week into living without water when a car came into his lane. I’m thankful he wasn’t seriously injured, but our only car was totaled. I don’t want to go on a tangent about the wreck, but it took almost 3 months to receive our insurance money, and we were too young for a rental. Once a week, my parents drove us for groceries, otherwise we were stranded. It was kind of fun at first. Hubby couldn’t take jobs, and winter was an incredibly slow time of year for a porch building company. I took a few short phone calls a day, but the rest of our time was spent popping Adderall, smoking weed, and watching tv.
We could cook and brush our teeth with store bought water, that was never a problem when we had so many larger challenges to face. Washing clothes had us stumped, but we worked out a routine of washing at Phoebe’s every Friday while they bar hopped. We grew to look forward to those nights. We were able to have a real shower and toilet. Some of you may be wondering why we didn’t visit regularly, but we just aren’t those people. Maybe if it were only Phoebe, but we hated Mike and I have a super weird thing about potty etiquette.
The first two days without water, we became desperate enough to use each toilet regardless of flush capabilities. Unfortunately, that put us over the max waste limit one can tolerate in their home, and we were forced to find alternatives. Hubby peed outside freely, but to my great despair, I too was forced to pop the squats. Alas, this did nothing to help with pooping. How campers and hunters use bushes I’ll never understand, but Hubby tried walking into the woods on Day 3. He returned covered in poison ivy and red-bug bites. So, what do do?
Well, it turns out, if you take a 40qt pot, and hook a few Walmart bag handles over the pot handles, you’re off to a good start. No matter what, don’t forget to hook those handles. Learn from our mistake, you don’t want to clean your own. Then you need four 4×4 cut offs taller than your pot, 6 inches is ideal. This requires a flat, even surface, and it helps if your willing to put a few screws in the floor. We were. Again, not something you want to learn the hard way. Once you have your base, you need to two more (preferably decking size) boards to lay across the top. Now you have a redneck toilet. It doesn’t flush, and you have to change the bag after each use, but it kept us pooping indoors.
The sad part is, once that’s resolved you have to figure out what to do with the bags. Obviously we couldn’t burn them as we had other trash, no one picked up garbage this far out of town, we were baffled. Then we noticed the shed in our backyard. We were use to ignoring it after our first look, when we moved in we saw it was full of garbage and smelled of mold. “You think that would work?” I asked Hubby as we shared a knowing glance.
“I think it’ll have to, let’s check it out.” He carefully approached the shed with a shovel, using the spade to swing the broken door ajar. It couldn’t latch, but it closed far enough to get the job done. The shed appeared to be Dee’s first hoarding victim. We honestly believed if (big if) anyone ever discovered our shame, it would be years away with no reason to suspect it wasn’t Dee herself. Hoarders save all sorts of weird stuff after-all.
Pooping quickly became the worst part of each day, but when the shed could hold no more, we were forced to hike into the woods. We found a deep gully to throw our bags into, but ignoring the fact we had to add a lengthy walk to our waste disposal routine, it felt deeply wrong. It’s the one routine I couldn’t adjust to. As the weeks progressed, with no end in sight, we sank deeper into depression. While we only had to suffer the poo routine in the morning, other challenges faced us through each day.
We may have showered every Friday, but we couldn’t go more than a day without feeling gross. Bird baths with store water were a waste of time and resources, but it’s what we did most often. The first time it rained was on Day 5. “It’s raining hard enough to shower outside, do you want to try?” Hubby suggested, already collecting soap and shampoo.
“Yea, I think I do.” I was excited at the idea. I enjoyed playing in the rain, and this gave me a valid reason.
We don’t have snow here, our winters rarely have truly cold days, but apparently standing in the rain will make all the difference. As soon as we stepped into the open, rain hit us hard and cold, it felt like someone knocked the air out of me. Hubby was able to last almost five minutes for a complete scrub down, but I only managed to wash my hair. We felt better than we had in days regardless. We showered every time it rained for the entire 8 weeks.
The first time rent was due after losing water, I refused to pay. Dee was furious, but I wouldn’t budge. “No! We’ve been living without water for over three weeks, and no, we are not comfortable using yours. Even if we were that wouldn’t make this ok.” I was no longer trying to be polite. Those days were long gone.
“But I need rent money to pay for the water. You can’t have water until you pay rent!” She demanded as if she cut the water off as leverage.
“If I thought there was any truth to that at all, I would pay it just because that’s how desperate we are, but I know full well that’s not where the money will go. You had our money and several weeks before the first water bill, but you did nothing.” I was shaking with fury.
When Dee resorted to calling us con-artists and refused to discuss water further, I hung up mid rant. A few minutes later she realized I was no longer on the phone and tried to call back. I ignored the calls, well out of patience for the day. The biggest surprise of all came the following day. With no forewarning, a man resembling a dirty, redneck Santa knocked on our door.
He introduced himself as Dee’s son-in-law, and was not a plumber but explained, “She won’t leave me alone about it. I done told her over and over this place needs to be tore down, but she just don’t wanna hear it. I came by today just to shut her up. You all need to get outta here ASAP, she ain’t got no money, and if she did she’d just spend it on stupid shit from the tv.”
I thanked the man for his honesty and blocked Dee’s numbers. We already planned to run for it when the insurance money came, but I decided there was no point to suffer through any further contact with her. There was no fear of her coming in person, she wouldn’t even pull into the driveway. After having her blocked several days, she sent Mike in her stead.
Lucky for him, he arrived with a vastly different attitude. He apologized profusely, told us to continue ignoring Dee, and reminded us we could use their facilities anytime. It was all very amicable in their regard, but I’m sure he used a different act when reporting back to Dee. I didn’t care in the least as long as we had no contact with her. When the insurance money finally came through, we bought an Avenger and moved to a nice 2 bed 2 bath apartment in town. It was a wonderful, glorious home.
A few weeks after the move, Phoebe informed me Dee hired a lawyer and intended to sue us. She and Mike were present during the lawyer’s visit, and the conversation was phenomenal.
“Not only did they refuse to pay rent, they stole from me! I want all my rent money, my stuff, and then something for all the emotional distress they put me through. They lived there for 6 months!” Dee ranted at the lawyer.
“Well we can probably get the rent money, but pending what they did with the stolen items… what all did they take? Do you have a copy of your renters contract?” The lawyer asked, pausing to look up from his notes.
“We didn’t do no contract, but they robbed me blind! I’ll have to make you a list, we gotta get in there and look, but my beautiful glass cabinet is gone!”
“You didn’t have any contract? That’s going to make recovering rent very difficult if not impossible. What other big items were taken? Did any of you see them take it? What’s our proof?” The lawyer put his notes away, already suspicious of his “easy paycheck” Dee described over the phone.
“I told you, I gotta get in there and see, I don’t know what else yet! Of course they didn’t take it when we was looking! They ain’t gonna admit to it, they saying they never took nothing! Liars! Liars and thieves!”
With a deep sigh, the lawyer asked, “Well why wouldn’t they pay rent? Did they give a reason? They just didn’t have it, or what?”
“They said they wasn’t gonna pay till I fixed the water, but that’s bullshit! They wasn’t supposed to be using it!” Now fully exasperated, the lawyer asked, “Wait. Are you saying that house doesn’t have water?!”
“Course it did. They had water till they ran up a $400 bill and got it turned off.” Dee snapped.
Mike, tired of the conversation, sped things over the finish line. “Look, they paid rent on time every month until the water was cut off. Aunt Dee did the water in her own name, it was suppose to be included in the rent.”
Dee looked at Mike with black hatred, but the lawyer spoke first. “I think I’ve heard enough. Ma’am , if they decide sue you, give me a call. Otherwise you need to thank your lucky stars and leave those folks alone.
And that friends, was how Dee left our lives for good. You have to be very careful when house shopping. Whether it’s to rent or own, always do your homework. I’m glad I finally got to write this one. We didn’t have time to cover all the good stories from living there, but the water incident was easily the most difficult. Next up, I’ve decided to make my 50th post the Halloween Special! I hope to post it in the next few days, until then stay safe and suspicious. Remember, the paranoid ones survive horror movies longest.
I’ve decided to tell you about my first apartment with Hubby. It’s necessary information if I want to tell you the living without water situation. As promised, I don’t write romance gush, nor do we have time if I want to cover the best drama from our first apartment. The point to this post is to accurately convey how desperate we were to move away from that place. By the time we are finished here, that will be abundantly clear, but first I must ask your indulgence as I lead you there properly.
To begin this story, let’s go over how Hubby and I met. I have one cousin on Mom’s side, Rob, who is 7 years older. Our grandmother watched us as children, and Rob hated my annoying ass. Rightfully so, I was terrible. As we grew, Rob moved away to live his life as a waiter. The fancy kind, he worked at places celebrities ate, Britney Spears among others. Years passed, I grew, broke up with Crook, and landed back at my parent’s house, Rob’s taunts largely forgotten.
Dad came home one evening, and handed me a scrap of paper with a phone number. “What’s this suppose to be?” Dad still believed I wanted to socialize. You have to stay on your toes with that one.
“I ran into Rob at the gas station. He moved back and wanted to see you… but he looked kinda rough. I didn’t want to give him your number so I got his. You can talk to him if you want, but be careful, he sounded drunk.” Dad warned, hoping I didn’t want to call. Interesting change of pace.
Unfortunately, my memories were deleted so long ago, I forgot they were missing (how’s that for a mind-fuck). Any inkling I did have was chalked to, of course he was mean, do you remember how annoying we were? The fact he never physically hurt us says he’s practically a saint. “Really?! He asked for me? Wants to see me? Wants me to call?”
Dad’s shoulders slumped in my excitement. “Well, yea, but maybe you should start off with a few conversations before you go meeting up with him. We don’t know wh… where are you going?” He called after me as I ran to my room.
“Don’t worry, I got it. Thanks!” Silly Dad, Rob knows how to handle drugs. Rob is my super cool big cousin, I bet he’ll smoke with me. I can’t wait to show him how grown I am.
I took several deep breaths, rehearsed a few opening pleasantries, and dialed his number. He answered almost immediately. “Hey Big Cousin! Dad just gave me your number, you’re back home?” Damnit, you’re blowing this. Calm down, be cool.
“Sup, Lil Cuz? Glad you called, we need to meet up. Start hanging out and shit.” Rob said casually, proving he was still the modern Fonzie I believed him to be.
“Yea! Totally! Where you staying? Whatcha doing tonight?” Stupid! Don’t say tonight, could you be more needy?! I couldn’t help myself. I assumed Rob would have his own place. Possibly one with a spare room. Any room not in my parent’s house would be a welcome upgrade.
“I’m staying with MawMaw (except he uses her first name, so cool) for now, it’s better than living with Dad. I’m about to get an apartment though. My fiancé is pregnant and we want to get a place ready for the baby.” He said these things without a hint of shame, but my hopes were stomped further into the ground with each sentence.
MawMaw?! No, not her! I can’t go over there! Pregnant? Even if he had a mansion I can’t live with a baby! Pregnant woman is probably just as bad. Don’t hate me too much for the thought. The only thing I knew of pregnant women was tv portrayed them as extremely emotional. They were either angry, sad, hungry, or a combination of the three. “Oh, that’s neat.” I couldn’t think of anything more to say, I turned on auto pilot and went to my happy place.
“Yea, I want you to meet Amy. What you got planned for tonight? We could come over, her and MawMaw hate each other so she won’t come here.” The casual manner in which he informed me of one red flag after another made me nervous.
“Um, I was just going to Cody’s house, you could come there.” Most of you probably haven’t read How I Met My Mother, but we don’t have time for a recap. An aunt raised me for a few years, and her oldest son, who I just decided to call Cody, is a year younger. We were always close, and he was living alone in the house we grew up in. If it weren’t next to his father’s parents, I would have lived there too. Ok? Moving on.
“Cool, text me the address, we’ll see you later.” The call ended. I snapped out of auto pilot and got to work on Cody.
Thankful I retained enough sense not invite a stranger to our house, I called Cody. As always, he was game for anything perceived as a chance to show off. One day I do intend to talk about Cody at length, he has a tragic story, but without his background you may be tempted to judge him unfairly. For that reason, I will not include the multitude of annoying behaviors he exhibited this night. Don’t worry, nothing he did registers on his Cray Scale, you aren’t missing anything important.
Rob and Amy arrived an hour after myself, and as promised, he looked a little rough. Maybe if I hadn’t been in prove Dad wrong mode, I could have accepted it sooner, but Rob became his father. He was a full-blown alcoholic, probably still is; we haven’t spoken in a few years. He introduced us to Amy, and we all shared a fairly pleasant evening. I theorized winning Amy’s approval would ensure continued contact with Rob. I’ll leave it to you guys to classify results of said theory. It’s laughable how largely she impacted my future. Before I say things to make you hate Amy, know that she has been off Xanax several years, and I love her very much.
“So you were Crook’s girlfriend? That’s crazy, yea I know him. He went to our school, he was in Jessie’s (older sister) grade. You know, you should meet my little brother. You two have so much in common it’s kind of creepy.” Amy warmed to me quickly. I thought she wanted to befriend her fiancé’s cousin, and I’m sure that was a factor at first, but she wasn’t lying. Amy is Hubby’s sister, we indeed have much in common.
Hubby and I met the next night. We sat in his apartment with Amy and Rob, silently, both too shy to speak.
“Alright y’all, this is ridiculous, we tried to let you do it yourselves, but it’s been over an hour.” Amy stood, arms flailing in her annoyance. A quick glance at Hubby revealed he too, was mortified. I felt slight relief from terror induced chest pains as I watched another potential relationship go up in smoke. Then Amy continued, exasperated this time, “So. Whose read Harry Potter.” And with a deep sigh, she returned to her seat.
The spell was broken as Hubby and I both began our detailed analysis of the series. Our motto became ‘you had me at Harry’ and the rest is history. Now, let me tell you about Hubby’s apartment. I made you two maps this time!
As you see, there is only one bedroom and it must be crossed to reach the bathroom or kitchen. This made the fact Hubby had a roommate with a live-in girlfriend very uncomfortable. That situation in itself is a very long, complicated ordeal, but two months into our relationship, the roommate stole rent and fled the state. While it created a difficult hurdle, it was well worth having the place to ourselves. Since it does not relate to why we had to move, we will save my ex brother-in-law’s story for later. Remember, it’s the South. We’re all related.
Now we finally arrive to the good stuff. Oh where to start with Rob and Amy? Let’s pick up after the baby is born and taken by an aunt, some may find Cousin-Nephew’s situation upsetting, and that isn’t where your focus should be. From this point forward, understand the wall between apartments is paper-thin. Only poor, desperate people live there, and most (like Amy) were without jobs or transportation. Hubby and I shared my car, and Rob lost his shortly after I moved in. Please enjoy the following examples of what life is like when you live next to a cousin and sister addicted to Xanax, pain pills, and alcohol.
Each morning I worked, I woke at 8 to be at Giddy Up by 9. I learned to dress quickly and quietly, grinch-walk to my car, and never ever look around. I stopped showering before work, but sometimes even these precautions weren’t enough. Descending the steps outside, I hear Amy’s door open. She calls my name, but I keep running. I hear her footsteps cross the porch, chasing me. I reverse onto the street, sweating, staring straight ahead. Please make it, please make it, I don’t have time. Then she is standing in the center of the road, blocking any chance of passing.
“Hey! I was screaming your name the whole way down! How did you not hear me?” The way she continued pulling on the locked door told me her Breakfast of Champions was kicking in nicely. I unlocked the door on her 5th try, anger burning through me.
“I don’t have time for this Amy, I’m going to be late for work.” I said through gritted teeth, knowing it was pointless.
“Yea you do, I just want McDonald’s. You don’t have to be there until 9, and it’s only going to take 4 to get there, and…” I went to my happy place as she continued to account for each minute leading to 8:56 when I would arrive 4 minutes early.
I was already at the first stop sign, anxious to get her out of my car. I knew it was pointless to communicate when she was this far gone, but that day she insisted on asking questions instead of her usual scattered chatter. “Thank you for taking me. I’m so hungry, but Rob ate all my groceries last night. Do you want a breakfast biscuit or something? I have enough.” She offered, showing me a handful of ones, most likely Rob’s tips from the night before.
“No, I’m fine, thanks.” I tried to be polite, all I wanted was to get her out of my car.
“Oh. Ok. I can’t believe Rob ate all those groceries last night. You know, I get $500 in food stamps every month and we just spent over $200 a few nights ago. Hey! Thanks for taking me, I’m so hungry. Do you want something? I can get you like, a breakfast biscuit or something!” She excitedly showed me the ones again.
“Nah, I’m really good. We get breakfast at work.” I answered, then decided to add “I get there early so I have time to eat.”
She didn’t catch my sarcasm. “Rob was so hungry last night! After work, a busboy smoked some really good weed with him. It gave him the munchies so bad, he ate all our groceries, it was insane. But now I woke up starving and there’s nothing to eat. Thank you so much for taking me. Oh! Hey, do you want something? I got plenty of money!” Once again she held the ones out like an offering.
I doubt you want to read the other repeats anymore than I want to type them, but there were at least 3 more. When we pulled into the parking lot, there were 7 cars in front of us. The ride was so terrible, I counted them several times. I took her money next time she held it out, placing it on the dashboard clearly in her view. I hoped it would help her retain our discussion, but it didn’t. In the end, she ordered two drinks and six sausage biscuits. “I can eat two at once, but I want something to heat up later since Rob has a double shift and you work til 6:00.” She reasoned as if she weren’t simultaneously informing me I was her dinner plan.
I didn’t feel the need to respond to her statement, but I think she was fishing for confirmation I would be home on time. After her longest stretch of silence, she tried again as she swallowed her first bite of food. “Oh my god, this is so good, I needed this so bad, you have no idea.” I had a pretty good idea considering how long she talked. “Thank you so much for taking me, I was really scared I was gonna miss you when you didn’t hear me on the balcony. They’re so good. You want a biscuit? ” She asked, one hand under her chin to catch the falling food as she talked.
“I’m seriously good dude, I just want to get to work.” I was having a hard time controlling my anger at that point. If I turned up the music, she screamed over it. If I tried to talk, she cut me off before I finished a sentence. If I ignored her, she repeated herself louder with each attempt. I was only one stop sign away from home when I snapped.
“I can’t believe I ate a whole biscuit before we got home, I…” I was in another world, focused on surviving the last few minutes when I felt her hand on my shoulder. “Did you hear me? I said thank you for taking me you’re such a life saver. Hey! Do you want a biscuit?”
We were right there, but the word vomit spewed forth so suddenly there was no stopping it. “Fine, yea I’ll take a damn biscuit, Amy.” I held my hand out with every intention of throwing it to the backseat in spite, but it never came.
When I looked at Amy, her jaw was dropped, eyes wide in shock or terror, maybe disgust. She looked from the food to me, back to the food, speechless. I mean mugged her right back until she finally spoke. “Oh. Well. It’s just that I asked you before I ordered and you said no… I ordered a specific number, why wouldn’t you say you wanted one then?”
Guys, snap doesn’t come close to describing what I did. As she finished speaking, I was giving the gas pedal an extra push to get us across the finish line. We flew into the driveway, I slammed on the breaks throwing Amy forward, and put it in park dramatically. Before she could move, I was screaming, “are you joking. The hell is wrong with you? I don’t want your damn biscuit! I told you no! No, no, no, no, no, no. All the way there after you chased me down! All the way home while you rambled on, I said no! I said no over and over and finally I said yes hoping it would shut you up! I don’t care you don’t wanna give me a biscuit, I care you apparently remember asking the other times! So why the hell would you keep asking?!” I started choking on my words at the end, regaining enough control to close my mouth.
“Wow, I was trying to be polite, it’s called manners, maybe you should try it sometime.” The anger I felt throbbed in my chest. Amy looked at me as if I were a worm and got out. She forgot our altercation before they finished eating and it was never mentioned again.
After work, I visited with a friend to avoid going home. I didn’t feel like immediately taking Amy for more food, but if I waited for Rob leave work, he would bring her leftovers. Another infuriating habit she developed was to snub me if I didn’t do as she wished the second she wished it. She enjoyed walking into our apartment without knocking to ask Hubby, “can you drive me to the store for this sob story reason?” while refusing to acknowledge my presence. Somehow she thought it acceptable to have her brother chauffeur her in my car.
Rob and Amy fought daily and sought refuge in our apartment when they separated. It’s hard to say which one was harder to deal with, but Rob was violent so I’ll say he was worse. When they fought in earnest, they could be heard through the wall. Pending our mood, sometimes we were nosy enough to listen. Our favorite fight happened on a rainy, fall afternoon. Hubby and I were enjoying a day off when we heard the familiar sound of objects hitting the wall. Having just smoked, we muted the tv, curious.
“Why are you such a bitch! I’m so sick of it! You did it on purpose I know you did!” Rob was screaming, glass shattered against the wall, making us jump in surprise.
“I’m sorry! I wasn’t thinking, I swear it wasn’t on purpose.” Amy cried. I could picture her retreating into the bedroom as she became harder to hear.
“No! Don’t you dare use that excuse again! You say that every damn time, I’m done! Do you hear me?” Rob yelled louder, the objects he threw sounded larger, and we were dying to know what she could have done. Our guess was taking some of his pills, but we were wrong.
“No, I swear, I’m sorry, but they really are accidents. It’s really hard to remember I can’t fart.” It may be the most pathetic sentence I ever heard. Hubby and I stared at each other frozen, dumbfounded, wondering if she could be joking, but deep down knowing she wasn’t.
Rob’s voice cracked saying, “shut up! You ruin all my shit” and fell silent when he heard the walls roaring with laughter.
We rolled on the ground, tears spilling from our eyes as we heard Rob’s curses walk out his door and down the steps. He walked away, drunk and embarrassed while Amy joined in our laughter. She explained Rob was allowed to fart anywhere, it’s ok for men, but women should go to the bathroom. “What’s up with that? Is it something you grew up with?” She asked me.
“No! I don’t know where he got that bowl of crazy, could be one of Uncle’s loose screws.” I shrugged, trying to control my giggles. Rob sounded like she cheated on him, but no, she farted.
I know this is getting long, I’m sorry, let’s do one more then we can call it a day. It took a while, but I finally taught Hubby to keep the door locked. He had an occasional lapse, but after this night, he never forgot again. We lived together almost a year when we woke to someone trying to break down our door. It was 2:30AM, and we had no guns. We relaxed when the sounds of an attempted break in turned to banging on our living room wall. It was Rob or Amy seeking another mediation.
“They muse be really messed up to go this far. We are not engaging with this bullshit. They’re not going to learn they can get our attention with this kind of behavior.” I angrily informed Hubby. He shoved his head under a pillow, waiting for the end. I watched as our phones began to ring in concert with hard knocks against our bedroom wall.
I didn’t disturb Hubby until his mom began calling. We knew better than to answer, but we did read her texts as we sat quietly in the darkness, pretending to sleep. Apparently the cops were outside. This time, when Rob burned Amy with his cigarette, she wasn’t in the mood to put up with it. She ran to the bathroom, and Rob chased her. With her eyes closed, she grabbed the blow dryer cord and swung. The dryer caught him in in the jaw, cutting his cheek, so he called the police on her.
These officers responded to their fights almost weekly, and while they didn’t care for Amy’s refusal to press charges time and again, they weren’t eager to do Rob any favors either. Amy decided she could make us write witness statements claiming Rob hurt himself, but in the end the cops were out of patience. They offered a choice between both being arrested, or shutting up. They shut up.
The next morning, the fight promptly resumed when they heard us return from breakfast. They followed into our apartment, yelling their stories, angry with us for not getting involved. I ate silently, refusing to acknowledge either until Rob knocked my burger from my hand. “Hey! You better listen up Lil Cuz, that shit don’t fly with me.” I watched my burger fall to the floor, ruined as he rambled his nonsense. The room fell silent, whether actual or rage induced, I’ll never know.
All my rage from the last year finally boiled over. I fell into a magical zone of awareness where time slowed, all fear gone; I was confident, unstoppable, and pissed off. I stared at Rob’s finger, pointing at me, shaking, and grabbed it with my left hand. I snapped it sideways with an audible pop as I punched his still moving lips with my right. Rob’s head snapped sideways, a drop of blood appeared at the corner of his mouth, and his finger yanked from my grasp. I felt a new surge of rage as his eyes, full of hatred, came back to meet my gaze. I punched him again, this time in that wide, accusing eye. It was black the next day.
To Hubby’s credit, he moved quickest in the after-shock. He got between us as Rob prepared to overpower me, which I’m sure he would have done quickly given the chance. “You need to go now, you went too far.” Hubby told him. Amy came to stand next to me as we waited to see how Rob would respond.
“You tripping bro, that bitch just assaulted me! You’re about to go to jail, bitch! You under…” Rob’s spit was showering us, I couldn’t take another second. I wasn’t cut out for handling that level of crazy, I can barely control my own crazy on a good day, and this bastard wanted to play? Oh I played.
I screamed. In the middle of his little threat, I wailed like a murder victim. When I saw his mouth stay shut, I spoke. Everyone uncovered their ears as I said, “you won’t do shit, you have a record, and the cops hate you. Me and Hubby have never been in trouble, so tell me, do you think they’re going to believe the three of us, or you? I mean when I call to say we heard you beating Amy through the wall so I hit you? Look, my knuckle is bleeding, it’s obvious I did it. Do you think they’ll laugh when they hear your little cousin beat you up?” I spit my words like venom, almost hoping he called my bluff, but Amy broke the silence first.
“If you don’t leave now, I’ll let her hit me next and we’re all gonna tell her story. I bet it plays nicely when my face has the bruises to match.” I thought it was genius, but after another pause, Rob left. He cursed us the whole way down the street, but didn’t come back until the next day. As always, he was sober and sorry, but I was no longer disillusioned. It would be another six months before we got out, but this was the worst we dealt with while living there. Rob and Amy eventually moved into a better apartment, but their breakup story is another long ordeal that will need it’s own post. I suppose it’s comforting to know I won’t run out of material anytime soon.
Thank you all for re-living this experience with me. Each time someone enjoys a story it makes every crazy moment I endured worth while. Blogging has been fun and therapeutic, but I wouldn’t have made it this far without all you, dear readers. I change hobbies as often as normal people change clothes, the fact I’m over the two month mark with no sign of getting bored is truly astounding. I’m now fully nested and have every intention of staying that way. I purchased my domain, I read that’s a step bloggers take when deciding to get serious. I have no idea how to use it, but that’s why Bestie married a computer engineer. I’m sure he’ll get around to helping. Probably. Maybe I can look into a ‘coming soon’ thing until then.
While yes, I did begin writing a Halloween special, I need to take a small detour. As YouTube carried us through our morning news, it played an older Jimmy Kimmel with a televangelist clip. As I reflect on the scene, I find myself questioning reality. Seriously, I need you to get on my level for a second. Step into my shoes, let me guide you through this properly.
You’re coming out of a deep sleep, but you aren’t ready to look at the clock, fearing what you’ll see. Your back hurts, you’ve been pinned in place by three cats all night. You have to pee, but doing so would disturb Hubby and you’ve both slept terribly this week. Finally, back screaming, you slowly unfold your legs, delicately rolling to the nightstand. As cats leap from bed, you freeze, hoping the Hubby Huff doesn’t come. When your heart resumes beating, you finally see it’s 4:38AM.
The alarm will sound at 5:00. You know using the bathroom will wake him. You know you’ll hear the Huff while you pee. Yet you really have to pee. 22 minutes. You try to close your eyes, try to drift off, but your bladder is infuriated. It calls for reinforcements. You feel a hot bubble of sludge slide down your intestines, coming to rest in your bottom. You clinch against the flames, but your asshole is essentially the only barrier between the bed and molten lava. You ever so gently crawl to the toilet. The moment you release your bowls, you see the light of Hubby’s phone, simultaneous with the Huff.
Huff protocol dictates a reset alarm for 5:30. Always erring to the side of caution, you begin your morning. You let the first round of cats out, take Bandit’s (raccoon) food to the edge of the woods because his presence bothers them, feed cats, release second round, grab a water and sit. Sounds of Hubby’s dresser emanate from the bedroom, telling you to prepare the tv. After a short, irrelevant monologue from Seth Meyers, YouTube selects Jimmy Kimmel.
Great choice, he’s second only to John Oliver, but you’re not sure why it felt the need to show one from election time. It’s called Trump Melts Down Over “Stolen” Election, and still worth watching so you don’t complain. Then they showed this guy:
This man stands in front of you, and says “they’re trying to say Joe Biden is president,” and fake laughs horribly. Then he continues, and here’s what really gets you. After a few fake laughs, well past when he should have stopped, he does it again. But this time, he walks around while he laughs. The crowd eats it up! They stand, cheering louder than ever! How does a man like that have a cult? How do people follow and give him money? How are there enough people to support all the ones like him? They have some cush-ass lifestyles! How do they even start? How do you brainwash enough people to confidently stand before the masses to convince them they benefit by giving you money?
As you sit on your cat-hair covered couch, still naked beneath a raggedy bathrobe in desperate need of washing, you realize that disgusting old man has fans. Lots of them. Sure, for every fan there’s 100 enemies wishing him dead. Sure, he spouts nonsensical hate rhetoric for a living. Sure, you’d think he could afford a dentist, but apparently teeth aren’t everything in the cult game. But you know what? He probably never had to choose between food or a rent payment. Never had to live 8 weeks in the country with no water or transportation. (Oh! Note to self, write about that 2 months without indoor plumbing.) Hell, I bet that crazy old fart has more than 2 Twitter followers too!
So, after reading all these well thought out points, do you see how it might be worth imitating his behavior? Damn, me either. I really wanted to, but frankly I’d rather puncture my own ear drums than listen to him speak again. I figure there has to be a middle ground. I’ve decided to start my own cult. I’m not married to the name yet, but I was toying with LGFNW, Losers, Geeks, Freaks, Nerds, and Weirdos, all welcome and equal. Violence and bullying strictly prohibited.
I may not have much to offer, but I can make you a few promises that clearly put me ahead of the packs.
I will never lie to you
I will never hold you hostage
I will never forbid you from contact with family
I will never enforce Droit du seigneur (right of first night, fancy word for rape)
I will never drug you (against your will)
Most importantly, I will always support your right to believe whatever the hell you want.
There’s something deeply wrong in a world where my cult fails while those others flourish. Anyway, thank you for your indulgence in this matter. If you would like to join LGFNW, there are no fees or deadlines. Currently all positions are open. No background or credit checks necessary. We have no swag, or any material possessions whatsoever, but we do have, ladies and gentlemen, is a lot of gusto.
If American Horror Story connects the seasons, is it still an anthology? Lately, I’ve had a hard time deciding what to talk about. I feel like writing Halloween stuff, but didn’t want to overload you with ghost stories. For my style, that pretty much leaves something embarrassing or scandalous so I thought hey, let’s do both.
I’ve told you about the western store I worked at and mentioned a pervy boss, he played a role in The Incest Cliche. The 2+ years I worked there are a rich tapestry of Dixie Drama at its finest, but today we will focus on the owner.
The only background you need is, Crook was fed up with my being jobless. I had to adult long enough to venture into the world for work. Applying online was a luxury for few, I had no clue where to begin. During a morning smoke with my neighbor, I explained the dilemma, hoping she could recommend how to proceed.
“Actually, I heard that little western store, the one across from the mall, was hiring. Do you know it? I think it’s called Giddy Up.” She said.
“If it’s not a restaurant or open past dark, I’m in.” With the world experience of a 19 year old, I clearly knew what I wanted from life.
I drove to town, found the store, and cursed my nervous pit stains as I walked in, arms tightly clinched. Approaching the counter, I saw a portly, older gentleman who suspiciously resembled Trump without the bleached wig and spray tan. Let’s call him Don, he was the owner. Don sat at a table with two women, both appearing close to my own age. Full disclosure, I can’t judge age. At all. If I ever guess, please understand I’m probably wrong. In this case, Sara and Jane were 10+ years my senior.
Sara was the manager, and Jane read magazines until closing when she did money stuff. Before we dive too deep, please understand, I have nothing but respect for my coworkers. They were mostly good people making the best of bad situations. Finding a good job in a small town is hard, we do what we must to feed our family. That being said, Don was a disgusting pig and deserved everything he got.
“Can we help ya?” Don asked with a head nod to Sara.
“Hi, my neighbor said you all were hiring, I wanted to fill out an application.” No stutter, it was a miracle. I directed my question to Sara as she approached the counter. She looked to Don for guidance.
“Nawp, I dunno where they heard that, but I can barely afford these two.” Don answered, waving his hand between the women with his best good-ole-boy accent. “You can leave your name and number if you like. We’ll give you a call if anything comes up.”
Sara passed a pen and sticky pad across the counter. Knowing this interaction was the southern way of saying ‘we don’t know you so we’re giving you the brush off’ I wrote my information with a smile and left quickly. Technically, I applied for a job. After sending Crook a highly exaggerated text about my fantastic interview, I drove home to recover. Tv told me it can take weeks, possibly months, before one is actually hired. Imagine my surprise when the very next day, not an hour after Crook returned home, my phone rang. In ye olden days, it was common practice to answer a number you weren’t familiar with. I knew I was doomed the moment I answered.
“Hi, this is Jane from Giddy Up.” After routine pleasantries, she got to business. “We hoped you could start tomorrow, we open 9-6 Monday through Saturday. Could you be here by 8:30?”
Crook was grinning like the Joker. I clearly had no choice. But tomorrow?! “Oh, absolutely… thank you so much. I’ll see you tomorrow.” I answered with my best fake, happy voice.
One of my OCD traits forces me to arrive a minimum 30 minutes early. Sara was the first to show at promptly 8:30, and wasted no time approaching me. “We don’t open til 9, sorry.” She pointed to the store hours, clearly posted on the door, and walked away.
“Right, I’m the new girl, they told me to be here at 8:30.” I called after her, awkwardly trailing behind.
She paused in the middle of unlocking the door, looking me over closely. “They did? You sure?” She sounded confused, but I often misunderstood sarcasm.
She must be joking… “Haha… yes. I am sure.” I smiled, hoping it appeared genuine.
Spoiler Alert: she wasn’t joking, I was hired by accident. They genuinely didn’t like the look of me, but Don loved the pretty, single mom who brought her baby to apply shortly after myself. They considered her hired, but Jane mixed up our information. Several months later, after learning I wasn’t purposely offensive, they admitted the truth.
Don arrived shortly before 9, searching for his new eye candy. When he found me in her place, he was puzzled to say the least. “Uh. Morning. Ladies…” Before he could say anything untoward, Sara came to the rescue.
“Mista Don, this the new girl… member? You told Jane to start her today. She was earlier than me, we off to a good start. Ima finish showing her around.” With that, Sara led me on the grand tour. Without realizing it, her words translated into ‘I know she’s not the one you wanted, but I’m sick of opening alone.’
I would soon learn Don only hired women. Two kinds were employed; the Workers ran the store, helping customers, loading feed, etc. The others were… I’m sorry, there isn’t a delicate way to say they were his whores. Sara pegged me for a worker. I knew I had to work harder than others to compensate for my personality quirks, but had I been aware of the Worker or… Non-Worker… situation, I would have arrived at 8 to reorganize the outdoor plants.
You guys know how it is when a new person starts work, you can’t trust them. Everyone is on their best behavior, you won’t truly meet them until they drop their guard. Same sentiment from the new person’s POV, you’re surrounded by strangers, you have no idea who they really are. It’s like navigating a field of landmines, one wrong step and you’re dead.
I made several wrong steps, but Sara was desperate for a third Worker. Jane didn’t wait on customers, and only worked the register if the rest of us weren’t available. The third, Stephanie, also worked at a grocery store; she could only work a few hours before closing. It was she who first trusted me to explain how Don came to own the store. Or she just couldn’t resist good gossip any longer.
“Believe it or not, this store use to stay busy. There was no sitting around the table gossiping all day, no ma’am. Carey would roll over in her grave if she could see it now. She started this place from scratch, almost lost it a few times too, but she treated everyone like family. People were loyal because they knew she would take care of them if they fell on hard times.” Stephanie stacked boot boxes by size as we unpacked the new shipment. Her smile faded as she continued, “We couldn’t believe it when she passed. She was always a little sickly, but we had no idea how bad it really was. Even her sister, (Kay) Don’s wife, didn’t know. She passed two days after they admitted her to the hospital, she was 57.”
I have deep respect for the dead and grieving, but I’ve never mastered properly expressing those sentiments. I memorized several condolences, but always mess up the delivery. “I’m sorry to hear that.” I was careful not to look away from my task.
Stephanie continued, more concerned with telling the story than my response. “Now Don is running the store straight into the ground. He thinks we’re too stupid to notice his little cash bucket under the register. Thinks we don’t know what those girls really get paid for.” She nodded to the companion giving Don his after-lunch neck massage.
I decided to take advantage of her chatty mood. “I’ve been wondering why Kay stays with him. Why doesn’t she just take the store away?”
“That poor woman is clueless, but she’s one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. No one has the heart to tell her the truth. She’s never been with another man, I doubt she would know how to leave even if she wanted to.” Stephanie shook her head sadly, and sighed before continuing, “Besides, he’s only had the money and freedom to do it for a few years, I doubt anyone would touch that nasty man before then.”
“You have a point there.” I admitted. Kay genuinely is a kind soul, I hope Don dies many years before her. She deserves a fair chance at genuine happiness. Even if she’s still ignorant of his affairs, I’ve seen how he speaks to her; it’s not okay. “How many side chicks does he have anyway?”
The way her head cocked to an almost 90 degree angle coupled with how wide her eyes grew seemed to say, “a lot.” Regardless, it was a very informative chat.
When you spend three years working in a restaurant/drug mart, you think you’ve been fully desensitized to the various evils of the world, but not so. Somehow, this kindly, old man cheating on his sweet, little wife seemed far-fetched. No matter how obvious their office tryst, I couldn’t see it as more than a silly coincidence. Even when you think you know, being told and seeing are two very different kinds of knowing.
I could tell you a book’s worth of anecdotes involving Don hiring a new playmate and the various resulting ventures, but many will come out in other stories. Besides, I still don’t understand what length you guys prefer in a post. Today, I want to focus on the one I found personally traumatic. Oh boy, this is harder than I thought. Ok first, let’s get the time he propositioned me over with. Due to my inability to judge sarcasm or social interactions, I repeated what I’m about to share with several others after it happened. All were unanimously agreed, I did not misunderstand this one. Unfortunately.
Within 6-8 months I was fully accepted and nested at Giddy Up. Don possessed a prescription for Xanax, and being a shady guy himself, was aware I knew how to take/sell them in bulk. He must have been particularly lonely one day when we were alone. One minute we were pleasantly discussing NCIS, the next he was setting his bottle of Xanax on the table.
“That’s nice… what? You need to sell some? I asked, confused.
“Yea, I guess so.” He didn’t sound very excited about it.
I assumed he stole too much money from the store. Normally he saved Xanax for special whore candy, it wasn’t surprising he would be upset to part with them. “Alright, well how much do you need? If it’s the full 90, it takes 4 of your Peaches to equal one Xanax bar. I could get $90, but that’s about it.” Best he would get at least.
“Oh, I don’t need money.” He said
“What else would people possibly… eww… dude, gross, be serious. You want the $90 or not.” I wasn’t capable of taking such a notion seriously. If I had, I’m sure I would have been speechless. As it was, I wanted that Xanax and hoped insulting him would end his joke.
“No, you’re not listening. I don’t want… Money.” He said it slower that time, each word almost it’s own sentence.
Joke or not, no drug was worth indulging that line of conversation. “Dude, that’s gross, there aren’t enough drugs in the world.” I walked away before Don could say more. To avoid tainting my experiment, I relayed our conversation verbatim without saying who said what until the end. No one was surprised, but upon hearing Don’s role, Jane changed her answer to “you just misunderstood, I’m sure he was joking.” but her heart wasn’t in it. Jealousy can blind the best of us.
This next part is the whopper, but if I can survive it without removing my own eyeballs, I can relive it long enough to share with all of you. It was New Years Eve, we had no customers all day, so we found various shenanigans to pass the time. Don was running errands, (whores) and therefore unlikely to make an appearance. If you’ve read Weird Science, you know I have an… inquisitive mind, if you haven’t, you need to know I enjoy taking things apart.
For some reason, I was fascinated with the roof at that time. For several weeks I fantasized what it would be like to climb into the ceiling. I had a theory it would exit into the warehouse, possibly providing access to the wide, metal beams and roof. Why the idea of walking across a 20-30ft drop appealed to me, I can’t say, but the compulsion was overwhelming.
With a 4ft ladder placed on the dressing room bench, a flashlight, and broom, I was finally ready to test my theory. Moving a panel to the side, I pushed the broom through the opening. If a spiderweb touched me, it would be game over.
“No way she’s going in there… is she?” Liz asked Sara. Liz was my age, and a real cowgirl. She was a Worker and good friend, but unimportant. Nowadays she’s a nurse, and happily married with two sons, so don’t worry about her.
“She dumb enough to get in. How long until she falls is the question.” I heard Sara’s answer, but was too busy to engage in their foolishness.
“What if she breaks something?!” Liz exclaimed, cringing as I prepared to stick my head through for a real look.
“If she break herself we call 911, if she break the store we tell Mista Don she did it behind our backs.” Sara answered simply.
“Hey! If you break something are you gonna say we let you?” Liz was talking to me now.
I couldn’t tell if it was a serious question, but either way, it was distracting. “Nah, you’re good. I’ll say whatever you want as long as you let me focus.”
“But why are you…” Liz started to ask, clearly not listening.
“I said long as I focus!” I snapped, testing my weight on the wall. I knew the flimsy ceiling panels couldn’t support my weight, they were held in place by skinny metal racks and wire. If I didn’t locate support beams or follow the wall, I wouldn’t be crawling anywhere. Aside from a few giggles and gasps, the girls remained silent.
After a few moments testing the dressing room walls, I decided it was time to go. I situated myself like a bird on a perch, shining the light through decades of cobwebs and dust. “Guys, I think it really does go all the way to the warehouse! I can see really far, and I think I can see sunlight at the end!” I was excited, but the dust was already effecting my allergies. I had the nose itch of a first time codeine user and couldn’t stop rubbing it.
“I wanna see!” Liz was standing atop the ladder, eyes scrunched, looking through the dust we disturbed. “I think you’re right! That is light down there!” She was excited too, caught in my moment.
“I want to see if I can make it across, see how this wall connects over there? I think it’s the chemical room, it looks like I can follow the wall to where that metal starts on the other side.” I pointed, wanting Liz to confirm she saw the same thing. The more we moved, the thicker the air filled with dust. Even with a flashlight it was difficult to see. “Pass the broom up, please.”
Liz passed the broom, and we struggled to maneuver it through the wires. It cleared what it reached, but I had much less space than anticipated. If I weren’t a tiny woman, I wouldn’t fit past the opening, but I was providing too much entertainment to quit. The wires made excellent broom holders, but were otherwise the most difficult obstacles to overcome. It felt like several minutes passed as I struggled to crawl a few feet, but I focused on keeping my weight on the wall.
“I wonder how far I’ve come.” I leaned over to lift a panel. Anxiety paired with a lack of fingernails exacerbated the simple task. The frustration was coming on strong, but I doubled my efforts and finally pulled it askew. “Hey guys! I’m already over the office! Have you ever seen it? It’s just a desk, computer, and futon. Who doesn’t have a desk chair?” I called out, pleased my adventure would have two purposes. The office was always locked, even Sara and Jane were denied access.
“What did you expect? He doesn’t need a chair, I bet he only watches porn in there.” Liz laughed, but stopped abruptly. Sara was telling her something but I couldn’t hear the words. I dropped the panel, not thinking. It landed askew, leaving a wide gap into the office exposed. Before I could try to fix it, Liz screamed for my attention, “Shit dude, don’t move! Don and his current pet just pulled up, we gotta hide this mess! Don’t talk no matter what!” Her head was gone before she finished speaking.
I hoped they were joking, but doubted it. She was terrified, and the clumsy sound of removing the ladder was unmistakable. I heard the door buzzer followed by several minutes of silence. I was too afraid to attempt fixing the crooked panel. The office was rarely used on a normal day, if I risked movement now, I would likely fall through the ceiling. Waiting for Don to leave was the wiser choice no matter how you did the math. I laid flat, unmoving, and stared into the office, letting a daydream carry me away before a claustrophobic panic set in. Without the distraction of impressing Liz, the walls were closing in, pushing out my precious oxygen. I like that shade of green on a futon. I want a futon.
As the fire in my lungs extinguished, I noticed sounds of laughter and keys. More specifically, keys being used to unlock a door. No way, if he sees me I’m dead. Did they tell on me? Did he think it was funny and now he’s going to screw with me? He’s going to see the ceiling the second he opens the door, I’ll kill them both for this.
The door swung open, I held my breath, waiting. Softer giggling reached my ears and confirmed the betrayal. I gritted my teeth, formed the angriest face possible, and prepared to be caught. But I wasn’t. Instead, I saw the Pet lead Don into view. By his penis. She had a firm grasp oh his erect member, through his slacks, and used it to guide him to the futon. Sara and Liz definitely hadn’t betrayed me.
You know how you can’t look away when you see something horrible? This had the same effect. Plus I was too chicken to move. One sound, any reason for one of them to look up, spelled my doom. There was no chance they wouldn’t notice the large, open gap in the ceiling. I’m not trying to give my audience nightmares. I would very much like to use the word ‘fans’ one day, and I feel like a blow by blow (no pun intended, but it is accurate) would be a step in the wrong direction. Instead, I will FF past the use of a dildo hidden in the desk, and skip to their departure.
When they finally left, I remained completely still. Eventually, Liz returned, calling out to me. “Hey! Oh my God, what happened?! Are you okay?” By the tone in her voice, I felt they already suspected what I saw.
“I need to get out of here right now, I’m not joking, I don’t wanna play anymore, I’m done, I gotta get out.” I repeated a mixture of those phrases in one long, run-on sentence as I shakily replaced the crooked ceiling panel. After checking several times to be sure it sat correctly, I began the difficult process of turning around. Not falling off my perch required focus, I continued ignoring Liz as she berated me with questions.
As I came down the ladder, I saw Sara and Liz’s facial expressions, and knew mine was worse. I stuttered out every painful, disgusting detail, gagging several times in the process. I only told it once, after which, I began protocols to erase the memory entirely. Some things, not even bleach can clean. Needless to say, I never crawled into the roof again.
The Pet ‘worked’ at Giddy Up a few more weeks, but she felt so ostracized by the other girls, she quit. Don called a staff meeting and gave a long lecture explaining his disappointment. “I expect better! You aren’t children anymore. Pet was a sweet, caring person, just trying to support her little girl! But you all made her feel so unwelcome, she quit! Do you understand how horrible that is? I can’t even look at you right now.” He turned to leave, paused, expecting us to trip over ourselves with apologies, but no one stopped him. Little did we know, the store would be closing forever by that time the following year. Turns out, prostitutes are expensive.
He always pouted when he lost a pet, but we were far past indulging his delusions. Don was the worst kind of predator, truly believing we were clueless to his hobby. His complete faith in our stupidity was insulting, it took all my willpower to remain silent. I knew I was incapable of a convincing sympathy act, and stopped trying after this ordeal took place.
If I’m wrong and should have written the gorey details, let me know, but I feel like the majority of you would be happier without. Hubby had a few days off recently which makes writing impossible, but for my next story, I was hoping to try something new. So far, I shared a few spooky stories from my hometown, but I have been wanting to try my hand at a real scary story. Something that makes you nervous to look outside and gives you chills. If it sucks, it can go into the future psychologist pile, if not, maybe I can finally break 300 followers! Either way, I’ll take it.
Before I start, do you guys think it’s weird I wear my bathrobe like a cape when I write? It makes me feel sophisticated as I pace. You should give it a try, it’s very empowering. I especially need it for today’s topic. We’re not going anywhere near sophisticated, in fact, we’ll be at the opposite end of the spectrum.
I apologize to the men in advance, but I’m going to talk about my period again. For those who haven’t read my first post, I didn’t know what a period was. It took years to learn, and I still had no access to tampons when I did. I stuffed my undies with toilet paper to compensate for the lack of pads I didn’t know existed. I warn you now, if you’re squeamish, you may want to skip this one.
By Junior year, every girl I knew had their period. I now understood all women bleed for one week every month. It didn’t matter why; only that I accept it and act accordingly, regardless my resentment toward nature. I had limited resources for acquiring tampons, they were a highly desirable commodity. I saved them strictly for school and work. At home, I had high quality TP and a private bathroom, no need to waste one there.
I mastered the art of folding fat wads of TP into a homemade pad. It works best if you secure it in place with a combination pantie pouch, lip squeeze. Everyone have that image in place? Great.
I would like you to understand these events could not have transpired without grander forces (Karma, that bitch hates me) conspiring against me. As any woman can confirm, we all experience our periods differently, it’s like a conjoined twin you can’t cut off. All you can do is get to know her and learn to coexist. Mine was heavy the first day, got heavier days 2-4, until tapering off 5-7. Days 2-4 were the equivalent to the elevator scene from The Shining, it was foolish to waste a tampon on other days. Most of those required double protection, tampons and TP, to avoid public restrooms.
A typical Day 1 entailed the usual stuffing of TP. Upon arriving at school, my rounds of tampon begging began. The trick is asking girls who are alone, (nearly impossible in high-school) or you significantly decrease your chances of scoring multiples. On a good day, I could get 3 or 4; on a bad day, I may only get one. Either way, I stayed alert, always waiting for a chance to beg another. Now I can share how I learned the necessity of begging in advance.
“Thelma, do you have a tampon?” I asked when we were alone at our locker. First period was about to begin, and I was already annoyed with sticky, drying blood in my crotch.
Thelma dug through her purse, “Damn, I guess not. Sorry” she shrugged and walked to class. Strike 1. I tried not to be too disappointed, she was my most reliable supplier, but it wasn’t her responsibility.
I tried to stay calm when I hadn’t scored by lunch. I lost count of strikes after the 5th failure, but couldn’t give up. When I saw a senior walk into the bathroom, I was desperate enough to follow. “Hey can I borrow a tampon?” I asked, heart pulsating in my throat. As if the situation weren’t bad enough, now I was speaking to a stranger.
“Sorry, don’t have one.” She replied with barely a glance my way.
After she left, I forced myself into a stall for spot check. It was leaking through my underwear and the day was barely half done. If I didn’t do something, it would be through my pants within the hour, and I didn’t have a jacket to tie around my waist. Gritting my teeth, I changed into fresh TP and returned to lunch. I became so desperate by 5th period, I asked any group I passed in the hall. No one would give me a tampon.
I tried to visit a bathroom after each class, but it was always full. When 7th period began, I knew it was bad, but getting away with it so long made me cocky. I thought if I could make it through the last class, I could drive myself home to clean up properly. I sat at my desk, legs clinched together as if I could stop the blood flow.
Our teacher (a man, of course) left his grade book in the science lab from 6th period. In a class of 15, he chose me to ask, “Could you go get it please?”
Saying no wasn’t an option I considered, but I was afraid to stand while all eyes were on me. Stop being stupid, you do this every time, and every time, you’re fine. You’re going to stand up, visit the bathroom, and insert fresh TP. When you see the blood hasn’t gone through the jeans, you’re going to be fine.
I took a deep breath, stood, walked across the class, and out the door. Walking felt terrible, but I finally had the bathroom in sight, it was finally over. Until I heard “Hey, lady!” somewhere behind me. I turned to see a small 7th grade boy standing there, pointing. “You got something red all over your butt.” He said, scrunching his face as one does when presented with something particularly disgusting.
Without a word I ran the last few steps to the bathroom. Victory had been so close. When I saw the mirror, it was much worse than I feared. My light-colored jeans looked like they belonged to a murder victim. I had no extra layers, nothing to cover my waist. I stood in a stall, staring at my phone, with no clue who to call, what to say, or how to get back to class.
Later, I learned what happened in class while I contemplated how to commit suicide in a school bathroom. Apparently, as I walked out, the class fell into a stunned silence, catching a peep at my soaked pants. Almost simultaneously, someone drew attention to the blood pooled at the bottom of my chair. The teacher, bless his mortified soul, tried to tell them, “It’s red ink. Her pen burst! Everyone shut up!” He was a gay man forced to live in the closet of a small, redneck town. Pms was not his forte, but damnit if he didn’t try his hardest to help.
Thelma asked, “Can I please go tell her, in case she doesn’t realize her… pen… busted?”
“Yes, yes please, you may.” He agreed, grateful the problem was being solved without his physical involvement.
As I sat in a stall, wondering if I had the willpower to drown myself in a toilet, I heard Thelma’s voice call my name. “Are you in here, hello?”
“Yes, holy shit Thelma, please tell me that’s you.” I begged.
“Dude! You got blood everywhere! Mr. M told everyone it was red ink.” She tried to be casual, but she was bouncing off the walls in excitement.
I chose to let myself believe red ink was a plausible excuse, I needed that. “I always knew I liked him. Dude a freaking 7th grader stopped me in the hallway! I don’t have any clothes here, tell me you have pants in your car. I’ll take a dress code violation, I don’t care.” I pleaded, trying to will new clothes into existence before she could crush my last hope.
“Well, no… but I could call your mom! Want me to do that?” She was already pulling out her phone.
“Hell no!” I snatched her phone before she could dial. “You know better than that!”
“Oh yeah… but what else can we do?” She said, taking her phone back.
“What’s your mom doing?” I asked cautiously, fearing the answer. If she was busy, I knew this ended with a very awkward call to my own mother, no matter how horrible.
“Umm, I really don’t know. Hold on, we can check.” She made the call while I held my breath.
“Momma! What are doing?” Thelma clawed my arm, shaking me as if it were her fate at risk.
When she confirmed she wasn’t working I snatched the phone. “Hello Mumsy!” I habitually thrusted my desire for a motherly bond onto friend’s mothers. “Could you pretty please bring an extra pair of pants to us? Thelma can meet you in the hallway.”
“Why do you need pants?” To be fair, I knew the chances of being asked were north of 95% but I had to try.
“She ragged all over her pants and desk, grab the ones in the third drawer.” Thelma yelled before I could think of a more delicate phrasing.
“Oh you poor thing. Hang on I’ll be there in 10.” She was very soothing, wonderful woman. “Give me back to Thelma right quick.”
Thelma took the phone, “Yes, Momma?” Thelma said, smile dropping as Mumsy’s voice perforated her ear drum.
Thelma jumped, pulling the phone away. Mumsy could be heard plainly without assistance from a speaker phone. “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you dare laugh at her! How would you feel if it happened to you, Missy? I expect to see you behaving like a supportive, decent human-being when I get there!”
“Yessum.” Thelma murmured.
“Love you, Mumsy.” I yelled before she hung up.
Mumsy worked fast, she even provided a bag for my ruined pants. I changed while listening to Thelma’s continued lecture. With only a few minutes until the final bell, Thelma returned to class, and I ran for my car. Though Bloody Mary was added to my list of taunts, it unfortunately didn’t replace Speed Bump as my nickname. I didn’t enjoy either, but at least Bloody Mary was a killer. Both actually; the real Bloody Mary and the horror movie Mary. I didn’t yet understand the ingredients for the alcoholic drink were disgusting, so that was another thing in the pro column.
Thankfully, at the time this took place, I was still an inconsiderate fool. Had I understood someone would later be forced to clean my chair, knowing exactly what, and whose, it was…. I don’t even know. All I can say for certain is, it would have been hella dramatic. You’d think this experience would teach me a lesson, convince me to grow up and ask Mom for some damn tampons… but it didn’t. All I did was collect tampons in advance with a new fervor.
To any unpopular kids out there, don’t worry. I know it really doesn’t feel like it, and I promise, I know you’re instinct is to hate me when I say this… but I promise. No matter how bad it seems, once you graduate, those bullies mean less than the poop you scrape from the bottom of your shoe. You only have to survive until then. Whether you believe me or not, in the video game that is Life, you haven’t yet completed the tutorial. The game hasn’t even started yet. Just hang on.
I had some wine last night, and Drunk Me prepared this for you. Unfortunately, Drunk Me is incapable of correcting typos, but otherwise, I left this one alone. It will be perfect for our future psychologists.
It’s Drunk Me y’all! I’m posting behind Sober Me’s back so that bitch can’t censor me! If you have any doubts, you can tell it’s really me by my use of the word ‘y’all.’ Sober Me hates that word! She thinks it shows her inner hick, and I’m sure you’ve had time to notice that’s a sensitive issue. Today, I’m here to discuss Dixieland, or more accurately, how I use the word Dixieland. My way involves sex and reconstructive surgery, and whatever you’re guessing, I promise, it’s wrong.
First, who knows what the Dixieland Nationals actually are? I don’t. I grew up hearing the phrase, but never listened long enough to learn what it was. I had to Google Dixieland Nationals to make sure it’s real and not something I made up. I was too lazy to click on any of the links, but it looks like some kind of rodeo. That would certainly fit the theme. The only thing these people love more than NASCAR is a rodeo.
Why is NASCAR all caps anyway? Is it suppose to be an acronym? At what point does an acronym need it’s own acronym. Is that possible? I guess not; an acronym of an acronym would only be one letter. Maybe there could be 26 acronym acronyms, but I think it would be too confusing. I don’t know why we have to be backwards down to our sports… or why NASCAR is called a sport. It’s like they learned nothing from the metric system mistake. Sorry, tangent. It’s harder to avoid when you’ve been drinking, I’ll come back to NASCAR another day. Right now, I should really get back to explaining Dixieland before I lose the rest of your attention.
This tale starts in December, at Nana’s with Bestie. She was home from college and Crook was working on an oil rig through the holiday. Nana had three sons; Bestie’s dad, Goku’s dad, and Kevin. Kevin lived in a city two hours away with his wife, Medusa, and their son, Jimmy. Kevin also has two stepdaughters who are a goldmine of trashy drama, but I’ll save that honor for Sober Me.
This year, Kevin came to Christmas alone. Medusa and her ilk spent the holiday at home, gloriously far away. The days leading up to Christmas Eve were so dull, there isn’t a single anecdote worth sharing, but that’s ok, we only came for one. Christmas Eve started normally. Bestie, cousins and I still considered ourselves ‘the kids’ and continued our traditional Christmas movie marathon. The adults came and went as they made last minute preparations. Life was good y’all.
That evening, the phone rang. We heard Nana answer, and knew something horrible happened almost immediately. “Kevin! Get in here! It’s Medusa, she’s frantic I can’t understand her. Sounds bad.”
We appeared in time to see Kevin take the phone. We could only hear his side of the conversation, and his reactions were terrifying. We thought the worst when he said, “No! Not that, not my boy! I’m leaving right now, I’ll be there soon.”
*** SPECIALWARNING ⚠️ TAKE NOTICE ***
Listen up, it’s come to my attention some people need rape trigger warnings. I myself need animal harm warnings, so I take that shit seriously. I have to mention rape now, but don’t worry. It’s totally not what you think, just keep reading.
Kevin explained while we helped him prepare to leave. “It’s Jimmy, I guess he was with a friend and they went to the mall… I don’t know. I don’t how it happened. He was at the mall, and some guy just… I guess… I guess he jumped him. He… they raped my boy!” He burst into tears, falling to his knees.
We were all traumatized, it definitely put a damper on the festivities. Stuff like that doesn’t happen to people you know. “Call me as soon as you know more.” Nana said to Kevin, following him outside.
“I will. I just… Momma they’re taking him to surgery! Who does something like this?!” Kevin cried.
“A monster. Baby, only a monster does something like that. Pure evil.” Nana patted his back, hugging him hard before he left.
Everyone went inside to wait for the long drive back. It was obvious Medusa wouldn’t bother to update us in the meantime. We lost all interest in our movies, preferring to wait in the kitchen together. There was nothing to do but speculate what happened. We talked through many scenarios, but none seemed to make sense. Jimmy was 16, but he couldn’t drive yet. If he went with friends, where were the friends?
Kevin’s first call came almost three hours later. He still wasn’t sure how it happened, but Jimmy was undergoing surgery to stop ‘massive internal hemorrhaging.’ He also needed reconstructive surgery before he would use the bathroom normally again. The good news was, his life was no longer in danger. Knowing he would live, we returned to our movie marathon to await further developments. The mood was dampened, our small, innocent world felt violated. These things don’t happen to people you know.
The next significant update didn’t come until Christmas Day, just before noon. Kevin and Medusa slept at the hospital, and Jimmy was awake. Obviously, being a sex crime against a minor, the police were anxious to speak with him. They were unable to locate him in any of the mall security tapes. They couldn’t even find proof he went to the mall.
Jimmy’s story fell apart quickly. He didn’t go to the mall. You guys have no idea the things I would do to hear that conversation play out, but sadly we can never know exactly what was said. Kevin was too ashamed to go into much detail, but Nana felt we were old enough to hear what she knew. Allow me to pass that story along.
It seems Jimmy recently became aware he was more attracted to men than women. Great, good for him, but remember where we live? Jimmy was a 400 pound kid who looked like (I’m so sorry, but it’s true) the butt of an incest joke. Even if he were a quarterback who looked like Brad Pitt, his life would be hell if he admitted to being gay in that place (especially over 10 years ago). I understand his secrecy completely, but not how he chose to… experiment. You see, Jimmy had access to Google for his teen years, lucky prick. Unsurprisingly, it made him curious about anal sex. Being a teenage boy, I suppose vegetables never occurred to him, but a screwdriver did.
Ok hold on, I know what you’re thinking and I need to correct you before we continue. Don’t feel bad, I got it wrong too. You think he used the handle end first, don’t you? But he didn’t. I know, I know, but I can’t tell you why. I never got a ‘why’ so you don’t either. Ok, now that you’re picturing the correct end first, we can proceed.
With screwdriver inserted, all he lacked was the desired pumping motion. He just needed to figure out how to simulate it. Personally, I would have removed the screwdriver before standing. Or at least taken my pants off properly. Jimmy was not so cautious, he tripped almost immediately. Gravity is a bitch, and she took him down… backwards.
Never say I’m not loyal to my fans. I googled ‘screwdriver in rectum’ for you because they won’t give me his real X-rays. I admittedly should have thought of a good reason before I asked, but no point crying about it now.
The X-rays from Google all look fake, I won’t waste your time there. After hearing the truth, we were more confused than ever, but it boiled down to simple facts. Jimmy made a choice of his own free will, he was not attacked. He was a confused teenager going through something, and he got the help he needed. Most importantly, he goes on to make a full recovery. That’s why we can talk about this now.
Nana had the most difficult time recovering from the shock of it all. She spent several hours imagining the worst for her grandson, but she soldiered through for the rest of us. Christmas continued; we opened presents, ate fancy food, and the adults drank. After consuming enough alcohol to lighten the dark moods hovering over us, the first jokes emerged.
“I just don’t understand why anyone would do a thing like that. But if they were gonna… why the hell would he use the business end first?” Uncle B (Bestie’s dad) asked.
“I dunno man, shits crazy. Maybe he couldn’t get the handle to go in… so he turned it around to get started. Just be glad he don’t live here.” Uncle G (Goku’s dad) laughed.
“Shit, ain’t like everybody won’t know anyway. You think them kids ain’t told 50 people each by now? Shit. I can already hear it, gonna be calling that shit a Dixieland.” Uncle B spat.
And that is how the act of shoving a screwdriver in your bum became known as a Dixieland. Kids, please don’t try this at home.
In the end, Jimmy had 3 surgeries, and spent several months pooping in a bag before life began to feel normal again. He’s extremely lucky he is not spending the rest of his life with the poo bag. There are thousands of safe ways to experiment, never do it with pointed objects.
I’ve been telling you it was dangerous to dig up memories when you don’t know what’s buried. Now the dam is leaking, and it’s only a matter of time before we all drown. On today’s walk down Memory Lane, we will revisit my time as a hostage in the woods. I don’t care what any future psychologist says, of all the stories I will tell you, this one did the most damage. Time heals all wounds, but some will always be mangled scar tissue. Ok, you guys ready? I’m going to tell you about church camp. It’s too long for both summers, but I’ll get the first done today.
For those who haven’t read The Birth of Speed Bump, you need to know I had a religious friend named Joan who broke my nose. Breaking my nose is irrelevant here, but I want everyone to feel my scorn for her. That’s enough for this story. We’re going start with the summer Joan broke my nose, but before she broke it. I’m not sure if Vacation Bible School is nationwide, or a southern thing, but they are usually a week long daycare with Bible themed activities for young children. Granny held enough sway with Dad to force me into her church’s program each year, despite my heavy protests.
Looking back, I suspect plans were hatched in secret before the option of summer camp was presented. Their attacks were coordinated down to what I watched before they pitched the idea.
After a marathon of favorite summer camp movies, Dad hit me with a VBS notice.
“Ugh, no! I’m old enough to decide I don’t wanna go!” With one sentence, I went from blissfully happy to deeply offended. He conceded I mightbe old enough for some choice, and asked if I preferred VBS, or to a summer camp with Joan.
“What do you mean camp? What kind of camp?” I was cautious. I may have been 11, but that’s more than old enough to know something too good to be true, probably was.
He grinned ear to ear, obviously pleased with himself. He claimed it was, indeed, a real camp. I would go Monday and come home Saturday morning. Log cabins, bunk beds, swimming – even a zip-line. He knew zip-line caught my attention.
“I would go with Joan?” I wanted to find the catch, but was too naive to know where to look. I was assured Joan would be my bunkmate, yet his reassuring smile did nothing to relieve my suspicions.
“I want to talk to Joan first.” I still trusted her at that point. She attended camp the previous year, confirmed the list of activities, and told me we use our own sleeping bag. I agreed to go on the stipulation of a new sleeping bag, but I would have gone for the zip-line. They were only a fantasy from tv until that point.
Being thrilled with my expensive new sleeping bag and camping equipment, I missed the huge, red flags waving in my face. My parents were spending several hundred dollars on items I would use once, yet they were happy. Dad offered to buy things I never thought to ask for, Mom never complained about anything. The flags were everywhere, but I was blind.
When the big day finally came, Joan’s parents picked me up, and the nightmare began. “How long until we get to the camp?” I asked excitedly.
Very nonchalantly, Joan’s mom informed me a bus would take slightly over two hours.
“Bus? What bus?” I knew there was a catch! I knew it! Bus?! They can’t put us on a bus! We’re children! Stranger danger!
Apparently, the church borrows a school bus to drive the kids each year. It’s easier than trying to find enough parents!
Right, sure. And why is the church driving us to camp, you ask? You guys will never guess the answer! Because it’s their camp! And now, everyone was looking at me like I’m the one being difficult!
I looked at Joan accusingly, “You said there was swimming and zip-lines and lots of cool stuff. You listed fun stuff.”
“It is! We do! Just because it’s a church camp doesn’t mean we don’t do lots of fun stuff. It’s not about church, it’s just a summer camp.” She reassured.
I remained silent for the rest of our drive, terrified to learn more. When we arrived at the church, a group of children were already loading onto the promised school bus. Joan’s parents unloaded us quickly, and pushed us onto the bus. I was forced to hand over my sleeping bag and pillow to be stored elsewhere, but refused to let anyone take my duffel. It’s an important detail, it distracted me from my surroundings longer than usual. By time I found a window seat (easier to protect my duffel) and built a temporary nest, we were already on the highway.
I forced myself to have a cautious look at my surroundings. Something felt off, but I couldn’t immediately place what. It bothered me terribly until a chaperon stood to lead us in a round of Jesus Loves Me. Mine was the only groan. As every head turned to face me, I finally saw it. There were no boys, not one.
“Joan… how is there not one boy coming with us?” I hoped no one could hear me over the sounds of attempted singing.
“Ha-ha. Funny. Yea, boys are coming to the girls camp.” She rolled her eyes and continued singing.
Oh gods what have I done? I held my duffel tight for security, wishing I brought Tiger. He couldn’t leave the house anymore because his head was removed during a show and tell. The black hole of depression I fell into for the hours before I knew he could be saved was not a place I wanted to revisit. Instead, I stared out the window, retreating to my happy place.
We didn’t have a GPS to say we reached our destination, but I knew we had because the singing stopped. We drove down a long dirt driveway until we reached the first cabin. One chaperon walked into the large building labeled ‘Welcome Center’ while the rest of us unloaded our possessions. When the first chaperone returned, he lead us down a path, away from the building. After a short walk, we reached the cabins. There were 12 in all, two rows of 6 facing each other. A large group of girls stood in the center with several camp counselors. Our chaperones threw us to the wolves, promising to return in 5 days for survivors.
“Ok kids listen up, we’re gonna have a great week, whose ready to get started!” A blonde girl wearing a counselor shirt stood on a small platform between the rows of cabins. Kids around me cheered with high pitched screams before she continued. “Excellent! That’s what I like to hear! Ok to get us started, you need to know each cabin, is assigned a number. Even numbers on my left, odd numbers on my right. You with me so far?” More approving screams, followed by, “Good, because each side is a team. The even numbers are Rebels, the odd numbers are Yankees, get it? Because they’re a bit odd!” She had to wait for the roars of laughter to stop before she continued. I was truly in hell.
The children around me screeched loud enough to hurt my ears. I tried to cover them with my sleeping bag, but it immediately identified me as an outsider. Rookie mistake if I’m being honest, I should have known better by that age.
When Blonde resumed talking, they slowly turned their attention back on her. “All week we are going to have little competitions. The winners will earn points, and the team with the most points at the end will win special prizes. When I call your name, I’ll tell you what cabin you’ll be staying in, and you can go meet your counselor.” The counselors were dispersing to stand in front of their assigned cabins, two in each. I knew when adults kept prizes secret, it meant they would suck.
Please Universe, I’m begging you, please let me be a Yankee. Just this once, please. A long process of cabin assignments ensued. When it finally ended, Joan and I were in number 12. Rebels yet again. We shared one of 6 bunk beds, meaning I would share a one room living space with 13 other people for 5 days. To add insult to injury, I was on the bottom bunk, and there was no tv. I wished for death, it was the only foreseeable solution.
Once we finished settling into our places, the counselor reviewed our schedule. “Hey girls, we’re you’re counselors. I’m Betty, and this is Sue. Each morning we’ll have prayer, breakfast, bible study, swimming, activity, lunch, nap time, bible study, free-time, dinner, bible study, showers, and then we’ll have 20-30 minutes to wind down before we say our prayers and go to sleep.” Betty read from her clipboard.
I need to call a short time out. I know you guys think I’m exaggerating about the bible study schedule, but I’m really not. They only used the words ‘bible study’ once, but the rest were variations meaning the same thing. Obviously, I don’t remember the exact schedule of a camp I attended at 11, but the important activities are there to get us to the good stuff. Ok, sorry, back to it.
I’ve never gone a whole day without tv, I can’t.“Joan, where’s the tv?” I whispered as Sue began passing out name tags.
“Why would you want tv at camp?” She gave me the Look.
The Look always pushes my buttons, but I was in a bad mood beforeshe did it. “I don’t know, why would I let you keep top bunk instead of throwing you off?” But I caught myself, and corrected course. “Ha… Joke.”
“Here you go, girls. Write your names, stick it to your shirts. Just for today while we get to know each other.” Sue handed each of us a sticker. Markers were passed around.
The only excuse I can offer for my conviction against wearing a name tag is that I feel like it opens the door for conversation. Employees wear name tags because they say “Hi world, I’m telling you my name so you feel comfortable talking with a stranger.” Well no freaking thank you, if someone wants to start a conversation, they can feel every bit as awkward as I do. I put my tag where I could easily cover it with my arm. No one noticed, my invisibility powers held true even there.
“Ok everyone, looks great! Since we have a late start today, we’re going straight to a special activity. Before we leave, I’ll show you where the bathrooms are in case anyone needs to go.” Betty announced to a chorus of giggly girls confirming the status of their full bladders.
The counselors showed us a path leading behind the cabins. Each side had a large building with restrooms and showers. It was terrifying enough to be taken outside to find a toilet, but now they were taking us into a building where we would share toilets with 5 other cabins of 14 people. I hated my brain for automatically telling me that’s 70 people. Things only got worse from there. The toilets were in stalls, as in the kind you can clearly see into through the cracks on either side of the door.
I don’t use public restrooms. Never have, never will. Disregarding how terrible it is to have my bare ass touch a surface where other bare asses touch, the thought of someone hearing me pee is mortifying. Then, the granddaddy of all Nopes, how could one poo in this environment? You couldn’t! The smell, the sounds, all function would cease as everyone turned to heckle you for indecency. You would be the butt of all fart jokes for the rest of your natural life. There was only one thing to do. Wait for the middle of the night, and poop while everyone slept.
“Alright, if everyone’s used the bathroom, listen up. When we take showers, you have 5 minutes, then you have to come out or we come in to get you.” Betty announced. It was the most terrifying statement I ever heard. I promised myself to set a watch-timer for 3 minutes, better safe than sorry.
“Ms. Betty!” A skinny brunette asked, “if we shower together, can we have 10 minutes?” And just like that, a new scariest thing I’ve ever heard.
“Yes , Jenny. I was just getting to that. Anyone who wants to shower in pairs can have 10 minutes, but it’s entirely up to you. Ok! Now that’s out of the way, let’s get going so the next cabin can use the bathroom.” Betty answered.
I followed the group in a haze, lost in thoughts of how to escape the hell I wandered into. I didn’t realize we were taken to the zip-line until an adult was explaining how the harness works. It stretched downhill over a large, open field. If I had any capabilities of judging length, I would guess slightly shorter than a football field. I was the last one in our group to go, but it was worth the wait. If I can do that everyday, I just might make it through this.
Spoiler Alert: We would not be allowed to zip-line again, it was only one time. No one volunteered the information, I only found out by the recurring disappointment of not going each day. I wish I could tell you I figured it out after a few days, but every morning I convinced myself today’s the day.
Next, we were taken to lunch where I learned we only had one meal choice. We got in a cafeteria-style line, and lunch ladies slopped food on our plates as we walked by. If you said no thanks, they rudely informed it’s the only option. That was fine, I thought it polite not waste food, but they said I had to eat it all. That was never going to happen. I disappeared into the crowd and found a line of kids who were finished eating. I dumped my food into the trash, and circled back with my empty plate to sit with my cabin.
“Where’s your food?!” Joan asked louder than necessary.
“Shut up!” I whisper yelled. “They’re weirdly sensitive about the food here. I’m not eating whatever that slop is.” I pointed to her plate with a disgusted look.
“It’s just a sloppy joe, what’s wrong?” Joan asked with a face covered in meat goop.
“No. Just no.” I answered, trying not to stare at food dripping from her chin. I failed.
We ate dinner that evening, and three meals a day for the remainder of our stay. Out of 14 meals over 5 days, I ate eggs, a corndog, french fries, and a few slices of pizza. If you want to count the banana they gave us Saturday morning, go ahead. Everything else was inedible. I normally don’t care for food, but I was starving by the end of the week. No one would feed me until Saturday afternoon when I finally made it home.
The first night, I tried to shower. We had to strip down in the cabin, and walk to the showers in our towel. Let’s talk about how this was set up. Imagine rows of shower stalls like in a gym, but they had the bathroom style divider walls. Each stall was divided in half. You walked into the first half, which had a curtain, not a door, and hung your towel. Then past a second clear curtain, was your shower. I washed my hair quickly, but everywhere I looked, I saw girls through open spaces left by the curtain. I was painfully aware if I could see them, they could see me. I could feel them watching, laughing at my nakedness. I ran from the shower, shampoo mostly rinsed, with 2 minutes remaining on a 3 minute timer. Betty was supervising showers while Sue stayed to supervise those who returned to the cabin. Privacy didn’t exist in that place.
I crawled into my sleeping bag, furious to get it wet, putting clothes on. I was among the first to return, the rest dressed openly as if they didn’t care who saw their noonies. I was already desperate for bed time. I hadn’t used the bathroom since leaving home, and I could only delay the inevitable so long.
Girls talked and giggled loudly until bedtime, then Sue reviewed the sleeping rules. “No one gets up during the night for any reason unless it’s to go the bathroom. You do not want to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. I won’t be nice about it when you wake me up, so we’re all going to have one last chance to use it before bed. If anyone needs to go, Betty will take you now.”
“Wait, if we have to pee, we have to wake you up to go with us?” One girl thankfully asked so I didn’t have to.
“That’s right.” Sue answered. “Seriously, you have to, and we rather wake up to take you than have an accident in here, so it’s ok if you do… but at the same time, we really prefer if you just go before bed, k? Great! Go with Betty now, last chance.”
I knew I couldn’t stay. I was already filled to capacity, and there was no version of reality where I wake one of those girls for a special trip. I returned to the bathrooms, but only to pee. Can we all be adults about potty humor a moment? You know how, when you have to poo really bad, it tries to come out when you pee? I never focused so hard to control my anal sphincter. I clinched harder than a man having his first rectal exam. By some magic, I managed to pee without a single fart, and returned to the cabin unmolested. It was time for lights out.
They had no nightlights, I curled under my sleeping bag to hide light from my watch. It was just bright enough to pretend I was camping in a tent, not a cabin with 13 other people who could be doing anything in the darkness. After midnight, I heard the first snores, a torture element I hadn’t considered, but highly effective nonetheless. More soon began snoring, and it made me think.
If they can sleep throughthose snores, maybe they could sleep through my farts. I’m going to try, if someone does wake up, they couldn’t tell it came from me. I can press my butt into the mattress to muffle sound, and smell won’t escape the sleeping bag… probably.
So I did. I pressed into that mattress, and let one rip with the same level of fear as if I were petting a snake. It was long and blessedly silent. The stomach cramp instantly disappeared, and when no one woke to berate me, I tried another. It was louder, but no one stirred. The next try would have released more than a fart. I couldn’t take that risk. Though I do become more desperate, the first night was easiest. I fell asleep shortly after the farts, and woke to counselors turning on lights. I dressed in my sleeping bag again. This is where I learned to stop wearing pajamas. Each night, after I showered (understanding that means I got my hair wet to appear as if I showered), I dressed in my clothes for the next day. It was preferable to anxiety of someone seeing my naked bits.
Now we have come to activity. Obviously, the bathroom problem becomes my biggest hurtle, but a close second was activity. To fill the time slot that should have been zip-lining, we were given a list of activities to choose from. Basic stuff; arts and crafts, music, comedy, dance, and a few others too dull to remember. “You can only pick one, and you can’t change your mind. No exceptions, so we don’t want to hear it. Make sure you choose carefully.” Betty instructed.
“Friday evening, we’ll have a little performance in the cafeteria. There’s going to be a special dinner, then each group will get on stage to show the camp what they’ve been doing all week! Doesn’t that sound fun!” Many girls agreed, they did think it sounded fun.
I thought it sounded horrible, why would anyone want to be on a stage? That clearly means the rest of the camp would be in the audience, carefully observing. No thanks. My luck ran out concerning others asking my questions, but I had to know. “Um, scuse me, umm… I was just wondering if we could umm… maybe not do any of these? Like could I just stay on my bunk and not do the stage thing?”
Complete silence fell. I was surrounded by the Look from every angle. “You have to choose one. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine. How about comedy? You can do that, then if you make a mistake, they’ll think it’s on purpose.” Sue smiled, attempting to lull me into a false sense of security.
All eyes were one me, waiting for my response. See what happens? I open my mouth, and suddenly the world stops. They wouldn’t resume their conversation until they heard my answer. My brain isn’t capable of thinking under those conditions. It’s only capable of assessing the fastest escape route. In this case, the quickest was, “ok, I’ll do comedy.”
And just like that, my paper was returned with the comedy box checked. The other girls chose arts, dance, or music. Joan refused to do comedy, and I was too chicken to ask for something else. They said no exceptions.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how I became trapped in ‘Clown College’ for 4 days. When I entered the ‘comedy’ room, I saw a woman surrounded by clown wigs and make-up. She sat in a chair facing a half-circle of smaller chairs. When everyone arrived, we had less than 10 kids. For the first time, I wished for a larger crowd, one big enough to become invisible. As it was, the unusually kind woman sensed I was having difficulties and gave me special attention. My rotten luck held stronger than ever.
I had to wear a wig, but got lucky with the make-up. After a short demonstration, we were given small make-up kits. After 15 minutes, the other girls were finished, but I had yet to touch mine. The adult offered to help me, but a strange survival instinct took hold, “I’m allergic to make-up. I don’t know if I can use this… Mom put stuff on my face once, but I turned red and itchy and they took me to the hospital.” Holy crap, I said it out loud, crap I’m in trouble now.
“Oh my goodness! I’m so glad you told me!” She frantically took the make-up away, giving the other kids strict instructions to make sure they don’t touch me with theirs. It was the one and only lucky break that week. Each day, for one hour, I wore a clown wig and participated in a skit I have no memory of. I only remember it involved a huddle at he end, because that’s the part I messed up on stage. We can get back to that, but we have other things to cover first.
Let’s talk about the messed up swimming at this place. You hear summer camp with swimming and think lake, right? Was that just me? We have lakes everywhere, I assumed the camp was near one, but no. It was fenced in like a prison, barbed wire and all. Why did they fence in a pool in the middle of nowhere? Glad you ask, because I’ve never seen this before or since, but they wanted to control where you entered. The walkway leading to the pool was also fenced in and lined with shower heads. We were required to wet our hair before we got into the pool. They didn’t explain why, but it was a serious rule. I saw a counselor jump a girl’s ass for not getting her hair wet enough. The girl sat in a corner crying that day, screaming, “it was wet, you just can’t tell cause how dark my hair is.”
Every day, after evening bible study, we had an hour of free-time where we could play with kids from other cabins. I followed Joan and the few girls I knew from home, but this is where it gets bad again. I need to explain this game we played. Imagine 10-15 kids standing in a circle. One kid stood in the middle, and skipped around the circle while everyone sings. There were a few different songs, but I remember “Here comes Cindy Crawford walking down the street, (clap clap) she didn’t know what to do, so she stopped in front of me.” When they sing the last line, the kid in center had to stop, face the kid next to them, and those two kids ‘dance’ face to face for the rest of the song, “she said come on girl, shake that thing, shake it (repeat)!” Then the kids switch places and the other kid skips around the center. There are no winners or losers, it’s just that process repeated over and over. The only ‘point’ was to show off a funny dance move.
This is one of my worse ignorant moments. In my mind, I was doing really well. Kids stopped in front of me often, I was the center of attention. I became brave as the week wore on, inventing new moves, copying old disco moves I saw on tv. I actually came to look forward to it. Then, on the last day, I heard girls in my cabin talking about me. “We have to get her to play, remember last night? Everyone kept picking her so we could laugh at how stupid she looked trying to dance?” A roar of laughter erupted through the cabin.
I replayed every game in my head, and she was right. I could see it clearly once she pointed it out. They were cheating to land in front of me, not because I was cool, but because I was the loser they made fun of. Those rounds of laughter weren’t for me, they were at me. There were just enough kids from my school to carry the story back. I was teased with the game for almost two years.
While all of this is going on, never forget, I have to poop bad. My last poop was Sunday night, and each passing day added more stomach cramps. Each night, I lay awake to fart as much as possible. I stopped drinking except a few sips of water with meals to cut down on how many times I had to pee. By Thursday, I didn’t think I could make it any longer. I went from being depressed to furious, I wanted out. I lost my tempter during lunch, and said “dangit ” fairly loud.
Betty lost her shit, “don’t you ever say that word again! You hear me? Next time I hear you talking like that, I’ll take you to the bathroom and wash your mouth with soap.” I was so shocked, I couldn’t speak. I only stared at her. Apparently my face was terrible because she felt the need to add, “you can wipe that look off your face too. I won’t have that kind of behavior in my cabin.” I turned to walk away, but she just couldn’t leave it alone. “Don’t you walk away from me!” She grabbed the back of my shirt, turned me around and yelled, “what do you say?!”
I couldn’t fathom this reaction to the word ‘dang’. It occurred to me, she could have thought I said damn. “What do you thinkI said?!” I accidentally asked aloud.
Betty released my shirt, and her demeanor changed. She made a face of pain, as if merely repeating, “you said… … dang… it” would cause a lightning strike. I had no clue how to handle someone that stupid.
“Wow. Ok then. Sorry, I guess.” This time when I walked away, she allowed it, but she still couldn’t resist one last comment. “You better be on your best behavior the rest of the time your here.” She called after me.
I was so filled with rage I had to promise myself revenge before I could stop shaking. For two days I rehearsed the special goodbye I would say to her, but I’ll save that for the end. Don’t worry, we’re almost there.
Friday was the big last day. I survived by telling myself, “ok, that’s over. I never have to do this again” after every activity. At our ‘special dinner’ they ordered pizza, enough for everyone to have two whole slices. The Yankees, as always, defeated the Rebels. Their special prize was ice cream, I enjoyed saying “told you so” more than I would have the ice cream.
When the stage performances began, the clowns had to go first. We had to throw buckets of ping pong balls onto the audience, but my bucket flew from my hand. I hit a counselor in the face, but she was mostly fine. The performance continued uninterrupted. At the end, we had to group in a huddle, but someone’s arm hit me in the head. I screamed, “ouch” into the silent auditorium. My voiced echoed loud and clear for all to hear. When it finally ended, I was allowed to sit in the audience. Waiting for all attention to focus on the next act, I returned to the clown props. I shoved the wig I wore under my shirt, and stayed in the back of the audience. I had special plans for the wig. When we were finally allowed back to our cabins, I hid it carefully in my duffel.
Ok, all I have left is one more pretend shower, then I can sit in bed, and clinch my ass till morning. I held it this long, I can hold it one more night. Just don’t unclinch. The stomach cramps were constant and almost unbearable. I had so much poop in my body, I was actively prairie dogging it since Thursday morning. I went to the bathroom at every opportunity, but it was never empty.
I didn’t sleep at all Friday night. The stomach pains were too extreme, and I long ago passed the point where farts relieved the pressure. I had a few terrifying moments where the possibility of shitting my pants was extremely real. I had to decide how to handle an accident. Being the last night, and not needing the sleeping bag again, I determined I would have no choice but to grab the poop, and hide it under someone else’s bed. Thankfully it didn’t come to that the first year.
Morning finally came. Betty and Sue gave a cheesy speech about how special our time together was while we all packed. The kids played in the pavilion while waiting on our busses, and most counselors were working to prepare for the next group. There would be a few more that summer, and there was plenty of work to do. I sat quietly, unable to move around for fear of shitting my pants, and waited for the bus. I loaded up with the other kids, made sure my possessions were safely aboard, then told a chaperone, “I forgot something, sorry, be right back.” I ran before anyone could stop me. Each step, the poop tried to escape my clinched cheeks, but this was something I had to do. I was lucky, I poked my head into our cabin, and Betty was alone, in the far corner.
Rage took over, and my mouth did the rest. “Hey Betty!” I got her attention. She looked at me with an expectant smile. The smile vanished quickly when I continued, “you are the worst counselor here! Dang is not a bad word. Damn is, Fuck is, shit, and hell too, probably. So maybe don’t be such a bitch to the next group.” I was running away before the last words were out. It was imperative to return before she told on me.
I heard her say, “get your butt back here! You are not…” before I was out of range. I weaved through every structure possible, hoping she wouldn’t know which bus was mine. And she didn’t. I got on the bus, laid low in my seat next to Joan, and kept my mouth shut. I was the last kid on the bus, and they were in a hurry.
As the bus started moving, I was afraid to look around, but Joan said, “Hey, look, Ms. Betty came to wave goodbye! Sit up and wave! Byeeeeeee Ms. Becky!” Joan was knocking on the window, waving for Becky’s attention. Panicked, I grabbed her arms, pulling her down. We made it out of hell without being stopped. I was fairly certain Becky didn’t know my name. Either way, nothing came of my outburst.
I was upset to discover Joan’s parents were driving me home. It would be that much longer to receive real food. Joan talked the whole ride, it seemed she had a very good time. The first seeds of hatred she planted with camp, sprouted to fine seedlings. When they pulled into my driveway, I leapt from the car without saying goodbye, ran past Dad’s outstretched arms, and pushed Mom out of the way when she was blocking the bathroom.
“Hey! What’s the hurry?” Mom asked as I ran through her.
“I have to poop, and I’m so hungry. I haven’t pooped or eaten since Sunday, please make food.” I slammed the bathroom door closed behind me.
Mom wasted no time going into her own episode. She screamed through the door, “what do you mean you didn’t shit or eat? Are you telling me you haven’t shit in almost a week? Do not come out until you shit.”
“I wasn’t going to, please, leave me alone and feed me!” I begged from the toilet. If you don’t know what it feels like to go that long without pooping, I’m not sure there’s anything I could say to make you understand. It felt like everything in me combined to form one solid, hard brick of waste. I was in the bathroom almost 30 minutes. If that wasn’t torture enough, Mom told Dad my problem when he finished talking to Joan’s parents. Every 5 minutes he came to the bathroom door to ask if I was ok.
“It’s great, please leave me alone!” But he never did. I was never dumb enough to share my bathroom troubles with them again. I had to learn quickly, any problems I have, they will make it worse. I can never stress that to you enough. They made every problem a crisis, and it consumed them. They weren’t capable of normal speech until it was resolved.
When I finally came out of the bathroom, I ate half a hot pocket and fell asleep on my plate. I woke up that night to find the food removed. When I realized my parents were asleep, I raided the kitchen. The remainder of the weekend was its own special brand of torture while I waited for my parents to tire of asking about camp. When they returned to work Monday, Joan came over as usual.
“Hey, I saved a special surprise for you from camp!” I told her excitedly.
Her eyes lit up, “oh, what is it?!”
“Follow me.” I led her to the backyard with a small bag, ignoring her questions.
She looked puzzled when I showed her the clown wig, but before she could ask questions, I showed her the lighter. Her eyes grew big with realization, but the wig burned exactly how you expect cheap, fake hair to burn. It was gone in a flash. The burns to my fingers were well worth it. Joan cried and I reveled in her tears, they sustained me. It was my first step toward healing, I felt ready to put the trauma behind me. I would live to fight another day.
As usual, you all have been a fantastic audience. I’ll save next year’s camp story for another day. I hope this one gave you some chuckles. If it did, I can look back on that summer and say, “something good came from the experience.” I think I need that.
For those who notice the blog’s new look, I hope you enjoy the astronaut’s company as much as I do. I had no intentions of changing it, but she reminds me of River Song! Look, she’s waving! I miss the good ole Doctor Who, a fandom that managed to span multiple countries and generations, dead to me now, thanks to a moronic casting choice. People wanted a female doctor? Great, write in a new one, don’t try to tell me a Time Lord who regenerated as a man 12-13 times (this isn’t the place for the number debate) is suddenly a woman now. Everyone wave to River, she’s here to stay.
Now to business, there isn’t much time difference between this and Pt. 2, most will take place before or during.
Entry 3:How to Buy Drugs
I dropped out first semester of Community College to sleep more and work longer hours. Not to make money, though it didn’t hurt, but to spend more time with Crook and friends. Working in a restaurant with a drug drive-thru gave new meaning to ‘business in front, party in back.’ Ready to have your mind blown? Drugs temporarily cure depression! Hold on, we should talk about risk vs reward before you make any life altering decisions. It’s not all cake and coconuts. Drugs are like explosives; fun to play with, but you can lose fingers. Let’s take a journey, I can show you what I mean.
Being a sheltered only-child, I was not provided with information on drugs. Much like my period and swimming, I was thrown in the deep end to swim or die. At 17, Goku introduced me to weed, on which I have already made my feelings abundantly clear. I don’t consider weed a ‘drug’ in the sense we’re discussing today; it’s a life saving miracle. The drugs we’re discussing today are pain pills and Xanax. Pain pills come in a wide variety, but give the same happy, ‘upper’ effect. Xanax now has a rainbow of flavors as well, but back then, it ruled the downer market solo. It cured my anxiety and allowed me to carry conversations as if I were normal! Big magic, indeed.
To enter DrugMart, you need a member to vouch for you. Without a referral, you’ll be met with blatant denials. Crook told the busboys I’m ‘cool.’ Don’t panic. In this case, ‘cool’ has a different definition; if you aren’t a snitch, you’ll be fine. After gaining admission, you are free to shop at your leisure. If you become a trusted regular, you might receive a job offer. I know the money sounds alluring, but had I understood the risks, I would have passed. Ok, I’m lying, I would have thought myself too smart to be caught. See? This is me staying honest. Being arrested for possession is embarrassing and expensive, while intent to distribute is a felony that follows you forever. Some things simply aren’t worth the risk, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me finish painting the scene.
To Teenage Me, there were three kinds of people in the world:
Those who stand in the center of crowds, entertaining the masses.
The members of the crowd who laugh in comradery.
Those who stand outside the crowds because if they try to enter, it will disperse.
Want to guess whereI belonged? Yes! The last one, Platinum Membership. At work, I was part of the crowd, it was intoxicating. I stood in the center once or twice, but I’m not here to brag. I’m here to say, if your ultimate fantasy is being allowed to stand near people, you may have worse issues to wrestle. Also, hard drugs are 99% likely to exacerbate those issues. And yes, it bothers me to have a time in my life I desired to be near people, but aren’t most of us fools at 18?
Crook went to work at a lumber mill shortly after we started dating. It paid more, but left me to fend for myself. I was experiencing popularity (fine, what I perceived to be popularity, can you guys just let me have one?) for the first time. I reveled in it, rolled in it like a pig in mud.
My career in the underground began with a bright yellow pill called Norco. It’s a pain pill, or as I call them, Happy Beans. I honestly never believed pills could effect me. I didn’t take medications, I smoked cigarettes to look cool and weed to feel human, but pills were voodoo. I’m not sure why, maybe it ties back to my doctor issues, but I held a strong aversion to them. Until a headache hit me early in a night shift.
Waiter Greg, gave me an aspirin, “This is all I have. Just don’t take the whole thing, break it in half… you hear me? No matter what, do not take the whole thing.”
“Sure, fine thanks.” I wasn’t in the mood to explain why magic wouldn’t cure a headache. He never said what the pill was. Why would I think anything but aspirin? When someone has a headache, people give them aspirin. That’s how social etiquette works.
But then my headache got really bad. Desperate, I retrieved the pill. No one ever recommended breaking an aspirin in half, I considered it may be something different. Desperation has a way of convincing us. I took half, but 20 minutes later, my head was still pounding. Hating myself for believing a voodoo doctor, I took the other half.
After 20 minutes more, the headache disappeared and the painful, crushing depression in my chest lifted. Pure happiness washed over me for seemingly no reason. Knowing it takes more than half a hour to feel the effects of medication requires a basic level of common sense about the human stomach which I didn’t possess. If we jump ahead 20 minutes once more, my euphoria turns to confusion when I’m left in charge of money. Brain was my calculator, I never learned to work the archaic ‘cash register.’ I knew which button opened it, then counted change back, but the numbers were moving. How could I do math when the numbers refused to sit still?
** In the end, weed killed Brain’s super power. I chose banishing suicidal urges over mathematical genius. We all face our own Crossroads. **
I asked Kerry to switch places, hostessing was easier, but the damage was done. I knew what possibilities those magic beans held and life would never be the same. Crook was excited at first. He was still trying to win my love and I discovered a fondness for something he knew how to provide. When he was sober, Crook was a Prince, but drugs turned him into a douche turd, what can you do? I’m almost proud to say I thought I was being careful. It may not have prevented every mishap, but it kept me from experiencing drug addiction. I already knew how ugly withdrawals could be.
I theorized if I didn’t allow myself to take the same drug too many days in a row, I couldn’t become physically dependent. Not to toot my own horn, but that part worked out. A routine developed for popping uppers on busy nights, downers for slow. I learned to use the damned cash register and called it an even trade. When I began to understand the financial downsides, DrugMart offered fair financial plans.
Two busboys ran our local DrugMart, we can call them Jay and Bob. Crook purchased a blunt the day he told them I’m ‘cool,’ but they were out of bags. Instead they sold him a blunt Jay had for the ride home. I misunderstood this and embarrassed myself thoroughly because of it.
Up to that point, Goku and I smoked out of homemade bongs. The blunt Crook bought was the first time I saw weed rolled into cigar paper, it spoiled me. A few days later, after Crook began work at the lumber mill, I bought a blunt solo. I approached Jay on his smoke break, he was easier to understand and had more patience than Bob.
“Ha! Aight Shawty, I knew you be back.” Jay dug into his pockets to retrieve a small baggy, and patiently waited for me to get the hand off right. I tried to mimic the handshake exchange I watched Crook perform, but dropped the money.
Jay noticed the look of confusion I wore when looking at the small bag. “What’s wrong, kid?” His laughter made me brave enough to ask.
“Umm. The other day, you gave Crook a… a cigar rolled.. thing. Ya know?” I muttered, silently pleading with the universe to let this be a test I’m passing. The ‘let’s see if this white girl knows her shit’ test. It wasn’t.
After a fair amount of laughter, he explained, “That’s all I had on me. This how it usually is. That bag fit in one cigar, one blunt cost 5 bucks, so me and you, we straight.” I have to give him credit for patience. I was lucky he found it amusing. Supposedly these guys killed people, but it was never proven and that’s not why we’re here today. Even if it was, they weren’t exactly innocent victims.
“So… where do I get the cigar part?” In for a penny, in for a pound.
“The gas station, any one of ‘em.” He turned to walk back inside, maybe I should have let him. This is probably what caused the side jobs.
“But… if everyone coming to you needs one, wouldn’t you make more money if you just sold them too?” I slid into another fantasy and ran with it.
Jay stopped, turned back, and scratched his beard in thought. “Well, funny you should say. Ole boy from the hood sold pre-rolleds for $7 a pop…” he paused, flipped a 5 gallon bucket, and sat before continuing, “…he made a lil, but ain’t worth it. Pay a dolla for yo cigar, go through the trouble to split it, roll it, and you only adding a dollar to profits. Nah, I don’t see it.”
“But who says you gotta roll it?” It came out before I could check it against the filter. Another problem exacerbated by Norco and Xanax alike.
“Choo mean don’t roll ‘em. What be the point?” He rolled his eyes, preparing to stand up by the tell-tale sign of adjusting his boxers. There was a comical irony in the way he primped his boxers above his hips yet over his tank-top.
“The point.” When he looked more confused I elaborated. “I can probably use common sense to roll it, but I’m too lazy to get a cigar to try. Plus, people under 18 can’t buy one anyway. Charge them extra.” Thankfully, Crook previously explained my monotone voice was involuntary, or he may have mistaken hesitation for condescension.
“Huh… well I’ll be damed. Go on girl, here, that one’s on me.” Jay returned my $5, shooing me along. I didn’t yet understand I would be handing it right back when I purchased my blunts and cigars at the special discount price of $7 each. Sure, I could have gone to a gas station, and Crook usually did, but I was always too lazy.
You guys remember Fucking Sookie? She’s making an appearance. After graduation, we stayed close for the first year. She continued dating her abusive high-school sweetheart, and stayed with me after their fights. His fear of Crook made our home a safe haven, but more importantly, they smoked lots of weed. I became the most convenient source to support the habit, and introduced them to Happy Beans.
The first time I asked for a bulk order, Jay taught me quantity/price ratio. “So… if you give me all the weed in one bag… that means I could pretty much split it up however I wanted… right?” I asked.
“You catch on quick, yup and you do it before the meet. Don’t let ‘em see what you buy. They only see what they buy. You already tell ‘em what the pills cost? You buy ‘em for less and charge more. Ya feel me?”
“That’s genius! Thanks!” I ran off to pilfer my first of many commissions.
It didn’t take long for Jay to notice how regularly I needed to re-up. He easily convinced me to expand his clientele with Sookie’s social circle. I brought home lots of goodies. Crook was proud, being a professional criminal in his own right. His approval felt really good, I craved more.
When Jay asked if I was ready to make real money, I thought I was. “You’d make more if you bought in bulk to sell it. You wouldn’t have to come to me erry time you wanna sling a dime bag, ya feel?”
“Yea, they do that on tv, but I can’t let go of that much money at once.” It was a pipe dream, nothing more.
“Nah, you sell it then pay.” He launched into a play by play of Dealing For Dummies, but all I heard was “…and you walk away with a few grand, then use it to buy more. You out of debt forever after one time.”
“Sweet! I’m in! What do I get to take first?” I know I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, but I hate Past Me. If I ever figure out how to lay hands on that bitch, she’s dead. This bitch asked, “what makes the most money? Can I get a bunch of cocaine?”
“No, hell no girl, I can’t load you down with cocaine, that’s too risky. You can have some pills and weed. We see how you do.”
Can you believe I thought he meant it was too risky for me. Like he was concerned for my safety or getting arrested. He was concerned with his risk, all his.
I went home with 10+ years of jail time crammed into my purse. I walked through the door with a skip in my step, and dumped the contents on the table for Crook to see. His eyes widened in fury. Unfortunately, I mistook it for excitement and launched into my story, ending it with, “…so now we’re going to be rich!”
“What the hell is wrong with you?! I know you’ve seen this play out on tv! Why? Why would you do this?!” Crook screamed.
“Well… I mean, come on. This isn’t tv! Everyone’s always screaming life isn’t tv, and now you want to use it for an argument? Jay and Bob aren’t going to hurt us, they’re your friends. Jay even likes me now.” I was angry. I was so excited for him to be proud again. Not only was he disappointed, he was angry! It was the first time he yelled at me.
“This is the one thing it has right! What were you thinking?! Do you know how long it would take you to sell this much?! We don’t even own scales! No, we can’t do this, I have to take it back. My parole officer could come in here any day, do you know what happens if he finds this? We both go to jail!” That finally got through to me. I already lived in constant fear of his PO, I couldn’t add that to it no matter how small the odds.
“Ok, I admittedly overlooked that part. Can you give it back?” That was an extreme hot to cold mood swing even for me.
“Only because I know so many of them, I’ll be back, just be grateful you didn’t take any of this.” He snatched the bags up and left.
He came home an hour later, drug free. He wouldn’t talk about it any further aside from making me swear not to participate in their business again. I had no problems with that, Angry Crook was scary. It would be over a year before I had to see Angry Crook on a daily basis.
I thought loaning my car to them while I worked was pretty savvy and kept my promise. My car basically retrieved and paid for it’s own gas. As an additional thank you, goody bags were left in the glove compartment. It was an all-win scenario, I was technically supporting a habit with zero overhead. It was baffling to have my felon boyfriend outraged because I let someone borrow my car, but he lost his shit when he found out.
“What the hell?! What do you think they’re doing with it?!” He asked.
“Running errands! None of them have cars, they walk to work, can you imagine how much that must suck? It’s not like they’re using all the gas and bringing it back empty.” I really didn’t understand the harm that time, if anything, I saw it as charitable.
“How can someone as smart as you have no common sense?! They have cars! They walk to work so police can’t pull them over! They’re using your car to run huge amounts of drugs! That way, when the car falls under suspicion, it’s your car! Do you understand now?!”
“Oh, that’s pretty smart! Well… even so, wouldn’t it be fine when they pulled me over and I was me? Could I say they stole the car while I worked? Don’t look at me like that, I wouldn’t do it unless I had to.” I know it sounds terrible, but I was already spoiled and didn’t want to lose my goody bags.
“I’m going to talk to Jay and Bob. Your done working for them, and they won’t offer anymore.” Angry Crook was back, I didn’t argue.
I successfully prevented physical addiction to the pills, but not mental. Being motivated to do good work was impossible. Luckily, this is around the same time Krissy and Kristy needed someone with a car. Someone who was impressionable and desperate to please. That someone was this chick right here. I explained this in part 2, but there is a honorable mention worth telling.
When Kristy first moved into her shotgun house, she saved money on electricity by not paying for it. She let someone hook it up illegally, but obviously didn’t advertise the fact. That’s why, when I came to pick her up, I was confused by the strange utility truck and man in her yard. I parked on the street, tried to get out, but paused when the strange man began looking into windows.
Unsure what to do, I tried to call, but she called me first. “I’m so glad you’re here, I’ll explain in the car, but I’m going to jump in, and you’re gonna drive off fast. Get closer, and make sure the doors are unlocked.” She hung up before I could ask questions.
I drove closer and waited. Kristy rushed through the door, and jumped in like she was escaping a bank robbery. I floored it when the confused man came our way, completely consumed with the fantasy of a police chase.
“What the hell was that all about.” I asked, watching the man signal us to return. Like that was going to happen.
“Ugh, it’s a long story. I’ll give you a bump if you promise not to tell anyone.”
“Alright, here hold my cig, be careful, it’s laced with coke.” She handed me the cigarette and began digging through her purse.
I tried my first (and only) laced cigarette as I watched her remove a bag of cocaine from a make-up case’s hidden compartment. We each snorted a bump while she explained the power company caught on to her illegal connection. She would pay a large fine and monthly bills now, but that was it. She simply didn’t want to have the awkward conversation in person, and I didn’t blame her, I would have ran too. We had illegal cable once, but after 6 months, one day we came home to find only the TV Guide channel working. They wanted us to know what we were missing.
Life was good for a while. I enjoyed being a happy, social member of society, but all good things must come to an end. Though I was too blind to see it at the time, I can tell you what happened. Crook was taking more than 3x the amount of pills I was, but I never saw the quantity he purchased, only what he gave me.
When Feeny learned she had a DrugMart in her kitchen, she reported it to the police. How did she find out? Do you remember earlier when I said drugs might cost you a few fingers? Bob only lost half his index finger, but Fenny requested a drug test at the hospital. She said workman’s comp burned her too many times, and she had a feeling no sober person could lose their finger to a lemon slicer. When he failed the drug test, other coworkers gave her enough details to save their own asses.
Yes! Fine! Me too! It’s a shame I still live with, but it was an accident! Kerry tricked me! I thought it was normal girl-talk gossip! She told Feeny everything. It’s a matter of principle. I had a reputation to uphold. It may not have been the kind of reputation you write home about, but damnit there was an entire group of people who looked upon it positively! I denied it with fervent conviction. This blog is the first time I’ve uttered the truth aloud. I still feel weirdly ashamed.
City police were useless in the beginning. They asked for evidence and told her failing a drug test for work wasn’t enough. So what did Feeny do? Nothing, at first, but when we cooked 25 fish plates for a reservation that canceled, she made lemonade… metaphorically speaking. She had the food boxed up, and personally delivered it to the Sheriffs Department. The next day, three deputies came to speak with Jay and Bob. I can only imagine the conversation, but both left work that night never to return. A few weeks later, Jay was arrested and Bob was on the run. Police never found Bob, (that I’m aware of) but Crook participated in the food delivering rotation while Bob lived under a an abandoned house’s porch.
When Crook lost his pill source, every night of our lives became consumed with where he would find his next fix. Sure, I was super bummed the party was over, but not to the point I was willing to sacrifice all my free time to find more. I learned there was more to withdrawals than becoming physically ill, there was becoming an annoying asshat too. It was a hard, painful lesson, but it better prepared me for later, when Crook would fall off the wagon permanently.
Well guys, I think that’s it for my days as a drug dealer. I got in and out without being arrested or injured. I think that’s the best one can hope for in that scenario. Let’s call this one a win. After all, it did provide valuable life lessons. Thanks for reading, you guys are the best listeners I’ve ever known.
One more thing, before I go, I know it’s off topic… but why do girls cut their hair off at the end of every relationship? I’m not poking fun, I’ve done it at least 5x myself. Seriously, if I even come close to a break-up, the first thing I’m gonna do is chop my hair off. Why? Well, never-mind, this is something I can Google. But does anyone else feel it’s an overly dramatic reaction? In the moment I’m doing it, I know I’m going to hate myself for being a cliche, but I can’t stop myself. It’s as compelling as an addiction, I don’t understand it. I’m oddly fascinated with the psychology behind it. Oh well, thanks again, laters.
Since I put my foot in my mouth and told you guys about Cutty’s cellar, I wanted to do it next. If I put it off, I’ll chicken out or procrastinate until last minute. I’m not a fan of talking about this one, but I stayed with Cutty a few days during our 8th grade spring break. The week before, our history class learned about secret escape tunnels built during the Civil War. Several antebellum homes had them, but now most are caved-in, closed off, or converted to storage.
For the first time, Google images was worthless. I tried to find a picture of another home’s tunnel, but none look close to the real thing. It’s exactly what it sounds like, I promise. They didn’t have time for anything fancy, the walls and ceiling were braced with wooden beams. They kept lanterns and what were essentially bug-out bags at the entrance. If you were being forced to use a tunnel, chances are you didn’t have time to gather supplies first. The other end exited behind a tree-line, or any place out of view.
Cutty’s cellar was caved in 6ft from the entrance. Wherever it came out was lost in history, but the previous owners concreted the steps. Crone Club had a fit, but you can’t un-concrete something, at least not how they wanted. It was deep enough to stay cool year round, and safe enough for Cutty’s mom to store her preserves. That’s all you need for now, let’s get on with it, shall we?
“So… what haunts the escape tunnel?” I asked Cutty.
“Oh, don’t be like that, come on. I promise I won’t try to sleep there.”
“Seriously. It’s not haunted. If it is, no one has told me about it.” She shrugged with just enough indifference to make me believe her.
I was disappointed to say the least, but I still wanted to be one of the kids who got to say they’ve been in one. “Let’s go look at it, I just wanna see it. Please?”
“I’ll take you if you swear not to do any ghost crap for the whole week.”
“Deal!” One week wasn’t a bad trade-off. I could always entertain myself with the swimming pool or golf cart.
“Fine, but no changing your mind when you only see jars of fruit, it collapsed before we moved here.” She lead me through the house, to the basement.
Before we progress further, there is one more thing I forgot to mention. It’s weirdly important to me you understand this, thank you for the indulgence.
Shortly before this took place, Dad gave me a camping kit. Among other items, it contained a canteen. I hate camping, there’s no electricity or bathrooms, but I love pretending to camp. It’s best to accept it as one of my quirks and move on, there’s a whole thing unto itself there; but what matters is, I had the canteen. I packed it partly because packing and unpacking are among my favorite activities, but mostly because I had a feeling. Don’t let the packing comment hold you up, it’s not why we’re here either. Nor am I leading you into a rant about premonitions or foresight, this goes straight back to my paranoia issue.
If you don’t suffer from paranoia, you may not understand how many ‘feelings’ we have daily. It’s more than one could feasibly indulge. At the tender age of 13, I was already in the habit of ignoring them. One’s gut can only cry wolf so many times before one hopes a real wolf comes along to devour it.
That’s why, when Gut screamed, “grab the canteen, we’re going on an adventure!” as we left Cutty’s room, I rolled my eyes. Sick of it.
“Last time I listened to you, I dove behind a tree to avoid a dangerous spy at school. Everyone saw! How did you think I would explain that?” I admonished.
Ok, back to the basement again. On the far wall, a small, wooden door hid the entrance to the cellar. It didn’t look old enough to be the original, but I imagine it had something less noticeable back then. We opened the door, and I could see the skinny concrete steps descending into darkness. It was deep enough for me to stand upright, but most men would need to hunch. The preserves were next to the entrance, most could be reached without leaving the steps. It was much smaller than I imagined.
Cutty reached in to pull a light cord, and a single, dim bulb lit up. “Here, this is the only light. Look so we can leave. Maybe we can get you a tan this week.”
I was so pleased, I didn’t remind her I can’t tan. I’m the kind of Irish that burns instantly, but returns to pasty white once the skin peels. Honestly, I’m not sure why we’re called white. The color is closer to peach if anything. Sorry, tangent.
I looked at the jarred fruit, dull as promised, and walked the few feet to the cave-in. It wasn’t a wall of earth as I pictured, dirt partially fell in, but the rotten timber blocked most of the path. “Do you have a flashlight?”
“No, you don’t need one. Let’s go.” Cutty was already out of patience. So difficult.
“I just want to see what’s past the cave-in. Come on, there has to be one in here.” I whined.
“No! There’s nothing but more dirt! I showed it to you, now let’s go swimming or something.”
“Fine. You win this round.” But I didn’t tell her she would lose the next. It occurred to me, I never promised not to revisit the cellar.
No one travelled that tunnel for over 100 years! I was consumed by the idea of being the person who discovered the tunnel’s exit. It was about history, not ghosts. If I had a conscience then, it would have been clear. Strangers would learn my name on the tour! I could hear it already, “And thanks to our adopted daughter’s efforts, we can now show you where the tunnel leads.” Cutty’s parents would say, beaming with pride.
If that weren’t delusional enough, I also convinced myself other homeowners would invite me to explore their tunnels. I saw myself being labeled the real-life Lara Croft. Yes, that was definitely worse. You see how the simplest things carried me away? I looked at a cellar for 30 seconds and it only took 30 more to believe it would make me famous. Ok, I’m starting to think I’ve had the god complex longer than I realized.
The rest of the day went slowly as I waited for nightfall, but I was able to locate a flashlight. When midnight came around, I heard the reassuring sound of Cutty’s snores. Quietly, I crawled out of her room, the embodiment of Lara Croft, professional, afraid of nothing. I set about my task with a rare seriousness, calm and confident.
“Don’t forget the canteen, you never know when you’ll need it!” Gut reminded.
“Screw you, I’m sick of it! Do you remember what happened when you convinced me to do stand up at the talent show?!” Not this time, Satan!
“It’s Brain’s fault you can’t say words correctly, I was only trying to help. Besides, this is different. I really think you should take the canteen this time.” It changed my fun butterflies to painful cramps with a side of nausea to prove it’s point.
“No way, you aren’t fooling me with that trick. I don’t care what you say, I’m not wasting my time crawling all the way back. You just want me to wake her up!” I accused.
“No… look, I know we’ve had our differences, but this time I’m…”
“Lala la la la la la I can’t hear you, la la la.” That always shuts it up.
After I made it to ground level, I remained at the bottom step, making sure no one woke during my Grinch walk. One of those extra considerations that so often encouraged my false sense of grandeur.
The fantasy lasted until I was in the basement. Shining the flashlight on the cellar door felt like a hypnotist snapping his fingers to release me from a trance. My bravery evaporated instantly, but not my curiosity. In the end, Curiosity defeated Cowardice and Cramps. I had gone all that way, I didn’t see the harm in taking a quick look. I only wanted to know if I could see past the cave-in… but then I could see past it. A little, at the very top, I could see open space inside. The image reignited my fantasy, and my thoughts spiraled out of control.
Holy shit it’s really open back there. Holy shit ok, be cool, for once in your miserable life, slow down, take a breath, and think first.
“Hey, can I say something now?Because I would really like you to go back for more supplies, you have time to think about what you might need.” Gut warned.
“That’s a hard pass, I have to do this now, I only have 4 hours at most.”
“Isn’t that kind of a long time though? Could we at least talk about this?”
“No! 4 hours is nothing! Shut up, already!” Seriously, you cannot trust that thing.
“But we could…”
“La la la la la la la la.”
Alright, can’t waste time. Need to get through that pile without making a stupid mistake. That means getting in and out without loud noises, getting hurt, or breaking anything. Better make sure to close the basement door, that’ll help with sound. Wonder if I can endure closing the cellar door… yes… you damn well will either way because this is serious. We don’t have time for you to be a cry baby about claustrophobia. Don’t take anything from the pile unless it’s definitely safe to move. If anything could break, it would be the glass jars. There aren’t too many… smart!That’s totally what was going to screw us. “Great job, Brain! See, Gut? Why can’t you be more like Brain?”
I carried the jars carefully, one in each hand, to a table on the far side of the basement. I worried I might forget them later if I was excited about making history, but it seemed forgivable under the circumstance. When I closed myself into the cellar it took a few minutes of intense concentration to pretend a vast, open space was behind me, but then I got to work.
“Start at the top, you don’t want anything falling on your head.” Brain smartly recommended.
The wood was old and rotten, had I been smart enough to understand what termites were and how many were likely in that pile, the story would probably end here. But I was a moron, so let’s continue.
I worked slow and steady, genuinely terrified, but soon I had a hole big enough. All in all I was pretty proud of the work. I’d barely made a sound with none the wiser and all signs pointed to the hard parts being behind me; only fame and glory lay ahead.
Oh that poor fool, how I shake my head in derision.
I put the flashlight in my back pocket and crawled in, using my hands to lower myself to the ground on the other side. Excitedly, I retrieved the light and looked around, but I stirred too much dirt to see well. The space felt smaller than ever, and the idea of having a panic attack down there gave me a panic attack. I tried to use my shirt as a face mask, but it too, was covered in dirt. I inhaled more, causing me to fall, gagging and thrashing about. When finally able to stand and breathe again, my watch read 1:37AM, but I couldn’t have been on the ground more than 5-10 minutes. I tried to look around again, but the flashlight only showed a wall of dust. I walked forward cautiously, hand held out, wishing I had a walking stick.
“You mean like you might have, had you thought about supplies for 5 minutes like I asked?” Gut chimed in.
Refusing to be sucked into mind games, I marched onward. I’m terrible at judging distances, but I would guess the real cave-in was less than 20ft from the first. A right and proper one, no question. The disappointment washed over me with another loud snap of a hypnotist’s fingers. Except this time, it wasn’t in my imagination, it was a real snap. Well, technically it was a crack. As in the crack of an old wood beam breaking. Because that’s what it was.
Shining the light toward the entrance, I looked for the source of sound. For the first time, I noticed part of the ceiling beam was still in place, not just part of the debris. Or it had been until that moment. As I debated whether I should stay put or rush through, it collapsed, effectively closing my hole. I didn’t panic at first, it didn’t seem realistic. There was no part of me that believed getting stuck down there was a possible outcome. I waited until I was confident the pile was settled before further inspection.
I worked at it same as before, from the top. I moved a few small pieces of wood and scooped away dirt, but the newly fallen beam was too heavy to move. I shoved with all my strength, tried breaking pieces off, but it was hopeless. I stayed calm long enough to make the same assessment for the rest of the pile, but panic ensued when I had to accept reality. I was stuck, no matter what I used for leverage, or where, I wasn’t strong enough to move the pieces that mattered. Even if I had managed to make a hole near the bottom, I’m not sure I could have forced myself through. As unreal as being trapped seemed, being crushed by debris seemed very plausible. Another glance at my watch told me it was 2:16, it’s weird the details you remember in a crisis.
I sat against a wall to rest. Body began noticing how sore and tired it was, but Brain was determined to escape without getting caught. Had I been desperate enough to call Cutty, I couldn’t have anyway. Texting didn’t exist, Cutty didn’t own a cellphone, and mine was upstairs because they were useless in 2002.
Desperation makes normal people do crazy things. So yea, my thoughts started to get away from me again, sue me.
Ok, ok, ok, this is fine, you’re fine. What’s the worst that can happen? They clear the mess in the morning and give you a good lecture? So what? There’s worse things, not like they’re going to eat you. Calm down, take the yelling with dignity and move on. Maybe they’ll think it’s funny! That be great, wouldn’t it? Yea, I bet they’ll think it’s funny. No one got hurt, nothing is broken, they even know what’s back here now. Nothing but aces.
“Hey, now that you mention it, how early do you think they’re going to find us? Because we didn’t tell anyone what we were doing, and we closed both doors.” Brain acknowledged
“Well, her dad wakes up early. It could be 6 or maybe even sooner if we’re lucky. It’s after 2 now… that’s only 4 hours. That’s cake, it’s nothing. We can hang out in this tiny space for 4 hours. We have light, everything’s fine. We’re going to face the dust cloud and pretend it’s all wide open spaces out there. It’s fine, we’re fine.” I soothed, holding legs to my chest, rocking gently.
“Right, but… why would he come down here when he wakes up? Wouldn’t he just… get up and go about his day? I mean, he’s only going to see a closed door if he sees it at all. He’s going to assume you and Cutty are still asleep, just like her mom will. Won’t this depend on what time Cutty wakes? What time was it yesterday? 10-10:30?” Brain corrected.
“Fuckballs, you’re right. That’s nearly 8 hours. But… but… we can’t. We can’t do that, we can’t.” The rocking became less gentle.
“I can’t help butnotice this is the perfect situation for a canteen and candy bar” Gut joined the conversation. A bit too smug if you ask me.
“If you say one. More. Word. I will tear my stomach open just to rip you out.” Gut was blessedly silent for the remainder of this story, but for the rest of my life it will use this instance to force obedience. That’s called emotional manipulation, and it’s barbaric.
“So… do you want to like… maybe try digging again?” Brain broke the awkward silence.
“Might as well.”
“Wouldn’t it be funny if this was when we saw a ghost?” Brain whispered.
“I hate you so much.”
“What if we have to use the bathroom?” Brain asked hesitantly.
“Shut up, don’t think I won’t rip you out too.”
I alternated between trying to dig, and rocking on the ground for the first hour, but when the flashlight batteries died, my morale plummeted to a new low. I only had two more panic attacks in the total 6 hours I waited. If someone had presented it to me as a ‘what if’ scenario, I would have guessed a complete system shut down. Noises you hear in the dark, while trapped inside the bowels of a home with that history are… well, they’re fucking terrifying. When your eyes have nothing to see, they create something to see. It’s a thing, super interesting, you should Google it, but it’s also heart attack fuel. If I closed my eyes, I felt like something was reaching out to grab me. The illusion was complete with the dust and bugs crawling on me. Even now, I don’t understand how I only had two panic attacks. Maybe they lasted longer than I thought. Needless to say, it felt longer than 6 hours, but Cutty got up when she realized I was gone.
“Where are you, dumbass?” She called out.
“Dude! Thank goodness! Dude over here come to the back of the cellar!” I leapt with joy, I never knew how literal the phrase was until I experienced it for myself. Simply exhilarating, I hope to feel it again some day.
“What the actual fuck have you done? Do you have any idea how lucky you are my parents went to work without noticing this? Mom’s fruit is going to be ruined, what the hell is wrong with you?” I could hear her replacing the jars as she spoke.
“Alright, I know I’m an asshole, I completely agree with every bad thing you want to say. I swear I will sit quietly and listen to every word, and we can do whatever you want for the rest of the week. I don’t care just please, please, help me get out. I have to pee so bad, you don’t understand, and I’m so thirsty, please get me out.” My heart sank as I said it. If she wasn’t strong enough, and her parents were at work, I was screwed. I explained how I became trapped and forced myself to wait quietly while she tried to dig me out.
“You are such a bitch for this! This stuff is disgusting, I’m getting filthy. Do you understand how screwed we are if we can’t get you out? Do you know what Crone Club would do if they found out? Mom wasn’t even suppose to keep the fruit there!”
“Yes, I know, I assure you the fear within me is bubbling over, much like the urine within my bladder. Please, I’m begging you, tell me you can move that thing. If you can move it just a little I can squeeze through the hole I made.
“Yea, yea. I think I can get it, calm down. You’re lucky I even got out of bed this early.” She griped.
“I know, I’m incredibly lucky because you’re the best person in the entire world, all hail Queen Cutty.”
“I think we can move it now. The bottom was wedged, but if you can push on it from your side I think we can get it.”
“Yes! Yes I can! Just say when, I’m ready!” This time, it moved easily. We pushed the beam away, and I leapt through the opening. I could have kissed Cutty, had I not been required to immediately run for the bathroom. I drank a gallon of water, ate several pop tarts, and told Cutty the whole story. She wasn’t a good sport, but she wasn’t a bad sport either. She didn’t tell her parents so I can’t complain too much.
Well, there you have it. The cellar story. Before I go, I want to say thank you once more. I don’t think I had 150 followers if you combined the life time totals of all my social media accounts. Thank you all, this has been truly incredible.