She heard her name over the loudspeaker, followed by her number. Geeze, she thought, heaving herself up from the narrow bunk. What did those soul-sucking leeches want with her now?
“Roll up!” came the disembodied voice, followed by a flurry of chatter amongst the girls. Roll up? Her? There must be some mistake!
Matron Delgado was walking by and she caught her attention. “Did I hear right? They called me for roll up?”
Delgado smiled…she was probably the most humane of the warders and smiled often…and nodded. “Yup, I seen the orders come through this morning. Roll your stuff up and before the hour is done, you are out of here!” Forty-five minutes later she was standing on the sidewalk soaking up the first sunlight she had seen in three months.
It was weird, she thought, discharge papers in hand. She had come here with two bulging suitcases and high hopes of making a new life for herself and was leaving less than six months later with absolutely nothing except the clothes on her back and half a pack of hand-rolled cigarettes. She laughed, briefly and bitterly…if she lit one of those up here on the street one of these hick cops would mistake it for a joint and toss her right back in the slammer. Nope, she’d keep her niccie fit under control until she got good and out of town. She started walking briskly towards the southern city limits, heedless of the beating sun and the choking dust that boiled up with each car that raced by, her outstretched thumb ignored. She had no money, nothing she could pawn…not even a dime for a phone call---not that she had anyone to call…but she was going to put as much distance between herself and this Godforsaken outpost in the desert as possible.
At least Lobo had rescued Bunny and not left him in the ransacked apartment to die of hunger and thirst. She had liked that little rabbit, her first pet in…well, a long time. He was a quiet little bunny that liked to sit on her lap in the bed while she read. She worked nights, so she was home during the day while the rabbit was restive, and he had hand tamed easily with her constant attention. Lobo was a reliable friend, if a little slow upstairs, and it was he who broke the news to her that the place had been stripped after the police had hauled her and Tiny and Horse away after Michelle’s implausible accusations.
Hearing another car coming, she flipped her long hair over her shoulder and turned to face the traffic. Striking a post that she hoped would appeal to men without being threatening to women, she pasted an expectant smile on her face and stuck out her thumb. The car whizzed by, alarmingly close, an immaculately coiffed woman with impeccable nails at the wheel, her perfectly painted lips curled in disdain. “Bitch,” she muttered, choking in the gritty cloud of dust that swirled around her. “Fucking stuck-up rich bitch!”
The thing about endless foot-slogging is that there was nothing to do with your mind but think. No distractions, save the occasional car and the certain-to-be-dashed hopes that it raised, nothing to take the mind away from gnawing on the knots that bound the intellect and psyche. She could indulge in the fantasy of what she would do to Michelle if she ever got her hands on her, but revenge, ultimately, was a fruitless pursuit. It wasted her time, time she needed to be focussing on getting some kind of shelter, food, work.
Work. How the fuck was she going to get a job? After the cops had hauled her and the guys away and Michelle had made her “statement,” the treacherous little tramp had come back and stolen everything and left town! And it had taken the bonehead of a District Attorney three fucking months to realize that the bitch had conned him, that she had used the cops to gain her own ends, and she was not coming back from Ohio, where she was undoubtedly comfortably ensconced in a flat furnished with stolen household goods, wearing stolen clothes, and dancing in stolen…and really expensive…hand-made costumes.
She shook her head, pulling the long tresses up off her neck and wishing for a rubber band to make a ponytail. Her hair acted like a woollen scarf and on a day like this, she didn’t need it. She didn’t even have her goddamned purse…it had been left in the apartment when the police hauled her away, so now Michelle had her wallet and ID as well. And her only pictures of her kids… Her kids…her step faltered and her breath caught, but she stifled the prickling behind her nose and pushed the thought away.
Well, Nana had always told her when she made a mistake, she must examine it and find the lesson in it. Surely she had made some kind of mistake here… She had come right home from work that night. Stripping might look like an easy way to make a buck, but it was damned hard work. She ate like a longshoreman and had trouble keeping her weight up, and worked up a drenching sweat with each set…which was twenty minutes out of each hour, on stage, exercising, under hot lights. She was tired when her shift was over and she usually just had a bite, then went right home. It was winter…it was three in the morning…it was cold outside…and she heard something like weeping in the stairwell. Tiny was asleep on the sofa, Horse was laying on the bed reading comic books, but she had to be the Good-fucking-Samaritan and open the door.
She found her co-worker and across-the-hall neighbour, Michelle, huddled in a thin sweater on the outside steps, crying piteously. She had forgotten her keys and was stuck outside until her boyfriend came home, which wouldn’t be for at least another hour. Michelle was freezing, tired, and frightened and she, like the soft-hearted, gullible idiot that she was, invited her inside for a cup of coffee and a little warmth.
There didn’t seem to be anything amiss. They sat in the kitchen, soon joined by Horse and Tiny, and drank coffee, smoked cigarettes, and told stories. Michelle seemed fascinated by the biker lifestyle and Horse obliged her by showing off some of his weaponry, and Tiny, who didn’t have a girlfriend and thought Michelle was a prime candidate, gave silly adolescent demonstrations of his size and strength by lifting the woman off the ground with one arm and even bench pressing her full weight. When they heard a car door slam, however, Michelle turned stiff and pale. “It’s Mitch!” she gasped, heading for the door. “He’s going to smack me good for this!”
Noting that no one seemed to understand, Michelle wrung her hands. “He’s very jealous. He’ll think I’ve been sleeping with the guys…he’s gonna kill me! You gotta unlock the door!”
“It’s unlocked,” Tiny said, reaching to open it, but in her panic, Michelle had stuck the little bolt. Crying in earnest now, shaking the doorknob, the woman was making herself hysterical.
“Hey, hey,” she said soothingly, drawing her back from the door so one of the guys could unstick the bolt. “Just tell Mitch that you were over here talking to me about costumes…that I wanted to sell a couple and you were looking them over.” Michelle quieted a bit.
“Here,” she said, thrusting a beaded gold satin charmeuse halter gown into Michelle’s hand. “Tell him you are thinking about buying this one and model it for him…ask him what he thinks.”
Michelle nodded, blotting her tears and running mascara with the back of an index finger. Tiny had managed to free the stuck bolt and open the door. Michelle met Mitch on the landing to the sound of “What the fuck?” in startlingly loud tones, considering that it was now four o’clock in the morning. She could not hear Michelle’s reply, but the door across the hall opened and then quickly slammed. It was late, she was tired, she went back to her own apartment and went to bed.
At first she thought the noise was just part of a dream. Slamming doors, men shouting, bright lights flashing around the room, but a rough touch on her arm brought her suddenly awake. Someone was shining a flashlight in her eyes and demanding she get out of bed. “Get out of here before I call the cops!” she yelled in response, one hand shielding her eyes. “And get that fucking light out of my eyes!”
“Lady,” came the snarled reply, “This is the cops! Now get your ass out of that bed!”
The asshole wouldn’t give her even a modicum of privacy for dressing. She slept in the raw and he rudely ogled her toned dancer’s body as she grabbed the nearest clothes…her grease-and-oil stained biking jeans and a thin T-shirt. Knowing there was nothing illegal in the house and that she had broken no laws…at least she didn’t think she had broken any laws…she was not terribly worried, just irritated as hell. She was tired, she wanted to sleep, and these assholes had nothing better to do than roust them at…what?...six o’clock in the morning? She shoved her feet into a pair of boots and when she stood up, the officer put a death grip on her upper arm.
“Hey!” she tried to yank her arm away. “Don’t bruise the merchandise! Ain’t it enough you got a free show, cowboy?” The officer just scowled and began to drag her out into the living room where Horse and Tiny were handcuffed, a small pile of weapons piled on the coffee table…a pile that, ludicrously, included her kitchen knives and a box cutter from the kitchen drawer. She knew her gun was legal, and what house didn’t have knives? She still wasn’t worried…there was nothing to be worried about.
But when the handcuffs were snapped around her wrists and the cops opened her door and a red-eyed, bruise-faced Michelle looked out from her apartment door, she felt a twinge of unease. Mitch stood protectively nearby, his arm tightly around the woman’s shoulders, one meaty hand grasping the back of her neck. She felt a prickle of alarm go up her spine as she was led down the stairs into the chill predawn air. Just what the fuck was going on?
Her intuition told her this was a great deal more than a simple roust and toss of her apartment, and when the officer snapped open her handcuffs, wrapped her arms around a stinking, sticky creosoted telephone pole, and snapped the cuffs on again, that vague sense of unease began to grow to something more akin to fear. Something was really, really wrong here, and she was beginning to get an inkling what it might be.
A dusty pickup pulled over to the side of the road ahead of her, interrupting her reverie. She jogged up to the open window and stuck her head in. “Where ya headed, Mister?” she asked. She wasn’t taking any chances that the guy would say he was headed her way as a ruse to get her into the truck for other, nefarious, purposes.
“California,” he replied. “How far you goin’?”
“California,” she grinned, opening the door and climbing into the air conditioned coolness of the cab. “You got anything cold to drink?”
It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.