By Cindy and Walt
Being a crazy bitch had caught up with me over the weekend. Crazy bitch, drugs, and awful pain equal bad decisions, but once you make it, you have to live with it. I planned to fix it and move forward.
First of all a knife cuts both ways, so I called Joan at school on Monday morning. I needed hard evidence in the form of a video. But I also had to protect myself going forward. So I intended to pretend that things were just fine.
“When I didn’t hear from you yesterday I thought you might be angry with me,” Joan said.
“No, I’m not at all angry, I just don’t want some minor child getting screwed in my house. I know that it’s all the craze with you teachers, but I don’t plan to lose everything over a piece of ass,” I said.
“So what are you saying,” Joan asked.
“I’m saying you are still welcome here, but come alone. Well you can always bring Cathy, but no one else. If I’m not enough for you, so be it,” I said.
“You are taking all the fun out of it. The danger is part of the fun,” she said.
“I do not look good in orange,” I explained. “And I have no use for danger in my life.”
“Being a teacher in a community college isn’t nearly as dangerous as providing security on a deep water drilling rig in the middle of the ocean,” she said. “I don’t get any release from my job.”
Another lie had come back to haunt me. “The job is boring as hell,” I informed her. “Anyway I just wanted to let you know you are welcome here, but not with Jose or anyone else. I don’t like strangers.”
“Okay, but things are a bit complicated now anyway. Jose thinks he loves me,” she said.
“Yeah it happens,” I said not feeling a bit sorry for her.
“Well if he doesn’t have me to fixate on, he will probably go back to fixating on you,” she said. “So he is kind of your problem as well. He was stalking you as much as a kid can. His phone is full of pictures of you doing things around your house.”
My mind had a hard time processing the information. I ran back over what I had done. I couldn’t think of anything damaging that he could have seen from the back of a moped. He lacked the thousands of dollars worth of equipment necessary for any surveillance to have paid off. Still one day I might slip up or he might find a way to follow my truck. After all it was only months before he turned sixteen. He would presumably be driving an automobile by then.
“If that is true, then we do have a problem. If he has pictures of me, then he has them of you as well. Your husband doesn’t need to see them and his family doesn’t need to see pictures of me. I expect that he has transferred them to the laptop he uses for school. He might have them in some secret file, but they are there nonetheless.” I was really thinking out loud.
“He is a good kid Rose. He is out to get laid, not breakup my marriage,” Joan said.
“Well that’s up to you, but in my opinion screwing a kid is nothing but trouble,” I said.
“You aren’t going to tell his parents are you?” she asked.
“Why the fuck would I do that. It could only hurt everyone. There is no upside in it for me,” I said.
“I know how you feel now and I’m afraid your conscience will get the better of you,” she said.
“You keep it out of my house, and we don’t have a problem. You might want to tell him to stop the stalking, because if I catch him, I will tell his father about that part of it. And Joan, you might want to tell him that I was in pain and on drugs, or he would never have seen what he saw,” I said. “At least that is going to be my excuse, if he tells anyone. I can’t deny it, since I expect that he has cell phone pictures of you and me.”
“Yes I know he does. But he really started too late to catch your face. His father might recognize you by the sling on your arm,” Joan said.
“Yeah, how many woman with their arms in a sling is the kid likely to have access. Well we need to get the phone and clear it. You my dear are in the best position to do that. And Joan I mean clear all his photographs off the phone.”
“Okay I might can do that but it won’t help if he has sent them to anyone or transferred them somewhere for backing up,” she said.
“Gee, now you are getting the picture. There is nothing he can do to me without bringing hell down on himself from his family. They are deeply entwined in my life and he has nothing of me doing anything with him. You however have a job and family to lose. Not to mention criminal charges that could be brought against you. If you want my advice, get rid of the evidence, then get rid of the kid.”
The damage was worse than I thought, but Jose didn’t realize that the stalking made him look worse than it did me. If worse came to worse, I would just come clean on everything else and threaten to break all ties to his family and have him arrested for invasion of privacy. The cops wouldn’t do shit but it might put the fear of god into him. Actually I had just told Joan who couldn’t keep her mouth shut it seemed. And I meant that in the worst possible way.
“I will clean his cell phone,” she said.
“Try to find out where he posts the pictures. I am sure it is not on his face book account, where his family might stumble on them,” I explained. “Joan if you want out, this is your best chance. If you want to lose everything, this is your best chance for that as well.”
“Rose, you are scaring me. He is just a horny teenager, isn’t he?” she asked.
“Let’s hope so. But that stalking and taking pictures could make him something worse,” I suggested.
“I will get his phone at the first opportunity,” Joan suggested.
“Why don’t you just ask him to delete them while you watch. Explain that if he really loves you he will delete them to make you happy. If he does then there is nothing sinister going on. If he refuses, then there might be something to worry about. Either way at least you will know.”
“Then next time I see him I will either clean his phone or steal it,” Joan said. “I don’t want him to think I suspect him of anything.
“Good. Look, I need to get back to bed,” I said. It was another lie. My big plan was to take a shower, even though it would fuck up my hair.
“I can’t get by to see you for a while, Mark is home now,” she said.
“I can find a friend to bring me stuff, and I don’t have to give them sex in exchange,” I said.
Yes it was bitchy, but I felt that way at that particular moment. Only one good thing came out of my involvement with Joan. If not for her, Jose might have stalked me till he found out something really harmful. Something that could have gotten him killed. Church Camp didn’t strike me as the forgiving type. If he compromised them I have no idea what might have happened.
I was pretty sure I could handle him the old fashioned way. A little blackmail might be in order, if he didn’t go along with the program.
My ability to compartmentalize kicked in at that point. I went into the shower and struggled with the water. I was in a great deal of pain and I walked leaning forward to take the stress off my ribs. There was too much pain to use the arm. If I didn’t try to move it much, there wasn’t too much pain in the shoulder.
After my shower I was able to cover my head with a towel and rub with my good arm. It didn’t really do much good, because my whole body was damp. It was almost impossible to dry myself completely so I sat by the fire naked. It was nice to feel the heat dry me.
I called Jeremy and Alice. “Hello,” Alice said.
“Alice, I was wondering if I could take you and Jeremy to lunch. You guys have been so good to me, I really would like to do something for you,” I suggested.
“Are you getting tired of frozen food?” she asked.
“Yes that too,” I replied.
“Hold on I will ask Jeremy,” Alice said. She was away from the phone for just a minute, “Okay we will come get you in an hour.”
“No pick a place and I’ll meet you,” I said.
“Should you be driving,” she asked.
“Sure why not, the drugs don’t make me too stupid,” I said with a laugh.
“Okay, I like ‘Anna’s Secret Garden’,” she said.
“Hell, that sounds like the name of a sex club,” I said.
“No that is Alice’s Secret Garden,” she said. “So you know where Anna’s is located.”
“No I never heard of it,” I said.
“Go past the plaza under the highway overpass about half a mile and it will be on the right,” she said. “Can you be there by one?”
“I think so,” I replied. “I’ll be the one with the red sling on her arm.”
“I thought it was blue,” Alice said.
“It is, I was only kidding. I don’t think there will be two women with slings,” I said
“Oh I see,” Alice said.
It was things like that which made me wonder if Alice didn’t have a couple of loose screws. Maybe she just hadn’t been well socialized, I thought.
“So I’ll see you there at one,” I said.
After I broke the connection I checked my money clip and found that I had close to one hundred dollars in it. Surely that would be enough for three meals, I thought. I was tempted to move the rug and slip into the grease pit, but I could always give the waiter the debit card.
I tried to dress for the lunch date but it was way too painful to do more then find a clean sweatshirt to wear over the clean white tee shirt. Wearing a bra was out of the question, but I did manage panties. Those were not nearly as difficult as the jeans. Buttoning tight jeans could take an hour, I discovered. I was determined not to wear a jogging suit to lunch. Finally I tightened the leather belt over the jeans closure, then worked the button into the jeans. After they were buttoned, I was able to loosen the belt. I was very proud of myself for figuring it out.
The hair and make up was a problem. The makeup because I was forced to hold the bottle in the hand of the broken collarbone. Then just applying the liquid foundation with one hand was a pain. I gave up and opted for just lipstick. I didn’t look like a total zombie, even if my eyes were washed out. I could do nothing with my hair so I found a knit toboggan and pulled it on. I tried to stuff my hair under it. That was a total waste of time, so I just let it hang out like one of those pictures of a sixties hippy.
I worked my way into the leather shoes with no laces. They weren’t going to be great in the snow so I was going to try to remember to avoid it. I most likely would forget and step into half a foot or more of the wet cold slush at least.
I was finally dressed and it was only half past noon. I popped a pill and walked to the truck. Today would not be a good day for any car trouble, I thought. I kept the truck serviced, so I didn’t expect any trouble. But nature’s law of perversity said that if I ever would have it this would be that day.
Even so it started right up and I said thank you to the ruler of the universe. I just wasn’t sure anymore who the ruler of the universe might be. I managed to get the truck into reverse and was thankful that the SBI had chosen automatic transmission for all their vehicles.
Backing out of the drive was difficult but doable with a minimum amount of pain. Keeping the car in the road wasn’t really a problem, so I arrived fifteen minutes early for our lunch date. I decided to go in and find a table for us. Jeremy and Alice were in the restaurant and waiting at a window table.
“How long you guys been here,” I asked.
“About five minutes,” Jeremy said.
“I didn’t see either of your cars,” I said.
“I know Jeremy bought me a new car, so I drove it. It would be too small for the three of us, but I decided, since it was just me and Jeremy, what the heck.”
“Is that little yellow sports car yours?” I asked.
“Yes it is. Do you like it?” Jeremy asked.
“I love it. It isn’t practical as an only car but for a second car it would be wonderful,” I said.
“It isn’t practical for this weather either, but I had to drive it. It just begs to be driven,” Alice said.
“Are you folks ready to order,” the anorexic waitress said.
Since I ordered last and demanded the check, the poster child for a summer vacation in Dachau smiled at me. It sent shivers down my spine. That chick is just plain scary looking,” I said.
I was half way through the BLT salad when I asked. “So tell me something, what do the super rich do to avoid going insane from the boredom?”
“We aren’t super rich Rose, we are just comfortable,” Jeremy said.
“Okay what do the super comfortable do to avoid being bored?” I asked again.
“Well Alice takes care of the house and I take care of our money. I do have to admit sometimes it seems our lives are on auto pilot and that isn’t much fun.” He paused for several minutes while I grazed on my salad.
“I was asking because Alice was so good at helping me with the search for Rachael,” I said.
“Alice and I talked about that. If you should ever need any help with something we could do, we would love to help,” he said.
“Well after I get my wing healed, I might take you up on that,” I said.
“And of course you would come to our monthly meetings?” Alice asked.
“If I’m in town, I can arrange that I’m sure,” I agreed.
“So tell me Rose what kind of work do you do,” he asked.
“Jeremy I really can’t tell you because I never know what it will be. Sometimes it’s dangerous and sometimes it’s boring. It’s always long hours. If you think you might want to take a better look, I can probably arrange it,” I suggested. “If anywhere along the way you decide you don’t want to be involved just say so, and I promise it will not effect our friendship.”
“That’s fair enough,” Jeremy said.
“Alice you could get hurt doing this, but you may also get a chance to take your frustrations out on some other people. How do you feel about it?” I asked.
“If Jeremy is in, then I’m in,” she said with a wide grin.
“I’m not going to be doing anything for a while. I just wanted to know that I could ask you for help now and then,” I said.
When we left Anna’s Secret Garden, I was ready to get back to the house and nap. Jeremy and Alice roared off in their very nimble looking sports car. They left me to get home as best I could in the clunky old truck. Well it wasn’t all that old, but it was clunky. Which worked to my advantage. If nobody came around selling wood off his truck, I could always drive up to the coop or one of the local farmers and buy a couple of trees worth.
At that moment I would have traded it for a sexy little sports car. I managed to start and drive the truck with one hand. The pain from the broken ribs started to get the best of me, but it was only a ten minute drive from home. I managed to get into the drive before I almost screamed when I dropped down from the truck to the driveway. Fortunately it wasn’t a double whammy, since my shoulder remained immobile. If it had moved any, I would have just collapsed in the snow.
I barely made it into the house. When I got inside I made it to the sofa where I slept, but I couldn’t make it any farther. I dry swallowed a full dose of the Vicodin. I also lay there trying to deal with the pain. Sleep swept over me before I could do anything, but lie perfectly still.
When I awoke it was well into the evening. I found the peanut butter jar and loaded up a slider bun with it. I choked it down with a can of diet coke then crawled into bed again with another pill. For the next couple of days I survived from pill to pill. The trip to lunch with Jeremy and Alice had been a huge mistake.
It took me days to get back to where I was before the lunch date. For the first two days I didn’t even check the email. Not my bullshit email filled most often with spam, or my two super secret emails. When I finally did get around to the email, I found one from the Church Camp’s Commandant, Andrew.
The coded and then encrypted email said simply, I am going to be your new Control. Contact me when you are well enough to go back to work.
I checked the voice mail on my phone at the same time. “Hello Rose, are you okay? You haven’t answered your phone all week,” Joan said.
I called her number. “Hello this is professor Bradshaw leave a message and I’ll return your call.”
“It’s me Joan. I have been out of it for a couple of days. I did way too much recently. I have been following the orders I had previously ignored. I’m…” That is where the message was truncated. I laid the phone on the floor by my sofa. I took another full dose of the pain killers. I looked up and saw the number of coke cans on the table by the kitchen door. I had no idea I had drunk so many cokes.
The phone rang just as I was choking down more peanut butter. “Hello,” I said.
“Are you okay?” Joan asked.
“I’m better, so what is up with you,” I really couldn’t remember the major crisis, she was supposed to be dealing with at that moment.
“I got hold of Jose’s phone, but I can’t get into it. I was wondering if you knew someone who could unlock it.
“Yeah drop it by and I’ll get it done. I don’t know how, but I know someone who does,” I said. “Are you still seeing him?”
“I saw him once this week but only to take the phone. I really don’t know if I’ll see him again. I’m pretty sure he posted the picks of us on line,” Joan said.
“By us, do you mean the two of you or the two of us?” I asked.
“Hell, maybe all of us,” she said.
“Were you able to find the site where he is posting them?” I asked finally getting my head in the game.
“No, he didn’t mention it and I can’t read his email or get to his school computer,” she said.
“Get me the phone and stay calm. You don’t want him to think you have that phone. He can think I took it if he wants. There is not a lot he can do to me, without doing it to himself,” I explained.
“Can I bring it by after lab this afternoon?” she asked.
“If you do I’m going to look like hell, and it still might take a few days to get the information. I would probably look and smell better if you waited till the weekend. But if you really want, bring it on over,” I said.
“I’ll be there about 6 PM,” she said.
All right I might be able to brush my teeth by then, but don’t count on it,” I said. Even so, once I hung up I went into the bathroom to swish and brush my teeth. My hair was a mess but that wasn’t a shock. I put on some deodorant and changed my tee. While I was doing that I squeezed more antibiotic ointment onto the incision.
When Joan arrived at 6 PM I thought I was cleaned up pretty well.
“Damn Rose. You look like hell,” she said.
“Gee thanks, this is after I cleaned up for you,” I said. My feelings were hurt and it showed. “So lets see the phone.” It was the most basic of phones. Most likely a pre-paid burner kind of thing. “Don’t get your hopes up this is a really cheapo phone. It does take and store a small amount of photographs. There appears to be a place to plug a transfer cord. It is a real cheapo phone though.”
“You said that twice. I wouldn’t expect a kid like him to have an iphone,” she said.
“I’ll do what I can,” I said. Joan moved toward me but I held my hand up. It was the universal signal to stop. “I’m really not feeling it.”
“Because of the pain, the drugs, or my fucking your handyman’s son?” she asked.
“Probably a little of all of them,” I said.
“Okay, but I’m not giving up either him or you. I just know better than to try to do the two of you together,” Joan said.
“Yes that was a big assed mistake,” I said.
“Okay I get it. So what you gonna do tomorrow, sleep all day?” she asked.
“Actually I feel like I can stay awake if I cut back on the drugs. I will most likely cut the pills in half and try that. If it works I’ll try to get the Geek friend of mine to give Jose’s phone a try,” I explained.
I had no idea where the CC’s Geek was located, but I knew I wasn’t up to a long drive. I might could manage a dead drop.
“Okay, well I need to get home. Mark will be out of breast milk and patience by now,” she said. She left almost immediately.
Once she had gone I fell back asleep. I couldn’t even stay awake long enough to set a message for “Church Camp” to code. I didn’t sleep through the night. When I awoke at 3 AM, I used the time to encode a message to my new Controller at Church Camp. I explained what I needed and why I needed it. That one little message was about all I could handle. I wasn’t looking forward to the answer, since it was a request for a Church Camp’s asset use for a personal matter.
I fell back on the sofa and covered myself with the feather filled comforter. I also fell asleep almost instantly. I had a thought before I slipped into the darkness. The drugs weren’t just keeping the pain at bay, they were keeping my life at bay. Therefore life must be pain and pain must be life. It made perfect since for the half a minute before I fell asleep.
Note: We will now resume our Monday-Thursday-Saturday postings.