By Cindy and Walt
A week and a day later we all agreed it was time for me to go. The small black plane met me at a drug smuggler’s airstrip outside Biloxi Mississippi. The flight to a small dirt strip outside Williamston Alabama was a short hop by plane. I was wearing new clothes yet again. I used the pilots phone to call a taxi before I let him leave.
The taxi took me to the storage locker, which held my tricycle and my own cell phone. I stopped by the office to check that my bill had been paid and to pick up the spare key they held for me.
The power was still on inside the storage locker, so the chargers for both batteries had them well charged. I walked around the trike thinking back on my old life. I could go back to being Iris Martin, if I wanted to be.
“Well are you going to ride that death machine to Mossberg, or are you going to stand here admiring it?” the voice in my head asked.
“I’m going to ride it home,” I said aloud. I found my first stop was going to have to be the Walmart store. The weather had changed since I had been ‘on vacation’ through the summer. The weather wasn’t cold, but there was a chill in the air.
The backpack in the locker not only held my cell phone but my wallet as well. From it I took the Debit card to an ATM inside Walmart. After checking my bank balance, I withdrew $200. I remembered I had clothes at the Studio but I needed a Nylon parka to wear home. The only one I could find was a thin lightweight black one, so I bought it and a thermal sweatshirt.
After all that, I bought half a subway steak and cheese sandwich. Actually I bought a steak and cheese sandwich on half of a roll. Either way it was good. I couldn’t even finish the half I purchased. I suppose my body still wasn’t back to normal though it was on the way, I hoped.
With the memory of the sandwich in mind, I returned to Walmart for two pairs of smaller jeans. I rode the bike over an hour to get back to Mossberg.
When I pulled up behind the studio/apartment I was facing the shed. I stood beside the bike and debated whether to get back on it and just ride away.
In the end I opened the door to the shed, then rolled the bike inside. I walked to the rear door of the Studio/apartment building and went inside. I felt a chill inside the studio portion of the building. It had been summer when I left the building last. I hoped that there hadn’t been a cold spell. At least not one cold enough to freeze the pipes. I checked the small half bath and found the floor dry and the water running fine even in January it hadn’t been cold enough to freeze.
I set the downstairs, through the wall, heat pump on 68 degrees then climbed the stairs. Even though I had ridden the 20 odd miles home, I was still exhausted. I didn’t have much stamina after being starved, infected, and beaten for over six months. I make it sound worse than it really was but it was bad enough.
I learned to manage on the less than 800 calories a day. The 800 calories was on a good day, some days it was less. Sometimes none at all, if the guards didn’t like my attitude. I had been slapped a few times but only beaten twice. That was by other prisoners. The guards didn’t break it up and had possibly arranged it. By far the worst was the parasitic infections that drained me of my strength and my will to resist.
In six months I was probably raped a hundred times. Trust me there is no such thing as laying back and enjoying it. Rough sex is one thing, real rape is quite another. Real rape is never about sex, it is about power. Who has the power and who doesn’t.
I remembered it all and I had dreams about it all. The doctor wanted me to see a therapist. We both recognized that I suffered from PTSD. We just differed on how to treat it. I took the antidepressants, but not the therapy. I wasn’t ready to talk about it.
I found the upstairs just as I had left it. Well it had a lot more dust, but I didn’t mind. I fell into the bed and slept from 3 PM till 5 AM the next morning. I took a shower in the warm bathroom thanks to the additional heat provided by the ceramic heater. The automatic account debits, by the utility companies, meant I had electric and water. It was also the reason I had the storage locker which was more or less empty at that moment.
It was still dark when I went outside, wet scalp and all, to retrieve my batteries from the trike. I hadn’t forgotten them the night before I was just too tired to bother. I carried the two lithium batteries into the studio portion of the downstairs and the fake batteries I stored by the rear door as if they were of little or no value. The value of the metals hidden inside the battery cases was somewhere over 25k when last I checked. They were part of my bug out kit. The backpack I had brought from the storage locker contained the other items.
By the time I was dressed in my new jeans, which was only one size too large as opposed to my old one at least two or three sizes too large, it was time for the diner to be open. I walked to it rather than ride the trike out to the Dairy Queen.
“You look like shit,” the boxer said.
“Good to see you as well,” I said with a smile. “How about some eggs and bacon.”
“You didn’t bring your coffee cup,” he said. “You gonna try mine?”
“Sure why not. A cup of your best swill,” I said.
I could only get half of the breakfast down. It was a combination of the maintenance doses of the anti parasitic meds and the anti depressants. One or both of them killed my appetite. That along with my shrunken stomach did it.
“More coffee?” he asked in a concerned voice.
“Sure,” I said smiling. I knew it wasn’t a bright smile but it was all I had.
“So where you been,” he asked.
“A South Seas Island vacation,” I replied.
“Where was it? Devils Island? You look like hell,” he said.
“What do you know about Devils Island?” I asked.
“I read books, when I wasn’t getting the shit beat of me,” he said.
“Yeah, I did as well,” I replied.
I just couldn’t eat as much as I did before. I was even skinnier than I remember Sylvia Porter. She had been one of the most unattractive women I had ever met. The problem was I was beginning to look more and more like her.
Sylvia always had short cropped hair and since the lice problem I was going to have it a while as well. She had almost no breasts and my implants were hanging like a couple of water balloons from my chest. My first purchase when I was still living in Arnold’s hotel suite had been a strong bra to hold them in place. There was nothing like that in prison, so I just had a lot of pain and a lot of deformity afterward.
I wore the cast iron bra for two weeks after I got back to Mossberg. Then I decided I felt well enough to have it fixed. I no longer gave a crap about impressing people. My attitude at the moment was fuck em all. I rode the trike to Williamston where I caught the bus up to Mobile. From the bus terminal I took a taxi to the Mobile Alternative Medical Center. It was a medical center where displaced Cosmetic Surgeons had gone to die.
The HHS controlled medical centers had decided cosmetic surgeons were obsolete. Since the new HHS plan didn’t cover cosmetic surgery, it was going to be on me. Since I didn’t give a shit about anything but comfort, the doctor and I decided just to remove the implants. I suggested he take most of the extra tissue as well. He insisted on doing a cover up. That was just a matter of trimming and using very fine stitches to hide the scars. The clinic was within two blocks of a decent motel. So I checked into it while I waited for the Post Operative three day checkup.
It took almost a week to go from a d+ cup to a non existent cup. I was as flat as a preteen, which was just fine with me. I really didn’t want a man near me or a woman either at that moment. I finally looked like a bull dyke or an androgynous person with no sex markers at all. I was going to confuse hell out of people, and I didn’t give a shit.
I stayed a few days in the motel more than I needed. Well it was more than I should have needed, but I had no one to drive me home. Since I didn’t have anyone and not even a car of my own to drive home I stayed put until I healed.
I intentionally didn’t tell the Dovecheck family about the surgery. I wanted nothing more to do with any of them. I accepted the bank transfer that went to Farmer’s Grove. I took it because it was his way to make himself feel better. I took the money and used it for the repair of my body. It had no effect on the injury to my soul. It was just money after all.
For the first time in my life I understood that I wasn’t Supergirl. I could be hurt and I could be broken. It wasn’t something you should know before your death watch. It made living very hard. According to all the doctors I had a pretty good chance for thirty or forty more years. I had no idea what those years were going to be like. I was sure as hell retired, and nothing was going to get me back into the business. I could not take that kind of abuse again.
On the afternoon of the tenth day since I left Mossberg, I returned. Since things had run on autopilot for eight months, I found no need to jump right into anything. I ate, slept, and watched TV on the computer. It was humbling to realize the world had gone on for those eight months without my input. It even seemed to do fine. Well fine in those segments which government had kept their heavy hand out of.
After another two weeks at home, I felt the need to engage with the community again. Miss Sadie came by everyday for those two weeks to invite me to lunch. After two weeks at home, I was finally ready to interact.
We went to the diner for lunch as we had before. I had the lunch lady special. That day it was spaghetti with meat sauce. The only thing it had in common with the school version was that the pasta sat in the tomato sauce for a couple of hours between the first and the last orders. It was very good and it was cooked to death which is how we all remembered it.
“Honey there are all kinds of rumors going around. You are going to have to tell someone or they will never stop,” Miss Sadie said. She was obviously expecting to be ‘the someone’.
“Okay you can spread the word.” I thought about telling her that I went on a cruise and they stopped on Carousel Island. It’s a Mexican owned but self-governed island. I walked in on something I shouldn’t have and they arrested me.
It took the State Department seven months to get me released. That was a month ago. Since I came back I have been seeing doctors every day it seems. I had a parasite infection and some nasty jungle viruses but I’m on the mend now. I had to have some surgery but it’s all done now as well. Then I thought that it was a little too close to the truth considering I had been involved with a mysterious death locally that same year.
“You can tell them that it was breast cancer. The doctors got it and the chemo worked well and now I’m looking forward to recovering completely.” Hell, I thought. It might even make my drawings more desirable.
“You poor thing. You didn’t have to stay gone so long. We could have helped,” she said.
“Well with this HHS health care system I felt I was better off with alternative medical treatment. So I just stayed in a nursing facility till it was over,” I said.
“Well, we have missed you,” she said sounding honestly concerned. “I am glad you are on the mend.”
“Thank you,” I said. I knew she was dying to get out of the diner and start spreading the word.
Overnight I started getting orders from Arnold Dovecheck and the people who heard the fake cancer story. It was a snowball effect. When it started I began to get strangers interested in my work as well. I really should have been ashamed of myself for the lies, but I had killed a half dozen men, the fake cover story didn’t even get a second thought.
After six months I felt stronger, but I still had no appetite. I carried only one hundred and two pounds on a five foot five inch frame which wasn’t near enough. I was a minimum of twenty pounds under weight. Hell a strong wind could topple me over.
“Hello Doctor Marsh I need to talk to you,” I said on the phone.
“You know I don’t accept HHS patients?” she asked.
“Yes and you will be paid,” I replied.
“You will need to bring $200 for the consultation plus any lab fees,” she said.
After all the financial arrangements were made I drove to the Williamston storage facility to leave the trike while I caught an airport taxi to mobile.
“Doctor Marsh,” I said when she entered the room.
“Yes, so what can I do for you?” she asked.
“About a year ago I spent some time in the jungle. It was on an island off the East Coast of Mexico. I got a lot of parasites and virus infections as well as some bacterial infections. I got treatment when I got back to the states, but I don’t think they got everything. I can’t seem to gain any weight,” I explained.
“So how is your appetite?” she asked.
“It’s okay. I eat three meals a day just not a lot at a time,” I explained.
“Do you have any nausea?” she asked.
“No none,” I replied.
“Give me some blood and let’s see what it shows.”
“Could we rush this. I’m not from here, so I am staying in a motel,” I said.
“We can put a rush on it. I will have the results phoned back to me. Leave your cell and we will work it out then call you,” she said.
I took a cab to the downtown motel where I checked in. It was a reasonably nice room. I used my cell phone to place the call to Andrew. I knew he would foot the bill and then pass it on to Arnold Dovecheck.
The second day in mobile, I found out the results of the blood work. “It seems you are still acting as host for some intestinal worms. They are nasty little buggers. This time we know where they are. That is the good news. The bad news is we are going to have to poison you. That Miss Martin is going to be very uncomfortable,” the doctor said.
“Get your poison ready,” I said.
“I’m going to have it ready in the morning. If you are going to ingest it at that time be prepared to sit your ass in our holding area until it works it’s way through you. In four hours it should be through your intestinal track. But you are going to be one sick lady for a couple of days.”
“I can handle it I expect. Just tell me what I am going to owe you,” I said. Oh don’t worry we got a call from some lawyer who put five thousand dollars in a trust account for the treatment with an overdraft protection. In other words, you are covered.”
“One less worry,” I said.
“Unless I read you wrong, you don’t worry about the small stuff,” she said. I just nodded.
“No food after midnight and be prepared in the morning to be really sick for a while. I’ll see you at 7 AM,” she advised me again.
The next morning at 7 AM I was waiting at the clinic door. I had walked down from the motel. By 8 AM I was as sick as I had ever been in my life. I had terrible looking things come out in my stool, as well as the almost black bile that I threw up. I didn’t know which end burned more, my throat or my ass. My urine was even a bright orange. I spent the whole day in the clinic. When they closed at five I was still in the bed I had occupied all day. I had a private duty nurse with me. At 4 AM I crapped one last time. I had thrown up for the last time a couple of hours before.
“Well it’s 10 AM Miss Martin. Are you ready to try some food?” the nurse asked.
“No, but I could keep a coke down I think,” I said. She nodded and then left. When she came back it was with a coke and some Cheddar Cheese crackers. I managed to get the coke and half the cheese crackers down. The IV they had used for 26 hours to keep me hydrated came out just before noon.
“Hang around the reception room till we close at five. Let’s make sure you don’t have any more nausea before you go back. The nurse will order you some take out if you like,” Dr. Marsh suggested.
I spent two more days in the motel after leaving the clinic. I did that so that I could be there for the final blood test. After it came back clean, I caught the next bus home. I had been tempted to rent a car, but it had been a couple of years since I drove. I decided to wait a while for that.
I had totally lost interest in sex. My former sex partners in Mossberg missed me I’m sure. I not only felt different, I looked different as well. I doubt that I was anywhere near as desirable. It was okay, I didn’t mind at all.
When I returned to Mossberg I felt sure that I was ready to start mending body and soul. Well there might be sometime between my body and soul mending. I didn’t care which felt normal first, just as long as a part of me did. I needed something to hold onto. I was feeling so disconnected from the world around me. And on top of everything things else I had the voice in my head. I knew people thought I was crazy, and maybe I was for a while.
That wasn’t my problem at the moment. My problem was to work my way back into reality. I was still drawing during the days. I had somehow moved from vector stencils to freehand. Maybe it was that I had more experience, or maybe I had learned to be content inside myself. Maybe I just had something original to say for a change. Whatever it was I could finally make a decent freehand drawing. I was proud of that.
I realized my soul was coming back. Maybe it was coming slowly but I knew I had something to say. I had never been known to hide my lamp under a bushel, so I felt good that I again was not afraid to voice my opinion. Maybe it just took people wanting to know my opinions. I found that people sought me out to make portraits and even wedding pictures with my camera. So my cover could easily be that the weddings and portraits paid for my ventures in the art world. My cover was coming back together.
I knew that if I wanted to do festivals and shows I was going to need to drive again. It would be okay, I told myself. I had stopped driving to run away and disappear. It was time I went back and resurrected my old life. I was going to be reborn as a new person in my old life. In spite of the shit I had done my soul was reborn. I felt almost clean.
It took several weeks after my body was no longer a parasite host, but it too was coming back. I had put on five pounds. That was when I realized there was a connection between my body’s well being and my soul’s well being. In my case if one was fucked up they both were.
The first thing I did even before I bought another truck was to visit the Dairy Queen. I was in search of my first wedding couple. It turns out that during my year in hell, they had moved away. I hoped they could move past Sam and his cock. Hell I hoped I could as well.
I began preparing for the summer festival and show circuit. It required some changes in my life but nothing major. It was a short few months later when I realized I had begun putting on weight again and my hair was a full inch long.
There was still a lot wrong with me, but I had a hell of a lot that was right with me as well. I think that is when I decided that I had recovered. Yes it took me a whole a year before my mind had healed as well as my body. I felt like I was a complete person again. I seriously began to make plans. It had been a long time since I had made a plan that made me smile. The thought of being a gypsy artist for the summer made me smile.
It was June when I hit the road in my new small pickup truck. It was a simple four cylinder pickup. It was just big enough for the antique trunk I bought for my display and the much older wooden military foot locker I used for my drawing materials.
My first stop on the Gypsy Artist Slut Tour was Gulfport Miss. I was there from June 7th through June 9th. It was a weekend festival and I showed up at the small motel recommended by the show’s sponsor. They realized us Gypsies didn’t want to waste money on expensive motels. It was strictly a six pack in the cooler kind of Motel. It was also a heck of a lot of fun since we all were exhibitors in the Shrimper’s Festival.