“You got to do it Dawn,” Cherie looked down at her sitting on the bathroom floor.
“I don’t know why we got to do it at all.”
“We been through this. Bobby’s gone down to Columbia with the money and he ain’t called since. Been two days now.”
“Maybe he’s afraid phones are bugged or something. If he ain’t called, how’s she gonna know anything?”
“Tommy figures they could’ve worked it out in advance, like. He leaves, contacts the feds and we be here like sitting ducks til they bust us; the whole time she stays here so we don’t get suspicious.”
“Well, it’s working for me. I ain’t suspicious. I ain’t gonna kill a friend on one of Tommy’s figurings. Was Tommy’s figurings got us into this mess.”
“Dawn, you’re the perfect one to do it because she don’t suspect you. She’s getting antsy; she wouldn’t let me anywhere near her stash. All you have to do is switch this loaded syringe for one in her bag next time you get high with her.”
“I told you no.”
“I didn’t want to have to say this, but you ain’t got a choice. Tommy told me if you didn’t do it, he’d get rid of both of you, cause then he couldn’t trust you. If you do it, he knows he can trust you.”
Dawn leaned back against the moldy green tile wall. The heroin wrapped around her brain and she felt-almost felt something like crying. “Okay,” she said.
Category Archives: L. J. Prewett
The woman is in bed, looking at the subtle bars outside the screen. Her hands jerk intermittently, as they have for months. They aren’t working properly, yet she didn’t tell the shrink about that, or that her voice wouldn’t work right, either.
She wants to hide from him, the way he hides from everyone behind his clipboard; clasped to his chest like it would stop a bullet, a speeding train, a patient’s touch.
Deep inside her brain, I am busy attacking her central nervous system’s vascular network, causing constant little seizures, making her hands jerk, making her paranoid, making her psychotic.
The shrink behind the clipboard does not order any testing to look for my handiwork so I continue, alongside thousands of my kind, undiscovered and unsuspected; while everyone (even the woman) thinks she has gone crazy, which is ironic.
Burrowing into the vessels of her brain, we are an army that grows like kudzu on a hot day. A doctor finally tells her about us and she begins to fight back; when the woman has a fit in the check-out line at the grocery, when she discovers wrapped Christmas presents and doesn’t remember wrapping them, she decides it’s time to fight me with heavy artillery, and she starts chemotherapy. She uses an anti-biotic, (which she’s never before realized means anti-life), called Cytoxin® (literally cell-killer) working unseen in the dark recesses of her brain against the terroristic threat that is her immune system gone mad.
I’d been to the Russian restaurant before; the waiters dressed like Cossacks except they were clean. The main appetizers were flavored iced vodkas. Instead of the large party I thought we’d be joining at the invitation of Michael McCord, Steven and I arrived to discover only one other diner: Steven’s former lover, a older woman who was director of a training program for teachers.
We’d discussed Barbara before; I insisted she was jealous of me; Steven contended it was my imagination.
“We’re just friends now,” Steven said.
“Why is it she has asked me to teach just one course – in an emergency? I do a good job.”
“Well, she would have told me if you hadn’t.”
“I don’t know why. But there’ve been a lot of girlfriends since her, and she’s been fine with it. There’s nothing between us anymore. We’re just friends.”
“Does she know you treat me differently than those other girlfriends?”
“She has eyes, so that would be yes.”
There was an awkward air as we sat down to dinner. I was across from Steven. Soon the conversation was rolling. Four teachers at a conference can always talk. Then, it happened. Steven reached across the table and took my hand. I glanced at Barbara and saw her face, stricken with jealously and grief and loss. For one second it crumpled, and I cried for her, knowing she’d never stopped loving him, knowing he’d never held her hand in public. I let go of Steven’s hand.
Ft. Lauderdale was baking under a yellow, dull November sun. We didn’t spend much time outside. I saw the beach from the room; there weren’t many people down there, I thought, sweating, broiling, turning to leather, probably getting skin cancer.
I took a picture of Claire, something she had once said she’d never allow, and Claire looked surprised, but said nothing. Just gave me a look, considering, her head back as she surveyed me over a long distance from those implausible Russian Jewish blue eyes. Claire had once told me all her rules about men didn’t seem to apply to me.
But I knew she was cheating on me, had confronted her, and all she would say was the others didn’t mean anything to her, not the way I did: she’d try not to do it again. But I knew she was; I knew I’d have to leave her soon to keep my sanity.
At the airport, we had separate flights, and kissed good-bye like a hundred times before. Then I turned to go and Claire hugged me from behind, holding on to me, an awkward touch that turned out to be the last one.
A week later we were talking on the phone; I don’t know how it happened, I reached a pain threshold beyond which I refused to live, and it was over. At least, I knew I’d never see her again, though she insisted I’d return. Getting over her would be harder than having the will to leave her.