Chapter Nine, Part One

After the disastrous date with Cade, I through myself into my work. What else could I do? He had awakened dangerous feelings, and I made it my mission to do everything I could to put him out of my mind.

Anything that would make me forget, I did. I delivered drugs for Arlo. I helped Mouse cook a batch of meth. I turned a few tricks and tried not to think about Cade while I let a stranger use my body. When I had money to spare, I drank and took pills, staying wasted and insensible for long stretches of time, until night and day become jumbled in my mind. Father Cash never knocked to check on me, and Cade never called. Only the threat of eviction or having my electricity cut off could get me to answer my phone or work yet another shit job until finally one gray afternoon, I came out of a blackout in Crazy Eddie's living room.

The television was showing a football game, but the sound was turned down and Eddie was talking about an upcoming vote before the state legislature. From his tone, I guessed it was a mutual conversation, and he was disagreeing with something I had said.

"You obviously don't know how the game is played, Judith. He wouldn't dare use his veto power. They'll block his highway bill, which he needs to pass if he's going to get reelected."

"But not vetoing would cost him his other constituents," I said, seizing on the most general thing I could say that wouldn't give away that I had no memory of what we were talking about.

"You keep coming back to that."

Obviously I was on the right track.

"I'm telling you, his base isn't as conservative as you think. Legalization's time has come."

Oh, so that was what we were talking about. Eddie had a struggling grow room in a warehouse on the outskirts of town, and was convinced that he could make a killing in the marijuana business if only it would be legalized. Unfortunately, Eddie was the sort who could wither plants just by walking into a room, but I wasn't going to be the one to tell him that legalization would only allow him to fail out in the open, instead of behind closed doors.

"Specialization is where it's going to be at. That's where you're going to be a big help to me."

"Hm." He rambled on tediously, but I ignored him, having just now noticed that the seams of my leggings were twisted, as if I had put them on hastily, and my shirt was misbuttoned and open to my sternum. I frowned. Had I fucked Crazy Eddie? There was a glass on the coffee table in front of me and I picked it up and sipped it warily. Ginger ale. I took a few greedy gulps, hoping it would settle my sudden nausea.

"So that's all you've got to do. Easy, huh? You don't need to worry that it'll piss off Arlo or any of your other contacts. You're not diverting their business, just getting a sense of what the market really wants. That way when legalization does come, we can target that market and win them over legit, no undercutting needed, because we'll be providing what they've been looking for all along."

"I'll do what I can," I said, trying unobtrusively to button up my shirt, only to find that my fingers felt thick and clumsy. "But I mostly deliver meth and oxy, you know. Pot isn't usually part of the deal."

Eddie scoffed. "Everyone smokes, whether they buy it from your guys or not. Just ask around, okay?"

The ginger ale was starting to settle my queasy stomach, and my mind was growing clearer by the minute. I still had no memory of how I came to be here, but the thought that I might've slept with Eddie threatened to make me sick. I stood up, willing myself not to wobble. "I should probably be going now."

"Let me get your coat."

He walked away and came back a moment later with my coat, which he helped me into. Since he wasn't usually so solicitous, this only confirmed my suspicion that something had happened between us, but it was his next words that chilled me though. "Thanks for stopping by. I hope you can do something with the information about Sella." His hand, which had been adjusting my collar, slipped inside the coat and squeezed my breast. "It was a fair trade, don't you think?"

Now I realized what had happened, and I floundered for a few functioning brain cells to help me out of this dilemma without coming right out and admitting I had no memory of what we had done, much less what he had said. "Fair for you, I guess. But how do I know what you said is true?"

"Don't be like that, babe." He pulled me to him and put his hands on my ass. "I saw them with my own eyes."

I tried to pull away, but he held me firm, his breath stale and stinking on my face. "It could've been something other than what it looked like," I pointed out.

He kissed me sloppily, forcing his tongue into my mouth while grinding his hips into mine. I tried to feign at least some willingness, but it was almost too much. I wasn't going to have to go to bed with him again, this time remembering every repulsive moment of it, was I?

I forced myself away and faked a small laugh. "That's no answer." I pulled my coat tightly around myself.

Eddie scowled. "What else could it have been? She gave him something, he gave her something...didn't look like they were exchanging Hallmark cards."

"But how would they have even known each other? Sella was a stranger here."

He gave a little shrug. Maybe he was friends with that uncle of hers, or maybe they met at the corner store sometime when she was out buying tampons or something, how would I know?"

"But Sella never left the house and hardly spoke at all."

"Obviously you're wrong about that, because she knew Arlo at least well enough to make a deal with him." Eddie took a step closer and touched my hair. "You're too hung up on this, babe."

I forced a smile. "You're right. I gotta go now." I grabbed the door and fumbled with the lock. Eddie reached over to help and I stepped out into the cold.

"We should do it again sometime," he called after me as I hurried down the steps.

I managed what I hoped was a cheerful-looking wave. "Sure. See you around."

I heard the door of his apartment close as I reached the ground floor, then I ran a little, stumbling in the cold, as I tried to put some distance between me and Eddie. When I reached the pizzeria at the corner, I paused to catch my breath.

Sella had bought drugs from Arlo? That didn't seem likely, for a number of reasons. But although Eddie was always looking to make a quick buck, I didn’t know him to be a liar. If he had had bribed me into sex with information, it was the truth, or at least the truth as he understood it. 

The door of the pizzeria opened and a customer darted out with a takeout box, trailing the aroma of garlic and pepperoni. My stomach growled. A slice of greasy pizza was exactly what I needed right now, and I checked my purse to see if I could afford it. Inexplicably, there were two crumpled twenties inside. Where had they come from? Had I made a delivery for someone, in which case not all of it was mine? Or had I been to bed with a paying customer, in addition to Eddie?

I needed to do some reflecting and get my life together. But first, I needed some food. I shoved the bills back in my purse and went inside.


  1. How easy it is to fall back...but I still sense she is moving forward..I think her quest to find out what happened to Sella may well be her redemption...i hope anyway

  2. oh dear poor Judith. I hope she finds some peace with herself and maybe finding out what happened to Sella will help as long as she doesn't find herself in danger from it.

  3. Talk about bottoming out! I really hope she can pull herself together. She sure went out of her way to prove she didn't deserve love. Not that I buy it.

  4. Having a clear head would help not only now but tomorrow as well! I suppose not sticking with Cade may be related to her being unwilling to change from her current lifestyle no matter how bad, to one of uncertainty. I want to like her but you sure are making that difficult!