I was in the bathroom a couple hours ago with a box of L’Oreal Feria desperately attempting to reverse the Fire Engine Red I had dyed my hair weeks before with a Dark Chestnut Brown that resembled, or hopefully would again resemble, my original hair color. I color my hair on a regular basis, partly for the surprise of the unknown, partly because I cannot afford to go to a salon, but mostly in an attempt to disguise my well earned gray hair. It’s like opening up a gift at Christmas when I remove the towel from my head. I feel 38 years of age is far too young to succumb to this unsightly nuisance. Maybe when I am 60 years old, I will let nature take its course. Maybe. But until then, I choose to hold on to what youth I have left, especially considering the stress of the last few years.
Mind you, I see women and men, who at first glance, are obviously schooled in the harsh elements of street life. However, I have been through my share of unspeakable times (which I will disclose as they come to mind). I think most people imagine women who have been through what I have, as missing teeth, parts of their flesh picked away, grossly skinny, wrinkled, bruised, exhausted, desperate, and appearing twice their age. I escaped, for the most part, physically unscathed, however not psychologically or any of the other ‘ly’ conditions…emotionally, spiritually, sexually…. I guess what I am saying is, don’t judge a girl by her cover.
As I stood in the shower I had cleaned while waiting for my color to develop ( a habit I acquired over time because I hate cleaning the bathroom, so why not get it done while I am stuck in there already breathing fumes), I watched the bursts of reddish brown splash the tiled walls and the transparent shower curtain, then drop into the porcelain tub and drain down into the unknown, I thought of how blood flows from a murder victim. That woman Norman Bates stabbed to death in the shower of his mother’s hotel, what was her name? Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, Jamie Lee Curtis’ mother. I rinsed away the illusive murder aftermath, and just like any other moment in the 18 hours of my painfully compulsive day, my thoughts wandered to a person in my past whom whenever surfaces, I cringe in remembering. My thoughts didn’t so much wander, rather they hit me with an abruptness, as most of my memories do.
Her name is Christine. Spelled with a ‘K’ or a ‘CH’, I don’t remember nor do I care. She had bright, copper orange hair, like Annie’s, but it was older and looser, just like her. She took the award for being the first girl my boyfriend cheated on me with. I never knew about it until months, maybe a year later. All the while she fronted as my best friend. I hated her from the beginning and he knew it. Everyone last person we spent our time with knew it. I saw through her fake sense of power immediately. Worse a cluck than anyone in the room, she managed to pull off the personae of a dealer. Hardly. We were fortunate enough to have an awesome hook up who cooked and cut big chunks of dope. He had been around a while. A pimp from the late 80’s as he informed me one day when as we drove around alone. My controlling boyfriend was thankfully missing and so was she. Probably together.
Warren didn’t smoke crack; he hadn’t in years. It made him sick. So he could afford to sell to us and we still made a profit. Being used to police, while at the same time needing to use extra precaution because of his long time known presence, he preferred a girl selling his dope for him. That’s where Christine (Red) came in.
I remember the first time I met her. Warren had been frequenting our apartment more often. A place to cook, cut, hide, whatever. I actually liked him. He was nice. He protected us in a way and watched out for us. He taught us the art of cooking down cocaine into crack in a way I never witnessed before. He was good at it. Warren was talking to my boyfriend, we’ll call him ‘D,’ about a hot girl he found at the DeJa Vu in Lake City. I knew he slept with a lot of girls, being a pimp and all, but it never really affected me as I was off limits, and he knew it. He respected that, for a while anyway. Christine was supposed to be coming over after her shift, and he was going to send us off to work. Supposedly training me to do what she did. Sell his dope. Fine. I have to admit jealousy rose up in me. I was the girl in the room the guys wanted. Always. The dealers knew I was off limits, but most of them din’t care and never failed to proposition me when D was out of the room. I hated that Warren flaunted this whore and bragged about her in my apartment, in front of my boyfriend. I was jealous of her being a stripper. D used to be married to one. I didn’t want D to like her. That’s exactly what happened, 10 fold.
When Christine arrived, I saw a scrawny girl wearing sweat pants, a jean jacket, a tee shirt, and sneakers. Her hair up in a messy bun. She wore no make up. She walked into my apartment like she owned the place and plopped down on the couch. I instantly wondered what the hell Warren had been making such a big deal about. I expected Miss America to waltz in the room. Warren and D went into the bedroom to chop dope, leaving us alone to acquaint ourselves. The skinny vagabond began digging through her large and messy bag of cosmetics, clothes and paraphernalia. She asked if I smoked. I replied yes, stupidly assuming she was referring to cigarettes. She meant crack of course, and so I nodded.
After putting on some clothes, resembling something between the likes of a couch potato and a pole dancer, she applied some mascara in her tiny mirror as she had obviously done a thousand times before. She let her bun out and red wavy hair flowed all the way down her back. It was her best trait. It amazes me how people who spend their time bouncing from place to place can plop down making themselves at home not giving the slightest shit you’re even in the room. I am surprised she didn’t venture over to the refrigerator. I don’t believe we had any food inside, but it would’ve been amusing to watch her careless effort. She dug out her cell phone, of course asking if she could charge it. She made a couple calls in preparation for our adventure, in hopes some of her regulars were home in need of a high. She was loud, which I hated. I still don’t find that quality in a person appealing. Our apartment couldn’t have been more than 600 square feet. She dialed a memorized number. “Hey it’s Christine.” She said aloud like the whole fucking world would melt in admiration if she were to call them. “Christine!” She yelled this time. “Red! This is Red Nigga!” She hollered in irritation. She desired to be known by that nick-name. Why not just use ‘Cinnamon’, her dancing name? Amused, my initial impression proved correct. No one thought she was important except her, Warren and D. However, I seemed to be the only one around who knew that.
When the boys came out of the bedroom, we took off. Us girls did. They stayed behind. I am sure Warren was getting D high, really high. For free. Lucky him as I drove this bitch around to sell Warren’s dope for him. Warren and D were in awe of her. Probably because she seemed fearless. I just saw it as harshly loud. People often mix those qualities up. We see what we want to see, right? That night, I watched a scandalous whore up close for the first time in my life. Each house we went into, she made herself at home on their couch, pulled out Warren’s dope from the cylinder Tylenol container he always put it in, and gave a hit to me, the customer, and of course, one for herself. She smoked half of what he gave her. She also stopped in dark alleys to take hits in between customers. She came back to the house with just enough money to where he didn’t say anything. That didn’t last long. He had just met her, and I couldn’t believe he was turning her loose every night with his dope. I guess even a washed up pimp can get instantly pussy whipped over a worn out whore.
Days later, our phone rang. Christine was crying and putting on quite the performance. Oscar worthy. “He raped me and took the dope. All of it.” She wailed. I called bullshit the second D hung up the phone. Of course he believed her. Warren did to. I rolled my eyes. She smoked every last rock in that container. I wondered what her next scheme would be. That scandalous bitch nauseated me. However, Warren was no fool and it didn’t take long before his suspicions grew. She looked him in the eyes and lied. He cut the pieces smaller keeping track of exactly how much he gave her, sent her away to sell and she came back empty handed again. He wanted me to go with her next time and keep an eye on her. That wasn’t an easy task because when she handed me a rock, I was sure as hell going to smoke it. But I still knew she was playing with fire. You didn’t screw over a guy like Warren. I knew that. She had been around a lot longer than me, she just didn’t care who she walked over.
I hated being a snitch of any kind. But I had to tell Warren why his dope had been disappearing like cookies from a cookie jar. He trusted me. When I told him, he had that look on his face like I was confirming what he already suspected, as well as a look of approval because I came clean about what I saw her doing. I maybe went a little too far and told him how much I hated her, and what a nasty whore I thought she was. He laughed. D found out what I had said and became infuriated with me. He thought, and I quote, that she was a “bad ass bitch.” Yeah right. Sorry to blow your delusional bubble. I know it wasn’t as good of a blow as she gave him. Over the next few months, I continually heard how amazing the sex was between her and Warren. I listened painfully and rolled my eyes to myself. Of course I was disappointed he still allowed her around, but at least he didn’t send her off with bottles of his dope anymore. And trying to convince D she was anything less than amazing proved pointless.
Whenever she asked for a hit, she got it. She targeted D right in front of me in my own home. I got so pissed. I cornered her and told her she was taking dope out of my hands with her puppy dog eyes. Soon, I wouldn’t allow her in my house anymore. She would call in the middle of the night crying to D about she needed to get high. He would leave the house and drive to wherever she was and save her pathetic ass. When I would see her, she hugged me and told me I was the best friend she had. In a way, we had become kind of stuck with each other. I learned to deal with it, but I still resented her. Whenever the opportunity would arise, I screamed at D for helping her so much. “If she is such a bad ass bitch, why can’t she get her own dope?” He just didn’t see it. He would drive her to nasty motels and wait in the car (so I thought) while she blew or fucked a guy, maybe two, and would come out to the car with either cash or dope. That’s how she did it. Later, I found out that D went in with her sometimes. He went down on her while she lie on the motel bed smoking crack like she was some kind of queen. She had him whipped. I couldn’t believe it. But it made sense. She gave him dope when he ran out to get him to treat her like a sex goddess. Fucking disgusting.
She denied it to the very death of our so called friendship. So did D. Until one day a year later. I had so lavishly found myself sitting in the Snohomish County Jail, when who do I see walking around the yard for a little exercise during free time? Christine! I couldn’t believe my eyes. She put on about 30 pounds from the carb-loaded jail food along with the abrupt vacation from cocaine. The same girl who I saw crying like a baby for a hit in a room full of people. When I needed a hit, I kept my composure. No way was I letting one of those pussy hungry animals see me desperate. The girl I saw turn from a bad ass bitch, crack selling, “This is Red, Nigga,” was now a chunky plain jane in dark blue jail uniform scarfing down a ding dong.
We made eye contact. Later that night, she found me in my bunk. She ran up to me like I was still her best friend. She told me with much enthusiasm how she was engaged. With her phony demeanor and loud mouth, I could just muster up a “mmm hmm.” She went on to tell me with her new posse of friends standing behind her like an entourage, how this new guy was the only white guy she’s ever been with. I wanted to jump up out of that bunk and smack her nasty, lying face. But I didn’t. If I would have, I would have been just like her. Honestly, with her million flaws that apparently only I could see, I was a little scared of her and her brainwashed friends standing behind her. She was rough and tough skinned from the street. I just let it go, relieved that she lived on the other side of the pod. I didn’t have to see her again.
When I was released from jail 9 days later, I told D I saw Christine. I told him the bullshit story she told me about this new beau, she called him, being her first white guy. I knew the truth, but I also didn’t. So I had to hear it from the source. I had to ask. High on sobriety and honesty, he told me what happened. In painful detail he told me how far back it started and the times it happened. It started almost at the time we met her. She had an evil pull. Sometimes I would sleep for 2 days, D and her would come home and wake me up with a huge hit. Their plan worked, instantly high, I didn’t ask any questions. Now it made sense.
Siting in the passenger seat of the car in front of the Court House, it seemed fitting to tell D that I had in fact slept with Warren. Not for money, not even for dope. Simply because I wanted to and I could. It was my revenge against D and Red.
A fulfilling revenge that grew quite familiar. The best revenge.