Deleting Martina – Chapter Sixteen

Martina was already at the coffee shop when Randall arrived.  He greeted her with an unexpectedly warm and friendly smile.

She knew that this was the one day of the week that Callie didn’t have a morning class.  She was unusually distracted, looking toward the door every time someone opened it.  When Randall asked who she was looking for, she said, “Callie.  She’s supposed to be working today.”  Randall said, “well, she may just be running late, but I’d rather talk about your problem.”

Martina rolled her eyes and said, “how many times do I have to tell you?  I don’t have a problem.  Why are you so suddenly concerned about me anyway?  Didn’t you say, and I quote, ‘may luck be with the unfortunate sap who next encounters such a wretched soul as yours’?”

Randall smiled and said, “you should forget what I say, and may I remind you…you’re the one who called and asked for advice.”

Martina looked at him with pleading eyes and said, “would you go with me to check on her?”

“Do you think that’s wise?” he asked.  Martina said, “I don’t know, but I don’t have a good feeling, and I’m worried.”

Randall agreed and he and Martina went to Callie’s dorm.  As they started upstairs, Martina told him that he must announce, “man in the hall,” as was customary in an all women’s dormitory.  He smirked and said, “you do understand that I know this, right?”

She knocked, but there was no answer.  She tried the doorknob, but it was locked.  She said, “I don’t like this.  I don’t like this at all.”

“Maybe she’s in class,” he said.  Martina said, “no.  I know when her classes are and she doesn’t have one today.”  After a few minutes, Martina knocked on the RA’s door.  There was no answer.

Randall said, “I can knock the door down, if you want, but one or both of us can get into serious trouble if I do, and what if she’s sleeping?  I’m not sure that’s how I would like to be awakened.”

Martina said, “you’re probably right.  She’s probably asleep.  We could go back to the coffee shop and ask if she’s off today.”  Randall said, “no.  We need to talk about you.”

Martina surprised him when she said, “okay.  Did I tell you that I am going to be in the play, “Les Misérables?  Randall’s eyes widened when he said, “you’re kidding.”  Martina smiled and said, “no.  I’m going to play Fantine, and if it weren’t for Callie, I’d be sitting in some boring class, listening to some boring professor talk about boring things that I have absolutely no interest in knowing.”  She looked at Randall and said, “I just don’t think you realize what she did for me.”

Randall softly said, “I think I’ve got a pretty good idea.”

Martina raised her voice and said, “think what you like.  Callie brought me out of myself.  She taught me that there was more to life than just sitting around like some artifact that should be seen and not heard.  She made me realize that there was more to life than just being the wife of some boring, rich man who still thinks a woman’s place is two steps behind him.”

Randall had a twinkle in his eye when he said, “some boring, rich man like me, you mean?”  Martina said, “you said it yourself.  Your wife was more or less only expected to serve you.”

He smiled and said, “I told you.  You should forget what I say.”

Martina surprised him when she asked if he would come see the play.  He said, “of course.  When are you performing?”

She said, “this weekend.  I invited Callie, and she said she would come, but the last time I spoke with her, she seemed agitated or something.”

Randall said, “I’ll make you a deal.  Forget about Callie for this week, and concentrate on your performance.  Then next week, we’ll put our heads together and see if we can figure out what’s going on with her.”

She smiled and agreed.  Randall took her hand and said, “and forget about the help.  You will do fine without it.”

She quickly jerked her hand away and said, “that’s not in the deal.  I will need something.  I can’t get in front of all of those people without it.  I’d go to pieces and make a fool out of myself.”

Randall said, “sometimes, making a fool out of one’s self is good.  It’s keeps you grounded.  I’m a perfect example.  Look at our first interaction. I acted as I was expected to act.”

Martina smiled and said, “yes.  You were a horse’s behind.”

Randall nodded.  Then, in a most sincere voice, he said, “you know, I, too, am a victim of my mother and father’s rules and demands.  I have an inner voice that is screaming for release and obstreperousness, but it’s okay.  I know that one day, I will be free to do as I want, not as someone else wants.”

“Let’s have dinner tonight.”


To be continued_______________



Deleting Martina – Chapter Fifteen

As soon as Randall answered the phone, Martina said, “I need some advice. I have a friend who has a problem.”

Incorrectly assuming that she was talking about herself, Randall said, “what would you like for me to do?”

Martina said, “I’m not sure.  Maybe talk?”  Randall said, “okay.  Talking is good, but we need to start a plan of action before it gets too much further out of hand.  I will be your advocate, but you have to take the first step toward recovery.”

Martina, showing her annoyance in her tone, said, “oh, you misunderstand. I’m not talking about myself.  I don’t have a problem.”

Randall said, “spoken like a true addict.”

Martina impatiently said, “are you going to help me or are you going to start making accusations and judgments?”  Randall was silent as she continued.  “I have a friend named Callie, and…unlike me…she has a real problem.”

Randall said, “yes.  I heard about her from your mother and father, who by the way, said they still haven’t heard from you.  I know that they disapproved of your friendship, and said that you were rebellious, and righteously indignant about their opinion, but cutting them out of your life is not the way to ‘get back at them’.”

Martina said, “she was the only friend I had.  She had plans.  She wanted to be something special, and she told me that I could be something special.  I don’t know what happened, but I’m worried.”

Randall said, “I can tell you what happened.  The addiction animal sunk its teeth into her, and once it does, it’s almost impossible to get it to let go.” He risked Martina’s anger once more when he asked about her own addiction.  Martina said, “I don’t have an addiction!  I need a little help now and then.  What’s the big deal?  It’s not like I can’t stop anytime I want. Haven’t you ever had a drink to steady your nerves?”

Randall said, “I imagine Callie needed a little help now and then, too, and it’s ruining her life.  I’ll tell you something else…something you probably don’t want to hear…but that help will eventually ruin your life, if you don’t do something about it now.”

Martina said, “we’re not talking about me.  We’re talking about Callie.”

Randall said, “the first step in any addiction is admitting that you have a problem.  The second step is actually doing something about it.  You do know that you can’t make Callie stop using just because you want her to, right?”

Martina agreed.  Randall asked if she was enabling Callie.  “What do you mean?” she asked.  “Are you giving her money?  Are you participating in ‘activities’ with her?”

Martina said, “she has never asked me for a dime.  The first several times I used, yes, I used with Callie.  It helped us concentrate while we were studying.  Then…” her voice trailed off as she said, “then, it was more about just sitting around and laughing…and making fun of mother.  Now, when I try to talk to her, she gets almost hostile.”

Randall said, “that’s the animal.  My advice is this.  Be there for her as a friend.  Do not use with her.  If you suspect she is using around you, leave. As gently as you can, try to urge her to get into some sort of rehab or group therapy, but don’t threaten her with abandonment or retribution.  Do whatever you can for her, but remember…the most important person in this equation is you.  You cannot let yourself become one of her victims by default.”

Randall said, “why don’t we meet at the coffee shop tomorrow?”

Martina, sounding deflated, said, “okay.  Around 11?”


To be continued_____________


Deleting Martina – Chapter Fourteen

Randall whipped around and said, “that’s fine Martina.  If you don’t want to call me, don’t, but call your mother and father.  Remember, a child pouts and thinks they know everything.  An adult is responsible, and grateful, and respectful.  You…are none of those.”

As he walked away, Martina made a gesture and mumbled under her breath, “who the hell does he think he is?”

Martina had taken Callie’s advice and joined the drama class.  She found that a little help, dissolved her almost painful shyness, and although the help had increased from one or two times a day, to four or five, Callie was right.  She could be anyone when she was acting.

The class was going to perform “Les Misérables” at the end of the semester, and Martina wanted to play the grisette, tritagonist, Fantine. The part, she believed, was perfect for her.  She had never been a “working class” person, or student, or anything, but she had often felt as though she was of little or no importance to her family.  The name Fantine meant infant, and that was how Martina believed her family saw and treated her.

All of her focus was on getting the part, and she lobbied hard.  She boldly referenced her naturally golden blonde hair, which would run true to the description in the original novel, and promised to deliver a never before witnessed portrayal of the tragic Fantine.

After weeks of auditions, Martina was told that she had the part.  Her first inclination was to tell Callie, but they had begun to drift apart.  She hadn’t seen her in weeks.  It was partly due to Martina’s determination to be a success in her new interest, and partly due to Callie’s every increasing dependence on the help.  It never occurred to Martina that she herself, was on the same path.

She went to Callie’s room and knocked.  After hearing a laughing, “just a minute,” Callie opened the door.  In just a few short weeks, Callie had lost a tremendous amount of weight, and being tall made the loss even more obvious.  Her skin was sallow and her eyes were dull and lifeless.

Trying to disguise the look of disbelief on her face, Martina walked in and said, “I have some wonderful news.”  Callie sat down on the floor and ignored her.  After a few seconds, Callie said, “did you know that I own the R & L Railroad?” Martina, somewhat bewildered, answered, “no.”

Callie said, “yep.  The Right and Left Railroad.”  She held up her right arm and then held up her left.  She raised the sleeves on her shirt and said, “see?  This is my R & L Railroad, and these are the tracks.”  She nearly doubled over with an almost insane laughter.

Martina was horrified at what she saw.  Callie had started injecting the help, and her arms were bruised and full of holes.  Martina said, “Callie. You need to stop.  Do you see your arms?  Do you see what you are doing to yourself?”

Callie stood up, towering over Martina and snapped, “don’t tell me I need to stop.  Do you think I don’t know how much you’re using?  Do you think I don’t know that you can barely function without a little help?  And, I know what your wonderful news is.  You got the part in that play.  Big deal.  Try learning your lines without the help.  Try getting on the stage in front of hundreds of people without the help.  You think you’re going to preach to me about needing to stop?  I suggest you clean up your own back yard before you start complaining about the shit in mine.”

Martina got up and walked toward the door.  She turned and said, “I wanted to invite you to come see the play.”

Callie said with a smirk, “oh, sure.  You can count on it.  That has always been my fondest wish.  Watching a little rich girl play a poor little waif who sells her hair and her teeth.  Like you would have a clue what that’s like.”

Martina walked to her apartment, and called Randall.


To be continued___________

Deleting Martina – Chapter Thirteen

Martina rubbed a little “help” on her gums and it wasn’t long before she exhibited the familiar signs of euphoria.  “Wow,” she said.  “I think I see fireflies.”

Callie said, “see?  I told you.  It sharpens the mind.  Get out your book and I promise that you will start to understand things you read in an entirely different way.”

Martina reached for her book and looked at Callie.  “Did I tell you that mother wanted to be a ballerina?”

Callie had a blank look on her face and then they both started laughing hysterically.  It was the first time Callie had seen or heard Martina laugh out loud.  Callie said, “what happened?  Did the Devil’s ‘Corps de Ballet’ not have any room?”

Martina suddenly stopped laughing and said, “that was evil, wicked, mean and nasty…but then, so is mother.”

Callie jumped up and said, “look.  I’m a ballerina.”  She started turning around as if trying to perfect a pirouette.  When she lost her balance and fell to the floor, another round of uncontrollable laughter overtook them.

After a few hours, the effects began to wear off, and Martina was feeling sluggish and tired.  When she expressed concern about being able to stay awake during class, Callie said, “if you do, meet me at the coffee shop.  If JB is there, I’ll introduce you, but don’t be offended if he’s a little leery at first.  He has to be careful, you know.  You could be a potential customer or an undercover, but I’ll vouch for you.  And whatever you do, don’t tell him about your family.  He’ll start smelling real money, real fast.”

Martina managed to struggle through her classes.  Her better judgment told her to forgo the coffee shop, and just get some much needed sleep, but that feeling of blissful intoxication the “help” offered, was overpowering.  She had once heard the quote, “I can sleep when I’m dead,” and that seemed like a good idea to her.

Weeks went by, and then months.  Callie introduced her to JB and Martina became one of his best customers.  She had a new found happiness and energy.  She was able to focus and her mental alertness became more and more acute.

The Middle Of Nowhere had become her “center of everywhere.”  One night, while waiting for Callie to get off work, a man came in and sat down beside her.  He said, “hello, Ms. Hamilton.  Fancy seeing you here.”

In a polite but surprised manner, Martina said, “well, if it isn’t Randall Taylor.  What brings you to this neck of the woods?”

He said, “I stopped for a cup of coffee and saw you sitting here.  I must say, your venue has changed dramatically.”

Martina, speaking as if she was trying to win a contest for the most words spoken inside a minute, tried to explain the course her life had taken.  Her bubbly and interactive behavior was a loud signal to Randall that something was amiss.

Her pupils were dilated and the reddish hue of the sclera, led him to a suspicion that he, for the moment, kept to himself.  Treading water carefully, he innocently asked if something was wrong with her eyes.  Her immediate response was, “I’ve been studying and burning the midnight oil, as they say.”

“My parents and I had dinner with your folks the other night and I asked after you,” he said.  “They told me that you were going to college, of course, against their wishes.  He chuckled.

“So, showing up here wasn’t happenstance,” Martina said.  “Did they send you to spy on me?”  Randall shrugged, tilted his head slightly and said, “yes and no.  They said they hadn’t heard from you since you left, and they’re a little worried.”

Martina mockingly said, “oh, mommy and daddy.  They can’t stand the fact that they no longer have any control over me.”  Randall said, “I don’t think it’s about control.  I think it’s about what I said.  They’re worried.  You should call them.”

Like a switch had been flipped, Martina became hostile.  “I’m not going to call them.  They will try to talk me into coming back home.  They want me under their thumb.  They want power over me.  They want me to become some dull appendage of a rich man…some rich, boring man like you.”

Randall smiled and said, “you’re not fooling me, Martina, and you don’t have to be rude.  I don’t know what you’re using, but whatever it is, you need to stop before you ruin your life.  Here.  Take my number.  If you need help or need to talk, call me.  I don’t care what time it is.”

Martina said, “thank you, but that is a call you will never receive.”


To be continued___________

Deleting Martina – Chapter Twelve

Martina looked around Callie’s room and half-jokingly asked, “what kind of help?  Do you mean you have a tutor?”

Callie laughed and cavalierly said, “it’s called blow.”  Martina, clearly confused, said, “you mean as in blow pop?”

Callie impatiently answered, “no, silly.  Coke.”  Martina, once again showing her naivete, asked, “you mean Coca Cola?”

Callie said, “oh my God.  I forgot that you are about five years old when it comes to the real world.  She rolled her eyes and said, “cocaine.  You have heard of cocaine, right?”

When Martina repeated the word rather loudly, Callie scolded her and asked, “how do you think I manage to go to class, study, and work every night at the coffee shop?  I need a little pick-me-up, and a smidgen of blow does the trick.  There’s nothing to it.  Just rub a little on your gums and voila!  And, doing it that way doesn’t screw up your nose.”

“But aren’t you afraid you’ll get caught?” Martina asked.  Callie said, “are you kidding me?  I doubt there’s a student in this entire school who doesn’t use something to help them.  Uppers, downers, pot, heroin, shrooms, cocaine, crack cocaine…but I’d stay away from the crack cocaine. That’s some bad stuff.  There’s also LSD, but it’s not as common as it was in the seventies…or so I hear.”

“Where do you get it?” Martina asked.  Callie smiled impishly and said, “I have a source.”

Like a parrot, Martina echoed, “you have a source?  What does that mean?” Callie said, “child.  You would try the patience of Job.  It means that I have a way to get cocaine.  I get it from a guy everyone calls Joe Blow, or ‘JB’ for short.  I have no idea what his real name is, and I don’t care.  As long as old JB comes through, I’m golden.”

“Is it expensive?” Martina asked.  Callie said, “it is, but when times are lean, JB will sometimes trade for a BJ, if you know what I mean.”  The blank look on Martina’s face told Callie she didn’t have any idea what she was talking about.  Callie said, “never mind.  Besides, for you, money wouldn’t be a problem.”

Martina didn’t know what to think.  She looked at Callie and said, “I’m really tired.  Aren’t you?  Maybe we could get together tomorrow afternoon.”

Callie said, “no.  I’m not tired, and I have to work tomorrow afternoon. So…do you want to try a little ‘help’?  I guarantee you won’t be tired afterward.”  Martina said, “I probably shouldn’t.  I’ve never even had a sip of wine, and if mother found out…”

Callie raised her voice and said, “for Heaven’s sake!  You have got to let go of mother’s apron strings.  How in the world is mother going to find out? Are you going to tell her?  Do you think you still need her permission to do anything?  What is wrong with you?”

Martina shrugged and said, “okay.  I’ll try some.”


To be continued________________



Deleting Martina – Chapter Eleven

The first few weeks were hectic for Martina.  She had never lived on her own and was caught between the exhilaration of her new-found freedom, and the homesickness for the familiarity she had known all of her life.

She scurried around campus, peering around every building, glancing at every park bench, and inconspicuously peeking into every open door, hoping to see Callie.

After the third week, she went to the coffee shop.   A smile came to her face when she saw Callie, flitting around, waiting on tables.  Callie finally saw her and came over.  Before she could say anything, Martina stood up and said, “I did it.  I’m going to college, I have an apartment, and look.  I’m wearing jeans.”

Callie looked her up and down, and said, “oh my God.  Your jeans are….no. Seriously?  No.”

Martina asked what she was trying to say.  Callie said, “your jeans are pressed!”  Martina said, “yes, mother had all of my clothes pressed for me.”

Callie said, “you don’t wear pressed clothes in college, and you certainly don’t have a crease in the middle of your jeans.  They should be faded and torn and look like you slept in them.  And your t-shirts should be wrinkled…clean but wrinkled, and have some clever saying on them…like ‘I’m married to Mick Jagger’ or something along those lines.  When you go back to the manor, tell your mother to stop ironing your clothes.  You’ll never fit in looking like that.”

Martina said, “I told you that I have an apartment now.”  Callie said, “oh yeah.  I forgot.  Well, I’ve got to get back to work, and then I have a mountain of studying to do.”

Martina said, “could we do it together?  I have to study, too.”  Callie said, “sure,” and walked off.

She was acting strange.  It was like she was running on high octane fuel or something.  Martina knew that Callie was a go-getter and had the determination and ferocity of a Honey Badger, but she wondered if Callie still cared about her anymore.  She wondered if Callie thought she hadn’t yet paid enough penance, and that was the reason for the nonchalant quip when she asked about getting together.

Taking a chance, Martina walked up to Callie and asked, “do you want to come to my place to study tonight, or would you like for me to come to yours?”

Callie looked at her like she was seeing her for the first time.  Finally she said, “oh, yeah.  Come to my room around 10-ish.  Building 201, upstairs, second door on the right.  And don’t be too obvious when you come in. The RA is a real bitch.”

Martina said, “Ten o’clock?  Isn’t that a bit late?”  Callie said, “I don’t get off work until 9.  Don’t worry about it.  It’ll be fine.  I mean, it’s not like the nanny is going to spank you if you stay up past your bedtime.”

Martina though that comment was cruel, but didn’t say anything.  Being punctual, she got to Callie’s room at exactly ten o’clock.  Callie opened the door and said, “first things first.  What classes are you taking?”  Martina said, “the basic core classes, I guess.  Math, Science, History.”  Callie said, “and what are you taking for fun?”

“For fun?” Martina asked.  “Yes,” Callie said.  “Something like ceramics, or pottery, or…cooking, maybe.”  She and Martina both laughed at that suggestion.  Callie said, “you probably don’t even know how to boil water, do you?”

Martina said, “I don’t know how to do much of anything, but I’m learning. I know how to make my bed…well, mostly.”

Callie said, “how about drama?  That would be good for you.  Sort of…get you out of your shell, so to speak.”  Martina was aghast.  “Drama?”

Callie said, “you know how, in a book, you can go places you’ve never been, and do things you’ve never done?”  Martina nodded.  “Well, in drama class, you can be somebody you’ve never been.  You already know how to be rich, but as a actress, you can be poor.  You can be a queen.  You can be the first woman to walk on Mars.  You can be a serial killer…and you can get away with it, because you’re only acting like a serial killer.”

Martina said, “I wouldn’t dare.”

Callie impatiently said, “then what are you doing here?  Still playing it safe?  Still living by the ‘high society code’?  Still playing by mother’s rules?”

“That’s not fair,” Martina said.  Callie looked at her and said, “I’ve got a big news flash for you.  Life isn’t fair.  Life for most of us isn’t about butlers and chauffeurs, and swanky dinner parties.  Life for most of us is real, and hard and we worry about whether or not our next paycheck will be enough to pay our rent and buy groceries.  I don’t want to hear about what you ‘wouldn’t dare do’.  I want to hear about what you would dare do.”

Callie sat down and said, “are you ready to study?”  Martina said, “it’s awful late.  Aren’t you tired?”

Callie said, “I don’t have time to be tired.  Besides, I have some help.”


To be continued___________



Deleting Martina – Chapter Ten

Mother gave Martina her approval, and offered disingenuous encouragement.  “You will be living at home while you attend this place, yes?” she asked.

Martina said, “no.  I’m going to live in an apartment.  I want to experience real college life.”  Mother, momentarily forgetting herself said, “to do that, you would have to go to a real college.”

Martina’s mother wasn’t the only one who could give icy cold stares.  “It is a real college,” Martina said.

Mother quickly apologized and asked if she could help pack her belongings.  “As long as you don’t try to tell me what I can and can’t take,” Martina said.

Mother asked if she had given any thought as to what classes she wanted to take.  She seemed to soften a bit when Martina sat down and almost beaming, said, “anything.  Everything.  I want to know how it feels to sit in a big room, listening to a professor whose sole job is to teach us what the real world is like.  I want to experience how it feels to be treated like an adult who could someday, possibly change the world.  Do you know what I mean?”

Mother smiled and acquiesced.  “No.  I don’t know what you mean.  All I’ve ever known, just as you, are governesses and etiquette and how to take my place in society.”

Martina asked, “did you ever think about what your life might have been like if you had gone to college instead of getting married, and just becoming a rich man’s wife?”

Mother surprised Martina when she said, “to tell you the truth, no.  Being the wife of a successful man is very important, and your father has been very good to me.  I have a wonderful life, and that is all I ever wanted for you.

“But,” said Martina.  “Didn’t you ever want more?”

Mother smiled and said, “I don’t believe I’ve ever told anyone this, but when I was a little girl, I desperately wanted to be a prima ballerina assoluta.”  Surprised, Martina asked, “what is that?”  Mother said, “it’s a title awarded to the most notable female ballerinas.  It’s a rare honor.”

Martina asked, “what happened?”  Mother said, “I grew too tall.”

Martina said, “you can be too tall to be a ballerina?”  Mother said, “yes.  I was already 5′ 10″ when I was 14.  My teacher said it would be difficult to find a male partner, who would have to be at least 6′ 3″, so I was cut from the class.”  She looked at her feet and Martina saw a brief look of sadness when she said, “I still have my shoes…somewhere.”

Mother suddenly began to look a little more human to Martina.  She had everything anyone could possibly want, but she once had a dream.   A dream that was never realized, and if that dream left a hole inside her, she had filled it with money and social status, and patched it with acceptance.


To be continued___________