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___________