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, dutifully skipping from table to table. 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 asked if they could study together. “I have to study, too,” she said. 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 she 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.
Testing the tepid water, 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.”
“What’s an RA?” Martina asked. Callie laughed and said, “a resident assistant.” Martina, feeling a bit embarrassed, said, “oh. Well, isn’t 10 o’clock 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 are you drinking?” Martina said, “do you have some water?” Callie rolled her eyes and said, “yes. I have some water. Now, 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…come out of yourself so to speak.” Martina was aghast. “Drama?”
Callie said, “yeah, 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 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 don’t know if, during your newfound freedom, you’ve been keeping up with current events, but 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 for our supplies 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 awfully late. Aren’t you tired?” Callie said, “I don’t have time to be tired. Besides, I have some help.” 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 a blow pop?”
Again rolling her eyes, Callie impatiently said, “you are so unbelievably naïve. No, silly. I’m talking about Coke.” Again, a sheltered Martina asked, “you mean Coca Cola?”
Callie said, “oh my God! You are slaying me! I forgot that you had the maturity of a five year old when you finally entered the real world. 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…or your arms.”
“But isn’t that illegal?” asked Martina. “And aren’t you afraid you’ll get caught?” Callie said, “are you kidding me? I doubt there’s a student in this entire school who doesn’t use some kind of help. 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, and anything else I need. 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. You don’t need to know and 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, “oh my God. Enough with the mother shit. You have got to let go of her apron strings. How in the world is she going to find out anyway? Are you going to tell her? Do you think you still need her permission to do anything, or everything? What is wrong with you?”
Martina shrugged and said, “okay. I’ll try some.” She 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 money, real fast.”
To be continued_____________________________