Randall caught the next available flight to New York. He was accustomed, as was Martina, to chauffeurs and wasn’t even sure how to hail a taxi, other than what he had seen on movies.
His anxiety was eased when he walked from the terminal and saw taxis lined up, waiting to deliver arriving passengers to their destinations. A first time visitor could easily be taken advantage of, with unnecessary side roads and out of the way routes, but Randall was smart. He told the driver where he wished to go and sternly warned, “I know how far it is and I know how long it will take.” Of course, in reality, he didn’t have a clue.
Forty-five minutes later, the driver stopped at the New York Theater. Randall got out and stared at the bright marquee. “Do you want that I should wait?” asked the driver. Randall told him to go on. He said he didn’t know how long he would be. The driver winked and said, “well, enjoy, my friend. I hear she really puts on a show.”
Randall walked in, paid the admission to a brute of a man named “Big Dog, and was told that he just missed the first show. Big Dog said another show would be in about an hour, pointed to a bar area and he could get a drink while he waited. He leaned over and quietly asked, “are you a cop?” Randall stuttered as he said, “excuse me?” Big Dog said, “if you’re a cop, you have to say it. Randall said, “no. I’m not a police officer.” Big Dog said “well, while your waiting, if you want a little “extra” recreation, that can be arranged.”
Although a little afraid, Randall thanked him and politely declined. Big Dog didn’t seemed concerned once a spectator was inside, so Randall walked toward the dressing rooms. The doors were all closed, and the outsides were decorated with names, ribbons, pictures and some phallic symbols.
The last one on the right, left no doubt that he had found Martina’s room. The door was covered with silver and gold stars. In the center, a large red star bore the name, “Callie.”
He knocked lightly and heard a voice say, “you may enter.” When he opened the door, he saw Martina was sitting in front of a mirror, wearing nothing but a shocking hot pink colored feather boa around her neck.
As had Callie when Martina first appeared at The Middle Of Nowhere coffee shop, she said, “well, look who it is.”
Randall was shocked. Martina had dyed her hair platinum blonde and the pancake make-up was so thick, he wondered how she got it off after the show. But he thought to himself, “she really does look like Marilyn Monroe.”
He was trying to look everywhere…anywhere except straight at her. Her nudity made him uncomfortable. She rolled her eyes and said, “you’re such a child. If you’re uncomfortable, throw me my robe.” He obliged and noticed a tattoo of a Phoenix on her inner arm. Her tattoo wasn’t covering tracks. Hers was covering now healed but still red slice marks.
“When did you become a cutter?” he asked.
“I’m not a cutter,” she said. “It was a one time thing.”
Randall said, “you’re not a cutter, like you’re not an addict? “Oh please”, she said. “I was just having a hard time, so I cut myself. I thought if I cut myself, the pain would go there instead of here,” as she put her hand over her heart.
“Why don’t you come home?” Randall bravely asked.
Martina angrily said, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I AM A STAR! My name is in lights. I am adored. Women want to be me and men want to be with me. People come from all over to see me. Look at you. Look how far you came to see me. By the way, why did you come to see me?”
Randall said, “I thought I could talk you into going back with me. Your parents miss you.”
“My parents.” Martina said. “My parents miss the puppet I used to be. They miss the little girl they could dress up like a doll. They miss being able to dictate who and what I was going to be. And my parents can keep missing me, because I am never going back. Not for them…not for you…not for anyone.”
Martina said, “you must excuse me. I have to get ready for my next show.” She looked at him with a callous smile and said, “if this is going to offend your sensitivities, I suggest you leave.” Randall was horrified as he watched her take out a syringe and stick it between her toes.
“Don’t!” Randall pleaded.
Martina smiled as she injected the liquid courage.
Randall again pleaded. “Is this really the life you want? Do you want to be an addict? Do you want to make a living taking your clothes off? Do you think this is the life Callie wanted for you?”
Martina, enraged said, “Callie is dead. It doesn’t matter what she wanted or didn’t want, and this isn’t about her. I have a beautiful body.” She slowly and seductively walked toward him, ran her hands up his chest and said, “don’t you want to touch me?”
Randall took her hands and held them. “No. I don’t want to touch you. I want you to stop what you’re doing and come home.”
Martina, almost screaming, said, “I want you to leave. Now! I didn’t ask you to save me. Get out! Go on! Get out and never come back!”
Randall left and started walking down the street. What a different world this was. Everything was for sale. Drugs, sex, pirated music and movies, knock-off designer handbags and “genuine” Rolex watches.
He hailed a taxi. He was going home.
To be continued___________