the soundtrack of my life part I
the soundtrack of my life part II
She didn’t know what it was this time. What had precipitated this particular run. It could have been physical, it could have been emotional. She just knew that if she didn’t somehow get out of the house and away from her mother, she would lose it. She would seriously hurt someone, or she would seriously keep hurting herself with the beer and sex.
Her mind was still set on New York, so she packed a bag, threw it over her shoulder, and headed for the same freeway entrance. It was already late afternoon, and she had to turn and look into the setting sun as she put out her thumb. It wasn’t long before someone stopped. Of course it was a man…she was a young, thin, fairly pretty girl. He was probably in his mid-to-late 20’s.
They made small chat as he drove. For her, that meant answering any questions he asked, as briefly as possible. She wasn't exactly a great conversationalist. He clearly thought she was older than she really was. As it turned to evening and they were driving through Idaho, he asked her if she wanted to stay the night at his place. He would put her back on the highway in the morning.
He had a very minimal little house, two rooms, sparsely furnished. He offered her a beer, and took one for himself and turned on the tv. They watched tv, had a few more beers, and he began to touch her arm, her back, her thigh. But by then, she’d had enough beers that she didn’t follow his lead like he no doubt expected. It was then he asked her if she were a runaway. Yes. How old are you? Seventeen, she lied. She knew she looked it.
He stopped coming on to her, and then told her he would drop her back on the highway. She didn’t know what had happened to spending the night, but she didn’t argue. She got back in his car, and he drove her in the dark back to the highway on-ramp and left her there. She was out of his hands, and he hadn't touched her. He was safe.
She tried hitching, but this wasn’t a heavily populated spot like the last on-ramp, so cars were few and far between. She decided she’d be better off walking while she hitched. It must have been close to midnight. It was dark as hell out there on the I-90, no street lights, and no cars. It was lonely. And scary.
Then she heard a car coming, saw the headlights, and turned around to stick out her thumb again. And the car stopped. And a state trooper got out. She hadn’t noticed in the dark that it was a state police car. Yeah, hitching is against the law. He tried talking to her, but it was clear she’d had a few too many, so he guided her to the back of the cruiser and put her in.
They were literally in the middle of nowhere; the nearest small town was about 20 minutes away. She can no longer recall the name of that little town. No juvenile hall, just a regular jail. That’s where he took her. The jail was very quiet inside. Few staff, fewer prisoners. At least there was a women’s side. And only one other woman in the cell.
She lied about her name and phone number, because she wasn’t going back home. They called a female officer to come in and check her. They took her bag to check and document the contents, and the female officer took her into another room and made her take off everything but her panties while she watched.
She was 14 -- she'd never undressed in front of anyone, not since she was a babe. It was humiliating, and she looked at the ground and tried to pretend it wasn't happening. The officer made her put on this ugly orange jumpsuit way too big for her 100 pounds, and a pair of sneakers with no laces that slipped off her heels when she walked.
No one was mean, or rough, or forceful. They were all polite and professional, let her walk on her own, no handcuffs or anything like that.
She had missed dinner obviously, and she was hungry. But breakfast wasn’t until 8 am. There were only two meals served each day in the jail – breakfast and dinner. If you weren’t there when they were served, you went hungry till the next one.
The other girl in the cell wasn’t scary, she was pretty nice actually. Talked a lot. It wasn’t like the jails she’d seen on tv. The cell was big enough for quite a few people, but it was just the two of them that night.
She needed to pee badly from all the beer, but the toilet was out in the open and she was wearing that fucking jumpsuit. What if someone walked by while she was sitting there? Finally her urge overcame her fear, and she peed as quickly as possible, heart beating wildly the whole time, afraid one of the male officers would come before she was done.
She slept some, but it was cold, they had no blankets, and every little sound echoed hollowly in the building. In the morning, breakfast was one of those swanson tv dinner-style breakfasts, eggs and pancakes. She ate as much as she could, since there was nothing else till dinner.
In the early afternoon, someone came and got her from the cell. As they walked to one of the offices, she saw her mother and her soon-to-be stepfather standing there. Fuck. Her heart sunk. There was her mother, acting like the injured party. Like she had no idea why her kid would up and run like that. Ungrateful kids. You do everything for them, and this is how they thank you. She knew her mother would be angry as hell at her for the public embarrassment. Her mother would find a way to get even for this.
By this time, her mother’d become a damned good actress. She fooled everyone. Later in life, fooling people wouldn’t be this easy. But right now, at this moment, she fooled them all and made her daughter the problem. And right now, at this moment, her daughter wanted to kill her. Grab the cop’s gun and empty it into her body. Watch her flop to the ground, spurting blood, the shocked look on her face as she realized she was going to hell for everything she’d done to her kids.
The cops released her to her mother. Made her go back with that woman, to that home.She held back the tears all the way home, sitting in the back seat, refusing to talk, refusing to cry. After all, her mother was the one who had told her all the while she was growing up...shut up and stop crying, or I’ll really give you something to cry about.
Terry Jacks, Seasons in the Sun:
Redbone, Come and Get Your Love:
John Denver, Sunshine on my Shoulder:
Jim Croce, Time in a Bottle:
(photo me at 15...I don't have photos from the 13-14 years)