Cathy Eats Her Words

November 7, 2007

Day Five

Filed under: NaNoWriMo,Novel — jeanne @ 6:24 pm

Chapter Three

Life went on. Cathy never heard from Star, and that helped a lot. She didn’t think about her except to wonder if she was okay, and tried to avoid talking about her to Richard or Greane and Saphyr. She was enjoying having Scootie follow her around and climb into her lap, and she and Gray were taking advantage of being alone together to have sex every morning and most evenings. She had her blog in which to vent her frustrations, and her garden to give her exercise, and it was turning fall and getting cooler. She was looking forward to the day when she would get out the quilt and shut the windows. Except that it made messing with Gray that much harder, because in the summer all they had was a sheet, and it was nothing to flip it back and expose her husband’s soft and tender spots. Under a quilt her hands tired more quickly, and the massage oil stained the sheets.

The news from Richard kept getting worse. “She’s been arrested again,” he said one day when he called her up out of the blue. Cathy hated getting these calls. Richard always sounded like the world was ending, and he spoke as if it were somehow Cathy’s fault.

“What’s she done now?” She had been planning on spending the morning in the garden, planting a hundred daffodils, but she got herself another cup of coffee and settled down on the recliner, gazing out the window instead.

“The details are murky, because of course she thinks it’s none of our business, but from what I can gather, she was coming over to get some of her stuff in the middle of the night, and a cop pulled her over because she crossed over the yellow line. And then he yelled at her and she giggled at him because he was so theatrical.”

“Uh-oh.” Never giggle at a cop. “They have no sense of humor.”

“Right. So he made her do all sorts of sobriety tests, and when she passed them, with flying colors, according to her, he took her to the hospital for a blood test, and when it was positive for pot, he booked her.”

“Oh, shit.”

“DUI drugs, they charged her with. As well as failure to maintain her lane.” He sounded exhausted.

“Have you been up all night?”

“How can I sleep when my girl is in jail?” He sounded pitiful.

“Did you bail her out?”

“This morning. And I got her a lawyer. It’s cost me $5,000 so far, and I’m sure that’s not the end of it. That girl is going to bankrupt me.”

“Oh, come on. She’s got a job now, she’ll pay her own fines at the very least, and maybe you can make her pay something toward the lawyer.” Cathy didn’t actually think so, but she hated it when Richard dove into the depths of despair the way he was doing.

He hesitated. “She doesn’t have a job.”

Cathy was surprised. “What happened?”

“They fired her.”

They fired a waitress? “How bad could she have been? Did she insult the customers or something?”

“Worse. They discovered her sneaking food to her friends, and told her to stop, and then she did it again.”

“Oh.” Cathy would have done the same, and felt guilty. She spent her waitressing days putting the extra food aside to take home and feed the house full of people she lived with. It was one of the perks of working in a restaurant. Apparently the owners of Star’s restaurant didn’t think so.

“So is she going to get another job?”

“I doubt it. She’s living with that scumbag. He probably keeps her rolling in whatever she needs. Like drugs.”

Cathy didn’t want to hear it. “Well, keep me informed. When’s her court date?”

“I don’t know. Her lawyer has some idea about going over the police video. Something Star told her about what the cop said or did. She’s going to try to get the case thrown out. I’ll let you know.”

But Cathy wasn’t informed about the court date. Star and Richard apparently agreed that Cathy’s presence would alienate the judge, but Cathy assumed they didn’t want her there to see what was going to happen to Star. Richard called her several days after the fact to tell her that the lawyer hadn’t manage to get the case thrown out, but she did convince the judge that Star’s rights had been violated. And the video showed the cop bullying and intimidating Star all out of proportion to a traffic stop, and not reading her her rights before arresting her. It also showed Star giggling and weaving during her sobriety test. So the judge reduced the sentence to reckless driving, but suspended her license because of the blood test, and put her on probation for six months, with a $1,200 fine due in monthly installments. This drove Richard wild.

“I can’t drive her around God’s creation,” he fumed over the phone to Cathy when he announced the verdict. Cathy had of course heard nothing from Star since before she’d been pulled over. “That shithead boyfriend isn’t going to, either. And she’s going to expect me to pay her fine.”

“Well, there are other places within walking distance where she can work. Just let her get a job and pay her own fine.”

“She’s already refused. Her no-good boyfriend will pay her fine, she says. Fine. Let him drive her all over. I’m done with her.”

Cathy made supportive noises, but she knew he would take the opposite position the moment Star came to him for something. And in fact, the very next week saw Star moving back in with him. Richard said something about her seeing the light of reason, and Cathy assumed he had bought her something, or she’d had a fight with Spike. And she was vaguely gratified to learn that Richard had bribed her with a trip to the Bahamas, a continued no-rent deal, all her lawyer’s fees and the fine.

“Boy, am I glad she doesn’t live with us anymore,” she said to Gray on their dog walk. “She’s gotten so wild in the last few months. I thought she was bad when she was here, but to hear him talk, and if I believe Greane and Saphyr, she’s ten times worse. Where’s my little girl who tried so hard to do what was right?”

Gray just squeezed her hand. “She’s just young. If she lives thru this she’ll turn out just like you did.”

“Oh, that’s comforting. Say, I’ve neglected calling my mom for awhile. I should apologize to her again. I’m sure I was this much trouble.” She was sure she must have been, but somehow she failed to remember getting in trouble with the law, losing her license and being put on probation. But she called up her mom anyway. Which was a mistake.

“How’s Star?” Mom asked as soon as she’d run out of health issues to complain about. “You haven’t mentioned her for awhile.”

“Well, I don’t hear much from her,” Cathy replied. “She’s off with her father, and doesn’t call me very often.” The truth was a little different – she was off with Spike and never called her.

Cathy held the phone away from her ear while Mom berated her daughter for being so rude. She didn’t really like hearing people run Star down. She was her baby, after all, and no matter how rude and nasty she got, somewhere in there was her little girl, smiling and loving. Her mom acted like she was scheming and lying, and so did her ex, and she was tired of hearing people go on about how bad a kid she was.

Like her friends. Greane and Saphyr stopped in once a week to raid her fridge and tell her the latest gossip. They never failed to horrify Cathy.

“She’s been snorting oxycontin,” Greane confided around a mouthful of Cathy’s chocolate cake. “She takes lortabs and zanax together.” Cathy didn’t recognize the names of any of these drugs, but Greane assured her that they didn’t mix well together.

She called Star. Now that she was back at her dad’s for however long, Cathy was able to get in touch with her by first dialing *67 to block her number from appearing on the caller ID. Starr answered, and was surprised to hear her little girl slurring her words. She drifted off to sleep while Cathy was asking questions about her days. Did she have a job? Star muttered a few words. Did she still see her boyfriend? Star mumbled. How was her little dog? Star didn’t answer.

Cathy worried.

Then Greane and Saphyr told her that Star had been sleeping around on Spike, and that was the real reason she was back at her dad’s – Spike had thrown her out.

“Yeah, my best friend Josh told me,” Greane said triumphantly, drinking an enormous glass of grape juice, her pregnant belly pressed up against the counter like an overripe tomato. She smelled as if she’d stepped in dog shit, but seemed not to notice. Cathy thought of mentioning it and offering to let her wash up in the bathroom, but it felt impolite, so she said nothing. Greane went on. “She’s lent her car to Josh, see, and he drives her around.”

“Why doesn’t Spike drive her?” Cathy wondered who Josh was.

“They’re fighting,” Saphyr said as if Cathy wasn’t listening.

“Yeah. I know Josh. He wouldn’t lie to me. He says Star is fucking him for drugs. She stays with Josh when she’s not at her dad’s.” She lowered her voice. “He keeps throwing her out for not calling and not coming home.”

“No surprise there,” Cathy said. She’d been hearing little else from Richard except how sick he was of Star’s inconsistency and lies. He’d taken to calling her a pathological liar, and it made her want to have even less to do with him.

Cathy got the chance to see for herself when Star came into town for awhile. She arrived at the house with a scruffy-looking, rail-thin guy with greasy hair, a baby moustache, and six earrings. Josh, flaunting her keys and casting his eyes around for valuables. When Cathy got her aside and asked her about the things her dad and her friends had been saying about her, she blew up.

“Those are just rumors,” she said hotly. “Do you believe what people say about me? I’m not like that. There’s nothing wrong between me and Spike. I’m living with Dad because he’d fall apart if I weren’t there.”

“Why would your friends be spreading rumors about you?” she wanted to know.

“Beats me. It’s all a string of lies. I’m not doing drugs. I’m not sleeping around. I love Spike and I would never do anything to hurt him.” Then she flashed a winning smile and said, “Hey, Mom, since I came all the way up here just to see you, do you think you could give me some gas money?” Cathy winced, but came up with five bucks. And the moment Star had the money in her hands, she was out the door, Josh in tow, waving goodbye as he stumbled out the door.

Star spent the entire week just a mile from Cathy, tho there was no sign of this. She only found out three days later when Star called her to come over and drive her to another friend’s house.

“Where’s Josh? Why can’t he drive you? Where’s your car?” Cathy asked, a little put out at being made a chauffer.

Star was indignant. “I ask you for a simple favor, and you act like whatever you’re doing is more important. Just what are you doing?” she demanded.

“I’m working on my blog,” Cathy admitted. Even tho she was in the middle of an expose of factory farming, she felt Star’s criticism. I’m only working on my blog.

So she went and got Star. It was a bad part of town, an area of run-down apartments, abandoned cars and street people. She parked nervously and tried to figure out which apartment Star might be in. She’d told her she would meet her outside, but wasn’t very specific about exactly where outside. So Cathy waited within sight of her car, walking up and down the street calling softly for her daughter.

Who finally appeared around a corner, looking angry that Cathy was making a spectacle of herself. Like an ancient hooker. Kind of like a woman Cathy had noticed when she came down the street looking for the apartments where Star said she’d be.

“So, what are you doing with yourself,” Cathy started conversationally as Star got into the car.

“Nothing.” Star stared out the window, neglecting to put her seat belt on until Cathy insisted, and then scowling at her for daring to insist.

“Okay, let me put this another way. Who lives here?”

“Some friends.”

“And what do they do?”


“What happened to your car?”

It was a question Star could answer, as apparently she felt rather strongly about it. “My friends were driving it,” she started.

“Not Josh?”

“No, Josh went home. And I was letting my friends drive it, and they parked it somewhere they weren’t supposed to, and it got towed.”

“When?” Cathy asked. “We can’t help you with any impound fees,” she hurried to say. “It costs hundreds of dollars to get a car back when it’s been towed.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Star said impatiently. “My friends feel bad about it, because it was their fault, and they’ll come up with the money to get it back. Look, Mom, I really don’t want to talk about it.” She sighed dramatically and twisted her fingers in her hair, a habit Cathy had noticed in Star’s friend Greane, but had never really seen Star do before. She considered telling Star how stupid it made her look, but decided not to antagonize her, and drove to some other friend’s house, in another bad neighborhood halfway across town, in silence.

“I’ll call you,” Star said as she disappeared.

Cathy felt worried, but there was little she could do. “Be safe,” she called. Her voice sounded weak and foolish.

Three days later, Greane showed up again, hungry as usual. She was in Star’s car. “What happened to Josh?” she asked.

“Oh, he’s at home,” she said vaguely. Cathy felt that perhaps Greane wasn’t telling her everything.

“Listen,” Greane said as she polished off a piece of pumpkin pie the size of a dessert plate, “I haven’t heard from your daughter for awhile, and I’m worried about her. She’s not with the nicest bunch of dudes.”

Cathy tended to agree, judging simply by the neighborhood. “Why don’t we go see if we can find her?”

So they got in Star’s car and Greane drove over there, using shortcuts Cathy didn’t know existed. And tho they cruised up and down the street, and even got out and walked around the building, they didn’t see Star, and didn’t get any answers to their calls and whistles. They even asked people coming in and out if they had seen her, but they found out nothing, and eventually went back to Cathy’s.

Star called on the phone twenty minutes after Greane dropped her off and went back to her mom’s house. The smell of shit lingered in the kitchen where Greane had sat.

Cathy told her they’d been over there looking for her. “Where were you?” she asked, curious.

“Oh, my friend’s apartment faces the back.”

“We went around the back. Where?”

“On the top floor.”


“I couldn’t tell you. I’m not sure.”

“Are you lying to me?” Cathy was pretty sure she was.

“No, I’m not lying to you. I never lie to you. I’m just not sure which apartment it is because we come in the back way and go up a bunch of stairs and then down a corridor. It might be the third one from the left. I don’t know.”

But Cathy couldn’t get her to tell whether it was the left as you were looking at the back of the building, or the left when you came up the stairs. She was most unhappy with the way the conversation was going.

“I was very worried about you. You don’t ever call, and even your friends don’t know where you are, or who you’re hanging out with. Greane was just warning me about how bad this friend you’re staying with is. She says he sells drugs.”

Star laughed. “No he doesn’t. He just has a few pills now and then from some guy who sells his prescriptions.”

“Well, I don’t like the sound of that. What if the cops busted him? You’d be caught with drugs just by being there, and then you’d have violated your probation. Did you think of that?”

“Hah. That’ll never happen. He pays the cops off.”

Oh great, Cathy thought. He must do more than sell a few excess prescription medicines. She thought of calling the cops on the guy, maybe once Star was gone away from there. But she still didn’t know where he lived.

“So why aren’t you down at your father’s?”

Star sounded evasive. “Oh, we had a fight, and I’ve moved out again. Can I keep some of my stuff at your house? I’ve got it all here, and it’s in the way.”

“Sure,” Cathy said. Any excuse to get her away from these drug friends of hers. “Why don’t you come stay with us?”

“No,” Star said with passion. “But I’d like you to get Stumbles from Dad, because he won’t let me have her, and I need her.”

Cathy was dubious. “I don’t know,” she said. “I can ask him. But why don’t you call him?”

“I’m not talking to him ever again. He said some terrible things to me. And don’t ask.” She waited to see if Cathy would ask. She was silent. “Thanks for calling him about the dog, Mom. I really need her with me. And thanks for taking my stuff. I’ll bring it over right away.”

And Cathy didn’t hear from her for another week. In the meantime, she called Richard and asked him how come he was keeping Star’s dog.

“Because I don’t want her trading the damn thing for drugs,” he snapped. “It’s the only thing of value she has, beside her body, which I’m pretty sure she’s using as a party favor. My daughter the crack whore,” he said bitterly.

No wonder Star moved out again, Cathy thought.

“I’m this close to going to the vet and getting her microchip information changed to my name, so that she can’t come and get her without my calling the cops on her for theft. It’d be a felony. That’d fix her.”

“Now you want her to go to jail? How irrational.”

“It’s not irrational,” he sputtered. It’s the essence of sanity. The girl’s a danger to everyone around her, and I’ve paid out so much for lawyer fees and bail, buying her a car, and a dog, and at least two cellphones – did I tell you she lost the one I bought her and I had to get another one just last week? It cost me $250.”

“Why are you buying her expensive replacement phones? Why don’t you just get a $29.95 clunker? You’re so mad at her for costing you money, but you continue to make her expensive presents. What, do you think she’s going to love you because you spend money on her?”

“She doesn’t love anyone.”

Yes, he does think she’ll love him, Cathy decided. Why did I marry him, again? Was it just a manic phase?

Evidently Star got in contact with Greane, who must have given her back her car, and evidently she made up with her father, because Cathy got a phone call at midnight a few days later. She and Gray had been asleep for hours, and she was groggy and slow-witted.

It was Richard. “She what?”

He was slurring. She heard, “Police, speed trap, 83.”

“Say that again?” She was awake. Gray was awake. Tabasco was awake and scratching at his fleas, and Scootie was awake and trying to lick her face.

She drove her own car back to his house, late for her dad-imposed curfew. Despite having a suspended license. She passed a cop doing 80-plus on a 55 mile-an-hour highway, and called her dad from the back of the squad car on her cellphone. He called Cathy. “She may have to be bailed out,” he said.

Cathy felt the warm covers around her sleepy body, and her warm husband snoozing next to her. “Okay, so go bail her out.”

“You don’t understand. I can’t drive right now.”

“Why not?”

“Uh, I took some tranquilizers. You don’t know the stress I’m under.”

She let it pass. He never went to doctors, so wherever he got the tranquilizers, they weren’t prescribed for him. “Well, I don’t have any money to bail her out, so I guess she’s going to stay there tonight. Why don’t you call me when you get her home?”

He promised to call, but Cathy fell asleep with the phone by her side, and slept until daylight without a call.

go to tomorrow’s writing


1 Comment »

  1. […] go to tomorrow’s writing Leave a Comment […]

    Pingback by Day Four « Cathy Eats Her Words — October 12, 2009 @ 3:07 pm | Reply

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