Darbi the Dancer
Marianne felt the fire of the bright morning sun, rays blinding her eyes, then bouncing off like sparks, as she rounded the corner of the apartment.
He was there, getting out of the turquoise piece of treachery he considered his pride and joy. The Explorer still held the dew wash of the morning. He had her keys in his hand. She noted the golden glisten off the blonde hair of the driver, still sitting in the running car.
Everything seemed to glisten and sparkle around Darbi. She made it sparkle. Some girls are just like that. People are just people who make choices.
It wasn't like Marianne had never known a stripper before. She'd known strippers. One time in her life, she'd thought about being one. She had a friend, for a while, who did that.
Everything seemed perfectly clear in the crisp December air.
"I'm sorry," he looked in her eyes as he approached. Handsome and sheepish with his brown eyes beaming sincerely, he was indeed sorry.
Marianne took her raccoon tail key ring, upon key ring, upon, key ring, from his hand. Her fingers were still frozen from waiting outside for her ride for forty-five minutes after being discharged from the emergency room.
He had dropped Marianne off earlier and he was supposed to pick her up. He answered his cell phone the second time she called it. He didn't always answer his phone, because pre-paid minutes are very valuable, and costly to the one who buys them. Marianne knew because she'd just bought him $30 worth. It's cheaper to text than talk, he says.
"Darbi keeps calling me, and talking, or she makes it sound SO important." He explained how the minutes had almost all disappeared in a week and a half. Marianne was na´ve in thinking the minutes would last for the three weeks remaining until Christmas. It's like she couldn't have money, without spending it. Some things just burn a hole in your pocket.
He and Darbi were lost somewhere on the freeway, five minutes as the crow flies. Marianne was impatiently waiting for a ride that was not going to come.
"How do you get to Baylor from IH 30?" The mood in his sound space was jovial. They were misplaced, but in good spirits. At least he hadn't been an auto accident. Darbi was the variable in the equation.
"She didn't have anyone to pick her up after work."
Did he really believe that?
What loyal eighteen year old wouldn't be ready, willing, and able to pick up his stripper sister after work? Yes, of course, he wanted to be in the middle of his sister's business, since she was inviting him.
The grapevine said that Darbi was diva, and then some. Simply put, the world revolved around Darbi if you were anywhere in her sphere. She hadn't chosen that position, but that's the way it worked out. Darbi takes over her environment, like a tornado leaving destruction.
Marianne took three deep breaths. Anger seethed from the soles of her feet. She stamped the monkey grass in the flower bed in which she stood. Then she kicked a convenient tree. She put the cell phone back to her ear.
"Take the car back to the driveway, leave the keys under the seat, and lock it," Marianne barked into her little red phone.
She wasn't even able to get away from the hospital parking lot before the debilitating migraine began its return. He was supposed to help. He usually did. This time he didn't.
Marianne called a cab from her cell phone. That was $20 she'd planned to spend on Christmas. Twenty bucks would've filled the tank of her Thunderbird. Money is so tight these days.
By 3:00 am, she'd been through the desk registration and insurance process, past triage, and finally in to a three patient bed area. Marianne crawled into the bed, and pulled the blanket over her head, attempting to cut out the light which intensified the throbbing in her head and the waves of nausea.
The nurse came in, turning off the lights and jotting her mumbled details of pain. Forty-five minutes later, the nurse returned with an injection of Phenegran and Demerol.
"You've had this before. It's going to sting a little," said the nurse. The description was well timed, and the stinging began. Soon the symptoms would ease.
Marianne became a little more easy, but didn't nod off to sleep. The man in the far bed was taking a loud breathing treatment, and the conversation he was having with his wife was not welcome noise to her ears. A hospital divider curtain kept the areas somewhat visually private, but didn't act as much of a sound barrier. Her body relaxed, but her sense of hearing heightened.
She walked around a corner with the x-ray technician who came to wheel her to the area housing large white machines.
"I can walk, you don't have to roll the whole bed," Marianne said wrapping the blanket around her. The technician carried her purse, as she wasn't particularly concerned about keeping up with her valuables at that point. "No, I'm not dizzy," she said, slipping her socked feet onto a shiny tile floor, shuffling a bit.
After the CAT scan for a migraine headache, she finally received her prescription of requisite pharmaceuticals, and Marianne was discharged at 7:15.
She left a brief voice message on his cell phone as she exited the double wide door with an electric eye. The sun was up, a bright orange ball from a direction heretofore unidentified as east.
He soon returned the call, saying something about Darbi needing to drive because he had not gotten any sleep.
"So nobody's gotten any sleep," she thought out loud. Darbi entered the picture just after 2:00, undoubtedly. This was not good.
This was not the scenario Marianne had left. She did not want to think of what could have transpired while she was inside the hospital trying to get rid of the migraine that had finally sent her for extreme medical help, after more than a week of suffering pain and nausea.
This problem was as clear as night to day. She had felt so secure in trusting her friend to help her by driving her to the hospital in her car, then coming back to get her six hours later.
"Thank you for bringing me," Marianne had said. "I'd be grateful if you could stop at the neighborhood store, and get food for the critters, and maybe a couple of logs for me." Her migraine had obliterated the pets feeding schedule. The two cats and two dogs were due canned food. The animals still had to eat, even if she was too sick to feed herself.
"With the money left over you can get something to throw in the oven. Some of those pizzerias, or whatever it is you like. But don't forget to take the crackers out." They smiled at each other, an inside joke.
She had grown up thinking everybody kept their crackers and cereal in the oven. He'd burned her box of "Lucky Charms" once. Maybe it was an omen. It was the kind of private joke you'd have with someone when you've spent lots of time with them around the house. You learn each other's peccadilloes. You grow accustomed, and comfortable. You watch television, and barbecue meat outdoors in the summer. You play San Andreas Fault, and you remember to put the seat down. You drink coffee, and you read the Sunday newspaper. Sometimes he takes out the garbage, just because.
Those you care most for, are those who can most easily hurt your feelings. It seems to come in cycles, if the friendship lasts. But, there's a point at which you no longer have enough in common to call it a friendship. She was more than disappointed in how he'd handled the situation. She felt a trust had been betrayed. A part of herself she had given away. She wanted back.
It was respect. Marianne didn't give it away, but it was gone. She had been re-prioritized in her own world. Like the first frigid gust of winter wind, reality is a harsh, biting thing. Take your beating, and walk away, head held high, eh?
They say, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you." She was feeling something similar.
He had called her back to the car in the dark of the night before, asking directions to get back where he'd come from. One cannot always trust one's own common sense, the way streets run sometimes.
"Make a right at the light, and go around the block. And don't get in trouble with the car, or with the apartment," she had said slamming the big car door, and stepping into the dimly lit parking lot.
He could do her little bit of shopping, eat, and get a good night's nap before she would be through the ordeal associated with hospital migraine relief. That was the plan in her head. He had seemed to agree. She could still hear the echo of the acknowledging sound he had uttered. "Ehh. . . "
They had an understanding he wouldn't do anything he shouldn't, as if she'd ever know. They had that understanding for a long time. What could happen in six hours?
She took her load of little metal responsibilities, accessorized by a raccoon tail, out of his hand. She looked into his eyes, then past him into the clear blue morning sky.
"There will probably be a time, when you get tired of. . ." Marianne held back the word. . . playing. . . realizing that brothers and sisters will play, no matter what, forever, in some ways.
"When you get finished running around with. . . ."
His best friend had gone through a similar, though very different experience with Darbi only six months before. The sun was so bright, and at just the angle of blinding when Marianne turned due east. When at home, she knew which way the sun rises.
She looked at the young blonde beauty rearranging her pony tail in the car. She was hot! Knowing only part of the turmoil that had been this young woman's life, Marianne decided to become no further involved with Darbi. At twenty-two Darbi had two children, but no regular fellow, and no custody. She was hot, and then some.
But she had no self-respect. She found her ego through manipulating others. Marianne didn’t care to play in that arena. She had learned that lesson to her satisfaction earlier in life.
You can't learn a lesson for someone else. You don't have to stand with someone who keeps making poor choices. The third court appearance for his arrest was scheduled for the day after he turned nineteen. The car he was riding in got pulled over, and someone left a bag of pot under the seat. He said it wasn't his. Since he never had any money, Marianne figured it probably wasn't his.
He had been looking for his first job for two years, and still hadn't been hired. He regularly picked up job applications, filled some out, returned fewer, but seldom followed up with a phone call. He got his GED, but kept finding excuses not to get on with the responsibility of being an adult. He was staying at his cousin's house, bumming smokes, and scavenging meals.
"When Darbi is out of your life again, give me a call," Marianne looked him eye-to-eye, both of them being six feet tall. She recognized a glint of understanding in his eyes. He understood only a small part of the big picture.
"Until then, don't." Marianne felt a chill as the cloud of “he whose name shall not be spoken” loomed. They did not mention Jay’s name anymore, because he always ended up showing up, and they did not want that.
Marianne had told another of his friends that he wasn't welcome at her house until he learned the Golden Rule. He never came back. She had purchased words of wisdom that hung on her wall in the living room:
"Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
Marianne hoped his interest in the life of a stripper was just a phase he was going through. She knew what was happening, and she did not want to be involved. Marianne was not that kind of friend. He was on his own.