I rose bright and early the next morning and headed towards the door in which I thought led to a bathroom and found that it truly did. It had a shower in it as well. This was obvious by the wet hair in which I emerged with.
I plugged in the refrigerator which was along the wall left of the bathroom, then headed over to my armoire many steps away towards the right side of the room. I took off my terrycloth robe and put on a pair of jeans and a red T-shirt. Then I pulled a thin brown leather belt through the belt loops of my jeans and walked back over to the refrigerator, checking to see if it was cooling. I shut the door and headed over to the desk where I’d placed a small purse, grabbed a set of keys next to it, and headed out to my small blue pickup.
I returned nearly an hour later with several bags of groceries. I loaded them into the refrigerator, as well as on another large cardboard table I had set up next to it for the items that didn’t need refrigeration. Once done with that, I opened a box and pulled a coffeemaker from it. I set it up and began to brew a pot when a car came into view and parked in front. A casually dressed couple exited the car and walked up to the door. They appeared to laugh at something for a brief instant along the way. The sandy-haired man was short, stocky, and not very handsome. The woman was much the same. She was short and heavy with short light brown hair void of any real style. Although she had a homely looking face, there was an air of friendliness about the woman that put one at ease. Both she and her partner seemed to be somewhere in their mid to late twenties.
I noticed that I didn’t seem as dismayed to see them as I had with Alicia.
I ran to let the pair in the building.
“James, Janet, how ya doin’?” I asked with a smile as we entered the large room.
“We’re ok, but we hear you’ve seen better times,” said Janet as she and James gazed around the room from just inside the inner doors.
“I sure have, but that’s ok, I’ll survive.”
“Don’t be so sure of that,” James said with a laugh.
I looked at him confused. “What’s that mean?”
Janet answered for him. “Well, how would you like a special assignment?”
I glanced back at Janet. “Depends on what it is. I’m pretty booked up.”
“Just hear the proposition first,” Janet insisted. “It’s about a young lady with about as much computer knowledge in her brain as you could ever need.”
I still looked confused. “So?”
“Well, the catch is that she’s quite a monster according to her social worker.”
I studied the two of them a moment, then said, “So far this doesn’t sound like a very exciting proposition.”
James and Janet looked at each other, then back at me.
“What if the subject was Rosemary?” Janet asked.
I blinked, seemingly having a hard time registering what I was hearing. “Rosemary? What’s Rosemary got to do with this? You found her?”
“Yeah, we found her, alright,” Janet said with a smile. “And what we found was not quite
what we expected.”
A wide grin began to break out across my face. “Wait a minute now, when did this all happen?”
“Oh my God. How old is she?”
“Twenty-six. A few years younger than you. Didn’t you just turn twenty-nine a few weeks ago?”
I nodded. “If she’s an adult, though, then what would she be doing with a social worker?”
“That’s part of what’s made her a monster. Not only has past abuse had devastating effects on her, but she was involved in a very bad car accident about eight months ago.”
“Oh no,” I said with dismay.
Janet went on. “Her sister was driving when they were plowed by a drunk driver. They plowed right into the driver’s side, killing her sister instantly and sending Rosemary into a week-long coma.”
I listened intently with a serious expression.
“The reason for the social worker is because she’s not always able to manage her own affairs. I mean, she is, and she’s smart, she’s just not always mentally sound, but of course, this also depends on one’s definition of just what ‘mentally sound’ is. If you consider eccentric people to be unsound, then unsound she is. If not, she’s actually saner than most people will no doubt ever be. So it isn’t because she’s crazy or incompetent, it’s mostly her aggressiveness. She’s quite a genius from what they say and has turned out to be one glass-shattering contralto. Had some training before she left these parts.”
“Oh, good,” I said with a smile. “So did you guys meet with Rosemary herself, her social worker, or what?”
“We placed an ad at this site they have online for those looking for old friends or family members,” said James.
“Mmm hmm,” nodded Janet, taking over once again. “And that’s when we got the email from the social worker, Gwen Lee. I called her with the number she provided and told her I had an old friend who would be interested in a reunion. Of course, I kept your identity a secret. As far as we know James and I are still the only ones that know of yours and Melanie’s true origin. Anyway, Gwen filled me in on the highlights.”
“Which are?” I asked eagerly.
“Well, here’s the chilling thing, to give you an example of how compassionless they say she’s become. When asked if she felt survivor’s guilt, which as you know, is a very common thing, her response was said to be, why should I? My sister was a bitch. Better her than me.”
My eyes went wide with shock as I snorted, though I seemed to find something slightly amusing about Rosemary’s open honesty. “Geez!” I said. “I do have to point out one thing, though, on her behalf and that’s that regardless of how chilling that may sound, her sister really was a bitch. I remember that well enough. I always thought she was jealous of her or something.”
“She might’ve had reason to be. According to her picture in the paper when this accident occurred, she was one hefty lady.”
“She was,” I remembered aloud.
“Anyway, to give you a brief rundown on everything I could find out, she had a few apartments here in the east, then at age twenty-two, she decided a change was due and so she sold off her furniture, kept just the bare necessities, and headed out west. She started off in Phoenix, Arizona where a friend had moved to. It was barely two years later when they terminated the disability benefits she’d been getting on account of her ear deformity, saying that there was no reason she couldn’t be independent, and independent she had become, alright. And surprisingly successful too, considering the walk of life in which she’d come from.”
I smiled, eagerly awaiting Janet’s next words.
“She sang and acted, though mainly danced, which led to a full-time circus job.”
“Wow, she was in the circus?” I asked with a surprised smile.
Janet nodded. “Just like Melanie, though they trained her for acrobatic work. It was sort of a combination of gymnastics and dance. She performed throughout the southwest. You know, Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico. She even lived in Sonora, Mexico for a while, though I don’t know why. Gwen never really got into that with us. The only thing she really got into was Rosemary herself which I’ll get to in a minute.”
“Finish with her life in the desert first,” James said.
Janet glanced at James, nodded, then went on. “She spent a total of four years there. One in Arizona, two in Mexico and one on an Indian reservation, though this was also in Arizona. It was close to the New Mexico border. She wants to return to either Arizona or Mexico sometime soon because she hates the weather here. Too cold, snowy and humid, she says. Oh, and before I forget, her Spanish is now almost as fluent as her sign language.”
My smile broadened yet again as I shifted my weight to the other foot. “Oh, cool. Did she ever learn more French?”
“French?” asked James, looking curiously at Janet.
“Didn’t hear any mention of French, but she knows a little Italian. Anyway,” continued Janet, “she ended up leaving the circus on account of a knee injury. From what I understand, she was back in Arizona around the time she left the circus after spending time down in Mexico. Meanwhile, she submits this photo of her pet rat to this online photo contest and wins.”
“They not only pay her ten grand, they publish the picture while all kinds of companies use it for various things like calendars, stationery and so on, so now she’s living off royalties from this picture of her rat who’s now dead.”
The three of us laughed.
“Amazing, huh?” asked James.
I nodded with a grin.
“Especially since most people are creeped out by rodents, rats being at the top of the list, even if they are very smart animals,” said Janet. “Anyway, it was around this time when disaster struck.”
My brows furrowed. “I thought the accident happened here.”
“It did. This was a whole different tragedy. Everyone’s worst nightmare come to life,” Janet said.
“You can say that again,” James agreed.
“So what happened?” I asked with anticipation.
“She was framed on a charge of attempted stalking, a class six felony,” replied Janet.
“What!” I exclaimed in shock.
“This was about fifteen months before she came back here,” Janet explained. “She started learning computers like crazy and got one of her own. She began writing books with gay themes…”
“Wait a minute,” I said, cutting her off. “She’s gay?”
Janet nodded. “A dedicated lesbian, as she herself put it.”
“You’d never know just by looking at her either,” James said.
“Not like with us butches, huh?” I said, motioning towards myself with my thumbs.
Janet and James laughed, then Janet went on. “We read part of a manuscript and were like, oh my God, this girl’s good. It was very professionally written. Definitely no childishly scrawled, amateur writing.”
“What kinds of books does she write?” I asked.
I smiled yet again and nodded.
“So anyway, she’s writing books and dipping incense,” Janet said.
“About every fragrance imaginable,” Janet said with a laugh. “She sells it, from what I gather, and she also has a rather impressive doll collection.”
“God,” said James with a roll of the eyes. “That girl’s got more toys than most little girls will ever have.”
“She does,” Janet agreed. “A lot of young stuff for the young at heart, you could say, though Barbie’s not just for kids anymore. All kinds of adults collect Barbie these days. She has some inexpensive toy Barbies as well as costlier collectible Barbies. She’s also got some rather expensive and very realistic looking porcelain dolls as well. She once made and sold those too, but decided it was a pain in the ass.”
I let out a chuckle.
“Ok, now let’s get to the highlights that stand out the most. Brace yourself, Kay. It’s quite a story.”
“Alright, I’m ready for it.”
Janet took a deep breath and went on. “Once she earned enough money, she bought a small tract home in Phoenix. Houses are fairly easy to get out there as opposed to these parts. The one she got was on a street where the houses were very close to one another, like just a few feet apart. A common setup out there. Anyway, a black Muslim family moved into the house next door on section eight and total chaos broke out. Rosemary told us something about being cursed with bad neighbors for a while, and of course, they ended up being the ultimate curse. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that most Muslims aren’t very fond of Jews.”
I nodded knowingly.
“They were noisy as hell, constantly coming and going at all hours of the day and night blasting loud music from their cars. They were trashing her yard and there were always tons of people making a huge ruckus. They’d bounce balls for hours at a time, dogs would be yipping away practically right under her window. So Rosemary goes over and politely asks that they settle down and they say, yeah, sure, but keep right up with the ruckus. So next she calls the cops, but they tell her there’s nothing they can do since they can’t be there round the clock to monitor the situation, so her last resort is to go to those who really have leverage over them, and that’s the city since the city owns the house. Like magic, it worked. She said it wasn’t perfect, but it helped quite a bit.”
Janet paused to clear her throat.
“Eventually these people moved and life went on. That is until Rosemary answers her door one day not long afterward to find quite a swat team on her property.”
I listened with shock and anticipation written all over my face.
“All were uniformed cops except for this black dude who worked the department’s biased crimes unit. So they arrest her and drag her down to the station to interrogate her. She tries to be polite and cooperative, but as she would soon learn, polite and cooperative doesn’t usually get you far in the justice system. Especially out west in places like Arizona and Texas.”
“I’ve heard there’s a lot of corruption out there as well as ridiculous laws and punishments,” I interjected.
“There sure is,” Janet agreed. “So she’s being interrogated by this cop and the cop pulls out a piece of paper from a folder with all kinds of threats and racial slurs on it, hands it to Rosemary and asks her to explain it. But Rosemary’s like, look, we had our problems, but I know nothing of this.”
My brows furrowed deeper.
“What’s the catch?” Janet said. “The catch is that this cop, also Muslim and said to hate Jews, is best buddies with the people she complained on. You see, he typed the letter up himself and thrust it into her hands to get her prints on it out of revenge because her complaints caused the assholes to lose their section eight.”
“Oh, my God,” I moaned. “That’s just horrible. As if she hadn’t had enough trouble in life as it was.”
“Tell me about it,” James piped in. “One of the things she said to us was that it scared her to know that if she could end up stuck in places as an adult, then it could always happen to her at any age no matter what and that she may never truly be free.”
“Yup,” said Janet. “And that also, if she could be framed, why it could happen to anyone.”
“Yeah, it’s a scary world out there,” I said dubiously, glancing outside. “So what happened next?”
“Oh, not much,” Janet said with mock sarcasm. “Just a sentence of six months in jail and two and a half years of probation.”
“What!” I cried out. “Oh, my good God! I don’t know what’s worse, the setup or the sentence.”
Janet nodded in agreement. “She got a lot of support from those within the jail who agreed that even if she had been guilty as charged, not that they ever thought she was, a threatening letter shouldn’t be labeled as stalking, and no one should do time for it either, let alone a half a year. It is, after all, merely words on paper.”
“That’s true,” I said.
“Because of how beautiful she turned out to be…”
“Oh yes,” James interjected, “totally gorgeous. I doubt there’s a straight man, bisexual man, bisexual woman or gay woman who wouldn’t be attracted to her. I’m straight and she’s bi,” he said indicating Janet, “and we both agree she’s a looker.”
“She’s a cutie,” said Janet, drawing a smile from me.
“She lost weight, huh? And she’s not too thin now either?” I asked.
“She’s got the perfect little body,” said Janet. “A little muscular quite like yourself and maybe an inch or two thicker in the waist, but she is short. She still exercises, too. Anyway, because of her beauty, not only were the inmates attracted to her, though none harmed her in any way, so were some of the guards.”
My eyes widened.
“She had a crush on a couple of them. The Mexican one she said she was pretty much only attracted to, but she really liked this red-headed guard a lot which she said surprised her, seeing that she usually goes for dark eyes and hair, primarily non-whites.”
“Watch out,” James teased.
I rolled my eyes and looked back at Janet in anticipation of hearing the rest of what she knew.
“So she falls for this guard who falls for her in return. She takes her to live with her upon her release. They legally marry and try to have a child through a special form of artificial insemination that allows for the other half to be a biological makeup of the other woman, whose name happened to be Rene Johnson. This fails to work, though, because this type of procedure rarely takes anyway, even if both are of the same race and all that, and it’s nearly impossible if they aren’t. They tried something like three times till Rosemary decided it simply wasn’t meant to be.”
I leaned against the wall at the side of the doors which jutted into the building, facing me. I could see my face clearly because of how high up I was on the wall, as well as the fact that Janet and James were shorter than me. “She had miscarriages?” I asked.
“No,” said Janet, “she simply never conceived. Now before I continue on, let me drop the next shocker on you because they’re sort of intertwined, ok?”
“We never would’ve believed this part if we didn’t hear it from Gwen herself, but it’s a hundred percent true, I assure you, and very well documented.”
“Need some tissue?” I asked.
“Yeah, kind of,” he said.
“There’s some on the little table between the couch and chair,” I pointed.
He walked over to where the box of tissues sat as Janet went on.
“Not long before Rosemary was framed, she was said to have developed some rather unique abilities. Then again, even that’s debatable. Some, including Rosemary herself, say we’re all psychic and that some are just more sensitive than others. It’s like with singing; we all can, but most don’t end up sounding like Rosemary sounds today, which is another thing people wonder if she didn’t perhaps somehow magically influence since as she herself admits, she wasn’t very good to start with.”
“So you’re saying she’s psychic?” I asked, both shocked and intrigued.
Janet nodded. “Enough to help out the police department on occasion. She has a rather uncanny knack for predicting disastrous events. These kinds of people are often dubbed as doom psychics.”
“Doom psychics,” I softly said, weighing the idea in mind.
“Yes, she’s mainly known as a doom psychic, though she can and has predicted good and neutral events as well. Still, she doesn’t exactly qualify for a title of Fortune Teller.”
“What is she, clairvoyant?” I asked.
“No, she’s not clairvoyant, because as she explained, she doesn’t read minds and that’s what a clairvoyant does. She’s not very telepathic which is the ability to mentally send and receive messages with others through the mind, though she is very good with sensing people’s intentions and personalities, even with photographs of people she’s never known. Gwen said she gave her a picture of her two sisters and two brothers and asked her to describe their personalities just by studying their photos, and she was right on, according to her. She’s not telekinetic because she can’t move objects, but she’s precognitive and she’s also said to be a witch.”
My eyes bulged. “She’s into witchcraft? Don’t they place evil spells on people?”
“Yes, though they can also cast good spells and influence healing, which she has. She and those closest to her haven’t had colds in years.”
Again my eyes widened.
“Ah, but get this,” Janet said. “Quite coincidentally, though I don’t suppose any of us will ever cry over it, the neighbors involved all died of a mysterious food poisoning that could never be explained, the cop hung himself, the just-as-corrupt, joke of a public defender who helped steer her into jail along with the others, was mauled to death by a stray dog, and the judge had a fatal heart attack.”
My eyes remained wide as could be as a void of silence filled the large room.
Janet eventually broke the shocked silence. “We asked her about it, but of course, she said she had nothing to do with it. I reminded her that she couldn’t be charged with psychically inducing anyone’s death, but she still wouldn’t get into it with us.”
“She sure is good, though,” James added. “She warned us against phone and online psychics, saying they’re just scammers who will prompt you for whatever clues they can get from you so they can know what you’re looking for, then they’ll simply tell you what you want to hear.”
“So how does it work?” I asked.
“She said it started off as vague feelings, then grew more and more detailed with time, though she certainly can’t know just anything and do just anything. I’m not God, she told us, so if God doesn’t want me to have a particular ability, feeling or vision, then he won’t let me have it. Anyway, she says it’s just a feeling she gets and not something you can really put a finger on.”
“Sort of like with us,” James said, “and the way we were called upon, so to speak, to guide you into the real world.”
“Anyway,” Janet continued, “backing up a bit, her sentence was overturned and thrown out shortly after her release. She lived with officer Johnson for about six months before she was killed in a robbery.”
My expression turned downcast. Obviously, I was empathetic for Rosemary and all the hardships she’d been made to endure.
“The feeling came too late, she said, and by the time she could warn her of the danger she sensed, it was too late. She’s felt both cursed and blessed over the years, though she’s not religious in any way. Says it’s too structured, not to mention the fact that she disagrees with some of the beliefs.” Janet paused to clear her throat, then went on. “Anyway, she says that her relationship with the officer was by far the best one she’d had, saying that the past ones were pretty much settlements. She says she’s become so picky that she wouldn’t be surprised if she were single the rest of her life. She hates people in general and doesn’t trust a soul.”
“Who can blame her?” I said.
“It was pretty funny when I asked her if she had any prejudices.”
James laughed, remembering.
“Her answer was, nope, I hate everyone equally.”
The three of us burst out laughing, me the hardest.
“That’s a good one,” I said.
“Don’t forget to tell her just how much of a sexist she is, too,” said James with a look of amusement on his face.
“Oh yeah,” said Janet, “she said she’d still hate guys even if they were as good looking as women.”
“I guess like most gays, it’s not so much about body parts as it is the overall gender in which you prefer. She refers to guys as cocks and when I asked why, she said, why not? They refer to us as bitches, whores, sluts, cunts, broads and a million other names.”
“Yeah, they tend to have their share of nicknames for us,” I said.
“She says she doesn’t hate all men, but that since most of them are assholes, it’s enough to consider herself a sexist.”
I laughed, then said, “You haven’t said anything about her family. What’s up with them?”
“She hasn’t had anything to do with her parents or brother in years and said she was considering adding her sister to the list when she was killed. Best thing she ever did, she told us. Guess they were really negative, control freaks.”
“That they were,” I said matter of factly. “Still smoking?”
I smiled. “Good for her.”
“She said her asthma got so bad that she had to quit. No drugs or drinking either, from what we could tell. She’s too into physical fitness for that. She jogs, lifts weights, stretches, dances, you name it. Anyway, back to the story,” said Janet. “She’s now widowed and she has to sell the house because she can’t stand to live there with the memories of the officer still alive in it. She said she’d go out of her mind every time she’d hear a car door, thinking Teddy Bear, as she called her, had come home and that her death was all just a big joke or something. Using the money from the sale of the house, she put her stuff in storage and decided to drift a while. She hates to drive, but she needed a means of transportation and a place to put her necessities, so she took the car and drove up into the mountains where the Navajo nation’s located. It’s the largest Indian tribe in the southwest. She went for a hike one day, and in the midst of doing so, she got sick and passed out. I guess it was a heat stroke or something, as I’m sure I don’t have to remind you just how hot the desert can get.”
“I’ve heard,” I said.
“In fact, when we asked Rosemary how she’d describe Arizona to any newcomers, she said, welcome to Arizona where everything’s a felony and you can fry an egg on the hood of your car.”
I roared with laughter.
“Anyway,” Janet continued. “She passes out, the tribal police rescue her, and so now she’s with the Navajo people. She lived with the doctor that helped her get her strength back and acted as her assistant in exchange for having a place to stay. The reservation is so large that it spans all of Four Corners.”
Janet nodded. “It’s the only place in the country where four corners of a state meet; Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. Although they treated her fairly well, her friend Marilyn, who lives near here, was going through a miserable divorce, so she agreed to come back and stay with her. It made sense to them both seeing that they’d lost their loves, though in different ways, and needed each other to lean on. Plus there’s Rosa, their other friend. She’s a native of Mexico who lived in Arizona where she and Rosemary met, then she followed Rosemary here to escape an abusive husband. She doesn’t speak any English. Rosemary teases her about being too lazy to learn. Anyway, these girls are straight but very accepting of gays. She has another friend down in Florida. A rather famous inmate she was once cellmates with in Phoenix. Ever heard of the Lucille Harper case?”
I appeared to think about it a moment. “You know, I think I have. Is that the girl whose husband killed her baby daughter that they charged with neglect?”
“That’s her,” said Janet.
“She’s out now and is a rather successful writer herself and also a victim’s advocate for other abused women. They’re all very different. Rosemary describes Lucille as a smart and peaceful individual. Marilyn’s even louder than Rosemary but very friendly and easygoing. She’s on disability like Rosemary used to be. I guess she’s slow, though she doesn’t seem to be stupid from what I could make out. Rosa’s silly but sweet, and of course, Rosemary’s the bully of them all.”
“Yup, you can definitely tell she’s the leader of the pack, and quite a little prankster, though she has outgrown the prank phone calls she used to make and get in trouble for. She said that ever since she quit smoking she’s hated to talk on the phone.”
“So I take it she’s got a record?” I asked.
“Yeah, petty misdemeanors.”
“And she’s pretty aggressive, huh?”
“When provoked, yes, and believe me, it doesn’t take much. When she’s around people she cares for and that care for her, she’s actually quite playful and very pleasant to deal with. She’s said to have a great sense of humor and a rather amusing way with words.”
I smiled as James stood in silence, content to let Janet do the talking.
“She’s got ADD and has an awfully hard time staying focused for very long. Gwen says she has the attention span of a two-year-old at times, and if things aren’t downright hilarious, then they’re absolutely infuriating to the girl.”
“Oh dear,” I said with a laugh. “At least she’s smart and psychic, huh?”
“So much so that people often wonder just how much of her abilities are psychically induced. I mean, my God. She can sing, she can act, she can dance, she can play instruments by ear, she can skate, she knows a couple languages, she draws, she writes, she’s a computer wizard.”
I smiled again.
“Anyway, let’s get down to the temper and the proposition.”
“Ok,” I said with a slight chuckle.
“When I called Gwen, we agreed to meet at her office. When we got there, the first thing she assured me was that she was in no way shape or form the girl’s slave master. It’s not like she’s harmed herself or killed anyone, she said, so I can’t make her go to Pinewood.”
“Pinewood?” I questioned.
“It’s sort of like a psych hospital, though it’s not. It’s more like the equivalent of an old age home, only anyone can be there, and although they do have curfews and certain restrictions, it’s not like those other horrible places she was in. She’s never been to Pinewood, though Gwen thinks she should be.”
“Now that you mention it, I think I know the place, but why’s this Gwen think she should be there?”
“Because she seems so unable to feel other’s pain and she’s so incredibly angry that Gwen’s afraid she might hurt someone sooner or later if someone doesn’t reach her somehow and deprogram all the horrible ways she was taught and get her to calm down. As a cop, since you guys have to be trained in this, I’m sure you know about a certain method of fighting that’s quite deadly.”
“She was trained to kill. Not to maim, not to ward off, but to kill. She doesn’t defend, she fights. Rosemary wouldn’t tell us who trained her, but we’re pretty sure it was that jail cop she was with. See for yourself just how violent this girl can be, Gwen told us, and she put a video in her VCR that showed her attacking some girl. The video was shot just outside Gwen’s office. She got Rosemary to agree to at least check in with her every week or so to let her know how she’s doing since Gwen has no legal hold on her and she is able to function physically. Once she came out of the coma, appearance-wise, she had not much more than some cuts and bruises, though she did get quite a concussion and a moderate case of amnesia. She’s unable to remember scattered bits and pieces of her life. She might not even remember your picture or the others, for all we know.”
“Hmm,” I said thoughtfully.
“She surprises the doctors at times, though. She isn’t always able to remember things they think she should, and sometimes she can remember things they don’t think she should. The brain is a mysterious thing, as they say, and we may never fully comprehend just how it works. Anyway, the video showing the attack has no sound, so no one knows what started the argument. No one even knows who the girl is. It’s a miracle she wasn’t seriously injured after what happened, even if the girl had a good five inches and twenty pounds on Rosemary. In the video, the girl shoves Rosemary by the shoulders. With lightning speed, Rosemary then shoots a fist in the girl’s face, the girl goes down, Rosemary straddles her, then starts pummeling the shit out of her. Just punching and punching and punching. We were like, my God! Then she stands up and starts kicking the girl. Just as she’s about to jump on the girl’s neck like she was trained to do, you see Gwen come running out of her office. Ah, but Rosemary’s not stupid. She knows better than to assault someone in front of a state worker, so she freezes, unaware that it was all caught on tape. Next thing that happens is the girl scrambles to her feet and runs out of the building, never to be heard from or seen again. After you see this tape, you gotta wonder if she would have killed the girl if Gwen hadn’t have come running out when she did.”
“So what happened? I mean, was she charged with assault or what?”
“No, fortunately for her this happened in a state that’s not very strict, and besides, the girl was gone and I don’t think the police would’ve been too thrilled to lose their star psychic. A psychic tends to sense more about a particular subject the closer they can get to it, which means that when they’re absolutely stumped on a case, they take her to the crime scenes. Sometimes she doesn’t get anything, though she usually does.”
“So this social worker told you about her psychic abilities?”
“Yeah, we discussed it with her as well as with Rosemary. James and I were wondering if Gwen might be afraid to push too hard to get her into Pinewood for fear of having a curse placed on her. Anyway, she told us she invited Rosemary to her house one day to have lunch with her about eight months ago. It’s late March now, so this would’ve been last July. She and Gwen were out in the backyard at one point and Gwen was showing her various things she’d planted around the yard, including this one little tree she’d recently planted that was dying. Gwen heard the phone ring and ran inside to get it. When she returned, she found Rosemary like this.” Janet raised her arms out to the sides of her and slightly above her head, index and middle fingers extended.
My brows furrowed in confusion.
“Gwen said she muttered to herself, what the hell is she doing now as if to suggest Rosemary was a nut after all. A minute or so later, Rosemary dropped her arms, looked at Gwen and said, your tree should be fine now. Sure enough, says Gwen, it sprang to life just days later.”
“Wow,” I said, impressed.
“Gwen assured us that she really does care about Rosemary and that she has her best interest at heart. This is why she wants to see her admitted to Pinewood. She wants to help save her from herself, you could say.”
“Is she still depressed and cutting herself?” I asked, almost afraid to hear the answer.
“No, like we said,” answered Janet, “she’s turned all her inward aggressions outward. I even asked her that myself after Gwen called Rosemary and Rosemary agreed to let us come see her at the duplex she, Marilyn and Rosa share.”
“She’s living in a duplex?”
“Yes. The place is in Marilyn’s name, though Rosemary and Rosa pay their share of the expenses. The landlord doesn’t mind. There are two bedrooms and a full bath on the second floor. Rosemary’s room is in the back. On the first floor there’s a living room, kitchen and half-bath, then there’s the cellar which is where Rosa’s room is. So anyway, we enter the place which smells wonderful thanks to the incense. Marilyn let us in. She said, the rat lady’s upstairs, and we’re like, the rat lady? Marilyn says yeah, Rosa’s afraid of the rats, so we keep them upstairs.”
I chuckled along with James.
“And these are big rats too, in a huge, huge cage that’s taller than she is. Maybe not as tall as you, but around my height. So we go upstairs and she yells for us to come on in. We open the door and there she is sitting at the computer. She’s got shelves and shelves of dolls with the rats in the middle of it all.”
I chuckled again.
“All the incense making supplies are down in the cellar with Rosa, she said, since her room’s so small which she says she hates. I guess she likes space. Anyway, she stands up to greet us with these short little shorts and a T-shirt saying, All my Barbies are Lesbians.”
I burst out laughing. “That’s a good one,” I said between laughs.
The others laughed as well.
“Yeah,” said Janet, “we got a kick out of it ourselves.”
“How long’s her hair and is it dyed?” I asked.
“Didn’t seem dyed, and how long it is, I don’t know. She had it piled up on her head. I could see it was rather thick and curly.”
“She had beautiful hair and eyes,” I said, remembering.
“Oh, the eyes were stunning. Big, round green eyes with very long lashes.”
I smiled. “Green, huh? I thought they were blue or gray.”
“They appeared to be a dark green, sort of like an olive color. Not a very nice color, though certainly nice otherwise. Her teeth were perfect, too. Nice and white and even, and what a chest, too.”
I frowned. “I don’t remember any of this.”
“Well, she was a performer, you know? So maybe she had a little work done on her, though I don’t see how the boobs would fit into the circus.”
“I think the boobs might’ve come before the circus,” James pointed out, causing us to chuckle.
“Perhaps,” said Janet. “Either way, she’s quite a beauty. Very fit and agile. Nice full lips and everything.”
Again I frowned. “Full lips? I know her lips were never as wide and thin as mine, but I don’t remember them as being full either. Are we sure we’re dealing with the same person?”
“Absolutely,” assured Janet. “How many Rosemary’s that are barely five feet tall have been in the places and situations you’ve described? She also has the same interests you told us about when we first met two years ago.”
“And a deformed ear,” James added.
“So anyway, she tells us to make ourselves comfortable and to throw Chris on the floor if we have to.”
I laughed, though I looked confused.
“Chris is a big doll that sits on her bed.”
“Big doll,” James said with emphasis. “The doll was holding a Barbie in each hand.”
“Wow, that’s big, alright,” I agreed.
“When we asked her about depression she said, lady, the last time I cried was not much more than a year ago when Teddy Bear died and I don’t intend to cry again till the damn post office raises their postage rates again.”
The three of us laughed heartily.
“I guess the changing rates can be hard on those trying to run a business. They gotta keep getting updated package scales, I guess,” said Janet. “When we asked about cutting her arm she said, no I don’t waste my time on that anymore and God knows why I ever did. The problem was never my arm, the problem was the people I had to deal with. They’re the ones that needed a date with a razor, not me, though I never claimed to be perfect.”
Again the three of us laughed.
James spoke up again. “Gwen told us that when asked to explain her outburst on the video and what she thought of the possibility of giving the girl brain damage by kicking her so viscously, she goes, hey, if you don’t want brain damage, don’t go shoving people who can kick your ass.”
“Oh my,” I said with a quick half-sigh, half-chuckle and a shake of my head. “So did you see Rosemary today?”
“Yes, we did. Now here’s the deal. I told Gwen that you were a friend of her sister’s who was under the assumption that Rosemary had returned to Arizona after the accident. You heard it somewhere that she was in fact still in town, and you feel bad for her so you want to do all you can to help her. As far as her amnesia, we thought it best that you don’t tell her who you really are right away because it may trigger false memories. The doctors say it’s best to let a person remember on their own through subtle hints. In other words, whatever’s up there guiding us is going to let your pictures be visible somewhere here in this room if you can get her to come here. Let her check them out and see if she remembers anything on her own. If not, you can tell her about it after a while, though I don’t know if she’ll believe you.”
I chuckled. “Yeah, I could understand if she didn’t. Could I really get her here just because I was supposed to have been friends with her sister? For all we know, she may think I’m just as bad to hang out with someone like her sister. I assure you she was not a nice lady.”
“That’s where the computers come in,” said Janet. “I’ll contact Gwen about coming out here to see you and this place, which I know she’ll want to do. She’s looking for any excuse she can to either get her into Pinewood or in with someone she’ll get along with that’ll influence her to stay out of trouble like officer Johnson did. She gets along with her roommates just fine, but they’re hardly of any influence on her either way. Not the kind she really needs anyway, though they’re good people. I met them both. Very sweet girls. However, if you propose to Gwen to take Rosemary and have her stay here while you help deprogram any negative effects past abuse has had on her, keep her away from people and out of trouble while she helps you with the computer, I think she might encourage it.”
“But what about Rosemary? How do you suppose she’ll react to the idea?” I asked.
“Can’t say for sure, but we’ll find out. Shall I call Gwen and let her know we talked?”
“Definitely,” I said, rubbing my hands together in anticipation.
“Ok, will you be here today?”
“I’ll make a point of sticking around,” I said with a nod.
“One more thing,” Janet said, glancing at James and then back at me. “I just felt it best to prepare you and give you fair warning.”
“Concerning what?” I asked.
“Well, we weren’t kidding when we mentioned how beautiful Rosemary’s become.”
“Ok,” I said, still not seeming to understand the point Janet was trying to make.
“And we weren’t kidding when we said she’s gay, too. And, well, with you being gay yourself…”
That’s when I burst out laughing. “Oh, come on! This is Rosemary we’re talking about.”
“Yeah,” said Janet, “but the Rosemary you knew was just a kid. A cute, chubby kid. This Rosemary may still be cute, but I assure you she’s quite a mature version of what you remember.”
“And not the least bit chubby,” James added. “She’s just right. Voluptuous, curvy, and all grown up. I can almost guarantee you’ll be attracted to her.”
I laughed again.
“And,” James went on, “the wild woman will probably be just as attracted to you in return.”
“We’re serious,” said Janet. “She’s as much your type as you are hers.”
“I still say you guys are nuts,” I said. “I mean, even if she’s attractive, I’m not going to desire her sexually.”
Janet and James looked at one another.
“She doesn’t know what she’s in for,” said Janet.
“She’s still in for a nightmare, either way,” James said as if I were no longer present. “She’ll be attracted to her, but she’s not going to want her as far as a relationship goes.”
“Oh, I think just the opposite,” said Janet, turning to face me once again. “She’s just the breath of fresh air you’ve been looking for.”
“Please!” I laughed.
“After all, you yourself said you need someone who makes you laugh, and look, she’s already making you laugh and you haven’t even met her yet,” Janet pointed out.
“I’m laughing at you,” I told her, as she and James proceeded to head out the door.
“We’ll see,” Janet called back over her shoulder. “Meanwhile, we’ll talk to Gwen and keep in touch.”
Janet and James left me appearing very happy. I paced across the doors a few moments, gazing out them with eagerness as if I expected Rosemary herself to waltz on through them right then and there.
When I turned around, I froze with shock and my eyes bulged as I stared at the back wall. Obviously, we had just come into view. I slowly came forward, soon finding my picture and studying it closely.
“Wow,” I whispered under my breath, holding a hand out and studying it as I compared the real living flesh to that of my picture.
For a while, I stared at my monitor with frustration, then fumbled helplessly with the printer I couldn’t seem to operate. I jotted down some notes along the way.
About an hour later, a small, but somewhat expensive car zoomed into view, and out stepped a stout older lady with hair that was obviously dyed. It was dark blond and held in place with lots of hairspray.
I rose from my chair and headed towards the door to let the woman in. “Hello, can I help you?” I asked.
“I hope so. Better yet, I hope you can help Rosemary,” said the woman with an exasperated sigh.
“You must be Gwen,” I said with a smile.
“That’s me, in the flesh.” She gazed at the big room from left to right.
I could see she didn’t seem to notice the pictures.
“Place equipped with a full bathroom?”
“Yes, it is.”
Gwen waddled her bulk further into the room. “Got places to sleep, a refrigerator, lots of space,” she noted aloud as her honey-brown eyes darted around the room. “Even room for all those dolls and those damn rats of hers,” she said with a roll of her eyes.
“How do you feel about rats, Miss Hawkins?”
“Uh, well, I’m not too fond of them, but if that’s what she has for pets, I think I can handle them.”
“She’s a definite vermin lover.” It was the first time Gwen smiled. “She’s had mice, too. Was even breeding them for some local pet stores.”
“Oh yeah?” I said, continuing to smile.
“Yup. And you know these rats are used to running around loose for hours at a time, do you?”
“No, I didn’t know that. Why would she let them run around loose?”
“Rats don’t like constant confinement, according to her. So how do you feel about someone who’s noisy and as nocturnal as her rats?”
She continued before I could answer.
“Do you know how loud a professionally trained singer can be when they scream at you? This is someone who can be a downright monster at times and make you think you’re dealing with a rebellious teenager rather than a grown adult.”
I appeared to be choosing my words carefully. “Well, I’d really like to give it a try and hope things work out. All I ask is that if I can’t help her that she be well taken care of. I’d hate to see her in abusive environments all over again. Things were so bad for her sister and her as a child. She spent more time with me than her parents, though I don’t know if she’ll remember me from what Janet said pertaining to the aftermath of the accident.”
“Just how far back do you go? When did you become friends with her sister?”
“About fifteen years ago,” I said, thinking quickly. “Rosemary was about ten and Golda was many years older.”
“Yeah, there was about an eight-and-a-half-year difference. I understand you’ve had some courses in psychology,” said Gwen.
“Yes, I have. Part of the training at the academy required it.”
“Now if you don’t mind my asking…”
“No, go ahead. Ask anything you want.”
“Is Rosemary on any medication?”
Gwen shook her head. “Won’t take it. And of course, since she’s not committed anywhere and there are no grounds for a court order, she can’t be forced to do so. Personally, I don’t think she needs that. I don’t believe in doping up a person’s problems. I think she needs stability, security and someone who really cares about her.”
I smiled knowingly.
“She’s hyperactive, switches subjects rapidly and has trouble concentrating, but that’s just ADD for you. It’s the mean streak I worry about. She’s one of those borderlines. Meaning, she’s either going to sink or swim. Right now she’s floating. But if you can help her swim, more power to you. However, it’s very important how you go about it. It’s easy for her to mistake someone who’s trying to help her for someone who’s trying to control her. If she feels trapped or threatened in any way, she’ll never bond with you. I mean, look at you.”
I quickly glanced down at myself with confusion.
“You look as tough as you no doubt are.”
“Oh,” I laughed, looking back up at Gwen.
“When you meet, have those muscles covered with long sleeves, maybe even wear a dress instead of pants to soften yourself up even more. They say that muscle and bone length is what determines most of our strength. Well, you both have the muscles, but you have the bone length. She’s going to need to be with someone who can restrain her because another thing she’ll have in her favor is a vicious temper. This is because while you’re administering whatever therapeutic talk and help you feel necessary to get her to calm down, I’m sure she’s bound to lose her temper along the way about something, and this is not an easy one to simmer down. She’s not friendly, Miss Hawkins, and don’t be fooled by her petite, angelic looks either. She really is a little meanie. On the other hand, when in the company of those she knows, trusts and feels comfortable with, she’s sugar and spice and everything nice. In other words, she has the potential to function just fine in society so long as she’s not around too many people, and I’d like to make that part of the deal. She does better on a one to one basis. The fewer people the better. I think this is why she’s only got a few friends, aside from the fact that most people would probably be terrified of her.”
“Ok,” I said, “but I’m not sure I follow you. Do you want me to isolate her completely from the public?”
“Oh no, not at all. Let her know she’s free to go wherever she wants, whenever she wants. You don’t want to make her a prisoner, you want to teach her that there are consequences for her actions and to consider them before she acts. I once asked her if she felt it was ok for one to blame their parents if they abused them as children and they grew up to have hardships on account of it. She said yes it’s ok to blame whatever helps to shape and mold us into who we become as adults, but it’s not ok if we don’t recognize our problems and take measures to help ourselves get better. If we fail to do that, then only we can be blamed, she told me.”
I nodded in agreement.
“Anyway, it’s ok to go out to the store or to a concert, but it’s not ok to go out and egg cars or get into fights, and she knows this. There’s nothing wrong with her logic. She knows right from wrong and is fully capable of considering the possible consequences of her actions before she acts. She does tend to be more of a homebody, though, anyway. It’s not like she loves to mingle with all kinds of people in all kinds of places. I think this is why she never returned to the circus. Like I said, though, the most important thing is to be sure you don’t make her feel cornered and trapped or else we could lose her.”
“If she ever felt the need to run, she’d take off and head straight for that Indian reservation she was on out west. You know what that means, don’t you?”
I shook my head.
“The reservations are like a whole separate country within the U.S. They have their own laws, government, schools, hospitals, everything. So if she runs back there, it wouldn’t be like we could get a warrant to extradite her back here simply because we think she’s got a nasty temper that needs curbing. She’d have to commit a crime before we could do that and even then it would still be hard to get her back. They took her in and came to consider her as one of their own. She’ll always have a place on the reserve if she wants it. They’d fight for her. You see, she’s sacred to them because of her powers, something the Native Americans take very seriously.”
“So these powers, they’re no joke,” I said more as a statement than a question.
“No ma’am, they’re not, and that’s another thing you have to consider, Miss Hawkins. This girl’s said to be a witch, not just a psychic. Do you know what that means?”
“I think I do, but I can assure you that if I can’t help her or there are any serious problems that I can’t handle, you’ll be the first to know about it.”
“She’s also as inquisitive as those rats of hers. She’ll get into anything she can, so lock up anything that’s police business or confidential in any way,” Gwen said, motioning to the metal file cabinet I had brought in and placed about ten feet from the desk.
“Ok,” I said with a slight chuckle, “I will.”
“Despite the things she does to make us want to scream, she really is an extremely intelligent young lady. Very alert, very receptive.”
“Would you say she’s shy?” I asked.
“No, she’s not shy. But she is mistrusting of people, quite understandably. I mean, she went through hell growing up. They drugged her up and treated her just horribly. Her being in a loving environment would be the best thing for her if it could ever happen.”
I smiled and nodded my head in agreement.
“There may be some food-hoarding going on, and of course the burying.”
“She has a habit of hiding food a little at a time, mostly canned goods. I guess she feels that if she’s going to be abandoned in the end, at least she won’t go hungry if she builds up a little collection. It’d be best if you just let her do whatever makes her comfortable in that department and just ignore it.”
“Ok, and what is it that she buries?”
“Things like computer disks.”
“Whatever’s most important to her, like her journals, for instance. I don’t know why. She and Lucille send copies to each other of everything they’ve ever written once a week so they can have a backup on one another’s computer. I guess it’s just habit that makes her do it. Anyway, in case you see her digging something up every few weeks or so, then covering it back up once she’s added to it, you’ll know what it is.”
“I want you to come to my office, if I can get her to agree to this, to sign papers. I’d like to have any oral agreements we may make put in writing. Again, you can break any agreements anytime you feel you need to, but I want all the terms and conditions documented for the good of everyone involved.”
“This means that you’re responsible for her needs, Miss Hawkins. She doesn’t have a car, so if she needs to be at a particular place at a particular time say for a doctor’s appointment, it’ll be up to you to get her there. If she falls short of money and needs something, it’s going to be up to you to see to it that she gets whatever it is she needs.”
Again I nodded.
Gwen’s expression turned serious. “So are you in?”
“I sure am,” I said with confidence.
“Then let me just take a closer look around,” said Gwen as she headed towards my left.
“Ok, feel free to look anywhere you’d like.”
Gwen checked out the bathroom, then the contents of the refrigerator. “There’s plenty of food, I see.”
“Yes, I just did some shopping.”
After Gwen finished surveying the room, she told me she’d speak with Rosemary.
“Do you think she’s going to want to stay here?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Gwen answered. “There’s really no way to know for sure how she’ll take to the idea, but I do know she constantly complains about not having enough space where she is now. She gets along fine with her roommates, fortunately, since she could easily break them in half, but all she has is one little room over there. We’ll just have to wait and see what she says when I speak to her. I think we should start by suggesting a few-day trial period. If she doesn’t agree to it, we’ll at least see if we can convince her to come here a few times a week to help you with the computer at which time you can talk with her. I would prefer it if she could live with you, but again, we have no grounds to make her do that. If she agrees to move in, would you be willing to give me a spare key to give to her in case she comes when you’re not around? I know you detectives are in and out at random.”
“Sure, I can give you one right now,” I said, trotting over to the desk to pull a key from its top drawer.
Gwen took the key and said, “One more thing, Miss Hawkins.”
“I know you sometimes have a temper of your own.”
My eyes shifted away guiltily for a moment, then back to her.
“And if she does stay here I’m going to drop by periodically. If I find any evidence of abuse, I’ll take her out of here. Understand?”
“Yes ma’am, I do. Fully.”
Gwen then plucked a card from her pocket. “I’ll talk to her and call you with an answer either way as soon as I get one. Meanwhile, if she does stay with you, call the number on this card when you get fed up.”
I nodded as I took the card, though it was easy to see that I was determined to keep Rosemary if I got her and for as long as I could.
For a few minutes after Gwen’s departure, I paced around by the doors with a grin on my face, then I turned and dashed over to the phone where I quickly punched in a number.
“Melanie?” I said a moment later. “We found her!… Yes, we sure did… I’m so excited!”
I proceeded to fill her in on what I had learned from Janet and James and my chat with Gwen.
An hour after I hung up with Melanie, the call came.
“Hello?… Yes, Gwen… No, I haven’t changed my mind… Why? Did she say she’d give it a try?” A huge grin broke out on my face. “Great… Doesn’t remember me, huh?… Maybe she will when she sees me… No, I haven’t seen her since like right after the accident… She’ll be here when?… Oh, ok, just remind her not to go out without her key if I’m not around, even if it’s just to sit outside because the outer doors automatically lock from the outside.”
After I hung up with Gwen, I redialed Melanie’s number. “Yeah, Mel, it’s just me again… Well, the good news is that she’s agreed to give it a try, starting with a three-day trial period, but the bad is that it won’t be for a few days… Tell me about it! These next few days are going to be the longest ones of my life. The waiting will be a killer for damn sure!… Gwen said it’s because she’s needed to record some background vocals for someone making a home CD that she promised she’d help out with… Yeah, I’m looking forward to hearing how she sounds, too. Everyone makes her out to be pretty good nowadays… I guess I’ll just begin the agonizing wait, but hey, at least we found her, she’s out there, she’s alive, she’s well, even if she is significantly angry from what they’re saying.”