When I awoke the next morning, I was surprised yet pleased to find Rosemary’s back nestled against the front of me. My arm was draped over her. I smiled happily. I could see I was very content and comfortable, almost like I didn’t want to ever have to move, and that I enjoyed the feel of her body next to mine. Eventually, I pulled myself out of bed and fiddled with the computer.
A few hours later, Rosemary stirred.
“G’morning, Angel Eyes. I tried the coffee you ground yesterday, and you’re right, fresh ground is way better. Much fresher.”
“It is,” Rosemary agreed, getting out of bed. She stretched and yawned while my eyes scanned her extremely scantily dressed body from head to toe. Rosemary observed me in my black turtleneck and jeans and said, “Black’s your color,” she said. “You look hot.”
“Not as hot as you do in next to nothing,” I told her with a smile, watching her from behind with lust filled eyes as she made her way to the bathroom.
When she came out, she dressed in a colorful floral sundress with her hair pulled high in a ponytail that still reached below her waist.
“That’s a cute little dress,” I told her just as Gwen showed up.
“Hi there,” Gwen said cheerfully once I let her in. “How are things going?”
“Great,” I told her.
Gwen spotted Rosemary at the computer. “Hello, tiger. How ya doing, sweetie?”
“Ok,” she said.
“Making Miss Hawkins a computer whiz?”
Rosemary and I chuckled and I said, “Haven’t had much time with my work schedule, but we got a good head start yesterday.”
“Oh, I see,” said Gwen, glancing back at me. Then, turning back to Rosemary, she asked, “Want
to come have lunch with me?”
“Only if you can bring me to the post office along the way to mail off some packages,” Rosemary said, getting a chuckle out of Gwen and I.
“It’s a deal.”
Gwen turned towards me as Rosemary gathered up her stuff. “I’ll have her back in about an hour.”
“She sure will,” Rosemary told me. “That’s all she can stand to be around me for is an hour.”
Again Gwen and I chuckled.
“Hey, can I get a change of address card and forward my mail over here so I don’t have to keep going to the house?” Rosemary asked me.
“For now you can enjoy the peace and quiet,” Gwen told me with a wink.
“Play with the rats,” Rosemary said.
The three of us laughed.
“That’s ok, I’ll pass,” I said.
During the time Rosemary was gone, I seemed bored and anxious for her return, yet happy. When she did return, I was sitting outside in a folding chair with a book. I spoke briefly with Gwen as Rosemary entered the outer door which I had propped open. Then she pulled the inner door open and trotted down to the bathroom. She came out of the bathroom just as Gwen drove off, leaving me with some papers.
“Ready to go appliance hunting?” I asked Rosemary as I tossed the papers onto the desk.
She nodded, just as a car pulled to a screeching stop in front. I looked out curiously at the car as a young Hispanic woman of medium height exited the car, slamming its door. Clearly, the girl was pissed.
“Who’s this?” I asked. “You know?”
“Yeah, I know alright,” Rosemary said, moving to open the door.
The girl stormed in a few feet past us, looked around the room, then spun on Rosemary. “You know, you really broke my sister’s heart.”
I looked from her to Rosemary, confusion written all over my face.
“You told her that your dead woman would want you to move on and that she was your type. Now you don’t even want to see her. What the fuck are you doing playing with my little sister’s head like that?” she screamed.
“Hey, I never made any promises or commitments to the girl, ok? We just met barely a week ago and I did not say she was my type. Now if she’s suffering a broken heart over someone she just met, then that’s her problem and not mine. I’ve been honest with her. Now get out!”
“But why would you suddenly drop her like a hot potato?” she asked with frustration as well as anger. Then her gaze shifted to me which I held steady with my own. “Oh, so this is the reason, huh? You had yourself a chick on the side all along.”
“Wrong, asshole, now get out before I throw you out.”
The girl stepped boldly up to Rosemary. “Let’s see you try it. Go ahead and raise a hand to me, bitch, because I could flatten you flatter than this morning’s pancakes.”
Rosemary shoved the girl hard, sending her down on her butt with a thud.
“Wrong again, asshole,” Rosemary said in a calm, yet matter of fact tone of voice.
I could see that the girl as well as myself were quite shocked. However, this only fueled the girl’s fire. She rose to her feet and lunged for Rosemary, but Rosemary was ready. She began to pummel the girl with an endless stream of punches and the girl ended up hunched over, facing the other way to try to ward off the blows.
“Stop it!” I screamed, grabbing Rosemary and pulling her off. “Get out of here!” I then screamed at the girl, who staggered towards the door firing every profanity in the book at us.
Rosemary was struggling wildly in my arms, trying to kick at the girl, yet I held her tight from behind. “Stop it,” I demanded as the girl ran out and took off. “Just settle down right now!”
Rosemary began to relax in my arms.
“That’s it. Just take some deep breaths, relax, and tell me what that was all about.”
Rosemary shrugged out of my arms. “It was pretty much what she said. We met through Rosa, but I decided she wasn’t right for me. She was just too flaky for me. She called me on my cell phone while I was out with Gwen and I told her I didn’t want to see her. I didn’t lead her on or play with her head in any way shape or form.”
“I believe you, but you’ve got to learn to curb your temper,” I said.
“Hey, she got up in my face…”
“Yes, I know she did, but she didn’t threaten you. Besides, you had me here.”
“But it wouldn’t have been fair of me to have you fight my battles for me, and besides, cowering down to people like that only sends the wrong message and draws even more trouble from them. If people know they can get away with something, they will. Sometimes you just gotta fight, and that’s what I do when it’s necessary. I shove people down on their asses and I kick and punch them,” Rosemary said matter of factly.
I studied Rosemary a moment then said, “Well, hopefully, you won’t have to do that again. You still want to go out?”
With that, we headed out and returned an hour later.
“When they’re delivered tomorrow,” I said as we entered the building, “we’ll have them set up over there.” I pointed towards the kitchen area. “The washer will have to drain into the sink, but oh well. It’s not like we’ll be here forever.”
“Where are you going?”
“What do you mean where am I going?”
“After you leave here, and when will that be, anyway?” Rosemary asked, following me over to the file cabinet which I began rummaging through.
“Well,” I began, “I’ll probably be here until March when the lease expires, and hopefully I’ll move into a house of some kind.”
Rosemary looked solemn for a moment, then said, “You know, I never thought I’d say this to someone I just met, but I think I’ll miss you when you’re gone.”
“Then maybe you’ll come, too.”
A flicker of light momentarily brightened Rosemary’s green eyes before I headed for the bathroom, telling her in a playful manner to stay out of the file cabinet on my way. When I returned, Rosemary was standing with her eyes closed, arms raised out to the sides, much in the fashion Gwen had described her to be when influencing her dying plant.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
Rosemary’s eyes momentarily snapped open. “Shhh. You don’t want so many spiders in here any more than I do, do you?”
I shook my head slightly and watched with skepticism and wonder as Rosemary continued performing her ritual. When she was done, she strode over to where I stood by the file cabinet.
“So, do I get to hear you sing some time?” I asked.
Rosemary nodded. “Yeah, I suppose.”
“Still playing the guitar?”
She frowned and shook her head. “I don’t play the guitar.”
I glanced at Rosemary. “Sure you do. Don’t you remember?”
Rosemary shook her head.
“That’s too bad.”
“They said I played the keyboards as well.”
“No, but I can play by ear, so if I really wanted to figure it out, I could.”
“Remember sign language?”
Rosemary nodded, then, as if to prove it, she signed something to me.
“What did you say?”
“That you’re a jerk.”
“Shame on you,” I said with a laugh.
“Just kidding. What are you looking for?”
“Just some files I need to check some information on for the next time I see this person I need to interview,” I answered, pulling a folder out and opening it to study its contents. After a moment I put the folder back in its place as Rosemary went to fire up the computer. She began singing a beautiful ballad in Spanish as she waited for it to boot up. I turned to face her with an impressed smile. I sat in the chair next to Rosemary’s. When she was done I clapped. “Hey, you really did get good. Had some training, huh?”
“I can tell.”
“Teddy Bear also knew Spanish and it’s a song she used to have me sing for her at times.”
I sat back in my chair, arms relaxed on the armrests, studying Rosemary intently. “Mind if I ask you something? I’m just curious is all.”
“It’s ok. What do you want to know?”
“How did you manage to hook up with her if she was an officer in the jail you were incarcerated in? And just what was it like for you there?”
“It was both everything and nothing I expected it to be. If someone had told me I’d end up with one of the guards, I’d never have believed it. That only happened on TV as far as I was concerned, you know?”
I gave a slight nod.
“And what’s even more bizarre is that I didn’t see it right away. Other inmates noticed it first.”
“That she liked me. I knew I liked her from the get-go and I knew she liked me. Meaning, I knew she favored me, but I didn’t know the extent of it until the end of my sentence. I’d have laughed at the slanderish article they did on me in the paper if it weren’t for her. In fact, she was the one who told me about it so I’m sure you can imagine just how embarrassed I was.”
“I’m sure I can, but didn’t it still bother you nonetheless?”
“For one, I’m a performer. I’m used to being people’s source of entertainment in one form or another. Secondly, unlike most people, I believe in the old saying about sticks and stones that may break our bones, but names can never hurt us. In other words, it was just words, Katie, and I knew that those who knew me knew the truth, and why should I give a damn about what those I didn’t know were thinking? Most of the people out there, however, are just the opposite. Very sensitive. It’ll mean the world to someone if they suddenly knew a total stranger disliked them. They’d either want to go on a rampage over it or fall into a deep depression. How others perceive you is very important to most of them, but me? I say if you don’t like me, don’t have anything to do with me. Now if someone were to go beyond words and raise a hand to me, that’d be different. I promised myself that if anyone went to attack me, I’d pick them apart limb by limb and I intend to keep that promise no matter what kind of hold they may have on me or what the consequences may be. After years of being picked on, I owe that much to myself, you know?”
I nodded. “I understand. Did anyone assault you there?”
“No, but I almost pounced on this black chick named Deanna till I realized she was simply staging a fight to help get me out of the cell we were in. I hated the cell because it held four people instead of two. We were cellies later on in a smaller cell which she herself hated, but when we tried staging a fight again to get her moved, it didn’t work. The officers were onto us by then.”
“So anyway, Deanna was moved into my cell while I was at visitation. This is the small one. When I returned, I found her in tears. I mean, she was literally shaking something fierce, tears streaming down her face like a waterfall. This was because she was terrified that I was going to be mad at her because they moved her in there when she knew I preferred to have the cell to myself. In other words, if Deanna was the tough shit she tried to come across as to most people, she wouldn’t have been crying like a baby, but she was, alright. We used to joke and tease each other about who could beat who, and as I told her, there comes a point when one is too big and too out of shape which was exactly what Deanna was. She was huge.”
“Backing up a bit,” I said, “if it was supposed to be just a letter, I don’t understand why it made the news as many times as I heard it did,” I said with confusion on my face.
“Then you don’t understand Arizona and its laws.”
“Apparently not, but I hear they’re real strict.”
“Oh yeah,” Rosemary said with a nod. “Arizona will extradite you for a traffic ticket and jail you for just breathing wrong, but this wasn’t just about strict punishments in general. My sentence was such, because innocent or not, it was a case of black against white. While it may not be fair, certain regions tend to favor certain groups. Just like Jews are more accepted in certain places and gays are more accepted in certain places, Arizona is the place to be if you’re not white. It may not be written in any books anywhere saying that white defendants with black plaintiffs shall get harsher sentences than black defendants with white or black plaintiffs, but that’s just the way it is. It’s very common practice out there.”
“That sucks,” I said matter of factly.
Rosemary nodded, then continued. “Anyway, to answer your questions, jail certainly wasn’t home sweet home, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I mean, the food sucked, the showers were ice cold half the time, the mattresses were hard as a rock, and half the inmates were loud, rude obnoxious and even insane, but I actually had more freedom there, as funny as it may sound, than other places I was in as a teenager. This was because they didn’t run you ragged for sixteen hours a day. All I really did for the most part was listen to the radio and write.”
“Letters to friends, journals, whatever came to mind.”
“How’d you get money for commissary?”
“So you didn’t know much about the system before you entered it, huh?”
“Didn’t know squat. Didn’t know what commissary was or even what slop was. It wasn’t till I got in there that I learned it was a military thing and the difference between red slop, green slop, brown slop and whatever other colors they had.”
I smiled. “Have you known Rosa and Marilyn a long time?”
“A few years. I met Rosa first, and when I introduced her to Marilyn, it was pretty funny because Marilyn kept talking louder and louder every time she didn’t get something she said, and finally I was like, Marilyn, she isn’t deaf. She doesn’t know English!”
I laughed. “So you were in general population?”
“No, Ad-Seg. You know, protective custody? Ever heard of the famous Tent City that the crazy sheriff set up out there?”
“I started off there, but I couldn’t handle it. I totally flipped out. Besides, I wasn’t about to work for the system that railroaded me and do it for free while I was at it, so a DO there told me what to say on the form I filled out to get into Ad-Seg. Like I said, I was still naïve to the system and the crazy laws there. This means that I had no idea at the time that I was a bit of a celebrity. Not until more and more guards came up to me expressing their sympathies and the media began pestering me for interviews.”
“Damn! All for a letter?”
“Well, like I said. I was white, they weren’t. Anyway, there was this one DO who worked the tents that everyone hated. She was said to be the ultimate mean strictie, though I didn’t know it when I first dealt with her. She was assigning newcomers to their jobs and tents when I found I was to be on an upper bunk. Well, I couldn’t climb these kinds of bunks to save my life and I told her so. At first she looked at me like she was going to kill me. Then she softened as she studied me a minute and asked my name. When I told her who I was, she winked and said, you’ll be ok. Meanwhile, every single inmate that was around to see this was sitting there in utter shock.”
“Anyway, it was my third night in the tents that I felt seriously suicidal for the first time in over a decade. I was heading for the shower room where all the razors were when a DO happened to notice how hysterical I was. Again, I didn’t realize just how well known I truly was. She took me to medical where I poured out all my problems to this nurse within earshot of her, and the nurse was telling me that although she empathized with me, I would have to go to the hole and be on restriction for refusing to work. In fact, a DO from A tower was already there to get me, she said. Next thing I knew, the DO that brought me there was happily gabbing with the DO from the hole. I guess they were friends or something. I stepped out into the hall with them and the DO that brought me there took the other DO aside and had a word with her for a moment. I knew they were talking about me because of the way the other DO would glance at me from time to time. When they were done talking, the hole DO turned and headed back to the hole, leaving me confused. This was when I was told about Ad-Seg.”
“Did you know anyone there?”
Rosemary nodded. “I was returning from visitation one day when I heard, “Mystery! Oh my God, Mystery, what are you doing here?”
“It was my stage name when I was dancing.”
“Oh. That’s a unique one. And you met Lucille Harper there?”
Rosemary nodded. “We were cellies for nine days. We got along so well and had a lot of laughs together despite our misery till this bitch decided to shuffle us around. At first, Lucille was pissed and then I got pissed at both the DO and Lucille because Lucille had agreed to be the one to move if one of us got pulled. She could handle the big cells better than I could which was where she was being moved to. So anyway, I was like, well to hell with you then if you’re going to say you’ll do something, then act like a spoiled brat about it when it comes time to put your actions where your mouth is, and she was going on and on about how pissed she was at me because she was there first. Just then, I got called out for a visit which may’ve been a good thing. I mean, I doubt we’d have gotten into it, but you never know. Lucille’s nowhere near as hot-tempered as I am and would never raise a hand to anyone that didn’t raise one to her first, but I don’t always trust myself, you know?”
“At least not in that place, that situation and that kind of stress. Nonetheless, she was moved and then I was moved to another small cell with this old German lady not long afterward. I slipped Lucille a kite, which I’m sure you know is a jail term for a note.”
I nodded again.
“I said something like hey, you only did what we agreed you’d do, but I understand your frustration and that you were there first. I’d be pissed too, and I was, but now I think it’s time to move on. But Lucille wouldn’t talk to me for a while after she was moved, and I was like, fine. I don’t play kiss-and-make-up anyway. Once I’m done with someone, be it because I dumped them or they dumped me, that’s the way it stays. So why I started talking to her when she finally did start talking to me, is beyond me, though I’m certainly glad I did. Our friendship would never have come to be what it is today if I hadn’t.”
“So you helped her write a book?” I asked.
“I typed it up for her, but she wrote it. She’d send me drafts from jail until she was granted a pardon and released.”
“What exactly was she charged with?”
“Neglect. Believe me, the girl feels guilty as hell for failing to protect her daughter, Gretchen, from the madman she married, that’s for sure. Either way, this isn’t the 70s or the 80s when child neglect or abuse cases were often ignored. She did years for it while she testified against the monster who killed Gretchen and who nearly killed her as well.”
“I hear there was a movie, too.”
“Who played your part in it, like from when you were cellies?”
“Me, of course. I told them, hey, there are lots of things I suck at, lots of things I’m ok at, and lots I’m great at, but there’s only one thing I’m perfect at and that’s acting, so get out of my way and let me be me.”
“I’ve got a copy of it you can see some time.”
“I’d love to.”
“It must’ve been scary when they arrested you.”
“Actually, I was more confused and pissed. Old Feather Face let them know it, too.”
“Yeah, the talking parrot I had at the time that I taught some no-no’s to. All the while the corrupt pig and his cronies were arresting me, he was going, go to hell, assholes, go to hell,” Rosemary said mimicking the parrot.
I erupted in the most intense laughter yet. It took me a few minutes to get ahold of myself. “That’s hilarious. Best one I’ve heard yet, despite the grim circumstances surrounding it.”
“Yeah, I’m sure it made for a rather notorious arrest.”
“So what was it that finally made you cut off your family?” I asked, still laughing somewhat.
“Are you asking to pass judgment or for some other reason?”
“Oh, no, I’d never pass judgment on you. Especially since I know how they were. I’m just curious is all, but you never have to tell me anything you don’t want to.”
Rosemary studied the sincerity on my face, then said, “I pulled back one day and looked at them as people and not family. Once I separated the blood relation and looked at the people they were, I didn’t like what I saw. When I realized I had come to have enough self-respect to reject abusive friends and lovers, I knew it was time to do the same with them. Never did look back, either. I just went numb.”
“Meaning, I don’t feel anything for them anymore. I don’t hate them, I don’t like them, I don’t love them. Don’t care if they’re happy, sad, rich, poor, healthy, sick. They’re too closed a chapter in my life for it to matter either way.”
“Can’t say I blame you what with the way they treated you.”
“It wasn’t just one big thing that finally drove me away. It was an accumulation of things big and small. Aside from all their abuse, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I really realized that my own parents didn’t even know me. Not when they sent me orange, lemon and lime candies like they did one day from Florida where they moved to. They say it’s the thought that counts, but parents should know if their kids hate citrus flavors like I do, you know?”
I nodded, eyeing Rosemary as I listened intently to her words.
“Once I even called there asking them to tell me my favorite color. Instead of guessing or admitting they didn’t know what it was, they became guarded and asked why I wanted to know. I told them, you can’t even tell me my favorite color is pink because you don’t have a clue, do you? Again they asked why I brought it up and I told them it was to make a point.”
I shook my head dubiously.
“When I jumped out this window at a private school which was hell and broke my arm, they insisted I did it solely for attention.”
I snorted. “Pretty risky way to get attention.”
“I don’t know to this day what really caused me to do it. I just freaked out. Went completely insane. I felt so trapped and so alone and I wanted out that very minute. I wasn’t even thinking of the consequences, to tell you the truth. I just didn’t care.”
I tried to hide the tears that were now forming in my eyes. I knew that Rosemary didn’t know why I was starting to cry.
“Hey,” Rosemary said softly. “I didn’t mean to depress you.”
“Oh, no, no,” I said, sitting upright. “It’s ok.”
“You’re as full of compassion as I am heartless.”
I studied Rosemary a moment, then asked, “Are you really heartless? You don’t seem so heartless to me.”
“With most people, I am.”
“I’m glad I’m not most people then,” I said with a smile, trying to lighten the mood.
“A lot of people mistake my honesty for rudeness. In fact, I’m notorious for being brutally honest, trust me. Once when Emmet and I were trying to meet people through a gay dating service, this woman called me claiming to be very feminine. That used to be my thing. Now I like them sort of in the middle. Anyway, after a while she was comparing herself to her younger sister, saying how you’d find all kinds of makeup and jewelry on her dresser, but just deodorant on hers. This was when I came out and said, hey wait a minute now. I smell butch here.”
I burst out laughing. “You’re right. That is brutally honest.”
Another one called me, and when it came description time, she said she had dark hair and I was like, that’s cool. Dark eyes. That’s cool. I’m slender. Ok. I have a medium to dark complexion. That’s good. And I’m five-three. You lose, I told her, and hung up the phone.”
Again I roared with laughter. “Yeah, I guess short usually goes for tall and tall usually goes for short.”
Rosemary nodded. “Anything under five-five or five-four is starting to get a little short for me. One short one is enough, but see? This is how I am with most people. I say what I have to say.”
I laughed some more.
“So, you still want to know about Teddy Bear?”
“I started flirting with her, plain and simple.”
“This was once I began to suspect she liked me.”
“What made you suspect it?”
“Just the way she’d look at me, the things she’d say, the attention she gave me, the special treatment. She even went so far as to shuffle the whole pod around one night just so I could be alone in my favorite cell.”
“Wow, I guess she really did like you.”
“There were a few that did. Anyway, I don’t know just what I saw in her since I’d never really been attracted to a redhead before, and I know she wasn’t considered to be attractive by most people’s standards like you would be.”
I flashed a quick smile.
“Guess we often have an image in our minds of those we can never imagine falling for, but we do anyway.”
“I can relate to that,” I said softly.
“Redhead or not, I loved all five feet, ten inches and two-hundred pounds of her.”
“Wow, she was a big girl,” I said.
Rosemary nodded. “Not much taller than you, but way wider. You’re too skinny.”
“Yeah, a lot of people tell me that,” I said with a smile.
“Teddy Bear was your classic butch. She had the looks in every sense of the word. She didn’t sound the part, but she had the walk and the overall mannerisms. She made you seem as feminine as I am and she even had tattoos.”
“I’m not completely tattoo-free myself,” I said, rolling up my left pant leg.
“That’s not much,” Rosemary said. “It’s just a heart.”
“I was going to get my ex-girl’s name added. Fortunately, I didn’t.”
Rosemary chuckled, then continued. “Anyway, to wrap the story up, arrangements were made for her to pick me up upon my release, but of course, it had to be done in secret since guards weren’t allowed to pick up inmates. I walked a block or two and found her waiting in a parking lot in the car she said she’d be in. I wasn’t a very good psychic back then when she died. I was slow, you could say. She went out to get us some fast food one evening. When she saw how long the line of cars was at the drive-through, she went inside. By the time I got the bad vibe, it was too late. The gunman had already shot her when she went to try to draw her own gun.”
Rosemary’s eyes watered and she fell silent. I watched her with great empathy.
“For the first time in my life, I found myself wishing we’d never met.”
“Have you dated since you lost her?” I asked.
Rosemary shook her head and held up her hand. “See. Still got my wedding ring on. Some chick that was interested in me a few months back and that knew of my loss said she wouldn’t date me as long as I wore it, and I told her to go to hell because it’s not coming off until I meet someone I want to spend my life with and not just play around with. I doubt that’ll happen, but either way, Teddy Bear and I just weren’t meant to be and neither was the kid.”
“Well, maybe not then. The kid, I mean. You think maybe something up there knew she wasn’t going to be around for long and that maybe that’s why you weren’t meant to conceive at the time?”
“I don’t know, but in light of the circumstances, I’m glad I didn’t.”
“Well, I’m the first to admit I’m no psychic,” I said, “but I’d be willing to bet you’ll have kids someday, despite the odds. So why did you decide not to see that girl anyway? The one whose big sister came storming over here?”
“I told you, my standards are ridiculously high. I’m hoping for someone smarter, more sensitive, better looking. Anyway, why am I the one doing all the talking? When do I get to learn about you?”
“Me?” I said with a smile, leaning forward in my chair and resting my elbows on my knees. “Why I’m just a boring old southern belle.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
“Trust me, you’re far more interesting than I could ever be.”
“You just grew up in the south, came up here, went to the police academy, had a couple of relationships that didn’t work out, and now you’re here with me?”
“That’s it,” I said matter of factly.
Rosemary looked thoughtful a moment, then said. “I wish my life were that simple.”
I laughed heartily, and Rosemary soon followed in my laughter.
“So how’d you kick the cigarettes?” I asked next.
“It was do or die, so I used that Nicorette gum a couple years ago. Went out of my mind the first four months, but I survived. The doctor told me I’d still need inhalers all my life and I said, the hell I will! So I used my powers, put a spell on myself, so to speak, and got off the things.”
“Good for you,” I said with a smile. “I heard you had a lot of trouble breathing.”
“You heard a lot, apparently, but yes, when you find yourself in the hospital because you can’t breathe, you’ll quit. It was a pretty scary experience. There’s nothing like waking up in the hospital thinking you passed out for a few minutes just to find you were out cold for days.”
“I’ll bet there isn’t. So what is it like being psychic, and how do you know if you are?”
“You know if you are when you know too many things you shouldn’t know. As far as what it’s like - it’s got its pros and cons. It can save your life if you buy a plane ticket for a flight you suddenly know is doomed, but it kind of takes the fun out of scratch tickets when you buy a ticket and then you suddenly know you’ve lost before you’ve ever played. I usually sense when I’m going to be either on a winning streak or a losing one when it comes to those. Same with casinos. When I walk in there, I know when I’m going to win or lose.
I hesitated a moment, then asked, “So are the rumors true?”
Rosemary glanced at me.
“The ones about the deaths of the people involved in putting you in jail.”
“Now would I tell you if they were?”
“I suppose not.”
“Do you want to see some pictures now?”
“Oh, sure,” I said, leaning forward once again as Rosemary brought up a photo viewer to show me many pictures of the desert scenery and wildlife she’d taken, along with pictures of Teddy Bear.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen these pictures since she was murdered. You have a headache,” she suddenly said, turning to face me.
I looked up at her, surprised. “Yeah, I do actually. How’d you know?”
Instead of answering, Rosemary’s right arm suddenly stuck straight out in front of her and out shot her index and middle fingers. When she was done, she looked doubtfully at me and said, “You don’t believe in psychics, do you?”
“Uh, well, to tell you the truth I never did, but maybe that’ll change.”
“Do you believe in prayer?” I asked her.
“Why’s that? You don’t believe he listens?”
“No, he listens. I just never saw any sense in praying for what’s already either meant to be or not meant to be. Especially the big things. It’d be like me asking to be tall when I was meant to be short, though I have tried it on occasion.”
“Asking to be tall?”
“No silly, for other things,” Rosemary said with a chuckle.
I chuckled, too. “I know. I’m just kidding around. Anyway, that’s an interesting way of looking at it, I suppose.”
“I’m a die-hard pessimist, too,” explained Rosemary. “When you get optimistic, you tend to feel more let down when things don’t work out. If you don’t expect them to in the first place, then it doesn’t hit you as hard. Want to see a digital video?”
“You do know what that is, don’t you?”
“Emmet made it. I was in the pool when Teddy Bear came home from work.”
“At whose house?”
“Ours. The one she and I had.”
“You had a pool?”
Rosemary nodded. “Most apartments and houses there do.”
Rosemary and I watched the video, but it was another one of those things I couldn’t see from my angle. I could hear Rosemary shrieking with delight and the splashing of water, as well as a male voice followed by what I took to be Teddy Bear’s voice.
“You’re a good swimmer,” I said. “That’s her coming up alongside the pool?”
Rosemary nodded, then switched the video off saying, “Haven’t seen it since she was killed.”
Rosemary also showed me some rather steamy pictures taken of her when she was dancing and modeling. I seemed to squirm with desire at the sight of them. I could see I was trying not to blush.
“So overall, which would you say you like better, Massachusetts or Arizona?” I asked a little later.
“Oh, definitely Arizona. I hope to return to live there someday.”
“Oh,” I said, not sure if that was a good thing. After all, I was falling in love with Rosemary whether I realized it or not, though I think I did. I also sensed a hesitancy in letting her know how I felt. Perhaps it was the fear of it not being mutual that made me keep my growing feelings in check.
“I used to get a kick out of laughing at people back here during the winters, and since I’ve been here, it cracks me up to hear people insist that eighty-five degrees is hot. Well trust me, Katie, you don’t know the true definition of the word hot till you live in the desert where it can get up to a hundred and twenty degrees.”
“Sounds awfully hot.”
“It sure is. Anyway, the only things I really like better about the east is the drinking water which doesn’t taste like bleach like it does out there, and of course the houses are bigger here. Out there they tend to be one-story little square boxes that all look the same, jammed tightly together in rows. On the flip side, I loved the palm trees, the cactuses and the lack of snow, though there are some places in the mountains of northern Arizona where it does snow.”
“I hear different sayings mean different things in various regions,” I said.
“That’s true. I got so pissed off at this dude one time and was talking to someone else about him when I said that if he kept his shit up, I’d jump him. The guy I was talking to said, not in a good way, I take it? And I was like, well, what do you think? I later learned that out there, if you say you’re going to jump someone, you’re not saying you’re going to kick their ass, you’re saying you want to get it on with them.”
I burst out laughing. “So tell me,” I said a minute later, “do you hate guys or are you just not attracted to them?”
“I don’t hate them all, but I hate most of them, regardless of the fact that women are the better-looking sex.”
“Those short-legged, stinky creatures never appealed to me.”
I giggled harder as I rose from my seat. “Can I go pick out some incense?”
“Sure, go ahead.” Rosemary watched me walk towards where the incense was kept, then asked, “Why are you single, officer Hawkins?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, haven’t you looked in the mirror lately?”
“Rosemary, I have the same ridiculously high standards you do,” I said with a smile, rummaging through the box she stored the incense in. “My goodness,” I said. “You have – let’s see – five cans of soup, two cans of veggies, three cans of peaches.”
“Yeah, I’m in the habit of keeping food close by. I can put it back if you want.”
“No, that’s alright. If it makes you comfortable to have it, keep it. Morning Mist was the one I liked, right?”
Rosemary nodded. “I have a new batch soaking, but there should still be a few over there.”
“I see it,” I said, after another minute of going through the bags. I picked up a stick and lit it as Rosemary picked up a large gray plastic gun.
“Is that a laser gun?” I asked.
Rosemary nodded, aiming it at the large TV screen. “I hooked the computer up to the TV so we could play Nintendo games.” A screen appeared with cartoon-like scenery of a green meadow with blue skies beyond it. Rosemary began shooting at flying saucers that suddenly appeared out of nowhere.
“You’re a good shot,” I told her. “You know how to shoot?”
“Of course. What cop’s wife doesn’t know how to shoot? Teddy Bear taught me well.”
I placed the incense stick in the burner and said, “There’s some other one you burn that’s way nice.”
“It has a rather romantic smell.”
“Oh gee, that helps, Katie.”
“I don’t know the name of it, but I’ll point it out the next time I smell it. Do you mind my asking how you got to Arizona?”
“I witnessed a murder and was entered into the Witness Protection program out there.”
I blinked in surprise.
Rosemary studied my face, then smiled. “Just kidding, Katie.”
“Oh,” I said with a laugh.
“I begged and begged my parents to send me there for two whole years. When they got sick and tired of that, they caved in and sent me out. I stayed with Emmet till I got my own place a week later. Sending me out there was the only good thing they ever really did for me.”
Not long afterward, Rosemary’s cell phone rang. It was Marilyn.
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that, but I do have it made up,” Rosemary said. “Yeah, come on over and get it – well – hang on.” She looked at me and asked, “Is it ok if Marilyn comes by to pick up some incense I made up for some people she knows? She won’t be long.”
“Sure, that’d be fine.”
“Yeah, you can stop by.”
When Marilyn showed up, Rosemary was in the bathroom.
“I have a horrible cold brewing,” she said, “I could really use Rosemary’s help while we’re at it.”
I looked at Marilyn confused. “But how can she help you? She got some cold medicine you don’t have?”
Marilyn shook her head. “No, ma’am. She’s got something a lot better than your traditional cold medicine.”
I still seemed confused, but before I could ask any more questions, Rosemary came out of the bathroom. “Hey there,” she said.
“Hey,” Marilyn said with a weak smile. “I got a nasty cold trying to kick in. I could use your help desperately.” She gave Rosemary twenty dollars for five bags of incense.
“Sure. Make yourself comfortable on the couch.”
Marilyn took a seat on the couch while I continued to look as if I were about to say, just what in the world is going on here? I was about to ask when Rosemary hushed me.
“It’s very important you remain quiet and don’t break my concentration.”
“Ok,” I said, still confused.
Rosemary closed her eyes, inhaled and exhaled deeply. Then she slowly extended her right arm towards Marilyn’s forehead with her first two fingers extended.
My brows knotted together even more.
Rosemary’s lips began to move as if she were either saying a prayer or chanting, though no sound emanated from them.
I could sense my curiosity deepening, though I still remained silent. As this continued for another few minutes, a slight touch of doubt mixed with amusement crossed my features which I quickly checked once Rosemary’s eyes snapped open. “You should be ok now,” she said.
Marilyn’s own eyes, which had been shut, fluttered open. In a relieved and grateful tone of voice, she said, “Oh, thanks so much, Rosemary. I really do appreciate it.”
“Let me know how you feel next chance you get.”
“So, how’s it going with the old man?” Rosemary asked her.
“It’s been a nightmare,” Marilyn answered with a roll of her eyes. “He’s boring as hell. It’s ok, though. There’s not much you can do with a fifty-year-old man anyway and I have a date lined up tonight with someone new.”
“Fifty’s not exactly over the hill, though,” I said.
“No, but you’re at least starting to climb up that hill,” said Marilyn.
The three of us laughed.
“Is tonight’s date your age?” asked Rosemary.
“Better,” said Marilyn. “He’s ten years younger.”
Again we laughed.
“How old are you?” I asked Marilyn.
“Forty-two,” she said.
After Marilyn left, Rosemary handed the money to me. “This is for you.”
“Oh, what’s this for?”
“I thought you might want it to put towards some of the expenses. You know, food, rent, electric.”
“Oh, that’s alright, sweetie,” I said with a smile. “You hang onto it for now, ok?”
Rosemary looked unsure for a moment, then said, “Ok, but don’t tell anyone where I’m hiding it.”
“I won’t,” I laughed as Rosemary stashed it in the pocket of a dress on one of her larger dolls.
“How’s your headache? Gone now?”
I thought about it a moment as I ran a hand across my forehead. “You know, come to think of it, it is.”
“That’s good,” Rosemary said, walking over to where I now sat by the computer playing one of the games she taught me.
Just then, Rosemary’s gaze fell upon the papers I had thrown on the desk earlier. Her expression darkened. “What the fuck!” she suddenly screamed, nearly sending me toppling over in my chair. “What the fuck is this contract shit here I’m seeing?”
“Rosemary, calm down,” I said, rising from my chair.
“Calm down, my ass! You guys had a deal going?” Rosemary kicked aside the chair.
Never had I seen her this angry before. Not even when she’d throw tantrums as a child. The wild woman before me appeared dangerously threatening despite her diminutive size. Although I kept my eyes on her every move, I remained calm.
“Rosemary, it’s just a written document of our agreement. That’s all it is. It’s no secret or else I wouldn’t have kept it in plain view. With me, what you see is what you get. This means I’m not out to get you in any way, now just relax and…”
“Yeah, fuck you, you fucking bitch!” Rosemary screamed right in my face. My hands covered my ears. Her voice was shrill and menacing.
Rosemary made like she was going to swing at me. I threw a hand up quickly. Our angles shifted. Now I could see my face and the shock that was written all over it. At the same time, I possessed a very determined look as well.
“Then why didn’t you tell me about it, you fucking asshole! I knew you were too good to be true. I knew it! And I’m not afraid to stand up to you!”
“I don’t want you to be afraid to stand up to me,” I said just as Rosemary shoved me in the same fashion she had with the big sister of the girl whose heart she had supposedly broken.
Only I didn’t go down.
Rosemary froze, surprised, as a slow, closed-lipped, smug smile of satisfaction crossed my face when she began to realize just who she was dealing with.
“Guess not everybody goes down so easily,” I said softly, challenging and pissing Rosemary off even more.
“Oh, fuck you!” she screamed, throwing a round of punches at me.
I blocked them all with the palms of my hands.
Rosemary stopped and studied me intently, then she began to back away. “So that’s it,” she said. “The only reason Gwen wanted me with you is that you know my moves, huh?”
“No, that’s not the only reason,” I said matter of factly.
Rosemary then suddenly grabbed the sides of her temple as if in sudden pain.
I watched her a moment, then asked what was wrong.
“I told you, it’s those damn headaches I’ve been getting.”
“Use your powers.”
“Doesn’t work. I can’t do everything. Just leave me alone and go to hell, ok?” Rosemary said, staggering down towards the kitchen area.
I followed with a concerned look on my face as I watched her take a couple of aspirin.
“I said fuck off,” Rosemary said, turning to glance back at me.
“Yeah, I know. That’s what you’re used to, isn’t it? Except for maybe Teddy Bear, you’re used to people giving up on you, aren’t you?”
“Does it matter?” Rosemary shouted. “You take care of you and I’ll take care of me.”
“That’s your problem, girl. You try to take on too much on your own because you’re so afraid to trust anyone and…”
“Don’t fucking tell me what my problem is or I swear I’ll kick your ass.”
“So kick it,” I said, throwing my hands to the sides, then letting them fall back upon my narrow hips.
Rosemary glared at me, then began walking across the mats that were between the computer and kitchen area. Suddenly, she spun around swiftly to throw a kick at me, but I was ready for it. I extended my leg just under hers, and, moving my leg upwards, I knocked the foot she stood on out from under her, taking her down in one swift movement.
Enraged, Rosemary stood up and kicked at me again. Again I hooked my leg under hers, and again she landed on her butt. I now bore an amused expression as I saw the look of shock on Rosemary’s face.
“Yeah, go ahead, officer,” Rosemary said rising to her feet. “Beat me up so I can hit you with a police brutality suit.”
“I don’t want to beat you up,” I told her. “I want you to calm down and give me a chance, and I want you to listen to me when I say that nothing bad was done behind your back. Read the papers, Rosemary. All it says is what’s already been said to you and agreed upon by you.”
Just then the phone by the desk rang. I flashed Rosemary a look of warning and trotted over to answer it. “Hello?… Yeah, I can still make it,” I said glancing at the clock. “Ok, I’ll be there… Bye.”
Rosemary looked at me quizzically.
“I have to fill in again for someone who’s out sick. Think you’ll be ok on your own?”
“Yes, I’ll be ok,” Rosemary answered sarcastically.
“You gonna do anything stupid?”
“What do you think?”
“Well, I hope not, but why don’t you just tell me.”
“I’ll be fine,” Rosemary said with a sigh, plopping herself down on the couch.
“I’ll be in the shower then,” I said.
Once in the bathroom, Rosemary rose from the couch, took down her hair and put it back up in a bun. Then she put on some high-energy dance music. She leaped into the air as if she herself were made of air. She twirled with speed and grace, dress lifting to expose well-muscled thighs. She was still dancing when I came out of the bathroom, towel drying my hair. Rosemary stopped and turned the music off and watched as I threw the towel I dried my hair with down on the table, then tore the towel off that was wrapped around my body and dressed in my uniform.
“Better tell all those horny, deprived bitches down there to keep their mouths shut when they go hitting on you,” Rosemary said.
I smiled, amused. “Ok, I’ll remember that,” I said, now tucking my gun in my holster, then grabbing a comb to run through my hair.
I noticed Rosemary’s glum expression. “You ok, sweetie?”
She nodded. “I’m sorry, Katie.”
Rosemary studied me a moment. “You look different without your makeup, but just as hot.”
I snorted. “I need all the help I can get.”
“No, you don’t. I do.”
“No, I like you without makeup. That natural look suits you well.” I said, still combing through my near-ebony hair.
“What’s that ring you’re wearing?” Rosemary asked curiously.
“It’s an Italian mood stone.”
“An Italian mood stone? What makes it Italian? I thought a mood stone was a mood stone.”
“There’s an Italian lesbian tradition behind it.”
“An Italian lesbian tradition?” Rosemary asked, confused.
“Yeah,” I chuckled.
“This I gotta hear.”
“The ring is adjustable so you can give it to a lady as sort of a pre-engagement token.” I slipped it off my finger. “It’s blue on me which means I’m relatively calm at the moment. Let’s see what happens with you. I’ll bet it turns purple,” I said with a smile as I handed it to Rosemary.
She began to slip it on.
“Uh-uh, this finger. That is unless you don’t want to wear anything along with your wedding ring.”
“It’s ok,” said Rosemary, taking off the wedding ring and placing it on the desk. She slipped the ring on and a moment later said, “You’re right. It turned purple.”
“Guess you’re still pretty wound up then.”
“So tell me more about the tradition.”
“You give it to a lady you have feelings for, but that you haven’t exactly proposed to. In other words, when you give a lady the ring you’re saying you hope that an engagement and a marriage is what it’ll lead to.”
“Engagements are a waste of time,” Rosemary said.
“They are? How come?”
“Because if you know you love each other, why waste time with engagements? Why not just cut to the chase and get married if you’re both sure you want to spend the rest of your lives together? It just seems that to me that if you need to have time to be engaged, it’s as good as saying you’re not sure if you’ve found the right person yet.”
“You have a point,” I said, standing up straight and glancing around me. When my eyes settled upon my duffel bag, I picked it up and said, “Well, I’m out of here now. See you real early at around midnight.”
We laughed as Rosemary followed me to the door where I started to turn back, then took a few more steps forward before I decided for sure to turn back. “Aw, what the hell,” I said as I reached for Rosemary and hugged her tightly, grinning broadly. In that brief moment, I had to sort of slouch a bit because I was so much taller. My wide-spread palms covered her entire back. I stepped back and said, “See ya, sweetie.”
“See ya,” said Rosemary. Then, “Oh, your ring.”
“Just hang onto it for now,” I told her before she could finish tugging it off. “I’m late as it is.”
I shut the blinds on the outer doors and was gone. Rosemary turned towards me and I watched her study the ring. At first, she eyed it curiously, but then a smile of glee began to form upon her lips. She looked back towards the door, then turned and skipped over to the computer. Once she spotted her wedding ring, she picked it up and studied it as if she’d never seen it before and couldn’t figure out where it had come from, then she looked upwards, as if seeing Teddy Bear up in the heavens, and went to place the ring in a box.
With the wedding ring safely tucked away, Rosemary turned the music back on and danced with joyous energy. After a while of doing that, she took down her hair and brushed it out. Then she cut the music and went to make herself something to eat, long hair gently swaying behind her. I saw her take a couple slices of bread from a bag and begin smearing something on them.
She started at the sudden sound of someone unlocking the front door and ran over to it, no doubt thinking I had returned early.
But it wasn’t me.
“My, my,” said a familiar woman, “nothing like entering a place to find an armed person waiting for you.”
Rosemary glanced down at the butter knife she held. “I was fixing a sandwich. Who the hell are you?”
The woman chuckled. “I’m Melanie, Rosemary.”
Rosemary studied Melanie a moment, absorbing the information. “Oh,” she finally said. “Well, your buddy’s at work. Got called in to fill in for someone who got sick.”
“Oh, I see,” Melanie said, tucking her hands casually in the pockets of her black leather jacket as she sized Rosemary up from head to toe, practically raping her luscious body with her eyes. She smiled. “God, you’re just as gorgeous as she said you were. Look at all that long hair. I wish Jenna’s hair was that long and that thick.”
“Yeah, please don’t tell my girl I said that.” Then she changed the subject. “So it’s no joke? You really don’t remember me?”
“No. Should I?”
“Kay hasn’t said anything to you yet, has she?”
Melanie pulled something from her pocket. “Look, it’s a picture of me.”
“Just like one of the ones up there.”
“So what the hell’s your point?”
Melanie stilled. Her eyebrows rose a split second later.
“I’m hungry, ok? And I’m not in the mood for guessing games,” said Rosemary, running out of patience.
“Ok, you little firecracker,” Melanie said with a laugh before turning to leave. “I’ll take off now and let Kay explain it to you.”
“You the one in the circus?”
Melanie nodded. “I’m a cop now too, but for a while, I was a lift for a little acrobat who was right around your size. We’ll have to give it a try some time,” she said with a smile and a wink as she playfully pinched Rosemary’s cheek.
Rosemary gave a slight jump backward.
When Melanie was gone, Rosemary turned with a roll of the eyes and went back to preparing her sandwich.