Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
Nine days later, Sandy was standing behind the counter of Bobbyeís Pizza on 12 Mile Road, not far from her apartment, and memories of some of the birthdays that she and Dayna had shared over the last few years crossed her mind. The last one of them had been only a year ago, and how much had changed in that time Ė and changed for the worst, for the most part.
Although she didnít know it, like Dayna sheíd thrown off most of the effects of the sickness along in the late fall, and by now was back in shape. Well, more or less Ė sheíd put on pounds well past where sheíd been on the road, although she wasnít back to a point as bad as sheíd been when sheíd first gone to Central. Working in a pizza joint, which sheíd done since the first of December, had much to do with it, but it turned out that Robbie liked heavy food with lots of carbs, and it was hard to hold back.
Making pizzas was boring; it had been boring on the first day and hadnít gotten any less boring since. The only advantage the job had besides the meager paycheck was the fact that it was only three blocks from their apartment, so she could get along without a car, even in the winter Ė as if they could have afforded a second car, which they couldnít. Sandyís few hundred dollars left in her bank account had quickly turned to nothing when she and Robbie set up housekeeping, and it was a struggle day to day. If Robbie could bother to get himself a decent job, things might have gone better, but he got along as an assistant manager of a car wash, and just didnít seem to want to do anything else.
A thousand times, ten thousand times she kicked herself mentally for allowing her mother to push her into marrying him, but she decided that since it was a done deal, sheíd better try and make the best of it. After all, her parents had put themselves out a lot for her while she was sick, and she owed them at least a serious try.
But Sandy was a little happier than normal today; Becky DeQuindre had come in over lunch hour, and said she remembered that Sandy used to be pretty good with the guitar, did she think maybe she could play at her sisterís engagement party? They couldnít afford a lot of money for a musician, but they could come up with a couple twenties or something. Considering the cash flow around the household recently, forty bucks would go a long way. Jesus, how good the good old days had been . . .
A few minutes before quitting time, Sandy threw together a medium pizza; employees got a good discount, and she was too damn tired to cook for that lazy bastard anyway. Just at quitting time, she pulled it out of the oven, put it in the box, and headed for home.
Robbie was there waiting. "Pizza again?" he snorted as he saw the box. "I get goddamn sick and tired of that shit."
"You think I donít get goddamn sick and tired of it?" she replied. "Christ, I have to look at the fucking crap and smell it all day long. But Iím tired, I donít feel good, and I need to sit the hell down for a while."
"Oh, crap, I suppose," he said as she set the box down on the dinette table.
She took off her coat, not really interested in eating, anyway. She hadnít had the twelve-string out in a while, she needed the practice if she was going to do that little gig. But when she opened the closet, it wasnít where it was supposed to be. "Robbie?" she said quietly. "What happened to my twelve-string?"
"I hocked it," he said. "I wanted beer money."
"Robbie, you idiot!" she exploded. "I got a gig today, it isnít much of a gig, but how in hell am I going to play the goddamn thing without my guitar?"
"Donít matter none," he said. "Your momma told me she donít want you playiní gigs since youíll just go back to what you were. So I ainít gonna allow you to play it!"
"So youíre still kissing my motherís ass, you motherfucker?" she yelled. "Who are you to allow me to do anything or not? Robbie, you are a fucking useless idiot!"
"You donít call me that, bitch!" he said, springing to his feet, and throwing a punch. His fist exploded in her face in a world of pain, and she collapsed on the floor. "Now, Iím going to go out drinking and get a decent meal, you bitch. Thereís the fucking hock ticket for your fucking guitar," he said, dropping it on the floor in front of her. "If you go out and whore up the money somewhere to get it out of hock, Iíll just hock the goddamn thing again." As Sandy lay on the floor with tears flowing, he headed for the door and slammed it behind him.
That did it. That fucking did it, she realized as she lay on the floor in tears and in pain. I tried, but fuck. I have got to get out of here. Now.
Her first thought was of Dayna. Bradford was several hours off, but still. Still crying, she picked herself up off of the floor, grabbed the pawnshop ticket, went to the phone, and dialed the number for Daynaís parents Ė but all she got was an answering machine. She started to leave a message, but thought better of it Ė she wouldnít want them calling here to give a hint of where she might be, especially since she wouldnít be here. Hoping against hope, she called the business number and got a recording there as well.
Well, fuck, she thought. The important thing is to get the fuck out of here as quick as I can, before he gets back, and just fucking disappear some place. Her folks were beyond consideration, theyíd just throw her back to him. She didnít have many friends around anymore, either; most of the kids sheíd gone to school with had had the brains to get out of this place, and the ones who were left werenít people she really wanted to deal with. Becky? Well, maybe . . . but she said she was going to be out tonight.
The hell with it, cross that bridge later, just get out of here now, before he comes back. She headed for the bedroom, got a couple small suitcases out of the closet, and just started throwing clothes into them, stuff from the bathroom, not being real picky. Some shirts, some pants, some underwear, some socks, it didnít really matter which. There was a small drawer in the dresser that had a few important papers, things like her birth certificate, her marriage license, address book . . . the last gave her a secondís pause. Somewhere through her pain, her anger, her tears, there had been a vague thought floating around, but it really hadnít gelled. Without a better idea, she opened it up, leafed through it a bit Ė mostly addresses of people far away, why did she think this would be an idea . . . and then she flipped a page, and a name and address jumped out at her: Vicky Pabst in Troy!
God yes, she thought. Sheíd looked at that name and address before, several times in fact, with the thought of calling her up, just to touch happier times a little without getting directly in contact with Dayna. Vicky had been Daynaís classmate, Daynaís friend, but Sandy had been friendly with her up at Central years ago . . . and then there had been that birthday party. In spite of the pain and the tears, a smile crossed her face for a second. She went to the phone, and quickly dialed the number. In seconds, Vicky picked it up.
"Vicky, this is Sandy Buehler, you remember Sandy Beach, Daynaís friend?"
"Oh, yes," Vicky said. "I had a long call with Dayna a couple weeks ago, and she said she was wondering what ever happened to you."
"Vicky, I donít have time to go into details, but my husband just beat me up, and I want to get the fuck out of here. Do you think you could come over and pick me up and hide me until I can get in touch with Dayna or her folks?"
"Itís going to be hard to catch up with Dayna, sheís on the road again," Vicky told her. "But yeah, Iíll come right over. I know what itís like to have an asshole for a husband. Where should I meet you?"
Sandy almost gave the address of her apartment, but said, "I donít want to wait here for you. Can you meet me in front of Bobbyeís Pizza? Thatís on 12 Mile just east of Hoover."
"Sure, I can be there in ten, fifteen minutes," Vicky replied.
"OK, great, see you then, Iím out of here!" Sandy hung up the phone, grabbed her purse, and stuck the pawn ticket in it. That asshole Robbie didnít know it, but it was her ticket out of here. As long as she had the twelve-string, there was hope, although sheíd leave without it if she had to. She headed to the bedroom, grabbed the suitcases, and headed for the door. The tears were still rolling, she was still extremely pissed, but at the same time, she realized that she was doing what she should have done months before, long before it got this bad.
* * *
Sandy was standing out in front of the pizza joint when Vicky parked in front of her. "Oh Vicky, thank God youíre here," she said as soon as Vicky leaned over and opened the door on her side. "I couldnít think of any other way."
"No problem," Vicky said, "Jesus, he got you a good one, didnít he?"
"It hurts," Sandy sobbed. "I havenít even looked in a mirror."
"I hate to tell you this, but youíre going to have a hell of a shiner," Vicky told her. "But Sandy, relax, itís all right now. Throw your stuff in back and Iíll get you out of here."
"Thanks, Vicky," she said, tossing the two suitcases in back. "Youíre a lifesaver. I mean, really."
"No problem, youíre still a friend," Vicky said as she got in. "Look, letís go to my place tonight. Augieís out of town, thatís a good place for him. We can try to get hold of Daynaís folks, and you can pull yourself together some."
"Good thinking, Vicky," she said, closing the door. "Hey, I know Iíve asked you one hell of a big favor, but do you think thereís another one I could ask?"
"What do you need?"
Sandy glanced at the hock ticket. "I need to borrow a hundred bucks, itíll only be for about ten minutes and you can have it right back."
"Yeah, I can do that," Vicky said. "Iíll have to stop at an ATM, but no problem."
A few minutes later, Vicky handed her five twenties. "I need you to take me to Herbís Pawnshop, itís around the corner and down about three blocks on the right," Sandy explained. "That asshole Robbie hocked my twelve-string."
"You donít want to be without it, huh?" Vicky smiled. "Good luck charm?"
"More than that, right now," Sandy said. "Christ, I hope itís still there, but theyíre supposed to hold stuff for thirty days." Shortly, Vicky parked in front of the pawn shop; Sandy just about clawed her way out of the car and headed inside.
Within three minutes she was back out, carrying the twelve-string in its gig bag. "OK," she said. "I can give you the money now, but itíll be a little easier if we wait till we get to your place."
"How are you paying me back?" Vicky smiled.
"Thereís a thousand bucks hidden in the lining of the gig bag," Sandy told her. "Itís my run money."
"In case things went sour with your husband?"
"No, itís been there since the first summer Dayna and I were on the road," Sandy explained. "I stuck it there in case things went sour between us and I had to get away, so Iíd have something. Then when Robbie got jammed down my throat, I figured Iíd better leave it there, just in case."
"Thatís what I call planning ahead," Vicky said. "Look, I took that hundred out of my own run money. Right now, you need it worse than I do."
"Things arenít going well with you and your husband?" Sandy asked.
"They could be going a hell of a lot better," Vicky said sadly. "You remember what it was like getting dates at Central. After you and Dayna left, I decided Iíd better take what I could get, and it wasnít the brightest move I ever made. It has its ups and downs, and Iím trying to keep it going, but one of these days Iím probably going to be in your shoes."
"Well, at least youíre more realistic about it than I was," Sandy said. "I tried to keep it going, but fuck, I knew it was a loss from the start."
"I guess I did, too," Vicky said. "You got any idea where youíre going?"
"No idea," Sandy said. "Just out. If Daynaís on the road again, Iíll try and get hold of her parents, try to get in touch with her, and see if sheíll take me back. Then Iíll have to do something about a divorce."
"Look, I donít want to get your hopes up, but I think thereís a good chance that sheíll jump for joy," Vicky said. "We didnít talk about it much when I was on the phone with her a couple weeks ago, but she said she was not real happy about going out on the road by herself. Back when I helped with her gig in Louisiana in November, she told me flat out that she missed the hell out of you, she was doing her damndest to learn how to get along without you, and she didnít like doing it much."
"Thank God," Sandy said. "Maybe itíll work. But whatís this about you helping with a gig in Louisiana?"
"You didnít know about that?"
"No, all weíve done is exchange Christmas cards."
Vicky quickly explained how Dayna had been too weak to give shows and live on the road, and how Emily had organized the Bradford í88s to be her roadies. "I spent a week with her. It was pretty fun some of the time, but a lot of the time she was pretty morose, too."
"Never heard a word of it," Sandy said. "We sort of agreed to try to pull away from each other so we wouldnít tear at each other too much. Well, fuck that."
"Like I said, I donít want to get your hopes up, but Iíd be surprised if she wonít be happy to hear from you." She let out a long sigh. "Look, Sandy, I donít want to pry, but there was something more going on between you and Dayna than just being good friends, right?"
"Uh, yeah," she said cautiously.
"I thought so," Vicky smiled. "A lot of us have suspected that, but I guess no one has asked till now."
"I donít think Dayna would want it to get out," Sandy cautioned.
"Donít worry, I wonít tell," Vicky smiled. "Not even Emily, which in terms of Bradford, is about like putting it on the front page of the local paper." She stopped for a second. "Look, have you given any thought to getting a divorce?"
"Iím divorcing that bastard; thatís all the thought I need," she said sullenly.
"I donít mean the decision to do it, I mean the how," Vicky said.
"No," Sandy sighed softly. "Hell, I didnít even have my mind made up to do it an hour ago."
"Look, I donít think youíll have the chance, but donít tell anybody that Iíve done some thinking about it. I mean, just to know what my options are if and when the time comes. You donít particularly want your husband or your parents to interfere with it before itís a done deal, right?"
"Youíve got that more than right," Sandy snorted. "In fact, I donít care if I never see any of them again. As far as theyíre concerned, I want to just drop off the face of the earth."
"That limits your options some," Vicky told her. "If you try to divorce him in Michigan, well, Michigan is no-fault but it takes six months waiting time, then another six for the decree. And figure on it costing a couple thousand."
"Thatís roughly twelve months too long," Sandy snorted. "Is there any way to do it quicker?"
"You can get a Dominican Republic divorce in twelve hours, but it has to be consensual, in other words, both of you have to sign off, and worse, thereís some states that donít recognize it. Michigan isnít one of them, though."
"Thatís out, too, I donít even want to see the bastard again," Sandy replied angrily.
"Right off the top of my head, then, your best bet is Nevada," Vicky told her. "I always figured that if I had to head out the door on him without his consent and drop out of sight, Iíd head to Nevada, thatís why I have the run money. The only problem is that you need six weeksí residency, but the divorce itself is pretty cheap and usually a rubber stamp if thereís no kids or property involved."
"Nevada it is," she replied. "If I canít get hold of Dayna right away, Iíll head out there so I can start establishing residency."
"Look, Sandy," Vicky said. "Itís going to cost you more than a thousand bucks to get out there, live out there for six weeks and pay for a divorce. I can slip you another couple hundred and hope youíll pay me back sometime, but I donít want to dip into my own run money too deeply. Maybe Daynaís folks could help you out some."
"Might be," Sandy said. "Iíll talk to them. But you know one thing I learned from Dayna? As long as Iíve got my twelve-string, Iím not broke. Let me get to Las Vegas, and if I canít find something else Iíll find a street corner pitch somewhere, put my gig bag on the sidewalk and start busking. God knows we did it enough, although never in Vegas."
"All right," Vicky smiled. "Letís go to my place, get you cleaned up and see if thereís something I can do about your eye, while we try to get hold of Daynaís folks so you can get a message to her. And then weíll start thinking about the cheapest way to get you to Nevada."
* * *
Several hours later, Sandy was feeling better. She had a couple good stiff drinks in her, along with some decent food that wasnít pizza; she knew damn well sheíd never eat a pizza again.
Finally, after eleven, she got Angie Berkshire on the phone; Bruce, it turned out was still working and sheíd just gotten off. Sandy briefly explained what was happening, and asked if it might be possible to get hold of Dayna somehow.
"Probably not for a few days," Angie told her. "She just called last night, and she said itíd probably be ten days or two weeks before she calls again. Sheís got a couple club dates in Des Moines, another one in Omaha, and a couple college dates, she didnít say where. Sheís working her way out to the buskerís festival in Boulder. She said at one point she might try to find someone to work with her there. Beyond that, I donít know for a month, until sheís scheduled for some renfaire in California."
"Yeah, the Canterbury, it starts the middle of May, we booked that last spring," Sandy said. "All right, try to get a message to her that Iím trying to get back with her. Iím heading for Nevada. It takes six weeks to get a divorce, and thereís no point in wasting time, especially since itís just a little over six weeks till the Canterbury starts. Iíll try to get back to you with a way to get in contact with me when I work something out. If for some reason we canít get into contact, Iíll figure on meeting her at the Canterbury."
"Iím sure she will be happy to hear that," Angie told her. "Sandy, sheís missed you terribly and hasnít made much of a secret of it. How are you fixed for money?"
"Iíve got some, enough to make a start," she said. "Iím figuring on looking for work out there to get me through. Iíll busk if I canít find anything else."
"Donít let yourself get in too deep," Angie warned. "If need be, maybe Bruce or I could loan you something. I donít want to dip into Daynaís account without her permission, but Iím sure sheíll be willing to help."
"Thanks, Angie" Sandy said. "Thatís the best news Iíve had since last summer."
"Sandy, look, one thing," Angie warned, "sheís gone through a long, tough period trying to accept you being gone, both personally and in terms of the act. Sheís changed some as a result. Donít get me wrong, Iím sure sheíll help you if thereís a need, but just be warned that things arenít what they were a year ago."
"They arenít with me, either," Sandy told her. "Look, Iíll try to not ask any more of her than I have to, just in case things donít work out."
"I think they will, but you might as well be aware of the fact that they might not," Angie agreed.
"If they donít, I have to go ahead, not back," Sandy said firmly. "Angie, thanks for all your help. Iíll get back with you as soon as I know where Iím going to be."
* * *
Sandy had been thinking in terms of a bus to get to Nevada cheaply, but Vicky happened to open the paper and see an ad for an $87 round-trip airline ticket to Las Vegas. Within seconds, they were on the phone; it proved that a one-way ticket was more than that, but even if she only used half the ticket it was still well under the cost of the bus. At 7:30 the next morning, wearing some of the better clothes sheíd rescued from her apartment and some makeup that Vicky gave her to try and hide the black eye a little, she was saying goodbye to Vicky at Metro Airport. "Vicky, thanks for all your help, and the money," Sandy told her. "I promise Iíll repay you just as soon as I have it to repay. Beyond that, I donít know how I can thank you."
"Get the damn divorce, and tell me how it goes," she said. "I wouldnít be too damn surprised if Iím following in your tracks one of these days. When that day comes, maybe youíll be in a position to help me out."
"If it comes, I hope I can. Vicky, I hope to see you again sometime, just to thank you. But it wonít be anywhere around Detroit. Never is too damn soon."
"I understand, and I feel pretty much the same way. What a fucking armpit this place is to a country kid like me! When you see Dayna, say hi to her for me."
"I sure will," Sandy said. She gave her newfound friend a hug, then slung her gig bag over her shoulder, picked up her two suitcases, and walked into the terminal, to leave her parents, her husband, and her old life behind her, for good or ill.
It was an hour before Sandy got on the plane, and four hours in the air, and in those five hours she thought a lot, mostly about some things she hadnít wanted to tell Vicky or Angie. Maybe it was just paranoia Ė after living with Robbie for the past eight months she had plenty of that Ė but Angie Berkshireís warning that things had changed with Dayna struck her in a place that she hadnít expected. She really had little doubt that she and Dayna could pick up somewhere near where theyíd left off Ė but the doubt was there, and she realized now that it wasnít the best idea to bet the whole ranch on it, especially since she didnít have enough money to get the divorce and get her through the next few weeks anyway Ė and if she did, sheíd be broke.
But if she couldnít get back together with Dayna Ė if Dayna worked so hard to turn her back on her that they couldnít make up, then sheíd really be out of luck. Sheíd been thinking there were two priorities: get the divorce, and get back with Dayna. Now, she realized there was a third, no less high: build up the war chest, just in case she had to do something else.
There was one way to accomplish that she hadnít mentioned to Vicky or Mrs. Berkshire. While she hadnít actually told Vicky that sheíd been living as a lesbian with Dayna, sheíd come damn close. She didnít know if the Berkshires knew it, but doubted that theyíd be surprised. But she was dead sure that neither Vicky nor the Berkshires knew that both she and Dayna had turned tricks.
Once upon a time, back at Central, sheíd been shocked when Dayna did that frat guy for a thousand bucks, but sheíd explained that sometime they might be out on the road, out of money and in a pot load of trouble. If that happened, turning a trick or two might be the only way out. This wasnít exactly what Dayna had envisioned, but it was close enough.
It had been over a year since theyíd turned the last one, a threesome, done more for the fun than for the money Ė but sheíd done it enough to know how to do it. And sheíd had enough word secondhand from Dr. McIntyre and that mysterious woman Dayna knew who once had been a hooker to know how to work the streets. Sheíd have to be careful, map out the lay of the land, and find a stalk where she could do in-dates, and get the black eye cleared up. She had some money to carry her over while she was doing that, and there was busking, too. The streets were a lousy way to work compared to the way theyíd done it, but they were there and could work out. She leaned back in her seat, trying to dredge up some of the stories that Dr. McIntyre had told years before in that womenís-issues class on prostitution. She couldnít remember a hell of a lot beyond the fact that working the streets in New York was damn scary. She really didnít want to have to work the streets . . . and then a different thought crept in: Nevada was the only place in the country where they had legal prostitution! That opened another memory floodgate Ė sitting in Emilyís house as she told of Jennlynn saying that sheíd worked in a place called the Mustang Ranch, then at another house down south that she liked better, and making $40,000 in four months!
Even if that was bullshit, even if sheíd only done half that well Ė that was damn good money! Even for six weeksí work, thatíd make for a hell of a lot better war chest than she could imagine flipping burgers or busking street corners, and safer than hooking on the streets . . . Sandy, this is worth checking out first thing!
Besides, she hadnít had a decent fuck since that guy she and Dayna had done for money over a year ago. Certainly not from Robbie Ė he barely knew which hole to stick it in, what to do with it when he got it there, and was so fucking hardheaded that he wasnít willing to listen to her. There was nothing like a little healthy fucking to wash that shit away Ė except for maybe a lot of healthy fucking . . .