|A Novel By Max Rabinowitz|
|After Ace broke the trick's jaw, I went over to the adult female building and waited for JoAnne to come out on her pass. It was not yet nine o'clock in the morning and I had to wait almost twenty minutes before she got out.
I met a female attendant as she came down the front steps and asked her about Ace. It was definite, she would not be allowed out of the building for sixty days. The attendant also told me that Ace could count herself lucky for being a patient because as such she could not be brought up on criminal charges. Ace had hurt the guy badly and it was a miracle she hadn't been sent upstate.
JoAnne was surprised to find me waiting there because usually I waited for her at the Community Store. She didn't say anything, but took my hand and led me off to the picnic area. The trees were in leaf and there was a lush carpet of grass in the cleared area. It was only on occasion the grass was cut because the picnic area was only used a couple of times during the summer. Not many thought it worth the effort to keep the area trimmed.
We laid in the grass and JoAnne, still holding tightly to my hand, began to speak in a quiet and hushed manner. I listened with only half a mind as she told me how she felt over what happened to Ace and how she played a part in the whole matter. JoAnne had been the bait, luring this guy into the alley, and Ace, true to the code, refused to tell the authorities she was involved. JoAnne had a guilty conscience about it all and I did my best to console her.
The warmth of the morning sun beat down upon my face and somehow I couldn't get interested in beatings, lost Honor Cards and guilty feelings. All I wanted to do was relax. I squeezed JoAnne's hand tightly and she got the message. For a long time we just lay there quietly taking in the sun.
The peaceful atmosphere, plus JoAnne's presence, did its work on me. I dropped all my pretensions and let Max talk for awhile. It was the first time JoAnne had ever heard me speak seriously and I could tell she was uneasy.
I told her about my life and of the things that had brought me to the hospital. I spoke of the horrors that I had seen, sensing that she, too, could see how I truly felt and that she didn't feel put off by my saying those things. I spoke of my family and of my one friend, Steve, and of the nights that I woke up screaming. In some strange, womanly way, she knew not to interrupt me, so she just held onto my hand and listened. At that particular moment, I loved her.
I couldn't stop myself and the words poured from my lips like water from a faucet. I hadn't ever completely let go like this to anyone before. I talked of my fears for the future and also of my dreams, of one day becoming something other than just a nut in a funny factory. I drew verbal pictures of the grand life, the places I would go, the people I would see, the things I would do. They were all dreams and never would materialize. We both knew it, but she listened - and it felt nice fantasizing out loud. I spoke on for nearly two hours and then it dawned on me that we had missed the eleven o'clock call-in we were supposed to make. I started to jump up, but JoAnne tightened her grip on my hand. I sank back into the grass, figuring that it didn't matter much, as we were already late and might as well stay out until the four o'clock call in. We could fake them out claiming that we had checked in at eleven o'clock and they must have forgotten to put our names on the list.
JoAnne began to talk and, like myself, her words tumbled forth without reserve or restraint. She told me about her life and how she despised her middle-class upbringing. She spoke of a father who had raped her when she was twelve and how he continued to do it until her mother caught him and threatened him with arrest. She explained her life on the streets and how she came to enjoy using her beauty to obtain power over people. I kept my silence, not wanting her to stop, not wanting to miss a single word that she said. For the first time, I was listening and empathizing with someone, and I cared very deeply about her problems.
JoAnne had the same kinds of dreams I did. We were also in accord with the feeling the hospital instilled in us all; a feeling of unworthiness, that we were nothing and never would be anything. JoAnne didn't fantasize about anything spectacular. All she wanted was to be free and married, with a few kids and a decent husband who wouldn't do to her children what her father had done to her. Life had other plans in store for JoAnne and myself, but right then things were more beautiful than they had ever been and neither one of us wanted to spoil the momentary respite.
|Beautiful sister with pearly smile
Standing there next to the store
Thinking your thoughts all the while
And being called a whore
Don't let them know it bothers you
They don't know your man is gone
You do not like to be waiting
The night has gone, it has passed
You can live a few more days
But the money is what is needed