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- August, 1998
The banging in my head never stopped and the pain was becoming unbearable. It’s safe to say that I hadn’t slept in three nights. I stared at the smooth ceiling above us, noticing new markings and cracks on the old motel ceiling as the sun comes up. Sunrises were mostly always the same. Most nights, when Rob lets me leave the curtains open, I stay up and watch the sunlight poor in and take over the whole room and all of its energy.
Last night was one of those nights. Rob’s phone vibrates and I’m brought out of the angelic trance the sunlight has on me. “Get up,” I say as I sit up and pull my hair to the right side of my body. Black stuff flaked off my long hair; dirty, mudded with some type of debris. I push myself off the bed, hoping to make it to the bathroom before he gets up. All I need is some alone time.
Walking around the motel bedroom was nearly impossible; clothes, shoes, bottles, stray glass, white stuff and more glass littered the entire motel room. I try to walk as quietly as I can, stepping on the tips of my toes careful not step on anything.
I finally reach the bathroom when Rob wakes up. He stretches his body to the length of the bed and lets out a loud yawn. My chest tightens as I slipped into the small space between the door and the wall, closing the door as fast as I can. Once I hear him burp I let out my breath. Action for reaction, as if one sound could cover up the other. I’m not really here. He won’t notice me, not yet anyway.
Just breathe, you’re fine. Just breathe.
I pull all my strength together and walk over to the sink. My black nail polish blended well with my black trembling fingers. The dirt was everywhere, up and down my arms and fingers, my neck and cheeks and tangled in my strawberry blonde hair—all over—for everyone to see. Like a brand or reward, acknowledgment? Something that meant I was his, I am his.
Banging suddenly erupted from the door causing me to jump, “Get the fuck out of the restroom, I gotta piss.”
“Okay give me a second,” I say back lightly. I softly touch my face some more, seeing if the dirt would come off. It felt thicker than dirt, heavier. Tar, I would assume. The black stuff didn’t even budge. In a panic, I start to rub the dirt. Rapidly moving my hands up and down my cheeks, pulling my skin off. I could feel the small pebbles scratching against my skin; fuck the bleeding, the dirt was coming off. All of it. Take all of it. I want it all off. I want no trace of it.
I wish I could just peel off my skin. I wish it was this easy to erase the bad. Every time he touched me, anywhere he touched me—I could go to the bathroom and peel my skin off, layer by layer. I’d tell him, “Oh, hun, I need to use the lady’s room,” he’d smack my ass, and I would remember to peel that off first.
“Hurry the fuck up! What’s taking so goddamn long?” he yelled, hitting the door repeatedly.
I put my hands down slowly and catch my eyes in the mirror, oh god. “Going, hun.” He grunted in response. I rip my eyes away from the mirror and run the water over all the dirt, sending it down the drain, envious of its easy escape. I lightly step over to the toilet and pull my red panties down. He can hear my every movement.
When I finish and open the door he, of course, is standing against the wall across from me. “Finally.” He looks at me with his classic 1950s dirtbag smirk painted on his face. His white wife beater is hugging his huge chest and dark wash jeans placed perfectly on his hips. I slowly walk over to him, strutting every step I take toward him, pulling up his dirty grey tank top for him to see my red panties. When his smirk grew, that meant I could breathe again. I throw my arms around his neck and kiss his lips hard. I kiss him hard enough for him to love me back. He grabs me and quickly turns so he can push me against the wall, kissing me back, kissing me everywhere, he loves me, he loves me... After forever he pulls away.
“You need a shave, baby.” I grab his chin, rub my thumb lightly against his stubble.
He grabbed my hand harshly with his stronger, bigger one. My breath hitched in my throat. He can’t get mad.
I take his free hand and place it on my jaw, squeeze it softly and pout. His hand on mine softened and he let me go. He loves me. I kiss his hand before he lets me down from his grip and hugs the wall as he turns around to go to the bathroom doorway. After he shuts the door I slide down the wall and hug my legs to my chest tightly. Maybe I can get sucked into the void of nothingness if I try hard enough.
“Get dressed, we’re leaving in 15.” It didn’t work, it never does. I’m still in the dark hallway, dizzy and dehydrated.
“Okay,” I softly reply. “Where’s the stuff?”
- February 1994
I remember the day I met him. It was, for some reason, a warm day in February 1994 and the sun beamed down on my milky skin. I wore my red tank top and black mini skirt that day. It was a normal day in Beverly Hills, a couple of friends planned to meet me in Daddy’s driveway before school like always and I sat on the hood of my Jeep Daddy got me for my birthday, like always.
My friends were the cookie-cutter, richie-rich friends you see on MTV. There was Trev; he was tall dark and handsome, and all those 1950s racist cliches about any man that isn’t white and blue eyed applied to him. I gave him five blow jobs for coke that year. Jessica, oh sweet Jessica. She was valedictorian with a 4.5 GPA and had a full ride to any university she wanted. One time she stole ten cases of beer while strung out on Xanax after the SATs. Soph was always the pretty princess; she won every beauty pageant she was entered in and threw up every hour on the hour. James, poor James. Come on, a white boy named James in Beverly Hills? Gotta be the closeted gay water polo player who had to get drunk to orgasm. Marina was the slut with a thirsty heart; she didn’t just want you to cum on her face, she wanted your heart to cum on her too. Then there’s Dan. I blame him. Dan always lucked out. Life handed him everything he wanted and he knew it. He tested these limits on a daily basis. One time he was on an acid trip and almost jumped off a five-story building. Poetically though, it was one of his father’s businesses.
As I waited for my friends to arrive and I sat on the hood of my Jeep listening to Stevie Nicks and eating cherries. They all arrived at once, music blasting, pouring out of every car.
“Valerie!” Marina yelled from her window. They all circled around me.
Me, me, me; it’s all about me. “Yes, hello my troubled friends, how are you on this fine Thursday morning?” I was the Queen B[itch] and how I did adore my post.
“Better, now that I see that mini skirt of yours is back and better than ever,” Trev said while he winked at me.
“Baby boy, don’t act like you could handle all of this.” I posed on my car by lifting my left leg in the air and pushing my shoulders out to sink in my chest.
“Where’s Dan?” Jessica said.
“Right behind you.” We all turned our heads to see Dan and a tall guy with greasy black hair walking up to us.
“Who’s your friend, Dan?” I slid my red heart-shaped glasses down the bridge of my nose.
That’s when my life changed.
“Guys, this is Rob.”
- August 1998
You never had to worry about anything when you were with Rob. You never had to pay for stuff with Rob. Wherever you went, wherever you were, whatever time. Rob was the most charming man I’d ever known, he could sweet talk his way into or out of anything. And Rob always knew everything. He always had an answer and he always knew the way. He and I never used maps, we just drove. We never worried about gas or food, where to sleep or where to get drugs. Rob knew everything. He is everything.
The breaks screech obnoxiously and the force threw my body to the front of the car. “For fuck's sake Rob, can’t you drive?!”
“It’s not me, it’s this fucking car! Need to find a new one.” I hand him the cigarette and watch him take his drag. Everything he does is art. He is the sun.
“Sounds like you have something to do today.” I smile at him and turn to face the window.
“Two things,” he whispered, sliding his hand up my leg and squeezing my small thighs hard, making me moan.
“The light’s green, baby.”
He did some kind of head jerk, looking around frantically for something then said with a smile, “Wanna get pancakes?” He turned into the driveway of the diner across the street so fast the force pushed me out of my seat, making me hit my head against the doorframe. He parked suddenly and shut off the car. He never told me things, not directly at least. He always told me, “I don’t want you to have any ties to what I do, baby. This is me.”
I think it’s so I’ll never be able to testify against him.
He reaches over me and directs my line of vision by moving my jaw. He pointed to a red Mustang parked in the back of the lot, “Jackpot.” I move my head back to face him. Eye to eye, him and me.
Looking at Rob was surreal. It’s like he is above everyone and everything. He’s like a God. Being with him, actually with him, felt like you were in a trance and you can only be good, you can only want good. So much good it could drive some crazy. He always told me, “You’re already fucked up, like me.” And I seductively say back, “You and me baby, we’re gonna go to fucking hell,” then he’d grab the back of my head and touch our foreheads together. I will always be under his brown eyed, greasy haired spell.
“You know what to do, give me 15 minutes.” He winks at me and gets off the car, throwing the keys on his seat before he slams the door.
I put on my heart shaped glasses, pulled down my skirt and stumbled gracefully onto the walkway. Rob takes care of me, he always will.
I walk into the diner and sit at the bar when a large red headed woman approaches me. “Hi there, sweetie, what can I getcha?” She looked like the kind of woman who was popular in highschool and married the quarterback, then three years later popped out two kids, lost her shape and got a crummy job because he left her. Her hair was in a mess of curls and she had a blue pen sticking out from the edge of her ear. Her gold hoops were to die for.
“Two coffees to go, please and thanks.” I swerve around in my seat so I’m able to look out the painted windows and I see Rob talking to a man in a dark jumpsuit.
The waitress comes back a few minutes later with two to-go cups and the check, “Looks like your brother met Sam.” She pointed out the window and I turned my head.
“Oh,” I said in relief, “that’s not my brother.” I giggled, turning back in my bar stool.
She looks at me, quite confused, “Darlin, how old are you?”
“20.” Rob said to say 20.
“Darlin, I have a daughter that’s tall and skinny like you and she’s 14. How old are you really?” She eyes me up and down. I can’t tell if it’s disgust, pity, or sadness. Maybe a big fat mixture of the three. But I don’t care.
I took a sip of my coffee. “I already told you, I’m 20 years old..”
She doesn’t believe me, but she decides to ask more questions. “He give you that?” She nodded to the bruise on my arm which was a soft purple this morning but seemed to start fading into a green color.
“Oh yeah? And what happened to your face?” She crossed her arms. She’s getting upset and really intrusive. “Do you need to call someone?”
“Babe, come on!” Rob shouts loudly from outside, honking up a storm. My hero.
This is how it goes down: Jim starts the car and yells for me, I hop out, and we drive off into the sunset. The fairy tale I’ve always wanted.
I jump off the stool, smiling brightly, grab the bag Rob bought me, (an all plastic handbag in the shape of lips, all red with black outline), ‘search for money,’ He yells again, “Babe, get your ass out here!” I, the sweet little white girl, run out.
“No one will question a little white girl; it’s like your superpower or something.”
He wastes no time, as soon as I step in the new car he hits the gas pedal and turn the corner. “Where’s the stuff?” I breathe out heavily.
“Why do you have to question everything? Why can’t you just shut up and trust me?” We speed down the empty street and everything is back on track.
- June 1998
“Rob, I-I, I don’t know about this!”
“For fuck's SAKE Val, give me the fucking bag and stay here.” My hands tremble as I hand him my black Juicy Couture duffle bag. He snatches it out of my hand, “You’re so fucking dramatic. I’m going to get snacks; what do you want?” Maybe he’s telling the truth, all he was going to get snacks. Why am I worrying? There’s no reason to worry with Rob. I sit in the passenger seat, unable to talk. I can’t even breathe. He shakes my arm hard. “Valerie!”
“I-I,” My mind blanks as it tries to pull words out of the air to formulate a proper request. “I want the doughnuts, the powdered sugar ones,” I say it slowly, making him even angrier and I keep my eyes on my hands.
“Dud.,” He laughs at me. “Fuck you.”
Beep. Beep. Beep. Car door slams. I’m left alone.
15 minutes pass and Rob finally comes back, “Hey, wanna get high?”
You don’t question Rob.
I nod yes and he turns that car on, put his arm around my head rest and pulled out of the parking lot of the K-Mart.
- April 1994
I was always envious of the girls that found their soulmates at an early age; high school sweethearts, lovers since grade school type of thing. I used to eat that shit up. I never thought of the reality. I always wanted to be in love. I really don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything more. I don’t think I’ve ever truly felt love, until I met Rob.
Later that same year when I met Rob, April to be exact, we finally met.
Rob started coming to my house shortly after our first encounter. He picked me up from school, dropped me off and kept me company until Daddy got home at 5 PM.
In April, Rob became more than just the guy I hooked up with.
We were hanging out in my backyard by the pool. Daddy put in a small rose garden for me when my first cat died. I liked being there with him. I like being anywhere with him. “So, do you want to go to this stupid thing or not?” he says, annoyed with me as always.
He was referring to the spring dance bullshit Daddy always makes me go to. “I’m going to be there whether or not you go.” I rolled over on the grass, feeling the warm spring sun play on my cool skin. Holding myself up on my elbows, I look over to Rob who’s still laying on his back. The nice thing about being rich is that there’s always somewhere to be and something cool to do. Rob isn’t like me, he lives differently. His life was complex, he was complex. His mom died. Well, more like she checked out early if you know what I mean. And after that, his dad took out all of his anger on him until he moved out two years ago.
He reaches over and places his thumb under my chin, caressing it softly. “You’re so beautiful, but you can be such a bitch.”
“Fuck off, dude, I go to this shit show every year. My dad sponsors it.” I sit up on my folded legs and move the hair strands that dangled in front of his beautiful deep brown eyes and thick eyebrows off to the side and lean in to kiss him. “Plus, babe,” I motion for him to move so he’s on his back and pick up my right leg so I can straddle him. “I don’t think Daddy wants to see me with some boy with a dangerous smile.”
He sits up and squeezes me closer to him, kissing me roughly. When he pulls away he brings my forehead to his and says, “Let's go to this shit show together.”
“Okay,” I say lightly back. I move my eyes from his to my hands.
“Come on. I’m gonna fuck you in my car.”
When Rob picked me up later that night I learned that things are perfect until they are not.
Rob picked me up in his dad’s blue 1950 Mustang, which matched my soft blue dress. “Wow, Val, you look hot.” I have learned that “hot” and “beautiful” are not synonyms in the real world since this.
I ran down the stairs that lead to the front door and into his arms, kissing him with every ounce of passion I had. He picks me up and spins around, kissing me softly, softly, done. I smile as he pulls his head back, “I would do anything for you,” I tell him.
“Perfect. You won’t find anyone who loves you more than me.”
I think Rob and I have problems because I always test this truth.
When we arrived at the golf course where the dance was being held, I was greeted with Daddy standing at the front door waiting for people. I got off the car and waited for Rob to meet me. He grabbed my hand and held it tightly with his. I smiled at his affection, he never touches me in public. Not like this. We both walked slowly over to Daddy hoping to sneak past him, but his eyes were too quick. “Angel, you finally made it!” I walked over to hug him as he continued, “Who’s this? You didn’t mention a date.”
“Daddy, this is Rob. Rob, this is my dad.”
Rob extended his hand to Daddy, “Hello sir, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Before I shake your hand, son, how old are you?” Daddy’s face didn’t have any emotion, as if he was trying very hard to not rip Rob’s face off right here and now.
Rob stuttered a bit while he said, “21.”
“Valerie, you’re seeing a 21-year-old?” Daddy never yelled at me before. “No, I forbid it. Who do you think I am? What kind of father do you think I am?” Daddy pulled my arm away from Rob’s, which almost made me fall.
“No, Daddy, you can’t do this!” Daddy pulled me away from Rob, dragging me by my hand.
- August 1998
I wake up in the stolen car a few hours later. Rob was still driving and as I turned to see out the window, all I can see are mountains and a clear orange sky. “How long have you been driving?”
“We haven’t stopped since we started,” Rob replies quickly. I know he is becoming restless so I take off my seat belt and sit with my legs folded on the seat and face him. “What do you want?” he asks, smirking. He always knew what I was doing; he knew my every step before I took it. I slowly take off my jacket, letting it hang off my shoulders at first, pouting, then throwing it on the back seat. “Tell me. What do you want?”
“Pull the car over, baby.”
He does as he’s told. We are the only two out here in the middle of nowhere, driving down some dirt road. Nothing bad can happen out here.
He slows the car, parks it, turns off the ignition and it all began. I yank off my shirt and hop over to the driver's seat. With my knees on either side of his hips I kiss him, wrapping my arms around him and holding him so closely that if all other forms of movement were to cease, our heart beats would beat as one. He grabs me with one arm and throws me into the back seat. He takes off his shirt and I bite my lip, his skin glows even in darkness. The orange sky was now diffusing into a deep dark blue, letting in the stars you could not normally see in the city sky.
I look back at Rob who grabs my legs and rips off my skirt. He pulls me on to his lap and I undo his belt while kissing his chest.
- April 1994
Later that night, while crying in my blue dress, draped over my bed like a Disney princess, Rob came to save the day.
He stood outside my window and told me, “We are not too young to be in love.” I wiped the tears out of my eyes. I walk down the stairs and over to the backyard doors and see him standing there perfectly. Hands held in front of him and a smile plastered on his face. He really does love me. I open the door, he took me in his arms and said, “I am exactly what you need and I will always love you.”
- August 1998
Rob started to kiss my neck harder and harder. Sucking and occasionally biting. Usually, I wouldn’t mind his... passion, until he started choking me. The pain from the bites and raw hickies stung in my neck. I cry out in pain and attempt to tell him to stop, but he just squeezed tighter.
He eased his hold on my neck when he went to pull down my panties.
“Rob stop, I don’t want to do this anymore.” I pry his hands off of my neck and sit up trying to get my panties back up.
“You’re the one who kissed me. You always fucking do shit like this and I’m tired of it.” I put back on the shirt and reach for the door handle. Rob is too fast though. He always knows what I’m going to do. He knows me too well. I’m predictable to him. “You can’t just leave. Why do you think you’re better than me?”
“What? Rob, I think we should go.” I try again with the door handle but Rob grabs my arm and pulls me up to his face.
“No, you think you get to do whatever you want, whenever you want, and I’m sick of it.” He shakes my arms hard and my head bobs, messing up my hair.
“Rob, are you high? Did you do a line without me?” I yell.
He throws me down on the back seat so now he is completely on top of me. He jerks my hands and brings his face close to mine, so close our noses are a hair apart. With the angriest eyes I have ever seen in my life he looks at me and he harshly whispers, “It’s my fucking coke, bitch.” He placed his right hand back on my neck and used his left to pull down his pants.
Everything was a blur. I tried to fix all my attention on finding a way out of his grasp. I knew he was stronger so he could probably kill me if I tried anything. Oh God, what if he kills me this time? I squirm and pry at his hands before he can go any further. Further? Ha. What else could he do?
“Stop fucking moving. Stop fucking acting like you don’t want this.” He pressed his hand to my cheek pushing my head into the door of the car. I cry out in pain but of course, he doesn’t care.
His hand suddenly slips off my cheek and I take my chance as fast as it came. I pick up one of my boots and hit him as hard as I can. He holds his head and I reach for the door. I fall out of the car and run to the trunk. Rob was already there before I could open the trunk. Our eyes meet for a second and he slaps my face with enough force to make me fall to the floor.
I rub my hand on my face too see if it’s tears or blood that stains my body. The darkness has already consumed me, Rob, the car and all that surrounds us. The headlights shine ahead in the opposite direction and Rob stands over me, proudly, so his frame covers the light.
“I don’t know what I ever saw in you. You’re just some stupid, coke obsessed, white girl. You mean nothing now.” He turns around slowly.
I look at my skin now that I have light. Dirt. Dirt all over me, just like how I started the day.
I look to my left and see a rock.
It was just a thought. I never thought I could ever do anything to hurt someone else.
I pick up the heavy rock and walk over to him.
Tears stream down my face and I shut my eyes. The rock hits him hard and then I hear a loud thump on the trunk and then a second one. I assume it’s Rob’s body falling to the floor. I open my eyes quickly to make sure I’m right.
He lies there on the floor, the blood gushes out of his head. I didn’t know his blood was red like mine. I didn’t know his perfect body could ever have something in common with mine.
I kick his shoulder. No movement.
I drop to the dirt covered floor and cry.
How could he do this to me?
How could he leave me?
I loved him.
Blood falls down my nose faster and faster, sticking to my neck and staining my shirt. The clear tears have taken over my vision and I hold myself next to his continuously bleeding body.
I sit in a shallow pool of his blood for about 5 minutes. How could he do this? How could he leave me? I loved him.
I jump at the sound of Rob’s burner phone in his back pocket. I scramble to my knees and reach for his pocket. I hesitate at first, I know he’s dead and cannot hurt me now, Rob was magic. Rob is magic. He always had his ways. I gather my strength and pull the phone out of his pocket slowly, as if I’d wake him.
I do not recognize the number calling so I wait for the call to end. When it finally does I dial the only number I will never forget.
“Hello?” I hold a lump in my throat that forms at the sound of his voice. “Hello? I can hear you breathing.”
I swallow hard and, “Hi Daddy,” Squeaks out of my mouth.
“Valerie? Is that you? Where are you, princess?”
“Yeah Daddy, it’s me,” I wipe the tears away and continue, “Can I come home?” I can’t stop the tears as the question escapes my lips. I start gasping for air, “Daddy, I did something really terrible.”
“Just come home, straight to me.”
“It’s not that simple, I really fucked up, Dad,” I turn and look at Rob’s dead, lifeless body and start to cry harder, if that’s even possible.
“I can fix anything you did. Just come home and I will handle everything.”
“What do I do with the-”
“Don’t say anything more.” He cuts me off and I shut my mouth. “Just find your way home.”
“Okay...” I hang up the phone and walk back to the trunk of the car. Pulling out my black duffle back I saw Rob did get into the stash we were supposed to sell.
“Fuck it.” I open the bag and when I’m done I drop the bag next to Rob, shut the trunk and get in the driver’s seat.
- April 1994
We sat under our favorite tree in my backyard. The tree was huge and when there was wind it’s flowers would fall all around.
“You’re beautiful and perfect, I’m never going to leave you.” I look into his eyes and feel his warmth radiate to me and his love consumes me.
“You are beautiful and perfect and I don’t want to live without you.” He brushes my fallen hair out of my face and leans in to kiss my forehead. He is all I want and need in the world.