Chapter 1: 22
“Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans.”
― Philip K. Dick
“What? No? Really?” Judy’s face was impassive but she turned away from Jason and stared at the rows and rows of Santa Rosa car dealerships that flashed past them. The 101 was deceptively quiet, and Jason was speeding again.
“Why can’t I drive the Z?” Judy tried again.
Jason slammed down a gear, and tail-gated a stretch limo full of week-end wine tourists before swerving wildly into the slow lane. Judy shrank back in her seat and instinctively reached to hold on to the ceiling handle, but the Z didn’t have a ‘chicken-handle’ and she dropped her hand and held on to the edge of her seat.
The limo flashed its head-lights and Jason snarled and gave the driver the finger.
He turned to Judy, and gave her that sheepish, innocent look that used to turn her on so much. He now just looked dumb, she thought. “Read my lips J. Alger Jud. Jail time.”
“What? Just because you don’t have a middle name you are suddenly in charge” Jason mocked her. “You’re not my mother.”
Judy looked at Jason, and then burst out laughing. “I married a fool.” She now really laughed. Jason was a nerdy guy and a sense of humor was definitely not his thing. He blushed and revved the engine. The Nissan roared and shot forward with a shudder. Jason missed a gear. The car screeched, the sound of metal on metal, and ended up in fifth. Jason slowed down as the engine ran out of breath. He struggled, found third gear, and the car gained speed again.
“It was supposed to be my car too?” Judy couldn’t give it a rest. “Baby, it’s your car too” she mimicked Jason in a stupid sounding voice. “So if it’s my car too, I can drive it too.”
Jason ignored his wife.
“I’m talking to you” she repeated herself. She touched his leg, and he swerved.
“Goddamit woman, don’t do that!”
“Please. Please-please-please-please.” Judy reverted to flirting when all else failed, and she was now putting on her little girl bit Jason used to find so very irresistible, but he seemed completely unaware of her presence as he closed in on a new Mustang and felt the need to compete again.
“So how are we going to Napa if we just passed Windsor? This is the 101 you know?” Judy taunted Jason, trying to evoke some reaction. Judy really didn’t like being ignored, and she had tremendous difficulty staying quiet for longer than a second. She needed constant chatter to breathe, and when Jason was gloomy or sulking, her verbiage became almost clinical. “I am talking to you my husband?”
“Geyserville. I’ll take Highway 128 south-east from there. We can have lunch in Calistoga. If you’re a good girl.” Jason smiled now, and put his hand on Judy’s silky smooth knee.
“So we can have lunch at Sam’s Club?” Judy asked, remaining in her girlie incantation.
“Hey? I’m not eating at Wal-Mart? Do they even have a Wal-Mart in Calistoga?” Jason asked perturbed.
“Not Sam’s Club–Sam’s Club silly. Sam’s Social Club. In the Indian Springs Resort.”
“That’s on Highway 29.” Jason said.
“Yes darling. Are you displaying your geographical genius, or is there a question or statement in there somewhere?” Judy teased.
“I mean, it’s not really on our way is it?”
“You said you wanted to drive. So drive.”
It was cool inside and they were seated in the lounge, close to the bar. Judy was staring at the colorful wall painting behind the bar that seemed to depict two women in a field. “Why does that woman have – what – a pineapple on her head?” she asked
Jason felt tired after the long drive. He rarely drove the Nissan, and using the clutch incessantly cramped his foot. He tried to maneuver his leg onto the coffee table, but gave up when he saw his wife’s expressive face depicting a heart-attack.
“Come on fatty, why the pineapple? You’re the big intellectual in the family.” Judy looked at Jason with what he would have described as her dachshund face, head tilted slightly to the right, frowning eyes.
“I’m not fat” Jason instinctively retorted. “Bit overweight maybe.” He touched the slight bulge over his stomach, and looked at her invitingly, expecting her to reassure him that he was actually quite skinny.
“So why the pineapple, skinny?”
“Hello darlings. Ready to order?” Jimi put their drinks down on the coffee table, and smiled, exposing his marijuana smokers teeth. He was as thin as a blade, and had his hair folded into a bun.
“Can we eat outside?” Judy asked.
“You’re welcome” Jimmy flipped back.
“I’ll go for the lamb burger. You Jude?”
“Fish tacos. Please.”
“Yum. No one outside. Pick any table you like.”
Jimi seemed to glide rather than walk. “He is wearing Opium perfume” Judy whispered.
“Why are you whispering?” Jason asked.
“It’s a women’s perfume dummy. It’s what I wear?”
“How do you know?”
“What? Like I don’t know Opium? Please.”
“You know there is no such thing as a male or female perfume don’t you? Old Spice used to be for women. Now it’s for men. It’s just the marketing that makes it male or female.”
Judy looked dumbfounded. “Typical. So I’ll start using your deodorant. We’ll see how that works for you tonight. Lard-ass.”
Jason seemed mellow after lunch. He took her hand when they strolled back to the glimmering orange Nissan. “Even if it’s the same perfume he wears, it smells better on you, sexy.” He put his hand on her cheek and gave her a huge open-mouthed kiss. “Happy anniversary darling.”
“You too Jase. Now can I drive the Z?”
“What? No thank you for marrying me? No offer to serve and obey me? Just, give me the keys I’m driving?” He was slightly amused, but Judy could see his humor was only skin deep. He looked at her feet. Her long smooth legs ended in stilettos. “You’ll have to take” - he pointed at her feet – “those things off. You won’t be able to drive the clutch with heels. You’ll have to go barefoot.”
“So start in second. First is short. And watch the clutch. It’s a racing clutch. It’s very short. You can’t drive on the clutch. It’ll burn. So you.” He stared at Judy. She had a grin on her face, and he knew she didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. “Just drive.”
The car roared. Judy revved the engine aggressively, and then some. Jason shifted uncomfortably in the passenger seat. “Careful now” he offered, but Judy dropped the clutch and the powerful engine screamed as the back tires spun on the dirt. She hit the tarmac, and the car swerved left.
“Watch out!” Jason screamed. “You have to compensate to the right….!”
Judy lost control and took her foot of the pedal. The car shuddered and the engine smothered. Now the Nissan was standing sideways across the road, its nose pointing towards the downward side of the slope. The Z started to roll forward, and Judy, her face ash-white, tried helplessly to brake.
“It’s too hard, I can’t break without the engine,” she shouted in a high-pitched voice. She tried to steer the car to the left, but the steering was very heavy, and the Nissan rolled down the slope.
Jason grabbed hold of the hand break and pulled it back violently. The car rolled for another micro-second, and struck the corner of a concrete storm drain just before the hand break took hold. Something cracked and shattered, and Jason exploded, his facer red as a bell pepper.
“That’s It woman. Never again. You will never drive this goddam Z again. Ever. Ever again. Dammit!”
CHAPTER TWO: LOONY TUNES
“But there is also always some reason in madness.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
“Snap out of it.”
Jason turned sourly towards his wife. She was dressed in a tight fitting black pantsuit, sitting with her legs crossed and her back straight, poised like a lady, but dressed like a mistress. “Easy for you to say” he snapped back. “Four thousand dollars. Four. Thousand. Dollars. How do you like them apples?”
Judy sighed, and waved the barman, tapping her tall glass with her long nails, and then holding her finger in the air, signaling ‘another one’. She rolled the ice cube in the glass, and took it in her mouth, sucked on it, and released it again. The ice made a clink-clink-clink sound that irritated Jason, and she sensually enveloped the ice again and sucked on it, before biting hard and crushing the ice into fragments. She chewed on it, making loud crunching sounds with her mouth that irritated Jason even more.
The server placed a coaster on the table and put another tall gin and tonic down before motioning Jason. “Another one sir?”
“Double. No ice.”
“You’re welcome” the server mumbled, and tried to get her hair out of her eyes before she turned back.
“You’re welcome” Jason mocked her – “and the United States too. Why must every single server say that? You’re welcome. No you are, sir. No, you are more welcome. No you are even more welcome, double over?” He got lost in his own rant and the female handed him his double Jim Beam.
“You’re welcome” she repeated.
Jason swallowed the bourbon in two large gulps, and sat back. He waved to the bar for another, and took a handful of peanuts and munched loudly to get back at his wife.
“You have to drive back you know. If we are pulled over, you’re already going to jail. Into the system. Jumpsuit time.” She seemed to reflect for a moment, and then changed tack. “Take it easy honey. Don’t be so uptight. So I’m sorry about the frigging car. Okay? I’ve said it. I. Apologize. To. You.”
A different server put another double Jim Beam down in front of Jason. Before the server could say anything, Jason interrupted. “No. You’re welcome!”
The woman smiled, and then swallowed her smile. “You’re welcome” she stuttered. It really seemed as if she just couldn’t help herself. Despite knowing it was somehow not called-for, she just had to get it out there.
“Yeah, right. You too” Jason mumbled, attempting to throw a particularly large peanut up in the air and catch it with his mouth.
The peanut flew across the aisle, and with a wet plop sound, fell into a steaming cup of coffee, splashing some onto the saucer. Jason blushed and held his head steady, as not to give himself away. In a state of denial, too scared to look, he could feel the elderly lady stare, but after a second, she became less suspicious about the whom and more worried about the what.
She called a server and they removed a fat peanut with a teaspoon. They both stared at the Juds, who seemed truly obliviously innocent. The server apologized and the elderly woman moved to another table in a far corner of the dining room.
Judy started giggling loudly, but when she saw that Jason was not even now giving her any respite about the car, her mood turned a bit darker. “Well, at least that was a hole-in one. Seemed you could get it in without any Viagra now doesn’t it.” She immediately regretted her words, but taking it back in this situation, or pretending it back into some sort of joke, just seemed too difficult.
Jason looked hurt - just gulped down his bourbon - looking at her, but somehow avoiding her eyes. They ate in silence.
They drove in silence. Jason listened to Kris Kristofferson’s Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down
Well I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head
That didn't hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't
Bad so I had one more for dessert
“You’re speeding!” Judy shouted. Jason didn’t respond. She touched his leg softly, and he turned his head. “You are speeding!” she repeated. He didn’t hear her, and turned the volume down.
“You’re speeding. We’re doing eighty.”
Jason turned up the volume and dropped a gear. The car responded. Judy was pushed back in her seat, feeling slightly panicky, this time searching fearfully for any black-and-white cruisers beyond the horizon.
And there's nothing short of dying
Half as lonesome as the sound
On the sleeping city sidewalk
Sunday morning coming down
It was over quickly. Jason turned into an uphill corner and a California Highway Patrol cruiser flashed past them. Jason was not one to ever use foul language, but this time he let loose and swore repeatedly.
“Is he turning around?” he asked, fear in his voice.
“I’m looking, I don’t – shit – he’s turning. You’d better pull over.”
“No, not yet, what if he’s just turning back?”
The cruiser pulled in behind the orange Z car, and turned its lights on. The siren wailed once, and Jason started shaking.
He stopped at the next clearing alongside the road. “Get my license, and the registration papers, it’s in the glove compartment.”
“Just keep your hands on the steering wheel honey. Open the window.”
“License and registration please.”
Jason kept his left hand on the steering wheel and handed his papers to the police officer.
“You were doing 90 miles per hour sir. Do you know that?”
“I’m sorry officer, I wasn’t drinking . . I mean, thinking!”
“Have you sir? Been drinking?”
Jason looked shell-shocked. He turned towards Judy.
“Sir, will you look at me when I’m speaking to you.”
“I asked you a simple question sir. Have you been drinking?”
Jason slumped a bit, and exhaled. Then he looked up. Yes. Yes sir, some.”
“Please step out of the car sir.” The young officer stepped back, and with his one hand on his hip, holding his holstered firearm, he made enough room for Jason to step out into the ‘system.’ “Stay in the car ma’am. Do not step pout of the car. Stay in the car!”
To Judy it felt as if it all took less than a minute. She watched Jason talking to the officer, and then turn around. He put his hands on the roof of the cruiser. The officer took his hands, and used tie-straps to cuff him, hands behind his back.
“Can your – is she your wife – can she drive your car back home doctor? What kind of a doctor are you sir?”
“Shrink? That your wife, doc? Can she sir?”
Jason turned towards the car. He could see his wife making faces at him through the slanted back window.
“Is she making faces at me, sir? Is she your wife, can you please answer the question sir?”
“Drive the Z? I don’t think so. No ways – I mean – no, she’s not my wife. Patient. She’s a patient of mine. Delusional. Thinks we are married. A couple of chocolates short of a full box, if you know what I mean. Please don’t leave her behind. I promised her guardian, she cannot drive the car – she should not even be left alone. Can she get a ride back – like, with the cruiser?”
“I thought it a bit strange, making the faces and all. I’m sorry sir, mind the roof.” He opened the back door of the cruiser and put his hand on Jason’s head. Jason winced, and had some difficulty getting into the car and shifting in over the rock hard plastic seat.
CHAPTER THREE: AM I HEARING VOICES?
“And how do you know that you're mad? "
To begin with," said the Cat, "a dog's not mad. You grant that?"
“I suppose so,” said Alice.
"Well then," the Cat went on, "you see a dog growls when it's angry, and wags its tail when it's pleased. Now I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
“Can I offer you a glass of water? Are you allowed to have soda? I don’t suppose you are really allowed to have coffee are you dearie?”
“Who are you?” Judy asked suspiciously. Granted, Jason was booked into Santa Rosa jail, she thought, but something strange was going on. Why had the officer been talking so secretively with the other officers? Were they pointing at her? Everyone seemed to be treating her as if she was six years old. That’s very nice and all, she thought, but something was a bit off here.
“I’m a nurse dearie. Are you alright? Can I get you something? Is there someone I can call? For you? Where do you live dearie?”
“Excuse me, nurse Waters? You’re wanted on two, for a psych evaluation.” Sergeant Bush smiled down at Judy, and touched her shoulder gingerly. “You must be Judy? Are you comfortable Judy? I am – he pointed to his name tag – Sar…geant Bush. He was short and round with a mustache that looked like a huge brush glued to the middle of his face. Judy giggled, and shook his hand. Pleased to meet you, sergeant Brush. Bush, I mean Bush. He actually winked at her, and then left with nurse Waters.
A moment later someone brought her a red soda cup filled with Mountain Dew.
“Some moun-do for you. I brought you something to read too, Judy. That’s a nice name, my aunt Judy, my aunt, of course, she is Judy too.” Officer Murphy handed Judy the cup and a magazine.
“Thank you, I think.”
The cop smiled and she stared at the book. It was a worn-out copy of Alice in Wonderland, for children under the age of seven. Really? She looked around suspiciously, and gulped the Mountain Dew. It was so sweet she almost choked, but she finished it in seconds. Her lips were stained yellow, and she smiled at all of the police officers passing her.
They all look so kind, she thought, perfectly unaware of the fact that in the bright neon lights, her lips looked clownishly yellow, like those of a toddler who had too much yellow Kool Aid.
“Wake up convict.” Judy ripped the covers from their queen sized bed, and Jason mumbled aloud before jumping up. He stood next to the bed, looking at her. His hair was wild, simulating the Einstein look with fewer hairs.
“God, what have I done, he whispered and sat back on the edge of the bed. “I’m sorry honey. What am I going to do?”
“Today? Rest. Tomorrow, keep going. It’s not that bad. I mean, it’s not as if you robbed a bank or something. Anyway, we need to keep this thing quiet. No one at school can know about this. “ Judy paused. She had a strange, almost dreamy look, but she was frowning. “Was there something strange? Did you? Why do you think Murphy drove me home? I mean, surely he does not do that for every DUI spouse does he? I mean, it’s not like that’s PD policy, I’m sure of that.”
It took Judy a day or two at Strawberry Elementary School before she realized something was wrong. The school, at 2311 Horseshoe Drive, Santa Rosa, was an elite elementary school that taught only fourth, fifth and sixth graders. Judy was one of the art teachers, and she loved her job. The faculty was small, and the facilities were magnificent, but things were falling apart.
Mondays were minimum days, so bell-time was exactly 13h42. Wednesday was a regular day, and bell-time was 14h47 exactly. After the student’s left, Judy remained behind in her art-class. She loved the smells of the paints and the crayons and papers and the clay. The sun was shining in through the sash windows, and she could hear the birds outside.
Judy jumped up and hugged Gina. “Hey, how are you?”
Gina pulled a chair closer, and sat down. “Are you okay Jude?” Gina bent forward and took both of Judy’s hands in her own, her long curly black hair smelled sweet and she threw her head back to allow her to watch Judy intently. “You’ll tell me if anything was wrong, won’t you?” she asked in that melodious, almost hypnotically feminine voice of hers.
“Want to hear a joke?” Judy asked.
Gina pressed Judy’s hands, and straightened. “A joke?” Yeah, sure. Why not?”
“So this boy runs into the teacher’s lounge. He motions a girl to follow him, and she comes in, looking shy. Sir, the boy asks, can children have kids of their own? The teacher smiles kindly. Of course not. So the boy turns to the girl. See, I told you so. There’s nothing to worry about.”
Gina smiled. Then she tried to laugh. “Whahahaha. Good one. Waaaaah.”
“Not funny?” Judy asked.
They both burst out laughing.
“So we’ve been friends – forever” Gina had a full rounded Southern type of drawl, and she pronounced it fore-evarrrrr – “so you’ll share with me if something was like wrong, or something?”
“He wasn’t drunk?”
Gina looked perplexed. “Hey what? Drunk. Who?”
Judy stepped back. “Knock-knock?”
Gina watched Judy leave. Judy was beautiful in every sense of the word. The cheerleader type, curvy, with legs that made it very difficult for most men to keep their eyes from drifting, but something was wrong. Gina, dressed in long robes, and wearing sandals, went back to the teacher’s lounge. Her beads and bangles whistled and sang like a dream catcher when she walked.
“Did you speak to her?” Doreen whispered.
“You don’t have to whisper. Speak up, Ava snapped at her. “Did you ask her?”
“What exactly did your brother say?” Gina asked the stout slightly older woman sitting on the yellow couch with the ugly red cushions.
“Well, she was arrested?” Mrs. Dee held both hands up against her ears and made the crazy as a bat wheelies around her ears with a pointed finger. “Loony. Had a psych nurse there for her and all. A cruiser had to take her home. They had to take her home. They weren’t allowed to release her. Murphy told Charles that he had to take this babe home. Built like a cheer leader, but losing her mind. Cuckoo.”
“Her poor husband. Jason. You know, Beth used to date him in college. She said” – Doreen bent forward and whispered again – “that he was…”
“Just stop it Doreen.”
“Why, what’s wrong? Everyone does it?”
Gina said nothing. Judy? She wondered. Could it be? She was a bit funny sometimes. “I don’t know. Can you get some more information from him Mrs. Dee?”
“Mrs. Dee nodded conspiratorially. “Of course dear, just leave it to me.” The woman quieted down. It was time to go home.
CHAPTER FOUR: JASON THE FELON
“All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways.”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“Hey Jase.” Maureen wore huge round glasses and looked like a relic from the eighties. She held an old fashioned pencil with a rubber on top, in her hand, and pointed it towards the ceiling. “Big Blue wants to see you.”
“Why?” Jason snapped at her before he could check his mouth.
“Hey, I just work here” she replied, a bit defensively Jason thought.
“What did he say?”
“Tell Jason I want to see him. How else would he?”
Jason hung his jacket over his chair and left his bag on his desk. He was shaking slightly. He closed his door, and took a quick sip from the water bottle in his bar fridge. The vodka burnt his throat, and he took another swipe. He took a little atomizer from his pocket, and freshened himself with HyperPepper. It tasted vile, but it worked. No vodka on his breath. The warmth sank into his soul, and he felt better. Screw Big Blue, he thought.
“Hey Jason.” Big Blue, or Sydney Blumenthal, grabbed Jason’s hand and shook it heartily. He held on a bit longer than usual, Jason thought. Or did he?
“I need for you to do an alcohol test” Blue thundered. He was a big man. Six nine, and 280 pounds with a voice to match.
‘What? Why? I mean, how did you find out? I wasn’t drunk.”
“What’s wrong with you man. Are you drunk?”
Jason’s upper lip started shanking, and he looked Big Blue in the eyes.
“Waaaaah.” Big Blue had a thunderous laugh, and his huge frame shook as he laughed.
“Still sleeping doc? Man, you’re slow this morning, How do I know about it? You wrote me a crummy report, remember. Jessica Kidwell. She has a drinking problem, and she was arrested again. What’s that? Her third arrest. And that’s just in California. Waaaaah” he thundered again.
Jason smiled feebly, and tried hard to laugh, but he was shaking too badly. “A 302?” he asked.
“No. To hell with her. Debrief her and tell her to piss off.”
“Yip. Kick her butt. Get rid of her.”
Jason fell silent. “Never mind. I’ll catch you later.”
“Have a good one,” Blue thundered.
“You off already?” Maureen asked as Jason passed through the foyer.
“I have to go to San Francisco. To see Kidwell. I’ll probably not be back this afternoon.
“Drive safe” Maureen answered. She instinctively pushed her glasses back up her nose. Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. She shook her head and answered the phone.
“Doctor Jud? You know, he just left the building. You did. He was in a meeting, his phone would have been off. You know, try him in his car in five minutes. You’re welcome.”
Jason rolled out of the arcade and turned onto Highway 101 towards the city. His phone rang, and he answered immediately.
“Shelly, thanks for coming back to me so soon. Could you work out something with the DA?”
“Well, hi Jason. How are you this morning?”
“Very well. And you?”
“Great. Fantastically well.”
Jason cringed. He abhorred these excessively happy and tremendously positive professionals in the Bay area. Even when Shelly did it. “So what’s up?”
“I spoke to Frank Delaney.”
“Who?” Delaney. Assistant DA. Friend of mine. We have a problem.”
Jason exhaled audibly, and even his breathing sounded shaky. “What now?”
“It seems they want to indict you?”
“WHAT? I mean – what? – what for?”
“Well, it seems that you were quite drunk, you were caught doing 90 em-pee-aitch – in a 55 zone, she paused – and – apparently you were accompanying some or other mentally retarded – or rather, deranged female patient. That’s a felony. Reckless endangerment of a minor, or someone considered a minor by the state. It’s state law, and you’re a hotshot shrink. Delaney says the DA has been waiting for a long time to get back at Big Blue, something that happened something like six years ago. Jason, got to go, but you have to come and see me. At the Lombardi street office. Friday. I’ll have counsel there too. I’m sorry Jason, it looks pretty bad.”
CHAPTER FIVE: JUDY THE MENTAL
“Understand me. I’m not like an ordinary world. I have my madness, I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things that have no soul.”
― Charles Bukowski
“You not getting up?” Jason asked Judy. Judy rolled over, and hugged her pillow, and sighed. I’m ill. I phoned in sick. I’m too tired to get up.”
“You’re a crushingly sexy woman, but naked? Is this like the new you?”
“Do you like what you see?” Judy teased in a husky voice. She sat up and exposed her ample breasts to her husband.
“You got five minutes?” she teased again.
Jason just shook his head. “Sometimes I wonder about you” he snapped. “Grow up Judy. Hello?”
Jason slammed the door as he left, and Judy stuck out her tongue, and when that didn’t make her feel better, she gave him the finger.
“Screw you, bastard. You’re a bastard. A drunk bastard” she screamed, and then kicked of the sheets.
Her nudity gave her pleasure, and she giggled.
“Who are you?” she shouted, surprised by the strange pleasure it gave her. She has always been modest, shy even, and she has never been comfortable with her body. “I’m not answering you” she giggled.
Judy took a cab to 4th street. She jumped out, and ran across the street before the lights changed. As she entered Jackson’s Bar and Oven, someone whistled, and she lifted her head high and threw her hair back. Maybe I’m turning into a slut, she thought, but then she saw Rachel, and she lit up with warmth.
They hugged. Rachel was dark with huge brown eyes and a bohemian look. She wore the small round glasses of the college academician, and she was short and lean, not curvy at all.
“You look gorgeous.”
“Lilac has always been my color” Judy replied.
“If only I had your legs. Or your boobs. Well, all of you” Rachel laughed with a deep sense of delight and pleasure, so much so that two people at the table next to them started laughing with her without knowing why.
“Do you want to make love?” Judy asked.
Rachel smiled, then looked at Judy with a frown on her face. “You’re not a lesbian” she said.
“What, and you are?” They laughed.
“Can I have a cigarette?” Judy asked in the same tone.
“You don’t smoke” Rachel smiled. Again.
“What? And you do? Judy replied, again.
“What’s up Jude?” Rachel asked and took hold of Judy’s hand.
“I have that itch?”
“You’re not a nymphomaniac.”
“And you are? “ Judy burst out laughing. “I forget. You are!” They laughed for a long time, and then silence came. “
“Seriously though. I think I might have some personality disorder or something.” Judy began.
“Yeah right. You are like the most stable person I have – ever – known.” Rachel was becoming animated. “Out with it. What is actually the matter? The truth now.”
“I am paranoid. Or, if I’m not, I’m losing my mind. People are talking about me, behind my back, like. It’s like – when I walk into the room, everyone falls silent. I’m not stupid. I know when people are talking behind my back. Or when they are jolted when I suddenly walk in. Then, like Doreen, she would like pretend to continue with some conversation, but I can see they were not talking about, say, like the concert in the hall.”
Rachel took her craft beer and downed a quarter of it. She wiped the foam from her mouth with a napkin, and looked up. “I have no idea what you are on about. And since when do you drink?”
“I don’t know. Since this weekend. I drank two double gins this weekend. And some wine. I told you, something is wrong with me.” Judy threw a bourbon back, and swallowed without showing any emotion. She banged the glass on the table, and the barkeep brought her another.
“Do you think I should have an affair?” she asked Rachel. Rachel almost dropped her glass and she spilled some beer all over the table.
“What? Who are you?”
Judy smiled.” I feel like doing the honky- tonk on the side.”
The women laughed until their throats were sore and their back muscles ached, and then some. They were both a bit zonked when they left Jackson’s Bar and Oven. It was not even six o’ clock yet.
CHAPTER SIX: ANOTHER GIRL INTERRUPTED
“When you are mad, mad like this, you don't know it. Reality is what you see. When what you see shifts, departing from anyone else's reality, it's still reality to you.”
― Marya Hornbacher, Madness: A Bipolar Life
Rachel waved as she drove away in her Prius. Judy suddenly remembered her purse. She became ice cold. She turned, and ran back, her high heels sounding clippity cloppety. She ran into Jacks and froze. Two dudes with giant red beards and yellow bandannas on their heads were drinking shots at her table.
“Hey, you looking for this?”
Judy spun around. She was confronted by what she thought, was the sexiest woman she ever saw. She had short straw-yellow hair, kept in place with a red headband. She was dressed in the tightest denims ever, with only a black t-shirt and a short sleeved denim jacket. And boots, old army boots on her feet. She was stunning, and Judy was completely frozen for a few seconds.
“I’m Freddie” the woman said with a playful smile on her face. She extended her arm and shook Judy’s hand. Her arm was covered in tattoos, every color of the rainbow.
“You’re not a man” Judy whispered.
“And you are?” Freddie laughed.
“Judy defrosted, and grabbed her purse. Thank you. Very much. I would have been in such deep…”
“Don’t mention it” Freddie interrupted.
“Who are you?” It slipped out, and Judy almost blushed, but then she smiled and decided to go with the flow.
They both giggled.
“Can I buy you a drink?” Judy asked.
“I’m just finishing up. Give me five minutes” Freddie answered.
“You work here?” Judy kept it up.
“Barkeep. Back soon. Don’t go away.”
Judy sat down at the table in the corner, next to the window. I might be mad, but goddammit it’s fun. She felt a bit scared too, in all honesty, but what the hell.
They had a few drinks, and Judy felt as if she was on the ride of her life, as if she snorted something potent and she was chasing the dragon. They held hands as they walked downtown to a dive bar where Freddie played pool. They drank more there, and ended up talking intimately in a corner, oblivious of the noise and the loud music.
“I’m not a lesbian” Judy shouted.
“And I am?” Freddie laughed. “I’m divorced. I have a daughter,” Freddie said. They had another round.
“Where’s your husband?” Freddie wanted to know. He’s in Los Angeles, or somewhere. Judy laughed too loud. “You want some brandy in your coffee?”
“No. Lose the coffee, give me only the Brandy. Oh my God, is this your car? I love the Z. I love it. What a beauty. Is it yours?”
“Yip. She’s my baby” Judy lied smoothly. She handed Freddie a shot glass with some brandy in it. They both gulped it down, but Judy almost barfed.
“God, that’s pretty awful” she moaned. Freddie looked at her in surprise.
“Wrong, that’s probably the best Brandy I had. Today.”
They laughed. It seemed funny at the time.
“Wow. Let’s go for a drive. Beautiful, and you own a sports car.”
Judy held her pose. Being drunk helped. I like it, she thought. “I’m a bad girl” she joked.
“Bad to the bone” Freddie refrained. “Show me the money baby” Freddie shouted.
Judy started the Nissan, and the engine gurgled thirstily. Somehow, Judy will never know how, she slipped the car into reverse, and spun the tires as she reversed at breakneck speed, out into the road. In one smooth movement she shifted into first gear, and she smoked the tires. The neighborhood dogs began barking, and old Mrs. McLaughlin’s lights went on and someone peered through the curtains.
“Wow, you can drive bitch” Freddie shouted. She opened the side window and stuck her head out into the cold night air. “Wake up!” she screamed. “WAKE UP SANTA ROSA!”
She slipped back into her seat. Judy was still shell-shocked, but she was not letting on. She smoothly double clutched the Nissan, and the wheels spun again as it powered up into fifth gear. She put her foot down, and went into the winding turn down McKenzie at eighty miles an hour. The car didn’t flinch, no body roll at all. As she exited the curve, she gunned up into sixth and the Z started flying, climbing up to a hundred and ten miles per hour, the engine now purring effortlessly.
Less than six minutes later, Judy was standing beside the car as Officer Murphy was cuffing her with tie-strips. “I’m really sorry ma’am, I know it’s not your fault, and don’t be upset, these straps will come off in a few minutes.”
“I’m a racing driver” Judy tried to joke.
“Yes. Yes you are. No harm in that.”
“No really, I stole the car. She is my girlfriend you know. We are lesbians. Full on total lesbians.”
“Of course ma’am. Murphy turned towards Freddie and winked. Ma’am, would you do me a favor, get into the car. He put his hand on top of Judy’s head, and she shifted in easily. He closed the door, and walked towards Freddie.
“You her guardian ma’am, she really should not drive you know.”
“Who is she?” Freddie asked. “Why do you even know her? And why so gentle. I thought all pigs were, like pigs? And all.” She smiled wryly, but Murphy let it pass.
“How did you end up in the car ma’am?”
Freddie shifted her feet uncomfortably. She was out of the loop, and she just couldn’t figure out what was going on. “I was walking to the bus stop. On the corner of 4th and 7th. And she stopped. Offered me a ride. Never saw her before in my life.”
“Your name ma’am?”
“Cindy Moss. I have my ID in my back pocket.”
“That’s not necessary ma’am. You are free to go.”
“What? Really? Just like that then?”
“Good night ma’am.”
“At least give me a ride?” Freddie - Cindy – almost begged. I can show you a good time!”
Murphy closed the door of his Crown Vic and the blue and red light started turning slowly. He nodded to Cindy as he made a U-turn. “Seven Mary three and four.” His radio crackled. “I can stand on my head without any clothes on, and sip a beer through a straw in sixteen seconds, Judy mumbled, throwing herself completely into the role of the girl interrupted.
“Sure you can ma’am” Murphy smiled.
Judy could feel the injection creeping through her body. It felt like a soft pink cloud of silk spreading all-over her body. It felt good, and her tears dried up. She felt a bit stiff. After-all, she kicked the male orderly where you can’t kick a man, and he doubled over, and six orderlies grabbed her. She smiled, sniffing, tears and laughter mixing with the ecstatic calm that was sedating her into dreamland. I knocked them all around for a very long time.
What in God’s name was Jason doing here. She suddenly remembered where her rage came from. She knew for certain now. I am really, really, like totally insane. I’m seeing shit. Like Jason, sitting in the patient’s lounge, wearing funny yellow hospital pajamas.
She became groggy.
The bastards. I’m a mad woman, walking on a cloud, out there on the perimeter, we are all … “
She snored softly. Her face looked angelic in the moonlight.
CHAPTER SEVEN: SERENDIPITY
“Some are born mad, some achieve madness, and some have madness thrust upon 'em.”
― Emilie Autumn, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls
She was awoken five o’clock in the morning. A female orderly went into the bathroom with her, and forcedly bathed her. Judy no longer felt mentally ill. Just ill. She was too sedated to fight the ugly block of a woman off, and she smelled of cheap soap and detergents afterward.
She was forced to eat some foul cold porridge and a fruit salad that tasted sour and watery. They didn’t give her any meds, and she was given a black plastic armband that said Sonoma County indented on it.
She was about to demand a phone call, when she heard chains, and before she knew it, she was cuffed again, this time no tie-straps. The real thing. She was chained-up and had to run taking short steps to keep-up with the U.S. Ranger who apparently planned to transport her to the courthouse – the Sonoma Superior Court, Court 22, at 3055 Cleveland Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA. That’s what the order said. She was cuffed to a hard plastic seat in the back of a long off-white van without windows, and she had to hold her papers, which provided her with the details of the court.
“Hear ye hear ye, the Sonoma Superior Court Judge Thomas presiding is now in session.” The bailiff sat down, and Judge Thomas slammed his gravel down with a bang. “State v Jason Alger Jud, docket 102237?”
“Morning Judge. I represent Doctor Jud. We are pleading this out. We have an agreement with the DA.”
“Name?” the judge grimaced.
“Name. Do you have a name, counselor? Are you awake yet young woman?”
“Apologies Judge. I am Shelly Teggin from Lawson Savage and Lovemore.”
“Mr. Rogers? Do you. Have a deal?”
“Thank you judge Thomas, yes. We have made a deal.”
“Thank you judge.”
“Next. What is this? Ex parte? Really? Who brought this docket in? In re Judy Jud? No docket number?”
“JASON? Jason, what the hell?”
“Judy. My God, what have they done to you?”
The gravel almost split in two for the veracity with which judge Thomas slammed it down. “SILENCE. This is MY court, I speak here. Only I. Another word, and I’ll lock all of you up for contempt. Is that clear?”
A murmur of consent and agreement went up. “Yes Judge. Yes sir”
“Mrs. Jud? Why are you here?”
“Silence!” He slammed the gravel down again. I told you only I speak in this court. Wait till I ask you a question before you say anything.” The judge said this with no irony at all, and Judy decided to demure to his authority.
“Why is she here?” He paged through a file, and slammed it shut and threw it down on the floor behind him. “
“Judy Jud. Stand up. Mrs. Jud, the court apologizes for the behavior of the District Attorney and the SFPD. You are free to go. We are all victims of stupid, aren’t we Mr. Rogers?”
“Judge, can I approach the bench?”
“Absolutely not Mr. Rogers. Absolutely no. If you ever bring me an empty docket with a lot of…crappy inferences from unqualified police officers playing psychologist, I’ll have you impeached, I’ll bar you from my court. Is that clear Mr. Rogers?”
“If it pleases the court, Judge.”
“It does Mr. Rogers, it does indeed. Next! Mr. Jud, stand up. Approach me. Mr. Jud, today is your lucky day.”
“Judge, please, sir, not Doctor Jud too your honor?”
“Don’t your honor me Mr. Rogers. You bring me a perfectly sane mad woman with no docket at all, a teacher with a clear record locked up in an institution for the night on the goddamn advice of a rookie SFPD officer. Really? And then you send this sorry excuse for a drunk, apologies Mr. Jud – doctor Jud, with the wrong docket and the rap sheet of Josiah Jud, the Santa Rosa Orange rapist, and you expect sympathy from the court? Doctor Jud. If I ever see your sorry face in my court again, I will lock you up for such a long time, you’ll forget your name before you get out again. Is that clear doctor?”
“Yes judge. Clear.”
“Case dismissed. Mr. Rogers, my Chambers please.”
He slammed the gravel down with force again, got up, and left through the judge’s door.
CHAPTER EIGHT: TOGETHER AT LAST
“So when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there's always madness. Madness is the emergency exit.”
― Alan Moore, Batman: The Killing Joke
It took four hours before they were actually released from the cells downstairs. They had to wait for clothes for Judy, and Jason had to suffer through a couple of long hours while the DA tried to revive the charges and re-file an indictment. In the end, madness prevailed, and Jason and Judy Jud sat on the stairs outside of the courthouse waiting for an Uber car.
“So you’ve been drinking for years, and I never even knew it? Judy asked incredulously. You? Vodka in the mornings, during the day. Get out of here!”
“ And you? So you did 100 mph in the Z, drunk as a skunk, with your lesbian girlfriend hooker whatever gender queer binary - person – in tow? And the cigarette? Since when do you smoke?”
Judy took the Camel Filter from her mouth, and looked at it, almost in surprise, it seemed. “I don’t really know. But I like it. I think I’ll smoke for a while?”
“So explain it to me one more time. So – it was you. You told Murphy that I wasn’t all there? Bastard!”
“I’m sorry Judy. I was drunk.”
“Are you going to stop drinking?”
Jason laughed. “I don’t know. But I like it. I think I will drink for a while.”
They laughed, and Judy leaned in and Jason put his arm around her.
“I’m not wearing panties.” Judy whispered.
“Do you think people have sex in the back of Uber cars?” Jason proposed.
“I don’t know. I’ll tell you when we get home.”