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by Meta Jones
My name is Jill and I’m addicted to cocaine.”

Jillian Travis, Jilly to her friends, lowered her head and wiped away imaginary tears as she stood in front of the small assembly of the Butler Street chapter of Narcotics Anonymous. With one eye open, she canvassed the group, picking out easy marks for future reference just in case her current goldmine dried up. You never know when you need new friends, she thought, suppressing a smile for the umpteenth time that evening.

“Hi, Jill,” the group said loudly in unison.

Jill raised her head, straightened her shoulders and began reciting the speech her counselor, Kate Hannon, had prepared. She sprinkled the dramatic dialogue with emotional sighs and gestures of regret, but for the most part she told the story just as Kate had written it.

“My mother was also an addict,” Jill said gripping the metal podium and turning her head as if fighting an outpour of tears. “She sold herself for drugs and my brother, sister and I were left in alleys, doorways or on anonymous stoops, waiting for her to return. Even when she came back, there was no love. We relied on the help of strangers for everything; food, shelter, and affection. When the authorities finally found out how we were living, they took us, split us up and shuttled each of us from one foster home to another. To this day, I don’t know where Libby and little David are.

I was fifteen when I met a smooth talking guy named Key Man. He took me in, turned me on to drugs and burglary, and became my mother, father, sister, brother, and only friend. If we had not been caught—if Judge O’Connor and Kate Hannon hadn’t come into my life and believed in me, I would be dead by now. Cocaine had taken charge of my life and was spinning me into an early and ugly grave.” Jill took a deep breath.

“That lady over there,” Jill said pointing to Kate Hannon standing against the wall in the back of the room, “that lady has been my salvation. She made me admit to myself that the drug was much more powerful than I am. And she brought me here to be with others who understand that; people who will listen without judging. Thank you Ms. Hannon, and thank you NA for welcoming me into your fold. I haven’t had a drug or a drink in seven days and I believe in my heart that I’m on my way to a full recovery and a better life.”

The audience stood and clapped frantically. A young black woman in the front row, with long, matted dredlocks, wept. The counselors applauded and yelled their support. She had pulled it off. A stellar performance, if she said so herself. Maybe acting would be her next pursuit. Who knew?

In reality, her mother was alive and well in sunny Florida and Jill was an only child. All she had to do was pick up the phone and her mother would be on the next plane begging her to come home. It was good to have that option, just in case, but there was no need to upset the gravy train she was riding on now. Things were going too well.

Jill took her seat and pretended to listen to the other crackheads and meth addicts parading in front of her. All of their stories were pretty similar to the one she told and for a minute she wondered if Kate had written their scripts too. The exceptions were a yuppie banker and a sad looking school teacher, both of whom claimed to have fallen prey to curious experimentation and the ridiculous ‘one time you’re hooked theory’ the government peddled to kids. Yeah, right, a brain cell did it. Those two losers liked getting high just like she did.

The meetings were a part of her sentence. Justice Harold O’Connor was certain the meetings, a year's probation, some restitution to the victims and random drug tests were harsh enough punishment for poor little Jilly. After all, it was that big, black Key Man who hit those people with the bat and took their money to buy drugs. He was the bad one . It was his infuence over Jill that made her participate. Jill giggled aloud at that thought and covered her mouth hoping no one had noticed.

Nonetheless, listening to the sob stories was pure torture. They were all lying anyway. As soon as they sucked up the lime kool-aid and ate the stale cookies, each one of them would be out hunting for the next high. Everybody, that is, but Jill Travis. Jill didn't have to hunt for anything. A whole plate of blow was waiting for her on the dining room table and she couldn’t wait to bury her nose in it. No five dollar rocks for her; no dime bags. Not any more. She had an unlimited supply of the best Coke she’d ever put up her nose and hadn’t had to hit a lick at a snake to get it.

Finally. After an hour and a half of droning voices and a bucket of tears, the meeting was breaking up. The last addict had finished whining about his children and the damage he’d done to his family and friends. Now the head counselor, Lee Mobley was wraping things up; thanking everybody for coming and promising Narcotics Anonymous was the cure. Yada yada yada.

Jill looked back at Kate to get her attention, but Kay was in a deep conversation with a tow-headed pasty faced man with saggy cheeks. Kate really seemed into him; hanging on his every word. For her sake, Jill hoped he was a better lay than he looked. If his dick sagged as much as his cheeks, Kate was in for a miserable night.

But then, Jill thought, so much was taken for granted by the way people looked. Just like Judge O’Connor had assumed so much about her. Because she was a sized 4 blonde with a schoolgirl smile, he was convinced Jill was a victim. And that was before she had said anything. He looked at her and couldn't fathom another reason why she would be with a thug like Key Man. It had to be a childhood of abuse, drugs and the threat of violence that forged that partnership, right? And although Jill played it that way, if the judge knew the truth he would know that Key was the best thing since air. A man trained to love her anyway she wanted and do whatever he was told...there wasn't too much better than that.

According to the judge, NA and consistent counseling was what she needed to put her on the road to a productive life. That’s why he assigned her to Kate Hannon; a rehabilitation counselor and friend of the court. Kate Hannon periodically boarded ‘special cases’ and Jill fit the definition. Jill was mandated to stay with Kate for a period of six months or until she was able to mainstream productively into society.

The pairing of Jill Travis and Kate Hannon had been a better match than anything or MateMatch could put together. They laughed at the same things, liked the same music, same tv shows and shared the same habits--they both loved to get high!

“Well," Kate had said when Jill was released to her, "I hope you know Antonio Davis, Key Man--whatever his name is--is screwed“and I for one feel sorry for him. What about you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Key took advantage of me and...” Kate had given her a knowing look and both of them had giggled uncontrollably.

"Wanna get high?" were Kate's next words, and it had been party, party, party ever since. Two weeks had passed, and not a day went by without a plate full of coke wating for her on the dining room table. The two of them would get blasted first thing every morning before Kate went to work. Jill would hit the plate all through the day and Kate would join in again as soon as she came home. They would stay up laughing and talking into the night. It was heaven right here in El Paso, Texas.

“Get over here,” Kate whispered, pulling Jill gently by the arm. “I’ve got a man named Oscar in the trunk waiting to congratulate you on your award performance.”

“Thank you, thank you very much,” Jill said closed mouth, her best Elvis impression.

“Miss Travis,” Lee Mobley said coming up behind her and sticking his hand out in greeting. He was next to her before she noticed him. Holding her hand firmly, he moved his head from side to side, looking her up and down. Uncomfortable with the scrunity, she lowered her head, but he peered underneath and lifted her chin.

“No need to be embarrassed, Miss Travis, we’re an understanding group here. All of us have been through something. You’re not, by any means, the only one with regrets. Believe me—you’ll come to realize very soon, how loving this group can be.”

Jill released a brief smile, removed her hand and took a sip of punch. He stared for a few seconds more; a few seconds too long for her liking, then wandered over to another of the night’s confessors.

“What’s his trip?” Jill asked, her cheeks still burning from the inspection.

“I told you about him, Jilly. He’s probably seen and done every drug known to man. Seen just about every kind of addict too. An expert, you could say.”

“Why was he looking at me like that? You think he knows I'm still...?" Jill stopped and completed the sentence with a raised brow.

A strange smirk on her face, Kate shook her head and said matter-of-factly, “If you can’t take the heat, don’t play with the fire.” Kate turned and walked over to speak to another counselor.

That was strange, Jill thought. Kate wasn't usually that flippant with her. And anyway if Mobley could tell about her, he could tell about Kate. How Kate got away with her habit was still a mystery to Jill. Kate was always high. She had probably come with a vial in her purse ready to toot before they drove off. Although she liked Kate alot, the whole situation was weird. There was always a massive amount of coke at the house and Kate gave it willingly. Almost made her take it. And so far Kate hadn’t asked anything. But just like Jill's grandmother always said nothing was free. Inevitably, Kate would want something, and whatever it was, Jill thought looking at Kate’s profile, she was going to ask for it soon. Just depended on how Jill felt at the time if she’d pay up or not. Meantime, she'd play wait and see, kick back and enjoy the ride.

The hall was almost empty. A few counselors and one or two attendees stood saying goodbyes at the door. Pasted on smiles were glued to their sallow faces. Jill was convinced each blank look had a plan for finding the next high behind it. The banker, with a devious glint in his eye, nodded in agreement to something the teacher was saying. The teacher grinned in return. They had obviously bonded during the meeting and a rendezvous was in the works. It was all entertaining, but Jill was ready to go. She yearned to get home to the good time waiting there. Inching along the wall a little at a time, hoping not to be noticed, she moved to the door and disappeared outside.

“Whew!” she said reaching in her purse for a cigarette.
“Uh huh, that’s a no-no.”

Jill froze; her heart pounding. Lee Mobley grabbed her wrist and whirled her around to face him. “No drugs, remember?”
“Drugs? A cigarette? Give me a break, I just needed some air, that’s all," Kate said frowning, "Look, I’ll wait for Kate by the car. See you later, oh yeah, and thanks.” She pulled her hand away from Mobley and walked fast towards the parking lot.

“Hey! Miss Travis!”

Jill stopped and turned around.

“I’ll bring the liquor,” Mobley shouted
“What?" she asked. What the hell is wrong with him? Jill mumbled.

Maybe he was just trying to be funny? Trying to see how she would react. One thing for sure, if he went to the judge with anything, he’d have to prove it and Kate would take care of that.

Jill paced back and forth in front of Kate’s dark blue Mercedes, willing Kate to come out of the door. “She puffed on her cigarette and figeted with a pack of matches as other cars in the parking lot drove off. It had to be empty in there by now, Jill thought. Kate must be holding a private meeting with that loser she was talking to. But the least she could've done was to let Jill know. "Come on Kate," Jill whispered. She fell against the car, laid her head and hands on the roof and closed her eyes.

Suddenly, someone grabbed her shoulder and she jumped,startled.

It was the counselor Kay had been talking to. He grabbed her upper arm tightly, slapped his other hand across her mouth and started dragging her across the concrete towards the only other car left, a new model Chrysler parked in the corner of the lot.

“Let go of me, you nut!” Jill tried to scream through his grip, “Are you crazy? Let me go!”

The door opened and he threw her into the backseat, “Don't say a word or I’ll show you how this works.” The counselor said rubbing the bulge in his pants pocket. He got in beside her, snapped a pair of handcuffs to her wrist.

“What are you trying to do, rape me? Are you are crazy? Somebody saw you, I know they did, so let me outta here before you get caught.”

“Shut up!”

Before she could say another word he hit her hard in the chest. Air flew from her lungs and she doubled over in pain. She panted, trying to catch her breath. Balling his fist, he threatened her with another blow if she made a sound.

Silently she began to cry; her face stinging with each salty tear. Her insides hurt in places she couldn't describe. And her arms. She tried to turn, lay her head on the seat, but she couldn’t maneuver because of the cuffs and the man wedging her against the car door. Someone she hadn't seen before was driving. He started the car and revved the engine as if giving a signal, then drove slowly out of the lot. From the corner of her eye, through the pain in her chest, she thought she saw Kate waving as they passed. Before she could process the thought, everything in her world went black.

“Wake up! Wake up!” the counselor said. He took a small bag filled with white powder and a shortened drinking straw and shoved into her nose.

“Take it,” he demanded.

Dazed, Jill did as he said, inhaling as much of the drug as she could. Her head jerked back, banged against the seat. She shook her head fast back and forth, trying to get rid of the burning in her nostril.

“Keep going,” he said pulling her upright by her hair and pushing the straw into the other side of her nose. She inhaled. He let her head fall back again, then poured a small amount of the powder on the back of his hand and sniffed it.

“I'm Cameron West, but they call me the Goodie Gobbler 'cause I gooble up all the little goodies like you. Pretty neat, huh? We didn't meet before. I saw you, though. You're good looking. I like that. ”

Jill tasted the bitter mixture running from her nose and burst into a fit of tears. The man was actually trying to have a conversation! She was handcuffed, out of her mind with panic; cocaine had her heart racing at record speed and the crazy man who had just kidnapped her was trying to talk. She was scared out of her mind.

She screamed as loud as she could and called for help. His fist caught the side of her throat. Her body jerked and shivered uncontrollably then stopped. Once again everything went black.

Jill woke, cold and naked; her body sprawled across a furry beige coverlet spread over a dark hardwood floor. She was positioned spread eagle in front of a blazing marbled fireplace, her wrists and ankles shackled to wooden columns on both sides of her. Despite the warmth from the fire, she trembled; her eyelids fluttered. She tried to move, and succeeded in turning her head an inch or so to the right. From the corner of her eye, she could see rows of books, floor to ceiling, and a large desk cattycorner under heavily draped windows.

Groggy and disoriented, Jill moaned, “Where am I?”

From behind her she could hear voices, some hushed others loud and noisy; one vaguely familiar.“You're exactly where you were destined to wind up, dear.”

The voice was Judge Harold O’Connor’s. Jill’s pulse quickened, her body tensed. He appeared before her and stood at her feet. Staring down with evil curling his lips, he spoke in soft, low tones. "You're in the lion's lair, sweet Jill. Plumped up and ready for the feast."

The judge wore a short burgundy smoking jacket laid open and a spray of gray hair sprouted from his barrel chest. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, reminiscent of a boxer preparing for a fight. The slit of his shorts gaped wide and then closed; his half-flaccid member falling in and out. The loose skin of his torso shook as he chuckled triumphantly.

“You are a beautiful little sprite. And I shall enjoy tripping the light fantastic alongside you. I've had all kinds, but I must say, you are one of the most exquisite. ”

“I don’t understand,” Jill said faintly, trying to regain her senses. “ Why am I here?” She struggled to raise up, but could move nothing but her head and her hips.

“Judge O'Connor, please help me,” she pleaded.

“Miss Travis, Miss Travis, did you think I believed all the mishmash you fed me in the courtroom. That poor little white girl routine? Really young lady, I’ve been on the bench for more years than I care to recall. It would take a much brighter mind than yours to fool me. Unfortunately, too many of you young ladies make the same mistake, and quite frankly I take offense.”

The doorbell rang and Jill screamed

“Shhh...Miss Travis, stop that! You’re going to need that energy. The rest of our guests are here now, so just be quiet and behave. No need to protest anyway. I promise you it will only serve to frustrate you.”

Jill tried to pull herself free, but it was impossible. She was bound securely and movement only caused more pain. The cuffs were rubbing her wrists raw and if she kept trying to move her feet, the skin would be torn from her ankles.

Tears poured down her face. How she gotten into such a horrible situation? And what an awful man the judge had turned out to be. As soon as she could get away, she was going straight to the police.

Jill heard laughter, then music. Someone had put on Marvin Gaye and 'Let's Get It On' bounced around the room.

“Come in, she’s in here,” the judge said.

The one calling himself the Gobbler and the driver of the car were already naked. They placed a sofa in front of her and sat down. One by one, other men filed in, eight that she could see. Some of them were counselors at the meeting, but one she was sure had been a participant. They quickly shed their clothing, tossing trousers and shirts in the corner. Several replaced their clothes with smoking jackets similar to the one the judge wore. Others stood naked in front of her passing joints, smoking cigars or dipping fingernails into small bags. In front of her the driver pulled a pipe from his pocket; the Gobbler spilled a large amount of white powder onto a mirror and positioned it on his lap. Chatter of all kinds was going on around her and Jill was sure she had died and gone to hell.

After what seemed like an eternity, the doorbell rang once again.

“And the award goes to...Jillian Travis, for Best Bullshitter in a real life drama,"

Kate Hannon said squatting down beside her. "Hey honey, a little wrapped up right now, huh?” She patted Jill on the head and bent to whisper in her ear, “Hit the pipe, Jill--get as high you can. Believe me, you don’t want to be in your right mind for this party.”

“Why are you doing this Kate? I thought we were friends.”

“It’s my job. I like you, Jill, I really do, but the judge takes care of me and I’ve got to take care of him. I’m sorry.”

“What are they going to do to me? Make sure you let them know that I’m going to tell everybody from the chief of police to the President about what they're doing.”

“Poor, baby, you’re not going to tell anybody anything. These guys are going to do everything they can think of to that pretty little body of yours. When they’re through, they’re going to fill you full of drugs and dump you on the street. It’s what they do, sweetheart.”

“And what are you going to do, watch? What did I ever do to you?”

“Me—you never did anything to me. But you lied about so many things, you’re just easy prey. Nobody’s going to miss you for a while and everybody’s going to believe you ended up exactly where you were destined to. Dead on drugs. And by the way, I do a little more that watch. Like this...” Kate kissed Jill hard on the mouth and jabbed her hand between Jill’s legs.

“Alright, over there, Kate,” Judge O’Connor said playfully. “Save some Jill for the rest of us.”

A few minutes more and the handcuffs were unlocked, Jill’s arms fell to her sides. Weak, her legs shaking, she struggled up on all fours and crawled towards the judge; his eyes closed, his hips swaying to the music. As she moved towards him, hands reached for her, squeezing, groping; she collapsed in a heap at the judge’s feet.

“Dance with me, Jill,” the judge said pulling her up.

It was clear her situation was hopeless. She could see no way out. Naked men surrounded her; Kate had gotten naked to join the party; and they all looked at her as if she was the main course in a starving man's dinner.

“Hand me that pipe,” she said with a sudden burst of resolve. She grabbed it and puffed fast and hard on the stem. She held in the smoke as long as she could, then exhaled. “...the straw, too,”.

Jill took two deep snorts of the drug and started to smile. She wrapped her arms around the judge’s neck and moved her hips into a slow rotation against his loose, wrinkled skin as another man sandwiched her in from behind.
The doorbell. This time Lee Mobley stepped in from the foyer. Shirt unbuttoned, red hair sticking straight up on his head, he entered the room with two brown bags in hand.

“I told you, Miss Travis, I’d bring the liquor.”

copyright 2004 by Meta Jones




 It's February 14th.  So where are my flowers? 

It's a question women all over America are asking themselves.  In every city in every state women sit behind their desks or gaze out their windows with crossed  fingers hoping that every time they see a delivery man he's got something for them.  They watch as their co-workers swoon over dozens of roses, teddy bears and huge boxes of candy and wonder why no one thought they were special.  Some of these ladies will go home to find their 'other' stretched out on the sofa seeking their own Valentine's Day gift---dinner!  Others will go home to be alone and lick their wounds.  Either way, for many American women Valentine's Day is anything but a love's the "<strong>OK, I'm lonely-why do you have to remind me of that- Day</strong>".  

Let's look at the statistics. According to the 2000 US Census, <strong>47.9%</strong> of adult women in the United States are single, separated, divorced or widowed and <strong>43.2%</strong> of adult men are the same. If we subtract the estimated <strong>23%</strong> of gay men from the <strong>43.2% </strong>of single men (<em>wishful thinking</em>), that leaves us with a whopping <strong>20.2%</strong> of the adult male population that may consider buying us flowers on Valentines Day.  No matter how you do the math, there are a lot of lonely women out here.  In addition to these pitiful stats, a recent report from the LFR Foundation agreed with the original Kinsey report citing 60% of all adult men are cheaters.  Sooo--if the man you dreamed of spending Valentine's Day with <strong>isn't</strong> married--chances are he's gay.  And whether gay or straight--it's almost certain he's a cheat.

When I was in my early thirties I was involved in an intimate but clandestine relationship with a co-worker.  We had been dating about six months when Valentine's Day rolled around.  Until then, I thought we both had been careful to keep the affair under wraps.  I was convinced everything was great and that it was just he and I in the relationship. I was completely confident that I would receive roses, or something beautiful, in my office by the end of the day. It was 4:45 pm when his evil little secretary walked into my office.

" didn't get flowers?" she said.  "I just knew you'd get some."

I didn't like her much.  She was not a very nice person to begin with and I really didn't appreciate her tone.  Still I answered her politely and I must admit I was a little smug.

"Oh, they'll be here," I said.

"It's almost 5 o'clock.  Are you going to stay and wait on them?" she asked smiling.

I smiled back but before I could say anything a delivery man with two vases(one dozen each) walked up.  He called my name, saying he had a delivery for me.  I took the roses and sniffed them dramatically, still grinning.  Then the delivery man called her name and handed her the other vase.  She looked at me and lit up like a cheshire cat.

"Who are yours from?" she asked knowingly.  She didn't wait for me to answer.  She looked at her card and smiled even broader.  "Mine says, always, Gregory."

You could have bought me for a quarter.  Gregory was her boss and my lover and he was playing both sides of the field without permission.  She was obviously aware of what was going on and having fun with it. Needless to say, it was a Valentine's Day I would never forget.  I took the roses out of the vase and threw them in the trash.  If I had been smart I would have tossed the relationship in there too. 

Of course Gregory lied about it.  He said it wasn't him; said she was lying.  But time always tells the truth and after several other episodes of similar proportions, I found out he had been cheating with her since we started dating.

I'm older now and I like to think wiser. Fifty-something is an age where Valentine's Day means a lot more to me than who's giving me what.  It means sending an I love you message to my friends.  It means singing a love song to myself.  It means buying myself a nice blouse or a pretty ring to celebrate the day.  But even though I'm wiser, and I buy myself and my friends nice cards or cute little heart-shaped trinkets, on February 14th I still look around and wonder, ...Where are my flowers?



Are those roses for Martina?"Sophia Brodus asked.

     "Yeah.  You think she'll like them?  I didn't get red this time.  She doesn't like red," Joel said, walking down the corridor, his hands full with the flowers and a large box decorated in red & white paper and a fluffy white bow.

     "I sure would like them.  What's in the box?"

     "The cashmere jacket Martina's been asking for.  I thought I'd surpirse her.  I really couldn't afford to get it now, but it's for my baby.  You know how it is."

     "Damn, are you and Martina that serious?  I thought she was going out with Greg in IT until I saw you at her desk last week.  How long did you say you two have been dating?"

     "Don't you start, Sophia.  Everybody always has something to say about Martina.  If I didn't know better I would think all of you were jealous.  We've been together eight months and it's real serious.  I asked her to marry me. 

     "Eight months?  She was engaged to some man named Marcus at Christmas.  They just broke up a few weeks ago.  Joel, we grew up together and you know I wouldn't tell you a lie.  That girl's a whore.  Every man in the office has had her.  She's just out for what she can get---lunch, dinner, her nails done---you can ask anybody.  I know you're not thinking about marrying her."

     "I knew you were jealous!  That still doesn't give you the right to talk about her like that.  I love Martina.  She loves me.  And she's not doing anything with anybody.  Do you understand?  I'll see you later."

     Joshua walked fast away from Sophia, leaving her bewildered.  She had known Josh for thirty years.  He was a good man.  He worked hard, saved his money and did what he could to help his aging mother.  He still lived in the old neighborhood and Sophia often saw him sitting on the front porch with his mother and other siblings.  His problem was and had always been women.  He loved them and they dogged him.  In high school it had been Valerie Webb.  A pure slut bucket if there ever was one.  She milked Joshua like a cow.  Took his money, wrecked his car and called him "the little wwinie man" in front of the whole twelfth grade.

     Later is was a girl from Conneticul.  Lindy.  He bought her a car and a new wardrobe.  She dressed up in her Carole Little suit, put on her Faragamo pumps and drove off in her brand new burnt orange Honda Accord with Johnny Alford, the maintenance man at Joshua's office.  But nothing in Josh's past was as mystifying as Martina Rodriguez. 

     Martina was a potbellied, pockfaced tramp from Columbia who spread her legs more than Jiff spread peanut butter.   She bounced around the insurance office where they worked , rattling to herself in Spanish and blowing kisses like she was walking down the red carpet at the Grammys.  Josh met Martina when he came to pick Sophia up for the movies.  He was smitten at first sight.  She threw a hip in his direction and his jaw went slack.  That was MLK day.  Today is Valentine's and they're getting married? 

     Sophia walked into her cubicle and slumped down in the chair.  By now Josh was probably down on one knee in Martina's cube begging her to let him kiss her ass just one more time.  It was crazy.  He bought her roses, a CASHMERE JACKET, was asking her to marry him...and not less than ten minutes ago she was screwing the copier repairman. 

     Something had to be done.  Talking to Josh was useless.