In the Pink

19 Jul

Licking the powder from her lips with a white coated tongue, she reaches for the strawberry milk – Kwik of course. Does anyone else make strawberry milk? They may, but none so well she was certain. She’d always had a good eye for merchandising. The infomercialists wet dream and a credit limit to match. She had limited herself to a degree. Purchasing only items she knew would benefit others if not directly then by the divine knowledge that such an item as a cure-all phyto-chemical or a no-snore pillow made of husks was available if only for the asking. The milk was good. She took a big gulp from the carton that she had begun to open from the wrong side until she noticed the print on the other. “Open this side.” The pink dribbled from the corners of her mouth and onto her chin where she amphibiously and instinctively flicked out her tongue to keep it from traveling any farther. The side that open is always either too narrow or way too wide for her tiny mouth. Always. Just like her shoes, a size five on a hot day, smaller in the winter when she gets to shop in the kids’ section.  Everything is less expensive in the kids’ section; as if they actually charge by how much raw material gets used. How did those kids get so damn big anyway? Must be something in the Cheerios. They’re heart healthy and nutritious!

Are we almost there yet, daddy? You know how you can tell if we’re almost there, sweetheart? You see that big dog off in the distance? Looks like he’s howling at the moon? That’s Picacho Peak. Site[DM1]  of a great civil war battle and folks say the ghosts of the men in blue and gray still haunt the place. Now when that peak is on your right and it doesn’t look like a dog anymore, you’ll know that we’re almost there and if you keep your eye on him as we pass he will become a dog again and then before you know it, we’ll be there. Well dad, it’s not the same from the rearview she speaks aloud to herself as NPR fades out and she is forced to listen to some frivolous rock music. That’s when she knows she’s almost there.

Her stomach starts to flutter. She’ll see him soon. It’s been so long. He’s going to tell her why after all these years. She never asked, she never wanted to know and now she would and she is scared. Scared to find out what she has feared most. That he made another woman feel the way she had felt the night that her life changed seemingly forever and made her a prisoner of her own body. She has driven 300 miles to see him with only one tape cassette in the car stereo and she is sick of it. Sick of hearing the same old lines over and over and over. So sick, even the deejays on the FM dial are entertaining. It’s mindless chatter and a few oldies thrown in for good measure. It’s exactly what she needs to take her mind off of what awaits her at the next exit. She passes an official looking green sign. She doesn’t have to read it. She knows what it says. It is a warning. Do not stop for hitchhikers next 10 miles. Arizona State Prison Complex, Tucson. 

She’s been traveling quite fast now for quite some time and it’s slow going on the last long stretch of road out into nowhere land and her stomach reminds her of how long it has been and shy she has come to see him one last time. She parks the car and rolls herself out like she did out her bed on Sunday mornings as a child when the church bus came to pick her up and she had overslept again and they would honk and honk and make sure she knew that they were outside waiting for her, waiting to take her away. She was a quiet girl especially in Sunday school. She understood the concept of forgiveness right away and also how to forget. She secretly loathed the question askers who seemed positively dumb and who prolonged her suffering. The offering of Tang and rock hard sugar cookies was no consolation. It was all too much for her ambulatory sociopathic seven-year-old mind. She developed a small hate for her mother and her father, then later she would call them martyrs but she did not know yet of patriarchy. She forgave and she became extremely forgetful.

Now stretching her fully grown arms into the clear blue sky and checking her reflection in the passenger window, she dips her hips a little back and forth. Let her shirt ride up over her navel and stretch tight across her chest. Pulls her hair back from her face, remembers where she is and wants to always remember because this is the day. This is the day. She gathers up the stuff she could bring inside. Five dollars worth of quarters in rolls for the vending machines, one pack of unopened Camel cigarettes, a disposable lighter, her i.d. Then the stuff she can’t bring inside. A book “All Souls Rising” for the wait outside the fence and the huge mechanical double door that could crush your body like you always thought those doors at the super market could until you finally got caught one day and it was only embarrassingly fatal because your new training bra left marks on your back before you even knew a thing about cleavage but knew enough to be thankful. Her compact, her sunglasses and a single stick of marijuana that fell into the hole in her pocket one day but didn’t fall out. It gave her highly illegal ideas that of course, she’d never think on her own. She wore black pants because the residents all wear denim. That’s how the guards know who to aim at. She looked good. Like a night out on the town. Right down to her square-toed high heel boots. She knew he would like the way she looked. As she stepped on to the open-air shuttle and sat down in the first row right behind the driver she realized he liked the way she looked too.

Even though she was not an especially social girl and this guy was obviously not a very social guy, she breaks the ice with a question she had been wondering about all day. Just how far is it around the perimeter of this place? He grunts, I dunno. She wonders passively what he’s in for and decides to take it all the way. Sure is a long drive from Phoenix she says, and sighs unambiguously. Seems like you could have driven to the moon and back just riding around in circles on this little bus all day. You think? Uh, huh, he grunts again as he brings the bus to an abrupt halt. She hops out jubilantly, assured that she has won the game. See you a-round, she cat calls defiantly in his general direction and shakes out her hair in the wind. Turning her eyes back to the bus, she uses two fingers to drag a strand of shiny copper quickly, coyly from her mouth and flip it around her left shoulder to lay in waves with the others on her back.

She feels good as the guard reminds her to remove all of her jewelry. Could you help me with this one? Thanks. Once you’re in, you have to board another bus. This one drives the bumpy dirt paths past the guard towers to the medium security yard and she can smell the anticipation of loved ones mingled with the stench of summer sweat and dirty diapers. She thinks, I can’t take this turn around. This is too much. But then the bus stops and the door opens and the air comes in a rush to dry the sweat on the back of her pale, slender neck. She dramatically lifts and drops her thick hair a couple times and fancies herself equestrian. Then the mirage of security is revealed beneath the shadows of a giant overhang designed to shield her from the desert sun or possibly bullets. It’s nothing more than a colossal outdoor cage. A cage that she will enter willingly and be locked in with all the others. There is no sound as deafening, no sound as heavy or as dismal as the sound of those cages closing in around you, maybe forever.

One can never tell when the apocalypse might suddenly come and where will you be? What if you’re just visiting and they never let you out? After that you go through a metal detector and they sit you all down at different tables arranged just so the residents will be back to back which means you are directly facing of these others while you wait for yours to show up, be called is what they say. There’s no hugging that room, you can hold hands on top of the table. You can stare, but can’t kiss. In Tucson they let you pick where you want to sit and wait but have to sit until yours is next your table then can stand and hug and kiss but not too much. My guy is walking that walk the walk that is just a hop-skip away from a full-out sprint and practically collide into each other like freight trains with the momentum I’ve gained just standing up from my chair. God, I miss you. He’s tall and my head rests on his chest and yes, we remembered at that instant what it had been like to hold each other similarly in a different place to fall from the sweet embrace on down to the soft grass of the park where we always walked for miles and miles just waiting for the sun to come up and it’s hard to let go so I look up and he looks down and the kiss is quick and wet and it wants to last forever but were like two school kids and this is our first time and we are sure that we will be caught. Caught up in the fire that would surely rise up from our loins and ignite the touch of our lips like flint to flame.


 [DM1]Civil War in Arizona

The most significant Civil War battle in Arizona took place near Picacho Peak on April 15, 1862, when an advance detachment of Union forces from California attacked a Confederate scouting party. The battle lasted for 1-1/2 hours, and three Union soldiers were killed. Every March, “The Civil War in the Southwest” comes alive again as over two hundred re-enactors converge on Picacho Peak on foot and horseback. Visitors enjoy viewing exciting mock battles that took place in Arizona and New Mexico during the Civil War. Also on display at the March reenactment are recreated military camps and living history demonstrations.

http://azstateparks.com/Parks/PIPE/index.html

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