Thursday, January 29, 2009

Introduction to the "Dover Street" Stories, Chapter Seven

What follows are both the conclusion of, and random afterthoughts from, a true story. However, quite a few of the names and other identifying details have been changed, because of that fact.

Actually, I should say that this is "almost" the conclusion. Judging from several comments -- both public and private -- it seems that "Bella" has made quite a hit with my readers. So the next segment, the true conclusion, you might say, will deal primarily with her.

* * * * *

Let me quote from one of my favorite writers -- myself (and yes, that is a joke!) -- and repeat the following (which I've trimmed slightly) from an earlier chapter:

I was smack dab in the middle of a dangerous situation. Why do so many writers have this need to be self-destructive? There's an unnamed "something" that far too often makes sleaziness attractive to writers, and I'd discovered too late that I, in a sense, had developed an addiction of my own.

Writers throughout history have succumbed to alcoholism, or drug addiction, or bouts with excessive gambling, or sexual misadventures, or [fill-in-the-blank] sometimes by merely being around The Bad Thing(s)... and usually the writers in question have arrogantly assumed, as do most addicts, that they could quit The Bad Thing(s) if and when they really wanted or needed to.

In my case, my own brand of arrogance was in believing that it was okay to surround myself with hookers, junkies, drug dealers, and the like, as long as I remained detached from it all -- one could almost say "above" it all -- by
not paying for sex, not using drugs, not (naturally) selling the drugs... I wouldn't be breaking any laws, even while surrounded by those who were.

And as far as being "safe?" Hell, these people didn't even know where I lived. If I ever wanted or needed to "escape" from them, all I had to do was stop visiting them!

In other words, I could quit any time I really wanted or needed to...


Actually, in terms of whether I was "addicted" to hanging around these various sleazy types, or able to turn my back on them any time I so chose... As it turned out, the truth was somewhere in between.

There were a few of the girls I'd become really attracted to, on the level of friendly acquaintances. And out of those, a couple of them, like Julia and, obviously, Bella... meant more. And perversely, right about the time I decided to stop prowling the streets of Worcester, I actually started getting to know Dawn, Jeff's girlfriend. (Eventually, I even got to the point where he and I became... not friends, certainly, but two men who learned to co-exist.)

There's a lot more to the whole story behind Dawn, Jeff, and myself, but unfortunately, this isn't the place to tell it. Someday -- in a few months or in a few million years -- I'll tell the "Dover Street" version of that odd little triangle. Not the real one. That, I'd tell here, if I were going to.

I started out writing this "introduction" to explain why a law-abiding sort like myself would keep coming up with these "Dover Street" stories every now and again. ("What is this guy's fixation with drug addicts and hookers?" Logical question.) And this story has mostly contained details about my period of research which won't otherwise show up in Dover Street tales.

You've only "met" the people you've had to meet. There are many more who will show up in highly fictionalized form at a later date.

Like Catherine. I've mentioned her a few times, but only in passing. Someday she'll show up as a radically altered character who is merely based on her and another girl.

Anyway, this introductory story doesn't end with some knock-down, drag-out, climactic moment of truth. It just kinda peters out. To help explain that, I need to fill in some details about my personal life that concern my living arrangements, automobile issues, and a few other things.

At about the time that I'd decided to limit my Worcester visits, my "famous" Hyundai died. At that time, my mother and I had both been living with my sister, so I briefly relied on my mother's car for transportation to and from work. This made it easier to cut down my Worcester trips.

This was also the time when my close friend Patty, who lived in Ohio, died. That was a major shake-up, something that insured I'd become somewhat more anti-social.

I was also working on a comic book concept called Aero. One more thing to take up my time and keep me home.

So, I stopped picking up new girls, and started spending a lot less time driving around in Worcester. When I was out there, it was to see Dawn or look for Bella.

I say "look for" Bella because, for no apparent reason, a long period went by during which she was never out and about when I was in the city. Before that period, I do remember warning Bella about her habit of "beating" (slang for ripping off) her "vics."

"Who's to say you won't get into a car with someone you stole from a few months earlier?" I asked her. "And don't try to tell me you remember every face you see out here!"

She didn't try to tell me that. She knew better, as did I. I continued, saying, "Don't you realize, Bella? Every one of those guys is potentially dangerous, and every one of those guys only has to remember one face. Yours."

Shortly after that, purely by happenstance, Bella and I fell out of touch.

So, before I stopped going to Worcester completely -- well, in terms of going there to hang out with the street people -- I'd tapered off to the point where my only contact was with Dawn, with whom I was actually forming a friendship.

The last time I saw Sheila, Dawn and I were driving down a side street. Sheila was staggering along the sidewalk, about half a block from us. She looked totally zonked on something.

The last time I saw Catherine -- in Worcester, that is, and I'll explain that later -- I told her that, for various reasons, I was curtailing my Worcester visits. She told me that, coincidentally, she was considering leaving Worcester herself, and moving to Florida.

The last time I saw Julia was one morning after I'd gotten out of work. I worked the third shift at Shaw's Supermarket in Shrewsbury (one town over from Worcester) at the time, and was driving down Worcester's Main Street merely out of force of habit. Julia flagged me down frantically.

"Hi! What's up?" I asked.

"David, look, I know you don't usually do this... " she began, continuing to offer me, shall we say, a $20-30 service for $10.

What do you mean, "don't usually do this?" I thought, but "What? Why?" was all that I asked. I mean, what the hell was this, a Kmart blue light special? Or should I say, a red light special?

"I need works!" she said, which -- as you probably already know -- was and is street slang for a syringe. "I already got drugs... " Drugs, but no way to use them. So near and yet so far, I thought, immediately followed by Oh, great, and she's sitting in my car with them in her possession! "...and all I need now is works!"

We were near McDonald's, so I pulled into the parking lot. I looked at Julia very seriously. "Look, it's not the money... "

"David, please." She repeated her offer.

"What would you have done if I hadn't driven by?" I asked.

She shrugged. "Make same offers to someone else."

I took out my wallet. "How much do you need?"

She smiled. "Oh, bless you, baby! I said I do you for ten."

"You're not going to 'do' anything. How much do you need?"

She blinked. "He charge seven... "

And seven is exactly what I gave her. "This is for you, free and clear, like the other times I gave you money. Only this time, you don't even have to spend time with me. I'm in a rush anyway." I looked at her and shook my head. "Honey, don't ever under-sell yourself!"

She was looking at me very strangely. "David, you come find me again, and we do something. No moneys." She roughly grabbed my face in her hands, and gave me a long kiss which was reminiscent of that time in her mother's parking lot, as well as a few times after that which I haven't bothered discussing with you before now. That kiss almost -- almost -- made me wish I'd taken her up on her initial offer.

I started asking if there was someplace I could bring her, but she interrupted me to say no, then jumped out of the car... and disappeared.

As I drove away, I started laughing, thinking back to what I'd told her: "Don't ever under-sell yourself!" Between that and my admonishment to Bella about ripping off her customers, I started thinking that these girls needed actual business advisers more than pimps (which almost none of them had as well).

So if you ever read a light-hearted Dover Street story called "Hooker High School" or something similar, you'll know where it started. But I digress.

It's funny. Julia had said "You come find me again, and we do something. No moneys," but I never saw her again.

I said earlier that I'm leaving out a lot concerning my budding relationship with Jeff's girlfriend, Dawn. And I am. But suffice it to say that due to a court case which began before I even met her, Dawn ended up in the women's prison in Framingham, Massachusetts for several months.

While she was there, I wrote to her, sent money to her, and even visited her once or twice using my mother's car, as my Hyundai had died, remember? And although it was really none of her business, my sister made it difficult for me to use my mother's car for such visits.

Long story.

Anyway, I made it a priority to get myself another car and get myself an apartment of my own, in that order That's when I moved from Southbridge, Massachusetts -- which I call my "Crappy Day Job Town," among other things -- to the nearby town of Webster.

(I should probably take this opportunity to shoe-horn in the fact that during one of my visits to Dawn in prison, I saw Catherine in the visiting room. She and I locked eyes briefly, but the rule there was that you were to have no contact, verbal or otherwise, with any inmate other than the one you were there to see. Dawn saw me looking at Catherine, and made a couple of rather rude comments. Keeping in mind that the two would very likely be encountering one another here and there while both were incarcerated, I said, "Just... be good to her," and nothing more.

So, Catherine hadn't made it to Florida after all. I hope she's there now, or if not there, someplace that's safe...

I'd been living in my own apartment in Webster for a few months by the time Dawn's time in Framingham neared its end. But somehow, before -- and I mean right before -- she was scheduled to be released, we fell out of touch, for lack of a better term. In retrospect, I'm not sure what happened, nor whose fault it was. Mine, hers, ours? I dunno.

Another long story. And one I won't be telling. At least, not here, not now. Sorry.

* * * * *

Next time... whatever happened to Bella?


  1. Yikes! I think I remember your Hyundai. I worked next door at the Bradlees(remember that store?),prob'ly at the same time you were employed at Shaw's. But didn't come in til round 0830.

    Julia is a piece( no, not like that! ), of work. Wonder if she ever got cleaned up? or if Catherine ever did make it to FLA, like you said( or so she told you ).

    It sounds like your "addiction" was wearing off more for the better. Then again there was that unknown danger lurking round the girls, in the first place. Especially this Jeff person. Or the "unseen" pimps( if any at all ). I think you thrived on the unknown here, but were still smart enough to know when to quit( or I could be waaaaay off, here ).

    And as far as writers being self-destructive; remember what VanGogh did. And he was an artist. Then again, it would seem most artists( be they actors or painters )were/are into body mutilation. Go figure that. You are your own worst critic ,you know.

  2. Damn, Sam! Another comment real soon after I post something. It's a shame I know your approximate work schedule, otherwise I'd be thinking, "Wow, this guy likes my stuff so much he stays up to all hours of the night just in case I post something!"

    I worked for Shaw's from 1988-2000. My stint in Shrewsbury was approximately 1993-1995.

    I have fond memories of that Bradlee's as it was in the late 1960s. Am I the only person who gets nostalgic about certain stores? I have a real love for The Fair (right by that diner you like so much), circa 1960-1972, too. Their huge staircase to the second floor was a virtual playground for kids like myself.

    I hope Catherine and Julia are alive and well today... and "clean," too. (Although I don't think Catherine had more than an occasional flirtation with drugs.)

    As far as pimps, the closest I ever came to meeting one was a guy named Willie. He was a big-time drug dealer, and he had a few hookers selling his drugs for him, but I don't think he ever took any percentage of what they made from play-for-pay.

    In "Angelina," I introduced a pimp named Larry, who'll re-appear from time to time over the years. But he's a total fabrication.

    "I think you thrived on the unknown here, but were still smart enough to know when to quit." I like to think so, certainly.

    Good point about Van Gogh. Actually, I could just have well replaced the word "writers" in my musings with "creative types" in general, ya know?

    Damn. Now I'm craving English muffins with peanut butter, but it's 4 a.m. and there's nothing in the house but the coffee that's fueled my writings tonight. (I'm about 90% done with the next chapter!)

  3. Always have some munchies handy when partaking in your writings. And I'm so looking forward to the next chapter. This is good.

    I did a stint at Bradlees from 1991-92-1/2. Then the Fair, til it closed for good. I too, remember that stairwell. I still have all the pics I took, when they tore it down. Mom even worked there( upstairs )from 1980-81( not long but long enough ).

    Your cast of characters seems almost endless and they just keep getting more interesting.

    As far as your cravings, Price Chopper is open 24hrs. Then again, it can be hard to wrench one's self away in the middle of a thought explosion( which I encountered earlier ). Or want to venture out into, yet, another icy storm.

  4. 1. "Always have some munchies handy when partaking in your writings."

    I did the "responsible" thing and took care of some bills this week. So I'm completely tapped out! I couldn't even afford a single purchase at the Dollar Tree right now... unless I want to check out my "laundry quarter" stash...

    2. "And I'm so looking forward to the next chapter. This is good."

    Thanks. The last chapter -- all about Bella -- should be done soon.

    3. "I did a stint at Bradlees from 1991-92-1/2. Then the Fair, til it closed for good. I too, remember that stairwell. I still have all the pics I took, when they tore it down."

    Are those photos of the Fair from when they tore it down, or before? If the latter, do you have shots of that stairwell?

    4. "Your cast of characters seems almost endless and they just keep getting more interesting."

    Well, in this case, as with "My Island," I can only take so much credit for real people and events. I just plod through it all, hoping my presentation keeps people coming back.

    5. "As far as your cravings, Price Chopper is open 24hrs."

    Yeah, but it helps if you have money. They're funny like that. ;-)

    6. "Or want to venture out into, yet, another icy storm."

    Crap. Is it doing that again?

  5. I know what you mean by tapped out. I just paid both the electric and phone bills,this week. Last wee kwas the car payment. Oh yeah,the rent's almost due. Then I'll REALLY be tapped out.

    I'll have to look through all my snaps of The Fair. As I couldn't get inside( obviously to dangerous ),I may have a "gutted" view of the stairwell. I'm not guaranteeing it, though.

    And yes, we had another storm. Thankfully, the rain washed away most of the snow.


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