Last Monday evening I paid my second visit to the ladies in the County lockup. I was saying hello to faces I recognized as twenty of us converged in the class room, dragging the chairs and desks into a circle. Gradually I noticed there were new faces in the room. One new face in particular caught my attention, a tall slim lady with a buzz cut. She definitely was not here last time and yet something about her looked familiar. We all sat down and the lady caught me staring at her and she stared back intently, and then, slowly, her face creased into a frown. I knew I should look away but then her wide blue eyes were popping, and she silently mouthed, “You?’
It was Crystal! Astonished, I nodded my head, and could not suppress a smile. She looked mortified.
“In the interest of full disclosure,” I began, gesturing across the room, “Crystal and I are friends.” Instantly, all eyes were on Crystal who lowered her eyes and re-crossed her long legs. I pushed on. “Crystal gave me one of the best nights of my life.” The ladies went mad, cheering and applauding, smacking desktops.
“Crystal and I met one night in an alley behind Schooner Wharf,” I said, and I would have described Crystal’s outfit of bald head, silver spandex leggings and a black bra, but as I spoke I watched her and she looked decidedly queasy with eyes downcast and chewing on her lip. Her discomfort was palpable so I modulated our history, sanitizing it to a tale of inspiration and joy. I told how Crystal put a smile on the faces of everyone we passed. What I left out was how she placed that smile, which was by pulling down her bra, and with nipples shaped like bullets stuffing them into the mouths of passersby, including men and women and the wheelchair bound. Shrieks followed our progress along Duval Street. Crystal grabbed the crotches of club bouncers, huge fierce men, reducing them to giggles, as they pushed her off, affectionately scolding, “You can’t do that!” Crystal grabbed the crotches of old men, “Oh you good girl. Come back here!” the old men squeaked, thrilled, as Crystal was twirling off and away, with me in pursuit bent over from laughing. At
some point she confided, “I just don’t want to end up back in jail.”
But that is Crystal’s story to tell, and her secrets are safe with me. She exhaled with relief as I moved the focus off of her.
Many of the ladies had prepared stories to read. Each story was distinctly different; some were raw with feeling, while others were funny, some rhymed, one was sung as a rap song. And in their own way they were all good. One day soon when permission is granted, I plan to post them on my website.
At the end of it all I gave them a second assignment. Crystal refused it, saying, “I’ll be out before you get back here. We’ll go for martinis.” And that will be another story.