Peachfuzz called Kitty from jail.
“What? Where? What happened?” Kitty said. She was standing in the kitchen. Her mother sat at the table drinking hot Ovaltine and pretending to read a Woman’s Day magazine she’d brought over for Kitty.
Kitty moved into the next room and shut the door, knowing her mother would be monumentally pissed by this simple, isolating action of ensuring privacy. Her mother didn’t like to be excluded from anything. She would act insulted.
Kitty said, “So you’re in jail. What do you expect me to do about it?”
Peachfuzz was crying and Kitty wished she could slap her through the phone. What a terrible time for this shit. Terrible.
Peachfuzz’s sentences were punctuated with hitching, breathless sobs: “Can you come get me?...Huhn-huh...Please? Get me out of here! Huhn-huh...Can you? Please?”
“Okay, calm down.”
“What were you arrested for?”
“They said I was publicly intoxicated and resisted arrest... Huhn-huh. But I wasn’t. I didn’t.”
“So what do you want me to do?” Kitty asked again.
“Can you come and bail me out? Can you bail me out and take me home?”
“How much is bail?”
“No, Spanish doubloons.”
“Do you really want to be a wise-ass right now? Do you really want to test my patience at this critical juncture?”
“Sorry, Kitty. But I’m scared!”
“Calm down, Peach. Anyway, I don’t have that kind of cash. I’m sorry...”
“But you haaaaaaaave to get me out of HERE!” Peachfuzz screamed and Kitty pulled the phone away from her ear.
“Okay, okay, relax. Jesus. I’ll do the best I can. Where are you?”
“Woonsocket. At the police station.”
“Woonsocket. Were you dancing last night?”
“Just get me out, Kitty!”
“Okay. Sit tight.” She hung up the phone, went back into the kitchen.
Her mother raised her gaze from the magazine and looked at Kitty with a knowing smile on her sideways, stroke-mouth.
“Whull what issit nis tine?”
“Um. Mom? Could I borrow five hundred dollars? It’s kind of an emergency.”
Her mom’s smug smile turned into a lopsided grin.
Later that afternoon, Kitty walked Peachfuzz out of the police station. She was still crying and hanging onto Kitty as if unable to stand on her own. Seeing her this way humbled Kitty’s heart. Peachfuzz’s hair was oily and flat, her makeup smudged and streaked. Her bottom lip was swollen and a scrape on her chin had dried to a tough, rust-colored scab. Her T-shirt was torn in several places, the knees of her jeans spotted with dark, ground-in dirt.
What the hell had happened to her?
“What the hell happened to you?”
Peachfuzz had curled up in the backseat. “I can’t ride up front now,” she’d insisted. Her knees were pulled up to her chest, her eyes closed. She’d finally stopped crying, but sucked up a sniffle every couple of minutes. Her guilt and shame were a third presence in the car.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said.
“Peach, I just spent a thousand dollars on your ass. Do you know what I had to do to get that money? I won’t go into it but it was a lot. I think you at least owe me an explanation.”
“Where’d you get the money?”
“I drained my savings account for some - so long rent money - and borrowed the rest from my mother.”
“Oh shit. Your mother...”
“Yeah. I know. See?”
“Thanks, Kitty. I’ll pay you back. I promise.”
“Damn straight you will. But first you’re gonna tell me what the fuck happened to you last night.”
“I feel sick.”
“Peachfuzz. Spill it.”
Peachfuzz whooshed out a long, weighted sigh. “One of the customers tried to rape me.”
“At the Pink Lady. In the parking lot.”
“You got into his car?”
“I said, you got into his car?”
“So you were turning tricks again. You got into a strange man’s car and he attacked you.”
“Well, yeah but no...”
“But nothing. What did I tell you? Didn’t I say how dangerous that was? To do that? You know how many psychos hang out at that place?”
“Yeah, but he wasn’t a stranger. He was one of the regulars. Ray. He seemed like such a nice guy. Just a sweet, lonely guy.”
“You know what? If I’d known you got busted for turning tricks I never would have bailed you out.”
Peachfuzz started sobbing again.
“Oh shut up.”