It was dark out. The sun had long since set with no display of the brilliantly colorful bounty of natural beauty that is a normal Texas sunset. The clouds in the sky had been varying shades of gray with muddy reds and oranges outlining their flat undersides and uninteresting rolls of formations resembling a mud puddle. It was a bad night in Texas. Cold, damp, humid and rife with perilous possibilities.
One hour earlier I had a smile on my face and love swelling in my heart. Two hours earlier I was fucking my girlfriend. Three hours earlier I was dancing with Joie and overflowing with happiness and planning the mischievous deed that led to memorable hot sex in a public place. The chilly draft up my skirt reminded me that Joie had just ripped the crotch out of my tights with her pocket knife and fucked me exquisitely with the dildo she was packing when she met me at our favorite neighborhood lesbian bar. Just a couple of hours ago.
Isn’t it funny how everything can change in the blink of an eye?
A half an hour ago I watched the police take Joie away in handcuffs.
And now my room mate Dee, a police officer, was sitting with me in a café, about to explain to me all that had just happened.
The waitress brought two heavy ceramic cups and a steaming copper and black pot of coffee and set them down on the long narrow table that separated Dee and me at the booth where we now sat, then reached into a pocket on her apron and fished out some individual servings of cream. It was evening, but the café still smelled like breakfast.
I was speechless. I waited for Dee to talk.
“I’m so sorry, Blue.” Dee looked at me sympathetically. “I know you love her.”
I waited for the speech I was about to get.
“But, Blue, you were taking a huge chance getting involved with someone so quickly. You did not even know her and with your ‘love at first site’ you brought her into our house. Anything could have happened.” I wondered how much of what she said was in self defense on Dee’s part. She knew that she had involved herself with the investigation that had just led to the arrest of the woman I was in love with weeks before.
And she knew that I knew.
I was beginning to wish I had something a little stronger than coffee. I knew that Dee was right, but I really didn’t feel that I deserved a sermon.
“Don’t you even want to know what happened here?” Dee stirred three packets of sugar into her coffee. I shuddered and took a sip of my own. Just coffee and a little cream.
I didn’t answer.
“Blue? She stole my father’s credit card.” Dee waited for a reaction.
I looked up and met Dee’s eyes. I tried to think. When could that have happened? I guess if she was really good at it- she could have done it at any time without us noticing. My stomach felt queasy. Why? Why would she do that? I trusted her. I loved her. I could tell she loved me. My mind revisited every detail of the last few months like life passing before the eyes of a person faced with death. I strained to understand.
Dee continued. “My father got his credit card statement and there were charges for all kinds of things. Gas, a computer, car repairs, a television. Random things. He leaves that credit card with me in case of emergencies. It was pretty obvious that I didn’t purchase the items on the card. So- I started this little investigation. We got surveillance tapes from the stores where the purchases were made- and there was Joie.
Signing on the dotted line.”
“Why would she do that, Dee?”
“That’s not all, Blue. Joie has been to jail for credit card fraud twice before this. Joie has been to prison twice before, Blue. She didn’t tell you any of this? She spent an eighteen month sentence in the county jail, got out for a few months and then spent five years in prison. She got out just a few months before you met her.”
I shook my head “No”. I didn’t know what to say. I was in shock.
“According to her records, Joie has a drug problem. She trades the things that she buys with stolen credit cards for drugs.”
What kind of drugs? Coke? Meth? Crack? What? Wouldn’t we have noticed that she was speed demon?”
“She’s a heroin addict. According to the records she has been fighting heroin addiction for fifteen years. In and out of rehab, Methadone clinics, but always back to the same old same old eventually. The success rate for getting off of opiates is not very reassuring.”
I felt ashamed for being so stupid. If she was addicted to opiates she was really being careful because I didn’t notice a thing. Her eyes were so dark I couldn’t see her pupils, so I never noticed if her pupils were constricted. When we were in bed together I never noticed any needle tracks, but it was usually dark and I wasn’t looking at her arms. And when we were together she never appeared to nod out or anything maybe because we usually had wine and spent most of our time in bed. I wanted to talk to Joie. I needed some answers.
“We have a three strikes law here in Texas. Joie could get a lengthy sentence for this crime. The detectives are still gathering evidence against her, and they have positively identified Joie as the user of two other stolen credit cards other than my father’s.”
My heart sank further as I listened to Dee’s words.
“The detectives will probably want to talk to you, too, Blue.”
“Me? Why would they want to talk to me? I didn’t do anything. I hardly even know Joie.”
I sickened myself. How could I disassociate myself from someone so quickly and conveniently when I supposedly loved her? I still loved her. I needed to talk to her. I needed to hear her side of this story.
“I know that and you know that, but the detectives don’t know that. As far as they know you could be an accomplice. Or you could be her confidant and be aware of all of the crimes she has ever committed. When you lay down with dogs you get up with fleas, Blue.”
I sipped my coffee and looked past Dee out the window. It was too soon for me to know what to do.