Sunday Stories: The Genesis of Something New
“Hey, baby, it’s me.” Ugh, I hated it when they started the calls off that way. Especially when it’s from a number that I don’t recognize. A Texas number, at that. I hadn’t been in Texas in close to a year. Of course, in this day and age, that meant nothing.
“Hey, what’s up?” Non-committal, no inflection in my voice. Could have been anybody on the other end.
“I’m in trouble, honey. I did something stupid.”
Okay, that narrowed it down a bit. Of all the women I’ve been involved with in the past 12 months, only…two of them are likely to have done something stupid enough to be calling ME, of all people. I’m normally the cause of trouble, not the solution.
“What did you do?”
“I got pulled over…my plates were expired.” Okay, that narrowed it down to one. Elyse. Twenty-five years old. Playboy-quality body. Likely to do something stupid. Too broke to be able to afford to renew her registration.
“Okay-so did you get a ticket or something?” Elyse was worth a call to a Western Union for a hundred bucks or so. She was an extremely willing partner in the bedroom, and more importantly, extremely willing to be discreet about it. I’m a professional. I have a reputation to uphold. It wouldn’t do for my colleagues to see me hanging around with a not-so-recovering junkie.
“Well, yeah, kinda. I’m in jail. They cuffed me and took me to county.” Christ. Today just got a lot more complicated.
“Why would they arrest you for expired plates?”
“Baby, I don’t have a lot of time to explain this. My license was suspended, too.”
I learned something in my youth that has been infinitely valuable to me as I’ve aged. There are people that, no matter what the situation, no matter what the story they tell you, they simply can’t tell you the truth. When you deal with one of these people, it’s always safest to assume he or she is lying to you. You’ll be right more often than not. Elyse was lying about something. She was always lying about something.
“Are you in Texas?” Elyse lived in Augusta, Georgia, but she was just as likely to have gotten in her eight-year-old Subaru Impreza and gone to some effing hippie music festival with one of her effing drug dealing male “friends” who were always more than willing to give her a free high in exchange for the opportunity to take advantage of her.
“No, baby, the jail phones go through some exchange or something. I’m in Augusta. Baby, I need you to come bail me out. I’m scared, baby.”
A friend of a friend once described me in this way: “If you can’t do anything for Ryan, he has no time for you.” I used to say that, unfortunately, it was true. Now, I freely admit there’s nothing unfortunate about it. Successful people know this secret-don’t waste time on people who can’t do anything for you. And I’m nothing if not successful.
Elyse was definitely somebody who could and had done something for me. I met her in Nashville at a karaoke bar. I had been there as part of a company retreat. She had been there just because that’s what young women without careers and prospects do—they take their last fifty-eight dollars and they get in their cars and go to party on Broadway. Cameron Diaz wished she had looked like Elyse when she was younger. Elyse was slender, nearly waifish, with silver-blue eyes and fine blonde hair that brushed her pale-skinned shoulders. Her strapless dress couldn’t have cost more than fifteen dollars, but she made it look spectacular.
She also had a wicked opiate addiction. Her sense of smell was virtually gone because, in her words, “I’ve put so much shit up my nose that I’ve fried it.” When I woke up next to her for the first time that next morning in Tennessee, the make-up was gone and the effects of the drugs were shockingly visible-the hair that had looked fine and wispy under the lights of the club was now obviously thinning and damaged. Her skin was nearly translucent. She slept and slept all day while I was in meetings, and was still asleep when I returned to my room. I let her stay another night, let her charge room service to my bill, and when I left the next morning, I was sad to let her go her own way. She needed some stability in her life. I needed some youth and excitement—so what if it was a classic mid-life crisis? It was a perfect match.
Well, perfect, except for that she was always in some sort of trouble. “Baby, I got kicked out of my apartment.” “Baby, I blew a tire.” Any sentence that started with “Baby” invariably cost me some money. In the minds of young, poor people, making a hundred grand a year made me a billionaire. In Elyse’s mind, in particular, any problem she had could be solved by my money. In my mind, she had become an increasingly expensive problem, herself.
“Okay, Elyse. I’m connecting through Atlanta today on my way to Oklahoma City. I’ll rent a car at ATL and come get you.”
“Baby, please hurry. I don’t want to spend the night here. I…I can’t spend the night here. I have a bond hearing at 2:30. Please. Hurry.”
Ryan. Ryan. Don’t do this. This isn’t your problem. You’ve got meetings to go to. Business to conduct. “I will be there in five hours. Hang in there.”
One hour later, I found myself looking through a row of rental cars in Atlanta, looking for something decent among the assortment of mid-size sedans. Altima, Impala, Compass…aha. Hyundai Genesis. 3.8 liter V6. Big. 311 horsepower. Luxurious…kinda. I opened the door, grabbed the key, and set off for Augusta.
It’s a terrible thing, knowing that someone you care about is in trouble. Someone small, fragile, and afraid. And despite having every reason in the world to not care about a drug-riddled, unemployed, borderline-crazy girl, I did care about her. Far too much for my own good.
I looked at the clock on the Genesis’ display. Two hours to go, with about two and half hours to spare. No need to drive anything above the speed limit, and yet I was doing nearly ninety. The throaty tone of the Korean V-6 rumbled down the road, giving a distinct feeling of decisiveness and confidence. I was anything but.
Upon my arrival in the parking lot of the Augusta Detention Center, I was greeted by Elyse’s…I don’t know…roommate?
“Hey, man, Elyse said you’d be comin’.” Randall was a caricature of a man. He was at least fifty years old, but the combination of excessive alcohol, smoking of all kinds, and sun conspired to make him look even older. He wore a filthy Land Rover cap, a blue camp shirt, yellow shorts, and leather sandals. As though he did it on cue, he pulled a cigarette from behind his ear and lit it. “Pleasure to meet you, brother. She talks ’bout you an awful lot.”
Standing there in my Ted Baker-from-head-to-toe ensemble, including a chocolate brown slim fit suit and blue suede wingtips, we couldn’t have looked more oddly juxtaposed. Me, the trendy exec. He, the odd drifter. And both of us, I suspected, interested in the same woman.
“Yeah, likewise.” Which was hilarious, because Elyse had been very careful to tell me as little as possible about her roommate, other than his house was paid off due to some relative’s untimely demise and his subsequent inheritance. Now I knew why. He was a creepy old weirdo who was likely trying to get in her pants—if he hadn’t already. Effing shudder. “So tell me what’s going on here.”
“Brother, our girl’s in a lot of trouble.” Randall puffed away on his cigarette with remarkable speed. “When she got pulled over, she had expired tags, an expired license…and well, she asked me not to tell you this, but she had a bench warrant out, too.”
“Christ. What for?” Drug related, I guessed.
“Shoplifting?” I asked, incredulously. “What the hell did she shoplift?”
“I don’t know, man. Hey, you play tennis?” Randall looked me up and down, then flicked his cigarette down a sewage drain.
“Those looked like some fancy shoes. Figured you must play tennis.”
Seriously. What. The. Hell.
“No, I don’t play tennis. Where do we need to go? I have to get this over with. I have a meeting to get to.”
Turned out that we needed to go into the detention center itself. Her bond hearing was scheduled to take place in twenty minutes. I followed Randall inside into the grey, imposing antechamber.
“Hey!” A voice belonging to a black woman called out from behind security glass as we walked in. “I know you!”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, I think you’re mistaken,” I replied. “I’ve never been here before.”
“No, not you. HIM,” she said as she pointed to Randall. “You got another girlfriend in here?”
“Oh, no, this one ain’t my girlfriend,” he coughed and spoke simultaneously. “She’s just a friend I’m tryin’ to help out.”
“You see,” he said as he turned to me, “I know the lexicon of the law pretty good.”
Only my desire to not see Elyse rot in jail kept me from leaving at that very moment. The picture was getting clearer and clearer with each passing moment. Undoubtedly, this “Randall” had a history of “helping out” troubled young women, probably offering his gift of free housing and weed to anyone desperate enough to accept it.
“You know what, Randall? I really appreciate everything you’ve done here so far today. You go home. I’ve got it from here.” I gave him my most intimidating boardroom stare. Time to stop screwing around.
“You sure, man? I really don’t mind. She’s a good friend, you know.”
“Totally sure. You’ve done enough. In fact, I’ll be taking Elyse with me when I get her out tonight.” I would? Had I totally lost my mind? Where was I going to be taking her?
“All right, brother. You seem like a decent guy, what with flying up here at the last minute and everything. She needs more friends like you, not like all the guys around here trying to screw her.” He lit up another cigarette. “I mean, hell, I don’t blame ’em. If I were her age, I’d be trying to screw her, too.”
“Well, luckily, I don’t really have to try.” I smiled at him in the way that girls who have just won the Prom Queen crown smile at the other girls who have just lost. “Go home, Randall.”
With that, I turned my back to him, walked into the judge’s courtroom, and closed the door behind me.
And there she was. Seated on a bench in an orange jumpsuit that was at least three sizes too big, causing it to slide off her shoulder and reveal her bra strap—apparently they didn’t arrest many Size Zeroes. No hair and makeup could save her today. She looked…well, she looked strung out. I quickly sat in the back of the room before she could see me, feeling embarrassed that I had seen her this way. Somehow, it made her seem incredibly fragile. Scared. In that moment, I had a strong, primal urge to take care of her.
The judge, a graying, middle-aged man with a military hairstyle and an air of seriousness, took his seat behind the bench. The bailiff quickly ran down the afternoon’s docket—Elyse’s case would be heard last. As the judge addressed each of the proceeding cases, I began to have a great deal of hope that I would be able to get Elyse out of there immediately—each individual, many of them having committed crimes which seemed much more serious than hers, was released on his or her own recognizance.
Finally, it was her turn to go before the judge. God, she looked so tiny. I mean, I knew she was 5′ 3″, maybe 5′ 4″, and 105 pounds at best, but standing there in that oversized prison outfit, she looked like a child.
Unfortunately, she didn’t know how to keep her mouth shut like one.
“Ma’am,” he began, “the charges against you are driving in excess of ten miles per hour over the speed limit, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, and operating a motor vehicle with lapsed registration. You are also charged with shoplifting due to a…”
She sharply interrupted. “I have already faced the shoplifting charge…”
“Ma’am, you will have your turn to speak. This is not it.” Great, Elyse. Way to piss off the judge before we even get started. “You have displayed a stunning lack of judgement. You were speeding while driving illegally. You failed to complete the rehabilitation program you were offered for your shoplifting conviction, which is why there was a warrant out for your arrest.”
“I couldn’t get off of work to go to the program and…” My mind was screaming at her to shut up. SHUT UP, Elyse.
“Ma’am, if you will not be silent, I will have you held in contempt of court. Do you understand?”
“I’m just trying to tell you why all this stuff happened to me.”
The judge looked both disgusted and bemused as her peered over his glasses at her. “Ms. Mills, nothing has happened to you. You have happened to yourself. Time and time again, it looks like, according to your record.” He leafed through page after page of paper in front of him. “Yet, amazingly, the only thing you’ve ever been actually convicted of is a DUI and this shoplifting charge. I’d like to congratulate your parents on having hired some of the best criminal defense lawyers the state has to offer.” Parents? Elyse had rich parents? That was the first I’d heard of it.
He looked up from the stack up papers. “I’m inclined to hold you without bond, as I have every right to do considering your failure to appear for rehabilitation.” Fuck it, this had been a waste of my time.
“However,” he said, “I am willing to release you on your own recognizance and a bond of $2,130.” Ugh. “Your court date and terms of your bond will be discussed when you are able to post it.”
She was ushered out of the courtroom back to, well, wherever they take people at county jail. Having never been to jail myself, I had no idea where they had taken her, but I could only fear the worst.
Fear. Why the hell did I fear ANYTHING where this girl was concerned? Why was any of this my problem? The poor girl was under the illusion that just because I told her I loved her when I had been drunk one night that I’d really meant it. This caused more problems than I could count. We used to have this reckless, sexually adventurous …relationship? I suppose you could have called it that.
Yeah…the “L” word had changed ALL of that. Don’t get me wrong—she still had that Playboy bunny body I mentioned earlier, and it was still nothing short of miraculous they way that she used it. But now it had to be respectful. She didn’t even like to use the F word anymore. She talked about making love, about going on romantic trips together. She wanted me to buy her a ring, for Christ’s sake. Not an engagement ring—she wasn’t THAT delusional. Just something so that “guys will know I’m taken.” She wanted sapphires to match her eyes. Her eyes were special, I admit. Somehow, all the dope and the sex with randoms on barstools long after last call hadn’t robbed her eyes of their incandescent glow.
I walked out of the courtroom and up to the clerk’s counter.
“Excuse me,” I said to the woman behind the glass. She looked up at me with the typical lack of urgency I had always associated with government workers.
“Yeah, what is it?”
“I’d like to pay Ms. Mills’ bail, please.”
“You need to contact a bail bondsman and pay 10% to him,” she said as though she were reading a script.
“You misunderstand me, ma’am. I intend to pay the full bond.” I took out my checkbook from my jacket pocket. “To whom shall I make it out?”
“Are you for real?” she asked, incredulousy. “That’s over two thousand dollars.”
“I understand. To whom shall I make it out?”
Apparently just paying bail doesn’t just get somebody out of jail. She had to go in front of the judge again. In seven hours. And then get “processed,” whatever the hell that meant. So much for making my meeting.
Armed with nothing by my laptop and a mi-fi card, I sat in the waiting room outside the detention center and occupied my time by sending e-mails, writing proposals…anything other than facing the truth as to why I was there. Why I had driven hundreds of miles, spent thousands of dollars, and nearly a dozen hours to rescue this girl.
And then I saw her. The door buzzed, and she ran into my arms, nearly knocking me over even though I was twice her size.
“Baby. Baby. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry that you had to see me like this. I can’t believe you came. I can’t believe you came.” She half-sobbed, half-laughed, and collapsed against me. “I can’t believe you came.”
“Come on, ” I said as I stroked her hair. “We’re going.”
“Going?” she asked. “Going where?”
“Anywhere but here.”
I led her outside, head on my shoulder, to the Genesis. “Baby, is this your car? It’s nice.”
“Is it?” I said. “It’s a rental.”
“I don’t care,” she cooed. “I’m with you. That’s all that matters.”
Surprisingly, I felt the same way.
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- Analoggrotto As we Tesla owners receive our life energy from the greatest son of the gods of all time, Elon Musk; His cherubs and His nephilim may remove whatever they wish from us for unto him we owe all for our superiority above all the rest of humanity.
- Kcflyer Nice to see California giving NY some competition to be the worst run state in the union.
- Wolfwagen I see my comment was deleted (BTW nice way to censor) so i will say it again:GTFO here with the pseudo "wealth distribution" BS. A crime is a crime is a crime.Its a slippery slope, what happens next, Jail a rich guy when he kills a pedestrian and let the poor guy who kills a pedestrian walk? What about if the poor guy is a crappy driver and has the record to prove it then what?Or we could go crazy and just institute the death penalty across the board for every driving infraction. That will make people better drivers or stop driving altogether which will make the greenies happy (damm it I just gave them an idea - SOB!!!)
- Wolfwagen No. Bring back the J80 with an inline six and reduced electronics (i.e. no giant touch screen) and they will probably sell like hotcakes
- David S. " test vehicles sometimes make sudden stops when uncertain about how to navigate traffic."??? Test vehicles are programmed by humans, HUMANS sometimes make sudden stops when uncertain about how to navigate traffic, Duh!!
Wow. Well...thank you, author. Or I should say my girlfriend of over ten years thanks you. You just made her look like a million bucks in my eyes.
If you actually like cars, trucks and Motos , I don't care what sexual persuasion you are , let's have some fun with engines and wheels . The best Hot Rod Machinist I know , is as Gay as they come , few Machinists are even passable mechanics in my experience , a very sad thing indeed . I wonder if maybe April could , like my Daughter In Law , drive the pants off most men ~ . They're always talking big smack _before_ she gets behind the wheel or astride her Motocycle , not so much after wards . -Nate