“Again? You don’t look like you have a damn thing wrong with you.”
Jonquinette didn’t respond. She waited for someone to come to her rescue and a few seconds later, someone did.
Mrs. Yates, their teacher, yelled toward them. “Sheila, what are you doing? Leave Jonquinette alone. She’s not feeling well.”
Sheila smacked her lips and walked off.
After class ended, Jonquinette was in the locker room organizing her locker when she heard several people approach her from behind. She turned to find Sheila and a few of her flunkies staring at her.
Sheila stepped forward. “I don’t believe there’s a damn thing wrong with you. Take off your clothes.”
“Take off my clothes?” Jonquinette asked in disbelief.
“Yes, take them off or I’ll take them off for you.”
Everyone had gathered around laughing. Not one single girl seemed to be on Jonquinette’s side. She looked toward Mrs. Yates’ office but she wasn’t in there.
“I’m not taking off my clothes, Sheila.” Jonquinette slammed her locker, grabbed her bookbag, and tried to get past the group.
Sheila grabbed her arm. “Maybe you didn’t hear me good enough. I said take your clothes off.”
Jonquinette started breathing heavily. She saw no way to escape. She blinked twice and then Jude glared at Sheila before speaking in a threatening tone. “If you don’t get out of my way, I will break every bone in your body. You don’t want to fuck with me. Just ask Brenda Morrison.”
Fear came over Sheila’s face. Everyone had heard about what Jonquinette had done in second grade and many of them had attended the same school. Brenda and the other two girls had never returned to school, but Jonquinette had returned after a week’s suspension.
Jude continued, “Now, are you going to move out my way or do I need to start putting foot to ass.”
“Damn!” one girl yelled out. “Check out Jonquinette breaking bad.”
A roar of laughter engulfed the room. Mrs. Yates came in and said, “Break it up! Next period starts in five minutes!”
The next day, Jude asked for a bathroom pass during her second period calculus class. Instead of going to the bathroom, she headed to the girls’ locker room and retrieved the three bottles of hair remover she had placed there earlier that morning.
By the time gym class started, fourth period, the dirt had already been done. It was a particularly sweaty period because Mrs. Yates had them run around the indoor track for an entire thirty minutes. Because one girl misbehaved, they were all being punished.
Jude fell right in with the rest of them, shocking just about everyone there. Not only did she run; she outran all of them for the entire thirty minutes. Jude wanted to show the world their bomb-ass body.
After the thirty minutes were up, Mrs. Yates told them to hit the showers and that’s when Jude started acting like Jon again. She went into a stall to change and skipped the shower. For good reason.
“Oh my God!” was the first thing she heard someone yell out. “What happened to your hair?”
Then there was just a bunch of screaming as Jude strolled out of the locker room, laughing her ass off.
Jonquinette found the three empty bottles in her locker the following day. Most of the females in her gym class were no-shows that day. They were all at home wondering what they could do about their baldness. Jonquinette held the bottles in her hands, sat down on the bench, and started crying.
After discussing it with her husband, Jason, Zoe had made up her mind to help the young woman who always seemed withdrawn. As always, she showed up for the meeting, lurked in the back of the room, and tried to sneak out without being noticed. This time, Zoe followed her.
She caught up to her in the parking lot, climbing into a late model Honda. “Excuse me? Young lady?” Zoe called out to her.
She stared at Zoe uneasily. “Yes?”
“I was just wondering if you needed anything.”
“Anything like what?”
Zoe walked closer to her, proceeding with caution. She didn’t want to scare her off by overstepping her boundaries. “It’s just that I notice you here every week, but you never say anything.”
The woman’s eyes dropped to the ground. “Maybe I don’t have anything to say.”
Zoe forced a smile. “Oh, I don’t think that’s true at all. You wouldn’t come to the meetings if something wasn’t bothering you. This is Hotlanta, after all. I wouldn’t exactly call a sexual addiction meeting someplace to hang out and enjoy the scenery.”
The woman didn’t respond or look back up.
“I just wanted you to know that if you ever need someone to talk to, in private, I’m available. Trust me, there’s nothing you could tell me that I wouldn’t understand. If you knew what I’ve been through, you would realize that things can always get worse.”
The woman fumbled with her keys, hesitating between climbing all the way into the car or standing there. Finally, she said, “What makes you think what you’ve been through is worse than what I’ve been through?”
Zoe frowned. That was a good point. As horrid as her life had been, she had no clue what this beautiful young woman had endured in her short life. “You’re right. That just tells me that maybe I’m not the one you should be talking to. But, I do have another suggestion.”
Zoe walked all the way up to her and reached into her jacket pocket to retrieve a business card. She handed it to the young woman. “Call her. She’s the one who helped me and I’m sure she can help you also. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be alive today, much less attending these meetings.”
The woman eyed Zoe suspiciously before reading the card. “She’s really all that, huh?”
“Yes, she is. Just give her a chance. You won’t regret it.”
No more words were spoken between them. Zoe walked back inside, hearing the woman start the ignition of her Honda and pull off.
I sat at my desk staring at the card. Dr. Marcella Spencer, a psychiatrist. Was I ready for that? There had been so many years of questioning. So many blackouts. So much pain.
Darnetta poked her head into my office. “What’s up, girl? Can I come in?”
I put the card under my desk pad out of her view. “Sure, I have a moment.”
“How’s business?” Darnetta asked as she sat down opposite me at the desk.
“Thank goodness, because Boss Man has been walking around here beet-red like he might croak any second.”
I laughed. “He’ll survive. All businesses have slow periods but things are picking up.”
Darnetta worked in Accounts Receivable and was very good at collections. I often wondered if people just agreed to pay us so they wouldn’t have to listen to her squeaky voice over the phone anymore.
“Well, I’m glad we’re shipping more product because he’s really been on those of us over in my department about closing out past due invoices. You would’ve thought his house was about to go into foreclosure or something.”
“Trust me when I say that Mr. Wilson has no problem paying his bills. It’s his staff members that have to pinch pennies.”
“Speaking of which, have you heard anything about raise reviews coming up?”
“No, he’ll probably pull that old ‘We’ll show our appreciation with Christmas bonuses’ routine.”
Darnetta said, “He’s such a joy.”
We both laughed.
“So, Jon, you remember what you told me?”