Becky Richards blew her future when she accepted crack on a dare from her best friend. At seventeen, she was hopelessly hooked on narcotics; living from fix-to-fix, she broke into a drug store and landed in jail. She had served three months when her court appointed defense attorney, Ms. Johnson, approached her cell, stiletto heels clicking upon the concrete floor.
The sound of the guard’s key unlocking her cell door flooded her mind with repressed memories. Attempting to force entry into a high security drug store in the middle of the night, with a nail file implemented as key was ludicrous. Frantic, she hurled an empty bourbon bottle through the double paned glass door. Entering through shattered glass, Becky lacerated her anorexic body.
The sight of splattered blood and excruciating pain caused her to faint. Sounds of burglar alarms ringing in her ears and the jostling of her body to a gurney by EMS medics brought her back to reality. She cringed seeing the judgmental eyes of police officers surrounding her. Three months had transpired while caged and on public display before sheriff’s deputy guards and cellmates.
“Attorney here to see you, Richards.”
“How you doin’ Becky?”
Averting her eyes and shrugging her shoulders, she exhibited signs of low self-esteem.
“Got some good news for ya.’ The judge accepted my plea for clemency. He issued a placement order for twelve months at a women’s ministry halfway house. They move you outa’ here tomorrow morning.”
Feeling a sudden rush of relief, Becky temporarily blocked out the rest of her lawyers statement. When she began to process the gist of the spiel, she was far less euphoric.
Twelve months, where?
She searched the eyes of her advocate hoping to find a shred of compassion.
“Ms. Johnson, what’ ya’ say? Uh, what halfway house?”
Flicking pages of documents aside with well-manicured flame red nails, she glanced up at her charge.
“Women Walking in Victory,” run by a group of do-gooders over on the south side. Has a good track record.”
“Oh, how many in there?”
“Not sure, couple a dozen I think.”
Mission completed she stood, using her right hand she hurriedly smoothed wrinkles from her Saks Fifth Avenue tailored suit as she motioned with her left to the guard to let her out. With not so much as a nod or good-bye, she left Becky to consider her fate as she inhaled fragrance of Tabu cologne worn by the high fashion lawyer.
The following morning, a female guard escorted Becky to a group shower. She and others awaiting release were instructed to undress and get into the shower; as robots void of emotion, they followed orders. Stepping under one of several shower-heads, frigid water pelted her. Instinctively, she stepped back.
“Back in there!” growled the guard. Leaning against a wall, the six-foot escort stood with arms folded across her chest, glaring at the unclothed inmates.
Seen one, seen em’all.
Becky and her companions felt compelled to shower and dress as fast as possible in order to terminate the humiliation. Led to the release area by their guard, she was in hopes of a vestige of privacy in life outside. After a short wait with her partners in relocation, Becky heard her name called by a graying and plump woman across the room.
“Becky Richards, Becky darlin’ are you here?”
Rising to her feet, shaking like caught in an unexpected blizzard, Becky walked toward the inquirer.
“I’m Becky Richards.”
The strange woman wrapped her arms around Becky, enveloping her with genuine compassion.
“Mercy sakes, she laughed. I thought I mighta’ been sent to the wrong precinct!”
Her smile was as big as the Grand Canyon and her laughter resounding as a waterfall Becky had witnessed on a grammar school field trip. Grasping Becky firmly by her right hand, she led her outside to a Junker van. The first taste of freedom was scrumptious. She slid into the bucket seat of the van; into the seatbelt, buckled it and breathed a sigh of relief.
As the driver turned the key to the ignition, music blared from wrap-around radio speakers. Becky picked out a few words, something about grace and chains being gone. The driver chatted over the high decibel music while munching on cashews and sipping a diet soda. Becky nodded occasionally and wondered what she was getting into this time.
Her dread subsided as they pulled up in front of a picturesque three-story house.
“Chile, yer’ home; yer’ safe here!”
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