Alabama Madam

 

1964

            Sandra looked at herself in the full length mirror, wincing at the sight. This meant she couldn’t work this week. If men wanted to see bruised women, they’d just go home after too many martinis after work. No, they came to her because she looked a certain way. Red hair, blue eyes, and not a freckle on her.

            She applied the compress to her tattered leg and climbed into bed. It was late and she had important business tomorrow. Merle Norman didn’t just buy itself.

 

One Week Later…

With the pain slowly subsiding and the welts light enough to cover in makeup, Sandra made an appointment with Councilman Johnson. She met him at the Sandlapper Motel, twenty miles away. Sometimes he hit her, sometimes Mr. Jones did, but a man never liked to see the other’s on the lady. She went inside the 2 star wonder and “freshened up.” Lately, it took longer for the nerve medication to take effect. The pills began their fuzzy descent into her mind and she was ready for her three minute shift.  Johnson left before her, and she after. Once again, the shutterbug clicked away from afar, only a brunette this time. Sandra drove slowly back to town.

 

Sandra heard a thump, thump, thud, thud. Her car began to waver. Her tire was flat.

The early afternoon made way for early evening and the truck she had called from a nearby home was not coming as quickly as she was promised. As Sandra stared at the road, a noisy green truck eased up next to her. About to get in her car and lock the door, she saw that smile. Above it, she saw those green eyes.

“E’ning, Miss Sandra.”

“Hi, Chuck.”

“Are you in dis’tress?,” he asked with a sarcastic beam in his eyes.

“No, I— ”       She is interrupted by a door slamming shut. In the time it took her to protest, he’s out of his truck and playing the part of the knight in shining armor. If the knight wore ragged coveralls and had a terrible Louisiana slang in his tone.

“I’ll take g’od care of ya Miss Sandra.”

She had no doubt he would.

The truck crawled away from her apartment with Chuck glancing back in his broken rearview mirror every so often until it became nothing more than a speck. Sandra walked in to her phone ringing. She let the sound reverberate through her apartment. Picking up pace again, the receiver practically fell of the base. Giving in, she answered with a breathy “Hello.” On the other end was nothing more than a breath. Tired in a way she denied with more prescriptions, Sandra drew a bath to get ready for the night ahead. That familiar ring filled her ears. Ironically irritated at the lateness of the call, she answered once more, “Hello?” This time there was a voice, “Remember Marilyn…” and an ominous end to the call.
For Sandra, in her fatigued stupor, it was nothing more than a wrong number. For the voice on the other end, it was merely the beginning of something that started years ago.

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