Excerpt from “Women Outside the Walls”

stage plays, prison, scripts for women, innocent men behind bars

~Prologue~

Reno, Nevada 1995

Scorching, desert sun soaked into the roof of the trailers, the aluminum so old and weathered that there was no reflection. Heat shimmered off the scarred mobile homes, the dirt, the abandoned tricycle with two wheels, the rusted out cars parked in the weeds. A young girl bolted out the front door of one of the older trailers and scrambled down the four wooden steps to the road.

“You get back here, ya little bitch!” a male voice bellowed from inside.

The girl sauntered down the street between other mobile homes just like hers. Her sandals flapped on the hot pavement. As far as the eye could see were rust streaked, silver trailers with faded trim, red dirt and black sticky pavement with not a shrub or a flower in sight. This was her life and she couldn’t wait to get out. The sun lit her red hair and it sparkled with fire. She wore pristine white short shorts and a pink sleeveless blouse tied off at the waist.

Even though Alma was only fifteen her body had matured and blossomed into that of a full grown beautiful woman. As she walked away she muttered to herself. It’ll be a cold day in you-know-where before I take orders from one of Mom’s boyfriends. I don’t take guff off nobody. Especially not from that lousy, drunken, pig of a step-father, or ‘uncle’ or whatever the heck Mom’s calling this one.Alma was concentrated on where she was going and what her future might hold when a deep voice called out.

“Hey! Lady Bug, where you off to in such a hurry?”
Alma’s head snapped up and when she recognized the voice calling from behind a screen door, a smile lit up her face. She slowed her angry march as she came up to the door of the neighbor-ing trailer, accenting the sway of her hips.
“Hey, yourself!” Alma said. “Just goin’ for a stroll; wanna come along?”
“Sure, lemme’ get my beer.” the man replied as he stepped back into his door and almost instantly reappeared. He joined Alma in the middle of the street and they began to walk. The man was in his early twenties, and what he lacked in height, he made up for in physique. He was unbelievably handsome, with shaggy, light brown hair that just touched the collar of his shirt. His cobalt blue eyes, with silver flecks, sparkled when he looked at her. As they walked Alma’s smile had slowly faded and she appeared deep in thought.
“Whas’ up, Bug? You’re awful serious today.”
“It’s nothin’.” Alma said.
“Come on, now, tell Charlie what’s buggin’ ya,” he replied.
“It’s just that creep my Mom’s got livin’ with us. What a loser!” Once Alma started the floodgates opened. Charlie was her best friend and always listened, really listened to her.
“He lays around all day, drinkin’ beer while she goes out to work. Then when she comes home he claims he was out lookin’ for a job. She has a few beers with him and then the fight begins. I don’t know why she keeps pickin’ these losers.”
“She moves one of ‘em in,” Alma continued, “pays the bills, and supports the bum.”
“In the end it’s always the same; they fight every night and finally he smacks her around and she kicks ‘im to the curb. I am never gonna’ have a boy friend like that! I’ve got plans, big plans, believe you me!”

Charlie stopped in the road and Alma walked a few steps before she realized he wasn’t beside her anymore. She stopped and looked around.
“What?” she asked.
“He’s not botherin’ you is he? Not touchin’ ya?”
“Ha! That’ll be the day! Just let ‘im try somethin’ like that! I’ll kill him!”
“You sure?” Charlie insisted.
“Whad’da you care?” she asked.
Charlie scowled at her. “I thought we were friends, Alma. Friends look out for friends.”
“Well, thanks, but you don’t need to worry. He wouldn’t dare try anything. Besides, he’s not my type.”
“Oh, really? And what would be your type be, at the wise ol’ age of fifteen?” Charlie laughed.
“Sixteen!” she corrected him. “Last week and you know it. Anyway, my type is none of your beeswax.”
“Okay, okay, don’t get your knickers….” Charlie cleared his throat realizing what he had been about to say. I’ve got no right to refer to a young girl’s knickers in any context. “Ah….I mean…don’t get all mad and everything. I was just wondering.”
He paused, thinking about her turning sixteen. “So…how does that old saying go? ‘Sweet sixteen and never been kissed.’ That you?”
Alma blushed at how close Charlie was to the truth. Why when he looks at me does he only see a child?
What I want is for him to realize that I’m a woman now and that he’s my type. How can I convince him of that when he’s with Cassandra? She wondered to herself. How can I compete with a tall, willowy blonde waitress who works a real job at the diner? I have to do something.

As they walked along, she smirked sideways at Charlie “You volunteering?” she asked.
“Me?! No way. In case you haven’t noticed, kiddo, you’re jail bait.”
It ‘s now or never. Alma decided. This is a perfect opportunity to get my first kiss and if I play it right, it could be Charlie.
“’Cause if you are, volunteering that is, I wouldn’t mind if it was you.” Alma buried her face in a fall of her long hair. She was dying of embarrassment. What if he turns me down? I’ll lock myself in my bedroom and never come out.

They had walked past the mobile home park and out into the desert. The sun was cradled in the saddle of the distant mountains and everything was turning a soft purplish pink. Charlie took her hand and led her off the road and under a mesquite tree. He playfully dusted off a large flat rock.

“Sit. Okay, here’s the deal, Alma. We’re friends. I hope you know I would never hurt you. So, I’m gonna tell you a few home truths. Don’t be in such a danged hurry to get your first kiss or… anything. You got lots of time. Be choosey. Don’t go with the first guy who asks you. And whatever you do, don’t sell yourself short or cheap.”
“Jeez, forget it! I don’t want your danged old kiss. I was just seein’ if you would.”
Charlie scowled down at her. “You know I’m with Cassandra for however long it lasts and I’m a one-woman-at-a-time kinda guy.”
Tears glistened in Alma’s eyes. “Are you sayin’ that I’m cheap?”
“God, no! I was just sayin’ slow down.”
“Oh.” Alma thought that over. She looked up at Charlie through her long, brown eyelashes.

“You never gave me a birthday present, Charlie.” Alma’s lightning change of subjects had Charlie scrambling to catch up with her.
“Well, I’ve been busy with work and all…”
Alma’s eyes flashed with mischief. “So, I know now what I want from you for my birthday.”
“And what’s that?” Charlie asked.
“My first kiss. From you…”
“Goddamnit! Alma, haven’t you been listening to a word I’ve been sayin’?”
Alma stood up. “Yes I have. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m now sixteen, have never been kissed and you owe me a birthday present.”
“Alma, don’t ask that of me. It’s not right. I’m twenty-three and you’re just a kid. I’m old enough to be your…” He fumbled for an example of a family member.
“Older cousin? Older ‘kissin’ cousin?” Alma grinned up into his face. “Come on, Charlie. I want my first to be from someone I lo…like… Who’s a friend and who has some experience. You do have experience, don’cha?”
“Knock it off, Bug. A’course I got experience. But the problem is, you don’t. I would feel like a perv.”
Alma decided she had to take matters into her own hands. Before Charlie knew what she was about to do, she grabbed his shirt front and mashed her body against his. Wrapping her arms around his neck she rose up on her tip toes and put her lips against his, not certain what to do next. His lips were so soft and warm she thought her bones would melt. There was an instant when the world stood still for both of them. Then Charlie’s arm encircled Alma’s waist and his other hand cradled the back of her head. He broke away an inch and looked into her eyes. They had darkened from their usual coppery hue to a rich brandy color.

I am so going to regret this, Charlie thought. This is exactly what I have been trying to stay away from…she’s just a kid, for Chrissakes. Groaning, he bent down and kissed her mouth softly. Alma made a purring sound in the back of her throat. Charlie lightly licked her bottom lip with the tip of his tongue. Her lips opened on a sigh. Need flooded Alma’s body. A growl emitted from Charlie’s chest.My God, Charlie thought, this is so wrong. Why does this feel like this is my first kiss? My heart feels too big for my chest and other parts are swiftly getting out of control. What the hell…? Space…lots of space between me and this young goddess, is what I need. He kissed her gently once more and, taking her firmly by her arms, set her away from him.
“There ya go, Bug, your first kiss.” He laughed to cover the storm of emotions that were bubbling up inside him. What was going on here? This is just a kid, a girl, never in a million years is she right for me. He laughed again.
Alma flinched at Charlie’s laugh. My first kiss ever and it’s more exciting than anything I’ve ever fantasized about and he stands here laughing? I won’t cry, at least not in front of him.
“Yep! And not half bad for an old guy,” she retorted. “Thanks, Charlie.”
Alma whirled around and ran down the road as if she was being chased by devils. Tears streamed down her face as she sobbed out her hurt. I’m in love for the first time and he laughs?
“Hey, Alma, wait a sec,” Charlie yelled after her. “What the hell just happened?” he muttered to himself.
Alma ran all the way back to her trailer, pounded up the steps and through the front door. As she stumbled down the hallway a drunken voice followed her.
“Hey, baby, get your Daddy a beer, would ya?”
“Fuck off!” Alma yelled back as she slammed her bedroom door and threw herself onto her bed in a torrent of tears.

* * * * *

A week later Alma still felt humiliated about ‘the kiss’. She made certain that she avoided Charlie and never went outside when he was home from work. It was seven o’clock in the evening and Charlie was working the night shift at the plant. Alma peeked out the front curtains. Chances are pretty good that I won’t run into him and if I don’t get out of the house, Alma thought to herself, I’ll surely go crazy. It’s probably safe enough to walk down to the laundry room even though it is across the street from Cassandra and Charlie’s trailer.

She stripped the sheets off her bed and gathered up the dirty clothes lying around and tossed them into a basket. Her mother’s loser boyfriend sprawled in a lounger, snoring in front of the television. Alma went to the tiny kitchen and took down the jar of quarters from the cabinet and stuffed a handful into her pocket. She walked through the living room and out the front door. The desert sun was setting and the temperature had dropped so it was a pleasant walk in spite of the heavy load of dirty clothes. Alma opened the door to the laundry room and backed through it with the large basket held tightly in her arms. As she turned around she realized that the room was not empty. Big as life, there was Cassandra cramming clothes into a machine. Isn’t this just great? Alma thought, can’t I catch a break, just once?
“Hi.” Alma said.
“Hi.” Cassandra said, not looking at Alma.
“How’re things?” Alma asked. Maybe she’d say something about Charlie.
Cassandra turned around and Alma saw that her eyes were puffy, her nose was red, and her skin was all blotchy.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Alma asked.
“Nothin’!” Cassandra snapped. “Mind your own business.”
“Okay, sor-rey. I was just askin’. You don’t have to bite my head off.”
Alma began loading clothes into two machines and angrily fed quarters into the slots.
Cassandra looked over. “Look, kid, I’m sorry, okay? It’s just something you wouldn’t understand.” Cassandra sniffled.
“Guy trouble, huh? You and Charlie have a fight or somethin’?” Alma asked, jealousy smearing her words.
Cassandra collapsed on a chair and began to cry. “He’s gone,” she whispered.
“What?” Alma cried.
“He left me. Said he won’t be back. I thought…” She began to cry again. “…I thought we had somethin’.”
“What do you mean, ‘gone’?” Alma’s voice was too loud but she couldn’t seem to help it.
“What don’t ya understand about the word ‘gone’, kid? Adios, left, vamoose, vanished. Get it?” Cassandra cried harder. “He told me he couldn’t hang around anymore. Told me it was great while it lasted. Basically, the bastard kissed me off!” Cassandra replied.
Alma stared at Cassandra for a few seconds, set her basket down carefully on top of the washing machine, turned, and walked out the door. She walked down the road, in a daze.

Charlie was gone? Without telling me he was going? Why? We’re friends. How could he do this and not tell me? How could he leave and not take me with him? She stumbled back to the trailer and up the stairs to the front door. As she entered the living room her mother’s boyfriend was awake and slugging down another beer. With a loud belch, he gazed up at Alma.
“Hey, kid. There’s a letter for you. I think I put it here somewhere.” He patted his dirty wife beater undershirt as if the letter was lurking somewhere between his hairy chest and the large stomach that hung over his belt buckle. He looked around and then laughed.
“Oh, yeah, here it is. Guess I was usin’ it for a coaster last night.” He sheepishly lifted his beer can off an envelope and wiped it against his T-shirt where the can had left a ring of water. “Opps, sorry ‘bout that.”
“Gemme that!” Alma snatched the envelope out of his hand.
“Jesus, you don’t have to get so pissy,” he said.
Alma rushed down the hall to her bedroom. The letter had to be from Charlie. No one wrote to her. She slammed her door shut, locked it and crawled onto her bed. The envelope had only her name across the front; no return name or address and no stamp. She carefully tore the end off and unfolded the single sheet. She quickly read the signature at the bottom. She smiled. It was from Charlie! He hadn’t forgotten about me entirely.

‘Ladybug,

I’ll be gone when you read this. Gotta go, kid. Your first kiss was more than I bargained for and it would be a big mistake for me to hang around.’
Tears filling her eyes, Alma read on.

‘I’m not comin’ back and it would be best if you forgot about me. I’m sure gonna try to forget about you and that kiss.
Take care of yourself and remember what I said, about bein’ choosey.

Your friend, always, Charlie

Alma read it again and then a third time. She didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. The kiss meant as much to Charlie as it had to me. He loves me. But, he’s gone. It doesn’t make any sense. Why did he leave? It’s because I’m a kid and he’s older. But, doesn’t he know that I don’t care about that? Sobs erupted and tears streamed down her face. He was gone and her heart was broken.

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