Shorty and I made it back to the apartment safely. Michael and Hillary were kind of watching TV in the living room. They were basically asleep on the couch with the TV on. We woke them up enough to tell them about our dinner date with Jerry and his family, and our adventure getting out of Jerry’s housing development.
Shorty and I thought our story was way more humorous than Michael and Hillary did. They yawned a lots listening to our tale, and maybe mustered up enough energy to chuckle a couple times before they went to bed.
Hillary and Michael’s apartment was small. One bedroom, one bathroom. Both of those rooms were immediately off to the left as you walked in the front door. The living room was the largest room. If you walked straight through it, you ended up on the balcony. If you took a left about halfway through the living room, you ended up in the kitchen and the small dining room.
There was a good sized couch in a pastel floral print with a matching chair in the living room, a TV set was at the far end, near the sliding door to the balcony. A large glass top coffee table sat in the middle of the room. A pile of large tan square lounging pillows were stacked in the corner on the far side of the couch, as well as the sheets and blankets Shorty and I were using.
Shorty and I used the pillows as mattresses. There were six in total, he took three, I took three. We wrapped them in a sheet and covered up with a light blanket. It wasn’t the most comfortable bed I’d ever slept on, but it was far from the worst.
The most complicated part of our living arrangement was the bathroom. Being a high maintenance woman, Hillary took an incredible amount of time in the bathroom doing her hair and makeup. She liked to walk around her apartment in her very pretty bra and matching panties while she got ready in the morning.
Yeah, that part was hell. Michael repeatedly told her to at least put a robe on–she had half a dozen of them–but Hillary ignored him, bless her little pink heart. Now that I think about it, I don’t think either Shorty or I minded how much time she took to get ready in the morning…
I remember this part of our vacation in Texas as being idyllic. I remembered Jerry’s warning about Michael and Hillary, but it faded back in the recesses of my mind. Shorty had forgotten about it completely. If Shorty and I had wandered into a field of landmines, well, it was very hard for us to believe. Or comprehend.
Hillary and Michael went to work every day. Seeing how they worked in the same office complex, they rode together in the van, leaving us with Hillary’s car. Seeing how we were on vacation, Shorty and I spent a lots of time hanging out by the pool drinking beer and getting to know the very attractive single women living in the apartment complex.
I was seriously thinking about never leaving Texas. Why in hell would I want to return to Minnesota when I could have this? It’s not like I had anything in Minnesota I’d miss if I stayed. I didn’t have a job. I didn’t have a steady girlfriend. Dallas was looking awfully attractive to me.
We usually drove to Hillary’s office to have lunch with her and Randi. Martha and the redheaded hippie chick sometimes joined us, but mostly it was the four of us. Shorty and I were still head over heels in love with Martha, which irritated Hillary and Randi to no end.
I tried my best to spend every second I could with Martha. I was pretty sure she liked me, but chance and circumstance seemed to be conspiring against me. And so was Shorty, that bastard. He always seemed to get to her desk before I did. I ended up spending a lots of time with Randi.
And to be fair, I probably got the better end of that deal.
Randi was a year or two older than me. She was a single mother, her son was around two years old, and her life revolved around him. She was smart enough to not marry the guy that had knocked her up. I don’t think they had any kind of a relationship after the birth of their child. Randi lived with her parents. It wasn’t the best arrangement, but she didn’t have to pay for rent or daycare, and she knew her son was in good hands while she worked.
She saved most of the money she made. She had a plan. She wanted to go to college. She wanted to buy a house, and she wanted a better life for her son. There was more to Randi than met the eye.
The world of telephone sales was a mixed bag. The sales force made good money on their commissions, but they had to sell something in order to collect. Jerry paid them a minimal salary, but not enough to live on, and certainly not enough to afford any of the finer things in life. Like Quaaludes.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the drug, methaqualone is a sedative hypnotic soporific medication, used to help people suffering from insomnia. It’s a sleeping pill. And as far as pills go, it was huge!
Rorer Pharmaceuticals manufactured a white pill about the size of a quarter, and three times as thick. It was scored so it could easily be broken into four pieces, making it easier to swallow.
It didn’t take long before ‘ludes became one of the most highly abused drugs in history. It was allegedly the drug Bill Cosby allegedly used to allegedly drug his alleged victims before he allegedly raped them. And it also allegedly improved your sexual performance and pleasure.
Back in my pill popping days, I thought I had tried everything, but I had never tried Quaaludes until that trip to Dallas. And I didn’t care for them all that much. They were sleeping pills, and they put me to sleep. There’s nothing that impacts one’s ability to drink beer quite so much as being asleep.
However, if you don’t fall asleep after taking a Quaalude, you get higher than a kite. It loosens up your inhibitions and enables you to call people you’ve never met halfway across the country and sell them stuff they didn’t know they needed.
Jerry’s entire sales force was a bunch of Quaalude zombies.
* * * *
As great as hanging out by the pool with bikini babes was, and it was pretty great, man cannot live on bikinis alone. Not even me. Shorty and I got bored. We went to work with Michael a couple times, and helped him install carpeting. We did a tune up on Hillary’s car. We did laundry and cleaned the apartment. We even made dinner a couple times.
Our hosts were starting to fall in love with us.
I spent a fair amount of time keeping our hosts amused when they were around. I told jokes and funny stories from my time in the Army.
Shorty and I had wandered into a head shop one day and bought a small bottle of Giggle Juice, or something. It was like unto liquid nitrous oxide. You sniffed this stuff, and you giggled your ass off. I don’t care how bad your day was, a couple whiffs of that stuff was all you needed to make your world right again.
I had a Samsonite suitcase back then. My dad gave it to me when I graduated from high school. He told me, “Don’t be afraid to use it.”
Samsonite had an huge ad campaign back then depicting the reliability of their product. No matter how badly it was mistreated, their suitcase would remain closed. Well, I had an idea to check the veracity of their statements. I dropped my fully packed suitcase from the balcony to the ground, six floors below.
It stayed closed.
* * * *
Hillary took the first Friday we were in town off. We went to a park near the apartment and played Frisbee. And drank beer. And Hillary told us her life story.
The part that has the most significance in what would follow centers on her relationship with George. Hillary and George had dated for a long time, way back when they were still in Detroit. They were working for Jerry, and when he decided to relocate to Dallas, they went with him. Actually, most of Jerry’s employees made the move.
Detroit, it seems, was dying, and there was an epic migration of people moving to Texas or Florida in the late 1970’s to escape.
Hillary and George were living together in George’s apartment. They were planning on getting married and raising a family. And then they broke up. I can’t remember what caused that, but where there had once been love, now only bitterness and hatred remained.
There was also some dispute about possessions–she took some of his stuff, he kept some of hers–I think there was even a lawsuit. Over furniture! Each accused the other of theft, fraud and dishonesty. Then Hillary started dating Michael, and it got worse. Hillary and George got into a very ugly argument at work one day about a month before Shorty and I came down to visit–it was all fuckin’ George’s fault, of course–somehow Michael got involved, and it got even uglier.
The net result was this: Jerry created a position in his company for George, to keep him separated from Hillary. George filled a restraining order against Michael, essentially banning him from the office whenever George was there. And there was relative peace at Jerry’s company once more, except Hillary hated George even more because Jerry had removed George from the sales force, and his life was no longer dependent upon making commissions to survive.
“That fuckin’ bastard gets to sit in his office and stare out the window! He doesn’t do shit! And I have to bust my ass every day to afford this fucking dump!”
I guess George had a really big apartment, and it was beautiful.
There was another reason Hillary took the day off. I was leaving. My buddy, Raoul, was coming to town. He was picking me up and we were going to hang out at Fort Sill for the weekend with the few guys I still knew from my Army days.
Hillary was incredibly upset by this!
“I can’t believe you’re leaving me here all alone!”
“Michael and Shorty are still here. I’m hardly leaving you all alone.”
“Oh, I know that, but it won’t be the same. You know I love you, don’t you?”
I’m not sure what I was expecting her to say, but I know that wasn’t it. I think her revelation left me speechless. And one thought filled my mind: Why can’t you be Martha?
* * * *
Raoul arrived at Hillary’s apartment around one or two in the afternoon. He didn’t recognize me when he saw me. I introduced him to Shorty and Hillary. We drank a beer with a couple of the bikini babes by the pool. I packed a change of clothes, my hygiene kit, and maybe an ounce of pot for the road.
We had smoked maybe an ounce of pot during the time we’d been in Dallas, maybe more, but there was still a whole lots of pot to be smoked.
That would not be the case when I returned two days later. Quite a few things would be different, and what happened to most of the marijuana I smuggled into Texas would end up being the least of my concerns.