Breakfast At Jane’s

Runaway_seatedDina waited for Joe outside the coffee shop.  She felt too shy to go in by herself.  She spotted Joe’s car as he found a parking spot half a block away.  She felt a flood of relief, watching him saunter up the sidewalk grinning at her,

“Hi, little girl, how come you didn’t go in?”

“Um, I just, like, wanted to wait for you.”  She studied the cracks in the sidewalk.

“OK, whatever, come on in.  I’ll introduce you to Jane.  She always takes good care of my friends.” Joe lead the way into the coffee shop, ducking to avoid bumping his head against the low doorway.

“Hiya, Joe!  Whatcha bring me?” sang out a cheerful soul with a tie dye kechief  tied Indian style over her brow.  A box of Marlboros were rolled up in the left sleeve of her blue tee shirt.  A cigarette burned itself up in an ashtray.

“Whoa, Jane, what kind of speed are you on today?” joked Joe.

“Don’t need no speed, Mr. Big Shot Social Worker Pot-head,” Jane chortled.  “I’m high on life.”

“Right on,” said Joe.  “Jane, I want you to meet my friend Dina.  She hails from the East Coast.  She’s doing some traveling.”

“Oh, taking a vacation, are we?” said Jane, knowingly, throwing Dina a wink.  Dina was not so sure she liked this whole scene.  But she was game to stay on board with it for a while, to see how it played out.

“Come on, Dina, let’s not waste any more time with yon rascally woman,”  Joe quipped, guiding Dina to a booth and easing his bulk into one side.  Dina slid in the other side.

Suddenly Jane was all professional, cruising up to their booth with a waitress pad and a tray.  She slid an ash tray onto their table and got herself a new page in her order book. “What’ll it be, guys?”

Joe had been perusing the menu while Dina closely examined a sugar packet.

“Well, Jane, I’m mighty hungry this morning.  Let’s have the Big Hungry Breakfast, eggs over easy, sausage, home fries, whole wheat toast–Dina, all the bread here is home made and super yummy–orange juice, and coffee.”

Jane scribbled the order into her book.  She looked up at Dina.

“And for you, miss?”

“She’ll have the same,” said Joe, before Dina could open her mouth.  She slumped back in the booth, half relieved and half ashamed.

Jane brought them each a steaming diner mug of coffee, and set the stainless steel pitcher of half-and-half on the table.

Pouring cream into his coffee, Joe began, “Dina, little girl, I know you want to be independent.”  Dina waited for him to go on.  She wasn’t sure where he was going with this.  Her head felt hollow, and everything sounded far away.  She stared at the table.

“OK, let me be straight up about this,” Joe said.  “You can’t stay on the streets.  They’ll chew you up and spit you out out there.  You had a taste of it last night.  Is that how you want it to be?”  Dina shook her head slowly.

“Well, what are your ideas?” Joe asked.  Dina stayed quiet, trying to shrink even smaller than she already was.

“Look, do you think your parents would send you some money so you could get an apartment?  It’s summer break, and there are hundeds of apartments open.  You could get one, or share one anyway, for fifty bucks a month, I bet.”

“Really?” Dina sat up straight.  “Do you think I could get my own apartment for fifty bucks?”

“Well, you’d probably have to have a roommate.  Why don’t we go down to the campus housing bullletin board after breakfast and have a look?  If we find anything, we can call up about it.  I can give you a reference.  Everybody knows me!”  He gave a deep belly laugh.  Dina’s tension evaporated and she found herself smiling.

Jane returned with a tray laden with breakfast.  The toothsome aromas nearly knocked Dina over.  She hadn’t realized how hungry she was.  The two of them set to work eating, and nothing was heard from either of them until the last of the egg was sopped up with the last of the toast.

Joe paid the check, and the two of them slid out of the booth and thanked Jane for the magnificent breakfast.  She beamed, and they trooped out into the California morning.

Chapter 5: So Close I Can Taste It

Dina couldn’t justify staying in the shower a minute longer, so she turned the water off and stepped out of the stall.  Steve was waiting for her with a towel in his hands.

“Let me dry you, Lady.” There was a note of wistfulness in his voice that caught at Dina’s heart and struck her cold with fear.  She walked shivering into his waiting arms and he wrapped her in the warm towel. He grabbed another one for her dripping hair, whch nearly reached her hips; and expertly wrapped it onto the top of her head, as if he had done this many times before.

Then slowly, tenderly, he dried every part of her: hands, the webs between her fingers, face, neck: every single part of her, as if she were a newborn baby.

She stood still and let him do it, unable to move or speak because of the catch in her chest and throat.  She thought she would die of love and pain.

After he’d dried each part, he kissed it, brushing it with his lips like the kiss of a bee gathering nectar.  She shuddered at these kisses, somehow familiar, as if she’d dreamed them long ago.  Slowly she slipped from the reality of it, as if from a cast-off garment, and pushed it far from her.  It wasn’t real.  She knew it wasn’t for her.  His love was not for her.  She wished in her agony that she could just relax and revel in this lovely dream; but something in her could not accept a gift meant for another.

“What’s the matter, Lady?” Steve looked up, concerned.  “You’re crying again.  Come.  Come here to me.” And he gathered her in.  She sobbed on his shoulder, pouring snot on the soft white towel.  “It’s OK, Lady, you just cry.  You’ve been through a lot, I know.”  This made her cry harder.

Steve took her hand and led her out of the bathroom, wrapped in a dry towel.  “Breakfast is almost ready,” he said brightly, changing the subject.  “How do you like your eggs?”

Dina got herself together and sniffled through a wan smile, “Over medium, please.”  Steve grinned broadly and said, “Coming right up!  How about pouring us some coffee?  I take mine black and sweet: three sugars.”

“Holy mackerel!” cried Dina.  “I’m surprised you have a tooth left in your head!”  Then she felt stupid, because he actually did have quite a few gaps in his mouth.  He grinned, showing a couple of those gaps and sticking his tongue out.  He turned his back to her and flipped the eggs.

She brought the steaming mugs of coffee out to the dining room and saw the table, set with fine silver plate and English bone china.  Bacon heaped a serving dish, and Steve brought out a hot plate full of hash brown potatos in one hand and Dina’s eggs in the other.  He returned to the kitchen and retrieved a dish piled with toast and his own eggs.  He pulled his chair up to the table, spreading the damask napkin in his lap.

“Dig in,” he said, “let’s not be formal around here.”

Dina needed no urging: she helped herself to some of everything and as soon as Steve had done the same, she pitched into her breakfast as if it was the last food on earth.

After the initial frenzied breakfasting had died down to grazing on the remains and sipping the second cup of coffee, Steve cleared his throat. “Uh, Dina.”

She snapped on guard, her senses suddenly laser-sharp. “What is it?” she whispered.

“Um, Dina, like, my old lady’s coming back.  You remember I told you she was home on summer vacation?”  Dina nodded slowly.  Everything felt suddenly hollow and distant.

“OK, well, it’s like, she decided to come back early.  Like, today.  She’ll be back this afternoon.”  He flushed deeply, which accentuated the pockmarks on his face, making them look , Dina thought, even more like the craters of the moon.

“Yeah, OK, I understand.” Dina shifted her gaze to the fine china plate in front of her.  “I’ll get my stuff and go.”  She stood up, pushing her chair in carefully.  She struggled to keep her breathing slow and even, her face a blank mask.

Her thoughts were racing. Yes: this is why we made love on the floor and not in their bed.  I’m nothing to him.  I’m just a summer fling with an underage chick, a thrill.  It was all a joke.  And I’m the sucker.

“Please, Lady, don’t take it so hard.”  Steve stood up from the table, rattling the china, bumping into the chairs trying to reach her.  But she had her bags packed, and was at the door, silent and already gone.

 

 

#A Runaway Life

teenage-runaway1  Writing my memoir is hard.  Really, really hard.  I’m working on a book proposal, which involves doing synopses of all of the chapters.  Well, I hadn’t really thought too much about chapters, so here I go making chapters, seeing where the scenes naturally divide themselves, start and end.  And they do, you know, the scenes of our lives just naturally divide themselves up:  now we are cooking, now we are eating, now we are making love.  And it all just flows.  There might be some awkward scenes, but that’s natural too.

Mainly, my jaw is dragging around on the floor that there are so many, so so many, scenes in my life. So many just trying to keep alive, trading some kind of commodity for some other, just to get a place to spend the night out of the elements, or a hamburger.  Jeez, most of them are pretty gritty.  Heh, she thinks cynically, maybe that’ll sell more copies.  Ugh.

Meet Dina Leah, Survivor of serial rape, homelessness, survival sex and PTSD

Remember when serial adventure stories were printed on the sides of breakfast cereal boxes?  I used to think they were called “cereal” stories.

This is my story, but it won’t fit on a cereal box so I will tell it here, in bits and pieces.

It’s the story of my life.  True, I am a grownup now, as much as child survivors of the horrors of the street can grow up.  Much of the time, I’m still down there in the gutter, duking it out with a life that I thought I chose, which turned out to be anything but the glamorous life of a California hippie in the 1970’s.

My story is not glamorous.  In fact, it’s horrifying.  It’s the story of a naive and innocent 16 year old girl who ran away from an abusive home in the year 1970, expecting to find love and light and flowers and incense.  What she found instead was a world of predators and perps, cold-hearted people, rain and snow and hunger and cold.

I want you to know the whole story.  My next post will begin at the beginning.  Let me warn you now: it is not pretty.  It is ugly and violent.  As much as I want to share my story with as many people as possible,if you have issues with PTSD triggers around sexual violence, I warn to to proceed with caution, or you might not want to read it at all.

Till next time,

Dina Leah