|Biographical Non-Fiction posted March 23, 2009||Chapters:||...58 59 -60- 61...|
Valerie continues to work as a CI
A chapter in the book A Leaf on the Wind
And Life Goes On
by S. Pumpkin
Sexually abused as a child Valerie grows into an adult with severe psychological problems. Her marriage is over, she turns to prostitution and alcohol deal with her problems. Diagnosed with Breast C
"For a long time I tried to manage an honesty and openness about my personal life because I'm human and I'm normal - well, semi-normal."
To my surprise, a week after my surgery Sue called.
“How ya doin', kiddo?”
Her concern for me came across as empty and I knew she wasn’t really calling to chat about my health.
“Jack and I were talking,” Sue said in her usual business like tone.
“We were wondering if you would be interested in helping us work the phones. The pay isn’t as good as going on calls, but we can pay you $10 for every call you book and I am sure you could use the money.”
I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I immediately accepted her offer.
“Take your time and let us know when you are ready to start,” Sue said.
After hanging up the phone, I paged Mike and gave him the good news. However, instead of being happy I was still in the game, he expressed concern about the stress that working would have on my recovery.
“You are facing months of chemotherapy,” he reminded me gently.
“How in the world can you possibly find the strength to still work?
Valerie, you’ve done enough. You don’t have to do this.”
He obviously didn’t understand.
“Mike, I have to do this,” I said firmly. “I started this and I have to see it through to the end. Besides, it will be a great distraction. It will give me something else to think about besides myself.”
Grudgingly, he agreed.
I called Sue and told her I was ready to start immediately.
* * *
I woke early, showered, got dressed, and went downstairs to wait for Mom. Today was the first day of my chemotherapy. I was nervous but also curious.
My oncologist tried to explain the treatment to me in layman terms. However, he might as well have been speaking Russian. The names of the drugs were long and impossible to pronounce. When I asked about the potential side effects of each drug, his response was, 'occasionally', 'rarely', ‘maybe’, ‘possibly’, and ‘in some cases’; each followed with, heart failure, brain damage, stroke, and other equally unfriendly terms. We made a pact. No statistics, no words containing more than three syllables and, no discussion of what stage my cancer was in. He agreed.
Mom drove me to the clinic. I asked her to stay with me during the therapy. A nurse inserted a needle into a vein in my right hand, I lay back on the reclining chair as the drugs entered my bloodstream. Other than a burning sensation around the needle, I felt nothing. However, on the drive home I began to develop a severe headache and felt flushed. By the time we got home, I felt nauseous.
I ran for the bathroom and threw up. I remained in the bathroom leaning over the toilet for more than an hour. Mom stayed with me the whole time. Suddenly, I felt a terrible pain in my lower intestine. Finally, after what seemed like hours, I climbed the stairs and got into bed. I lay on my back covered in perspiration. The light coming into the room hurt my eyes so I asked Mom to close the curtains. She placed several clean towels on the nightstand and put a large plastic bucket beside the bed in case I threw up again. When I complained of feeling hot, she wiped my face, arms and neck with a cold wet cloth. I would sleep for a few minutes then wake up feeling violently ill again. Finally, I fell asleep for several hours.
When I opened my eyes, mom was standing over me.
“How are you feeling?” Mom asked.
I smiled and said, “Like shit.”
“Would you like a cup of green tea?”
“Thanks, but I don’t think I could keep it down.”
Mom sat on the chair beside the bed and brushed my hair from my face. She bent down and kissed me on the cheek.
“I’m sorry I was such a terrible mother,” she said unexpectedly. “I hope someday you can forgive me.”
As I watched tears streaming down her face I felt a deep sadness come over me. I wanted desperately to say I forgave her but I couldn’t. I knew I had to take responsibility for all the bad choices I had made in my life but I couldn’t get past wondering what my life would have been like had my childhood been different.
Mom was not a demonstrative person. The only time I recalled seeing her cry was when Diane died. The only emotions she openly expressed were anger and frustration. Like Richard, my ex-husband, Mom hid her feelings making it next to impossible to know what she was feeling. She used denial to live in her carefully constructed fantasy world. Teresa, Denise, and Mary were exactly like her. They all pushed me away because I reminded them of what they wanted to forget.
A few months earlier, if Mom had asked me to forgive her I would have told her to go to hell. Now that she had just kissed me for the first time in memory, I felt sincere tenderness toward her.
I smiled and said, “Its okay Mom. We’ll work it out somehow. I promise.” I doubted that was possible, but under the circumstances, I felt it best to keep my thoughts to myself.
I woke the next morning exhausted but I felt much better. I was surprised to see Mom asleep in the chair. She had obviously slept in my room the entire night.
Mom opened her eyes and seeing me sitting up she smiled.
“How are you feeling?”
“I feel a lot better,” I said sprightly. “I don’t think I have been that sick in my entire life. To be honest, I don’t know if I can do this for nine months.”
Mom took my hand and said with a sympathetic smile, “If anyone can do it, you can.”
Soon, more side effects of the chemotherapy appeared. I had very little energy and no appetite. I developed painful ulcers in my mouth, chronic diarrhea, and a sickening metallic taste that made everything I ate or drank taste like I had been sucking on a dirty copper penny.
My hair began to fall out. I chuckled when I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked like I had stuck my finger into a light socket. Because my hair only fell out in patches, I decided to shave my head. Most of my eyelashes fell out and my right eyebrow completely disappeared. By the end of the second month of treatment, I had gained more than fifty pounds. I looked like a balloon ready to burst. However, the positive side was I no longer had to shave my legs or under my arms.
My oncologist prescribed medicine for the ulcers, nausea and diarrhea. They alleviated the severity of the side effects but nothing took them away completely. Chemotherapy left me exhausted all the time yet sleep eluded me.
The following month I was admitted back into the hospital to have a shunt placed in my chest. The veins in my hands had collapsed, making injections impossible. The shunt allowed the chemo to be directly administered into the blood stream without the painful probing with a needle for a usable vein in my hands.
* * *
Sue was surprisingly accommodating. I didn’t have to work for two days after each round of chemotherapy. Despite never feeling very good and always being tired, I looked forward to work and enthusiastically put in long hours every day gathering information.
I arrived at Jack and Sue’s house promptly at five o’clock every day. Sue spent the first thirty minutes filling me in on such things as who had been fired and who had been hired. I told Sue I was taking a correspondence course on creative writing and purchased several writing pads and a book on writing to use as props for my ruse. There were strict rules that I had to follow.
Mike tutored me on the law. Under no circumstances could I open a sealed envelope. I could gather information from the envelope such as the name and address of where they banked, the fact that they had a storage unit in north Seattle, who they leased their car from and details about their friends. The rules did not permit me to enter any room if the door was closed. I was only allowed to gather evidence that was out in the open.
I wrote down every conversation with Jack and Sue, the client, and each girl working for the service. I documented every call I sent a girl on, where she went, and whom she saw. The first ten pages of the pad contained mundane handwritten gibberish on a false story I was supposedly writing while the last ten pages contained the real purpose of why I was there.
At the end of my shift, which was usually around three or four in the morning, Jack would have me call the girls and set up a time and place for them to meet so he could collect the night’s fees.
After a few months it became obvious using three by five cards was an inefficient and time-consuming way to keep the massive amount of information I accumulated. I purchased a sate-of-the-art word processor with a database program specifically designed for recording the information the police needed. It consisted of a series of questions formatted so I could retrieve the information in a variety of ways. The basic questions were, date, name of escort, name of client, number of hours spent with client, location of call, and location of fee pick-up. I also had a section for comments. Once a week I printed out a report listing each escort alphabetically. I also printed out a report on the clients. Once a week I gave Mike copies of the reports and my daily log.
As the months passed, the reports became so long and awkward to handle I had them copied and bound at the local Kinko’s in a plastic covered spiral notebook. Although my real identity was always kept secret, I gained a reputation with the Seattle Vice as, 'awesome' and, to my delight, Mike began calling me 007.
* * *
One evening Sue told me, she and Jack were moving to Florida. My heart nearly stopped beating from the shock of hearing what she said. Feeling a desperate sense of panic I asked, “Are you closing down the agency?”
Sue laughed and said, “Shit no! We are going to let Al and Mary run it for us. We will still be the owners. Al and Mary will keep a percentage of the profits and send the rest to us in Florida.”
I wasn’t sure how this was going to affect my clandestine activities within the escort agency, but I knew I had to call Mike as soon as possible. After Sue left the room, I paged him. He called back within a few minutes. After making sure Jack and Sue were occupied and unable to hear me, I told him about their plans.
In a surprisingly calm voice Mike said, “Don’t worry about anything. You will keep doing what you are doing with Al and Mary. We’ve been watching them too and need evidence on them as well. I have to talk to my boss about this. I will call you tomorrow.”
Earned A Seal Of Quality
My chemotherapy consisted of three weeks of injections twice a week, combined with several prescriptions to be taken coninuously. I would have a two week break then the injections would continue for three more weeks. This coninuted over a 9 month period of time. The side effects were severe and physically debilitating. Sick and exhausted all the time doing the simplist thing became an effort. However, my determination to keep working for the police was an obsession I could not ignore. Often sick, I still went to work. Even Sue, who seldom showed concern for anyone other than herself, was occasionally sympathetic.Pays one point and 2 member cents.
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