I met Mitra in the Spring. As it was I’m surprised we hadn’t met earlier, having been in Richmond for over 6 months. The circle we ran in was small and not known for its subtlety. I think her name had come up once from the emaciated boyfriend of my friend Jenny when he started to wonder how I drove a $70,000 Mercedes, never seemed to work, and always had pockets full of chalky blue ecstasy and yellow bars of Xanax. Either that or when he saw the tumor like bulge and fresh stitch scars from my newest version of reluctant sobriety from opiates. Maybe she had tried to cut her naltrexone implant out, or knowing Mitra, had succeeded and went out dancing afterwards.
Our meeting would coincide with one of my habitual desperate phone calls to come bail me out of trouble. I didn’t mind the calls so much as I was alarmed that they were occurring more frequently since I’d been kicked out of Elon University the following Spring. Well, I wasn’t kicked out so much as left after having my name appear in all of the local and school newspapers. But in my mind there was no difference. Like most of my run ins with the police the night I met Mitra was in response to the questionable state of my driver’s license. I had never bothered to switch the address when I moved on the green restricted license the State of Virginia had been so kind to offer me after my first DUI. Even if I had, there was no plausible explanation for why I was driving at 11pm on a Saturday. The female officer that rapped on my window that night was what my criminal defense attorney would later call “a bitch”, and the situation was unaided by the fact that my passenger Elizabeth and I had just taken 3 hits of ecstasy. Luckily, they had not kicked in yet and I was able to speak with bitchcop in a tone that I hoped conveyed maturity and sincerity. I may have thrown in a few tears, never one to forget that being white and well off in the city of Richmond was seen by many as an accomplishment. Whatever the reason, bitchcop let me off with a summons, as long as I promised not to drive my car off the lot of Sarah’s Pancake House. My passenger, the striking, and like all my friends, self destructive daughter of a prominent surgeon was not so lucky. Apparently Elizabeth had several warrants out for her arrest in Virginia Beach, a fact she failed to mention when I had picked her up several weeks before to keep me company. It was my habit at the time to move people into my apartment when the loneliness started to make eating and showering feel like a cross country marathon. Pete never liked sharing the scant number of hours I was awake each day, but he never objected, which was strange considering he usually paid the rent.
Even though Elizabeth had pocketed the money her frightened father had given me for her extended stay and written me a bad check for half the amount, I still felt like she shouldn’t be left in jail. Displaced loyalty has always kind of been my thing, and the potent MDMA that had finally reached my brain made it almost impossible to feel any negativity towards Elizabeth who always went by her full name and had been nicknamed by her last boyfriend as “Queen of the Junkies”. That she had gone to an elite prep academy and grown up in a massive cedar palace overlooking the water certainly aided in my attraction towards her pathological entitlement. Although, she was kind of pathetic in her lack of drive. If one was going to stick needles in their arms they should at least drive an intimidating car and be able to cover the ubiquitous track marks with a vast wardrobe of designer sweaters. Like I said though, I was lonely and the most important thing was that she was available to spend most nights going out and waiting every evening for me to crawl out of bed when Bentley refused to sleep any longer.
I knew I couldn’t call Pete because he would already have been asleep for several hours. Last time the police told me I couldn’t drive my Mercedes after midnight he had sent one of his employees to pick me up and I didn’t feel like making small talk with a stranger, let alone explaining to Pete why I was high on ecstasy and in the parking lot of a seedy pancake house. I leaned back on the bolstered leather driver’s seat and dialed Jenny’s number, knowing that she would be awake, but praying that she hadn’t started smoking crack yet. I didn’t have any personal objections to freebase cocaine, but knew she never left the house when smoking, which was really a good rule for anyone to follow. Jenny picked up on the 11th ring and in her usual slurred jubilance told me they would be there as soon as they could. Given her relaxed stance on punctuality I was surprised when a car pulled into the parking lot 15 minutes later. I was expecting Jenny’s decrepit Pontiac Sunfire that she was constantly pushing down Broad Street because gas was always seen as an extravagant expense. Instead, the four headlights shining through my windshield belonged to a shiney Jaguar S-type, piloted by Jenny’s non rent paying roommate Forest. (I was convinced she only let him stay there so she could introduce them as “Jenny and Forrest, like from the movie”).
I stepped out of my coupe and walked carefully to the idling jag. The flood of serotonin in my brain made it hard to walk on the pitted pavement with the jag’s high beams blinding my exaggerated pupils. I opened the dented rear door and lowered myself onto the leather bench seat. I tried to slide over but my jeans hit something heavy and soft and i was forced into a half fetal position in order to shut the door. We started moving and the obstruction near my waist suddenly jerked up into a seated position and began to put on dark red lipstick with a MAC pocket mirror. She kept nodding out with the lipstick still pressed to her lips though and when she had finished her lips resembled the twisted smile of the Joker. Heath Ledger’s Joker and not Jack Nicholson’s cleaned up version. I started laughing because she was admiring herself in the mirror for a job well done. Even covered in gooey red wax I could tell her face was classically beautiful. The pinpricks of her pupils made her already stunning eyes stand clearer against her angular cheekbones and her messy strands of delicate hair looked intentional even though they were probably the result of passing out on the leather seats. She was wearing a tight black Versace dress and Manolo stilettos that looked worn but real. She was perfect. Before I could mutter a thanks Jenny began rapid fire talking in the front seat, and I remembered that we had to get Elizabeth before we could go to the club. I wanted to go to Deluxe because the walls always looked like they were moving if I’d achieved the perfect mixture of chemicals.
Jenny and Forest talked about Mitra as if she was not in the car as we drove to the Richmond Police Station and I quickly learned that the Jaguar had been given to her by Brandon Tanner. Brandon owned XXXXREDACTEDXXXX and had recently been involved in a high profile raid of his Carytown mansion. I was immediately hooked on the dramatic circumstances surrounding the relationship, but more than anything I was relieved to find someone in the same circumstance as myself.