Waiting for Tonight

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The Vineyard

Eunice also learned about vigilante’s on WSFA-12 News. The FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force and Montgomery Police had begun cooperating to investigate neighborhood gangs.

“Many young people are lost to gangs. There is simply nothing else for them to do. It’s time for us to get our head out of the sand. We have to compete with gang money to stop gang violence. We can’t fix it without the proper resources for our police departments. This has to be a situation where the community comes together and solves its own problems. (8)

Eunice figured the posse girls could go above the law since they might know things the cops didn’t. The actual law didn’t seem to protect their neighborhood demographic, since police seemed to have an accusatory attitude rather than protect the community.

When she looked up the definition for vigilante she found the eye for an eye interesting. Wasn’t it justified in the Holy Bible? Vigilante was defined using words like intimidation, extortion, vandalism, drug trafficking, stabbing, shooting and sometimes murder. It basically described gangland corruption in Montgomery!

Rumor had it police were so overflowing with calls they would turn a blind eye to vigilantism and guardian angels even though they were illegal.

Didn’t joining a gang feed the thrill seeker’s ego? That exhilaration of being a hero could mentally give one a heightened sense of importance.

“Guys, we need to learn how to read graffiti. The markings look artsy but there are words and symbols on buildings, walls and random places that mark the gang territories signify warning messages to intimidate their rivals,” Eunice said.

“I think some graffiti is beautiful but it just trashes up the city!” Gabrielle said.

“Did you know gangs actually go out and recruit members. They look for impressionable young people in malls or where kids hang out,” Eunice said.

“I’ve seen some shady cats at the bus station. I wonder how they recruit,” Patty said.

“What are you doing at the bus station?” Lil Red asked.

“No surprise there with hip hop videos. Why d’ya think I joined you gals?” Gabrielle said.

“Girls are often attracted to gangs without knowing how violent they are,” Lil Red said.

“Oh my God. Do you think Juliet is less a missing person and more of a gang banger?” Lil Red asked?

“It’s possible. We better go check out the Vineyard,” Eunice said.

“Wait! On our own? Shouldn’t we wait for Terrence at least?” Gabrielle asked.

“I knew those guys wouldn’t show!” Patty said, referring to the fact Terrence and Jaxon had been asked several times to join them.

“That’s because they’re all talk. Out smoking weed no doubt!” Eunice said.

Hours later Patty looked at Eunice then Lil Red and Gabrielle and nodded in direction of the Vineyard. The area was in Montgomery’s south end where two streets, John Morris and Martin Patton join to form a U. Violent crime in the Vineyard ran the gamut from drugs to murder. It was not your typical expected description of southern hospitality unless you were looking for your next fix.

At dusk it was eerily quiet except for a few strange moans and curses. This place was on WSFA-12 News a few times a week most recently with reports of two separate stabbings and an untethered Cujo terrorizing the community. The humidity from the day hung in the air leaving a layer of margarine-like sweat on Eunice’s skin.

Residents on better surrounding streets had reported trouble to the Safe Streets Task Force. They had become so jaded that if a gunshot went off during a backyard BBQ they would pause mid-sentence, roll their eyes in disdain then continue talking.

With Patty in lead and Gabrielle trailing with her eyes on the street, the posse moved in formation stealthily as if on assignment in Afghanistan. They had practiced hand signals based on a show called Bones but it was easier to just watch butch Patty lead.

Behind Patty, Eunice scanned the surroundings. She was taken aback by the realities of strung out junkies. Men, mostly black, some white and a handful of women. She saw a tragic looking woman with severely pipe burned lips.

Junkies cried without shame, seeking invisible euphoria. Some wandered near oblivious to the fact the posse were passing a mere six inches before them. The scene made Eunice increasingly concerned for Juliet’s safety.

“Onward brigade,” Patty commanded. ‘Brigade’ reminded Eunice of the big squabble they had picking a gang name.

“Why haven’t we chosen a name?” Patty had asked. She had been adamant they be called the Pussy Tongue Gang but the other girls reacted with Garfield’s blasé stare.

“No Patty! Giving us a name will seal our fate as bad guys, like all the other gangs and we’ll be targeted by police surveillance in no time!” Eunice said. By the looks of distorted faces, she assumed the addicts didn’t care whether they had a gang name or not.

“This way!” Patty said, leading them to a busted up walkway to the entrance of a bungalow.

“How do we know this is it?” Gabrielle asked, sounding nervous but looking sharp, dressed all in black with heavy eye shadow. She was the image of confidence, as if she’d been in SWAT teams all her life.

“The dealers mess around with new girls. There’s a short shelf life for girls before they turn into the walking dead fuckers we saw back there,” tougher talking Patty said.

They crossed paths with a disoriented skeletal man with a pointed Billy-goat tuft growing from his chin. He scratched and picked at his skin and his pant fly was undone. He was oblivious to their existence.

The addicts were restless and seemed to risk everything for a specific paradise not found on earth. They surrendered their personal safety and physical appearance for the unimaginable bliss. Their wild eyes seemed to yearn for more elusive crack. Eunice shuddered at how powerful the addiction was. It seemed whatever voyage they went on, they weren’t concerned about brain wave functionality or conscious of health dangers.

Eunice enjoyed Alabama slammers at the club like every other hot blooded American and even enjoyed alcohols sedative effect. Yet the idea of losing all self-control was beyond comprehension. They were fish to bait without the will to escape. They could only be rescued from this hell or die!

The aluminum screen door opened and there stood an angry crack head, spewing incomprehensible obscenities, “What the fuck do you want up in here?” he asked, with spittle flying off his lips. He looked crazy but less strung out then the others. Perhaps fewer hits on the crack pipe allowed him to retain a few wits.

“Trust me buddy, we don’t want to be here! We need to pull a girl out. You got any girls down there?” Patty spoke over him.

Eunice was impressed by Patty’s assertiveness.

“Ain’t any girl here. Get on with it. Go on, git!” his voice sputtered out like a dying lawnmower. He worked for just enough crack to keep him angry and dutifully on guard.

Patty pushed forward. The bouncer stepped aside sulking instead of stopping her so she soldiered them through the front vestibule. They entered the open layout of a typical bungalow. Walls were vandalized down to the joists and spray painted with graffiti. End to end work benches lined one wall, debris and other rubbish along the other. If these crack house walls could talk there would be nightmares!

The place reeked of decay, urine and old hair. Moist moldy air struck Eunice’s nostrils. In darkness she heard a flock of jittery nomads whispering for more crack.

“Get out of here!” the bouncer was agitated.

“Don’tcha worry ’bout anything! I aim to see Manny,” Eunice barked back at the bouncer. The jittery nomads were momentarily awed by her authority, then forgot just as quickly. The bouncer looked at Eunice then looked away.

As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, figures were huddled in shadowed corners whispering incomprehensibly. She stepped over someone laying on their stomach who seemed to frantically search the floorboards for crack crumbs. A beat up picture book of children’s bible stories lay opened beside him.

“The stairs are in the kitchen,” Lil Red said, to Patty. Perhaps it wasn’t her first time there.

Down the creaky wood stairs they went single file to the basement. The throb of heavy bass electronic music grew louder along with a collection of chanting voices sounding like a bone chilling version of the Atlanta Chorus she’d seen at Christmas. Was she about to witness a cult ritual that would send her into a nuthouse?

At the far end of the long basement were silhouettes of people huddled together looking downward at something. Murky light streamed through the seams in plywood boarded up windows. The group surrounded what looked like a game of dice or a cock fight. Perhaps bets had been waged and they routed for a winner. Were these simply blind followers who would do anything asked of them? What could possible happen in a crack house? It couldn’t be that bad.

They followed Patty toward the action.

Eunice’s eyes landed on a naked woman on her back laying on a low level wooden table. She started to scream urgently, “Come on, who’s next? Who’s hard enough? Please! Do it again! Somebody help me! Do me again!” she begged the group of a dozen or so junkies. Eunice’s brain took moments to catch up with her eyes.

They had found Juliet.

Gabrielle caught up to Eunice from her position of rear watch, “Oh My God, Eunice!! That’s too much! I’m outta here!” she cried. She turned away. The basement steps cracked as she banged Doc Marten’s up the stairs screaming wildly.

Eunice was crushed at her analytical miscalculation. They were too late. The sight of Juliet begging for anyone to fill the void of pain inside her was beyond comprehension. She must have gotten so messed up she orchestrated her own role in a gang bang. How could the girl come back from this?

Patty and Lil Red were tough. They each grabbed an arm of the robotically gyrating male who seemed under the devils possession. Zombies waiting their turn were fickle and nonplussed by being shooed away from the huddle scene. They had been indifferent to her begging for it anyhow.

Juliet was not present and if she survived would not remember what the posse would never forget.

These addicts were at the dope fiend stage; absolutely no hungers or desires outside of dope. Crack addiction fed the ego, by using the host up until it was nothing at all.

Eunice later learned Juliet’s crack addled brain told her tweaker zombies were the only things the drug enslavement required. That the drug affected some users with an uninhibited sex compulsion, coupled with a fierce need for punishment. Early phase crack addicts like Juliet had human physicality to appeal to the uncontrollable sex compulsion in others. Foregoing logic good vs. evil played out within the addicts mind. All this unfathomable to the addicts sober loved ones.

In the post nymphomaniac phase, the addict lived for the permanent high to purposely relinquish the physical world. Thus resulting in the appearance of a human carcass, teetering between life and death and engaging in penetration solely for the drug.

Addicts avoided interaction with the final stage addict as they represented horrific windows into their future selves.

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