The two girls strolled down the boardwalk at the V and A waterfront. It was a sunny Wednesday morning at about ten. They were distinctive in their uniforms from the prestigious Cassledale private school. The starched white short sleeved shirts and maroon and blue tartan skirts were a familiar sight on the boardwalk. Most of the kids from the private school hung out here after school, and occasionally like today on a mild mid week morning. These two girls were a bit different though, they had an air of rebellion about them and mall security kept an eye on them.
One security guard in particular had noticed them. They were sipping regularly from a silver hip flask as they strolled along. They were giggling, posing, taking selfie’s and acting like they owned the world. They carelessly swung their Gucci backpacks and their phones were the latest models, worth more than the guard’s monthly salary. He leaned casually against a pillar and watched them, the one had a streak of bright purple in her straight black, bob cut hair. She was petite and pretty with an exotic look in the shape of her violet blue eyes and light olive skin. She was definitely a girl who stood out in a crowd the guard thought, she even managed to make the uniform look sexy. Her friend on the other hand was pretty in a more generic way. Long honey coloured curly bouncy hair, bright blue eyes eye-lined and mascarrad to pop, she looked like most of the youngsters on the boardwalk. Briefly the guard wondered why they were together. They didn’t seem of the type to run in the same social circles. His instinct told him trouble was coming from these two one way or another. They were loud and silly and giggling like they were drunk at ten in the morning.
The two girls headed to one of the most exclusive boutiques on the boardwalk. They were having a sale and the girls were drawn like magnets to the name brand merchandise. The shop attendant was dressed in the latest fashion and immaculate from head to toe. In fact she looked more like one of the mannequins come to life than a real person. She watched the two girls like a hawk from her position behind the till. Rich or not she knew their type, young girls out looking to shoplift for the thrill of it.
The two girls strolled among the clothes, touching the fabric here, trying a on a top or hat or skirt there. They were browsing and the shop attendant knew they had no intention of buying anything. She hated these spoiled rich brats, with their attitude and arrogance.
The one with the violet streak in her hair looked up suddenly right into the shop attendant’s face, ”what the hell are you looking at Beaatch” she growled. “We’re not doing anything wrong.”
The shop attendant forced a polite smile, “sorry miss, I was just wondering if I could help you or your friend with anything.”
“We will call you if we need you, just stop staring at us.” The girl with the violet streak in her hair said.
Her friend seemed to sense the tension in the air and attempted a distraction, “Hey Violet, aren’t these Hello Kitty watches to die for?”
Violet’s attention was diverted, and she strolled over to the locked glass display case and looked inside. The Hello Kitty watch was gorgeous and she decided then and there that she wanted it
“Hey you,” she called to the shop attendant, “come and open this case, I want to see that watch properly.”
Suppressing a sigh the shop attendant collected the keys to the cabinet from under the counter and walked over to them, she opened the case and before it was even properly open Violet rudely pushed past her and grabbed the watch. She bumped the woman, who in turn bumped into the display case. It crashed onto the tiled floor with a bang and shattered. Glass flew everywhere and the shop attendant landed on her knees. bits of glass dug into her hands and knees and bright red blood stained the white tiled floor.
She screamed at Violet “Now look what you’ve done, you little brat!” Violet and her friend took one look and ran to the door of the shop.
Their escape was stopped by the security guard who had been watching them. His big frame filled the doorway and there was nowhere to run. Meanwhile the shop attendant had gotten to her feet, brushing glass of her clothes and running a shaky hand through her tousled hair. “Arrest these girls.” She ordered the guard. He grabbed a girl in each hand and marched them out of the shop. All the shopkeepers were at their doors staring at them. Violet was mortified but hid it with an arrogant glare at anyone who dared look at her.
They were dragged down a long maze of service tunnels that shoppers didn’t usually see. Finally they reached a bare bones office lined with cctv monitors along one wall and a trestle table and two office chairs on the other wall. “Sit down. Wait here.” He ordered and left them there, carefully locking the door behind him.
“OMG Violet,” exclaimed Tiffany, “now look what you’ve done. My mom is so gonna kill me for this.” Tiffany’s eyes welled with tears, playing hookey from school was one thing but this was a whole other level of trouble and she was terrified.
Violet forced herself to sound calm and in control, “Its’ no biggie, Tiff. My dad will just pay for the damages and that will be that, stop being a baby.” Although she was on the verge of tears herself she held them in. They were left alone for about ten minutes when the door opened again and the guard entered with a female guard behind him. “Now due to mall policy I as a male cannot search you girls. This is officer Thatho she will search your bags now. Hand them over.” He ordered.
“But we didn’t take anything officer,” Violet exclaimed and held onto her backpack with a death grip. Tiffany handed hers over without a word. The large black lady officer emptied the
contents of the back pack onto the table and pawed through its contents. Tiffany felt violated especially when the guard opened her tampon box and peered inside as if she had hidden diamonds in there or something. The guard said just one word. “Clear.”
The male guard nodded, “Now hers,” he ordered.
The guard had to wrestle the back pack out of Violet’s hands and glared at her. “Don’t make this any harder for yourself miss,” she said sternly.
Violet let go of the bag and held her breath. The contents were emptied onto the table and there it was the hello kitty watch and the silver flask. The male guard opened the flask and sniffed, the reek of vodka was obvious and it was almost empty. He frowned at them.
The guard immediately picked up the watch which still had the label on it. “Well now, what do we have here?” the male guard said. Violet said defensively “ It was an accident, I put it in my bag by accident when the lady fell over, I swear.”Their disbelief was obvious. Just then the shop attendant walked into the office, she had cleaned herself up and looked like a Barbie doll again except for the malice in her eyes. “So the little brat did steal something didn’t she?” The male guard looked at her, “Yes, Maam.” He said politely. “the question facing us now is what do you want to do about it?”
“I want her prosecuted dam it, that’s what I want!” I have had enough of these rich kids thinking they can do whatever they want just ’cause Daddy’s rich.” The guard tried to reason with her, “Ma’am I know you upset but if you press charges she will have a criminal record it can ruin her life.” Violet sat silently looking from one to the other like a tennis match. Her fate would be decided by this woman who clearly hated her. Her heart sank into her doc Martins. She was in deep shit this time and she knew it. “I don’t care the shop attendant ranted. Call the police now! I want to lay charges.” The guard shot Violet a sympathetic look
but picked up the phone and made the call. Tiffany meanwhile was doing her best to pretend she had never met Violet in her life.
Within half an hour, a very long half hour for the girls, who sat in strained silence, the cops arrived. They took the statements, did a breathalyser test on Violet and Tiffany tutted at their blood alcohol levels. Violet finally plucked up some defiance and asked “Don’t I get a phone call?” The young blonde police officer replied “You girls can call someone when we get back to the police station.” Then he put handcuffs on both girls. The other black officer picked up their back packs. The walk down the corridors and through the mall with everyone staring at them was mortifying and one of the worst experiences of Violets’ young life. She would never ever come here again she vowed to herself as they left the mall and climbed into the police van. Fortunately the police station wasn’t far away. Within ten minutes they were in the police station. The officers took off the cuffs. “Can I have my phone call now?” She asked in a small voice.
The blonde police officer pointed to a landline phone and said, ”make it quick.”
At another desk Tiffany did the same, her mom promised to be there in ten minutes. Because Tiffany was only drunk in public no charges had been laid and she was let go with a warning.
She picked up the phone and dialled her mother.
“Mom, it’s me Violet,” with a tremble in her voice she continued, “I am in jail, mom please help me.”
A shocked disapproving voice replied, “Oh Violet what did you do this time?”
“I was arrested for damaging property and shoplifting,” she explained tearfully. “But Mother it was an accident and a misunderstanding,” she cried.
“Well I am sorry violet,” her voice was ice cold and devoid of sympathy, “ but its time you learnt a lesson. I am busy today at the new shop and I can’t get back to you. For tonight you will have to stay there, I will come get you in the morning. Maybe a night in jail will do you good. Remind you there are consequences for your actions. Goodbye.”
Violet stared in disbelief at the phone in her hand. How could her mother leave her here with all these...common people, it was too just too much and she collapsed against the wall in tears. Tiffany’s parents fetched her about tenminutes later. Tiffany left without even a backward glance at Violet. At least her parents cared thought Violet. The police officer who had listened to the phone call said, not unkindly “Come on, you need to be in the cells overnight.” He held her arm and marched her down to the holding cells. They were crowded ad stank and everyone stared at her with hungry eyes. Once she was in the cell she huddled in a corner trying to make herself as small and invisible as possible, she was alone and scared and all she wanted was a drink. She imagined herself opening a bottle pouring that first shot, downing it, feeling the warmth and numbness spreading through her in blissful relief. It wasn’t as good as the real thing but it helped a bit and her nerves steadied a little. Everyone seemed to be ignoring her now. Not once did it occur to her that her being drunk was what caused all the trouble in the first place. Alcohol was her friend. It was her comfort.
She dozed with one eye open all night and by sunrise was stiff and sore and exhausted. Fortunately the other occupants of the cell had left her alone over night. They fed them some kind of porridge for breakfast and awhile later the cells occupants were transported to the courthouse. When her turn finally came she stood before the magistrate and just cried. She didn’t know what else to do. He took pity on her and asked “Young lady, you realise you have done wrong?”
“Yes, your honour,” Violet hiccupped through her tears.
“Well as it is your first offence there will be no jail time. However,” he continued sternly, peering over his gold framed spectacles at her, ” You were found to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident and you are under age. I am making an order of the court that you will attend 6 months of AA meetings. You will be tested regularly for alcohol use and you will pay for the damage caused to the boutique in the amount of Three thousand Rand. Where is your parent or guardian?”
A voice spoke up from the gallery behind Violet, “I am here your honour. I am Violet’s mother.”
“Ok Mrs. Masterson I am remanding her into your custody and I expect to see you back here in 6 months for a report back.”
He looked at Violet disapprovingly again and said, “ You may go young lady, and I hope you learned a lesson here today.”
Violet mumbled, ”thank you sir.” and turned to her mother. She so badly needed a hug and some comfort but she knew she would not get it from her mother. They walked out of the courthouse side by side with her mother complaining the whole time “Really Violet what were you thinking. Why can’t you be more like your sisters? How you became like this I will never know.” And on and on it went, Violet was used to it so she tuned it out. Dam I could really use a drink, she thought as they climbed into her mother’s gleaming black Mercedes
They drove home in strained silence, Violet never thought she would be so happy to see her home. Her mother parked the car in the big double garage and climbed oput without a word. Violet followed her into the house and braced herself for another attack, she wasn’t wrong. As soon as they were in the lounge her mother turned around and unexpectedly slapped Violet through the face, “You are a devils child.” Her mother screamed at her. “How dare you shame me and your father like this? And the drinking, what the hell Violet!” Violet cowered and rubbed her red cheek, she had seen her mother angry before but never this bad. “get upstairs to your room now!”, she turned her back on Violet and continued, “ I can’t bear to even look at you. I can’t believe I gave birth to a child like you. Get out of my sight.” Her mother was so angry she was literally shaking all over. Violet ran upstairs as fast as she could. She ran into her bedroom, closed the door and collapsed on the bed squeezing her favourite Teddy bear and sobbing into it until its fur was sopping wet. Downstairs she heard the front door slam and relaxed just a fraction. Her mother was gone. After about half an hour she had calmed down some and decided to go and have a bath. The hot bubbly water washed off the stench of prison and she started to feel a bit more like her normal self. She got out the bath dressed in her pajamas and searched for her stash of mini vodka bottles. Two or three shots and she would be right as rain she thought as she climbed into bed. She looked at the three gleaming little bottles they looked like heaven to her, she opened the first one, took a sniff and then remembered what the judge had said about the AA meetings and the regular testing for alcohol she had to do. Oh God, how was she gonna survive that? Her first meeting was tonight and she was dam sure they would test her too. The thought started her crying all over again but she put the cap back on the vodka bottle and threw them in the bin. She slept for the rest of the day and her eldest sister woke her up to get ready for the AA meeting.
She hadn’t eaten all day but she was too nervous and scared to eat anyway. Her sister drove her to the meeting in total silence. She and Lily had never got on well and from Lily’s manner it was obvious their mother had vented to Lily as she usually did. Lily was the “Good” daughter. Straight A student head of the class Lily never did anything wrong. They arrived at the church hall and Violet go out of the car. Lily watched until she entered the building and then drove away. She would fetch her after the meeting.
She walked down the passage following the signs for the meeting but when she got there she just couldn’t make herself go in. She wandered around a bit then eventually plucked up the courage to enter the room. She had to sign in and the thought of the meeting was slightly less terrifying than going back to jail. So she decided she would go but she was dam sure not gonna like it.