As I stood, freezing, in the middle of an empty hotel parking lot, located in a tiny coastal town in Maine, I could see a limousine making it's way through the snowy roads towards me.
Even though I'd confirmed the appointment the day before, I still worried. God forbid what may happen, had the car been late, or not shown up, at all.
Someone could be killed.
At that very moment, my boyfriend and his brother were robbing the local bank, while his girlfriend waited outside in her red sirocco. If everything went according to plan, the four of us would flee the state in the limousine, then make our way to Key West, where we thought we'd party for a week or so, then return home, without any problems.
After a formal greeting, the uniformed driver opened the door for me, closed it, then patiently loaded eight pieces of luggage into the over-sized trunk. I did my best to remain calm, cool and collected.
All I had to do was to keep the driver occupied, while we waited for my friends to arrive.
One week of thorough planning led up to this fateful day.
We cased out the bank. I stole face masks, pellet guns and dark colored clothes to be used in the robbery from a giant chain that was busy enough for me to put multiple items into my over-sized purse, then walk out the door, unnoticed by anyone.
We calculated the amount of time it would take for the police to arrive, plus how many minutes it would take for Jennifer to drive the men back to the hotel parking lot to change vehicles, after the robbery.
Stay cool, Samantha. Stay cool.
Not matter what I tried to tell myself, I was scared to death of what might or might not happen. If they succeeded in the robbery, I could start my life over, or it could be the end of it.
Whatever result meant absolutely noting to me.
By the time I turned eighteen, I hated every single thing about my life. I saw no hope for the future. I grew up drowning in a sea of child abuse, neglect and emotional terrorism, at the hands of my mentally ill mother, who had me convinced I'd never amount to anything, aside from a promiscuous substance abuser, "drug-addict, loser," as she often put it.
While kids my age where choosing career paths, I was as lost as a person could be.
My brightest hope was for my life to be full of luxury, drugs, booze and parties, just like the people I saw on the idiot box and the big screen. I had no problem stealing it, since that's all I expected of myself.
College, a career or anything resembling a "successful life" were the furthest thing from my mind.
Substances made me feel good.
I didn't have to think about my mother.
I didn't have to think about my father (or lack of one).
I didn't have to think about my family.
I didn't have to think about the fact that my life was leading no where.
Or, feel the way I felt.
I got high as often as possible, on whatever was available.
From the first drink, I needed it.
I did whatever was necessary in order to stay wasted..
Substances killed my pain.
One hit, shot, sniff, line, drink, toke, was all it took to get rid of the ugly sadness I carried around for most of my life.
Like most kids in my generation, media raised me.
My preference always leaned toward the darker side of life, especially all things gangster, drug or crime related. These were my favorites because they poured fuel over the fire of anger that burned deep inside my soul.
I was cheated out of everything most kids take for granted.
At sixteen, I saw the groundbreaking film, Scarface, which promptly became my template for the ultimate future.
In my naive mind, Elvira had it all. Luxury. Drugs. Booze and a man to pay for it all. I wanted her life. Of course, it never occurred to me that I could wind up dead in the end.
I spent two years in search of my "Tony."
The day my friends and I robbed a bank, I sat in the back of that limousine certain I'd found him.
Michael had everything I thought I wanted in a man.
He was tall, dark, handsome, and BAD to the bone.
No matter to me that he'd been in and out of jail all his life, on various drugs and was recently a runner for the mob.
He was tough as nails, didn't give a rat's ass about who he pissed off or disappointed and, he was a gangster through and through.
We needed money.
With very little thought, we made the decision to rob a bank, with his brother, Mark, who was barely nineteen, and Mark's girlfriend, Jenifer, a twenty year old preppy girl from a wholesome family in New Hampshire.
My part in the heist was to use my shop lifting skills to get what was needed, then keep the limo driver occupied, while they did the deed.
Everything we planned was going just right.
Jenifer and the guys dropped me off in the parking lot in a few minutes before the limo was to arrive.
They made their way to the bank.
Our transportation showed up on time.
What the fuck was taking them so long?
I hoped they were just about finished, or on their way back.
I forced myself to banish the picture of all three of them murdered by police.
Everything is fine.
We are doing this.
As I repeated the affirmation in my mind, my body flood with anxiety.
I needed something to do - I truly wanted to get high..
Rifling through my purse, I found my stash of marijuana.
I held the weed in my hand for a moment, then put it away.
We made a promise to each other to stay straight all day, no matter what.
Michael called our pact, "screw up insurance.".
I decided to touch up my make up, instead.
I grabbed my powder compact, opened it up, then looked at myself in the mirror.
During this period of my life, I was certain my looks were my only asset. I smiled because I liked what I saw.
My reflection displayed the flawless, skin of a teenager.
My blue-green eyes sparkled, framed by long, eyelashes, coated in black mascara. That morning, I lined my lids with my favorite purple liner, which made their crystal color pop.
The windows to my soul rest gracefully on high cheek bones with a light, pink flush. My youth was obvious to anyone who looked.
Once my pale skin was powdered to perfection, I reached for my favorite lip gloss, then fluffed my long, wavy blond hair. After a few squirts of hairspray, I applied a shiny, candy apple red glaze, which complimented my look.
Satisfied, I put everything back in my purse, then took a cigarette out of the box of Marlboro I kept with me at all times. I lit the end of it with the gold Zippo I shoplifted on the same day I got the guns for the robbery.
I took a long drag, then closed my eyes for a minute to imagine the amazing suite we'd reserved for the night in Key West.
Sheer excitement enveloped me, while I went over the itinerary of our trip. First stop would be Miami, where we'd shop, eat and stay in a penthouse suite at one of the city's top hotels. From there, we scheduled a flight to Key West, where we anticipated a weekend filled with snorkeling, swimming and partying in the two bedroom condo we reserved under alias names for the weekend.
At this point, I hadn't decided if I would return with the others to Maine. In my mind, this trip was a way for me to escape my mother's smothering control. I saw myself starting over in Miami, with plenty of cash to set myself up, just as I wanted my life to be.
I couldn't wait to get out of the little town where I had been embarrassed over and over by my drunken, drugged-out antics.
With a strong exhale, I thought, this is the first day of the rest of my life.
My hand found a button on the door of the limousine.
Curious, I pressed it to find it controlled the dark window separating me from the man who was sent by the limo company.
Seeing him, I realized I was slacking on my part of the deal. I was supposed to be talking to the driver.
I didn't want him to become suspicious.
In a quiet voice, I said, my friends should be here any minute. They told me on the phone last night that they may be late. They're coming all the way from New Hampshire...I offered to dead ears.
The man continued to ignore me as he directed his attention to outside the driver's side window.
Oblivious, I still flapped my jaw, as if I had an audience. I had no idea what else to do while I was stuck there, waiting on my friends. I continued, "We are taking a trip to New York City, we are going to the MET and Carnegie Hall, and Central Park and..."
He was obviously bored by my incessant, nervous chattering, yet I pressed on, until something green caught my left peripheral vision. I was shocked to see my mother speeding down the street in her huge, mint-green Lincoln Continental with a determined look on her face.
Shit, I thought, what the hell is she doing?
My heart beat fast, as I watched her zoom right past me. She was coming from the direction of my now abandoned, beach apartment. I sure hoped she hadn't gone inside.
We left the place trashed that morning, strewn with dirty dishes, over-flowing ashtrays, candy wrappers and beer bottles from nearly a month spent holed up, partying our last dollars away.
My mom had been calling my place several times a day for weeks. I refused every single one of her calls, since the day I was fired from the resort we worked for, after I told the Director to go fuck himself in front of the entire staff.
I wanted my paycheck on Friday, instead of Monday, which was a privilege of managers only. The general sales staff had to wait until Monday to give us all a reason to come to work, instead of partying the weekend away with our gigantic paychecks..
My mother was in ,management and I was very good at my job, when and if I showed up. Based on these two facts, I expected special treatment and I was out of money, thanks to another sleepless night spent snorting piles of cocaine. The refusal of my out-of line demand infuriated me. I all but told my mom's boss that I desperately wanted my paycheck to get more drugs.
Even though my mom was soon to be promoted from Sales Manager to Director of her own resort, there was no way I could get away with what I'd done. I was fired, then sent home, with my paycheck in hand. Of course, I was thrilled to dial my dealer's number as soon as I got to a telephone.
The money went quickly, with four habits to feed. I was soon shoplifting food from convenience stores so we could eat. Something had to happen - fast.
Hence the brilliant idea to rob a bank.
The sight of my mother almost made me come to my senses
For a moment, I questioned my decision to be involved in this crime. I thought maybe I should get out of this car right now and run after her or go home.
What I was doing was CRAZY!
The idea passed quickly, as I focused the negativity in my spirit that made me want to get away.
My mother and I had grown apart over the past six years due to my rebellious nature and expectation that she should let me do whatever I wanted. We were at war because I blamed her for everything that was wrong with me.
All I wanted to do was go someplace where no one knew me, so I could start over.
The woman who gave birth to me had become the bane of my existence.
She was constantly on my back about how worried she was about the person I had become. She hated my party life and did everything in her power to try to stop me from participating in it, including tough love meetings, groundings, rehabilitation centers and multiple expulsions from her life.
Nothing she did could garner any respect from me. Over the years, her attacks grew more vicious. The last thing she said to me, before I was fired was "you're so dumb, you don't even know how dumb you are."
My mom loved to call me dumb.
I hated her.
I especially hated how my mother treated me.
Finally, I thought, I'll be rid of her.
Damn it, where were my friends?
The sound of the electronically powered divider window closing made my heart sink. I guessed the man I was supposed to entertain had no interest in hearing anymore from silly me.
What an asshole, I thought.
With a toss of my huge, eighties hair, I rolled my eyes, then snapped my gum.
I was beginning to get really nervous.
Why was it taking so long for them to get there?
What if they got caught in the middle of everything?
What would I do?
I did not want to think about it.
I pulled my tattered journal out of my bag.
Flipping through the pages, I found notes I'd written about our plan.
Just one week ago, we'd been sitting around my living room trying to come up with a way to get money. The four of us where in quite a mess.
Mark had been my roommate for two months. He was smart mouthed and wild, just like me. I was looking for a party partner, yet was sorely disappointed when Mark met Jennifer. I spent many nights, at home, alone, instead of out and about, like I wanted to be.
When Michael began calling the apartment, collect, from jail, I happily accepted the charges for something to do. We'd spend hours on the phone talking about everything from childhood, to drugs, to sex. I looked forward to his calls. I loved the sound of his voice.
When Mark found out I'd been talking to Michael, he was furious with me.
"Don't get involved with him!" He ordered.
When I pressed him for a reason, Mark admitted to that his brother was a heroin addict, who could not be trusted. He also said that he had to cut him out of his life because he was in "recovery" from heroin. According to Mark, Michael introduced him to the drug and was usually the person he used with.
The only part of Mark's lecture that stood out to me was that he'd used Heroin.
Since I was always willing to try anything once, I asked Mark what the high was like.
"It's horrible! And so is my brother!" Mark said.
"Please, Sam, just stay away from both of them!"
Nothing Mark could say would convince me to stop my daily conversations with Michael.
As far as I was concerned, my roommate's brother was everything I wanted in a man. I loved that he was a criminal. I had already decided I was going to marry him.
Based on a few telephone conversations, I was sure Michael could and would open the door to the life I wanted to live. I looked forward to our nightly chats. I couldn't wait to meet him in person.
He was serving a thirty day sentence, for possession of a machine gun and one hypodermic needle, which was much lighter than the police had hoped for when he got busted.
Investigators had been trailing Michael for months, gathering evidence to bust him for drug and weapon trafficking for the New Bedford mafia.
Unfortunately, for them, they missed the mark by a schedule change.
By the time the police caught up with Michael, he was arrested and charged for possession of a gun and a . hypodermic needle. Two hours saved him from a life spent in prison, yet pissed the D.A. off enough that he was banned from the state of Massachusetts for two full years, even though he had a child residing in the state.
Michael made arrangements to relocate to Miami, Florida, where he had one week to report to his probation officer. His "quick stop" in Maine, turned into a two week stint, another crime and federal prison time for all of us.
Jennifer was the odd ball of the bunch.
She came from a good family, who owned a Hallmark store in New Hampshire, that she planned to take over one day. She'd never done a drug in her life, was straight as an arrow, without a single thing in common with Mark, Michael or me.
Our only connection was Mark, who came off like a scummy, used car salesman, most of the time.He was dishonest, cheap, full of himself and everything she wasn't - a normal girl, from a normal family, who was half way through her degree from a well respected university.
In spite of their differences, the relationship was a whirlwind affair, they were smitten with each other.
All of our lives changed when Mark decided, last minute, to pick Michael up from jail for a two day visit.
Finally, I would meet the man I dreamed of for three weeks. I couldn't wait!
Jennifer arrived while I was getting ready to meet my soon to be husband for the first time.
She grew more impatient with every hour because the men were late. I passed the time applying make up, doing my nails, and choosing the perfect outfit to get Michael into bed.
In spite of repeated disappointments, I thought sex was the pathway to love. I slid into a tight black and white striped body suit with a white, satin bow that tied just below my breasts, exposing my robust cleavage.
A short black skirt, french knits, and Granny boots were accented with over the top, 80's style jewelry. I was a cross between Anna Nichole Smith and Madonna.
Jennifer made fun of me for taking so long to get ready.
"What if you don't like him?"
I dismissed her question by turning up the volume on my boom box, while The Cure's LOVE SONG blared loudly on the radio.
There was no doubt in my mind, I was gonna love Michael.
The men arrived just as Jennifer was turning down the stereo. They seemed a bit disheveled.
When Jenifer realized Mark and Michael were high, she screamed at her boyfriend.
"What happened?" Her brown eyes peeked over her glasses.
Mark mumbled, "I'm sorry baby."
She looked like a librarian with her chin-length bob and freckled face, wearing her typical, preppy outfit. She glared at Mark.
"We're leaving NOW."
As usual, she took charge of him.
Mark hung his head while she pushed him toward the door of our place. Without saying good bye, they left.
Michael and I were alone in the living room. I was glad I'd spent three hours getting ready. I'd already made up my mind that I would have sex with him that very night, if he kissed me on my neck.
To my delight, his mouth made it to the spot I'd hoped for in our initial embrace. He pulled me close to him with muscular arms.
"Damn, baby, you smell good enough to eat!"
Within minutes of meeting, we retreated to my bedroom for a fast moment of passion. When we finished, Mark said,
"do you mind if I get high?"
I agreed with excitement. I was surprised when he pulled out a needle and a spoon because I was expecting pot, or maybe some cocaine.
I'd never seen heroin before.
My eyes grew wide as I watched him dump the brown powder onto the spoon. He had a piece of a cigarette filter that he put on top of the drug. He used the syringe to suck a little water from a glass I'd been drinking out of earlier, then sprayed the heroin and cotton, making a small puddle.
He used the end of the needle to stir the mixture, then poked the cotton, as he pulled the plunger back to bring the liquid into the body of the "works," as he called it. He put the needle and spoon down, while he tied a rubber tube on his bicep. I watched him while he slapped his vein, then looked away as he injected himself.
Curious, I turned back to Michael, who was kind of nodding out. I poked him.
Hey, got any of that stuff for me?
He seemed out of it, but said, "give me your arm." I held it out in front of him, while he tied the rubber around my bicep.
I felt a little scared and looked away, as he said "you probably don't need much, so I'll give you what's left in here." I felt a prick and was immediately lost in the euphoria of using heroin for the first time.
The next few weeks of my life brought craziness I'd never known, as Michael, Mark and I drank, drugged, and engaged in multiple events together...
TO BE CONTINUED...