J.J.’s Journal: Part Three

J.J. details the trouble with her school pictures, and what she learns from the experience….

May 20

6:42 P.M.

Stick a fork in me because I am truly done.

My mother saw two of the other sets of pictures that I took at school and she is going to kill me for sure.

I was getting in the car and I dropped my notebook and my stuff slid onto the floor on her side right by her feet. The pictures were right there, face up for her to see. She turned fish belly white and when she looked over at me, her eyes had changed to that funny color that they change to when she’s as mad as hell. She automatically picked up the phone and called my track coach, (He’s on speed dial now.) and she told him that I wouldn’t be at the track meet on Saturday. He must have tried to talk her into changing her mind because she told him that she didn’t “give a damn how fast J.J. is”, that I wouldn’t be at the meet on Saturday. She said that I would be somewhere with her on Saturday trying to work up on some class.

She has me holed up here in my room. She told me to wait here until she sent for me. I just know she’s in her room loading the clip on one of Daddy’s guns. I don’t know what I’m going to do. This is as bad as the time that I tried to sneak out and she caught me. Jesus, I’m sweating bullets. I wish Daddy was here. If he was, he could kind of smooth her out for me. He has a way with her that I don’t have.

I hope that I’ll be able to read what this says this later. I’m writing with my right hand and trying to call Marnie’s number at the same time with my left. I figure I’d better call her now, because for sure, my phone will be the first thing to go. It’s usually one of the first casualties of a Jennifer Hart assault.

I am so dead. My hands are shaking like crazy.

Somebody’s coming…..

Until Later

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May 20

9:05 P.M.

That was Daddy at the door. It seems that he got in trouble with her over the pictures, too. I was wearing these new boots that he bought for me in the pictures. They’re snakeskin and they are ever so fine! He had a pair custom made for my mother when he was in Australia the last time, and I really liked hers when they were delivered so he had some made for me too. She didn’t know about them, but she saw them on the pictures and went all the way off on him about spoiling me so much. She got the same boots from him, but I guess I’m not entitled to nice things. I’m spoiled when I get presents, but apparently getting presents keeps her nice and fresh. Somebody explain it to me!

He fussed at me about having the pictures taken in them, getting caught at it, and making him catch it from her. I don’t know why he lets her upset him so. It’s not like she’s going to come along and take his phone out of his room, or tell him that he can’t go anywhere, or that he can’t have anybody over, or make him wear a dress every day of the week. I mean, what can she possibly do to him that would matter that much? Not speak to him? It’s not like she’s going to stop cooking for him; she can’t and doesn’t cook. If it’s just that she was going to be mad and not all the other stuff, then I’d just go on and do the things that I want to do and let her just be mad.

It’s not like I was naked or anything on the pictures. I was fully clothed, but she didn’t know that I had taken these. She and Daddy paid for me to take some for them and I wore what she wanted me to wear and I had my hair down and all for those just like she wanted. But then I took a few more sets to give out to my friends.

In these, I sort of switched up to be the real me. I changed into my jeans and my black leather bomber jacket that Daddy bought me. It’s just like his, and we wear them when we fly together. Mine has my initials stitched on the front and his says “Valentine”, his nickname and his radio handle. I wore a pair of my black jeans and those fine, fine boots. I put my hair back up in the ponytail. Tommy made me this cube with two big J’s and a big red heart to represent my name. I sat on that for the pictures. For my other props, I used my playing card, the jack of hearts (Jack=J. Heart=Hart. The playing card itself was because I’m notorious for playing cards and taking people’s money.) and I also used a cigar, a lit one.

Now that’s probably where I took it too far; that and using those stick-on letters to spell out “Incorrigible” on the back of my jacket. That’s my mother’s favorite description of me. Marnie had some stick-on letters on her jacket too. Hers said “& Company”. We took a picture with both our backs to the camera, “Incorrigible & Company”, but my mother didn’t see that one, thank God.

Well, she got all over me about exploiting myself and she wanted to know the name of the photographer who took the pictures. She thought that I was covering for him, but I honestly didn’t know. She said that it was all right; she would call the school and find out. Somebody is going to be jobless for real when she gets finished with it.

The photographer was a young guy and he was a lot of fun. He had a good time right along with us. He told me that he had a friend at the Ford Modeling Agency that he could send my pictures to, but I had to cut him off. I don’t want to be a model, and he was slowing us down with his talking. We had things timed down to the minute and the lookouts could only be in the hall so long. It was so much fun. It was like a covert operation and it went down as smooth as silk.

He almost died when I lit that cigar, but he took the pictures anyway after he opened the windows and turned on the ceiling fans to let the smoke out. Later, when we went outside and played cards during lunch, I finished it just to see what it was like. I don’t usually go outside for lunch because people are usually doing something undercover out there. I figured since I was going to be finishing off Deon’s Black and Mild and doing it undercover, I might as well be out there with the rest of the low-lives.

When my mother was grilling me, I was scared that she was going to ask me about if I had smoked it. I don’t lie to her, and taking the Fifth wasn’t going to fly with her being in the mood that she was in. I guess she was so mad about everything else that she didn’t remember to ask. Believe me, I didn’t volunteer the information either. She smokes cigars, but she doesn’t know that I know it.

I’ve only actually seen her do it once. I was sneaking to watch a poker game downstairs and she was playing that night with Daddy and his buddies. She lit it up and I almost fell over the loft banister, I was so shocked. But then when I was telling Aunt Pat, her friend and my godmother, about it on the phone, she told me that my mother used to smoke cigarettes in high school and in college. She said that she occasionally used to enjoy a good cigar when she was writing. She said that she didn’t know that she was still doing it.

Let her catch me with a cigarette! She’ll act like I committed a capital offense, and make out like she never did any of the stuff that I do. I bet if I ask Pa he’ll tell me that she was in trouble a lot at my age too. He has alluded to some things, but he hasn’t elaborated on any one specific thing yet.

When it was all said and done, My mother confiscated my new boots as the major punishment. She said that I could have them back after the Mission Street Ball provided that I stay off her nerves until then. That’s not for a little over two weeks, but that is a long time for nerve dodging for me. She took the letters off my jacket too. I could tell that Daddy wanted to laugh about the jacket, but he knew better than to do that with the mood that she was in. He wasn’t off the hook either. We’ll laugh about it later, him and me, when we’re alone. Probably when we go flying the next time, whenever I get off informal house arrest.

I really hope that she doesn’t find out that Marnie is now selling the pictures to raise money for the Mission Street Academy. I lost a bet with her and Marnie knows how to sell any idea to make a buck. She’s made up a price list for the different sizes of pictures, and they have been going out of our lockers like crazy. We let people know that all the money is being donated to the Mission Street orphanage and school and they don’t mind buying. We have been fund- raising all year, and thanks to Mr. Frieson who’s in charge of investments at Daddy’s office, we have quite a bit in our coffers. We have kids all over Los Angeles doing things to raise money. My mother started the Mission Street Foundation and she raises money through donors and patrons. She gives the ball every year to celebrate the people who support the Foundation. Our part is a surprise for her, if she doesn’t end up doing me in first. I really need to play it close for a while with her.

I figure if Mission Street could turn out such a good guy like my father with the little bit that they had at that time that he was a little boy, just think what else they might be able to do with the kids if they had more resources. I just want to do my part to help. After all, if it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here at all. She couldn’t have made me with anybody else. I came out looking like her, but I’m just like him. That’s the part that keeps me in the deep and murky.

Well, I’d better get ready for bed. If she has to come in here and say anything else to me tonight this might be my last entry ever. She is not playing with me. I’m tap dancing on the bubble.

Good Night

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May 21

7:16 P.M.

I got called to the Principal’s office today. He laid into me about the pictures. It seems that my mother laid into him about “the escapade”, as he said she called it, being allowed to happen during the school day. I really did feel sorry for Mr. Thompson. It wasn’t his fault. I’m sure that if he knew, he wouldn’t have let it go down; but he was no match for a Hart/Benson production. When Marnie and I plan something, we cross all of our t’s and dot all of our i’s. We had worked out every last detail on paper and it went all went off as planned. We made sure to only employ reliable people, our regulars who we know can keep their mouths shut and aren’t all scared and everything. Oh, it was so sweet!

All the time that he was sitting there fussing at me, I could tell that he was just venting his frustrations. After all, the deed was done. The pictures had been taken and were paid for, and I really hadn’t committed any crimes, except maybe for the cigar. But even with that, it was just in my hand. I wasn’t actually smoking it…at the time the picture was taken anyway. I wouldn’t be stupid enough to let somebody actually catch me on film smoking. You don’t leave traceable evidence. That’s one of those things that Daddy teaches me. He’s grooming me to be able to hold my own in the real world outside of Bel Air, California. I think that he’s done a pretty good job. I don’t get caught at stuff nearly as often as I used to, except of course by you know who.

When it was all said and done, I didn’t even get detention and for once, for some reason, I didn’t even feel bad about him calling me in there like that. I know that I have a lot of brass, but I’ve accepted that’s just who I am. Some things you can’t really change about a person. Lately nobody really scares me, except of course my mother. I don’t know what it is about her, but she has always had that kind of hold on me. It’s strange but with her it seems to be escalating the older that I get. I give her all of her room.

Speaking of my mother, I’ve got to work up the nerve to ask her if she’s still going to let me go to the dance on Friday. I’m the chairperson of the committee and I have to be there, but she’s still kind of hot over the picture thing. She might not let me go. I wanted to ask her in the car when she picked me up from school this afternoon, but she was on her phone. Also, she was sitting way too close to me. I don’t know why that bothers me. She’s never hit me, but you never know when a person is going to snap and lose it. Any day could be my day. I’ve been kind of pushing her buttons for a while now. It’s not intentional, but that really doesn’t matter when they get pushed.

Well, it’s getting late and Marnie said to call her after I got the verdict. Let me go on down there and find her. I hope Daddy is somewhere near by. That might soften her up some.

Good Night.

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May 22

8:07 P.M.

I hate this feeling of dread that seems to be hanging over me. My mother is letting me go to the dance. She didn’t give me an argument, or act like she was doing me a big favor or anything. That isn’t good. Something is wrong. I know that she has something up her silk sleeve but I just don’t know what it could be. I’ve tried to look at this thing from all angles, but I can’t figure it out. Marnie says that I’m worried over nothing. I don’t think so. My instincts are pretty reliable. I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that J.J., Sr. is up to something. I need to pray on this one.

I forgot to mention that as another part of my punishment she gets to pick the boy who is going to escort me to the Mission Street Ball. She says that it will not be anybody that I pick because I just pick people of my “ilk” and she’s not having it. I’m dead. I’m going with Ollie. I know it. He’s home that weekend on break, and I know that’s who she’s going to pick. He is so quiet and shy it makes me crazy. It’s like being out with a broom- and not the one from Fantasia. I’m talking about a plain old kitchen broom. To his credit, he’s a good dancer, but he has no conversation, little personality, and he’s scared of his own shadow.

“No J.J., we’ll get in trouble!”

You’d think he was the girl! I’m dreading this too, along with this thing with my mother and the dance. I’m actually becoming a little nauseous thinking about all of this.

Since she took my snakeskin boots I had to come up with another top to wear with the outfit that I bought the last time that Marnie’s mother dropped us off at the mall. Luckily I had bought this other tiny, cute red top on a whim. It’s stuffed in the back of my closet out of sight. It can go with my red boots. The outfit I bought is a pants outfit. The pants are made of this shiny black stretch material and there’s a matching short jacket. I got one of those belly jewels to put in my naval because the top only comes to right above my tummy. The top is so tight that I have cleavage in it. I’ve always wanted to have cleavage ever since I was a little girl. Why bother having being a girl and having breasts if you can’t show them off? Mine are getting there, but with that top they look really good.

Some friends and I are doing this dance routine from one of Janet Jackson’s old videos, “I Miss You Much”. It’s the one where they dance using the cane back chairs. I’ve been practicing for the longest with the modern dance class. The chair thing is so much fun. Ms. Askew, the dance teacher wants me to be in the dance class, but I told her I run track; dancing is just for fun. I like all of Janet Jackson’s videos. She can really dance and I like her look when she wears the jeans and tee shirts. I think unconsciously I have modeled my look after her. Jeans, a tee shirt and a pair of good boots- that’s the way to do it. I picked out that outfit that I got at the mall especially for that dance number. The other boots would have worked better. I had a stretchy top with a matching snakeskin design for those but, c’est la vie.

True to her word, my mother pursued the matter of the pictures up to the owner of the photography studio that employed my photographer. She’s like a Rottweiller when her back is up about something. She doesn’t let go until she has made her point. The poor guy who took the pictures is probably out pounding the pavement in search of his next job. I heard her talking to Daddy about it, but I didn’t get the details. I’ve been giving her a real wide berth since I don’t where she’s coming from with this dance thing and I don’t want her reneging on anything. She doesn’t usually welch on what she says, but there’s a first time for everything. I don’t want this to be the first time.

Good Night

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May 25

6:50 P.M.

I cannot believe my life right now.

The dance was Friday night. Everything was going fine. We sold out of tickets and ended up having to even turn some people away because the gym got to be too packed. The people didn’t leave, they had their own dance in the parking lot. It was another fine Hart/Benson production. My girlfriend and I really know how to give a good party.

Anyway, I had hooked up the light board to run all of these fantastic light sequences during the dance. It kind of makes things a lot more exciting. I had the images of the dance committee and me blown up and integrated it into a Power Point-like projection, and those pictures flashed at different points on the walls and on the stage while we performed. Andre let me wire the subwoofers into the school’s sound system so the music was thumping; the walls were shaking. It was great!

Then we did our Janet Jackson dance number. We were working it up there; the crowd was going crazy. When we did the part with the chairs, the boys went wild and started calling my name. I was the only white girl up front doing the part with the chairs and it seems to amaze people that I can dance like that. When I’m dancing, I go into myself. I don’t see anything that goes on around me. I just feel the music and let my body go with it.

Well, it turns out that I should have been looking, because when I did look, my mother and father were looking right back at me. SURPRISE! They came as chaperones for the dance without telling me. I knew that my mother had something cooked up for me, but I didn’t bank on that. Luckily it was near the end of the cut. I wouldn’t have been able to go through with it if I had known that they, especially Daddy in the middle of all those howling boys, were out there watching me.

Needless to say, not too many boys asked me to dance after they saw him there. It’s not like Daddy can blend in or anything. Everybody at my school knows who Jonathan Hart is, and if they don’t, somebody will tell them in time to keep them from getting too close to me in his presence and risk losing a limb or something.

When we got home, my mother confiscated the entire outfit- well the best parts of it anyway: the pants, the top, and the belly jewel that I had stuck in my navel. She called me a Jezebel and said that she was not going to have me be a harlot if it killed her trying to keep me from being one; but that it wasn’t going to do her in because she would take me out first.

She said that she brought me into the world and she could take me out of it just as easily without it being a problem. She said that she had the right to do it and that then there would just be one less little floozy that society had to deal with. I’m sure that there are laws against that sort of thing, but I was not about to challenge her at that point. Then she told me to take a shower and put my little trolloping behind in the bed so that I could get up with her in the morning to go out to the Country Club; she had work there for me to do. ‘Trollop’, there’s a new vocabulary word. I’ll have to remember that and call Marnie one. I’m sure that the dress she had on at the dance qualifies her for that category.

This morning she got me up at what seemed like the crack of dawn. I was getting dressed and trying to wake up at the same time. She came in without even knocking and told me to take the pants off that I had just put on because I was wearing what she wanted me to wear. She goes in my closet and comes out with this yellow sundress that ties in the back that she bought for me in Belgium last summer. I knew not to say anything.

While I was putting on the dress, she picked out my shoes: a pair of yellow flat sandals that matched the dress. I hate ensembles and she knows it. Then to add further injury to insult, I had already done my hair up. But, nope, she took the ponytail down, brushed it all out, parted my hair down the middle and pulled it back on each side with these butterfly clips. I don’t know where she got those from, but she had them in her pocket ready to put in my hair. She had on pants, but I had to wear a dress! Today was Saturday, for Pete’s sake. I wanted to die.

When I went downstairs, Daddy had the nerve to say that I looked very pretty. I wanted to strangle him. He knew that I was mortified, but he thought it was so funny.

Marnie’s mother had her at the country club too. We had to work all day to atone for our sins of the night before. Marnie had on that really sleazy dress at the dance that her mother didn’t know about. You see she changed into it after she left home and changed out of it before she went home after the dance. My mother told on her and Marnie got her dress taken away just like my top and my pants and belly jewel got taken.

The little preppie girls at the club kept teasing us about not being able to come out on the patio for lunch and being restricted from doing anything fun. Marnie started to curse them, as is her habit when dealing with troublesome situations, but I stopped her. We were in enough trouble.

When my mother and I got home, even though it was still daylight, I came to my room, took a shower, and got into my nightgown. Philly called and said that the team did well at the track meet, but that the girl from Burbank who usually comes in second to me, came in first today. In overall our team came in first, but we didn’t place in the individuals. She said that Coach is going to make me do extra laps for getting myself grounded right before the last important meet of the year. He thinks that I would have taken it if I had been there. Oh well, that’s how it is sometimes. You can’t win if you’re not allowed to play.

I am writing this now and then I’m going to sleep. When I wake up, I hope it’s tomorrow and that this day will be over. It wasn’t a good one at all.

Good night

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May 26

3:45 P.M.

I went to church this morning with my mother. Daddy didn’t go. My mother and I don’t go every Sunday. We probably go about twice a month. Daddy rarely goes with us. He’s not too religious. And anyway, he was raised in that Catholic orphanage where they make the kids go to church every day, so he’s probably all churched-out. He says that he believes in God, but he doesn’t think that he has to go to church every Sunday to prove it. I tend to feel the same way, but I don’t have the option of choice that he has. I have to go when she comes in my room and says that we’re going. I know that this week she took me because she thought that I could use some divine guidance in my life right about now. When Daddy does go, my mother sits in between us. She says that he is a poor influence on me in the house of the Lord. (He sleeps and stuff.)

One time when I was little, she was telling me how everybody has their own guardian angel. I asked her how the guardian angels knew where we were all the time. What if I got lost from my guardian angel, then what? She told me that we never get so far away that our guardian angels can’t find us. I guess she figured taking me to church would make it easier for mine to touch base with me.

There’s nothing wrong with me that being allowed to have a good time without worrying about it afterward  wouldn’t fix.

She nudged me twice in church. Once when I was fidgeting because the lace collar on my dress itched and the other time when I got sleepy during the sermon. After she checked me, I kept myself awake by thinking about what happened at the country club yesterday.

I got tired of stuffing those programs that she had us working on so I got up to go to the restroom. I didn’t have to use it that badly. I just needed the diversion. On my way, there was this man in the hall outside of the business office. The business office has a huge window that you can look into and see what’s going on inside. My mother was in there working and he was standing there watching her. But he was standing in a position where she wasn’t able to see that he was watching her. I didn’t think too much of it at the time. Men always look at her. My mother is over fifty, but she still has a look that attracts men’s attention. I think it’s her hair, her eyes, and her smile. I’m used to that. She’s always been able to do that. My Daddy has it worse than anybody. She just makes unadulterated gruel out of him.

When I came back from the restroom, he was gone from the hall and I forgot about him for a while. But, when we got ready to go I saw him again outside. This time he was off in the distance. He had a telescopic lens on his camera, (He had the camera with him when I saw him in the hall, but he wasn’t using it then.) and he was snapping pictures of us as we were getting into the car. I’m pretty sure that my mother never saw him. I didn’t want to alarm her so I didn’t say anything to her.

I think he might have been from a tabloid or something. People take her picture sometimes like that. She’s sort of a public figure here in Los Angeles because of her work as a journalist and because of my father. She hates when they sneak and do that, but she says that it goes with the territory. Daddy really hates publicity. He prefers to remain in the background. I think they do it more with my mother because she’s a beautiful woman. She does not, however, tolerate anyone taking and publishing my pictures. On more than one occasion, she and Daddy have gone off on photographers who attempt to take my pictures while we’re out anywhere. They say it has to do with keeping me safe. It’s happened on a few occasions and I don’t like the feeling that comes with knowing that people are watching you and you don’t even know it. I’ve had several offers to model for teen magazines, but my mother turns them down without even asking me if I want to do it. I don’t want to, but she could at least ask.

I wonder if I should have said anything to one of them about that guy that I saw. I’ll just let it ride unless something else comes up related to it. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open.

After church I had to stand around with her while she talked to everybody outside. She nudged me again out there I guess because I wasn’t looking interested in talking. I wasn’t. I hate small talk and I wanted to go home and get changed. Daddy said that if she and I got back early enough that he and I could go flying for a while. We usually go on Saturdays, but you know where I was on Saturday.

When we finally  got home, Daddy had left me a note on my bed saying that he got called away on an emergency with Hart Industries and he apologized for not being able to take me up. I know that he probably hated that as much as I did. He likes to have fun too and it gets on his nerves when business interferes with his time with my mother or with me. But we understand and we don’t get mad about it or anything.

Tommy, Deon, Charmaine, and Marnie are supposed to come down later for a swim. It sounds like a lazy afternoon. All of my homework is done, so I guess I’ll just kick back and relax.

Good Evening

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May 27

7:16 P.M.

I just got the confirmation on my escort for the Mission Street Ball. It’s not Ollie. It’s Wesley Singleton. There is a God and he must really care about me after all. My guardian angel must have clued him in on how sorry my life has been going lately, and the Big Fella took pity on me. My mother just called me to her room and told me. Daddy was sitting in his chair and didn’t look too happy about it. He didn’t say anything, though.

Wesley is an old friend. We’ve known each other most of our lives. He’s older than I am by two, nearly three years. I just turned fifteen this month and he turned seventeen last November. I really do like Wesley. He’s a lot of fun, he can dance, and we like a lot of the same things. He already has his pilot’s license and he’s flown solo already. I’m working on mine, but I don’t think that Daddy is ever going to let me fly alone even though he knows that I’m good. (My mother is still in the dark about it.)

His mother and my mother are old friends too. They went to college together at Vassar in New York to do their undergraduate work. (My mother went on and got two more advanced degrees from two other universities.) They both eventually ended up marrying California men and moved out here. I’m glad my mother did. It’s too cold in New York most of the year for me. When I visit my godmother there, I usually go in the spring or the summer when it’s warmer.

Wesley goes to boarding school in Massachusetts, but his parents live here in Bel Air. He had a nanny until he went to Junior High, because his parents travel a lot. When he started high school his parents sent him off to boarding school like they did with his two older brothers. Wesley is the baby in his family.

Mrs. Singleton likes me and I think she would like it if Wesley and me got together. She’s into that breeding thing where people look to marry their kids off to kids that they think come from good homes like they’re mating puppies or something. I don’t think so.

Anyway Daddy has the fish-eye on Wesley every time that he comes around and Wesley comes around every time that he’s at home. I think that Wesley likes me a little more than I like him, but he’s just going to have to table that. I am not ready for a boyfriend yet. Having a boyfriend puts too many restrictions on you, and God knows that I don’t like being confined. Besides, some boys get girls to be their girlfriends so that they can have sex with them and I’m not ready to do that yet. Wesley is seventeen, so I know what he probably has on his mind.

When I had my birthday party a few weeks ago, Wesley came home with his friend, Beau, who goes to school with him. They both came to the party. Beau likes my friend, Marnie and they have been keeping in touch. I told her that she should just be a friend, and let that boyfriend thing go. Beau lives all the way in North Carolina and long distance relationships don’t work out. She asked me how I would know since I haven’t been in any kind of relationship. She’s right about me and boy relationships, but I know that if I were in one I wouldn’t want him to be all the way across the country. I can’t see what he’s doing and he can’t see what I’m doing. Why even go there? Stick with somebody that you can spend time with on a regular basis, I say.

There’s a girl at school who likes my friend, Tommy, aka KB. She seems to have a problem with me when it comes to him. Even though we have all been friends since the sixth grade, she suddenly doesn’t like it that he and I are such good friends. Lately, every time he talks to me and she’s around, she has started giving me dirty looks or she starts whispering to her friends.

Tommy is like a brother to me. We talk every day at school and every night on the phone. He is almost as close to me as Marnie. I don’t let a whole lot of people in my life get in close like that because I don’t always know for sure why people like me. In my position it’s hard sometimes to know if people really like me for me. I’m getting better about it than I used to be, but I still keep my guard up.

Tommy has always treated me like a regular person and from the time that we first met we have always been friends. He’s at my house a lot because he and Daddy have become very close, and I have been to his house quite a few times to spend time with him. I wish Milini could understand that I am not a threat to her. If she likes Tommy, she should just go on and like him. If he likes her back, I’m not going to get in the way of that. I’m not a problem for her in that respect. But if she keeps on trying to intimidate me, I can be. She needs to stop before I get mad about it.

Charmaine says that I should just fight her and get it over with. She believes in cutting to the chase; she’s not real big on negotiations. She says that she knows that I can take her. Forget that. I had one good fight in my life and that was enough. That time somebody said something nasty about my mother and I went off. That was worth a fight. Boys are not worth fighting over. It probably just feeds their egos. There are other ways of getting someone to see your point without taking it to the streets.

Good Night

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May 27

8:16 P.M.

My mother and father went out tonight to have dinner together. Marie is here in the house with me. We played cards for a while and then she said that she was sleepy and that she was going to her room.

I was down in the first floor library looking at some albums that my mother keeps down there. She saves newspaper clippings that were of interest to her in albums down there. A lot of the clippings are about her and Daddy. Before I was born, they used to get into a lot of different stuff that got them in trouble. My mother said that after I came, they didn’t want me getting hurt because of the stuff they were into, so they became more low-key with the things that they did.

There was an old article from a French paper that detailed when some thieves kidnapped Daddy in Paris. They were trying to take the Josephine tiara from the Musée Louterre and my father and Monsieur Louterre walked in on them. They took my father hostage because he was a millionaire and used him to get away. The police couldn’t do anything about it. They don’t do things the same way in different parts of the world as they do here in the states, so you can’t always count on the same things happening under the same circumstances. You have to have a score card, it seems to know how the game is played.

The police even shot Daddy by mistake when he was trying to get away from the kidnappers. My mother was there with the police and she saw it all. I know she tried to have a heart attack seeing that unfold right before her eyes. Eventually, she was the one who found him and got him back. She was so smart and so brave to go looking for him like that. She and a friend that she had in France had to go all the way from Paris to Perpignan in a car, but she found him and she got him and the tiara back. Daddy (Hart Industries) bought the tiara and it is now in our county museum. They told me the story behind the tiara when they took me to see it, but reading about it and seeing the pictures is just so interesting to me. I look at those albums a lot. I wish I had been around then to do some of this stuff with them. It seems like it must have been so much fun.

I hope that when I grow up I can find a man that I love the way that she loves and trusts him. Tonight when they were leaving, he told her that she looked beautiful and she gave him a look that I can’t put into words, but it was a look that I hope that one day a man can make me feel that I want to give to him. Am I making sense?

She’s a hard lady when it comes to me, but she must be a softie with Daddy because he worships the ground she walks on and she loves him the same way. When your parents get along that’s one less thing a kid has to worry about. It makes me feel good most of the time.

Good night.

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May 28

8:45 P.M.

Well you know that with the ball coming up my mother is in her element. She’s running around tying up loose ends, including having our dresses made by some designer friend of hers. I hate when she does that. You have to go a million times and stand around and let people feel all over you. If I fidget, she gets all irritated and then she starts fussing and then I get all irritated and impatient. I asked her before all of this started if we could just go to Saks or Neiman-Marcus or somewhere and get my dress. She just rolled her eyes at me and walked away.

Today when she picked me up from school we had to go for shoes.

I HATE shopping for this kind of stuff with her. We always end up on each other’s nerves. If I let her go by herself and pick my shoes for me, she’ll get flats or something babyish. When I try to pick out what I want, she says that I am not going to be looking like a harlot in the stilettos that I pick out. I like heels on my dress shoes, not stilettos like she says, but at least a couple of good inches. I don’t care that I’m tall. The boys that escort me anywhere just need to be tall too. I really wish that Tommy could be my escort, but she says that Tommy and I are cut from the same cloth and she’s not having it. Besides, Tommy can’t afford a lot of the stuff that we have to do. But Tommy is tall, cute, and fun (We are cut out of the same cloth, I think.) I guess you can’t have it all.

I’ll be glad when I’m grown. I’m going to the mall every chance I get to buy what the things that I want, and I’m going to date whoever I want whenever I want. And I’m going to look just like a harlot, too, if I want.

Good Night

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May 29

9:56 P.M.

We’re in the last days of school for the year. Aside from taking finals there’s not much schooling going on. We only had two finals today, so we got out early. I didn’t remind my mother, and she didn’t seem to know about it, so when she didn’t show to pick me up, I had most of the day to mess around.

Tommy and I went across the street to the coffee shop and had an early lunch. Marnie, Charmaine, Philly and some of the others went to one of the cheerleader’s houses up in the hills. Her parents were out of town and it was the housekeeper’s day off. They said that they were going up there to swim and to party.

I didn’t want to go, I had a real bad feeling about it. I just figured being on the loose without adult knowledge or supervision was bad enough. I didn’t want to be somewhere and run the risk of not being able to get back to the school in time to meet my mother when she got there to pick me up at her regular time. Forget about calling her and saying that I’m getting a ride from somebody else. That’s out. She or her hand-picked designee picks up J.J. Hart from school- exclusively.

Milini Scott copped an attitude with Tommy because he didn’t go up there with her and the others. Tommy had to be at work at his after school job so he didn’t want to go all the way up there and then have to come all the way back down to get to work on time, so he and I stayed behind. She thought that he was just staying back to be with me. She stormed off and told him that he could have me if he wanted me. I don’t know who told her that, but I enjoyed Tommy’s company anyway.

We ate, then we went to a movie, then we sat on the lawn at school and I read Keats to him while he drew my picture. He’s always drawing pictures of me. He has sketch books from back when we first met. It’s fun to look and see how I’ve changed in his eyes over the years. He says that I have an interesting face and good hair. When he draws me or when I read to him, which I do a lot, he always wants me to take my hair down. He doesn’t like to read himself, but he likes it when I read to him. Just like a little kid, or a lazy boy.

My mother got hung up doing errands when it was time for her to come for me, so she sent my father. He pulled up and I was sitting right there on the wall waiting for him all by myself. He asked me where everybody else was. I told him that we got out early but that I had just waited around until the regular time so that I wouldn’t be a bother to them. He didn’t ask anything else and so I didn’t go there, as usual.

It turned out that my instincts about going to Brittany’s were right. Marnie called here a little while ago. She had just gotten home from being detained at the police station. She said that a neighbor called the police on them because there were so many kids at that house. Everybody that was there got hauled down to the police station and their parents had to come and get them. She said that there were cop cars everywhere.

I AM SO GLAD THAT I WASN’T WITH THEM. I cannot begin to imagine what that would have been like. The precinct captain, Herschel Gray is my father’s poker buddy. Daddy wouldn’t have had to come get me. Captain Gray would have brought me personally, in a squad car with the light flashing, straight to my Daddy in his office on the top floor of the Jonathan Hart Towers. It makes my stomach turn to think about it. I really want to puke when I think about if they had called my mother to come down and get me out of the clink. Jeez!

On the down side, Marnie’s mother called my mother wanting to know if she had to pick me up too. She said that she looked for me when she went to get Marnie, and Marnie wouldn’t tell her where I was. (Marnie didn’t know what story I had told or where I actually had gone. She didn’t want to jam me up, so she didn’t say anything. That’s a good girlfriend for you!) Mrs. Tolbert was fuming about Marnie having been gone up there without permission and getting caught up in the sweep. That was how my mother found out that I had been in the streets from 11:00 this morning until 4:00 when my father got to the school.

She came up here in my room and demanded to know where I had been all day. Luckily I still had my receipt- complete with the time on it from the coffee house, my stub from the movies with the time on it too, the book I was reading had some grass in it; and I had one of the two pictures that Tommy drew of me. He had kept the other one for himself.

She stared at me funny for a minute or two, and then she said that she guessed that she should be happy that I opted to do what I did, rather than choosing to go up to that house and getting arrested like the others. She said that she didn’t know how that early release got by her. It was on her calendar, but that she had been so busy with the ball that she must have just overlooked it. She warned me not to do that again. Then she kissed me and said that maybe I was growing up some since I didn’t opt to do the more foolhardy of the two things.

I’m not all the way crazy; I’m just somewhat crazy. I know where to draw the line. Then she wanted to know why Tommy was always drawing pictures of me. I told her what he said about my face and my hair. She got that funny look again, but she didn’t say anything else. She went back out.

I didn’t tell her about the three pictures that he’s drawn of her because of her interesting face and good hair.

Good Night

 _____________________________________________________

May 30

8:56 P.M.

I went for my final fitting today. The dress is really pretty, but I am so glad that this is over. My mother is so precise about everything. Even the length of the dress has to be just so. With me, a dress is either long, at the knee, or a mini. Long is long. Not with her. Although both of our gowns are formal and come to the floor, mine had to be precisely two inches from the floor with my shoes on. The seamstress actually made me put the shoes that I’m going to wear on and she measured from the floor to the hem of the dress.

My mother’s dress is more dramatic. She wants hers to sweep the floor even in her shoes. Hers is navy blue and gorgeous. She has to wear all these underskirts to make it stand out. She designed it herself. She did mine too, but Miss Nadine added some extra skirting and a sash. My mother’s dress is cut low and her cleavage shows. I am never going to be as pretty as she is. Ever. Daddy is going to love her in this dress.

We had to pick up his tuxedo from the tailor. She had him fitted up too. His accessories match her dress. This is just too much detail for me. I wonder where she learned all this stuff from? I’m trying to keep up, but I think I’m going to have a personal shopper, dresser, etc. to take care of all these little details for me. A lot my friends’ mother’s have social secretaries and dressers, and other people  to coordinate these things. My mother keeps all of her details in her head. I don’t know how.

On another topic, Milini and I almost got into it in the locker room today.

I guess she thought that I had gone out of the locker room into the gym with Marnie and our regular crew, but I was actually still on the other side of the lockers by myself getting dressed. She couldn’t see me. When she came out of the showers she was talking to some of the other girls. She said that she just knew that I was somewhere screwing Tommy while they were all getting arrested at Brittany’s house. I wasn’t going to respond to that speculation on her part. Somebody on her side of the lockers came to my defense and said that they didn’t think that I was having sex yet. Then she said that nobody had a body like mine that wasn’t having sex. I wondered to myself why she was so focused on me and my frame.

Then she started laughing and said that I probably at least gave blow jobs. She said that all the Bel Air girls were sexually advanced and that we gave blow jobs to keep the boys coming back and to keep from getting pregnant. This from the girl who regales the locker room every Monday with who she slept with the previous weekend. She even keeps a book with scores in it; a star system at that, like they do with the movies. I saw it for myself; nobody could have gotten me to believe that a girl would do that, but she did. That was when I finished tying my shoe. I got up and went around the row of lockers to her side. I had heard enough from the World’s Easiest Lay.

I didn’t say anything to her. I just leaned on the locker with my arms crossed and looked at her to let her know that I was there and that I had heard everything that she said. The other girls kind of shrank back. She didn’t have enough sense to do that. She asked me what I wanted. I told her that I was there to give her a blow job; with my fist to her big mouth if she said one more word. I wasn’t really going to hit her. I just wanted her to know that I wasn’t playing with her.

She wasn’t wearing anything except a towel. She swung on me. I ducked and she missed, but the towel fell off. I saw her tiny tits and burst out laughing. They looked like she was eleven and she’s really sixteen. At that point, I just felt sorry for her. I told her that she wasn’t worth fighting. She was much too frail for me to fight and it was no wonder that Tommy hung around with me; I had a lot more to offer in mind- and body, and that I didn’t have to give up anything to get his attention. Everybody knows how she sleeps around, but I didn’t say all of that. I just left it there. Maybe some of my mother’s class is rubbing off on me because God knows it was in my mind and on the tip of my tongue to say it.

 Everybody started laughing at her standing there all small and naked and older than me. I just walked away from her. She wasn’t worth bruising my knuckles on. I’ve said it before, there are many more ways to get people to see your point without turning it into a brawl. You have to work with your wits.

And as soon as I get the chance, I’m going to work with Tommy too about his lack of discretion over who he chooses to sleep with .

Good Night

_____________________________________________________

May 31   10:07

I spent the day with Daddy at the towers. He had a lot of work to do with some files and he asked me to come and help him out. I was glad to go. I love it there and I love spending time with him.

We left early, before my mother got up. He was coming out of their bedroom just as I was getting ready to do down the stairs to eat. He started down with me and then he stopped and handed me his briefcase and suit jacket and told me to hold on. He went back into the bedroom, but he didn’t close the door behind him. I watched him crawl across the bed and kiss my mother goodbye. In her sleep, she rolled right over and put her arms around his neck, kissed him back, then she rolled right back over on her side and went back to sleep. You tell me what that is. It was like she was on autopilot or something.

We left the house and had breakfast together at the IHOP (International House of Pancakes) on the way. He had strawberry pancakes with whipped cream, which he knows that he’s not supposed to have. I didn’t say anything to him, though. He gets enough of that grief from my mother. I let him have his fun. In turn, he let me have coffee. My mother won’t let me have it at home. She says that I’m hyper enough without going around with caffeine in my system. But I love coffee, the smell, the taste, the buzz. When I get to school early I sometimes go across the street to the coffee shop and get me some- not that fancy stuff she likes, just straight up Columbian.

Over breakfast Daddy and I talked about school and the tutoring program that my mother and I are going to start in the fall at the Mission Street Academy in the fall. That’s the school that the Catholic orphanage where my father grew up maintains for the orphans and for the community. It’s free for the kids that live at the orphanage, but the other kids that attend have to pay tuition. It’s an excellent school and there’s always a waiting list. A lot of time and money has gone into making it state of the art.

Daddy and Hart Industries had the facilities moved to Los Angeles many years ago. When he grew up there it was located in the Mission District of San Francisco. He wanted it and Hart Industries to be in close proximity. My mother established the Mission Street Foundation after she married my father to raise community funds and support for the programs at the orphanage and at the academy.  The ball is part of all of that.

Last year, the academy was placed on the list of schools that are designated as National Schools of Excellence. Daddy was so proud. Education Magazine came out and did a spread on the academy, the faculty, and on the two of them. My mother and I are going to start an enrichment program with kids from my school. It will be kind of an exchange program. That way all of us so called ‘gifted and talented’ kids get to share what we know and get to spend some time with kids who don’t have as much as we do. We’ll be sharing with kids who need the attention and maybe some extra help with their studies, or just to have some after school fun. Hopefully, we’ll all learn some things from the kids too. I think it’s going to be fun.

After the National Excellence Awards. He bought my mother a diamond necklace to thank her for her efforts . He took me with him to help select it. It cost a fortune, but he didn’t care. He bought me one too. Not nearly as expensive as hers, but it was nice. I had to keep mine on the down low though so that she wouldn’t get mad at him. He got me a safe deposit box of my own last year for the jewelry that he’s given me. Before that he kept my stuff with his in his box. Some of it I have never even worn. He says that jewelry never goes bad like food and stuff, and that I’ll have it when I want it or need it. A lot of it my mother has never seen. She’ll have a stroke when she does. I have quite a collection in my safe deposit box now. I know that I say it a lot, but I love diamonds.

He sat me down at his computer and showed me what he needed me to do. I stuck a CD in the drive, found a place to prop my foot, put the headphones on, and I adjusted the equalizer on his audio player. When I had it all set up  just right, I got to work.

When the music is going, I get into whatever I’m doing. Everything else gets shut out, especially if I’m wearing headphones. I was downloading and transferring files with the beat. I got a rhythm going, and I was all into it, rocking and downloading to the beat.

After a while, I could feel somebody’s eyes on me. I turned around and Daddy was watching me, laughing. I took the headphones off and asked him what was so funny. He came over and asked me how far along I had gotten. I showed him that I was about halfway finished. He said that it would have taken him all day to do what I had done in that space of time. He told me that I was amazing, just like my mother.

Then he told me to put it all down for a minute and come talk to him. We sat on the couch and talked about sound and music. All three of us love music. There’s always some playing in the house. He asked me if I could hear numbers in my head. For him to ask me that was so weird because I can. All the while that I was doing those files and listening to the music I had been counting in English and in French. When I listen to music and dance, listen to music and skate, or just listen to it period; I count. It’s one of those things that I have always just done without thinking about it, but for him to ask me brought it to the front. That’s my Daddy, he knows me. I told him that was what I was doing and he laughed. He said that he does it too;  he’s always done it as far back as he can remember too. It’s that left brain thing.

I told him about how I hear tones, count the beat in my head, and tune everything else out. I love music, all kinds of music, except opera. Daddy hates opera too, but he goes to them to keep my mother happy. She loves the opera and he loves her.

I also confessed to him that even though they have been paying for my piano lessons for years, that I still didn’t really play by reading. I can read music, but I play more by what I hear. He said that he knew that was what I had been doing for years. When I was a baby, he said that I was fascinated by the metronome. He would turn it on and I would sit and watch it and rock with it. He figured out that I was playing by ear from my eclectic music collection, the things that I can play, and from how I play the piano wearing headphones, listening to music in them at the same time. He said that he had never seen anyone do that before and then it dawned on him that was what I doing. He told me that he used to play the trumpet the same way. He couldn’t read the music that well, but he could follow what he heard and he could improvise as he went along by listening to what everybody else was playing and counting the beats.

At one time, when he was real young, he thought he was going to go into music. That was until Max found out that the guys that he was playing with were getting high before the gigs they played. He boxed my Daddy’s ears and made him quit the band and concentrate on school. I asked Daddy if he got high too. He said that he tried it, but that he didn’t like the feeling. It made him feel like he wasn’t in control of what was going on around him. I know that I probably wouldn’t like that either. Only I can control my life, and if I wasn’t able to do that properly, no telling what would happen to me with the situations that I can get myself  into. I need for all of my faculties to be operating at their top performance capabilities.

I worked on the files for him all day. He worked on his papers at his desk and his worktable, and talked on the phone a lot. It was nice. Nobody else was there. It was just Daddy and me in his office all afternoon. I love him; he is just great, even if he is paranoid about me and boys. He really has no need to be. I control what happens with J.J.

I emailed my mother to see what was up. She emailed me back and said for me not to let my Daddy feed me junk food. Too late. The onions from the burgers he had delivered were still on our breath. He was over there downing mints when the email came through.

This was one of the best Saturdays that I’ve had in a long time. Much better than last Saturday, for sure.

Good Night.

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June 1

9:30 P.M.

Tommy came over to see my father today. He’s going to be a valet at the Country Club for the ball. Daddy got him the job. He got the job for Tommy and for some of my other friends from school. Daddy gets the hook-up for a lot of my friends and they all like him for it. As long as someone acts like they want to try, Daddy will make a way for them. It’s up to them to pull their own weight, though, once he opens the door. Almost nobody lets him down.

After Tommy got finished with Daddy, he came out to the tennis court with me and we played a couple of sets. Then I made him sit down on the side of the court at a table with me to talk about this thing with Milini and me. He told me that he heard about it and that he was real sorry that she was involving me it it. That was not the problem I had. I let him know that I was more concerned about him. I asked him if he was wearing a condom when he had sex. He was shocked that I asked him that, but I told him to get over it and answer me. He kind of hedged, so I knew that he wasn’t.

I let him know how she talks about her sexual episodes out loud in the locker room with the other girls and that he should be careful with her. He was kind of shocked that girls do that. He thought that only guys did that. I said to him that people are people, it doesn’t matter about what sex they are. If they lack class, they just lack class. He got nervous and wanted to know if she said anything about him. She hadn’t mentioned him specifically, and I let him know that. I think she really likes Tommy and would like him for her boyfriend, so she’s not going to let on about him. I guess she figures if she says it’s good, somebody else might go for him. The others were just for practice for her, so she talks about them to her girlfriends. She’s such a last class tramp. I got no problem with anybody being a tramp if they want to be one, just have some class about it, I say. Play it close.

I asked Tommy why he would sleep with her if he wasn’t serious about her or if he really didn’t want her as a girlfriend? He said it was because she came onto him and she gave it to him. So I asked him if I tried to give him one of my dog’s turds would he take it? He laughed and said that he wouldn’t, but that sex wasn’t the same. I asked him if he was quite sure about that. He stopped laughing when he looked in my face and saw that I was serious.

I reminded him that he was sleeping with everyone that she had ever slept with when he lay down with her, plus whoever else he might be getting busy with, and that he needed to protect himself from getting sick or from knocking somebody up and messing up his life. My father is counting on him being somebody one day. If he messes up he’ll be hurting his mother, my father, and me. Besides that, I told him that I thought that Milini really likes him and that maybe she thinks that by doing it with him, she can get him to like her back. I said that he shouldn’t play her like that, even though in my mind I thought that she was setting her own self up to be treated like dirt.

He got up from the table and started walking away. I thought that maybe I had gone too far and he had gotten mad at me. But then he stopped, came back and pulled me up out of the patio chair. He hugged me and he kissed me on the cheek before he let me go. He thanked me for being his friend and then he left off the court. Tommy is my boy. I’m glad that he wasn’t mad at me. That one being mad at me would bother me.

When I finally got over the shock and headed back to the house, I saw that my mother was by herself out by the pool in one of the chaise lounges. I asked her why it was so easy for boys to just have sex with anybody. She said it was because that’s how they’re made. When they’re young, they lack self-control, and that there are those of us who lack self-esteem and will just give it to them like that. I knew exactly what she was saying. If you’re really hungry, and somebody will feed you, you’ll take something to eat from whoever has the food, even if it’s straight up crap.

I feel sorry for Milini. She obviously doesn’t have a mother like mine who gives her the real skinny on what it means to be a lady all the way. I’m not showing my hand (or anything else) until I’m ready for somebody to see it. I might be a little wild but I’m a lady- just like my mother.

Good Night

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June 2

8:57 P.M.

I just came up for air  from my homework. I was swamped, but it’s done. It’s the end of the year and you would think they would let up and leave us alone. A lot of the kids don’t do it because it’s after finals, but I’m on a mission. I do all of mine. Now it’s time to go to bed. With school, all of our in and out of school activities and homework; when do kids find the time to have sex? I’m exhausted. I wish some boy would come at me with that. I’ll come up with the biggest headache for real.

My mother brought our dresses home today. She is such a perfectionist to the last letter. She even bought me new underwear for that night to match the dress. Who’s going to see it? Again, I was told to “Just hush” and to just make sure that I had it on under that dress when the time came.

She and Daddy were talking at dinner about the ball. She has a photographer and two videographers lined up. It sounded like the photographer was somebody she knew from way back, and he was giving her a deal. But I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to that. I wanted to know when Wesley was getting home from Massachusetts. She said that he wouldn’t get in until Friday evening. That puts a hole in my plans for getting together with him beforehand and making any plans for diversions. I want to go back to that video game place that he took me to the last time that he was home. We had so much fun. We could kill some ball time there while the grownups are otherwise occupied. Maybe I can get him on the phone that night after he gets home.

Like he could read my mind, Daddy made the comment that I wasn’t going anywhere except to the ball with Wesley because he was too old to be with me in the first place. My mother gave me a quick “don’t worry about it” look across the table. I knew that this time she was on my side. What she says goes when it comes to me, so he was just blowing his Daddy smoke.

It is so funny. She is so super strict with me about most things, but not about boys. Like when I was gone all day with Tommy the other day. She didn’t go off on me like you might expect a mother to do when she finds out that her teenaged daughter has been AWOL all day with a cute teenaged boy. She was just upset because I was on the loose and she didn’t know it. she’s never censored my calls from boys like some of my friends mothers have done. I haven’t had to deal with any of that. Maybe it’s because she knows that I can hold my own with boys and that I have my own mind when it comes to that. I hope so because I can and I do. I don’t want any boy too close up on me right now anyway. Daddy has a point in being suspicious about boys. They do just want to get in your underpants all the time. Wesley likes me I think, but  he’s going to be put on hold. I’m just not ready to handle that kind of drama yet. I’m only fifteen.

_____________________________________________________

June 5

10:02

I am so tired. We have been running around with stuff for the ball all week. I haven’t even had time to write in my journal like I try to do every night. I hate when I miss nights. I always feel like I’m going to miss putting down something that I should have chronicled that will have some major impact on the rest of my life.

Along with school, track practice, Student Council, and the Honor Society Induction I have had to help my mother coordinate the events leading up to the ball. I swear I don’t know how she does it. She has to deal with all these people on all these different committees, put up with their eccentricities and attitudes, fix other people’s mistakes, etc., etc. About a dozen times I wanted to just freaking scream, but she would nudge me like she does when she wants me to get it together, and I do. But it is just like Marnie would say, “Damn!

I made the National Honor Society based on my grades and “positive contributions to the school climate” for last two school years. I was inducted on Tuesday night at the ceremony. I was kind of proud of myself. I do like it that I do well in school. It is one of my personal satisfactions; I like to learn. My mother was in the National Honor Society in high school too and she was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa Key when she graduated. That’s my goal also, that and to graduate first in my class. Both of my parents were at the ceremony. They were proud of me too. That felt good.

I feel like I have an excellent shot at finishing first in our class. Ajay Singh and I are still duking it out academically, just like we have been since we met in Junior High. But I think it would really be cool if he and I finished in a dead heat. I would love to stand up there at the podium with him to show him that this female is indeed his equal. Even though I have beat him out for several honor awards, he still maintains that I am intellectually inferior to him by nature because I am a female. I know it’s silly to keep trying to change his thinking, but I’m somehow driven to do so.

Tonight, Daddy picked me up from working out on the track at school and we went over to Cartier. They kept the store open for him so that he could get my mother a choker for the ball. Like she needs a new one!! He saw her dress when she brought it home and he wanted my opinion on what he had picked out. I don’t know why; his taste is excellent and besides, she would wear anything that came from him, she’s that crazy about him.

Just as I knew he had, he made an excellent choice for her particular dress. It was just simple small chanels set in a choker that went into a chevron shaped diamond at the center. For that dress it’s going to be stunning. He got her earrings too. Then Daddy had Mr. Simons get the “other pieces” that he had picked out. Mr. Simons went into the back and came out with another pretty set. Daddy had done the same thing for me: a choker and earrings. He’s the best, I’m telling you. I wouldn’t do anything to mess up with him.

I thought about Milini again and I wondered what her father was like. He couldn’t be anything like mine. If he was, I don’t think she’d be looking for love in all the boys’ pants.

Good Night

June 6

11:03 P.M.

I’ll be glad when this is all over. She is about to drive everyone in this house crazy. My mother has run Daddy, Marie, and me like rank mules all this week. Daddy has had to hire the band, work with the Country Club people, sign contracts, etc. Marie has been meeting with the caterers all month. The phone rings constantly and I have to answer it. If I have to be polite to another demanding somebody or take one more message from another mumbling society maven, I am going to lose it. According to my mother, I’m usually just one step away from rude most of the time anyway just because I cut to the chase and prefer it if others do so also. It won’t take much more to push me over the edge.

She made me sit at her desk downstairs this evening to take her calls. I was trying to do my homework, carry on a three-way conversation on the cordless on my line to my friends, and answer her calls on her line all at the same time. Then she came in there and got mad and told me to hang up my phone so that I could concentrate on my homework. But I had to keep on answering her line.

Okay, how about I not answer her line, talk to my friends on my line and do my homework? I’m just writing that, of course. If I had actually said that to her, the rest of this page would be blank.

Daddy had to make her stop working and eat tonight. She’s strange like that. If she gets real wrapped up in what she’s doing, she forgets to eat. Now, I don’t care how much else is going on in my life, I’m not going to forget to eat. I might forget to pee until the last minute, or I might forget to brush my hair or something, but eat? I think not. She’s lost weight through all of this and her dress has had to be altered two times since it was first done up. Miss Nadine fussed at her at the last fitting. I hope it fits right when she puts it on tomorrow night. She’ll be devastated if it doesn’t.

Daddy is upset with her about it and he said that as soon as this is over, he’s going to take her to all the best restaurants in LA for lunch and dinner to fatten her back up. She told him that she would worry about that then. She likes being thin, but sometimes I think that she overdoes it. She’s getting older and she needs the fat in her face. I told her that once and she looked at me like she wanted to clock me, but I could swear that she put some weight on after that. It’s just that she’s so pretty and I don’t want her looking haggard, which she’s inclined to do when she loses too much weight.

Daddy let me have some Merlot tonight with him. I was sitting at the bar talking with him and he poured some for me. He said that I actually earned a double gin and tonic after fooling with my mother all week with the frenzy she’s been in. I told him that I would just go with the wine because he would really catch it if she found out that he was indulging me again, this time with hard liquor. We laughed about it until she came in the room. We stopped too suddenly when we saw her, so she wanted to know what we were concocting. We told her it was nothing. Then she came over, smelled my glass, and found out that he had given me wine and it wasn’t even a special occasion. She gave him her usual hell about contributing to my delinquency and sent me upstairs to bed.

And that’s just where I’m going when I’m through writing this. The ball is tomorrow night and I don’t want to be looking haggard either.

Good night

_____________________________________________________

 June 9    

8:35 A.M.

I didn’t go to school today.

Everything is just awful. I can’t write about it yet. I feel like I want to die.

Maybe later

June 9

2:57 P.M.

Not yet.

June 9

8:45 P.M.

All I can say is that this past weekend has been the most terrible time of my entire life. I hope that our family never has to go through anything like this again as long as we live.

Good Night

_____________________________________________________

June 10

10: 45 A.M.

Daddy tried to get me to go to school this morning, but I just couldn’t get out of the bed. He finally said that I could stay home today, but that I had to get myself together so that I could go tomorrow. He says that he knows that it’s the end of the school year, but that I can’t let this stop me. He told me that I have to get on with my life.

How can I? My mother almost lost hers because of me.

She goes for her tests at the hospital today. Please let her be okay.

Oh Jesus, help me. I hurt so bad.

J.J.

_____________________________________________________

June 11

12:55 P.M.

I’m at home.

I went to school, but I couldn’t stay there.

Daddy took me to school, but after two periods, I wasn’t really there. Everybody else was going along as if nothing had happened, but I don’t think that life will ever be the same for me as it was before Saturday night.

I went back outside and tried to hail a cab to go back home. Tommy came out there to the curb and got me to come back in. He took me to my counselor. I wouldn’t tell her what was wrong; I don’t know her like that and it wasn’t her business. She’s a school counselor, but she has no personal connection to me. She called Daddy and told him to come and get me after I wouldn’t talk to her.

The counselor that I trust enough to confide in got hurt Saturday night at the ball and it was all my fault.

She got  hurt so bad.

I wish that I could get one of Daddy’s guns and kill that bastard that hurt her. I could do it; I know how. I don’t care if I go to jail or straight to hell because I killed him. He hurt her and he has to pay.

Ms. Grimsley, the counselor called for Marnie to try to find out what was going on with me, but Marnie knows not to tell my personal business. When she got him on the phone, Ms. Grimsley told my father, right with me sitting there, that I was acting “shell-shocked” and that she thought that he needed to come for me. What kind of counselor is she to call me that so that I could hear it? Not one that I would tell anything to.

When he got there, he told me to go out of the office and wait for him so that they could talk. I guess he told her what happened to my mother at the ball so that she could understand why I was acting the way that I was. When he came back out of her office, he told me to come on with him.

I wanted to cry in the car. It would have been the first time that I cried about it. I almost never cry, but I wanted to so badly. Daddy looked so sad and I didn’t want him to be any more upset than he was, so I held it in. He told me that he made a mistake in sending me away from them and the house.  He said that I didn’t have to go back to school until I felt ready to go back. Then he took me home.

I don’t know when I’ll feel ready for anything again.

My mother is asleep again. She sleeps all day or she has these horrible headaches.

I let her down. I can’t stand to look at her like that.

Lord, please help her.

Please help me, I can’t stand it.

I want to just die.

 J.J.

_____________________________________________________

June 12

3:04 A.M.

I am so bent out of shape. My hands are shaking so bad I can hardly write.

I was sleeping and I heard the telephone ring, so I answered it. I have all the lines in the house coming to my room at night to keep the phones from disturbing my parents right now. But it was my line that rang.

It was a lady. She sounded like my mother, but she had a French accent. She called me Justine and she said for me to get my butt into the bedroom and see to my mother in the morning; that my mother was wondering where I was that I hadn’t been in to her; she was concerned about me. The lady said for me to stop acting like a weakling and she said that I better not write about wanting to die one more time. She told me that I was stronger than that and that I wasn’t anywhere near my time to die. Then she said that if I didn’t get it together and face my troubles head on like I know that I’m supposed to, she was going to pay me a personal visit real soon and that would really give me something to mope about.

The next thing I knew, I woke up.

I hadn’t been on the phone at all.

I got right up, went down the hall to my parents’ room, and eased inside.  I never go in there, especially without knocking, but I had to see them- I had to see her. It was like I was being compelled to go in there.

They were sleeping. He had his arms around her like he was keeping her safe. Neither of them woke up even though I was standing right over them. I went back out when I saw that they were okay.

I’m sitting here now trying to make sense of it. My mind says that it was my grandmother who called me on the telephone in my sleep. But that’s crazy; she’s been dead for over forty years. I’m pretty level-headed, but it was kind of eerie that my father didn’t wake up; he’s very hard to sneak up on. I’m good, but he’s extremely perceptive. Could there have been some unearthly power that kept him under long enough for me to see what I needed to see?

The voice sounded like my mother’s, but it wasn’t her and she wouldn’t play that kind of game with me even if she weren’t sick. My mother speaks French beautifully, but she doesn’t have an accent at all when she speaks English like this lady did. Even when my mother pretends to have an accent, hers is not as authentic as that lady’s was. It wasn’t my grandmother’s twin sister, Sabrina on the phone. The voice quality was different, and besides, I don’t think that Aunt Sabrina even knows about any of this. As insane as it sounds, it had to be my grandmother that spoke to me.

I don’t believe in this kind of stuff, but she said that if I didn’t get it together, she would pay me a personal visit real soon. If my grandmother’s daughter is any indication of what she was like, then she meant exactly what she said. I couldn’t deal with a ghostly presence in my room on top of everything else that is going on.

I really think I’m losing it, but I’m not taking any chances. I’ll go back into my mother’s room and sit with her in the morning when I get up later.

J.J.

_____________________________________________________

June 12

9:16 A.M.

I went back to sleep after writing about my phone call. When I woke up, I found Daddy sitting in my chair watching me sleep. At first I thought that I was seeing things; he never usually comes in here without knocking and without me telling him to come in. I couldn’t say anything about that. I did the same thing to him and my mother this morning. But I guess since everything else is out of whack in our lives, he figured that I would be okay with it.

I truly was.

I am writing  this now with my father. He is still here with me. He’s trying to help me, but it’s so hard. He said for me to start with when I woke up this morning and to see how far I could get.

Well, here goes.

After I woke all the way up, he told me to get up and he said that he would wait while I washed up and stuff. He wanted to talk to me.

When I came back out of the bathroom, he asked me if he could see my journal. I asked him why; he’s never made the request of me before. He asked me if I trusted him. Of course, I do, so I consented. When I gave it to him, he turned right to the back, to the last few entries- the ones where I said that I wanted to die. I don’t think that he meant to say it out loud, but I heard him say, “I thought so.” He read the part about the phone call and about me going into their room too, but he didn’t comment on that. At least I didn’t hear him comment on it.

He asked me why I hadn’t written about the ball. I just couldn’t, I told him. He let me know that he was with me because my mother sent him, and that she said if I hadn’t written about it, that I should get started. I said again that I just couldn’t. It was making me sick. He said that I had to do it; that I have never been a quitter. He said that he would stay with me while I did.

My mother told once me that journaling can clear your head. I really, really hope so. So here I go for real:

It was Saturday evening. I was getting dressed for the ball and I was in my room putting on my earrings when my mother called to me. I told her to come on in. She was so absolutely beautiful. Her hair was up in a French roll and even though she had let herself get too tiny for me, her dress fit her perfectly. The choker and the earrings that Daddy bought her sparkled just right with that navy blue satin dress. It was low cut (no weight loss up there.) and it had this huge skirt. She looked just she was out of “Gone With the Wind”. I told her that Daddy was going to love her in that. She said that he was going to just love me too. She laughed and said that somebody might mistake me for an angel if they didn’t know better.

She was bringing me some of her jewelry pieces to wear and she was shocked to see that I had my own new things.

“Your father?” She asked when she saw my earrings and the choker in its case on my dresser.

“You’re not his only love.” I said, “Only his main love. Your pieces are finer than mine.”

She smiled and shook her head. She helped me put the choker on while I held my hair out of the way. Then she took her things back to her room to lock them back in her jewelry case. I went with her and we went into her dressing room. She sat me down and while she worked on fastening the flowers in my hair, she went over all the things that she didn’t want me to do at the ball. The list was kind of long.

When we got ready to go downstairs, she told me to hand her my purse. I asked her what for, and she gave me that look. I gave it up and she went into it, immediately finding my playing cards. She took them out and put them on the hall table. She warned me that if I ever wanted to see my boots again she had better not catch me acting “common” at any time that evening. She’s always accusing me and Daddy of doing “common” things. Daddy says that we both really are common, but that we aren’t to let on to her about it. What is common? I want to ask, but I do know that it most likely properly applies to me and  to Daddy.

Wesley was waiting downstairs for me. Daddy had grilled him and had him all sweaty and nervous. We left and went to Wesley’s house to take pictures. His mother had hired a photographer and he took our pictures out in her garden.

When we got to the ball, Wesley saw Tommy there working as a valet and he started fussing and getting angry about it. I asked him what his problem was and he said that everywhere he goes it seems like Tommy is there. I said “so what?” By that time, Tommy came to park the car and Wesley told him not to get any of his greasy fingerprints on it. Tommy got ready to swell up on him, but I stopped him and made Wesley apologize to Tommy. I told Wesley that if he was going to play the snob all evening, he could just go on in by himself because that wasn’t my style. I hate attitudes like that.

Wesley said that he was sorry. But then Tommy went and called him a “preppy pantywaist sissy-boy”. They both wanted to fight at that point, but then Deon stepped between them and suggested that they to take it to the court. They decided to play basketball to see who was the better man. Of course, the other guys standing around wanted in: it was the valets against the tuxedo boys. The game was for ten points and Deon said to make it interesting it was a dollar a point per man and that I should hold the money.

Being the ultimate mathematician, I was game for that. While they played, I was sorting the money to get it ready to be counted out to the winners. I was so into it that Daddy walked up on me and caught me. We had to give all the money to my mother for the scholarship fund.

I didn’t bet so I didn’t lose any of my own money.

Daddy got all over the boys, but he jumped on Wesley and Tommy the most. He pinched their ears really hard and then they had to go in, get showers and get back to what they came to the ball to do.

I was seated at a table with Wesley, his parents, Marnie and Steve; her date, Marnie’s mother and her date of the evening (another story in itself.). All of sudden the photographer who took my pictures, those ones that my mother got mad over, came up to me. He called me by name and I didn’t know who he was at first, but then Marnie and I put it together at the same time. He introduced himself to us. His name was Russell Thomas. We didn’t know his name before then because it didn’t come up when we were with him at the school.

It turned out that he was taking pictures at the ball with his boss. I figured that must have been the man that my mother was talking about at the table with my father that night. He pointed out his boss to me and he was the same man that was spying on my mother at the Country Club that day that she made us work on the booklets. When I was giving my mother the money from the game, I thought that I had seen him staring at her from a little room off the dais, but I wasn’t sure that it was him at the time. When Russell pointed him out, he was on the ballroom floor taking pictures of my mother while she was on the dais with my father trying to get set up for the presentations.

I have to stop. I’m getting sick.

June 12

10:37 A.M.

I threw up, but Daddy says I have to keep going.

Let’s try this again:

Marnie gave my mother a new name that night. She’s “The Duchess” now. Marnie says that my mother smiles and carries herself like royalty. I’m inclined to agree. She does have a  regal air about her most of the time. She really did the night of the ball. So we add one more moniker to the list: “Jennifer Hart”, “J.J.,Sr.”, and “The Duchess”. I really like that last one.

My parents were on the ballroom floor dancing to their song (It’s called “Now”) and they were talking. I was dancing not far from them with Wesley. All of a sudden they stopped and kissed in the middle of the dance floor. I was embarrassed, but proud at the same time, if that makes sense. I love it that they love each other, I just sometimes wish that they could be less demonstrative than they are about it at times. Everybody stood and started clapping. They probably have the most popular and enduring happy marriages in our area and people like that.

Wesley tried to tell me in a roundabout way that he wanted to be with me like that, but I put him off. I didn’t want to hear it. I’m only fifteen and I’m not getting all wrapped up like that yet with anybody. Besides, he’s starting to display some biases and attitudes that don’t appeal to me.

A little while later, I went outside to get some air. I still had these vague bad feelings and I didn’t know why. I wanted to talk to Tommy and kick it around with him to get his perspective on things, but he wasn’t out there. My friend, Robert, who was a valet that night too, told me that Tommy took the photographer’s truck around to the back door. I should have picked up on that, but I didn’t. I got distracted.

Robert told me that there was a card game going on the side and he wanted to know if I wanted to join in. I did, I really did. That’s probably why I missed that first clue about the truck being at the back door. I went around to the side. All of the regulars were playing poker. Deon offered me a cigar as a dig because of my pictures. He got a big kick out of that, and the fact that I got the cigar from him in the first place and he was with me when I smoked that one outside of school that day. (I didn’t even cough once. He said that I got much respect from him on that.) I wanted to play cards so badly. I almost did, but Daddy came out there and caught me- again- before I could even get dealt in.

He took me back inside and made me dance with him while he raked me over the coals about, of course, being continually incorrigible. He said that if I did anything else, he was turning me in to my mother and that I could kiss the boots goodbye. I knew that if he told her, the boots would indeed be ashes and I would be on lockdown for at least the first week of summer vacation on top of it. I told him that I would straighten up and fly right. The band played “Daddy’s Little Girl” for us while we danced and he chewed me out. It was cute. Nobody knew what was really going on with us.

When I got finished with Daddy, I had to use it; he sort of scared me with the boots to ashes thing, so I excused myself and went to go to the restroom. The ones that were available that night were all crowded and the second floor was roped off. I decided to go to the business office restroom. I figured that since nobody really knew about it, I could get in and out of there without waiting. I really had to go. When I got there, however, my mother was in there by herself.

She was just sitting there, but I could tell that she was upset about something even though she said that she was okay. She was angry, so mad that she was about to cry. It was all in her eyes. By that time, I had gotten myself boxed in. I had waited too late to get Daddy involved. It was obvious to me that she was in deep already. I knew that this all had something to do with that older photographer. He was way too interested in my mother. He just kept snapping her pictures and watching her like some kind of stalker all night. I saw him. The look in his eye was different. It was as if he wanted to have her, not just look at her. I got nervous, but I couldn’t really tell Daddy anything. He had that gun with him and Daddy’s temper is like mine when it comes to Jennifer Hart. She’s his wife and she’s my mother. But both of us only have one of each of those people and we’ll kill for her if it comes down to it. That’s the honest truth.

I’m still so mad and I still hurt so much. My chest hurts all day long. This is so hard. Daddy is still there watching me write. He said that he would stay with me until I thought that I was finished getting it out of my system. I might get finished writing, but I won’t get this out of my system for a long time. I’m still ready to annihilate that man for putting his hands on her. He had no right.

For some reason, I knew that I could trust Russell Thomas. I don’t know why. I didn’t know him at all, but there was something about him that I picked up on that day at school and that I picked up on in our brief exchange that night. I also noticed that he kept watching his boss watching my mother and that he didn’t like it either. Russell would watch my mother, and watch my father to see if he was watching my mother. I have excellent instincts about people. I just knew that Russell was the key to keeping my mother safe from that man if indeed he was going to be a problem. And I had a hunch that he would be.

I caught Russell outside and asked him what the deal was on his boss and my mother. I needed some concrete facts to justify my feelings about the guy. He revealed to me that they used to know each other along time ago. He didn’t want to tell me too much, but from what little he told me and from what I had observed, the man had a thing for my mother and it wasn’t healthy. I gave Russell my code for Daddy’s gun; the Magnum .357 that he keeps in his car. Daddy has taken my mother, Tommy, and me to the shooting range to teach us how to properly handle firearms. All four of us can operate all kinds of guns. Tommy and I have been taught responsibility and the need for the codes. Daddy taught Tommy because he spends so much time with him and with me. It worked out this time because Tommy knew just what to do and  Russell knew just when to use the code. Tommy must have trusted him too, otherwise Tommy would have come in with the gun himself and got with me to find out what was going down. He’s only sixteen, but Daddy trusts him like a son. In turn, Tommy is very responsible when it comes to us. If I could just get him to be that way about his sex life….

This is so hard. I want to stop, but Daddy said that I can’t. I’ll skip to the chase.

 The man, his name was Andrew Seagren, hurt my mother. He caught her in the back hall and fought with her. She tried to fight him off; cut him up with her nails, I’m told, but then he drugged her until she was just about out. I’m not sure what he wanted to do with her, but I have to assume that it was something bad. Russell Thomas scared him off her with the gun that I sent to him via Tommy before Seagren could get her out of that back hall to his truck. Tommy told me that Daddy busted him in the jaw when he caught up to him, and he knocked him out cold. I’m so happy that Daddy didn’t opt to shoot him. He would have gotten off, I’m sure, but that would have stayed with him for the rest of his life.

It all happened because of me and those stupid pictures. If I hadn’t taken those pictures, he would never have connected with her and none of this would have happened. I do such stupid things sometimes.

I was out in the garden with Wesley when all of this was happening, but I heard the gunshot. I was trying to get back inside to find out what happened. I knew that I had sent the gun in, and that made Russell and Daddy had guns. There was no telling who else had guns in there. I was going crazy.

Nobody would let me back into the back hall to get to my parents. Dr. Kendall was there and she told me that my mother wanted me to go home. I could hear sirens, but they made me go home without seeing her. I didn’t have a clue what happened until later. Russell, Wesley and Tommy took me home. Daddy had the police stationed everywhere when we got here. All three of them came in with me. Russell filled me in on what happened with my mother and Seagren as best he could. I’m still not sure why Seagren did that to her. I want to ask Daddy, but I sense that he can’t talk about it any more than I can.

The guys all stayed with me until the next morning when my parents got home from the hospital. My mother was supposed to be admitted to the hospital that night, but she wouldn’t stay. All of us Harts are stubborn, too much so at times.

She has been so sick since that night. Daddy said that he couldn’t get her to stay in the hospital because she wanted to be at home with us. He said that she insisted on coming home because she didn’t want me to worry or to be away from me. But she sleeps all the time and when she’s awake, her head hurts so bad. Dr. Kendall had her come in on the day before yesterday for more tests, and she let her come back home afterward. She has been calling several times a day to check on her, and she usually comes by daily when she gets finished with her regular practice.

I can’t even look at her, I feel so bad. I know that she wishes that she never had me, I’m so much trouble to her. I’m always doing something wrong or common. Last year I did something stupid and she got sick right behind it; now there’s this. I love her so much, but I keep hurting her and letting her down. I don’t know what to do except to stay out of her way. She never wanted children in the first place and I’m sure that this is one of the things that she had in mind about kids. We’re an awful lot of trouble.

I think that lady or whoever wants me to go to her, and I’m going to go for a little while just to keep from getting that ethereal visit she promised me if I didn’t. I really don’t believe in that stuff, but just in case I’m going to follow through. If she shows up in here with me one night with the state I’m in, I’ll go around the bend for sure.

I wonder if Daddy hates me too. I’ve always known that he loves my mother more than he loves me, and I am after all, the one who got her hurt.

No, he’s looking at me now. He loves me; I can tell from his eyes. His love for me maybe is just different than his love for my mother. We are too much alike, him and me, for him not to love me. You know, come to think of it, I really think that I’m probably over here writing for both of us and that’s why he won’t let me stop. I wonder if Jennifer Hart sent him in here to get the poison out of his system too? That sounds like her. She knows both of us so well.

I hope my mother still loves me.

God, please let her still love me.

I’m going to be sick again.

J.J.

June 12       7:16 P.M.

I went in to my mother this afternoon. She was in the bed. Daddy won’t let her up too much because she still has bad dizzy spells. I sat in the chair across from her. I couldn’t get close to her. I just couldn’t. We didn’t talk much. I didn’t ask her how she felt. I knew that she felt terrible. I knew that she would just try to cover it up and that would hurt me even more. She asked me when I was going back to school. I told her that I didn’t think I was going back since there was only tomorrow left. She just nodded. I knew that she was really sick when she didn’t fuss about that. School is the utmost with her.

After a few minutes, I left her. I think she wanted me to come closer to her, but I couldn’t.

I’ve been sick in the bathroom all day. Daddy says that it’s the poison leaving my system. He offered me Pepto, but I don’t want to keep anything in or down that needs to come out.

J.J.

_____________________________________________________

June 13

8:45 P.M.

Tommy came by this morning and asked my father if I could ride to school with him. He had his mother’s car. His mother is a senior accountant for Hart Industries. He had dropped her off so that he could keep her car and come for me. He usually rides his new motorcycle, but my mother has always says that I can’t ride with him on it because she thinks that it’s too dangerous. Today was the last day and Tommy wanted me to come to school. He said that everybody missed me and that the last day wouldn’t be fun without me.

I didn’t think that it would be too much fun with me.

Daddy asked me what I thought about it. I decided to go. I figured that I couldn’t feel too much worse than I did.  I thought that maybe being among my friends would cheer me up.

We ended up not going to school right away. Tommy took me to the canyon instead to talk about what happened. I forgot that he was directly involved in all that happened too and probably needed to talk to someone about it. That’s a problem that I have sometimes. I forget that problems that I’m having might impact other people too. I try to fix what’s wrong by myself and I forget that if I shut other people out who might be having the same trouble, I keep them from getting better too. I don’t mean any harm or to be selfish. I just try not to be a bother to anyone about my problems.

Tommy asked about my mother. I didn’t want to talk about her at first, but he has a way of making me do things that I don’t want to do sometimes. He’s about the only person on earth other than my mother who can do that. Not even Marnie can, sometimes not even Daddy can make me. I told him how she was, and he let it go at that. I guess he could see that I was uncomfortable with the topic. She was up this morning taking breakfast in her bedroom. I didn’t even say goodbye to her when I left. I just can’t face her. It’s getting worse with each day that goes by. I just want to fade into the walls when it comes to her.

He said that he had to talk to the police that night about what he saw. He told me that Daddy and Russell left out the part about how the gun got to Russell because they didn’t want Tommy and me involved too much because we’re minors. According to Tommy; Daddy and Russell weaved  their stories together so finely that if you didn’t know, you would have thought that they had come up with the plan themselves and that they had known each other forever. They left us and the code completely out. Tommy just told his part about moving and disabling the car and about his being suspicious about Seagren stealing something from the Country Club

 Tommy said that the police wanted to ask me if I noticed anything, but Daddy didn’t want them talking to me at all. I broke down and told Tommy about the guy stalking my mother that Saturday at the Country Club. He is the only person that I’ve ever talked to about that. He said that I should tell my father. I can’t. He’ll know that I let them down even more than I have. Tommy told me to think about it.

He held my hand the whole while that we were talking. We do that a lot when the conversations turn serious. It’s like we have to connect. There are things that happen in life that link you to certain people no matter what. I think Tommy and I are going to be linked by this thing. I felt a lot better after we talked. It dawned on me that he is really the only person besides this journal that I’ve talked to about any of it. I just listened to Daddy when he told me. There was no discussion of anything. I didn’t think that he was open for too many questions or much give and take of the facts. He isn’t always able to be as candid and objective as my mother. He plays his hand close to his chest. I do too for the most part.

Tommy and I went to breakfast. I wasn’t hungry, but he made me eat anyway. I haven’t been eating much lately; it doesn’t stay with me very long when I do. He told me that he has decided to put his sex life on hold for a while. He said that he thought about what I said, and he knows how guys talk about the girls that they sleep with even though he doesn’t engage in that. He said that he knows the end result is not the same for guys when the girls talk about them,  but he doesn’t want to be put in a category. I asked him what category he was speaking of and he said that he didn’t want to be labeled a stud or a male slut and then when he met someone that he really wanted to be with, she wouldn’t want him because of his reputation. That sounded like a pretty reasonable thing to me.

We got to school around noon. My friends all came around wanting to know where I had been and wanting to know about my mother. I know that they meant well, but I didn’t want to talk about it in general like that. I got overwhelmed and I almost started crying, but I didn’t.

Tommy and Marnie started keeping people off of me. I cleaned out my locker and got the hell out of there. Tommy brought me home. I knew that I shouldn’t have gone to the school. I started to ask him this morning to just tell Marnie to get my stuff, but I thought that I could handle it. She did get the stuff out of my gym locker for me later.

I threw up again on the way home. Tommy had to pull over and let me out. He came around the car and held my head while I was sick. You know you have a real friend when they’ll stay right there with you while you’re giving up ham and eggs down on your hands on knees on the side of the road.

I guess I still have a lot of that poison left in my system.

I only just realized that today was Friday the 13th when I was dating this entry. I’m glad that I did what my grandmother or whoever told me to do about my mother. Maybe she’ll leave me alone tonight and not pay me any unexpected visits. I should have looked at the calendar before I went out of the house this morning.

I don’t believe in superstition, but with the way my life is going, I’m not taking any more unnecessary chances.

J.J.

_____________________________________________________

June 15

7:45 A.M.

I got up and read the Bible this morning. My mother gave it to me on the same day that I got my first period. It was inscribed with my name and the occasion was “on becoming a young woman”. I don’t know what the relationship was supposed to be, but for some reason I always make that connection when I go to it. Maybe that is the connection.

Although I know the Books in it pretty well, I don’t do that a lot, read the Bible, that is. But I’m deteriorating emotionally and I didn’t know where else to turn. Despite what my mother said, I didn’t think that my guardian angel could find me at all. Why did I continue to feel so badly if she was with me all of the time?

And I still felt like I wanted to massacre Mr. Seagren for hurting my mother and I needed to deal with that  rage inside of me. I honestly felt like I could blow his whole head off and not care one iota about splattering his brains.  I knew that it wasn’t healthy for me to feel like that, but I do know now that it’s in me to do so. It’s more than a little scary.

I have a secret favorite CD. It belongs to my mother and it’s really old. It’s by this brother and sister called the Carpenters. They are the ones that did my parents’ song. The cut that I like is called “Rainy Days and Mondays”. I don’t tell a lot of my friends about it. Most of them would really laugh at me because they think only the new stuff is worth listening to, but Karen Carpenter had the most beautiful voice. My mother told me that she died rather young of anorexia, which was so sad for somebody of her phenomenal talent.. I wanted to hear that so I put my headphones on. That song I mentioned particularly applies to my life right now. I’ve got the serious blues, and it does seem funny that the only thing to do is to run and find the one who loves me. She is the one I always end up with in these situations. But I can’t. I don’t think that she wants me. I put the CD on loop and it played in my ears and in my head over and over.

I love the Psalms of David. Those and Proverbs are my favorite parts of the Bible. I sometimes find comfort in reading them when I’m in trouble. I figured this was prime time. While I was listening to the CD, I turned to the Psalms this morning and I was reading 31:3. It says:

 “Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me and guide me.”

I was sitting on the end of my bed with my door open. It was as if God could hear me and actually bent down and took time to hear little bitty me in his grand scheme of things. I could feel somebody near me. I looked behind me and my mother was standing there with her hands in her robe pockets watching me from out in the hall. She didn’t say anything and she didn’t come any closer; she only stood there for a moment. My eyes met hers for the briefest second and then she turned around and went back to her room. I heard her close her door.

I unfolded that piece of paper that I keep with me when I have big trouble. I had gotten it out of my wallet and I had stuck it in the pages of my Bible when I pulled it down from the shelf this morning. It was that passage that I copied out of my mother’s  journal that time that I was little and I sneaked and read it. It’s about me not being planned by her, but obviously being planned for her by God. She wrote that when he sent me to her, she took me into her heart.

I wonder if I’m still in there?

If I ran to her, would she want to listen to me?

I’m her daughter. We’re a part of each other. How can she hate me? She can’t hate me.

But why didn’t she stay with me?

All I can do is lay on my bed, listen to the music, and let this day go by too.

J.J.

_____________________________________________________

June 16

9:15 P.M.

I have been crying all day. I’ve never cried so much in my life, but every time I think I’m going to stop, I start all over again.

But it’s good crying.

It’s over and the poison has been coming out of me since this morning. I’ve been crying and I’ve been sick since I was with my mother this afternoon. This is the sickest time that I have ever had in my life too. I am so sore all over.

She made it all come out. She doesn’t hate me after all. She loves me and I love her more than ever. It’s such a relief to not feel that pain in my chest any more. I hope I never am challenged like that again. The devil had me down, but my parents, Tommy, and I wrestled him to the mat and beat him right back to hell where he belongs.

It’s funny how even though I don’t really consider myself overly religious most of the time, when my back is against the wall, the first person I call upon is God. He heard my prayers this time. There really is a God. Don’t let anybody tell you that there isn’t one of some kind for everyone. I know it for sure now and he does more than just make sure that you get a good escort for a ball.

I was wondering where my guardian angel had been during these last dark days. I thought that I had gotten lost from her, but she’s been guiding me all the time. I think she called me up on the phone, and she made me go into my parents’ room that morning, even though I never have done that before. I think it was her who kept Daddy asleep and holding onto my mother. She made me reach for that Bible that morning. She sent my mother out into that hall  to check on me, and she sent her downstairs to me today. She has been there all the time, I just didn’t recognize her.

I now suspect that my guardian angel is my grandmother, Suzanne Edwards. I have always heard French being spoken in the back of my head all of my life, French numbers and words like echoes, but I never paid much attention to it until now. I always thought that it was because French is second nature to me. As a baby that was what my mother spoke to me mostly. I have spoken French and English from the time that I could talk. When I started Kindergarten, the teachers had to remind me all the time to separate the two languages. Maybe I hear it because my French grandmother has been whispering in my ear all of my life. I have to start paying more attention. I need to pay more attention, period.

I haven’t been sleeping well. Lately I’ve been waking up more and more often during the night. Last night, I woke up and called Tommy. We talked until about three or four in the morning. I thought for sure that my mother was going to cut in and make me get off like she usually does, but she didn’t. She must have been asleep. Or she must have known that I needed to talk and cut me some slack. She’s smart like that about me.

Since I couldn’t sleep, I got up early this morning and went for a swim before my parents got up. My mother is up and around more. I didn’t want to have breakfast with her; I still felt sick and I still couldn’t face her. So I stayed out at the pool reading, listening to music, and thinking for most of the morning. I leave for my annual visit to France on the weekend. I was thinking that if I could stay out of her way and just get through this week, I could be out of her hair for two weeks. She could have some free time to herself without having to be bothered with me, my problems, and my behavior.

I don’t know how long I had been out there, but Daddy had come out a long time before to tell me that he was leaving for work. She put him out of the house and sent him back to work a couple of days ago because he was getting on her nerves. He told me to listen out for her and to make sure that I took care of whatever she needed while he was gone. I said that I would just like I have since he’s been back to to work. But she never needs anything. She does what she needs to do herself, except for going out. She hasn’t done that yet because she still gets dizzy occasionally. I was still musing, when I happened to look back and I could see that she was sitting in the great room window on the window seat.

I turned back around, but then I thought about it. Dr. Kendall said that she could fall asleep without knowing it. I went in to tell her to lay down on the couch. I didn’t want her to fall from there and hurt herself if she was asleep. Sure enough, when I got inside to her, she was sitting there with her eyes closed. But, when I called her, it turned out that she was just thinking; she wasn’t asleep. She reached for me and it scared me. I stepped back from her. I hadn’t been that close to her since the night that we went to the ball. It felt foreign and strange to have her touch me.

That made her mad, I think. She waits for me when I have a problem and I think that she was tired of waiting for me. But it was as if I was afraid to be near her, to talk to her, to have her touch me. I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I just couldn’t deal with it. I have never felt that way about her. I love to be with her and to be close to her, but not this morning. This morning I wanted to run away from her.

She asked me what she had done to me to make me avoid her like I was doing. She wanted to know if she had made me angry with her. I could not believe it! She thought that I was mad at her and that was why I was staying away! Why would I be mad at her? I almost got her- I’m the reason for all of this mess, and she wanted to know if I was mad at her. I felt even worse than ever. She has the biggest heart of anybody I’ve ever seen.

What could she possibly have done to me to make me stay away from her? Even when she has made me mad, I didn’t want to not be with her.  I couldn’t put my feelings into words right away to answer her; she had me floored. But she was pressing me with her eyes to tell her what was on my mind. I guess that she needed to know how I was feeling as much as I needed to know about what happened with her and about some things surrounding this whole episode.

I told her that I felt bad because if I hadn’t taken those pictures none of it would have happened. She and Mr. Seagren wouldn’t have had any need to cross paths again if it hadn’t been for those pictures. And then I asked her what I couldn’t ask Daddy. It would have torn his heart out to talk about it; I asked her if that guy was trying to kill her.

She must have known how hard it was for me to ask her. That was when she reached for me. I was scared to let her touch me. I don’t know why. But she kept on until I finally let her pull me over to her after she made me sit down next to her. She told me that she didn’t think that he wanted to kill her. She explained to me that they used to date. I knew that meant that they were lovers at one time; my mother can soft pedal at times for the sake of good taste. She said that she realized too late that he only liked her for how she looked and she left him. When they met again a couple of weeks ago that was what he was attracted to again, and even more so that night. She always looks good but she did look especially good that night. She told me that he wanted her to go with him to have sex even though it had been years since he had been with her, and he knew that she was married and deeply in love with my father.

See what I say about guys and sex? She told me that just because a guy says that he wants to make love, that doesn’t mean that he’s in love with you. I had already figured that out from Tommy’s behavior with his lady friends. It’s probably true the other way around sometimes too, like with Milini and her scorebook. Sex and love seem to be two very different things. I’m holding out for the right one at the right time. It will be on my terms when I decide to give myself to someone. He will be very deserving of J.J. Hart’s affections and I will want him to have me just as much as he wants me. Love is a two-way street, my mother says, I understand the meaning behind that and I sincerely believe her.

According to my mother, Mr. Seagren was not in his right mind. I respect her opinion, but personally I don’t think that he was all that crazy. I reluctantly told her about him stalking her at the Country Club. Nobody knows that I know this, but I heard Daddy talking on the patio to Captain Gray. They found some other pictures in Seagren’s studio that he had taken of her too, all around the city. It was obvious from them that he was sexually attracted her. She doesn’t know about those. I don’t think that Daddy would tell her about that. Captain Gray had them with him but Daddy didn’t want to see them. He told him to just get rid of them.

That man better hope that I don’t ever run into him when I’m grown. I won’t kill him, but I will make his life a living hell. I promise him that from the bottom of my heart. Vengeance may belong to the Lord, but earthly payback for this incident is coming from J.J. Hart.

Thinking about all of that, I felt sick again. It all came to the top and I started to cry. I didn’t want to cry, but I’ve been holding it in too long. Looking at her and thinking about everything that could have happened if he had gotten her out of there- he could have hurt her, he could have killed her, he could have raped her- which would have been worse for her than if he just killed her- it scared me and I just let the tears go. I could do that with my mother. She understands when and why I cry.

When I was finally able to stop for a few minutes, we talked about the pictures themselves. She told me again that she didn’t like me exploiting my looks. I realized then that I had never straightened her out on the facts behind those pictures. I let her know that was not the original intention. I just wanted some pictures that looked like the real me. The ones that I took for her were actually the fakes; those aren’t me. I’m not silk, curls, and diamonds; I’m jeans and boots, ponytail, and diamonds.

I even told her about the cigar and delicately alluded to having seen her with one. She could tell that I had from what I said, but neither of us went there all the way. I didn’t realize at that time that she hadn’t completely put it together that we had sold the pictures to raise some of the money that we donated, and I let the cat out of the bag. I wasn’t operating at my full capacity and I slipped up, but it needed to be told anyway so it was no big deal at that point. I explained to her that it got started over the bet between Marnie and me. Marnie won and I had to allow her to sell the pictures. I couldn’t welch on a bet.

I also told her that I couldn’t help how I looked on the pictures. That’s what I look like, and I look like her. She should know about that. She was the one who told me that the camera doesn’t lie. This time she just nodded, like my Daddy would when he knows that I’m making sense out of a “common” situation that I had gotten myself into.

She ended up not fussing about anything. She just said that I had too much “disposable income” when I told her that I bought and sold six whole packages and then some. She said that my allowance needed adjusting.

Whatever.

I had to let her know about us, her and me. I told her that I stayed away from her because I was so ashamed that I got her hurt. Every time that I saw her sleeping during the day or sick with those headaches it would all rush back and make me sick. Then I apologized to her. Her eyes made me cry all over again. she said that I’m stuck with her for life and beyond. I think it’s the other way around, but I don’t ever argue with her.

I’m a big girl, but I let her hug me and hold onto me like I was a baby. I am, after all, the only baby she has. She’s the only mother that I have.

I’m still kicking Seagren’s ass, one way or the other, at my earliest opportunity if he’s still alive and crosses my path when I’m legally grown.

This is probably my most rambling journal entry ever, but I had a lot to say and my mind is not the best these days. It all boils down to one thing anyway:  The Duchess loves me no matter how bad I am and I really needed to know that.

Thanks, Grandmama.

Your daughter’s daughter,

Justine Jennifer

_____________________________________________________

June 18    

3:35 P.M.

I missed writing all day yesterday because I slept most of the day.

I got up early feeling sick. My mother said that I was run down and that I looked thin to her. She gave me some Pepto after I had breakfast and she sent me back to bed. I didn’t want to go, but she made me. I started out reading, but then I fell asleep. When I woke up, she was asleep on my bed lying next to me. She hasn’t taken a nap with me since I was a real little girl, probably since I was about six. I’ve never slept in her bed to remember it, but she used to always lay down with me when I had to take naps. She would read to me until I went to sleep. This time she was the one that was asleep. It felt good to have her there and not across the hall with the door closed.

I put the cover on her and went back to sleep. I slept until late afternoon. She was still there asleep when I woke up. She must have been run down too. I wonder if she was as stressed worrying about me falling out with her as I was about worrying over her hating me. Neither one of us had anything to stress about, especially not her.

I pulled the comforter up over her arms and I left her there.

I was hungry. I went downstairs to see what Marie had fixed. Daddy was at the kitchen table. Dinner was ready and he was glad to see me up and ready to eat. He asked about my mother. I told him that she was still sleeping. He said that he was going up to get her because she had gotten far too skinny for him and she needed to get up and eat. He  went upstairs for her. I kept eating.

She needs to gain weight, but I don’t care what she looks like as long as she’s there for me.

After I ate dinner, I went up and took a shower. That must have relaxed me because I went right back to bed and slept all night without writing in my journal or anything. When I woke up it was today.

My mother took Marnie and me shopping. This was my mother’s first day out, driving and all. She seems to be back to her old self. She bought me a lot of things for my trip. I leave on Sunday. I almost wish that I wasn’t going. Almost- I love France and I love Aunt Sabrina. I wish that my mother was going with me for the two weeks, but I know that while I’m gone, Marie takes her vacation and she and Daddy have time alone together. Behind everything that’s happened, they need that. I’ll see her in two weeks when she comes for me. Perhaps Daddy will come after her to get both of us. They don’t ever fly together if it’s just the two of them. One of them will fly commercial and the other will either be on the jet or take another commercial flight. If it’s all three of us, then we all fly together. It’s a safety precaution they say, for me. I don’t like thinking about it.

Marnie said that she missed having me with her on the last days. It wasn’t the same as it usually is, when we both nearly get sent home at least once. But, she said that everyone that knew about it was down about what happened, and they understood my need to stay close to home. It’s good to know that other people think about you in times of trouble. Maybe some of them were praying for us too.

Daddy came to the tennis courts with me and we played a couple of sets. We stopped when his back got tight and we sat down to talk. I asked him if he was going to prosecute Mr. Seagren. He  told me that he wasn’t going to have him brought up on charges. The District Attorney could go ahead with an indictment if he wanted to pursue the matter. Daddy said that he was going to hit him where it hurt. His attorneys are working on it.

He took me by the hands and said that he wanted to tell me how proud he was of me. I asked him why he would be proud of me considering all that happened. He said that if it hadn’t been for me being on top of things that night, Seagren might have gotten her out of there without anybody knowing it in time to stop him. He said that it was because of me that everybody else was on their toes. The hired security didn’t have wind of anything until it had all gone down. I told him how bad I felt about taking those pictures, and he said for me not to regret that. Those pictures were all me and he knew it from the beginning- the day that we both got in trouble for them. Daddy said for me not to go changing on him; he loved me just like I am: Miss Incorrigible- incapable of being corrected. He said that Seagren’s obsession didn’t have anything to do with me. It started long before either one of us came on the scene, but that he (Daddy) was about to put an end it. He said that in his office, he replaced the lame picture with the one of me with the card and the cigar. I told you, Daddy is the man. He knows that real is real.

I feel sorry for Mr. Seagren. Daddy is going to take his balls and crush them like two grapes in a rusty metal vise, I know it. He had that too calm, strictly business look. I know the feeling behind that look. Daddy also knows that I now know the feeling personally. I am going to be every bit like my father when I am a woman. I am his daughter and I have tasted from his cup.

J.J. Hart

_____________________________________________________

June19

My mother has this new Victoria’s Secret catalog. I saw this bra and panty set in it that I want. I showed it to her and asked her about it. She gave me that look like I was acting common again, but it was so pretty and so sexy. She said that I didn’t need that kind of stuff to go to France in, but that maybe we could look into it when I get back. Whoa! A light at the end of the tunnel!

She let me go off with Tommy for a while. He had his mother’s car again. We went down to Marnie’s and got her. Then we drove over to Deon’s and got him and Charmaine. We all went to the mall and hung out for a while. Philly and her friends were there. I did a little more shopping and then we all ate.

Tommy and I dropped our passengers back off at their houses and they all told me that they would see me when I got back from my trip. I’m going to miss the crew, but it’s so good to feel like myself again. I didn’t know how much I liked being J.J. Hart until I almost wasn’t her any more.

Tommy had to have me back home by seven; that was my curfew. So we went back, but he stayed for a while. We walked on the grounds, and talked about things in general- what we were going to be doing, things that had happened. I’m going to miss him. He said that he was glad that I felt better too. Then he teased me about how gross it was when I was throwing up that day. I told him that he must not have thought that it was too gross. He stayed right there with me until I was finished. He didn’t say anything to that so I looked up at him. He just smiled. He has the best dimples and eyes for a guy.

We went out to the gazebo- yes the one that we got caught kissing in a long time ago- to sit. Tommy Steele told me that I was pretty and that he was going to miss me a lot while I was gone. Then he kissed me- right on the lips. I wasn’t mad at him about it, it felt good this time to be kissed by Tommy; but I asked him why he did that. He said that he just felt like it; I was good people and that I deserved to be kissed. He told me that he felt so bad for me because he knows how much I love my mother and how much pain I must have been in if it was making me sick like that. I asked him to stop talking about it because he was going to make me cry again. I took his hand and we walked like that back to my house.

Good Night

_____________________________________________________

June20   

9:50P.M.

It’s been a day.

I spent all morning with my mother and Marie picking out things to take with me. My mother was nixing half of the things that I was pulling out and I was whining about the things that she was coming up with. It was all for naught anyway. Aunt Sabrina is going to take me shopping when I get there. That is one of the first things that we do. She lets me get whatever I want. It will be strumpet and harlot all the way while I’m in Perpignan. Aunt Sabrina says that I should flaunt it while I have it because tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. Her favorite saying is “I did it when I could do it.” I think that’s a whole lot better than “I wish I had.” My great-aunt wears thong panties and she’s over seventy years old. She let me get some last summer, but she told me to leave them at her house when it was time for me to go home. She didn’t think that “her Jennifer” would understand the need for those. I don’t think it would be Jennifer that would have the problem; it would more likely be Jonathan if he found out about it..

In the early afternoon Daddy came and got me. We went to our bank where he had a ridiculously large amount of money transferred into my account. That money will be able to be accessed by an international ATM card if I need it. I seldom do. Aunt Sabrina provides me with all that I need. Even if she didn’t, there is so much money in my account that I never use. I don’t think Daddy realizes how much money I don’t spend. He gives me an allowance and most of the time I never even use it. The little money that I need, like for lunch and stuff, I can win playing cards or I just happen to have on me. The only time that I really need money is when I go shopping and most of the time he gives me money for that when I say that’s where I’m going.

Now if I tell my mother that I’m going shopping, like with Marnie or my girlfriends or something like that, the first thing she asks if I have my ATM card for my personal account. She does not finance my shopping junkets to the mall. If I’m dealing with her, she makes me use my own money. Unless we’re on Rodeo, then we use Daddy’s cards.

This afternoon, Russell Thomas came by with my mother’s pictures from the ball. Even though thinking about the ball still makes me a little edgy, I did want to see the pictures. I love looking at photographs.

Russell is a really good guy. He had special pictures made for all three of us and he framed them to be keepsakes.

My mother’s was the picture of Daddy and me when we were dancing and he was chewing me out about the boots. My mother started wondering where she was when the picture was taken. I had to get her mind off that. I don’t know where she was, but I knew where I had been. My snakeskin boots were safe in my closet. I didn’t want her having any flashbacks or Daddy helping her to connect the dots. We have been getting along just fine these days.

Daddy had two pictures in a double frame. One was of the three of us together. The other was the one where they were kissing on the ballroom floor. It was a beautiful shot of them. Really romantic. Daddy loved both of them.

But mine, it choked me up completely . It was a picture of my mother and father. They were dancing to their song and looking at each other. It was totally Jonathan and Jennifer Hart: Hart to Hart. If my mother ever writes a story about their affair, that would be a great name. I thought of how close they came to losing that on that night and it took my breath away. I had to give Russell that kiss he asked me for that day at the school. Russell does not know how much he means to me and my life. I’m connected to him too, through that night. I put my trust in him on three occasions and not once did he let me down. The first time I was just having fun, the second time I had to go with my hunches, and that last one saved my my sanity. I realize now that my mother means everything to me. I will always be indebted to him for that.

I had to go out of the room. I went upstairs and cried again. I think that was the last of the poison.

But its still going to take some time for me to get all the way past this.

I remembered that Mr. Seagren was taking pictures of them when they were dancing. I’m sure that he took that picture. If so, maybe he really was hurting and out of his mind because he couldn’t have what my mother and father have between them. It wasn’t a reason to do what he did, I don’t forgive him, but I can understand that you do what you think you have to do when your back is against the wall. He just tried to do what he thought he had to do with the wrong one. He just didn’t know it at the time.

He knows it now, though. Daddy took his business from him in exchange for him not pressing charges. He took it all and made him walk away from it with nothing. He preferred that to doing time, I guess or suffering any further retribution from my father. I don’t think that Daddy would have been finished with it like that if Seagren hadn’t agreed to his terms. My father is a pretty personable man on the surface, but he has this cold side. He can be lethal without taking a physical life.

Daddy took over Elite Photography Studio and handed the daily operations to Russell Thomas. Russell’s business is now a division of Hart Industries. I told you that if Daddy sees potential in someone, he’ll make a way for them. They have to hold their own once he gets them in the door, but people seldom let him down. I don’t think that Russell will. Russell saved Jennifer Hart and to Jonathan Hart that is a debt that will be a long time being repaid. Daddy is going to bring him along and he won’t let him fall. I’m glad that Russell is going to be around. He seems like a lot of fun under normal circumstances. I hope that we cross paths again, especially once I’m twenty-one. I sense a serious party animal in him.

_____________________________________________________

June21

8:27 P.M.

Hairdresser, manicure, pedicure, dental checkup, physical,  luggage, passport, goodbyes, etc., etc.

I am so tired.

Good Night

_____________________________________________________

June 22

1:45 P.M.

We just took off. It was smooth, like always with Uncle Frank at the controls.

We’re in the sky on our way to Paris. We’ll take a train from there to Perpignan. My mother is sitting across from me. She’s escorting me this time, so Daddy had the jet fired up for us and stayed behind. Usually Daddy and Uncle Frank fly with me to make this trip. This time my mother wanted to go. She’s not staying with me in France. She’ll return home Monday evening after Uncle Frank and his co-pilot, Harry rest up.

Daddy came to talk to me late last night. He said that she told him that she really didn’t want me to go to France this year. She feels that we lost so much time in the last couple of weeks; that she wanted to take me to Barcelona instead by herself this year, just the two of us. We both adore Barcelona, but she knows how much I enjoy my time with Aunt Sabrina and her friends, the “Eccentrics”. He said that she wanted to stay with me until the last possible moment. That is why she opted to come on this plane trip.

What, me worry about my mother loving me?

She has her eyes closed. I hope she feels okay. She needs to gain her weight back, though. That’s all right. She’s got a day and night with her Aunt Sabrina. She’ll make her eat once she sees how thin she is. French cuisine, ummmmm! for two weeks…..ahhhhh…..

 I’ll ask Aunt Sabrina about that early morning phone call. She’ll know if that was her sister or not. It doesn’t really matter; I’m still going with the thought that it was her anyway.

Daddy told me that when I get back, he’s arranging for all of us to spend two weeks at our ranch in Nevada in late July/early August. I can’t wait to see the horses, especially Sam. My mother and I ride all day. We never get tired. We often go out and leave Daddy behind on the hammock.

Right before I left home, I went out to the pool house and had a little rite of passage ceremony all by myself. I took that paper that I copied out of my mother’s journal and I put it in a metal ash tray. I set fire to it and let it burn all the way up. Then I took the ashes that were left over and I sprinkled them in the Jennifer Hart roses in Max’s garden. I didn’t need to keep that any more. The words and the meaning behind them are safe inside my heart. I don’t need the paper for that.

When I do get back home I am really going to be the daughter that she needs for me to be. I need to grow up. I’m not going to change myself. I’m just going to pay more attention to what’s important- and listen to that French in my head.

Bon après-midi!

With love,

Justine Jennifer Hart aka J.J.

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