Blackie glared at the two rowdy college boys who were sitting in the back of the Dye Bar, making loud crude comments about some of the other patrons. She glanced at Blondie, who nodded slightly, just enough to get the message across.
Blackie smiled and walked over to the boys. "Excuse me," she said in her toughest-yet-politest voice. "I think it's time you should be going..."
One of the boys made a slight gesture as if to protest, but a raised eyebrow on Blackie's part turned them pale and apologizing profusely as they scurried to the door.
Blackie chuckled, but straightened when she felt a tap on her shoulder. She whirled around, preparing for trouble. "Yeah?"
A shorter woman stood there, looking at her quizzically. "Are you Soft Black?" she asked.
"Who's askin'?" Blackie drawled.
The woman smiled. "Your parole officer." She held out her hand. "Dolcetto."
Blackie automatically straightened, falling back into her bulldagger attitude. "No way," she said, looking over the . "My parole officer is older, taller, and I'm sure a lot wiser than you." She shook her head. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I do have a job to do..." She brushed past the other woman.
"Your new parole officer," the woman said pointedly. "And this new job is exactly what I've come to talk to you about." She flipped open a notebook. "It says clearly that you're not allowed to work, socialize, even be in bars as a requirement of your parole, because of your alcoholism."
Blackie froze, turning around to look back at the woman. "What?" she asked in surprise. "I'm not an alcoholic!"
Dolcetto rolled her eyes. "Yeah, yeah, that's what all the alkies say...then they crash into someone's car and kill two kids like you did."
Blackie just shook her head, turning to walk back to the bar. "I didn't kill any kids," she said loudly. She gestured to Blondie for a beer, then turned around as she heard Dolcetto's footsteps behind her. "I..." Her voice grew low. "I killed a big ugly biker dyke who liked to beat up her girlfriend," she said angrily at Dolcetto. "That's it."
Dolcetto frowned. "Wait a minute..." She started flipping through her notebook, going through documents.
"Shit," she said after awhile. "You're Soft Matte Black. I was looking at Soft Shiny Black's File."
"Christ," Blackie swore, looking over the bar, and trying to ignore the curious look from Blondie. "I don't have time for this--"
"However," the little brunette interrupted. "I think this would be an excellent time to go over your file," she said triumphantly as she led Blackie over to a nearby table. After sitting, she opened her notebook to a particular place and began to read. "Soft Matte Black, born in Cherry Bark, New Mexico in 1959..." Blackie sighed loudly as she sat down, but Dolcetto continued. "Long list of juvenile offenses, history of riding with a variety of biker gangs, then ten years ago, you were convicted of manslaughter for killing another biker in a bar brawl, a woman named..." She turned the page in her notebook. "Beverly Malters, aka Big Mama or BM." She stopped and looked up at Blackie. "Did I forget anything?"
Blackie sighed again and looked towards the doorway of the bar. "Yeah..." she said tiredly. "Red...."
"Who's she?" Blackie asked, stopping her fiddling with her bike to peer at the petite redhead wandering conspicuously among the other bikers.
Crystal peered over the top of her sunglasses at the woman in question. She shook her head, her long brown hair flying. "Nope, Blackie, don't even bother. Marked territory. Big Mama's."
Blackie's gaze didn't falter. "What's her name?"
"I don't know...Red something..." Crystal slid her sunglasses off and stared hard at Blackie. "I mean it, Blackie," she said firmly. "Remember what happened the last time someone messed with Big Mama's girl?"
Both woman looked over at Chris and her large black eyepatch. Blackie shrugged. "Big Mama can't touch me just for lookin'," she said.
Crystal swore and slid her glasses back on. "Just don't get your face bashed in," she said in a warning voice. "Or worse..."
In another section of the bar, Ruby and Copper sat in a small corner table, Ruby occasionally rubbing a stockinged foot up Copper's calf while Copper would giggle and nuzzle her neck. Copper looked across the bar, then murmured something.
"What, baby?" Ruby said, leaning closer, fully expecting to be propositioned and looking forward to that idea.
"What happened between Red and Blackie?" Copper asked, wrapping an arm around Ruby's waist.
Her girlfriend blinked a few times, suddenly having to change tracks. "Are you sure that's what you wanted to ask me?"
Copper nodded. "Yeah...it just seems strange, you know?" She nuzzled Ruby's neck again. "So what happened?"
Ruby sighed in disappointment, looking out over the bar. "Well, I don't know the whole story, but..."
"What do you mean you're dropping out?" Ruby looked at the slightly older girl in shock. "You're a senior! You have a semester left!"
Red just shook her head, looking down at the stacks of books around her small dorm bed. "I can't do it anymore, Ruby," she said in a strained voice. "I just can't." She took a deep breath. "My dad's dying and the house is falling apart and just everything..." She looked up in tears. "I can't do this anymore. I can't pretend that I'm doing fine when I'm going crazy inside."
"Red..." Ruby sat down next to her roommate and put her arms around her. "I'm here for you, if you need me."
"I know, I know..." Red said quietly. "And I appreciate it, I do, but...God, you're so young..." She shrugged off the other woman's arms. "I just can't deal with this right now. I'm sorry..." She picked up her bookbag and left the room.
Red rested on her bed, an old comfortable quilt wrapped around her as she talked into the phone. "Dark Red? It's me." She took a deep breath. "She's here."
On the other end of the line, Dark Red frowned as she sat in her desk chair. "Who?"
Dark Red shuddered as she remembered the dark haired woman from the trial. "She's in Rosewood again?"
"Yeah," Red said, wrapping herself even tighter in the quilt. "She just got out of jail, and she came back to Rosewood..." Red rubbed her forehead. "I don't know what to do, Dark Red. I..." She took a deep breath. "I'm just glad I'm off work tonight."
Dark Red continued to frown. "Do you still have feelings for her?"
Red bit her lip. "I...I don't know..." She took another deep breath. "We were sort of trying to date, to be normal...but, God, how could we ever be normal?" Her voice grew higher in pitch as she continued, until, finally, she was choking back a sob.
"Red..." Dark Red's voice was soothing. "Honey, please, pull yourself together...this isn't like you..."
Red took a number of deep, even breaths, then continued. "I know, sis, I know...but she gets me all tied up in knots. She always has..."
Red held onto Big Mama's arm as the taller woman introduced her to some of the other bikers. She'd been hitching when Big Mama had met her in a hotel bar.
BM, as she liked to be called, had fended off some of Red's unwanted male suitors, then spent the rest of the evening buying drinks for Red until the younger woman was so drunk, she barely remembered her name. Next thing Red knew, she was on the back of a bike, with BM promising to keep her safe, all the while calling her "sugar."
"Hey, you listenin'?" BM squeezed her arm roughly, making Red wince. "Oh, I'm sorry, sugar. But pay attention, alright?"
Red nodded. She liked Big Mama, who was tough enough to be the leader of a fairly large biker gang, and hot to match, a great big "diesel dyke," as her old friend Blaze would have called her, with sleeked back blonde hair and bulging biceps.
"Chris! C'mon over here and meet Red," BM yelled. Red watched as a short, stocky woman walked over, one of her eyes obscured by an eyepatch. "This is my new girl, Red..."
Chris looked Red over coolly, and then walked away without a word.
"Did I do something wrong?" Red asked, looking up at BM with wide eyes.
"Nah..." BM shrugged. "She's probably still pissed about her eye. Slashed it up really nice one night..." She laughed loudly, then slung an arm around Red. "Let's go to my tent, sugar..."
Red nodded, then turned around suddenly, getting the uncomfortable feeling that someone was watching her.
Across the campground, she could see two women, one tall with brown hair, the other shorter and darker watching her. The sunlight glinted off the sunglasses of the brunette as she turned to the shorter woman and whispered something. The dark-haired woman still stared at Red though. Red shuddered, then quickly followed BM.
"I don't know what to do, I really don't," Red said as she pulled the blanket around her more tightly. "I gave her a job at the bar..."
"Why did you do that?" Dark Red frowned. "Red, she's not stable, you know that from the trial...and she's killed before..."
"She was trying to protect me, Dark Red..." Red sat up. "I didn't want her to leave, and I think..." Her voice grew soft. "I think I still love her."
"Red..." Dark Red's voice grew strident. "Honey, she's not good for you." She paused. "Look, I'm coming down there. You need someone to be with you."
Red nodded, sniffling. "Yes...please..."
"So you see this Red, you like her, and what?" Dolcetto peered at Blackie through the smoke of the bar. "What led you to manslaughter?"
Blackie shrugged, uncomfortable. "I started hanging around her, one thing led to another, and we ended up hooking up one night when BM was out of town." She shifted in her seat and signaled Blondie for another beer.
"Are you sure you're not an alcoholic?" the other woman asked as she sipped her bottled water, her eyebrow raised.
Blackie glared at Dolcetto. "Very sure."
Dolcetto leaned back slightly, her hands raised. "All right, all right..." She looked down at the notebook again. "So, anyway..."
"Right..." Blackie nodded at Blondie as he set the beer on the table, then moved away. "Like I said, one thing led to another, we got more and more serious, and then one night, I find bruises on her ribs." She took a long swig of her beer, then looked back at her parole officer. "It turns out that fucking bitch had been beating the crap out of her."
Dolcetto frowned. "So why didn't you just leave with her?"
"She made me promise not to...she was afraid of what BM would do..."
Blackie looked down at Red, noticing the tears spilling Red's cheeks. "That bad, eh?" Blackie joked, slightly uncomfortable.
Red shook her head. "No..." she whispered. "I...I love you, Blackie."
"I..." Blackie's voice trailed off, letting her eyes trace over the dark bruises on Red's arms and chest. "I won't let her hurt you anymore..." She wrapped her arms around Red's shoulders. "Let's get the hell out of here..."
Red straightened, looking up at Blackie with panic. "No, don't say that!" she said frantically. "She'll find us and...and..." She reached up and grasped Blackie's shoulders. "Please don't do anything."
"She's going to kill you one of these days!"
Red turned away from Blackie. "Please, Blackie," she said softly. "Promise me..."
The older woman closed her eyes and sighed. "All right, I promise," she said in a defeated voice. "But, baby..."
Red reached up, stroking Blackie's hair. "Shh..." She leaned forward just long enough to give Blackie a quick hug. "I have to go soon...or she'll know I've been gone..."
Blackie let Red bring her closer. Just before their foreheads touched, Blackie whispered, "I love you."
"Okay, Blackie, darlin', watch this shot. Eight ball in the left corner pocket."
Blackie snorted. "Yeah, and I'm Jesus Christ."
"Fuck off," Crystal said cheerfully. "Just watch me." She leaned over the pool table, lining up her shot.
"All right..." Blackie said absentmindedly as she watched Big Mama and Red sitting at the bar. Big Mama had one hand wrapped firmly around Red's upper arm. Blackie ground her teeth as she remembered the thumb-sized bruises that she had seen on Red the night before.
"Did ya hear me? It's your turn!" Crystal shook Blackie's shoulder. "I know what you're looking at, Blackie," she said in a low voice. "Don't fuck everything up."
Blackie took the cue stick from Crystal and took her shot, all without saying a word. She jumped the cue ball, making it sail off the table, nearly hitting Crystal. Several of the other women snickered.
"Jesus, Blackie!" Crystal reached down and picked up the ball. "Trying to kill me or something?"
"No, I..." Blackie faded off as she saw Red cry out. Big Mama slapped some money down on the bar, then grabbed Red and pulled her roughly. Blackie's fists clenched.
"I said it was your turn again, Blackie. Pay attention, damn it!"
"Yeah, yeah..." Blackie took the cue back, keeping one eye focused on Red and Big Mama's progress across the bar. Her fingers tightened as she saw Big Mama swear at Red.
"Blackie..." Crystal growled. "I said not to fuck it up."
Blackie's fingers tightened even harder around the cue. "I promised her, Crystal..." she said in a low angry voice.
Crystal sighed. "C'mon," she said tiredly. "I'll buy you a beer..." She grabbed Blackie's shoulder and began to pull her towards the bar.
At the same moment, Red stumbled, falling against Big Mama. Big Mama cursed and swung at her, splitting her lip.
Red cried out in pain, and Blackie spun around, staring at her. She saw the blood on Red's lip and her vision went red.
Blackie started towards the pair, turning the pool cue in her hands. When she reached Big Mama, she swung it around, heading directly for Big Mama's head.
"What the--" Big Mama spun around, just in time for Blackie's swing to hit her square in the nose. Blackie was vaguely aware of someone shouting, but the satisfying crunch of bone was all she could hear.
She swung again, and again, and Big Mama fell to the floor, clutching her side. Two more hits, and the cue snapped in half, breaking over Big Mama's back. Bruised skin flashed in front of Blackie's eyes as she brought her booted foot down on Big Mama's face once, twice, three times before Crystal, shouting, pulled her away.
Blackie stumbled back, numb. The broken end of the cue stick fell from her hands as people milled around her. A woman looked up from Big Mama, her hand still on Big Mama's pulse point. Her face was pale. "She's dead!" She looked right at Blackie. "You killed her!"
Dolcetto stared at Blackie with awe, then cleared her throat. "Well, um...I guess that's all we need to go over..." She closed her notebook and straightened up. "I'm sure you have things you need to be doing..."
"Yeah," Blackie said sarcastically. "I should probably get back to my job." She rose from the table.
"I'm sure we'll have a good working relationship," Dolcetto said cheerily, standing up.
"Sure, whatever..." Blackie said distractedly, scanning over the crowd. "Hey!" she shouted at a few people in the corner. "Don't kick the cigarette machine!" She began to make her way over
Dolcetto smiled, holding her notebook to her chest. "Right. Good relationship," she said to herself.