Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Abused: Chapter 6


6

            Derek Pendergrass was a washed-up, small-time politician from the town of Shingle Springs, California. Derek had been the senior-class president and parlayed his mediocre success into an eventual seat on the City Council. Derek was 32, prematurely gray, and so arrogant that most people who really knew him hated him. Yet he put on an impressive bravado of charm and working-class sophistication that people related to. So when he lost his seat on the council he ran for assemblyman in the California State Assembly in the state capital, Sacramento.
            Once Assemblyman Pendergrass took office his hubris and arrogance was widely embraced by other politicians whose own egos ruled everything they did. That same year Assemblyman Pendergrass married Leona Thorn, a chief information officer at the California Franchise Tax Board. Leona was blonde, blue-eyed and petite with the mouth of a street thug. She could tell anyone off and she never hesitated to let it rip when someone annoyed her. Derek liked her badass attitude and married her within six months of their first date.
            Leona quickly enjoyed the perks of being an assemblyman’s wife, and while they truly didn’t have much money, she began going on outrageous trips to the Grand Caymens, Puerta Vuarta, British Columbia, Hawaii, and nonstop trips to France. Working on an Assemblyman’s wage, Derek didn’t have the income to support his wife’s ever-growing hunger for world travel, adventure and couture shopping sprees. As the bills piled up Derek appeased his wife and figured out inventive ways to charge these boondoggles back to the taxpaying citizens of California. Later when trouble brewed, Derek’s closest confident Will Brandon, another assemblyman would ask him how he could have been so stupid. His answer was fast and direct.
            “Man she’s got the wettest pussy I ever laid the pipe,” and with that one statement Will’s curiosity was assuaged.
            Apparently Leona’s slippery pussy had so intoxicated Derek’s wrong head he had continued for the first two years of his term to inventively charge her extravagances to the taxpayer. It wasn’t until a random auditor who was actually in the building to check out one of his colleagues’ business pursuits did his misuse of funds come to light. The auditor whose name was Jayne Bryan had been looking over some records that looked rather strange. When Jayne began to question Derek’s assistant Lisa, the aroused suspicion pressed on Derek hard. He began to stress that he would be caught, and then what? He had unpleasant visions of prison, which began to weigh on his mind. He wasn’t much for going to jail as most people wouldn’t be.
            This unwanted pressure began Derek’s most unpleasant descent into alcoholism, pills, and inappropriate partying with staff interns. By the time Derek’s fraud charges came to light, he was rarely in the office and his voting record was zero for that term. Leona had left him months before and run off with the sea captain of the Royal Caribbean cruise line. With ever-mounting pressure, booze, drugs, and an impending divorce Derek’s mediocre-life-turned-bigger success was now looking more and more like an absurd political drama.
            But ironically it wasn’t the fraud that brought Derek down, it was the illicit relationship with a high-class prostitute he battered one night. They were partying at the Embassy Suites near the Sacramento River. Derek had spent the entire afternoon snorting cocaine, smoking weed, and drinking whiskey. The prostitute one Fiona Richards AKA as Jasmine Elite had giggled when Derek couldn’t get it up. Derek, who was completely out of his mind, beat Fiona until she was unconscious. It was about that time that Derek passed out and couldn’t remember a thing.
            Booked on battery and assault, Derek’s political career grinded to a halt. He was immediately impeached and thrown out of the assembly for conduct unbecoming. The newspaper headlines revealed the tawdry details of Derek’s ugly personal life. His ex-wife Leona went on record accusing him of gay sex, orgies, and drug-fueled partying with hookers. While some of it was true, Derek realized she was ramping up her spurned wife story just in case it came to light how the money had been misused.
            Fiona ended up dropping the charges after numerous death threats came from sources widely known as Derek’s connections. Derek stepped out of the limelight a disgraced politician and waited to see if fraud charges would be made. In the meantime, his cocaine habit flew out of control. Every last nickel he had went to his dealer. And when Derek’s trust fund, savings and two houses were gone he continued on credit he didn’t have. After his drug dealer’s enforcer Clique smashed his kneecaps, he was hospitalized and unable to walk.
            Now living off disability and in embarrassing poverty, he found himself homeless living off the streets near Oak Park. When the indictment finally went down, Derek was nowhere to be found – he was living completely off the grid. One day a local foot patrolman found him drunk and passed out on a park bench. He took Derek in not realizing that he had captured the errant assemblyman wanted for misappropriation of funds and fraud.
            Semi cleaned up, Derek appeared before the judge – Judge Roberts. The judge looked down at the newly clean-shaven assemblyman and for whatever reason took pity on him. He was sentenced to six months in rehab followed by two years of community service. The local papers including The Sacramento Bee and Sacramento News and Review stridently objected to what they felt was a miscarriage of justice. Judge Roberts though emphasized that Derek had a clean record and years of public service.
            “We all deserve a break,” he said in one particularly anti-Derek article that skewered the assemblyman and accused the judge of cronyism.
            Whatever the court of public opinion meant nothing to Derek. Now completely fallen from grace the nearly 40-year-old former politician felt ready to clean up his life. And this is how he like all of the others found himself stepping out of a Yellow Cab to face the ominous tall redwood doors and the cool Ms. Fisher. She was a staunch Republican and didn’t much approve of the former assemblyman’s corruption. So walking out to greet him was no honor to her. She felt he was a shameful man who got off easy; but her opinions were not allowed so she did her job.
            She looked down at her usual clipboard and when Derek stepped forward to shake her hand she ignored it.
“Cocaine, huh, booze … what else?”
            Derek noticed the rebuff but forced a smile, hoping to charm her for future purposes. After seeing she would be unmoved he responded with hesitation, “Sex addiction.”
            Ms. Fisher nodded, “And …”
            “Nothing.”
            “Says here you’re also a pathological liar.”
            “Huh?”
            “Your first evaluation,” she flatly responded.
            “Oh.”
            “Go on in. Your bags will be in your room. How are you as far as detox?”
            “Huh?”
            “Detox,” she repeated with irritation in her voice.
            “Oh, um, fine.”
            “Hmm,” she studied him. “We’ll wait and see on that one. After you detox, expect orientation to begin.”
            “No, I’m clean,” refuted Derek.
            “Uh-huh,” she wrote something down.
            “What did you write?”
            She looked up and went to the door, opened it, and waited for Derek to enter. Derek still wanted to know what she wrote. He dropped it and looked up at the doors and into the still interior.
            “Fuck,” he said under his breath as he walked into what seemed like the abyss of misery to him in that moment.

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