Cherry On The Tracks

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The very first time I saw Tiffany Cattrell and her mother Carman was 2 and a half years ago, on the Saturday morning that they moved into my apartment complex, four doors down from me.

It was unlike any other moving process I had ever seen before. There were no Ryder trucks or other moving vans or throng of friends and family helping to unload the two women’s’ material possessions with care. There was simply a mother and a daughter with everything they owned between them stuffed into a beat up station wagon.

Granted, a few days later a truck from one of those big rental furniture companies, that rent things at ungodly high monthly rates, showed up at the Cattrell residence and dropped off one bed, two tables and a very small sofa. My mind would constantly wonder what kind of life those two ladies were enduring inside that cramped apartment.

Carman Cattrell appeared, at first glance, to be in her late 40’s but I would later find out she was over 10 years younger than that. Her weathered face and slumped posture indicated that she had led a very difficult and arduous life to that point.

Her daughter, Tiffany, also seemed to have the look of a woman that was older than her calendar years. In her case, despite the fact that she was only 16 when she moved in, she could have easily passed for 25. There was an inherent bleakness in Tiffany’s brown eyes that spoke of great turmoil in her life as well. It appeared that Tiffany had seen more in her 16 years than anyone should in a lifetime.

She was definitely mature for her age, in more ways than one. Her long brown hair was often pulled back into a pony tail but when she teased it on the rare occasions that she went out and added some makeup, she took on the radiant glow of a young groupie that wouldn’t have a problem making it backstage at any concert.

On the rare occasion I happened to see Tiffany and her Mom go somewhere together, there was a tangible aloofness between the two that spoke of a mountain’s worth of festering, unresolved conflict. When I would see each woman on their own with their own friends, both Carman and Tiffany seemed like complexity different people than they did when Mother and Daughter were hanging out together.

As the months wore on, I slowly pieced together some of the tendencies of their relationship and frankly I came to believe that the teenager was keeping better and more stable company than her Mother was.

It was an interesting dichotomy. Children are naturally rebellious and frequently react unpredictably in the face of authority. When no authority is put forth, children can go in one of two directions. It appeared that Tiffany Cattrell had chosen the path of being the responsible one while her Mother went about her merry way, living life in the really really fast lane.

Still, bound by the mores and laws of society, my 16 year old neighbor was trapped in her predicament and I sensed that she would eventually fall victim to the same vicious patterns her Mother was living out in front of her, unless she could somehow escape from it.

* * * * *

Being a night owl and also someone who finds himself always looking out the window whenever a pair of headlights ease into the apartment complex after midnight, I couldn’t help but see a lot of the comings and goings with my neighbors. Not that I really cared either way what any of them were doing but with the occasional burglary in the neighborhood, a person tends to pay more attention to strangers coming around.

I immediately started to notice a pattern with Carman Cattrell’s late night routines as the weeks went on. Her rickety station wagon would come and go at all times of the night and many times with a wide array of men accompanying her in and out of her apartment. Knowing Tiffany was home to experience her Mother’s looseness first hand, all I could do was pray that somehow she’d stay immune to her lecherous upbringing.

Many of the men I saw come and go from the Cattrell apartment frankly I wouldn’t let walk my dog, and knowing those men were doing God knows what with Carman while her Daughter slept under the same roof made my skin crawl. Knowing first hand just how small the apartments were, I knew Tiffany was forced to be party to everything socially her Mother did those nights when Carman chose to bring men home with her.

Another example of Tiffany ‘rebelling’ against her Mother’s influence was in the way she dealt with her boyfriends. While Carman went through men like pudding through a cat, Tiffany appeared to have only two steady boyfriends from the time she was 16 until she was 18, and both those boys seemed to have their acts together much more than the scuzzy things Carman Cattrell brought home.

* * * * *

One Saturday afternoon last April, I was on my back underneath my car changing the oil when I got to witness Tiffany Cattrell’s then relationship with her 18 year old boyfriend hit the rocks. If my memory serves, Tiffany was about two months away from from her 18th birthday at the avcılar escort time.

Hidden underneath my Buick, I could hear Tiffany and her boyfriend Ryan arguing intensely as they parked in front of the Cantrell apartment. Before they had even opened the doors to get out, the whole neighborhood was filling with the sounds of cursing, yelling and threats.

When Tiffany and Ryan finally did emerge from the car, everything else around the apartment complex slowed to a halt.

I momentarily quit what I was doing with the oil pan and watched the two fight from the privacy of my secluded hiding place. I couldn’t make out the entire gyst of the heated discussion but the snippets I could understand seemed to revolve around Tiffany’s Mom, Carman.

“You’re gonna grow up and be just like her,” I heard Ryan say accusingly.

“That ought to make you happy you son of a bitch…after all Ryan…you are fuckin’ her…she must be good enough for somethin’!” Tiffany belted out, not caring in the least that a dozen or so of her neighbors were voyeuristically hanging on every word.

“I got to get it from somewhere Tiff…you sure as Hell don’t want to ever do anything…I got news for ya…that pussy of yours isn’t made out of gold!” Ryan shot back, causing Tiffany’s eyes to start to get puffy.

“FUCK YOU!” the 17 year old girl yelled bitterly.

After about three minutes of back and forth, Ryan simply gave up and got back into his car, slamming the door loudly before speeding away. Tiffany was left all alone on the front stoop of her apartment with the gaze of every curious eye in the neighborhood on her as her world caved in.

I continued laying there on my back for a few seconds waiting to see if Tiffany would turn and walk inside her apartment but she simply stood there with her head in her hands as if her feet were secured in concrete.

An overwhelming sense of discomfort washed over me as I laid there fidgeting under my car. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the 17 year old girl that was bawling her eyes out less than 100 feet from me. I could look between my driver’s side rear and front tires to see several of the other neighbors milling about, getting back to their lazy weekend routines after the brief interlude of watching two teenagers fight like cats and dogs.

Looking up at the slow drip of dirty oil as it drained from my engine, I grabbed a rag to wipe my hands with as I pushed myself out from underneath my car. Why I felt the need or obligation to take myself away from what I was doing and butt my nose into someone else’s business, I still don’t know, but at the time I genuinely thought I was doing the right thing.

The moment Tiffany sensed me raising out from underneath my car, she instantly recoiled as if she had seen a ghost. The sound of her quick gasp of surprise was peppered with the ricocheting sounds of gravel skidding across the driveway as I stopped cold in my tracks.

Understanding her shock in seeing my rise out of nowhere, like a satanic and oil-covered jack in the box, I froze there for a moment and waited for her to gain her bearings.

Once I was comfortable that Tiffany recognized me, I proceeded a few steps forward, wiping what grease I could off of my hands and arms. It seemed extremely awkward in one sense as I eased up to Tiffany, a man of no relation to her that was exactly twice her age going to help her in a time of need. On the other hand, I felt the part of my brain that regulated charity telling me that if I had an ounce of concern for a fellow human being in a tough spot, I had to offer whatever support I could.

I could feel an intangible aura immersing us both as I closed the distance between our bodies to about 10 feet. Stopping there so I wouldn’t invade her comfort zone, I waited patiently for her to make the next move.

Standing that close, I could see Tiffany’s clear white tears seep down the side of her face almost as if an internal faucet was minting a freshly made tear every few seconds. I could feel Tiffany’s body posture open towards me slightly as the soft foreboding taste of anticipation resonated on my tongue. A moment later, before I could even prepare myself, I was paralyzed for an instant as my life took a sharp and unexpected turn.

In a blinding furious flash, something base and instinctual inside of Tiffany Catrell’s mind must have snapped and her need to be held and comforted switched on. She ran like a charging bull straight towards me.

The air inside of my lungs rushed out with a brutal, blunt whoosh as Tiffany’s 140 pound frame crushed into me. I had to take one step backwards to balance myself from the impact and raised both arms into the air in a modified Jesus Christ pose as the 17 year old wrapped her arms around me in a tear jerking bear hug.

Part of me said all I had to do for a few moments was to just stand there like a lamp post, giving Tiffany something to hold on to until she was stable enough to move avcılar escort bayan on. Another part of me however was extremely uncomfortable.

It was the classic no win situation for me. Push her away and I knew Tiffany would feel even more rejection at a very vulnerable time. On the other hand, I didn’t feel right either bringing my arms down and trying to give the young girl even a semblance of a hug with the whole neighborhood watching our embrace in broad daylight.

So all I did for a minute or so was simply stand there with my arms extended as Tiffany’s eyes soaked my oil stained tee-shirt.

Standing there helplessly in the girl’s emotional grip, I disparately tried ignoring the sensations of her large breasts tightly wedged against my chest as she pulled me closer with her clenched fists. It was just like the proverbial pink elephant however, the more I tried not thinking about the young girl’s mature endowment, the more I felt the weight of her womanhood mashing through my shirt.

I could feel my willpower to be gentlemanly gradually start to dissipate as my arms started to tingle from a lack of blood as I held them out to the side. Slowly lowering them, I couldn’t fight the urge to return her embrace for a second longer.

Before I even could close my arms around Tiffany’s shoulders, the devastated young girl let go of me and hurriedly ran towards her front door with the same reckless abandon that she had ran towards me in the first place with.

“The fickleness and volatility of youth,” I told myself as I stood there perplexed on the front sidewalk. The more I thought about it, I was deeply thankful Tiffany did what she did by going in her apartment at that moment, not wanting to think about what may have happened if she hadn’t let go when she did.

I could hear Tiffany yell ‘thank you” to me without turning around, through her muffled hands covering her face as she disappeared into her apartment. My whole body felt the stinging vibration of the Cattrell’s door slamming shut as Tiffany went inside to deal with her personal tragedy alone.

I finally mustered the wherewithall to turn and make my way back to my car to finish the oil change that I had started. Reaching down to unscrew the top of a new quart of oil, I started to pour it into the engine before my memory was jarred. “You forgot to put the bolt back in the bottom of the oilpan you idiot!”

Slamming my rag down to the gravel below in disgust, I knelt down and went back underneath the car to try and clean up my own personal mess.

* * * * *

I spent the better part of the rest of that night trying to figure out what had happened between Tiffany and I. The rational part of my mind told me that absolutely nothing had, she was just stuck in a moment of weakness and I just happned to be there.

As I laid in bed however, unable to fall asleep, the muscle memory of Tiffany’s arms wrapped around my body and her endowment pressing against my chest brazenly embroiled themselves into my psyche.

“Just go to bed to fuckin’ putz…she’s probably already forgotten all about it…teenage girls go through this shit all the time…don’t flatter yourself,” an inner, droning voice correctly warned me.

Still, as I closed my eyes and desperately tried forcing myself to sleep, the realization that the embrace with Tiffany was the first real female contact that I had shared since my wife and I had separated, six months earlier. Just the simple fact that an attractive young girl had not been so grossed out by me that she was willing to hug me gave me a broad, if not misguided, smile in the ‘behind closed door’ privacy of my bedroom.

“But damn man,” The devilish voice in my head suddenly chimed in.” You’ve never fucked a virgin in your whole life and this girl wraps her fuckin arms around you to cry her little eyes out…AND YOU DO NOTHIN’!!”

I further tried detaching myself from the fact that it was my own arousal pressing against the inside of my thigh as I tossed and turned in the early AM darkness.

“She’s only 17…she’s a sweet young girl who’s mother is a crack addict…go to sleep and mind your own fucking business…YOU DON’T NEED THE HASSLE!!” the angel in my head logically countered, thankfully.

Sometime later I finally did fall asleep and as the days and weeks turned into months, I slowly came to realize that the rational, angelic thoughts that night were right on the money. While Tiffany didn’t necessarily go out of her way to avoid me, she also didn’t make an effort to acknowledge the fact that she had used me for a crying post either. And that was probably for the best.

* * * * *

Those thoughts were even more cemented on a hot August night a few months later when Tiffany Cattrell had a huge party to celebrate her 18th birthday. I couldn’t help sneaking a few peeks out the window that night at all the revelers coming and going in and out of the Cattrell residence. All I could seem to think escort avcılar about was the fact that if Tiffany had kept her virginity for those 18 years, there was just no way it was gonna last through the night with all the booze and pot that was being passed around. I kicked myself for being shallow as my suppressed lust for Tiffany waned slightly, loosing some of the appeal, for some reason, if her virginity was no longer in tact.

I noticed that there was no sign of Carman Cattrell the whole night and it gave me a small jolt of optimism, as far as the bigger picture went, that with Tiffany finally turning 18, maybe she could actually move away and start living out from her Mom’s rather messy and devouring shadow.

I dragged myself to bed that night with a wry but disappointed smile, imagining what was going through the minds of the lucky guy or guys that might be taking Tiffany Cattrell’s cherry.

* * * *

It was a few weeks later that my phone ringing unexpectedly, jolted me awake at about 1:30 in the morning. I tried swallowing my heart back down into my chest as I clumsily reached over to see who it was.

For a single guy with a soon to be ex-wife, the phone ringing that late was never a good sign.

I hesitated for a moment before finally reaching down to pick up the receiver.

“Hi Dave,” a silent, almost inaudible voice whispered after I mumbled ‘hello’.

I knew immediately that it wasn’t my ex-wife. All she ever did when she called was scream at me.

“Who…wa…who…wa…who is this?” I asked, through the cobwebs of my interuppted sleep.

“Ahhhh…Dave…uuummmm… this is Tiffany…Tiffany Cattrell… from down the street…I…ahhhh…I could really use some help right now…,” came the pleading voice on the other end of the line.

The reality of who it was on the other end suddenly flickered in my brain as the pleading urgency in the young girl’s voice woke me completely from my haze.

* * * * *

An hour or so later, I was in a pair of sweatpants and a flannel shirt driving back to my apartment after picking Tiffany up from the police station downtown. She sat stoically beside me, arms folded and scowling, sniffling every few seconds as she bravely fought off the urge to cry her eyes out as I sped her back home.

From the story she gave me at the police station, apparently Tiffany was with her mom at one of Carman’s friend’s house earlier that evening and the cops had raided the place. Her Mother along with several of her friends had been taken into custody for possession with the intent to distribute and Tiffany had been forced to go along with the arrested party.

When nothing was found on her, Tiffany was released after answering a few questions. With the family car impounded however and no money for a cab, Tiffany had to scramble for a way home. Not wanting to drag any of her other family members or friends into the mess, she had grabbed the phone book and started calling neighbors until I was the first one to answer the phone.

* * * * *

The whole way home, I found myself grinding my teeth, drowning in the cell of awkward silence that permeated the front seat of my car. Always being one to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, I bit my tongue forcefully on a couple of instances, searching for a way to break the silence.

“So…how does it feel to be 18?” I asked meekly.

For a moment, Tiffany continued to just sit there, staring forward into the bleak night.

“No different really,” She finally replied. “I feel 38 with all the shit that I’ve been through lately.”

“38 ain’t that old,” I shot back kiddingly, more for my own good than hers. “I’m almost there…its not the end of the world.”

Not wanting to talk about any of the depressing stuff weighing her down, I tried steering the conversation towards happier things.

“I couldn’t help but notice the big party you had at your place a few weeks back…was that for your birthday?”

“Yeah,” Tiffany sighed in return.

“Looked like quite a blowout” I said casually.

“I didn’t know half the people there…guys invite their friends who invite their friends and on and on…it got kinda crazy…we didn’t keep you up with the music did we?” Tiffany asked with a touch of embarrassed concern.

“No…no…no,” I immediately answered. “Not at all.”

“Congratulations,” I said after a couple of seconds, bringing a trace of a smile to Tiffany’s full lips.

A few moments later I wheeled my car into my parking space, cut the ignition and sneaked a peak over at the exhausted expression on Tiffany’s young but weathered face.

“You’re welcome to sleep on my sofa tonight if you don’t want to…you know…have to deal with being alone at your place,” I offered, immediately slapping myself internally for the indecent way the offer came out of my mouth.

I instantly tried amending the way my offer sounded but before I could correct myself, I saw the understanding look in Tiffany’s tired brown eyes, signaling that she knew what I really meant.

Tiffany thought over my offer for about 30 seconds while we huddled quietly in the front seat.

“You sure?” She finally asked.

“Yeah…it’s no problem…get a good night’s sleep then see what the fallout is like with your Mom in the morning,” I replied with a smile.

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