Money can do funny things to a person. I’m not even talking Gold Fever here. Just a little bit can do a lot of damage.
I was so used to fending for myself and earning every cent I had. I was so used to being broke, it had become a way of life.
Suddenly, I was being paid solely for my presence. All I had to do was show up for a while and laugh at some jokes and I walked away with a handful of cash and a bag of coke. And I did that very often.
We’d go to the casino so he could play blackjack. There were the trips out of town for business meetings. Or he’d take me to MOA, where he’d buy me whatever I asked for.
I got to know The Punjabi a little more. He talked about my future and paying down my debt – I overheard a conversation with one of his friends about his plan to get my debt paid off so I could take out a large loan – I never quite figured out what that was supposed to be for. He also talked about me losing my “loser” friends. He said they were no good for me and they’d only bring me down. That pissed me off, but what really bothered me was when he’d talk about me meeting his family – that’s not why I was there.
I was there for the cherry flavored cigarettes that came in a tin. I was there for the unending drug supply. I was there for the money.
The thought did occur to me that I could probably marry him and live a plush life. I’d never have to work again. I’d have everything I wanted – but would I be happy? Could I bring myself to actually sleep with him?
No, I decided. But that didn’t deter me from continuing the strange relationship we’d established.
It wasn’t easy. I knew that someday, he would expect me to “pay” him back. But I always had a ready way out so I wouldn’t need to.
Then one day, he took me back to his brother’s house. “I need something.” He said.
I stood in the front room, assuming he would be ready to leave in a minute, but he coaxed me into sitting down. He sat very close to me and pushed his head up to mine to kiss me. I pulled away and tried to get up.
“Please!” He said as he grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me back. “Please, why?”
“I don’t want to do this here!” I loosened his grip and stood.
“Then where – we get hotel? My parents are at my home.” He looked anxious.
“No, I have to go. We just have to go.”
“Heartbreaker don’t want love.” He said sadly, “Heartbreaker just want money. How much money for you love me?”
“That’s not true, Punjabi! How could you think that about me!? You’re trying to get with me on your brother’s window seat! Aren’t I worth more than that? How could you insult me like that? I just want to go home – NOW!”
My attempt to turn the blame worked. Not only did he stop, he apologized profusely. “I sorry, please don’t be mad, I sorry, I am. I don’t think you like that”
But it also led him on. I let him believe there might be a chance for us. Now there was no going back to what we were. I had to follow through or get the hell away. I just wasn’t sure which way to turn.