Where Becca was dark Molly was light, she had blonde curly hair and bright green eyes. She had been brought up in a strict catholic household, where Becca was a free spirit of no religious consequence. Molly liked that about Becca, her free spiritedness. It was one of things that made their friendship work. Molly would talk a storm up about what she would do, and Becca would do. So when Becca suggested they go to nursing school together, Molly had followed along. She was a lost sheep looking for a Shepard and Becca had been her border collie, nudging her along her road in life.
Then Molly met Bill, he was older, good looking, charming and daring. He had come into the nursing home to visit his grandmother, Mrs. Walker, and Molly was hooked. He was her first drug, her addiction, she lost interest in her studies and in Becca, all she wanted was to be with Bill. Becca was none too pleased with the arrangement of taking the backseat to their friendship, but she wanted to keep the lines of communication open, which was getting harder and harder the more time Molly spent with Bill.
He would take her into the city for a night of clubbing. Molly found the forbidden the most desirable. Her strict upbringing had back fired and she sprung forward into the world of partying and Bill. At first it had been alcohol, and then pot, and then more. Molly started missing their study dates at the library, her grades began to drop and she was absent more than she was present at school. Becca was scared for her friend; she tried to talk to her when she finally did show up at the library to study. Becca was sitting in the midst of a pile of text books, index cards and highlighters.
“Mol, what’s going on? Don’t you want to finish nursing school?” she asked looking at her, disshelved and obviously hung over.
“Nah, not really. I mean, like Bill says, who wants to take care of sick people?” Molly blurted out. She fidgeted with the hem of her jean jacket and dropped her books on the table next to Becca.
“But you’ve already got one year under your belt, don’t throw it away! What else will you do?” Becca asked concerned.
“I don’t know maybe I’ll just be a dancer. I’ve always wanted to dance,” Molly mused. She looked out the window; the freedom of the world was calling her.
“Dancer? What kind of a dancer?” Becca was getting freaked.
“You know, that kind, those girls make so much money! And who cares what anyone thinks!” Becca was horrified. Her friend had gone from super straight laced to wanting to dance for money. She dropped her highlighter and searched her friends’ newly weathered face.
“Molly, what the hell has happened to you? Does Bill want you to do this?” Becca grabbed her by the arm and saw tiny bruises lining the inside of her arm.
“Bill has some really nice friends we hang out with. They said I was pretty enough to dance in their place. They said they would keep me happy. I just want to be happy, Becca, is that so wrong?” Molly said miserably. She rubbed her palms on her thighs and gave a strained smile.
“You don’t sound happy, Molly. Really what’s up?” Becca started scanning her friends’ body; she seemed to have lost a lot of weight and was jittery. “What are you doing that you don’t want me to know about?”
Molly half smiled and patted Becca on the head, “Don’t worry about me, I’ll be just fine. I have Bill; he’ll take good care of me. He says you are way too straight for us to hang out, isn’t that a scream! You, being too straight for me!”
Becca didn’t like the sound of that, it was true she didn’t indulge in drugs, but she didn’t think of herself as straight either. “Molly, do you need help?” she ventured. It suddenly occurred to her that her friend was in way too deep. That Bill was calling all the shots and sending her down a path of self destruction.
“Yeah, you could tell Mrs. Quimby to go to hell for me. I don’t want to work in that shit hole anymore. Those old people just depress me. I want to live, Becca! I want to have fun and be free. I don’t want to spend my life taking care of some old wrinkly ass people who don’t even remember your name.”
This was not the Molly Becca knew, this transformation had happened quite suddenly. There had to be more to the story. There had to be something else going on that Becca was missing. Molly wasn’t herself, and she was afraid for her.
Suddenly Molly got up pushed her books to the floor and laughed, “Becca, be a love and throw those away for me, I won’t be needing them. I’ll see you around. I need my Bill right now,” and Molly unsteadily walked out of the library smiling at nothing at all. Becca was shocked, she had enough loss in her life, she wasn’t losing Molly to Bill and whatever they were doing. She would fight for her friend.
She quickly picked up Molly’s belongs and stuffed everything into her backpack. She walked from the library to the church hoping to find Father Ian. He would know what to do. She heard him on the phone in his office and waited until he finished his conversation. She lightly knock on his door,“Hello?” she popped her head in the doorway. The smell of ancient books and lemony woodwork mingled in the air.
He looked up from his piles of papers scattered on his desk, “Becca, what brings you to my inner sanctum,” he joked.
“Do you have a minute? I mean I don’t want to interrupt,” she felt unsure of herself now.
“Becca, I always have time for you. Please, come in, sit. Tell me, what’s troubling you?”
‘Am I that obvious?’ thought Becca. “I have a friend,” she began, as she sat on the ornately cushioned chair across from his desk. She watched his face; she liked the way his eyes crinkled at the corners when he was listening to her. He was a kind, good man, she thought.
“I see,” he countered, thinking she was referring to herself but didn’t want to disclose it.
Becca realized directly that he didn’t understand her, “No, seriously, Molly, you know her. We use to be inseparable. We were going to nursing school together, working together. You know, best buds. But now she’s involved with this guy, and she’s changed, a lot.” Her voice implied, and not in a good way.
“I know Molly; she’s part of my parish. She’s a lovely girl from a wonderful family. Well, Becca, sometimes people grow apart, even best buds. You know, if she’s in a relationship now, well her attention is elsewhere,” he said simply.
“That’s what I thought at first too, that she was just super into him. No, no it isn’t that. I mean, it’s that she’s really changed. She doesn’t want to go to nursing school anymore; she threw her books on the floor at the library just now. She told me she wants to be a dancer,” she said with some emphasis.
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do something artistic, Becca,” he said trying to counsel what he believed was Becca’s obvious struggle.
“God, you’re thick!” Becca commented. Father Ian, half laughed with embarrassment.
“I’m sorry, I guess I really need to spell it out for you,” she finished. She felt badly that she expected him to know what she was inferring.
“Well, that would be helpful; I’m not a mind reader Becca.” He said somewhat defensively.
“Father, you won’t repeat this, right?” Becca lowered her voice; her eyes darted around the small office.
“Of course not, I promise,” he assured her.
“She’s doing drugs and she wants to be an exotic dancer, you know, the kind that dances for money! Father, I think she’s in way over her head, I think that Bill has put her up to this,” Becca confided.
“Who is this Bill?” he asked.
“Bill Walker, do you know him?” Becca asked.
Father Ian let out a low whistle, “I had no idea she had taken up with him. He’s had a lot of problems in the past, drugs and such. His father was a local cop so he got out of a lot of serious things. He doesn’t have the best track record, that’s for sure.”
“His grandmother was in our facility, that’s how they met. Nobody said anything about him. Shit, I knew he was bad news, poor Molly!” Becca was frantic. “Father, what can we do? Please you have to do something,” Becca looked at him with desperation.
“We really can’t do anything unless Molly wants help. I will speak with her parents though and see what their thoughts are. I don’t know what else we can do. Sometimes people have to walk the wrong road before they get back on the right one,” he offered.
“Don’t give me your analogies; this is my friend we are talking about!” Becca was unhappy he had nothing more to offer. She caught herself and said, “I’m sorry, I am just scared for her, she has changed so much, it’s really weird.”
“Don’t give up on Molly quite yet. Let me see what I can find out and we’ll talk again, okay?”
“Yeah, thanks. I’m sorry. God, I say the stupidest shit around you!” she laughed.
“Hmm,” he smiled. Becca excused herself, Father Ian watched her disappear from his sight, but her presence lingered in his thoughts.
He went through the parishioner list and called Molly’s parents as he promised. Mrs. Miller answered and when Father Ian inquired after Molly as he had not seen her in church for some time, Molly’s mother hesitated and then said dryly, “She’s moved in with her boyfriend Bill, we hardly ever see her anymore. I am sorry Father, I know what she is doing is a sin, but there is no talking to her. This Bill has such a hold on her. Will you pray for her, please?” The woman was moved to tears; Father Ian had heard her voice crack.
“Of course, Mrs. Miller, I will keep Molly and you in my prayers. If there is anything I can do, please let me know.” The phone went dead and Father Ian suspected there was merit to Becca’s concerns. He prayed for guidance and then returned to the pile of papers begging for attention. ‘This is not exactly why I got into the priesthood-paperwork!’ he mused. The next time he looked up from his desk it was well past dinner time.
He went back to his apartment and pulled out some leftovers, cracked open a beer, his occasional indulgence, and ate in silence. His life was uneventful, it was his parishioners who had all the drama, he was just the one who tried to keep it all together for all of them. Be strong, have the right answers, and when he had no answers he prayed with them, consoled them, mourned with them and buried them.
He was surprised to see Becca today, she wasn’t a parishioner, but they had a bond, and when she needed answers she too came to him. He was afraid she wasn’t going to like the answers he had to give. He finished the dishes and turned the television on low. It was just background noise, sometimes the silence was even too much for him.
He picked up the phone and she answered on the second ring, “Hello?” her voice was sleep ladened, it was just past 9pm.
“Becca, I’m sorry did I wake you?” he felt embarrassed.
“Father Ian, it’s okay, I was studying, I must have dozed off,” she explained. “Did you hear anything?”
“I spoke with Mrs. Miller, she is quite upset that Molly has moved in with Bill,” he began.
“Really? I didn’t even know that!” Becca was shocked.
“Well, they are somewhat ashamed from what I gather. But she didn’t know much more than that. I didn’t tell her what you said,” he continued.
“I trust you, Father,” Becca said softly.
“Thank you, Becca. That means a lot to me,” he confessed. He wished they were talking face to face, he liked to be near her, to watch her expressions, smell the scent of her body, to watch her movements, but tonight he would settle for her voice.
“So now what? What can we do?” Becca felt helpless.
“Try and keep the lines of communication open and wait,” he suggested.
“Wait for what?” Becca asked.
“Wait for her to ask for help. She’s an adult, Becca, we can’t force her into anything, unless of course she is a threat to herself or others,” he clarified.
“Doesn’t doing drugs mean anything?” Becca asked.
“Unless she gets caught, chances are she will continue to do so. Are you absolutely certain she’s doing this?” he asked.
“Father, she has implied as much, and I saw her arms, they are all bruised,” Becca stated.
“Which would indicate what?” Father Ian was a bit naïve when it came to this.
“Track marks, she’s doing bad shit, I mean really bad shit,” Becca stated.
“Oh, then perhaps I should speak with her parents again,” he said.
“No, no! If you do that she will know it was me, I’m pretty sure I am the only one who knows. Can’t we just pick her up and put in rehab?” Becca was at a loss.
“Unfortunately not, she’s an adult, making poor choices. Like I said, if she gets picked up by the police then that’s a different story, she may be forced to go by the courts. But that’s a long shot at this point. Becca, please let’s just pray on this for now, perhaps God will answer us in a way we haven’t thought of. I know you love your friend, you have a wonderful heart, trust that help will come for her when she needs it most.”
“I think you put way too much faith in God,” Becca said without realizing the implications of her statement.
Father Ian laughed good naturedly, “Well, that would be part of the job description! You sound tired, get some rest and we can talk again. Good night.”
“Hey, thanks, for trying. I didn’t mean that last thing,” Becca was back pedaling, she felt awful.
“Becca, you are wonderfully honest in your emotions if nothing else! Good night,” he said again needing to end the conversation; she always had a way of getting under his skin.
“Night,” Becca hung up the phone and resumed her studying. Tomorrow was a huge exam, she knew the chair next to her was going to be empty, but she would fight for her friend no matter.
Father Ian cracked open another beer, he drank down half and then drank the other half. The alcohol warmed his brain, eased his body. Molly’s fate was unclear, but it appeared that things would get worse before they got better. He wanted desperately to make things better for Becca; he wanted to be her go to person for all her troubles, if that was all he could be for her.