Sophie James..

Waking up hungover from a night of partying. Sophie James, a tall slender hard-headed twenty-one-year-older reaches over without looking grabbing the 20oz plastic bottle of Diet Pepsi from her nightstand. Taking a swig, she feels an object on her lip, spitting out liquid “What the fuck?” she snaps. Dropping the bottle to the floor, dirty water and a cigarette butt come streaming out. Grabbing the 2nd 20oz half bottle of Diet Pepsi from the nightstand, taking a swig while heading into the kitchen. Walking in she sees her roommate John Dahl a laid-back cool twenty-something musician eating a scrambled egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin sitting at the table. “Hey, John”, “Hey, Did I take some girls lipstick last night, found it in the pocket of my jeans this morning?”, laughing “Yeah, she made fun of your ears and got right in your face, stuck her tongue out and sang “Ahhhhhh”. Then pulled it out of her pocket to put on, you grabbed it and walked away.”. laughing back “Oh right, she called me Dumbo. She was making fun of the band’s lead singer and I said: “Well, why don’t you go up there & sing then”. “What the fuck, my ears don’t even stick out that much! She was annoying, little punk.” Sophie grabs the pot of freshly made coffee and pours it into a coffee cup sitting on the counter. Heads to the fridge and grabs the orange juice grabs a glass from the cupboard and pours. “John, what are you doing today?” “Got band practice at noon for an hour, then meeting the queen for lunch. Want to meet us at The Garden on Sunset around 1?”, “Yeah def, it’s always a pleasure seeing the queen. I’ll text ya when I arrive, I can’t get there till around 1:30”, “Cool”.

Sophie is laying on a red velvet couch wearing a long white men’s button-down shirt with the stem of a red rose in her mouth. Thirty-something Ritchie is photographing her. “Nice Sophie, now tilt your head all the way back over the side”, “Nice Sophie, now tilt your head all the way back over the side”. He moves closer to the couch shooting her from all sides and angles. “Nice, now put the stem behind your ear so just the bud is sticking out”, Sophie obliges. Ritchie quips “OK, look down”, Sophie interjects “I wanna try somethin’ “, Taking the rose and placing it down her shirt so just the bud is sticking out at the top of her blouse, Richie is into it “Cool I like it”. Ritchie grabs a hat from the bag on the floor with the logo “The Pythia” on the front tosses it to Sophie, she tosses it right back, “No”, unassuming Ritchie “Why?”, “Because this is not ‘I’m my father’s daughter’ shoot.”, caught off guard “I just thought it would be cute”, “No, I know you didn’t mean anything by it, he’s a rock legend & is important to people. I just wanna be known for something other than ‘that’.”, “Fair enough. Now eyes wide, mouth open & stick that tongue out!” He chuckles “Yeah, just like that Soph.”

Sophie is walking onto the patio, she eyes John and his mother forty-ish Linda Dahl forties, in the back left corner. Sophie’s attention is on Linda “Hi, Linda”, “Hi hun, how are you?”, “Great! Did you two order yet?”, John chimed in “Just drinks, we were waiting for you.”, “Oh, good I’m starving! How was practice?”, “It was alright,. Tim the new drummer was stoned out of his mind. In the middle of the song, he would zone out and start drumming beats to a whole other song”. Sophie Laughs, “Not funny”, “It’s a little funny. He was changing his tune!” Sophie & Linda laugh in unison, “Lovely, just lovely (Linda is waving to the waitress)”. The waitress approaches, “Hello all, (To Sophie) can I get you a drink?”, “Coors light and a Diet Coke” The waitress nods. All three are eating various mixed salads. Soda, water, and beer are on the table. John’s eyeing Sophie while eating “So hows your shoot?”, “OK. Think I got some cool shots out of it and it’s paying the bills. He wanted me to wear a hat with my dad’s band logo on it.”, “Oh, how did that go?”, “It didn’t”. Annoyed Linda harps in “Well, I think it’s insensitive and rude for people to bring up your dad so easily, like they have some sort of right. It’s disrespectful and foolish, especially when one takes their own life so tragically!”, “Oh, I forgot. I forgot why I loved you ( Sophie happily chirps while flashing a smile).”, “Right back atcha!”. “I’m just so SICK of people’s mindsets & the way some people think! Just because my dad’s life ended tragically and so well known, my life or parts of it somehow mirrors that. Or I’m just lost or not well adjusted. It pisses me off! I don’t know if it’s cynicism or laziness and they immediately think that without ‘thinking’. Tragedy doesn’t define us. Plus, it’s about protecting my father’s image as well. Whatever it is I want to change that” John trying to lighten things up “You go, girl”, Sophie is sticking her tongue out “I will! Ahhhhh dork.”, “Gross, you have salad all over your tongue!” Sophie laughs.

Sophie enters a downtown LA office building. She enters through the Egan Law Firm office door. She politely announces to the receptionist that she is here, “Hey, Sophie have a seat Jamie will be right out.”, “Thank you!”. Ten minutes later Jamie Egan, a tall lanky fella, fifties with thick salt & black pepper hair “Hi Sophie, how are you?”, “Great thanks, & you?”, “I can’t complain (flashing a kind smile) oh & hope your grandma is well too, walking to his office, attentive “Sophie have you heard from your mother’s lawyer?, “No (worried) what’s wrong?”, “Don’t worry there’s’ nothing wrong, we’ll talk and go over everything once we sit in my office”, A shaky Sophie “Okay”. Sophie is sitting in an oversized brown leather recliner looking like she’s thirteen, “What brings you here in the middle of the month?”, “I wanted to get a cash advance on my monthly stipend”, he casually obliges “Sure no problem!”, “So now on to your mother, her lawyer called me two days ago, she is up for early parole & if she is approved she would have done around 5 of her eight-year manslaughter sentence. Which if you ask me is very good & both of you are very lucky & you should be very pleased, perturbed “Wait, what? Manslaughter? God, I hate hearing that, it was self-defense!”, “Sophie, Carrie, your mother was heavily intoxicated, he had blood & bruises on his face & back. And she had his blood under her fingernails when she maced him & stabbed him to death four times. Yes, her lawyer, DA & the judges knew about his past physical abuse with your mother and other women, & that’s what her lawyer was passionately fighting for”, angrily “My mom’s cuts & bruises were much worse than his, my stepdad got what he deserved if you asked me”, “Sophie, the ‘heavily intoxicated’ part was the reason for the non-acquittal”. “Jamie, I’m getting a little sick of coming here each month for MY money”, “When you turn twenty-five you will never have to visit here again, well on a professional visit that is, you’re like a 2nd daughter to me & I care about you”, I’m having my photographs showcased at an art gallery downtown next month, I can email you an invite”, “great, I’d love that!”.

Sophie & John are quenching their thirst with a few suds at the local dive bar. “Your dad’s birthday is next wk, do you want to get wasted, eat massive amounts of cake & listen to his music all night?”, “Yeah def!” John slightly tilts his head in gentle wonder “Do you have any memories of him?” Sophie happily chimes in “I have one or two, him giving me a bath & me sitting on top of his shoulders but I don’t know if they’re just dreams & I’ve mistaken them for reality.”, “How old were you when he died again, I wanna say two?”, “I was one, two weeks shy of turning two.”. “Oh, right!”. Sophie quickly changing the subject “Actually, my birthday is in two weeks, wanna come over to grandma’s next Sunday for dinner?:, “Yeah, totally.”. Sophie is in thought, turns to John “My mom is up for parole next wk.”, ” Wow, really? That’s great! that went fast, what was it 5-6 years?” Sophie nods. Sophie’s phone starts to vibrate, she looks down & springs up from her seat “John, I gotta go (grabbing her purse)”, “Well wait, what about your tacos?”, Wrap them up & bring them home with you”. John doesn’t know what to do with himself, Sophie scurries out.

Sophie is lying on her bed while staring at her ph, she sits upright & taps the keypad. A mans voice echoes throughout the room while the call is on speaker ” Piccard law, Evan speaking”, “Hi, Evan this is Sophie, Carrie James’ daughter”, “Oh right, good timing I was just about to call you. How are you doing?”, “Doing well, thanks. My lawyer told me My mother was up for early parole, what are her chances of being released?”, “Excellent, she was an upstanding inmate, teaching the other to draw and paint, also the younger ones helping them study for their GED. Plus we have many prior police reports of abuse towards your mother from your stepdad Brian” Sophie interjects “I KNOW, I’m still angry she was even charged, she was just fighting back” Evan urgently responds “Sophie, it’s the whole, ‘highly intoxicated’ part that did not work in her favor, & it looked like a mutual physical fight, & some of the police reports your mom filed against him in the past I did not have access to, they somehow ‘went missing’ at the time, I have them now! Also, it made matters worse that her appeal was denied!” Sophie snaps back “Such BullShit”! “I know, it haunts me to this day. I have been writing & rewriting my speech that IS going to get your mother the hell out of there, I will never stop fighting for her until she’s out!”, I know you will, thank you!”, “Oh, where will she go when she gets out?”, “She’ll go to a halfway house for her parole officer to keep an eye on her in till she’s stronger and well assimilated with the happenings of the world, & she mentioned getting a place & living with you when she gets out.”, Oh, I don’t know about that, what if I’m not ready, & it’s not like she’s been there for twenty years?”, “I know but it’s still an adjustment. Don’t worry we will work things out and make other arrangements.”, “Okay Evan, thank you!” She leaps up off her bed heads into the kitchen, grabs a Coors Light & hops on the treadmill.

Standing out in front of the Bakersfield Correction facility, Sophia sees her mom walking through a large gate into the parking lot, she raises her arms high above her head, laughing & smiling from ear to ear “MOOOOOOOOOOOOM HA-HA, YOU’RE HERE!”, “HELLO, MY LOVE! I’ve been dreaming of this day for five years!” Sophie is at the wheel driving them back to LA, “So how’s ma?”, “You mean grandma, ma? I know she partially raised me, but you were & are my mother.”, “I know hun, so where do you want to eat (overly excited smile)”? In unison “IN-N-OUT BURGER (Both in laughter)!”. I’ve been missing Mick, your dad, Sophie (Somberly).”, “Me too mom. So what do you want to do, for work, when you get settled”?, “Oh, I don’t want to think about that right now. I just want to sit next to you & look at your face for a few months.”, Sophie sweetly smiles.

Sophie in a silver tank top & a black mini skirt is walking down Sunset Boulevard. A male passerby driving in a convertible, top down screeches “Sophia, YOU’RE HOT, & your dad is a rock god!” Sophia is pleasantly amused & flashes the ‘heavy metal sign’. & walks along. She takes a shortcut & heads down a dim-lit alley. A guy walking by her in the opposite direction with his head down passes, he comes up from behind wrapping one arm around her neck & and his other hand pulling her head back with her hair. In a scratchy breathy voice, “I want you, I want your insides.”, her inner warrior screams back “Like fuck you do!” A bolt of energy went through her & she howled like a dying animal, bit his arm & kicked him wherever from behind & ran the fuck out of there. Once back at her place, alone, she poured a tall glass of vodka, almost to the rim & a tablespoon of orange juice, popped an Ativan, smoked a cigarette, while shaking the whole time, took a shower & went to bed.

Sophie is sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee, John walks in “Hey.”, Sophie did not respond, John turned towards her and Sophie is quietly weeping. Wide-eyed, concerned, “Whats wrong!” Sophie quietly responds, “I was walking to the restaurant last night to meet Amy & Julie, & I took a shortcut down an alley, It was a stupid move, I know, & this drugged out creep cam at me from behind & threatened me with rape. I started kicking & screaming & bit his arm & ran like hell. He did not hit or hurt me!”, Oh, my god, the fucking scumbag. Are you alright?”, “I will be.”, “Are you going to file a police report?”, “No, I did not see his face nor his clothes it was one big blur. If the fucker physically hurt me I would.”, “And it’s NOT your fault people walk down those alleys all the time & it’s usually safe!”. Sophie wipes her eyes with a tissue & blows her nose, “John will you come to the Enough is Enough violence equal rights rally with me Saturday in downtown, I have something to say?”, “YEAH!”. Sophie & John are heading to downtown LA, “So do you have a speech written?”, “Yes, it’s written all in my head”. They hope out of their car, both are looking around, a nervous Sophie, “My god there’s got to be around 500 ppl, yikes!”, John is chilled, “Don’t worry you’ll do fine, you shine under pressure or in a crisis!”, Sophie flashed a kind smile at her best friend. Sophie is sweating while walking up to the podium, She stands solid & strong, she begins…”Hi, my name is Sophie James, some may know my dad Mick James from the band The Pythia. I was attacked a few days ago while walking alone. His intent was to sexually assault me, but I broke free & ran like hell. My mom has been physically & emotionally abused by my former step-dad for years. One night she fought back in self-defense, she was NOT acquitted due to being heavily intoxicated & spent five years behind bars, & her mental state was not well for most of her sentence, She WAS generously financially compensated by the state of Californa, however, which by the way did not take my anger away. Last year an eighteen-year-old boy was beaten up & raped by a ‘straight’ man for being gay while walking to school. Six months ago a petite 30-year-old man was attacked and raped in his own home. Sexual assault does NOT discriminate. My mom & those two men bleed & hurt emotionally and physically just the same regardless of gender. We must end sexism NOW, we must have gender equality NOW, we must have equal rights for all NOW, we must change mindsets & the way people think NOW! To men: We NEED your help! To women: We NEED your help, Thank you!”

A month passes by, Sophie & Carrie are grocery shopping at Whole Foods. “Sophie, I’m ready for us to get our own place together.”, “Mom, shouldn’t you get your own place first or move in by yourself to become adjusted to everything & then I will move in?”, “No, I have been waiting for this for six years, I can only adjust if you’re by my side. John can live with us too (flashing a quick smile).”, “mom, I don’t know, I think you should live there first.”, Carrie breathly mumbles “I am gonna have a nervous breakdown.”, “What mom?”. Carrie drops to the floor in hysterics “I NEED THIS, YOU’RE MY HEART AND I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT MY HEART!” Sophie is in shock “MOM, OH MY GOD GET OFF THE FLOOR!”, helping her up & running out the door holding her by her underarm & runs out. They’re sitting in Sophie’s car, her mother is calm. “So mom, what kind of furniture should we buy for our new place (flashing a smile)?” Carrie softly weeps.

Christine Krantz copyright 2018