Lipstick Bailbonds

The Word: BAIL

It was eleven o’clock at night when Miles called. “Hi baby, I’m in a bit of trouble,” he said.

It was more than a bit of trouble. Miles was calling from County Jail. His wife Susan had had him arrested. He was supposed to have been out of the family house by five, but he’d been slow. Typical Miles, he’d forgotten about the restraining order coming into play at 5 p.m. Thursday. Knowing him, Katy thought, he hadn’t really believed Susan would actually do it. Have him arrested. But at five minutes after five, as he was wheeling three crates of files to the rented van parked in the driveway, the police cars arrived and, though Miles explained it was his own house, they led him away in handcuffs.

Katy had never been to a bail bondsman before. It was actually a bail bondswoman. She picked a place called Lipstick Bailbonds, which made sense, because it wasn’t a question of who got arrested most, it was a question of who posted bail most, and as a woman, she felt a lot better about going to Lipstick than to Honest Don’s or Wild West or the other bondspeople downtown.

The bondswoman, Frances, a small, tough, talkative dirty blonde, explained it was $2000 for a $20,000 bond. But it wasn’t like a fee you paid. She would have to put up something against the larger amount. That was a bond. In case he didn’t show up.


Like her house.

She would have to put up a lien against her house, betting that Miles would show up for his trial.

Katy and Miles had been lovers for eight months. She had never felt this way about a man before, ever. He made every moment they spent together paradise. What she would give, just to have him for an evening, an unbroken week would be heaven itself. The undiluted charm, the wit, the things he knew, the things he’d seen, the fascinating circles he traveled in.

Admittedly, the man was chaos in wingtips. Hopeless. Always racing from one disaster to the next. The high drama. It could leave her exhausted, just hearing the half of it. and now, his enraged wife had had him thrown in jail.

How could he not have believed that the restraining order, which Susan persuaded the judge to place against him after she’d discovered Miles’ and Katy’s affair, accusing him of violence, how could he not believe the order would be enforced? How could he not have guessed, even now, how seriously vengeful his wife would be? Katy was terrified of her. Susan would have murdered him outright if she could have. Short of that, arrest must have seemed the perfect opportunity to push his cortisol level to the heart-attack level.

But now Frances was asking her to put up her house as collateral.

It wasn’t fancy. Just a little Echo Park shack, but… it was her house. Her house. The one thing she owned it the world.

“How well do you know this guy?” Frances asked.

She loved Miles more than she could have imagined herself capable. But how well did she know him? She had never met any of his friends. She had never been to his house–obviously. It was something you agreed to, if you had an affair with a married man. She’d never seen where he ate breakfast, she’d never met his friends, she’d never visited the office. When they socialized together, it was only with her friends, never his. She knew he had a whole separate life with his wife, a fancy Westside life, fundraisers and dinner parties and events at the children’s expensive private schools. But she always tried not to think about that.

Why couldn’t he call one of his friends, his rich friends, to put up the bail?

But this was happening because of her. Because of them. He called Katy because it was their love that caused all this.

Except he’d never said he loved her. He never ever said that. He thanked God for her, said he adored her, but never made the simple declaration. I love you. How well did she know him? In some ways, very well, and in some, not at all. She did know, however, he could be on a flight to Spain and suddenly think, Oh god, when was that court date?

And now he wanted her to put up her house. He did not love her, didn’t really know what that even meant. You protected people you loved. You protected them, even from yourself.

County Jail was no picnic. Murderers, rapists. And yet.
© Janet Fitch 2010 all rights reserved

Part of a weekly series of short short stories based on a writing exercise, The Word. “Inspired by a simple word, chosen at random, write a two-page double-spaced story, using the Word at least once.”

Next week’s word is: FIDDLE


7 Responses to “Lipstick Bailbonds”

  1. MarleeO Says:

    the word: BRILLIANT!

  2. alisa wood Says:

    The lack of self preservation Katy had was tragic and yet all too familiar. Oh god, I can relate to each of these characters so completely and have been them all at one time or another. Is that narcissism or empathy?

  3. I am quite behind on the actual time line of The Word exercises. But I did one for “open” and it really helped me come back to my love of writing. I love your writing and I’m so happy I could be inspired once again.
    Thank you!

  4. sharon mayberry Says:

    i wish Katy had just finished watching “midnight Run” when she got the call.

  5. Dave C Says:

    Hi Janet

    Kind of thought your other pieces were stronger. Saw a picture of St. Petersburg and wondered if that is where your new book is set.


  6. Awesome. You’re one of the few authors that makes me read every word and want to.

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