You hear that? That’s Momma. My momma, her name’s Darlene. That’s Tammy Lynn she’s talking to.

Tammy Lynn: I don’t know how you can eat that slop, Darlene. I wouldn’t give it to a dog.

Darlene: I close my eyes and swallow. Like when I was married.

I hear the girls all laugh at that. I must confess, I laughed, myself. That's my momma. Big as life. I’ve always stood in her shadow.

She’ll keep you in stitches, but don’t get me wrong. It ain’t all fun and games in this place. Still, if I got to be here I’m glad she’s here with me. Makes the time go down a lot faster. Momma and me got six more years before we can even think about being paroled.

Tammy Lynn: Look out Darlene. Carter’s here.

Darlene: That son-of-a-bitch? Last week, swear to God, he grabbed my butt.

Tammy Lynn: (laughing) Jesus Darlene, what’d you do?

Darlene: I said, Sarge, I know you gonna need it later tonight, so you oughta watch where you put that hand.

The girls all laugh and that’s my momma, just says whatever comes in her head. People tell me all the time, you ain’t nothing like Darlene.

It’s true, I ain’t. She’s a leader, I just follow. Cain’t everybody be a star. Some people’s born to the light, I s’pose. Some people’s made for the shadows.

Darlene: Carter says to me, I’m gonna write you up, Darlene. Write me up, I said, for what? 

Tammy Lynn: What’d he say?

Darlene: (Laughing) Insubordination. The man grabbed my ass! 

That’s her. That’s my momma. Don’t nobody else laugh that way. What’s the word? Infectious. She’ll make you laugh. Or make you cry. She can make you do a lot of things. Like I said, she’s a leader.

That’s how we come to be here now. She led me here. I followed her. Seems crazy  but it all made sense back then. 

See, Momma got it in her head that Darryl—my ex-husband, Darryl—that Darryl was…well, that he was doing stuff, to Jana, my little niece

Momma never liked Darryl. God knows he wasn’t perfect. But he’s a decent man, and “decent” just wasn’t good enough for Darlene. She kept on and on, about the terrible things that Darryl was doing. She said it so much it all became true. 

Darlene: (laughing) It was an accident. I swear it was. But they won’t let me work in the kitchen anymore. 

Tammy Lynn: (laughing) You’re just awful, Darlene. You really are.

Darlene: Ain’t I though? They said, you coulda killed that girl, Darlene, she almost lost a lung. I told ‘em, I said, I don’t see what all the fuss is about, she’s got two.

Momma calls me one day. We gotta do it now, she says. For Jana’s sake. I know this guy, for 1500, he’ll do it, clean. No worries. 

We met him there at the MegaMart, in the parking lot. Gave him the cash. About two seconds later, we were under arrest. Radios, sirens. Cops everywhere. The guy Momma said that she knew? That guy's a detective. It was like a movie. They slapped on the cuffs

I wonder sometimes if I really believed. Or if it was just easier, to say that I did. Jana believes it all now, either way. Momma put all them lies in her head

Tammy Lynn: Carter’s back. He’s watching you, Darlene.

Darlene: I bet you anything that man is hung like a cocktail frank.

I hear the girls all laugh at that. I must confess, I laughed, myself. Infectious, you see. They gather ‘round Momma—what’s that expression—like moths to a flame

Somewhere I read that the moths get confused. They freeze in the light; they get stuck and the light, it burns them away. 

But maybe it’s worth it. Just to be warm for a moment

I don’t know no one who likes to be cold.

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