Emma left that little, isolated farm at 14. Her father beat her while her mother looked on, and her older brother molested her and threatened her if she ever told anyone. That warm late spring morning when no one was looking, she woke up early, filled a small suitcase, took the money she was saving in her piggy bank, and walked 13 muddy miles to the highway where she caught the 9am bus for the city
Emma arrived in a university town and tried to blend in with the students. After a couple of days of hanging out on campus, scavenging food from leftovers students left in cafeterias and lunch counters, and sleeping in scary alleys and in the brush near the lakes, she was running out of money and hope of earning any. Using a dormitory restroom, she made up as best she could and put on her best clothes. The student manager of the Rhine Cellar, having lost all of his employees to summer employment in their hometowns, was looking for help, and, although she looked too young to work, took pity on her pleading eyes and offered her a job cleaning tables and washing dishes.
Waif, though she was, so skinny, pale and emaciated, with childlike eyes, Emma soon caught the attention of the clientele. Mostly guys with little future left at the University, but still hanging out in the afternoon shooting pool, playing games, and generally killing time until the evening crowd arrived or they left school. She brushed their questions about her name, her age and where she was from off with a smile and continued cleaning tables. By the end of that first day, she smelled like a beer, but had been able to secure a couple of cold brats and a little change to carry away for her evening meal in the cool of the evening sunset on the lake. Later, she curled up in her blanket to the rustle of old leaves where she hid in the bushes to the night sounds of dogs barking in the distance and squirrels scurrying around in the dark.
Emma picked up a few tips, but was most glad when the week was over and she got her first pay. It wasn't much, only $35, but she put it down on a sublet room from a student that was leaving for the summer, and finally felt safer in her new surroundings, a third-floor bedroom next to the stairs, sharing a grungy old bathroom with four other girls. Emma only worked 20 hours a week, so there was lots of time for her to leave that room and wander about the campus to take in the scene.
A university town was the place to be. The Rhine Cellar soon became the hangout for a bunch of beats from New York City. They were colorful and cool, mostly Jewish and dark, with bright black, devilish eyes. Soon, Emma began to befriend them. One of the girls, very dark with straight black hair to her waist, wearing black lipstick, approached her. “Say, why are you renting that room when you could stay with us?” The student, who called herself Emerald, smiled wildly and flashed her eyes in a way that was very attractive. Emerald was very exotic and exciting; it made Emma want to know more.
“I don't know. My room is my room, nobody else's. What have you got that I don't have?” Emma's naïve defense crumbled easily.
Like the child she was, Emma soon followed Emerald to her, “pad.” Emerald and some other beats had rented an entire house and changed it into something akin to Greenwich Village, filled with grotesque and erotic art, walls painted black, turquoise or vermilion depending upon the mood, distant drumbeats from a record player constantly being refreshed with strange, foreign music, the faint smell of hashish and the overpowering smell of candles burning incense. Hot tea of Jasmine or other exotic flavors was always heating on the stove. The “Cave,” as the pad had come to be called, was a refuge for the beats and anyone who was willing to join them.
On this particular warm afternoon after work, Emma and Emerald were alone in the pad. After Emerald poured some tea for Emma, they retreated upstairs where Emerald crashed. They settled in some pillows in the corner. It was hot even with the windows open. “Emma, I'm not sure I like your name, ‘Emma’.”
“It was my grandmother's name. She came from Sweden. She was a big, strong, busty woman. So unlike me.”
“Oh, I do think you will develop. It's just that you’re too young right now. How old are you anyway, 16?”
“I'd like to think so. I have to grow up quickly now since I left home.”
“You are so fair–don't even have any freckles. Your skin is so pale it's almost transparent. And that hair! So straight and so rich.” Emerald couldn't help but run her fingers through that soft silky blondeness like it was honey. “And your mouth. You know you have a mouth like a cherub?” She bent over slightly and approached Emma's face with hers. Their lips briefly touched. Emerald's lips were electrified by the forbidden thought and vibrated, every nerve on edge.
Emma was startled at the older girl's impulsiveness and delighted at the same time. She reacted anyway. “Hey, don't do that. I only kiss boys.”
“I think we will call you Angel,” Emerald replied, ignoring what Emma said. She ran her fingers through Emma's hair and gently brushed her ears, becoming bright red from Emma's embarrassment. Emerald's eyes narrowed as she once again placed her lips on Emma's–this time with her hands behind Emma's head, she held the kiss for some time, until she felt Emma giving in to the moment.
“If you are going to be an angel, you must dress like it. Let's see if I have something that you can try on? Take off those jeans and that T-shirt.” Emerald went to her dresser, pulled out a drawer, and begin pulling out bits and pieces of cloth. “Here, try this on.” She threw Emma a pair of white tights and continued to rummage with her eye on the mirror.
Obediently, with some reluctance, Emma pulled off her T-shirt, revealing that she didn't need a bra even though her nipples were now rigid with a strange excitement. They were small, pink, and almost translucent like her breasts. Emma was wearing boy's jeans. She toyed with the middle button at the top for a moment, and then slid the zipper down revealing white cotton panties with little hearts on them. She looked in the mirror as she undressed; watching herself do it and watching Emerald watch her. Emma plunked down on the mattress that Emerald used for a bed, and picked up the tights to put on.
“No, no. You won't need those panties with those tights. Besides, those hearts will show through and it will look weird when you bend over at the Rhine Cellar.” Emerald continued her rummaging with a slight smile of seduction creeping into the corner of her mouth, still remembering the kiss. Emma giggled at the thought of someone looking at hearts on her butt.
Emma stood up again and wiggled out of her panties. She had a wisp of blonde hair down there, but that was all. It wasn't only Emma's ears that were red now.
Emerald had found a ballerina tutu from the days she took ballet lessons. It was ideal. She turned and came to Emma, still struggling to pull the tights on. Emerald gave her a little help, gently touching Emma in the right spots. Before she was through, Emerald had to touch those pink nipples and give Emma another solid, meaningful kiss. She then tied the tutu around Emma's waist and asked Emma to stand before the mirror.
There was the sound of footsteps running up the stairs and Dante, one of Emerald's roommates, burst into the room before the girls could react. Dante was saying as he entered the room, “Emerald, have you seen my…?” He stopped in the middle of his question when he saw the two girls before the mirror.
“Get out! Get out of here, now!” Emerald was angry at Dante's rude interruption. Dante, turned and ran back to where he came from, but not before he got an eye full of an angel. “That's the trouble with an open house like this, you never know who's gonna come through the door at any given time. At least you are partially dressed. They see me all the time naked. Always sneaking peeks–get what I mean?"
Still a bit embarrassed by what had happened, Emma replied, “I think I do. Well, at least if I lived here, I think I would know.”
“That's what I like about you, you are so naïve.” Emerald wrapped her arms around Emma again from behind, running her hands up and down that flat belly and brushing those tender tips with her fingers. She paused. “Let's get you something for the top and see about some makeup.”
Angel moved in the next day. There was no use in paying rent when she could throw in with Emerald for a few bucks a month. She shared Emerald's mattress. There were nights when they shared the mattress with other girls and, sometimes, boys. Angel couldn't call them men because they were almost always drunk or high and Emerald knew how to control them. Angel remained a virgin.
Her boss at the Rhine Cellar was not too pleased with Angel's new look. He made her put on a T-shirt and jeans when she became too outlandish. It wasn't entirely Angel's fault. Emerald was basically in charge of Angel's wardrobe and decided every day what she would wear. Angel sure got attention. More attention than she really wanted. So it was okay with her when her boss made her dress down for the customers.
Angel's night life dramatically changed from crashing every night in her little room, depressed, to spending most evenings late into the night at one of the many coffee houses that sprang up like mushrooms in the morning after a rain. The original ones were in churches and served up a combination of folk singing and tea or coffee. Those got boring after a while and many more, often secret and held in basements, attics, old warehouses, and other spooky places, became wide open continual parties, with booze, pot, and other drugs to soothe the soul and elevate the imagination. Some held sex orgies.
Emerald was a sophomore in theater arts, and made sure that Angel was protected from all that was going on around her. Still, it was one hot summer for an underage girl in a college town. There were some well-heeled students that she catered to. In spite of the free life, Angel, with Emerald's help, had managed to save a little over $700.
The fall semester started off badly for Emerald. She was taking Western lit and hating it. She was also required to take basic algebra, a form of communication that was totally alien to her being. The leaves changed and the whole campus became a colorful wonderland with piles of crunchy leaves underfoot and the smell of autumn in the air. Some of their friends began to talk of the action in LA. Emerald started California dreaming and told Angel. “Hey, let's get out of this place. My classes are going nowhere and sunny California is pulling me to its warm, sandy shores. Are you hip? Let's go. What you say?”
Angel didn't have a clue about California. She was living a dream that she knew would change when the weather turned cold and the snow came. No more angel outfits in parka and sweater weather. What the hell. We only live once. “Okay, Emerald, whatever you say. I don't know diddly about California, but it sure sounds nice from what everyone is saying about it. I'll go if you go, but only with you. I think I'd die if you weren't here with me.” They hugged and kissed and it was a sealed deal. By the end of September they were ready to leave.
Everything in the Cave was shared, so Angel only packed her summer things in that old suitcase and left the rest for other people. She didn't have much anyway. She went down to the bank and withdrew all her money. Emerald and her latest boyfriend, Charlie, a Jewish cool daddy from New York City who had just arrived and decided that college was not for him, pooled their resources and bought a ‘53 VW Beetle for 350 bucks. The three of them crammed in the thing one Monday morning and were off to LA.
The trip West was amazing to Angel. She never saw so much corn in the fields. And then, they were on the prairie without a tree in sight. They found little places to camp by streams in the country and cooked out with food they bought in little stores along the way on a Coleman stove. In Colorado, Angel was amazed when she saw the Rockies looming in the distance, like a picture book or calendar she'd seen. They stopped at all the hokey places on Route 66. They saw dinosaur bones, snakes and lizards, and stuffed animals stitched together that even Angel could see were fake. They saw lots of pottery and Indian stuff and even some real Indians. The old VW required some attention and they repaired a couple of tires, but otherwise, it got them there with a lot of smoke and noise. It was cold in the desert at night and there wasn't any water except what they bought in stores, but the days were warm and sunny and gave them a hint of what they would find in California.
After two weeks of discovering the country, they arrived in LA and headed immediately for the beach. By nightfall they were playing in the sand and feeling the cold Pacific on their bare feet as the sun set on Huntington Beach. They spent the night under the pier. Cops came by twice but let them stay when Charlie told them that they would leave in the morning. The next day, they headed on up to Hollywood. There was a lot of heat and bare sidewalk but they did manage to see a few people that looked like they might be stars and caught the scene other beats were into. Mostly parading up and down Sunset Boulevard in weird costumes and asking everyone to end the Vietnam War and pray for peace. After two nights in a sleazy motel off Sunset Boulevard, Charlie found a second floor flat in an alley off Vine that they could crash in.
Emerald found a little work stripping in a burlesque house, Charlie sold newspapers, and Angel did a little car hopping—so they got by. It was hard to park the Bug on the street and they constantly had to move it. Everything was so spread out, unlike the university campus, so there were only a couple of coffeehouses that they hung out in. Most of the LA kids were still into surfing and cars–so uncool. As the months dragged on and winter turned cold and rainy, Angel began to think of home and all the snow she found wonderful now that she didn't have it–-except on the mountains sometimes in the backdrop above LA. Just after Christmas, Angel got pneumonia and ended up in the hospital. When Angel recovered enough to leave, a week later, they asked her to pay. When she told them she didn't have the money, they had her fill out papers for welfare. It was embarrassing, but necessary. They told her that if she ever earned any money she would have to pay them back.
The scene wasn't happening–it just wasn't happening, so Emerald decided they had to leave–heard it was happening up in the City, San Francisco. Once again, they put all their belongings in the VW Beetle and drove north along California 1 up the Coast. The sun was shining that March morning. As soon as they left the smog behind and each breathtaking view of the Pacific appeared, they knew they were never going back. Once again, camping along the highway, sometimes on the beach and sometimes in the forest, the trip became magical like the land they were in. They sang songs by the campfire every night and found a lot of others traveling like they did along the way–many hitchhiking with flowers in their hair. When they got to Monterey, the travelers thought they were in heaven. Discovered magic mushrooms that gave them weird trips on stranger highways. Unfortunately, the locals weren't too happy to have these flower children around. Almost everything they did resulted in a citation and fine. They couldn't stay in Monterey and had to move on to Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz was much more laid-back than Monterrey and they stayed there a few days, taking in the sun and surf. There were abandoned buildings to crash in. There were people selling drugs everywhere and guitars with people singing folk songs on the sidewalk. But the redwood trees beckoned, and they drove up through them to San Francisco.
The cool peaceniks were gathering on Haight Street. With help of people on the street, Charlie found a third floor flat that they could afford with the little cash they had left, and set about creating a new Cave. Almost every night there were new people joining them, sharing their cash, their music, their sex, and their drugs. By now, Angel was fully into the scene. Emerald no longer protected her. It was a high time. The Grateful Dead were playing in Panhandle Park. Angel was the star of the party. Almost naked at 15 with flowers in her hair and everywhere else she could tie them. All the men and boys wanted her. She ditched the men in favor of the boys.
But there was one man who took charge of the Cave from Charlie who wasn't weak. This tall, blue-eyed boy from Kansas with blonde hair nearly down to his waist had a charismatic way about him that attracted Angel. They became a couple, but still had sex with others. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. One by one, first Charlie, and then Emerald, and then others from the Cave ended up at the Free Clinic getting treated for all manner of diseases and bad trips. Charlie skipped the scene and went back to New York. Emerald, after recovering from gonorrhea, was convinced by her family to go back to school. She entered Berkeley that fall.
Somehow, Angel seemed immune. She loved LSD and would have sex with five guys while high on it. No one had any money, but it didn't matter, there was always fresh, young meat with money coming in. By the end of that summer of peace and love things turn sour. The flow of money ran out. There was anger in the streets. The source of drugs became expensive and dangerous. The Hells Angels and other gangs moved in. Kansas, as he was called, called for a change. “Let's go.” He said one day, “up in the redwoods and mountains and form a commune where we can be clean and free from all the bad tripping here in the City.”
It sounded like a good idea to Angel and the others, now threatened by the very streets they loved. With Charlie and Emerald gone, Kansas commandeered the psychedelically painted VW Beetle, and a ratty caravan of five cars and two school buses left the City behind. They settled on state forestland in Mendocino County, about 15 miles from California 1. It was late in the year already, so they rushed to set up shelter and plant a garden. Most were vegetarians, but they soon started eating meat when it was the only thing available to eat. The boys, devout pacifists, bought a used 22 rifle and started shooting game without a license so they would have enough to eat. The winter turned cold and it rained and snowed on everyone. Their garden turned to mud and most of the vegetables that weren’t harvested were spoiled. They made crafts and tried to sell them in the villages along the highway, but they had few buyers and what little money they had was gone by early spring. By March, all they had left was a cake and some rotten potatoes. Things were bleak when Kansas returned from jail for shooting a deer out of season. To top that off, he got crabs in jail. They decided to leave. Angel was eight months pregnant and starving. She had to get help or her baby might not survive.
Everyone had left already except for five of them. They piled everything in one of the buses and drove over the mountains to Napa Valley. Driving down California 8, they picked up some LSD and Angel had a bad trip. Kansas knew of a commune in the area and drove there. By the time they arrived, Angel had had her baby on the bus, a little girl, about 4 pounds and barely breathing. Angel was so out of it that she didn't even know that she'd given birth.
Kansas felt that he needed to take her to the nearest hospital in Napa. The people of the commune they had hoped to stay at could not take any more visitors or friends, but they offered to take the little girl. Kansas thought it was best because he had to save Angel's life. Angel was critical from loss of blood when they arrived at the hospital. It was five days before she overcame her anemia with transfusions and vitamins and good food that brought her back from the brink of starvation and malnutrition. The first thing April said, was, “Where's is my baby? Did somebody steal it?” She had no memory of the birth, only of being pregnant.
Kansas and the others parked the bus and began working in the vineyards to earn some money. The migrant workers they worked alongside of resented them, but it was necessary for the four to survive. Once again, Angel signed welfare papers and the bus moved on with her in it.
45 years later.
“Hi, this is Emma. There was a time when I was called Angel back in California. I am looking for a girl, born in 1968 in Napa Valley. She probably has blonde hair and blue eyes like me, although I'm unsure who her father is. The girl may or may not have a birth certificate because she was dropped off at a commune and they did not know that I was the mother of the child.” Emma Roberts, the name she took from her second husband, was typing into a website that matched others seeking to find orphaned or lost relatives.
Emma was living in a group home, a kind of shelter for people rehabilitating from all kinds of problems including abuse, drugs, abandonment, and mental problems. At Hestor House, she had found herself after two bad marriages and many years of struggle with drugs and her demons. It all came down to the abuse she had received as a child. Emma now understood who she really was and what she was going to be. She even had traveled back to that farm where it all happened; only to find that her parents were dead and the people who lived there could not tell her what happened to her brother. Before, Emma had wished him dead, but now she was willing to forgive.
Among all the people at Hestor House, she was most fond of Trinket Silver—named for her naturally white hair. Probably because soon after Trinket came to Hestor House, she told Emma that she had lived in a commune until she was about five, and then she was in foster care until she was 18 when she ran away and eventually ended up in jail for drugs. After many discussions, they became close friends. Emma thought she now had a daughter and Trinket felt she had found a mother. They even made plans to leave the house together and strike out on their own as soon as they were able. Trinket had green eyes and white blonde hair, but the same slim shape as Emma. There was some resemblance around the mouth and eyes that they noticed. Others noticed too.
Trinket decided to see if she could find out anything about her mother and father. Hestor House had some old computers that were donated and recently had wired a donated dial-up connection to the Internet. Trinket was one of the first to get on those computers and learn how to use them. Soon, she was teaching others. Trinket knew she was in a commune in California, but she didn't know where, so she searched for children brought into foster care during the years, two or three, that she thought she might have turned five. Because her name was so unique, gradually, she pieced together that her first foster home, from 5 to 7 years of age was in Calaveras County, to a couple living remotely in the mountains. That's when she remembered the sexual abuse she received from Axel and Alice, the couple, who only took her as a foster child to be a sex toy for them.
When Trinket was seven, Axel and Alice shuffled her off to a farm in the Stockton area where she fondly remembered the animals and Grandpa and Grandma Adolphe and Martha Harrison who grew too old to take care of her at nine. And then she lived with three other families until Tom Smith sexually abused her when she was 18 in San Mateo County going to school at Redwood City High School. Tom's wife, Susan looked the other way. So, one time when she took a trip with the high school volleyball team, Trinket took off with only the contents of her duffel bag for Los Angeles on a bus.
Trinket's search revealed that Tom and Susan Smith had looked for her, but given up. With most of her life pieced together, Trinket could not locate exactly when and where she was born and whether or not she had a birth certificate. It troubled her and she told Emma about it, but there was nothing Emma could do because she knew she had done the same thing to her daughter and knew that it would be difficult for her to find her origin. Every time they discussed it, they hugged each other and cried.
“Why don't you look for your daughter on the Internet?” Trinket asked Emma one day when her search was running dry.
“I can't do that. I don't even know how to use a computer.” Emma was reluctant to show her ignorance of things computer.
“It's okay, Emma, I'll show you.” With that encouragement from Trinket, Emma and Trinket got on the computer together and begin to search. Even with everything that Emma knew about her time in California, they turned up nothing. Finally, Emma received an e-mail:
To: Emma Roberts (ERoberts.Cloud-Link.net)
From: Child Search (support.FindLostChildren.org)
Subject: Your Inquiry
We regret to inform you that, other than the information you have provided us that we will retain in our database, we have not found any linking information to help you find your child.
However, we are pleased to announce a new service whereby you may provide us with DNA so that we can add that to your database information that will, hopefully, in the future, link to your child too.
If you wish to participate in the service, please provide a sample of your tissue or blood (a local clinic may be able to help you provide a sealed sample) with the sum of $900.00 (nine hundred and 00/100 dollars) to:
Genetic Search, Incorporated
PO Box 1185
Palo Alto, California 97135-1185
We are sincerely sorry that we are unable to help you, but remember; your information will remain with us until we find a link. That could happen at any time.
The Search Staff
Both Emma and Trinket had part-time jobs, but they had expenses in spite of living in Hestor House. It took them several months to save the $1800 and to pay for a local clinic to take and preserve some tissue samples for sending. Emma and Trinket had almost forgotten the thought of receiving positive results in the back of their minds, when, about four weeks later, a call came into the house. The front desk called Emma and told her that they were transferring the call to her. An excited voice came on the line.
“Hi, This Is Sharon Gauger from Child Search. Normally we would send you an e-mail, but since this is such a extraordinary coincidence, I thought we would call and send verifying information later. We have confirmed that your DNA matches the DNA of Trinket, who sent her DNA in with yours. While this is extremely good news for the both of you, we were unable to find a match for Trinket's father… Hello? Hello? Are you there… Ms. Roberts?”
Emma had dropped the phone and fainted for a moment, but, when she regained her composure, she picked the phone up again and answered Sharon's pleas. “Did I hear you say that Trinket is my daughter?”
“Yes, with 99.9% certainty. This is one of the most remarkable stories in all of Child Search history. Please e-mail us your pictures so that we can post the story. Because your story will be advertising for us, you'll be receiving a check for $5000, each, in the mail within the next week. Be prepared to go on Oprah or other talk shows to tell your story. I am so happy for you. We will send mail confirmation of what I just said. Goodbye for now.”
Emma ran down the hall to Trinket's room to tell her the good news and to kiss and hug her like she never did before.