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Lost and Found

Baby Girl has one last chance at a new life.

Tardiness was another problem, Lopez told the court, even though Baby G tried to brush it off as forgetfulness.

"We're trying to help you," Marcucci said. "But it's up to you. The thing I know about you is that you're smart, and you only forget the things you want to forget."

Baby Girl was now facing 338 days. "That's a long time," the judge said. "Have you ever done that kind of time?"

"No," Baby G replied.

About eighteen months ago, she'd done about three and a half months of a two-year drug sentence when the court ordered her released to probation early. She didn't mention that to the judge.

Marcucci sent her to jail for five days.

Damn, it took reading it over and over to plainly see that Baby Girl is you and the other girl is me.
I can't believe it's always been right in front of my eyes.
But I have always chosen Baby Girl to be my disguise.
To hide the feelings that mean the most, the ones that make me cry when Baby Girl is not close.
But I've made up my mind, both mine and BG's, to quit coming up with excuses and take care of responsibilities.

Clayton picked up Baby Girl at jail on a Sunday morning, and they grabbed breakfast at a diner on Colfax. Clayton tried to talk Baby G into staying at the safehouse, but she was careful not to push too far. Baby G just wanted to put her eyebrow- and tongue-piercing jewelry back in and get her nails done. She said she'd stay with the same friend she'd been staying with before, a woman who has an apartment off Colfax and cooks for her and does her laundry.

Baby Girl says she's not a lesbian, but she flirts with women to make them feel better about themselves -- and her. Women were all over her in jail, and she was flattered.

At Empowerment for a life-skills session a couple of days later, Baby G noticed a whole lot of ass in tight pants. "Damn," she said, as one woman walked by.

The women in Baby G's group started out discussing how to deal with different situations they're bound to encounter. But the conversation quickly turned to tales of how they'd avoided being raped or killed by tricks gone bad. They talked about the "Colfax shuffle," stumbling through the streets after a few days and nights of crack-bingeing without food or sleep. They remembered who was good to them and who was not and how they treated their own.

The women are mandated to attend court weekly. If they show progress, the judge reduces that to a couple of times a month, then maybe every other month for the rest of the program.

When Baby G returned to court the next week, Ann, the woman who'd been with her that first day, was in front of the judge again. The bags under her eyes were even worse; she'd fled after her intake date with Chrysalis, and the cops had found her on the street.

While Ann was talking, Baby G was making fun of the other people in court. She pointed out how a big woman was wearing a denim jacket that was way too small for her, and how on the other side of the courtroom was a small man in a suit way too big for him. "That suit wouldn't look so bad if he was a real gangster," she said. "But it looks like it was a hand-me-down from his grandpa."

Four weeks into the twenty-week program, Baby G wasn't looking so good herself, having racked up just thirteen hours of classes toward the 120-hour goal.

But Clayton thought she was getting somewhere with her. Baby G was feeling guilt. She was worried about her ten-year-old being raised by the same woman who'd raised her and her mother before her. "It's sobriety," she told Clayton in a session after court. "Because I can't hide it no more, because I don't have the drugs in my system."

Baby G wiped her eyes as she left Clayton. She'd given another urine sample that would prove positive for coke, her fourth hot test in a month, but she wasn't scheduled to see the judge for two weeks. She walked off with another woman fresh in the program, a woman so addicted to crack that she wouldn't take her food stamps to the store without having someone else go along, because she was afraid it would wind up in the dopeman's hands. Baby G put her arm around her as they headed out into the drizzle.

It rained hard that night. Police rolled up on Baby G off Colfax and found a digital scale with remnants of what they believed was cocaine -- a potential felony offense. They took her to the city jail, and the next day Baby Girl stepped in front of a judge who was not Marcucci. She was ordered held on $25,000 bond.

A couple of days later, though, the charges were dropped. Prosecutors didn't have sufficient evidence to make a conviction likely.

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