Girls Gone Wild

When Bobbi Jo Smith and Jennifer Jones left Mineral Wells, they were young and in love. They had a full tank of gas, a case of beer,and the open road ahead. There was only one problem: They’d left their roommate—a 49-year-old amateur pornographer— lying in bed with three bullets in his head.

a job with a fast-food restaurant but quit that too, after a month. She was eighteen years old and bored out of her mind. She wrote her last entry in her diary at three o’clock in the morning on March 24, 2004.

Dear Journal, Hey, long time no hear. You have been too busy for me or what? Well…I have f—ed up again, like always. I had everything going good, really good for me, and I started on that shit again. This is where I always f—up.…I am going to make everything sweet and simple for you. I…moved in with Mel and Rob.…I got a car, cell, everything my heart desired. I had a boyfriend named Billy. Life was great. Well, now I’m in Mineral Wells with my dad and Audrey in the Spanish Trace Apartments. Billy broke up with me, and now I am not in school and haven’t been since Feb. 12th. I am going to Fort Worth in the morning and maybe Audrey will be back without her dyke girlfriend. I’ll write you later, Buh-bye, Jennifer Jones.

THE NEXT DAY, Jennifer was standing at her dad’s apartment door, on the back side of the run-down complex, where the asphalt had buckled and cracked. She was dressed in her pajamas, smoking a cigarette and looking at the field behind the parking lot when Audrey drove up with her girlfriend, Bobbi Jo Smith, in the front seat.

Jennifer had heard about this girl. Bobbi Jo was a notorious charmer, a party girl into every kind of trouble. Maybe because she was the only girl in a family full of brothers, many people mistook her for a young man, though she was a mother, having dropped out of school in the tenth grade to give birth to a son. But she wasn’t much the nurturing type. She’d recently moved out of the house where her grandparents had raised her and left her two-year-old son with relatives. She lived by her wits. On the day Jennifer met her, Bobbi Jo was living with a 49-year-old man named Bob Dow.

Audrey walked into the apartment while Bobbi Jo stayed in the car, her tattooed arm hanging out the window as she eyed Jennifer.

“You ever kiss a girl?” Bobbi Jo asked.

“No,” Jennifer said.

“You want to?”

Jennifer smiled. “No.”

“I could change your mind,” Bobbi Jo said with a laugh as Audrey walked outside and hopped back in the car.

She was persistent. The next day Bobbi Jo told Audrey she needed to go to the grocery store, but instead she called Jennifer and asked if she’d meet her at the library.

Jennifer was intrigued. She knew she had always liked boys; she’d run through one after another since she was fourteen. But none of them had ever stuck around very long. That day, under a tree in the park beside the library, Bobbi Jo kissed her. And all of a sudden Jennifer didn’t care that Bobbi Jo was a lesbian or even that kissing her meant she was one too. In that instant, she’d decided she was in love. “Come on with me,” Bobbi Jo told her, and like a pied piper, she led Jennifer to Bob’s house.

A tall, clean-shaven guy with hazel eyes and short, graying hair, Bob had inherited the house after his younger brother died in the fall of 2003 and left him caretaker to his mother. He didn’t consider this responsibility too much of an inconvenience, though his mother was almost completely incapacitated. Bob received her Social Security checks in exchange for bathing her and feeding her the occasional hamburger from McDonald’s. When he had guests, he simply locked the door to her room while she slept.

He and Bobbi Jo had an informal agreement. Bob supplied Bobbi Jo with drugs, a roof over her head, a foam mattress in the living room, and a part-time job at his apartment-repair service. In return, Bobbi Jo went out and solicited young women, telling them she knew a great place to party. New girls were the key to Bob’s happiness. “You’re my chick magnet,” he liked to say.

That afternoon, Bobbi Jo and Jennifer arrived on Bob’s doorstep. The house still showed his mother’s touch, and the decor hadn’t changed in years. The windows were mostly obscured by curtains from the fifties, and old green paint on the walls deadened the light in the room. Bobbi Jo and Jennifer inhaled the pot-scented air as they walked past the stacks of boxes containing Bob’s brother’s collections of Hot Wheels cars, Beanie Babies, paper plates, and Franklin Mint collectibles.

“Wow, she’s pretty!” Bob said as Jennifer walked in. “She could be a movie star!” He wasn’t necessarily referring to Hollywood. In his spare time, Bob made amateur pornographic videos with the girls Bobbi Jo brought home to him, some of whom the authorities now believe were as young as fifteen.

That night, Bob pulled Bobbi Jo aside. “Ask her if she’ll sleep with me,” he told her. When the question was relayed, Jennifer was disgusted. “No way!” she told Bobbi Jo. “He’s too gross.”

And for a while, Bob was content to bide his time.

FROM THE DAY OF THEIR FIRST KISS, Jennifer and Bobbi Jo were inseparable, leaving Audrey furious for a time. Jennifer immediately moved her clothes out of her father’s apartment and into Bob’s living room. Being with Bobbi Jo made her feel as if she had finally found solid footing, a partner to spend her life with. Bobbi Jo, meanwhile, was mesmerized by the attention from this girl who would do almost anything she asked. If Bobbi Jo needed to run some errand, Jennifer went with her. If Bobbi Jo needed to help Bob with his repair service, Jennifer lent a hand. And if Bobbi Jo wanted to do some drugs, Jennifer was ready to partake. 

Drugs became their whole existence. They’d get drunk and high for 48 hours straight. One week of partying led to

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