Thursday, July 26, 2012

Betty Lou's Impatience

Jack Billmore was not a good dancer, to that he would freely admit. But, as he would confide to his friends, his lack of grace should not mean that he'd be penalized for life; never having the opportunity to trip the light fantastic with the chick of his choice, or press chest to breast while wobbling about a polished tile floor.

That his father was wealthy helped his chances. Girls were reticent to turn down his requests, even though they were assured of leaving the ballroom with bruised ankles and scuffed shoes. It was simply a matter of economics. That was until Betty Lou Bablunski came to town.

Betty Lou had not yet been accepted into a Poncho Villa Middle School clique, and so had not heard of Jack's inability to walk and chew gum at the same time. It's no surprise then, when Jack asked for her hand during a school dance hip hop medley, she happily accepted, hoping her action would finally break the ice and see her popularity rise.

It wasn't until the sixth time Jack stomped on her right toes that Betty Lou felt compelled to warn her partner of her prowess in the pugilistic arts. Jack could only giggle, the idea of a 13 year old female boxer seemed so cute. That was his downfall, as while giggling he failed to watch his feet and kicked Betty Lou square in her right shin.

A gurney was needed to take Jack's limp body from the gym turned ballroom that night, and another for Bobby Phelps, yet another for Fred Wannamaker and a fourth for the principal, Mister Hanks. Betty Lou had gotten her wish; at this dance she'd indeed broken the ice.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

MUWOD for 7-22-12

Made Up Word Of the Day


Hypotenutistic: "High-potten-oooo-tis'tick" {Adjective} The act of taking unfair advantage of others by the use of a well placed hypotenuse. Imbued with hypotenutism*.

(* hypotenutism noun A policy of aggressive hypotenuse preparedness.)

eg: I'd covered all the right angles, when suddenly from my opponent there came a straight line, connecting each of my rules to the other, defacing my symbolism, changing it's meaning entirely by slanting it to the left! It was a hypotenutistic move of grave proportions and one that cannot be forgiven!

Root Var: "I'd always been right, both vertically and horizontally, until I was flagrantly hypotenused!"

"She was a flaming right wing hypotenutist! Show her a left leaning divergence and she'd smother it with an immediate, opposing rectilineal traversal!"

"The professor hypotenized his eastern European student's angular puss, so as to make it less a distraction to the assembled round facers.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sinchronicists, Repent

Made Up Word of the Day


N sin krun is' itee

The practice of committing two or more cardinal sins (capital vices) at a time.
* Sinchronicitous Adjective
*Sinchronicitist Noun

eg: Jeff was known citywide for a tradition of sinchronicity. When the police arrived at Jeff's home, called there by a neighbor complaining about loud noise, they noted a television blaring vulgar audio. Weaving their way through stacks of Wonder Woman comic books, empty pizza boxes, beer cans, National Geographics opened to pages showing naked natives, chip bags and a few dozen hula dancing girl bobble heads, they stepped into the great room where a horrid stench announced Jeff's departure to afterlives unknown. Playing on the 65 inch flat screen gold encrusted hdtv was a porn film, "Debbie does Dunkin' Donuts". Above the set was a full length mirror, obviously positioned so that the viewer might shift his attentions from debauchery to self admiration. The walls in either direction were smothered in framed photographs, each a different neighbor couple, each having the husband of the couple "x'd" out and the words "I want you baby" written on the wife. Jeff's body was sprawled on the couch, covered in vomit and cracker crumbs. Judging by the 2 dozen open bags of taco chips, the vacant 6 pound box of cheddar cheese curds, the 34 now empty take out plates of Hooters hot chicken wings and 3 quart blue cheese dressing container... he had created within himself a giant gas ball which eventually blocked his esophagus, causing him to die by internal asphyxiation, just before finishing the book "America's Great Sinchronicitists, from Mark Twain through GW Bush."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ritter Park

Pussywillows, cattails, soft winds and roses
Rainbows in the woodland, water to my knees
Shivering, quivering, the warm breath of spring
Pussywillows cattails, soft winds and roses*

It's like no one knows it exists. A one time dairy farm, now parkland on the extreme outskirts of a last ring suburb. Close to home but far enough to make it a pleasurable ride, Linda and I visit 4 or 5 times a year for a cheap date.

A quick trip to a KFC solves the lunch issue; Linda loves the little box, it's so...picnic-like...and that spells r-o-m-a-n-t-i-c. First consideration in choosing prospective mates? Easy to please:)

The bench we use is on the highest point of a mature burr and pin oak covered hill. A new fire pit built close by creates visions of late night teenage party-on dudes and dudettes; but in the shady, bug free light of day, we are absolutely alone.

The city this park belongs to sports a nice round lake whose navigable body is a few miles from here.
Lakeville, originally a getaway community, is becoming overstocked with city dwellers running to furthest edge of civilization, swelling the area like a water pump filling a balloon.

The lake itself wanders under the major state freeway at its most western edge, the waters turning more slurried and shallow, filled with lily pads and cattails. Nearly a slough but with plenty of open water down its center, (water sometimes streaked by the bubbly wake of a passing canoe), the continuation of the lake wanders past our picnic spot and forms a "c" around us.

The view is exquisite, the company, superb. Once in a great while we run into others enjoying the expanse near our perch...a pair of female high school seniors having creative class pictures taken, their adoring entourage as entertaining as any "b" movie cast; an adulterous couple who keep eyeing us in hopes we'll wander off, but spread a blanket and lie down to play some serious kissy face in spite of the fact that we continue chatting and munching excess fatty carbs.

It is romantic actually. We just chit chat an hour away, gasping and pointing at groups of deer that gingerly take to the water looking for an algae free sip. We talk about her job, her family's woes, my opinions, who I might have pissed off today; a topic of never-ending amusement to the woman that thinks I'm just too cute to make people angry...just stuff, nothing too serious, as much that's funny as we can dredge up between us. When we were dating I took her to parks like this, there was no reason to stop doing what works for both of us.

On the way home I saw a silly cloud formation and of course had to identify it as I am a certified Dream Interpretist Extraordinaire.

It looked a bit like a punk with a mohawk; but as I watched it, the cheeks grew more solid, as if a second layer of marshmallow was wrapping itself across the creamy center. I had it, it was a Roman Centurion cameo...but for some unexplained reason, what left my lips as I turned to my love and screamed, was "Spartan". Centurion... Spartan...what's the difference really? HAHAHA.

Stand up and Cheer for good old O-ro-no...Spar-tans, we want to see you GO GO GO GO!

She was bouncing in her seat, gripping the shoulders of my sleeveless-T and whizzing them right and left as if they were imaginary pompons. Then I'm a shoulder drum for another half verse, my ears being yanked to and fro for the was downright embarrassing. RAH RAH RAH RAH

When we arrived home 15 minutes later she was still whooping it up. I pulled up to the garage door as is the custom, to allow her a generous space in which to disembark and enter the house. But today I, and my neighbors if they happened to be standing at their kitchen windows as we drove up, were treated to another full round of "Stand Up" with leaps and arm signals, chants and cheers and a rousing hollow hooray from the imaginary crowd in the stands. No doubt she'd have done the splits had age not removed it from her repertoire.

I feigned pompous disgust and backhand waved her toward the door handle and her obligations, as that's our game, but it was everything I could do to not belly laugh.

She's pretty damn cute some days....yea, yea, I mean even cuter than normal; but don't tell her I said so. She'd just want a hug and that kinda ruins my image.

Catbirds and cornfields, daydreams together
Riding on the roadside, the dust gets in your eyes
reveling, disheveling, the summer nights can bring
Pussywillows, cattails, soft winds and roses.

* Gordon Lightfoot

Friday, July 13, 2012

One Final Act

Soul Consumed

Her face was like a tender rose, one fragile, soft and pink
her voice a husky whiskey I could drink
her body, lithe, a stretching cat; her claws would bring me fear
and now she's but one last regretful tear

Her love could eat my heart for lunch, could drive me to my knees
or wrap me in an Anaconda squeeze
her passion burned like wildfire, consuming all it touched
no other man on earth might grieve as much

Our paths diverged so long ago, I've seldom paused to dream
our ties were more a fantasy, her scheme
She thought to re-create desire, that love once known, extend
But I refused her song to play pretend

I stand, a shallow, ruined soul, that I'd send back her plea
I'd not the strength to straighten her debris
and now I sit in silence, pray forgiveness from my power
and hope I've not destroyed my passion flower

Cindy shot herself through the heart on August 26th 2004; five months after I’d told her never to call me again. There was a small chance, a suspicion I guess, that she might have been murdered by her “boyfriend”, but in spite of tidbits of evidence to the contrary, the local sheriffs’ department concluded it was indeed a suicide, no matter what her sister believed.

I never did write a closing Cindy story at the time. I was too stunned, too damaged. I’m less stunned now, but still damaged.

As If I Could Make a Difference

As if I could make a difference I offered sanctuary
from the cold,
from the dark,
from the beatings,
from him as it were
or a dozen hims

She accepted my shield for a time
and though she sometimes tried to ply me
I accepted no payment
I wanted nothing, but her safety
not replacement

But she returned to her ways each time
the bruises and excuses
demanding this fool be fooled just this once
and the next once, whenever that came
That I might leave well enough

The months turned to years turned to decades
As if I could make a difference she called me
she pleaded
she asked too much and I pulled back
the years had not been kind to either of us
and I had nothing left

She may have killed herself
she may have been killed
either way I helped spill her ashes
she asked too much and I pulled back

and I regret

as if I could have made a difference

My friend Sparky and I attended her funeral. She’d been cremated we were told, the urn was sitting on a bier in a mortuary gathering room. After the very light service we were told otherwise. The body was still in Brainerd Minnesota under the inspecting eye of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. We’d been party to a well-intentioned ruse. It could have seemed beyond odd, but within the context of lives such as ours, it was par for the course. Everything attached to Cindy had been dramatic, obfuscated and above all eccentric.

I’ve never really gotten past the role I played in her demise, though I stopped dwelling on it long ago. They say you can’t accept any responsibility for someone else’s suicide; but of course the rules of psychobabble are made by people completely averse to negativity, folks who would remove from us all responsibility for those things that might make us feel guilty or ashamed. I’m reminded of my mother telling everyone she met that I was the greatest disk jockey that ever lived. She’d never heard me. She just wanted to believe and so she did. But that in no way changed the fact that I was just average at best. Truth is truth, and in Cindy’s case there’s no way to know really, but my brushing her off may have well been an important straw that led to her back breaking. I can’t just chuck off that concept and pretend I wasn’t involved. But I can’t believe either that I was a pivot, a focal point, the guy that flipped the switch. And so it’s just another of those lifelong dilemmas, like might my father had lived longer had I recognized his symptoms months before they killed him. I know, I think too much.

I am not one that thinks all suicide is wrong, that all lives can be saved. I have to guess that if it was suicide on her part she accomplished it in spite of being in a drunken stupor as that was her standard mode in the end, and let’s face it, one is not necessarily rational once one has imbibed to excess. But I do know the pain was real, the poverty, crushing, the abuse terrifying and her addictions debilitating, so I have absolutely no bad feelings toward her because of her actions. I only have bad feelings about my own.

I wrote a poem the day I was notified of her death. It wasn’t easy to write physically; I was doing a lot of shivering and sniveling. But the words came as if sent to me; if I’d been using a pen I’d never have lifted the point from the page.

Wept Unto Her Death

If just two names were set before the judge, one lives, one fades away
by what unholy writ was I deemed worthy of one breath
is it by grim coincidence I stand here howling verse today
as kinder, calmer innocents have wept unto their death?

If this is planned pray tell me now what other haunts you have in store
that I might warn those near and dear their lives are forfeit soon
or is this just the way of things, that reapers dance across my door
Is death your entertainment? Or is death my lifelong boon.

Was I so foolish then to think my stepping back was well advised?
You'd say it's not my purview, but my hand seems stained in blood
was not my image tainted, was I not already self despised
or did you think me floating, so a candidate for flood

If I would say this minute that I'd never walk away again
would you for just a moment think to give her one more day?
Or was it truly providence, I lived, she died, a random when;
and nothing could have stopped this, we're just puppets in this play.

What can I pledge from this day fore
that failures haven't spoken for

I don’t write this for forgiveness, for advice or even for some type of selfish catharsis. It is what it is, I am who I am, what I don’t already know about how I should think would fill a thimble. I’m simply setting it here as a reminder, as a gravestone I suppose. It’s my Rest in Peace Cindy. I wish I had something else that would honor your memory; but this is the best I can do.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cindy's Second Coming

My wife Linda is thoroughly entertained by my past. It is a life she can’t even imagine, her suburban self far more aware of teen angst over pizza toppings and being grounded than sleeping with winos and traveling with a murderous cohort. She’s particularly intrigued by the phone calls I get, though I must point out I only receive perhaps 4 calls per year from anyone but telemarketers and coworkers. Still, those 4 calls can be entertaining. Like the one that happened at 4:15 AM some years ago. A girl I’d known some 35 years before and hadn’t seen since was trying to remember the full name and number of a man we’d known mutually, and when his didn’t appear in neon lights over her head, she recalled my Christian name, looked me up in the book and... “BRING BRING!”

“Dude?” She was one of a few still alive that once called me Dude.  I have to admit considering the quantity of narcotics I’d seen her ingest those many years ago, I was stunned she’d remembered her own name much less mine. (In fact back in the day I am positive she forgot her own name more than once)

Well, as I am a hopelessly nice guy at times, I entertained her request and tried to remember the facts she was looking for. But no matter how hard my rem sleep addled brain would spin, I couldn’t get past the truth that his nickname was Little Goose, younger brother of Big Moose. What the hell his real name was… not a clue. “Night Yvonne” I said, “call again in another 30 years if you like.” She hasn’t, but she’s due; and I won’t be a bit surprised.

The call at the base of this story wasn’t like this at all. It was daytime, a Saturday morning, and while the voice sent chills down my spine I knew I would not walk away from the conversation easily. It was Cindy, the woman I wrote about only four months earlier after not having seen her but for one funereal moment, for more than a decade

The year Cindy attempted suicide was a difficult year for me. My mother and brother had died, a cousin had been murdered, my wife of the moment had taken her leave, my career was caught on a cliff… my interaction with her craziness that night was, in the scheme of things, almost ordinary; but it made a big black mark on my soul that’s never dissolved. So when she said, now 15 years later, that she wanted to see me, in a public place, with others in attendance, what could I say but “sure.” After all… I am made of Jell-o.

We had dinner, Cindy, her sister and I, a group who’d all known every intimate detail of one another decades earlier, and a group now far worse for the wear. We were all veterans of the life wars, all constantly struggling in one way or another, all dealing with personal deep tragedy, hard labor and the depressions that transport it all from black hole to black hole. Cindy though had special issues; issues that became obvious immediately when, after I’d used the word “unique” in a sentence she’d pulled a dictionary from her pocket so as to look up and understand what I’d meant.

It took hours to lay out the whole story. She spaced it between small bits of glory day web spinning, most of which was done by me as I had always been the group’s “Mr. Fantasy”, (as Stevie Winwood would say) and so was obligated to fill the gaping holes in her trains of thought. But eventually she’d set her recent history on the table in its entirety, as matter of “factly” as if she’d set out a grocery list for us to peruse. I’ll cover the highlights.

A few months before she’d taken a nasty spill down her apartment hallway stairs. By her descriptions I’d venture she and her abusive boyfriend of the time were drunk beyond walking, they got into a fight, she stomped out her front door and onto the second floor landing, he followed and gave her a shove to show her who was boss. Can I prove any of that? No. After years of listening to the few abused women I’ve known and comforted I’ve encouraged an inner talent I guess; one that sees what isn’t shown, one that hears between the lines.

In any case her skull was opened, a crack a few inches long, subtly exposing her brains to daylight. She cried, then found her way into bed and passed out. Neither she or her loving mate called for assistance, they just slept off their drunks.

Six days she lay in bed, only moving for food and toilet visits. On the seventh she decided she felt good enough to get up and eat breakfast in the kitchen. Somehow while there her neighbor spotted her, hair and face still caked with blood, and called an ambulance.

Cindy was livid of course. “It’ll heal, it’ll heal” she muttered. She had no health insurance, lived in poverty… how would she ever pay for hospital time? Paramedics don’t care about all that, bless their little hearts, and against her wishes they strapped her in and tossed her in the truck. Sadly, the small town hospital they took her to was far from able to handle the severity of her injuries and she was helicoptered to the big city.

She never said how long she’d had to spend with the healers. She did though explain that she’d suffered brain damage, mostly memory loss, manifesting itself in her loss of language.

It was three hours at the table before we’d said our goodbyes. In the end she’d asked me for help; help of a sort I thought I could provide though hadn’t a clue as to how considering our geographic distance from each other. (130 miles) But I agreed to do what I could, as is the custom. And that halfhearted promise may well have led to our collective demise.

She began calling the following week. Every few days the phone would be picked up in my studio and spend a few hours on my shoulder as I talked her through words and concepts and general language usage. Always there would be added material; stories about her day, assorted gossipy tidbits, calling on the ghosts of our pasts. But in the main the time was spent relearning how to speak and listen, or so I was given to believe.

I wrote a poem about her one night; one I never told her about, one that just came, as most do, while I was sitting at my keys and wondering what to write about to soothe my nerves. It was the first of a few. It went like this…

Bloody Camisole

A crack upon her weary skull laid waste to words long memorized
I'd venture it was man or beast that shoved her down that stair
And while she lay with ill advice, he, inattentive to her cries
her life poured forth, the years remaimed, into her raven hair

She calls me lately on her whim, though decades past I loved her once;
I need to spell my words to her that she might find their mean.
I weep inside though she's immune, she hears no teary eyed affronts
but laughs at tales too soon retold, at life too seldom seen

I long ago reclaimed her from the gates of never come again
she, giving in to demons that seemed out of her control
I'd hoped for more, but as it is she's made her life a specimen
A scroll of unrelenting pain, a bloodied camisole

If I were king I'd have her here, she'd own one wing within my manse
but in my dreams is where my kingdom has its castle bright
my heart's worth little so I'm told; not warmth, nor calm, nor sweet romance
but as it's all I really own, my heart is hers this night.

I have to admit here I have my own demons, my own baggage; in fact I own an entire train of thought whose baggage cars are filled to overflowing, some of which oozes out now and then and develops into quicksand so as to suck innocent bystanders into… Let’s just say now and then I get depressed. And when that happens I have a hard time carrying someone else’s baggage along with my own. I knew this going in, deep down I really didn’t want to get involved, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to live up to my promise; but as always I leapt onto the bascule, stretched out my neck across the lunette and waited for the guillotine blade to happily zip free what I could never control.

I guess I am quite naive at times. I honestly never expected to hear that we should be lovers. I truly believed we were past all that and that we could deal with each other on a totally platonic level. It didn’t make me nervous; I had no doubts about myself. But it did annoy me; in fact over time it made me quite angry. It was like she was “taking advantage” of the situation, that she was blowing off what I was willing to give in hopes for what… what she really wanted? What she’d fantasized? Anything that was better than being physically and mentally abused every day of her difficult life? I wasn’t flattered, I have no illusions that she wanted what I am in any case; she wanted out of what she had and as always, I seemed a reasonable alternative, nothing more.

It soon came up in every conversation; the more I tried to “help”, the more she’d flirt, the more she’d dig at me. I fought with myself for weeks. Some people can’t be helped, you have to know when to fold em, I owe her at least this, just ignore it, I can do this and on and on. It was overwhelming me, I was obsessing about the complexity of it all, attaching a far greater importance to it than it likely owned.

Then the language conversations stopped all together, replaced by long whines about family members and poverty and wills and Jesus, Mary and Joseph (as my Irish Monsignor used to say when he thought I wasn’t listening) it went on and on and I’d banter and then I’d argue and then I’d shout and finally I’d hang up and then for an hour I’d sit there, heart pounding, wondering what the hell I was going to do. If I kept at it I would surely sink into despair which wouldn’t be good for anyone near me, surely not my poor wife who said she loved me for my kindness but had her limits as to my demonstrating it with others. If I cut it off I would prove that my benevolence, my compassion existed in word only, and what little self worth I clung to was nothing more than badly written fable.

A few weeks passed and I survived by burying myself in fantasy. Every moment I wasn’t on the phone dealing with the next “emergency” I played games and read books and immersed myself in film and wrote prompt fiction until my fingertips bled from pounding the poor plastic keys of so many ruined keyboards. And then, one day, when I was swimming in quicksand and wondering if I’d be able to keep my head above the horizon, I folded and said it was over, that I could do this anymore, that she couldn’t call my number, that I had no help for her after all, that no, we weren’t friends anymore, that she needed to stop crying because it wouldn’t change anything, that I was going to hang up now. And then I did.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Thousand Keys

Tell me of your story, spin a tale or two about your past
were you the girl in braided hair that climbed the tallest trees?
Find some little anecdote and list the music, crew and cast
why, you must know a thousand doors, and own a thousand keys

Show me what you've witnessed, let me hear the squeals of running kids
who've stolen a tomato from old Missus Johnson's yard
speak to me of childhood dreams, of cowboy hats and pyramids
and tell me all the movies in which (your name) should have starred

Tell me little funny things, like all the times you played the fool
with costumes made from bedsheets and on cardboard castle thrones
show me all the places you might go when skipping Sunday school
and gardens you might hide in when you need to be alone

Find me little puppies or a garden snake if thats your choice
come play a hand of crazy eights or tell me to "go fish"
draw your best discovery or touch me with your saddest voice
tell me what you know you said, yet what you truly wished

Give me just a hint of what you looked like as an innocent
ride bicycles or make a fort, leave rooms in disarray
or laugh at some debacle, write a tale of two predicaments
and how your unknown genius rose to finally save the day

Tell me of your story and I'll give you bits of mine as well
I know we could just go from here, but there contains your truth
those shards of wistful mem'ry are the stone of lands in which we dwell
and more than silly stories told by poets long in tooth

Thursday, July 5, 2012

'Till Death Do Us Part

Cindy wanted me, so she said again and again. Each time she’d experience a lull in her relationship’s consistency she was back prodding me to “be her man”.  I’d never had any intention to be anything but a friend and made that fact clear all along; but as we all know, some people hear what they want to hear and she’d always heard “sure, someday, soon my precious. Patience.”

I did love her in my way, not that she made it easy. Her beau, eventually her husband was a good friend of mine. The three of us lived together off and on for a few years, generally with a fourth, one or another of a small series of women who found me attractive enough to bed for a week or two at a time before departing for greener pastures. I was of course in love with all these girls, as I am a hopeless romantic; but in that time and place all that really mattered to most was cash, drugs and sex, and as I was only able to provide one of those items at a time with any even moderate prowess I was shall we say a passing fancy. That gave Cindy plenty of opportunity to tease me, cajole me, seduce me; all in fun of course. Yea, all in fun…

We did finally have sex once; ok, maybe twice, but while she and her partner were on the outs and living separately and after we men’s friendship had already died and been buried. I mention this not to kiss and tell, but only to admit I had allowed mine and Cindy’s relationship to step beyond the friend level, briefly, but beyond nevertheless, and so I felt an added responsibility to her in some mystical, magical, chivalrous guardian angel sort of way.

She finally tired of me putting her off, reconciled with her ex and married the guy. I assumed our “problem” to be over, but that was naivety on my part; nothing was ever really over where Cindy was concerned.

The girl had issues, some real, some imagined. She likely spent the majority of her life thinking about her past, each day passing in the meantime new fodder, new grist for the mill. Most of the people she might look to for help with her thoughts tired quickly of her need, answering her pleas with what one of my aunts likes to call “oh grow up and get over it.” But I wasn’t like her friends, or her mate. Whether it was simple compassion or some neurotic need to be needed, I could always be counted on to find time to listen, and so she called me, constantly.

For many years this went on, “seeing” each other only over the phone, my dancing back, her pushing ahead. “It was always you, you know” she’d often end the conversation saying; “It’s you I’ve always loved.” I’d nod sadly to myself and give her some oblique compliment along with something about my being her friend forever and off we’d go to our “other lives.”

Over time the calls came less frequently, though the topics became more severe and the drama more intense. She was being mistreated, knocked around probably, surely verbally assaulted, and yet would allow me nothing in the way of confrontation. She demanded I stay out of it, that she was fine, that she just wanted to talk. It drove me insane but in truth she was not the first to confide and deny with me, and she, sadly was not the last either. I bit my tongue, kept my distance, and gave her all the time I had when she asked for it. Then came the real fun.

I was divorced and living alone as was she at the time. We were geographically 8 miles apart, living on opposite ends of the same section of the city. She’d been depressed, moreso than usual, but Cindy was the type of person that could lie to herself about how happy she was until she actually embraced happiness, for at least long enough to regain her footing in preparation for the next swim in the quicksand; so it never occurred to me that she was in any danger.

2AM phone call. I was up. A groggy voice mumbles something unintelligible. "Cindy? Is that you?"... "hrmmmpphh".... "Ok kid what's going on, what's the matter." Silence.

I had to coax nearly every word from her two and three times to get the gist of what she was trying to tell me. She had taken a bottle of some downer, Seconal or maybe Valium; I don't remember.  She was on her way to her maker and wanted the last voice she heard to be mine. Let me repeat that… she had killed herself and wanted me to keep her company while she climbed the stairway to heaven.

She'd slip in and out of lucidity while I begged her to stay awake, weaving every moment
we'd had together into stories to hold her to the phone. From the start I pleaded with her to let me come to her so that we could "spend the last few moments gazing into each other’s eyes.” “If you leave the phone” she said, “I will run and die in a ditch alone somewhere. You don’t want that do you?”

I was helpless...2am and no one else in the phone...pre Internet...Fuck.
I begged and cajoled and lied my ass off. "No police hon, promise...just you and me so I can hold you in my arms for the last few minutes of your life". (And have to live with THAT for the rest of my pitiful existence.)

She finally relented. It had been a half hour and her voice had some gurgle in it now that was definitely unappealing. I leapt into my car and drove like the wind. I'd been a taxi driver in a former life, I knew the shortcuts and where the cops might be at that hour.

"This is a test" I kept saying to myself. "She's just fine and she and her friends are laughing right now". I stomped the foot feed to the floor. Cindy did NOT do practical jokes.

When I arrived she was sitting on the porch. Well ok, slouching. Well, ok she was a potato sack with a head, lying on the porch. I lifted her into my arms. God the dead are heavy. She woke for a few minutes, smiling and laying a fat, wet, tonguey kiss on my face.

I gave her a second to gain her trust but as she was already leaching some vile liquids I
decided it was time to leave and attempt the rescue I’d planned. She came alive as I ushered her to the car, swearing that she wanted to die and god help me if I try and stop her.

My head was the size of a basketball, pounding and thumping the air as if trying to expand my universe exponentially. I finally sweet talked her into the car, telling her all the lovely things we'd see on our cruise through town, and where I would finally lay her head on my lap to rest under the stars; Minnehaha Park. It’s a beautiful place really, a crown jewel in the twin cities. She was elated; it would be perfect.

Thank god she bought it. She was too damn strong for me to force even under the influence. In she flopped and away we went.

 "She loves me, love her back". I babbled on about how she'd really been the one for me as well and how I was so sorry I'd messed it all up as I carefully drove the back streets aiming for downtown. I stroked her hair and kissed her head and...damn near lost it thinking she'd be dead any moment. I DID love her. While she was not everything to me she was a piece of me and she was tuning blue.

Once I'd reached a certain point the hospital would be visible so I prayed that cross traffic
would be spared us and again slammed on the gas rounding the corner on what seemed to be two wheels.

She perked up and saw the lights of Hennipen County General Hospital. She began wail on me, swearing and jumping around, bashing my right arm away from the wheel. I spun into the emergency parking lot at somewhere near 55 miles an hour and to my pleasure not only was an orderly standing and smoking out front, but a cop as well.

She became enraged on the drugs. She grew before my eyes like a comic book character. (I still have a scar but now I have to look for it.) By the time I'd pushed her from her seat I was a bloody mess and so was she. It was a scene out of the Exorcist.

Even the officer didn't want to deal with her as he pulled out his mace. I grabbed his arm risking a beating but screamed "she's nearly dead for god's sake don't mace her." He backed off.

The orderly had radioed for a strap/gurney and out it came, flying over the concrete walk.
It took what was now all four of us to get her onto the bed and laced in, she kicking and
screaming and biting all the way.

Once she was secure I started to cry. Don't ask...who knows...stress relief maybe. I didn't
know what else to do so I took her hand and squeezed it, leaning over to kiss it. Then I
reached up to place my palm on the side of her face as they wheeled her away, still
screeching her hate and loathing at me.

I stood outside, lit a smoke and gave them what information I knew, then drove home empty.

I didn't hear from her for seven years after that. I'd called the hospital for a report. She was fine, so I waited for her to get past what had happened. I guess she never did.

She called me at my studio one night, stoned or drunk...who knows. She had a problem and had found the one who "it had always been" to solve it for her.

I saw her for the last time 14 years later at a mutual friend’s funeral (as I wrote this originally). Still cute. Still crazy. We smiled at each other and let it go at that......  (Or so I thought.)