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 house...one 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.)