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A Short Story

The Voice Of The Turtleneck

from the

Boulevard Of Broken Dreams Collection

by

R.E. Prindle

 

     Dewey whizzed South on the Nimitz down to the Santa Clara Valley in the bright shining California sunshine down around Milpitas.  On this day he was working the West side of the Valley.  The City of Santa Clara itself.  One of the ritzier areas of the West side but still in the flats not yet up in the hills or the class of Saratoga.  Leaving the Nimitz near Tropicana Village he crossed over under the morning fog banks hovering over the West Valley.  The sun came later on the West side of the Bay; either that or the fog was stronger than the sun over there.

     In the San Francisco Bay area a fog creeps in every night that mitigates the terrific heat during the day.  Usually it dissipated by noon or one.  In the Santa Clara Valley it was never strong enough to reach the dry barren toast colored East side.  The contrast between East and West was quite striking.

     Dewey muttered his line a few times as he drove past Santa Clara University on the way to call on Thom Nelson Turner.  ‘Hi, Lowell, Smith and Evers.  I’m making a courtesy call to remind you that your mortgage payment is two months overdue.  If it’s not in by the end of the month the house will go into automatic foreclosure proceedings at the end of the third month.  It’s in the computer, I don’t have anything to do with it.’

     He delivered his line in a cold metallic way that was more impersonal than the machine he referred to.  Although his line and manner were dictated by his extreme shyness and fear he had hit upon a most effective approach.  He had been on the job less than six months.  Delinquencies had plummeted by seventy percent.

     He found his street which led into an unusual cul-de-sac.  A block down the street he entered a square about two blocks long.  There was even a median about twenty feet wide with a street on either side.  Trees embowered the median and the house fronts.  There was only one entry.  Dewey who had become somewhat of an expert on streets, roads and highways had never seen anything quite like it and never would again.  Under the dreary overcast the wooded square took on a paranoic defensive cast.

     In fact sullen eyes peered out at him from windows and even from behind a bush.  In the few months he had been covering the Valley his legend had spread.  The white ’63 Chevy he drove had become known as the  White Spook.  Dewey had no idea that he was known so well.  He was just doing his job.  As far as he was concerned all anyone had to do to avoid his call was keep the mortgage payment current.  A mortgage payment was better than rent and it was one or the other.  You couldn’t avoid it; you had to live somewhere.

     The psychology of the homeowners was different.  They all thought he could do them a favor, not come by.  They didn’t want to be embarrassed before their neighbors by having the Spook call on them.  Lowell, Smith and Evers couldn’t wait for their money on the whims of their debtors.  They were quite pleased with Dewey’s performance.

     In comparison with Tropicana Village on the East side where the houses sold for ten thousand dollars, on the square in Santa Clara the houses went for thirty or forty thousand dollars.  Unbeknownst to any of the residents as well as to any pundit or seer within ten short years these same houses would be selling for a half million dollars.  All these people had to do to become rich was to hold on.

     Holding on was their greatest fear, their sincerest hope.  They had fought their way into one of the finer neighborhoods.  As they were all jobholders their continued success depended on the whims of other men.  The fear lurked in their minds that they might be looking for another job at any time just as Thom Turner was now.  While they denigrated each other on the square a shudder had gone down their collective spine when Turner’s misfortune reached them.  Now the visible evidence of Turner’s fate was cruising slowly down their street.  A wave of fear and loathing washed over them.

     Unconsciously Dewey had a sinister way of locating his addresses.  When  he entered a street he cruised slowly looking left and right leaning at an angle so that he could see the numbers through the passenger’s side.  He appeared to be peering in windows as though he were a burglar casing the neighborhood.

     Darby Ramme who had instructed Dewey drove smartly up to the address stopping with a seeming purpose.  Turner’s house was on the corner lot at the far end of the street.  Dewey turned and backed into a space in front of the house.  Getting out he stepped around to the passenger’s side to adjust his clipboard while surveying the house.  The place had been well maintained, easy maintenance style.  The yard was ablaze with pink iceplant as ground cover rather than lawn.  There was a large wooden plaque at the top of the yard facing the blaze of the iceplant that read Thom Nelson Turner.  The three initials were very large in red while the rest was smaller in white, blue background.  ‘TNT’ thought Dewey.  ‘Dynamite.  I must be dealing with a powerful explosive personality here.’

     Inside Thom Nelson Turner stood behind a curtain studying Trueman, making his own evaluation.  Turner had been raised by the women of his family to think of himself as a leader of men.  His family had been lower middle class with a blue collar background.  They thought of themselves as some of Nature’s elite.  Thom had been a big fairly good looking kid.  His family had elevated him to handsome deciding that while other richer families had a greater claim to prominence Thom was a ‘natural’ leader.  The whole family had assiduously promoted him throughout childhood as a leader of men.  They had had moderate success.

     Thom himself had had difficulties assuming the role.  He had felt uncomfortable in it.  He was not, in fact, a leader.  As he grew older the notion that he was fixed itself in his mind.  As a young teenager when his womenfolk were trying to build him up there had been one boy from a still lower social level who had jeered at his pretensions refusing to accept his claims as a ‘natural’ leader.  The boy had refused to take his place causing Thom to doubt himself.  As Turner studied Dewey there was either something about him that reminded Thom of this earlier boy or else in his dejected frame of mind he projected his needs unto Dewey.

     Turner had never had the qualities of a leader.  True he was big and goodlooking but his was not a commanding presence.  His stance lacked a certain stolidity, there was that which was tentative in his manner.  His confidence which had never been supreme had been cracked in college.  His mother had pampered her darling excessively.  Turner had never had to do anything for himself.  His mother insisted that he didn’t, as she adored picking up after him.  She had even flushed the toilet after him.  Turner had never learned to flush.

     This was the cause of his first embarrassment in college when his brothers at the Theta Upsilon Gamma took offense at the unflushed toilet.  Turner was tracked down and severely reprimanded.  He also found it more difficult to command in college causing some self doubt.  He married in the summer before his Junior year so that he would have someone to pick up after him.  Audrey, his wife, also learned to flush the toilet after him.

     After all Thom was big and handsome; he had a lot of big talk about his future success.  Audrey bought into his program revering him almost as much as his mother.

     If Thom found it difficult to command at school he could compensate at home thereby maintaining his self image.

     Turner graduated from Arizona State, Tempe to find a job with the bluest of the blue chips, Big Blue itself.  His job was in the Bay Area.  Turner had neither the intelligence or the drive to play  the role his mother had assigned him.  There were bigger bulls at IBM than Thom.  His behavior as he sought to affirm his role against the competition was seen as aggressive and boorish.  It was not easy to get rid of him but now five years later he had been eased out in the classic manner.

     A recruiter had approached him saying that Thom’s reputation had reached him, the recruiter was authorized to offer him a job at another firm, smaller but growing more rapidly offering more opportunity for rapid advancement.  The salary was significantly better.  Thom took the bait.  Whereas IBM would probably never have fired him his new firm which felt no obligation to him dumped him within a month.  Thom never was sharp enough to understand the ploy.

     Thom Nelson Turner had been devastated.  His facade cracked but he was now unable to let go of the notion that he was a natural born leader of men.  He had been silly enough to go back to IBM for ‘his job.’  Rebuffed there he signed on with various employment agencies.  They knew how to read the signs better than Turner.  He had been searching for five months not yet realizing that he had been declassed.  He would now have to accept a lesser position.

     He had not reduced his standard of living when he was released as he, unaware of the ruse used on him, expected to be reemployed immediately at an even higher wage.  He had gone through his savings.  The painful result was that Dewey Trueman was now at his door.

     Thom Nelson Turner now made the mistake of his life.  He decided to try to humiliate Trueman; to vent his spleen on him.  Had he merely responded by saying, ‘OK, I’ll take care of it.’ which was all he had to do his life would have been much different.

     Dewey rang the bell poising his pen to check off the name and leave.  ‘Lowell, Smith and…’  he began as Turner presented himself at the door.

     ‘Yes, yes, I know who you are.  Step inside.’  He commanded imperiously.

     Thom had been informed by the grapevine what to expect.  Word had already gotten around which days Dewey would be where in the Valley.  Turner had been expecting him.

     Dewey was surprised.  On the one hand he mainly dealt with the woman of the house and only rarely made any kind of personal contact.  There was no need for it; there was nothing at his discretion to do for anybody.  Still Dewey always had a curiosity about how people lived; when he was asked in he enjoyed looking at the different life styles.

     Dewey stepped into the house of TNT closing the door behind him.  At work Thom wore his tie and white starched shirt.  At home he liked to be what he called casual.  This meant he substituted a white turtle neck shirt for the tie and starcher.  He wore a blue sport coat with grey pants.  His aging wing tips contrasted inconguously with the turtle neck shirt.  He took up a stance a few feet from Dewey assuming a pose somewhat like Charles De Gaulle in all his majesty.

     The living room and dining room occupied the front of the house; the kitchen and the living quarters were behind the two rooms.  Dewey could see Audrey and the two kids cautiously watching from behind a bedroom door.

     The living room was sparsely furnished.  A green overstuffed corduroy couch was faced by two overstuffed green corduroy chairs.  A medium sized rectangular walnut stained wooden table separated the two units of furniture.  The table rested on a beige throw rug which covered a hardwood floor.  A nondescript floor lamp was between the two chairs; another was behind the couch.  There were no pictures on the walls, but arranged in staggered suspended shelves against the back wall were several bound sets of books.  Dewey smiled when he saw them.  A set of Collier’s Encyclopedia reminded him of when he had responded to an ad seeking men with executive talents.  Selling those things wasn’t easy; he wondered who the lucky guy had been.  There was also a set of Great Books, more door to door stuff.

     Dewey stared in wonderment at the last set.  It was a complete set of the Oxford English Dictionary.  ‘For Chrissakes’ he thought, ‘this guy must think culture comes in look alike bindings.’  Still Dewey understood because he had a similar weakness.  If he’d had the money he might have had the same things, except for the Collier’s.

     Then Dewey looked at Turner.  He froze.  He recognized the persona at once.  As Turner had been bedeviled by a boy who wouldn’t accept his leadership so Dewey had had a ‘natural’ leader attempting to foist himself on him.  It was deja vu all over again, twice, both sides.  Dewey looked at the turtleneck.  He hated turtlenecks.  There was no more pretentious shirt in the world to him.  He despised men who wore turtlenecks.  He thought they were all pretentious nerds.  He noticed that a thick role of fat was developing around Turner’s waist.  Dewey who was himself pencil thin despised people who allowed themselves to get fat.  He noticed that Turner had been given a good haircut and his clothes fit properly.  Barbers wouldn’t give Dewey decent haircuts and clerks in men’s stores always seemed to botch his tailoring.  Things just didn’t fit him the way they should.  Dewey held this against Turner also.  They stood and bristled at each other. 

     ‘This time’ thought Dewey.  ‘I’ve got the Force with me.  I win.’

     ‘Your name?’  Turner said with insulting dryness.

     ‘What’s that?’  Dewey sparred.

     ‘Your name.’  Turner admonished as though to a child.

     ‘Oh, I’m from Lowell, Smith and Evers.’  Dewey said, mockingly avoiding answering the question.

     ‘Don’t try my patience, my man.  Give me your name.  I think you’re probably obligated to.’

     ‘What?  You mean my own name?  No, I’m not obligated to.  But, since you ask so politely, Dewey Trueman.  Why?  Do you think you know me?’

     ‘No, of course I wouldn’t know you.  I just like to know who your masters have sent.  Dewey Trueman?  Is that a real name?’

     ‘Sure.  Why not?’

     ‘Did your mother name you after the Dewey-Truman presidential race?’

     ‘Oh, I don’t think so.  That was in ’48.  I was born in ’38.  Our name is Trueman.  Can’t help that.  Perhaps she named me after that crime busting D.A.  I don’t know.  By the way, how do you pronounce your name T-om or Th-om?  Dewey said pronouncing the H.

     ‘I don’t think you’re in a position to taunt me, son.  I can report you to your masters.’

     ‘I don’t think you’re in a position to complain.  Another month and you’re out of here.  You haven’t made your mortgage payment two months running.  Naughty, naughty.’

     ‘I always wondered who would do work like this.’  TNT sneered.  ‘Now I know.  Do you enjoy betraying your fellow man?’

     ‘Oh well, I do have a job and my rent is paid which yours isn’t and you don’t appear to have any prospects for a job.  But don’t despair.  You know, I’m going to quit this job to go to college this fall.  I’ll put in a good word for you.  You can have this job.  At least you’ll be able to make your house payment.’

     ‘I want you to take a message back to your masters.’  Turner said imperiously.

     ‘I don’t have…’  Dewey began to add masters.

     Turner interrupted him.

     ‘Tell them that they have nothing to fear…’

     ‘Oh, I don’t have to tell them anything.’  Dewey interrupted in turn, riding over Turner’s upraised finger and twisted manhood.

     ‘What’s important here is that payment is two months delinquent.’  Turner stuttered a beginning.  Dewey raised his voice continuing.  ‘If we receive the payments by the end of the month the matter is closed.  No harm done.  Foreclosure proceedings will begin at the end of three months if payment is not received.  It’s all in the computer.  There’s nothing that can be done about it.  You will have an additional three months to make good all deliquencies, if that is not done you will be evicted.’

     ‘Now see here…’  Turner fumed wounded to the soul to be talked to, no, not even to, at by this seeming evil apparition from his childhood.  It seemed that that earlier boy’s hand had reached out from the past to grab Thom’s throat wreaking a decades long vengeance for the past insult.  Turner began coughing as though he were being choked.

     Dewey showed no outward emotion although glowing inwardly as though avenging that decade old insult to himself by a different Thom Nelson Turner who had gone by another name.  Dewey who had been badly hurt had also learned how to hurt.  He continued on in his finest mechanical drone trying to project the notion that he dealt with thousands of deadbeats and Turner was just one of them.

     ‘Of course you have the right at any up to eviction to remedy the default by paying it.  Lowell, Smith and Evers encourages it as they would much rather recover their loan than reclaim your house which is a nuisance to them unlike what you might think.  And I would too.’  Dewey added unctiously.

     ‘I am not used…’ Turner began to say, being treated this way.

     ‘I have said all that I am authorized to say.’  Dewey broke in.  I hope you’ll excuse me but I’ve got other dead…uh, people to call on.’  Dewey gave Turner his blandest look, reaching for the door.

     ‘I am not authorized to say this.’  Dewey said, thinking in his conscious mind to be helpful while his subconscious mind sought to twist the knife, ‘but if this house is too much for you, you might check to see if they would swap you one of our properties in Tropicana Village.  We foreclose on those all the time.’

     ‘Tropicana Village?’  Turner ejaculated, stung to the quick.  The distance between his notion of his dignity here in Santa Clara and Tropicana Village was more than a few miles.

     ‘Yeah.  Tropicana Village.  It’s over on the East Side.  Houses go for about ten thousand.  You should have enough in this one to maybe even just pay for one of those outright.  All you’d have to worry about is taxes.

     ‘Tropicana Village, indeed.’  Almost with tears in his voice.  He thought that Dewey might as well have asked him to pitch a tent in the county dump.  Tropicana Village wasn’t that bad, a definite comedown from Santa Clara, however.  But heck, even those houses would be selling for over a hundred thousand in the not too far distant future.  Nelson should have taken Dewey’s advice.  Things would have worked out.

     ‘I demand…’ Turner said tensing his whole body and shaking his finger at Dewey.  ‘I demand to talk to your superiors.  I’m going to report your insolence.’

     ‘I don’t have any superiors, Mr. Turner, I’m actually a free agent.’  Dewey replied.  ‘But here’s a card with the office number, ask for Bill Masters; although all you have to do is make your payment on time and you’ll never have to see me again.  I wasn’t insolent, I was just giving you good advice.  Just make your mortgage payments.’

     Turner couldn’t meet his obligation.  He couldn’t make the payment and he had foolishly allowed a person he considered beneath his contempt to exercise power over him.  His mother’s teaching had been his downfall.  He had nothing to gain by attempting to intimidate Trueman.  His ‘natural’ authority had not extended that far.  A man who hasn’t made his mortgage payment has no choice but to be humble.  It hadn’t even been necessary for him to have been humble.  All he had to do was say:  ‘I’ll take care of it.’ and shut the door.  At that point Dewey and done his job and the thing was over in his mind.

     Now Turner was completely humiliated.  His leadership over what he considered a very inferior person had been rebuked.  That role was forever gone from him.  He now learned it for the first time.  A new future arose before  his eyes.  He had been driven from the Garden as he had driven that boy from the Garden long ago.  Now TNT was an outcast.

     ‘You’ll have to flush the toilet for yourself from now on.’  Audrey said, coming from the bedroom to walk in front of him as he stood silently sobbing.  ‘Neither I nor my children will do it again.’

     Audrey had been watching.  So long as Thom had been her knight in shining armor she had been willing to be subservient to him.  She didn’t approve of it but she could understand his being unemployed.  She accepted his story that he had to be careful in accepting another job which, after all, was not only true but prudent.  She didn’t know where the mortgage payment was going to come from but she had faith that he would provide it.

     But she knew her husband and she understood something about symbols.

     She knew very well that Turner had not considered Trueman worthy.  It was as clear to her from her husband’s voice and bearing as it had been to Trueman.  While she herself had seen nothing objectionable in Dewey, she saw the signs of the lack of respect of other men for him.  Signs that Trueman was not even aware of.  His hair was his own idiosyncrasy but being long and unruly might have been because barbers refused to give him a good haircut.  She took it that way.  She also noticed that whoever had altered his suit had raised the buttons enough so that the bottom of his jacket swung open bumpkin style instead of hanging straight and svelt.  She also noticed that one or two buttons had been removed from the sleeves.  The two buttons that remained had been spaced apart to produce a foolish effect.

     She surmised that all that had been necessary to send Dewey on his way was some vague assertion.  Thom had displayed a serious lack of judgment.  Combined with the job and the rent she realized that Turner was not the man she had thought him to be.

     Thom’s daughter Joanie uncertain by her mother’s demeanor what to do came out and stood between her mother and father.  Thom’s five year old son, Thim, not knowing what was happening but afraid for and sympathetic with this father stood by his side and took his hand.  A fatal move on Thim’s part.

     Turner became immobilized.  It seemed to him as though Thim was pitying him.  Suddenly he realized that his son might become more of a man than he could now hope to be.  At some time in the not distant future his son would likely surpass him.  He couldn’t let that happen.  Thom’s subconscious began to well up into his conscious mind flooding and overwhelming it.  He passed into a fugue state.  Thom’s next actions were subconscious, committed in a dream state.  It wasn’t that he didn’t know what he was doing but he wasn’t conscious of it and would always deny, had he been asked, that he did it.  He didn’t consciously think this but in his totally subconscious state he feared that Thim would despose him when he reached manhood.  He couldn’t let that happen.

     He gave Audrey a sickly smile that begged her permission and forgiveness.  Audrey would never admit that she knew what happened.  She sure did but in commiseration for her husband’s misery from the depths of her unaware subconscious being she gave Turner permission.

     Joannie, who sensed the tension but had no idea what was happening ran to throw her arms around her mother.  She would be haunted all her life by a fear of impending disaster.

     ‘Come along, Son.  Forgive me, my child.’

     Taking Thim into his bedroom he lowered the child’s pants and sodomized him.  ‘I’m sorry, Son, but, you see, I had to do it.  Maybe you’ll undersand some day.  You’ll never be a better man than me now.’

      The entire episode passed into the subconscious of all the family.  The situation was mythologized differently in the dreams of each.  They would all be plagued by troubled sleep for the rest of their lives.

     While the two children would forget the Field of Action and even the Challenge to their consciousness their parents would be able to remember the Field and Challenge but they would be unable to associate their Response to it.  They would attach guilt to that mortgage guy and loath him accordingly.

     In terms of psychology Challenge and Response is what conditions our personality.  A weak Response to Challenges blights our life forever unless the conflict is resolved.

     Turner, his self-conception already under stress from his recent reverses, had pitted his manhood against that of Dewey Trueman.  The Force was with Trueman.  The only way Turner could have won was if he could have intimidated Trueman into not accessing the Force, thus abdicating his manhood and transferring it to Turner.  Trueman had used the Force, laughing at Turner in the process.  Turner could not stand the resulting belittlement.

     Totally defeated by the Challenge he had foolishly made, Turner had then to Respond to it.  He was old enough and he had, or should have had, enough education to intellectualize the defeat.  Failing that, since he considered himself Trueman’s better, he could have laughed it off, gone out and kicked some cans.  But as his manhood, his sense of being a ‘natural’ leader of men, was under siege by powerful forces he could not control, he capitulated his manhood.  He buckled, he surrendered to the Challenge.

     Nor did he ever develop the psychological resources to recover.  His wife who was then as dependent on him as he was on her did not leave him but toughed out all the years until Thim turned twenty-five.  At that time Thim confessed to his father that he was a homosexual.  His father, not conscious of the real reason why, accepted the confession without a murmur embracing his son.  Audrey who had extended her permission to Thom but not her forgiveness then exercised her reserved right to divorce Thom.

     Turner during those years unable to excercise leadership in his chosen arena relapsed into ‘leading’ all manner of charitable causes from the anti-nuclear movement to the spotted owl.

     Trueman, on his part, experienced a subconscious feeling of great triumph.  He wouldn’t have been able to explain his actions but once outside he lingered for perhaps a half an hour.  He took possession, as it were, of Turner’s path to the front door standing legs apart as though over a dead lion fiddling with his clipboard which it seemed for reasons of its own wouldn’t slip into place.

     Then he decided to survey the neighborhood which while attractive wouldn’t have had the same charms for him under other circumstances.  He paraded up and down in front of Turner’s house so as to advertise his triumph over Turner to an imaginary assembled mankind.  The neighbors, who were the only spectators reacted accordingly although Trueman had no idea how he had antagonized them.

     Dewey was the product of weak Responses to overwhelming Challenges.  The Challenges had come as a child when there were as yet no support systems developed to allow him to deal successfully or strongly to the Challenges.  To say that we are responsible for our character is ridiculous.  If one survives destructive Challenges as a child then one is responsible for making right decisions subsequently.  Surviving one’s childhood is a matter of luck.  Be not too critical of one’s fellow man, unless you’re a novelist, then, as Old Harry said:  Give ’em hell.

     Before considering Trueman’s background let us consider the cases of two others- Jacques Casanova and William S. Burroughs.  Casanova devoted five thousand pages to a discussion of his problem without even attempting to understand its cause.  Casanova was an eldest child.  For some reason his mother chose to put him and only him of her children in a foster home.  As will be seen with Trueman this was an impossibly difficult Challenge for Casanova.  He was a good boy.  Put into an intolerable home he was able to implore his mother to find him a better place and she did.  Being a good boy Casanova did not respond to the Challenge by becoming a serial killer.  But the injury entered his subconscious.  Just as Casanova’s innocence had been violated and destroyed by a mother who should have been loving so Casanova turned to his efforts to destroying the happiness of young female virgins by betraying their love.

     Casanova’s memoirs are phenomenal.  All five thousand pages are dedicated solely to relating his adventures with women.  No other aspect of his life is related or examined.  Sometimes in a masochistic mood he allows women to take advantage of him in repetition of his mother’s act.  Significantly these women are the basest of prostitutes.

      Just as Casanova never discovered the cause of his actions which was in fact so subtle and well hidden that it would have been a miracle if he had  so, curiously, William S. Burroughs never found his cure.  Burroughs, the American Beat writer, was born in 1913 and as of 1996 was still alive.  He wrote ‘Naked Lunch’ and similar tripe.     

     Burroughs was aware at once of his Field, the Challenge and his Response but was unable to intellectualize it.  As a homosexual he was unusual in that he sought female sex from time to time.  His betrayal and violation was also unusual which explains his Response.  Burroughs grew up in St. Louis where he had a nanny.  As frequently happens with this type of employee she was an evil woman.  Burroughs loved and trusted her a great deal.  One day she took him to visit her boyfriend.  She asked Burroughs to do her boyfriend a favor.  Here Burroughs blacks out.  He thrusts the next few moments into his subconscious where he absolutely refuses to acknowledge it.  Release was so near and yet he could never grasp it even under extensive psychoanalysis.  As Burroughs cannot remember what happened next one can only conjecture.  It is, or should be, clear that Burroughs was sexually violated. His mouth was forced over the penis of the boy friend.  As in later life he chose to sodomize young boys but had an abhorrence of oral sex despising homosexuals who were ‘cocksuckers’ it is clear what he blocked out.

     The event turned Burroughs queer and eventually made him a junky but left him with ambivalent feelings toward women and strong desires for boys such as had been.  On the one hand he loved the nurse and found it impossible to let that love go, on the other hand she had basely betrayed his trust so that he transferred that hatred to all women.

     Burroughs says that he can’t understand the things he has done.  There is little reason to doubt him.  In the forties he took up with a woman who, signficantly was a floozie and hence not respectable.  She became his common law wife.  With her Burroughs led a life of total degradation.  Finally in the early fifties he blew her brains out.  He insists it was an accident.  It is certain that it was not his conscious intent to kill her.

     Burroughs loved guns.  He had a reputation for being an excellent marksman.  During a drinking bout with friends he suggested that she and he do a William Tell number.  At a distance of six feet he missed the whiskey glass she had placed on her head and drilled her between the eyes.  Given a conscious choice between hitting the glass or killing his wife he certainly would have hit the glass as he had done many times before but he subconscious paid back the nanny in the person of his wife.

     Burroughs had nothing to do with women after that although he thought he should.  In keeping with his emasculation by the boyfriend he remained homosexual.  Thus although Burroughs understood all the elements of his problem his pain and degradation were such that he couldn’t face or resolve them.  His response was homosexuality on the one hand and the subconscious murder of the nurse surrogate on the other.  Nor should he have been held responsible.  As a five year old child he had no means of intellectualizing his nanny’s deed thus the symbolism passed into his subconscious where its forms emerged years later much as Zeus swallowing the goddess Metis who he found indigestible had her emerge from his forehead in the altered form of Athene.

     The character of Dewey Trueman was the result of a combination of events combining elements of the situations of both Casanova and Burroughs.

     Elements of heterosexuality and homosexuality were warring in his mind.  His subconscious was the dominant element of his mind at this time although a very powerful remnant of a conscious mind kept him from insanity and on a productive course.

     Trueman had had a very difficult childhood.  the whole is described in Far Gresham:  Childhood and Youth. As a very young boy, less than three, he had been sodomized by a next door neighbor.  The man had taken him on the dirt under his porch.  Now, in the right circumstances, a boy can only take such attention as an act of love.  Having no experience or knowledge of such things, properly persuaded there is no reason to say no.  Unable to evaluate the act there is no reason for guilt.  The fixing of shame comes when the lover reacts.

      In Trueman’s case there was no shaming immediately after the deed.  But, evil is the heart of man, the neighbor had done it to depress Trueman’s chances in life and elevate those of his own son.  A short time later, these were primitive times in 1940 on the poor side of town, both he and his neighbor’s son were at the neighbor’s house.  The neighbor had a galvanized tub in the basement that he used for a toilet.  Both boys were urinating in it.  Now, among homosexuals the penis is the big thing.  Having been introduced to homosexual sex Dewey was remarking on the appearance of his friend’s penis.  At that point the neighbor, who had apparently been waiting for just such a moment, said:  ‘Son, I don’t want you to associate with that little queer again.’

     An apporpriate response was impossible for the undeveloped intellect of Trueman.  Dewey took the statement as an act of betrayal comparable to that of Burrough’s nanny.  He suppressed the memory of the seduction but never forgot the betrayal.  Thus two forces contended in his mind.  There were grounds for homosexuality on the one hand but such a strong hatred of men that Dewey swore they would never get him again.

      A little later his mother would treat him in much the same manner as Casanova’s mother had treated him.  Mrs. Trueman divorced her husband.  Unwilling to let her offspring interfere with her social life she put them in a foster home.  Dewey had a brother by then.  Dewey was able to handle the first abandonment and even a second in another foster home.  But then Mrs. Trueman placed he and his brother in the Municipal Orphanage.  This abandonment created so subtle a reaction in Dewey’s subconscious that no one knows what his response to women might have been.

     As it was Mrs. Trueman’s deed was unwittingly repeated by Dewey’s first girl friend.  Dewey was fifteen when his sweet Ange implored him for his love.  Ange was young, only thirteen, but she knew she wanted Dewey.  What she demanded of him was in essence marriage.  She demanded all his future from him.  He was a young boy and very reluctant but he agreed.

     Ange was a young girl, she was not in control of her destiny.  She lived with her grandmother, her family being in Waterloo, Iowa.  It was just after Thanksgiving she asked for his love.  Dewey thought this would mean no separation.  He looked forward to the Christmas holidays with Ange in anticipation.  But then, having given his heart, Ange informed him that she had forgotten to tell him that she had to go back to Waterloo for Christmas vacation.  Dewey’s heart turned cold.  this was the same thing his mother had done to him, although he did not realize it on a conscious level.  He concluded subconsciously that all women were alike.

     His response to the challenge caused both he and Ange untold anguish.  His subconscious retaliation against both his mother and Ange was to cut Ange cold.  He kissed her goodnight after a date and never spoke to her again.

     Ambivalent about men, Dewey now responded by becoming abivalent toward women.  Just as Casanova responded to his Challenge by taking the virginity of women, Dewey was to develop a manner of treating all women as totally desirable.  He wooed all women.  When, as it might chance, they responded to his overtures he coldly turned his back on them leaving them in the lurch.  Just as Casanova sought to deflower his victims Trueman denied them his favors.  Of course it was necessary for him to make exceptions as his self respect, bred in the fifites, required him to have his own woman at all times.  Dewey and Anges’s story is described in the Angeline Constellation.  

     As these events entered Dewey’s subconscious and never resurfaced he was aware of his attitude but able neither to control nor understand it.  His treatment of Ange was a complete mystery to him.  He was aware of the Field with his mother and Ange but unaware of the Challenge.  His Response was beyond his understanding and beyond good and evil.

     His sexual makeup was further complicated by certain events which controlled both his consciousness and subconsciousness.  These events completely terrorized him preventing any effective social intercourse, hence he was shy and awkward.

     As recounted in Far Gresham David Hirsh and his son Michael developed a hatred for him on specious grounds.  They harassed him trying to force submission to them.  Unable to do so Michael and some friends raped Dewey in the fourth grade.  The complex of acts by the Hirshes was completely suppressed, Filed, Challenge and Response.  But what is in the subconscious must be expressed in one’s actions much the same as Zeus and Metis.

     In Dewey’s case he acted with a dark foreboding that constrasted with a chipper optimistic nature.  This coupled with the fact that the torments which continued all his youth left him with a guilty, furtive manner and an overanxious desire to please presented a strange persona to the world.

     Dewey was aware of his mental problems as, even though he knew the right way to act and wanted to, his subconscious sabotaged all his efforts much as when the delivery of fuel cuts off in a car when you step on the pedal too sharply.

     Dewey  was seeking very had to understand himself.  The brutality of his youth had been such, he had been pushed down so far, that he had already gone far to master his subconscious with no apparent results.  The distance to go was still enormous and would eventuate in the complete disintegration of his existing persona.  He would, in effect, have to die and be reborn.  Fortunately he would be able to create and impose on himself an entirely new persona successfully.

      His encounter with Thom Nelson Turner was a small turning point in his effort to understand himself.  The understanding was not on the conscious level but subconsciously the overtaut pressure on the springs and cogs of his mind was released a little.  He had at least subjugated or gotten back his own from the ‘natural’ leader of his youth.  Such is life.  Pyschic debts are always being repaid by people who didn’t incur them.  Thom Turner’s loss was Dewey’s gain.  Of course Turner was himself only repaying an earlier offense.  A certain justice had been obtained.

     As Dewey got back in his car there was a complacent psychic satisfaction that he had got back some of his and Turner had paid the price.  The situation had fit perfectly into Dewey’s scheme of things.  He had done nothing to Turner, the consequences were all the result of Turner’s own actions.  Thom Nelson had punished himself.  Dewey Trueman remained an innocent man.

     As Dewey looked down the square he could sense the hostility of the neighbors.  His strutting about before Turner’s house had convinced the neighbors that he really enjoyed his job.  Even though they spent all their time devising ways to humiliate each other so that none might gain an ascendancy they resented and feared an outsider with power.

     Dewey eased the Chevy along the other side of the square studying the houses as was his wont.  As he rounded the corner to enter the egress street a tomato skidded across his hood.  At the same time an egg smashed against the window behind him sliding down the door.  There was no one visible, there never is, never will be; there was no reason to stop.

     As he approached the corner to turn left up Sunnyvale a school bus blocked his exit.  This was fortuitous for Dewey as he had the bad habit of running stop signs when the way was clear.  Now that he had been on the job so long people were devising ways to get back at him for what they considered intolerable humiliation.  Someone always knew someone on the police force.  They were learning Dewey’s driving habits.  When Dewey showed up at Thom’s a cop was called who had stationed himself where Dewey could be given a ticket.  They were moving violations and Dewey already had too many of them.

     As Dewey stopped he spotted the cop off to his left.  The bus pulled away.  Dewey pulled into the opposite lane watching the cop anxiously.  He knew that law and order meant nothing to the cops.  Just because he hadn’t run the stop sign didn’t mean that the cop wouldn’t give him a ticket anyway.  The cop’s word was taken at court every time.

     The cop stayed in place as Dewey drove by.  Dewey noted that the cloud cover, pardon me, high fog was retreating West.  Up ahead to the North patches of sunshine were dissipating the fog behind the lead line.  He drove toward Sunnyvale with a red streak on his hood, egg dripping down the side of his car and a warm spot in his heart.

                                          End.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Hi there, I’m just wondering if R.E. Prindle is an actual person or a group of authors. I’m wondering if there was any way that I could get a hold of the person who wrote “A Short Story, The Voice of The Turtleneck.” I have a few questions in regards to specific parts of the text that I would like to ask,
    Thank you for your time,
    -Jordan

  2. Jordan: I’m flattered that you think I’m a group of authors. I don’t know exactly how to interpret that but I’m just me. The Voice Of The Turtleneck is of my provenance. The story has been received well which surprises me. Most of these stories were brutally rejected by magazine, I mean, nasty rejections so I am surprised at their acceptance on the internet

    If you have any question let me know.


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