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Category Archives: Love Story

The Vampyres Of New York

Clip 9

A Novel

By

R.E. Prindle

 

Angeline woke up in a fine frame of mind. Just as a test I quickly flipped her in and out, the hypnosis was working as before. Now began the hard part; what to do with her second personality. With a little luck it might prove that they didn’t give her a third or fourth but I didn’t perceive any evidence of it.

I thought it might be best to try to combine Ange’s second personality replacing it with a dream world, a sort of false memory, and only a nightmare hence not real and threatening while as a dream I hoped it could be eliminated.

While a vacated second personality might still exist perhaps with time it could be forgotten or fade away. For myself my own painful early personality had become dissociated from myself existing more or less as a parallel universe that had nothing to do with me.

I will spare you the details of our work over the next couple days. While I think we made progress the work seemed far from done. There was some means to transfer the memory images from the second personality to the dream life of the first personality that had me baffled. The purification rites with Hera did seem to remove any sense of responsibility from Angeline’s mind but the memories were still there.

While in her first state she couldn’t consciously remember her activities in the second state still the mind has only one subconscious and that was affected equally by both the first and second states. The deeper I got into her mind the better I understood her catatonia. But, it was Friday and time for our luncheon date with Lessing.

As I had devised a plan to possibly foil any spy agents Ragnar had the limo ready at ten. We drove up to Lessing’s. While standing in his lobby that I thought could be bugged while Lessing should have been able to recognize strangers I explained that my idea was to take the ferry to Staten Island, rent a car and drive to the abandoned Seaview Asylum where I thought it unlikely that we could be overheard. I asked Ragnar to call for a rent-a-car as we would have to leave the limo at the Whitehall Terminal.

Me: The ride’s on me Lessing.

Ragnar: Sure. The ferry’s free.

Me: Aren’t you the spoil sport Ragnar.

Lessing: Funny. Lived here all my life and I’ve never been to Staten Island.

Ange: Me neither.

Me: I just got here and me neither. I’m looking forward to it.

Ange: Any idea how long it takes?

Me: Five miles, about half an hour. Ferries leave every half hour. It’ll be great. Love the ferries in Seattle. If you ever get the chance take the ferry through the San Juans. That’s a wonderful trip.

Lessing: What are the San Juans?

Me: They’re a group of five islands I believe, up on the Canadian border. Small islands but romantic. You can stay at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and take the ferry back in the morning. Great fun. Plus unlike the Staten Island Ferry you can take your car.

Once aboard Lessing had a puzzling experience.

Lessing: Hello Angeline. Do you remember me?

Ange: I’m sorry, Lessing is it? I don’t think we’ve ever met.

Lessing: Strange. I thought we attended a couple parties together a few years back.

Ange: I don’t think so. I’m sure I’d remember someone like you Lessing.

Lessing: Maybe or maybe not. But I seem…

Me: Lessing, I’ll explain as soon as we’re in the car. This is going to amaze you.

 

Lessing: That was a wonderful trip. I don’t know how I could have lived here this long and not have taken it before.

Me: Bravo, Ragnar. A Mercedes. Thoughtful of you; how did you swing that on such short notice?

Ragnar: We chauffeurs have our ways.

Me: Great. Punch in Seaview Asylum and let’s get some directions. This place is supposed to be in central Staten Island. Ruins. You’ll love it if you like ruins.

Lessing: Oh, ruins, yes. Nothing like a good ruin. Do they have a ruined restaurant?

Me: Naw. We’ll have to stop on the way. Get something to take along. If you see a MacDonald’s pull over Ragnar.

Ange: MacDonald’s? Don’t you really like Burger King better Partly?

Me: Not really. Actually I prefer Jack-In-The-Box but I didn’t think you’d have them out here. If that’s what you prefer, it’s all right with me.

Lessing: If I have to, it doesn’t matter one way or the other to me. I’m not sure that this will be a first with me but close to it.

Ange: Ooh, a snob.

Lessing: A man of distinction and taste.

Me: Oh, come on Lessing, a little plebeianism won’t hurt you any. We’ll do some fine dining later.

Lessing: I believe you said that you and uh…Mrs. Wright ware married Perry. May I ask how you met and hooked so quickly?

Me: Why not? It’s one of those matches made in heaven, Lessing, so far at least. I was at the Nordstrom’s opening as was Ange, our eyes locked and that was it.

Lessing: Ha! I’ve heard of it before but I’ve never seen it.

Ange: It’s true. Partly rescued me from a world of desolation and loneliness. Why do you call Partly Perry?

Lessing: Because Partly told me to call him Perry.

Ange: Well, you do have multiple personalities Partly, or is it Perry?

Me: I’ve only got one, at least only one I use or use consistently, not that I’m trying to be confusing Ange, but I have many facets to the one personality. For people that don’t know me I adopted Perry because Partly always mystifies people. For you Ange, I prefer you call me Partly. I hope we can all keep our identities straight.

Lessing: But, Angeline, you did work at Barton, Dustbin didn’t you? You were a pretty good real estate lawyer there.

Ange: I was a top real estate lawyer there. Top. I wrote some of the biggest deals on the East Coast and as far West as Chicago.

Me: Ooh, that far West?

Lessing: And you don’t remember me Angeline?

Me: I’ll have to explain Lessing. This bears directly on our ability to manage the police and courts. Now listen carefully Lessing because you might have difficulty believing what you are about to hear. You are a lawyer and I’m sure you believe the best of your legal fraternity while probably considering Merivale Adelstein to be a good lawyer and a fine man. You are about to learn differently. Did you ever hear of a Dr. Wormowitz?

Lessing: No, I don’t think I know the name.

Me: Fine. Now, the period we’re talking about is the late seventies and the eighties here in New York. Things were Satanic, violent, druggy and sexually insane. Women’s liberation essentially meant that men could fuck any and all at will. But sexual relations still had consequences. The problem for men was how to avoid the consequences.

Merivale and his colleagues at BAAD worked out what has ‘till now the perfect plan seemingly negating any consequences. The plan was simple. The women could be hypnotized, indoctrinated and conditioned to be perfect sexual objects. Party girls. The girls could be told to remember nothing they did under hypnosis. Thus BAAD had a cadre of partly girls handy for an afternoon delight when things got frustrating or they were emasculated in a courtroom brawl.

Of course once trained one didn’t want them drifting away so they were given exorbitant salaries to keep them at BAAD. They were thus getting good workers and party girls for what was really a particularly good price as if they had to hire working girls for their sexual wants the price for those alone would have been far more than their ‘employees’ were being paid. Thus, the women were actual monarch slaves although not chattel or even obvious slaves as I think you can figure out.

Wormowitz who was Jewish may or may not have been a doctor as he came over from Germany in the thirties and probably lacked any degree nevertheless was an accomplished hypnotist and from practice a fairly knowledgeable psycho-analyst. BAAD billed him an MD and sent the girls to him as a condition of employment for a physical. It was he who hypnotized them and began their indoctrination and conditioning.

Ange was one of those monarch slaves. When she says she doesn’t remember you it is because Angeline I was never at one of those parties; it was as Angeline II. I hope that clears that up.

Lessing: I’m sorry Angeline.

Ange: It was a different time and different place and it didn’t involve me.

Me: No. One might say she wasn’t there. Now Lessing, we have a list of several dozen women who were exploited by the men of BAAD. We have a list of a couple hundred men, mostly lawyers from BAAD and some few others who might surprise you, including actually, yourself.

There is a whole litany of crimes committed by BAAD here, crimes punishable by good long spells in prison not to mention the destruction of careers and lives, nearly all of them are still alive.

This should get us enough leverage to prevent any of our people not only out of jail but not arrested in the first place. As police everywhere have been told to stand down when Negroes, Mexicans and whatever have rioted assaulting Whites our own people have now been re-enfranchised and can do what they deem with impunity.

Ragnar: Bravo, bravo. We now have no worries.

Me: Yes, Ragnar, you can turn the troops loose.

Ange: Boy, this is one spooky place.

Me: What? What? Spookier than you think. This place was used for conclaves of the Son of Sam conspirators, the Final Judgment people. Amazing that buildings like this are allowed to go to ruins. Acres and Acres of what were fine grounds allowed to be overgrown.

Ragnar: Not overgrown, returned to nature.

Lessing: Yes, of course. This is good news Perry. I can certainly turn it to good effect.

Me: I hope so. But we’ll have to be alert for the reaction. I’m sure Adelstein is a resourceful guy and certainly keen on the self-defense. I’ve been set-up several times back in Oregon so I know what to look out for. I don’t know all the tricks but they always use the same ones. At least this time I know who I’m dealing with and have ample resources.

So, Lessing, how soon can you set them up?

Lessing: Right away. I’ll set up a meeting with you, Angeline and myself with Merivale so that he knows that he’s up against the wall. I’ve got it, Perry, now can we get out of this used up asylum? Angeline is right the place is too spooky. I expect to be assaulted by the ghosts of lunatics all the time.

Me: Yeah, well, the ghosts of lunatics can’t hurt you like the lunatics were going to be dealing with.

 

The conversation continued as we walked back to the car for the return trip to the ferry slip. Lessing changed the topic as we set out.

Lessing: There’s a meeting of the Serapion Brethren this Friday Perry, are you coming?

Me: Yes. Am I to pick up where I left off?

Lessing: We prefer to have a different reader at each session, if that’s alright with you.

Me: Perfect as a matter of fact. Who’s up?

Lessing: Max Savings is going to present an essay on the confiscation of the Russian art treasure by the Soviets.

Me: Sounds great.

Ange: What is the Serapion Brethren?

Lessing: It’s a study group Perry and I belong to Angeline. We meet and discuss any submerged aspect of history.

Ange: Where did you get the name Lessing?

Lessing: We borrowed it from a fictional group of the same name created by ETA Hoffman. Have you read any Hoffman, Angeline?

Ange: In college we had to read a story by Hoffman I think. Something about an eccentric jeweler or even crazy, he hated to part with his creations so much he burgled the buyers houses and stole them back. Creepy.

Lessing: That one’s called Mademoiselle Scudery.

Ange: Oh yes. I remember now. Are you going to leave me alone Friday night Partly?

Me: I’ll have to Ange but as Frankie told Johnnie: I won’t be gone very long.

Ange: You better come back.

Me: You and I are one Ange. You need have no fears. Don’t be insecure.

Ragnar: Are you going to help us out establishing our turf Partly?

Me: Yes. I’ll start a magazine so we can all keep in touch and stay informed. I’ll come down tomorrow morning to see where things stand. But, listen Ragnar and Lessing, remember that Angeline is an accomplished lawyer and she is the key for controlling the legal end so she deserves a full share of respect. She has things to contribute.

Where do matters rest now?

Ragnar: We are roughed out in Aryan areas on the East Side from ninety-second down to the Bowery and across town from fifty-second to about seventieth but maybe a little higher and lower. Madison, Park and Fifth are free passageways we have to allow. We avoid the subways.

There have been some serious clashes and some of our guys are in the jug. We want them out.

Me: How is it going on the legal end Lessing?

Lessing: With our present organization we’ve been able to keep them in Manhattan but we haven’t been able to get them out. Angeline’s info will strengthen us greatly. Adelstein himself is powerful and his connections can get things done.

Me: Hmm. Angeline can call him and have him meet her- that is at her apartment. The rest will fall out. You don’t have anything important doing tomorrow night do you Lessing?

Lessing: No, I’m free.

 

By now, we were back aboard the ferry for the return trip. Passing a newsstand I grabbed a paper. I hadn’t been able to keep up for the last several days while tending Ange. The news was eye popping.

Me: My goodness. Look at the pictures of Chicago in flames. Is this 1871 revisted?

Lessing: Where have you been Perry? That mess started three days ago.

Me: I was otherwise employed.

Ange: Let me see that Partly.

Me: So a major revolt has begun in Chicago? Is this just a riot or what?

Ragnar: More than a riot; it’s fighting for real. Our guys are on the alert.

Lessing: the papers only give a hint as to what is going down. It’s really bad. The carnage is going to be terrible.

It started on the South side when some Blacks attacked a police station. When reinforcements were sent the whole place erupted. The West Side and all areas joined in. Lines of citizens have formed around Black areas where possible. Constant shooting across lines but apparently infra-Black areas are wars of Blacks against Blacks. The killing is intense.

As you know there are no grocery stores across the lines so food is already short. ‘Humanitarian’ White groups are gathering food but the problem is how to get it through the lines. The ‘humanitarians’ are shot down as soon as they come within range….

Me: Started three days ago! Lordy, bodies must really be hitting the ground . Which reminds me, has anyone thought of securing our food supplies?

Ragnar: How’s that?

Me? Land deliveries can be cut off easily since the Bronx is controlled by the Negroes. So we should secure water routes across the Hudson and East Rivers, barges or something; and also exit routes if needed.

We should block deliveries into the Moslem area to starve them out. Turn off the gas, water and electricity. This could get serious. We should also raid a military base or two, Ragnar, for fire arms, ammo, grenades and grenade launchers and anti-tank devices. Machine guns.

Obama hasn’t called out the army to suppress the Chicago insurrection but he will do it against we Whites so it’s best to best to be prepared.

There’s a bright spot here though– the Stock Market is up a hundred twenty points, we can still pay the rent.

Lessing: How long is that going to last, I wonder.

Me: Quite a while I suspect, Lessing. The Negro concentrations are all in our major cities fairly tightly confined. Of all we useless feeders the Negroes are the most useless of all. There is no economy in those areas to disrupt. So life can function fairly normally outside those areas.

Even during WWII people fought desperately to go on normally. You would think something like publishing would stop but, I more or less collect books published during WWII, publishing went on close to normal. Almost hadn’t skipped a beat as things resumed immediately right after the war.

So, there may not be a serious reduction of means outside the Negro cities.

Lessing: You may be right. I’ll have to consider things in that light.

Me: Accentuate the positive, Lessing, accentuate the positive.

Ange: I had no idea you had such a grim sense of humor, Partly.

Me: You should have been in the orphanage with us Angelina. I had my early training for this there. I’ve been ready for the worst all my life.

Ah well, here we are, Keep your cell phone on Lessing. I’m going to try to set something up for tomorrow.

Drop us off on the way to Lessing’s, Ragnar. We’ll need you tomorrow.

 

I won’t say Chicago was a surprise. First the collection of the Rebbes and then an insurrection in Chicago.   I suppose Obama was surprised at it as we’ve fought back. Well, you know you can only push so hard and then the hot heads take over. We were into it now. Things should really escalate rapidly. I hope we can keep order within our areas here in New York City. We can’t let law deteriorate but from now on it is our law, not Negro law, Shariia or Jewish law, but our law.

 

Me: Sweetheart, it’s time we put our plan in action.

Ange: I’m ready Dearest Partly.

Me: Alright. Call Adelstein and invite him over to your condo tomorrow night, seven o’ clock. I’ll call Lessing to be present and I think it would be wise to have Ragnar along. I have conditioned your other mind upon the signal to attack Adelstein with all your fury. I have instructed Ange II to desist at a voice command. You, as Ange I, know it too.

I will allow you to punish him as severely as possible but as we need him for our plans you’ll stop short of murder. Besides dead he wouldn’t suffer the humiliation he will have to. The difference between your unearned humiliation and his is that he’ll be conscious of it. So, tomorrow is The Day.

I’m going to go cook something to eat while you call Adelstein.

 

Our preparations are in place. The morrow will find us waiting for the appearance of Adelstein at Angeline’s.

Lessing, Ragnar and myself waited in the kitchen as the doorbell sounded. This was a big moment for Angeline while curiously it was a big moment for me. As Ange represented my own Anima in Ange’s getting her revenge, through her I was getting a little of mine back too. Along with a very large minority of the country’s population I hated lawyers. I saw them as the very scum of the earth.

I knew the type from high school. Nearly everyone I detested had become a lawyer. Curiously enough the detestation was mutual, they scorned me as I loathed them. Peculiar circumstances from my childhood prevented me from hating anyone but if I had been able to hate I would have hated them heartily.

I was able to avoid contact with lawyers until I got into business in Oregon. When you’re in business you’re a target; it becomes unavoidable that you will become very familiar with lawyers, the extortionate bastards.

It was then when I was drawn into the system that I became aware of what kind of men- and women- lawyers are. I would say a full half of them are full blown psychotics of which Adelstein was a prime example, they and the rest of them look upon law as a racket in which you extort money from simpletons who they make sure have no defense.

If it is thought I think of lawyers as criminals that is correct. They are the third part of the criminal system, sometimes erroneously referred to as the justice system. They are base men and women armed to the teeth. Way off back at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when a group of working men called the IWW, Industrial Workers of the World, nicknamed the Wobblies, were resisting the inhumane working conditions in the woods, logging that is, they naturally clashed with the police and law. The lawyers of Portland Oregon all swore a mighty oath never to give legal assistance to a Wobbly. This was of course in violation of the Constitution of the United States or, in fact, the Law. Nevertheless no Portland lawyer ever defended a Wobbly in Court.

Now, a mid-century counterpart of the Wobblies were the people called Hippies. As latter day Wobblies we were placed outside the law. No hippy was ever given a defense although hypocritical lawyers took the money and then negotiated the lowest sentence the accused would get. This isn’t the place to get into it but let’s just say a lot of people who should have been in jail were immune to charges if you get me.

I had started a record store and I did very well. At that time in the late Sixties marijuana, the chief offender in the popular mind, was spreading into the middle classes. Marijuana and drugs were associated with record stores ipso facto. As a store owner I was also characterized as a drug dealer and much worse. As such I was denied any services such as insurance while I was barely able to get electricity and was able to clear the streets as people moved aside to avoid possible contact.

I survived all efforts to shut me down, was forced to move the store several times as agreements were broken, with no recourse. I was forced to walk a very narrow line as any deviation from the very straightest and narrowest would have landed me in court where lawyers were sworn to not represent me unless to turn the trial into a kangaroo court.

This violated everything about America I had been conditioned to believe. Many ridiculous petty charges were brought against me, some of which no lawyer would handle but some of which landed me in court where I was compelled to pay a lawyer for essentially lynching me. In one case I had merely opened my mouth to protest when the judge looked at me sternly and bawled: One more word out of you and I’ll have you for contempt of court. And he would have too. I had to sit quietly while my fate was pronounced. It only involved a trifling fine in the case but my hatred for lawyers and judges was set in stone. Now, not only would Judge Adelstein pay a big ‘fine’ to Angeline but I was going to get mine back in a big way.

As may be imagined when Lessing, Ragnar and I emerged from the kitchen area into the living room Adelstein was non-plussed. Looking first at Lessing, who he knew very well, then at Ragnar, then at me he exclaimed: ‘You’re the fellow I challenged outside the door a week or so ago. What’s going on here Lessing? What do you have to with him? Who is he?’

Lessing: He’s an acquaintance Merivale. As you know recent political developments have been quite startling. There are racial disturbances all across the country while here in the city racial territories have formed with our Whites staking our claim for mid-island. So far the authorities haven’t understood. They are disputing our claims while Negro and Moslem claims have been accepted.

Our people are being arrested while theirs haven’t. We’re asking you to balance equity. We want our boys released and to remain unmolested. As a believer in fairness and justice may we count on you to act in our interests?

Adelstein: Why those people to whom you refer are White Supremacists. There will never be peace until Whiteness is removed from the face of the earth. Why those White Supremacists are even expelling Jews from mid-city.

Ragnar: They aren’t being expelled; they’re leaving on their own. We don’t have anything to do with it.

Adelstein: Nonsense, there will never be peace until Whiteness is removed from the earth.

 

Here Ange, Ragnar, Lessing and myself made scoffing noises.

 

Lessing: I was hoping you wouldn’t force our hand Merivale.

Adelstein: I will absolutely not release any White Supremacists. What do you mean by force my hand?

Seeing the futility of arguing with Adelstein at that point I gave my ear a tug.

It is difficult for me to describe this but Ange caught my signal only from the corner of her eye as she was staring fixedly at Adelstein. It seemed like the air exploded with the fury of her response. I don’t know if I actually was but I felt like I was knocked back on my heels.

Adelstein had no time to anticipate Ange’s assault. She leaped like a tigress with a piercing shriek on him simultaneously raking both sides of his face with her nails from temple to chin while knocking him to the floor. She leaped on his chest in the most undignified manner on her knees pummeling with triple strength at his face. I’m sure his nose went at the first blow.

Hitting and scratching the white carpet began turning red beneath his head as the blood flowed copiously. Damn, I thought, we probably will never get the rug clean, have to buy a new carpet.

Just then Adelstein shrieked: My eye, my eye. Ange had only caught him by the corner so no real damage but as his nose was wobbling right left and back again I thought it best to call Ange off before she killed the bastard. Not that I objected but dead he would be no use to us while a murder trial might make us look bad.

‘Enough’ Ange’ I cried hoping she would remember to respond to my voice command while I was trying to maneuver to where she could see me tugging at my left ear. Fortunately she responded to voice command backing away spitting and snarling, shouting epithets at the bastard. She was terrific; how I loved her.

Having been abused by Adelstein and his band since she was twenty-five you may be sure she had pent up resentments probably conscious in both identities. How I admired her but how ashamed I was that I had to make her appear so unladylike. Still for her mental comfort she needed that revenge.

Merivale was rolling around on the floor screaming ‘My eye, my eye’ when there was really nothing very much wrong with it, just a small tear at the corner of the lid. He should have been shouting my nose, my nose; he was going to have a hell of a time explaining those shiners.

I asked Ragnar to set him on his feet so we could get on with it. Ragnar grabbed him at the shirt front and like a feather pulled him up and stood him on his brogans. Boy, I hated those shoes. What evil memories of guys walking around in those shoes I had from my young manhood. I’d always been the loafer type.

Me: Calm down, calm down Adelstein, it’s not that bad and we have business to discuss

Adelstein: (ignoring or not hearing me) What the fuck’s the matter with you bitch?

Me: Now, now Adelstein I can’t tolerate being called a bitch.

Adelstein: Not you ass, her.

In her own persona, the violence of her acts must have melded both personas. Ange actually spit in his face calling him a eunuch and bastard. Eunuch? Hmm, well maybe that was the ultimate insult in Ange’s situation. I hate spitting and I really hate to see women spit especially Ange as she was such an integral part of me. It was as though I spit.

Between the two then the air resonated lightning with seeming thunder rolls for several minutes. I became aware of myself breathing hard when Lessing made a pass with his hand in the air between Ange and Merivale that seemed to calm the storm. Until as coming from afar could be heard his voice soothing: ‘Calm down, Merivale, calm down. We have to explain our terms to you. Listen, listen.’

I had to laugh to myself when he told Adelstein to calm down while Ange was still fuming at him, making threatening moves at him even in her own persona. I moved over, put my arms around her and tried to comfort her. A little petting and she sank into my arms against me suddenly exhausted, relieved, but exhausted.

I suppose Adelstein must have been almost in shock as he was bleeding from deep scratches all over his face. Ragnar grabbed a roll of toilet paper and threw it to him. The paper brought him around some as he dabbed his face wincing as he brushed his nose. I don’t know how much pleasure Ange got from his agony oh, but it did my heart good as I silently laughed deep within my breast.

Agonized needless to say Adelstein dabbed until recovering his wits sufficiently he turned his face toward Lessing and asked: ‘What the fuck arrangements are you talking about Farquhar?’ This was my cue.

Me: We want your cooperation and assistance Judge in the freeing of any of our men arrested at the first hearing and your cooperation in preventing charges from being brought.

Adelstein: Never. Those men you refer to are White Supremacists and deserve the worst they can get. White Supremacism has to be wiped out.

Lessing: Take a moment Merivale. Take a moment and think. The list of charges that can be brought against your firm, your colleagues and yourself will likely fill pages. These women have been treated criminally; they were essentially slaves without a will of their own. They couldn’t say no. As you know Merivale the prejudice of the Court is always in the woman’s favor; you don’t have a chance.

From the moment of filing charges, that I have already written up, the reputation of you and your firm will be destroyed. You personally will be thrown out of your clubs. Restaurants will refuse to serve you. You’ll never eat lunch in this town again. The charges are heavy charges in multiple counts. White slavery charges alone could get net you two or three life sentences. I could list more but do you really want to risk the penalties by refusing our very reasonable requests.

 

Adelstein was still dabbing at his bloody face while in real agony over his nose and eye. Now Lessing threw real fear into him; we had irrefutable evidence, damning evidence. We waited patiently as Adelstein dabbed.

Adelstein: Alright. I’ll apply whatever influence I can.

Me: Not good enough we don’t want you to apply pressure, we want results now.

Adelstein: I’m only a judge, Federal not State or City. I have jurisdictional limits.

Lessing: Stop it, Merivale. You know your influence is distributed throughout the system. Your word alone can advance or stop any career. Perry is right. Either you do it or we file. I already have the papers drawn up. We have pages and pages of offenses; don’t be a fool Merivale. You’ve a wife and kids.

Adelstein: I never thought you…oh, alright I’ll issue instructions not to book your people too.

Me: Today. We want our men out.

Adelstein: My G-d man, can’t you see I’m in agony. For G-d’s sake get me to a hospital.

Ange: Your god doesn’t exist. No, you bastard. You get your own self to the hospital. Suffer, suffer, suffer. I hate you, you bastard. I hate every time you touched me. I hat the very sight of you. Get out of my condo! Now!

 

Adelstein was suffering but I couldn’t feel sorry for him. I was almost sorry I called Angeline off but I couldn’t let her kill him. He staggered out the door.

 

Ragnar: Nice work, Miss Gower. Do you think he will get our boys out Mr. Farquhar?

Lessing: Yes I do. He’ll have to have his injuries doctored today but I’ll call him in the morning to prompt him. You can tell your men they’re safe from the Courts; I won’t call it the law. We’re into this new phase of warfare where words are being redefined.

Me: I have an appointment at James Carter in a couple days so I should have an account from Goldbladder.

There should be a renewed attempt to penetrate our ranks Ragnar. Keep a sharp lookout. Adelstein may have to comply but he won’t take this lying down. They’re wily fellows; remember the Amalekites.

All three: Remember the Amalekites? What’s that supposed to mean?

Me: Oh, when the Hebrews were on their way to the Promised Land from Egypt they asked the Amalekites for permission to cross their territory rather than take the long way around. The Amalekites refused. The Hebrews took the refusal as an injury and didn’t forget so decades later after they had consolidated their power they returned to exterminate the Amalekites root and branch as the Bible tells it.

Today was a declaration of war between the Jews and us. They will come at us any way they can, they won’t let up, they won’t forget. It will be and already is a war of extermination; I don’t know how long things will take to develop but don’t forget the Amalekites.

Ange: You know this and you’re still going to James Carter?

Me: They won’t do anything direct at this time Ange. They’ll want to shift the guilt to us. Meanwhile hopefully we’ll get more info from them than they get from me. Abe and I are almost buddies anyway.

Ragnar: I don’t think so.

Me: That was joke, Ragnar, that was a joke. Don’t be so literal.

 

Ange and I were talking over soup and a glass of white wine, a Riesling.

Me: Well, Ange, you have had your revenge, how was it?

Ange: Good but not as good as I expected but now I’m having hallucinations.

Me: Yes. What kind.

Ange: It’s like I can see over a wall or maybe through those glass blocks. Terrifying visions. I’m afraid.

Me: Don’t be afraid; you can’t be hurt. I’ve been trying to break down the division between your two identities and unify them into one so that you have your whole life and no dark spaces. Maybe your encounter with Adelstein opened the way a little. Don’t fight it but let the barriers fall. The first rush may overwhelm your senses but just remember they are only memories.

Ange: Oh, but, Partly, what must you think of me? I’m afraid you won’t love me anymore.

Me: Of course I’ll always love you Ange, you are half of me. Hera will welcome you as redeemed; you are her cherished daughter. As her priest I rejoice in your recovery.

You must understand Ange that you are innocent of any guilt and as such you need have no shame although possibly regrets. And I am here to truly love you.

I am familiar with your situation myself. It has taken me decades Ange to realize I was under a post hypnotic suggestion, a hypnotic spell from the second grade to perhaps seventy years of age although to a weakening degree. The reasons for my behavior have only been known to me for a few years. It was only when I came to understand hypnosis and hypnotic suggestion that I understood.

In kindergarten, 1943, some Negro kids were let in school to the great resentment of parents and hence their kids. On the first day, at recess, they were told to sit on the sandbox and not move. I was already an outcast because of things that happened in my neighborhood so I objected to their treatment and offered to help them fight for their rights. They refused and that left me hanging out. It was late in the year so I was told that they would get me next year.

They had to wait for the second grade as I was transferred to a different school in the first grade. At recess they were waiting for me. About twelve boys and girls of the elite formed a semi-circle around me and glared hatred at me while Morford berated me on my sin. Then I was told to stand on one foot for the duration of recess which I did. Then I was told to put my foot down and that I was their nigger now.

In a state of terror with all defenses down I was actually hypnotized although they may or may not have been aware of it, their parents that is, and the post-hypnotic suggestion that I was their nigger mirroring the Negro kids sitting on the sand box, was implanted so that in similar situations I had no resistance and did what nearly anyone told me to do mirroring standing on one foot.

This went on all my life even after integrating my personality at forty-two until I could recognize and reject my post-hypnotic suggestion in my early seventies. So, Honey, I understand completely. My Anima was destroyed at that time also but now that I have found you, I’m complete. You are me; I am you. I rejoice that you’re recovering.

But now you must be especially wary. When Adelstein recovers he will come to avenge your assault. His kind never acknowledge their crimes but only resent the revenges. So tomorrow night I have to attend the New Serapions and under no circumstances are you to answer the door. If the fire alarm goes off ignore it there will be no fire. I will call a couple times to reassure you and will call from the lobby on the way up. Is that clear?

Ange: Yes, darling Partly. I won’t open the door no matter what. I will call you if anything happens.

Me: Exactly, Ange, my darling girl.

And so, here I am sitting in Lessing’s living room.

 

Clip 10 follows

A Short Story

From The Boulevard Of Broken Dreams Collection

All The Way From China

by

R.E. Prindle

 

Ruby lips above the water

Blowing bubbles soft and fine

But, alas, I was no swimmer…

Trad.  Clementine

 

     Dewey roused himself in bed, propping himself up on the pillows.

     ‘Where are you going today, Dewey?’ Asked his wife Angeline.

     ‘Nowhere actually.  I’m supposed to work Marin here.  Not a lot to do really.  Just a dozen houses but they’re far apart.’

     ‘I thought you weren’t supposed to do Marin?’

     ‘I’m not but Ramme sends me into his areas every so often.  Must be someone he’s afraid of or unpleasant for him.  Maybe he just doesn’t feel like driving over from Berkeley today.  I don’t know.  He’s an odd duck.  He’s got this Stanford degree and he’s doing the same job I am.’

     ‘Where are you going first?’

     ‘Just over the freeway here in Larkspur.’

     ‘You mean Corte Madera?’

     ‘Yes, Angeline, just over the freeway here. I think it’s one of those houses built on stilts over the tidal flats; you know, out there on the mud.’

     ‘Really?  They’ve got houses out over the bay?’

     ‘Yeah.  I guess they’re fairly defensive.  Some guy told I wouldn’t dare go out there to collect or they’d chuck me over the side, beat me up or something?’

     ‘Really?  Would they do that?  Are you going to go?’

     ‘Sure.’

     ‘Why?  If Ramme doesn’t want to do it why should you?’

     ‘Well, my dear, I’ve never been there before.  Looks pretty strange.  I’d like to see it from the other side.’

     ‘What if they hurt you?’

     ‘Oh, they aren’t going to hurt me.  Nobody has yet.  Nobody’s even tried although I have had a few threats.  What’s to worry?  Just talk ’em out of it, that’s all.  They threaten me and I’ll threaten to burn ’em out at high tide or foreclose on ’em, that’s all.  What do you think of that?’

     ‘You wouldn’t do that.’

     “If I had to pay to get my suit cleaned I might.’

 

     The mud flats Dewey referred to were at the mouth of Tamalpais Creek out into the San Francisco Bay.  At low tide a strand of a couple hundred feet was exposed.  Several houses connected to shore by walkways were built out over them on piles.

     Dewey rolled up about ten to make his call.  His house was not part of the main cluster but was an isolated structure North and East, closer to the creek.  Tamalpais Creek at one time was navigable for small ships but over the years civilization had reduced it to a trickle.  Now it could barely be spotted as it oozed into the bay.

     A parking area about three cars wide was cleared in a little copse of trees and foliage.  Romantic spot, really, which is why the tenant lived there.  A wooden walkway extended about fifty feet from the the shore to the house.

     As Dewey got out of his car he noticed motorcycle tracks in the gravel. 

     ‘What a weird situation.’  He thought.  ‘I’ll bet that house isn’t even on land.  I’ll bet that’s property that belongs to the State.  I’ll bet nobody can own land on the tidewater.  These people must be some kind of squatters.  I wonder how they got a loan on the house?’

     As he stepped out on the walkway he looked over at the main cluster.  ‘I’ll bet you Darby was afraid to make this call so he gave it to me.  What a chicken.’  But he didn’t like the look of those motorcycle tracks.  ‘Might me those damn Hell’s Angels.’

     ‘How strange, how strange.’  Dewey thought as he turned to look back at the shore.  ‘Very picturesque though, very romantic.’

     ‘Come in.’ Floated out the open door before he’d even had a chance to knock.  What a beautiful melodious female voice, spoken in such a languorous sensual tone.

     Dewey stepped inside.  A delightful array of scents caressed his nostrils.  Colors ovewhelmed his senses making his brain tingle.  There seated in a chair by a window looking out over the bay was the most beautiful woman.

     She was beside a table on which sat a large basket of funny looking squat orange fruit, not an orange, not a tangerine.  Dewey had never seen them before.

    ‘Hi, honey.  Have a seat.’  She said with a warm curiosity interested to see what fate had cast up on her shore.

     There was something so voluptuous, so eternally female in her voice that Dewey for the second time tingled.  A strange enervating glow radiated from the top of his spine into his brain leaving him almost euphoric.

     ‘My name’s, Suzanne.  What’s yours?’

     ‘My name?’  Dewey said astonished and surprised.  ‘Um, Dewey.  But I’m from…’

     ‘Oh, we can get into that later Dewey.  Let’s get acquainted first.  Let’s get to know each other.  Wouldn’t you like that?  Would you like an orange?’

     Dewey looked at the basket.  ‘Those are oranges?  I’ve never seen them before.  What kind?’

     ‘Those are Mandarin oranges, Dewey.  They came all the way from China.  Peel me one.  Will you be so kind?’

     ‘Huh?’

     ‘Peel me an orange, Dewey.  You look like you have good hands.’

     ‘Oh, yeah, sure.’  Dewey picked up an orange to peel as he looked around taking stock of where he was.

     Suzanne had a real hep pad; she was a real hep chick.  The genuine article.  The location was too exotic.  The house was small, one room really, with partial dividers setting off the kitchen, the living room and the bedroom.  The delicious Marin air wafted through the house through windows open and looking out in every direction.  Off to the West San Quentin Prison was visible across the black mud extending to the Eastern edge of the water.  The house was now high and dry as the tide was out.

     ‘The tide makes a wonderful sound when it come creeping back in, lapping against the piles.’  Suzanne breathed in that wonderful voice.

     ‘Um.’

     The house was sparsely furnished Zen style with just the right number of peices of undecorated but classically correct furniture, no more than necessary, no less.  The walls were draped in Indian bedspreads or tapestries.  One covered the central part of the ceiling over the exposed central light bulb.

     A turntable, speakers and amplifier were arranged on boards supported by cinder blocks on Suzannes’s left.  Dewey had never seen separate components before.  He easily recogized the phonograph for what it was.  All of a sudden his portable Webcor seemed like trash.  In an instant he had never wanted anything more than a component phonograph system.  Dewey could identify several records lying about.  Suzanne was a real folkie of the old school.  Records on the Topic label by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Bob Gibson and Bob Camp were there.  A couple Leadbelly sides and a Josh White, Odetta.  Old Weavers records and a Pete Seeger.  The most current stuff she had was the Kingston Trio, Chad Mitchell Trio and Judy Henske.  The two Trios were of the hippest political stuff.  Both were considered dangerous, especially the great Chad Mitchell Trio.

     She kept the place immaculate.  A few books were artfully strewn about.  ‘The Book Of Tea’, ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’, ‘Steppenwolf’, ‘Light From The East.’

     Some of the singer’s names Dewey had only heard of, some were completely unknown to him, they were already part of the past.  ‘The Book Of Tea’ and ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’ he owned himself in those picturesque little Charles Tuttle editions.

     His swung back to Suzanne herself.  She was a very beautiful woman.  She was the epitome of femininity, completely woman, no equivocation if you know what I mean.

     She was sitting on the chair, barefoot with her legs tucked up.  Her feet were beautifully formed, her ankles the neatest.  She wore a rose colored blouse with a darker rose colored vest laced across her midriff.  The vest raised her stunning breasts as if offering them to the world.  Stunning?  My god! They were truly melons, slightly elongated resting on and pressing against the sides of the vest.

     Dewey nearly swallowed his teeth.  She wasn’t wearing a bra.  Very unusual in 1964.  Nipples the size of fifty cent pieces raised, it seemed, a quarter inch above the surrounding flesh pink beneath the rose material.  Dewey bit his lip as he tremblingly peeled the Mandarin orange.

     Looking up he saw that she was still beautiful with a gorgeous full mane of long dark chestnut hair.  She an an enchanting line of freckles across his cheeks and nose. The ample but not overly full lips were drawn back in a half smile.

     ‘Wow!  Dimples on her elbows, dimples on her knees.  A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one.’  Ran through Dewey’s mind.

     But, Suzanne, Dewey noted, was past her prime.  She was probably close to or over forty.  She had the look of experience, of having been passed around.  Her skin showed the ravages of drug use.  The flesh was slightly dry and wrinkling from excessive exposure to the California sun.  Too much skiing, water-skiing and boating.  Too much of being the good sport.  Too much enjoying the pleasures of being a party girl.  Suzanne was at the stage where she had been superseded by younger and fresher looking women.

     ‘Finished yet?’  She cooed as only a San Francisco Mama can.  She gathered her hair in that languorous sensual way, looking inquiringly at him.

     ‘Yes.  I am.’  Dewey replied as coolly as possible.  ‘Do you want me to split it in half for you, or…’

     ‘Of course, silly boy.  Keep half for yourself.  We’ll share it.  Some for me, a little for you.’

     ‘Uh…OK.  I’ve never had one of these before.  They really come from China?’

     Suzanne nodded, smiling at Dewey’s awkwardness and apparent simplicity.  Suzanne, who knew very few men who wore suits had guessed who Dewey was.  She couldn’t make her mortgage payment, the money wasn’t there.  Perhaps she could wheedle a payment out of him or at least divert his attention so that she could avoid the embarrassment of admitting she didn’t have the money which would have killed her.

     ‘Tell me, Dewey…’

     ‘Oh god,’  thought Dewey, ‘I hope she isn’t going to go into the sound of one hand clapping or if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to here it, does it make a noise.  Boy, I’ve had enough of that.’

     ‘…which do you think is more important, money or relationships?’

     ‘Well, I think you can have both, Suzanne.’

     ‘Yes, of course, Dewey, but which do you think is more important if you could have only one.  Money or relationships?’

     Another guy might have risen to the bait and Dewey saw it there silhouetted on the water but, besides being married, his instincts revealed the hook in the fly.  Somehow he could sense trouble so he took the question as one to be dealt with intellectually.

     ‘Well, Suzanne, that’s a tough one.  Relationships are important of course.  But they are all based on expediency.  When the reason for them disappears so do the relationships.

     Hence in all relationships there is the user and the used.  My wife’s family owns a nursing home and even in the parent-child relationship, which should be enduring, children dump their parents off and never think of them again.  They keep the money.  At least if you have money in the bank, you can always pay the rent.’

     The last remark was made thoughtlessly.  Dewey had no intention of making Suzanne uncomfortable.  She nevertheless felt the sting which disheartened her in her rather perilous situation.  She rose to offer Dewey a cup of tea, subconsciously attempting to arouse him.  It had worked with men so many times before.

     She rose to lean over Dewey breathing in his ear would he like a cup of tea.  Her marvelous breasts swung left and right dazzling Dewey’s eyes.  the magnificent nipples nearly brushed Dewey’s lips.  He could have…it would have been so easy.  Her intoxicatingly wonderful scent nearly loosened his mind from its anchors.  As Suzanne sat back down rolling her breats around Dewey nearly fainted from delight.

     ‘Really, Dewey?’  She breathed in that husky suppressed sexuality.  ‘I’ve found that my relationships have always been the most rewarding things in my life.  Friends are more important to me than anything.’

     ‘Uh huh.  Well, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.’  Dewey thought to himself.

     He didn’t respond directly.  As beautiful as Suzanne was Dewey could see that she was past the age of desirability.  She had been displaced by younger women.  But Dewey liked to talk and Suzanne was venturing into areas he had thought about.

     ‘Well, Suzanne, I’m not from here.  I grew up in Michigan.’

     ‘Oh, really, Dewey?  I’m from Waterloo, Iowa.’

     ‘Wow.’  Thought Dewey.  ‘Waterloo’s loss was San Francisco’s gain.’  He continued:  ‘Waterloo, hmm.  and most of the people in California, like me and you, come from somewhere else.  Close friends are hard to make; everyone seems suspicious of everyone else.  I’ve concluded therefore that once out of childhood it’s impossible to make any real friends.  Even in childhood the friendships are based on relative status which only seems natural in childhood because you grew up with it.  You can see people fly apart after graduation when those distinctions change.

     After childhood, it seems to me that all relationships are built on expediency.  People can be friends only while it is worthwhile to know each other.  Even then there is a sharp struggle for status and social place.  One party has to be dominant.  The struggle for leadership is the most important thing.  If one party won’t go under the relationship can’t exist.

      Everyone wants to be superior to the other.  The concept of equality is only important for the low man on the totem pole.  In a static society maybe a rough sort of equality might obtain but I don’t think so, everyone would just know their place.

     The ability to consider other people as equals is also being seriously undermined by TV.  If you watch the shows you will notice that it is always the story of the mastermind and his stooges.  Some guy, for no apparent reason, thinks he is a leader.  He has no credentials.  He isn’t even successful in a conventional way; he has no training; he is even uneducated if not illiterate.  But he has charisma.  For some reason, brash over confidence, I suppose, we are to believe that this guy possesses the answer that nobody else can find.  Everybody recognizes this take charge guy’s superiority.  His response is always:  I don’t know the answer, but let’s try this.  He never knows anything but he always succeeds.  Everyone hastens to assist him.  Superbly educated scientists subserve him; he commands generals who have been trained to leadership and they leap to obey his commands.

     The TV image creates the reality or, at least, a very large body of imposters trying to assume the image.  I have known all kinds of guys trying to assume that image.  They can’t.  And when you refuse to accord them the dignity, you deny their fantasy, they hate you.  They think you’re the arrogant upstart.

     These guys are going to get really frustrated, twist; in the not too distant future after repeated denials of their omnip0tence; some of these guys are going to crack.  They’re going to show up with guns and just start shooting everybody down.  TV is really being misused.  TV is evil.  None of those guys is ever going to be around when you need them, and they’re users, so I’d rather be sitting cozy with a bundle in the bank rather than trying to cultivate them.’

     ‘You’ll notice I don’t have a TV.  I certainly agree with you about that.’  Suzanne replied who really liked this type of discussion.  ‘But still my friends have been a great help to me.  They give me things and I learn lots from them that I might otherwise not know.  I mean,’  she leaned forward breathlessly, ‘I think you will understand this, because of them I have seen and talked to God.’

      ‘Oh yeah?  How’s that?’  Dewey said trying to conceal his contempt of anyone who claimed to have talked to God.

     ‘Well, my friends are pretty hep.  They know about things lots sooner than other people.’  She said nodding in the direction of the records.  ‘Have you ever hear of LSD Dewey?’

      ‘Uh…no, what is it?’  Dewey lied.

     ‘It’s this new hallucinogen that you take and it opens up your doors of perception so you can see God and have really truly mystical experiences.’

     ‘What’s a hallucinogen, some kind of drug like heroin?’

     ‘No, it’s not a drug, it’s entirely different.  It makes you see things in a way you’ve never seen them before and better, more clearly, with total reality.  I’m an entirely different person.  I feel like a real god compared to people who haven’t taken it.’  She reached out and touched his arm by way of apology for having distanced herself so much from him.  But she spoke the truth.  she now felt in a world, a class apart, they all did.

     Suzanne belonged to the folk half of the post-war period.  She had passed through the whole period but on a level above the Beatniks but below Society.  She had in fact been what would have been known as a groupie for the folk musicians.  she had met and knew most of them and had loved them all.  They all enjoyed her.  She had been a fixture at the ‘hungry i’, that preeminent San Francisco folk nightclub.

     She had never had to work.  Gifts had come her way.  She had never questioned them.  She gave freely of the love she genuinely felt in her heart, the heart of a good loving woman, and she saw nothing amiss in what she considered the outpouring of love in the form of gifts from her admirers.  Perhaps they saw it that way too.  She should have been a little more mercenary requiring something more substantial than what only amounted to baubles.  She would not then have been delinquent in her mortgage payment.

      She was so beautiful, so lovely, so the eternal woman that she could have chosen men with discrimination.  Even in her choice of folkies she chose well if not lucratively.  The folkies were a bunch of great guys.  They had their limitations of course but a more decent group of men never existed.

     Suzanne had been the belle of their balls.  She had presided as queen at all their get togethers.  Of course, she had to be supported, that is, until she got old.  Now, not only was Suzanne superannuated but the whole folk scene was vanishing.  This year was the year of transition from the folk half to the rock half of the post-war era.  The next generation was about to transform the music into folk-rock and blues based electric rock.  There was to be no place left for the acoustic folkies.  The amplified hand held bass guitar destroyed them.

     If any year was crucial to the transition from the old to the the new 1964 was it.  Timothy Leary had lent Harvard’s imprimatur to experimentation in drugs.  The Beats had spread Marijuana throughout the Bay and now LSD and the other hallucinogens would lend Harvard’s credibility to the weed.

     Musical groups like the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company were already destroying the folk scene.  The ‘hungry i would be replaced by the Matrix and electric music.  Within just a couple years the rock musical sensibility would sweep all other musical forms from the charts.

     The Beat writers who emerged in 1959 were changing the consciousness of the youth.  Marshall McLuhan, that incredible master of nonsense, that twentieth century Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll rolled into one, was about to publish his book ‘Understanding Media.’   Everything but the premiss was wrong, but it was found to be true that the Medium is the Message.  Carlos Casteneda was relating the absurd adventures of Don Juan and J.R.R. Tolkien had woven the fantasy of the Hobbits and their Ring.  All the elements for the rock half of the post-war world were in place waiting to take effect.

     News may travel fast but it penetrates slowly.  As Dewey and Suzanne sat by the river in the warm California sun eating the oranges that came all the way from China neither had an inkling of what was happening.  It was as though a Japanese farmer looking up from his fields toward Hiroshima and noticing  the funny mushroom shaped cloud asked:  ‘What’s that?’

     Suzanne was too old to make the change.  that very lovely woman was about to lose all.  Dewey would catch the wave and ride the crest into shore.  Neither knew they were sitting on opposite sides of the same abyss.  Suzanne’s implicit faith in friends who gave her drugs saddened Dewey.  From his male point of view he could see what had happened and what would happen to Suzanne.  She was totally lovable as the eternal female.  As such he had fallen in love with her at sight.  But, as the eternal female he knew that men were irresistable to her.  She loved to much and too well.  He could never respect such a woman and could love her only from a distance.

     Out of love for Suzanne, at the risk of humiliating himself, he thought to tell here what any woman less a woman than Suzanne must surely know.  Dewey heaved a great sigh, then began:

     ‘As a token of friendship they gave you dugs?  Now, Suzanne one can never get out one’s mind what isn’t in it.  The only way to break on through to the other side if such a thing can be done is by analyzing your own mind.  Drugs will only mess you up, even new stuff like LSD.  All drugs are bad.  Men are peculiar animals!  I love everything about the way you live Suzanne.  I don’t know about a lot of the artists you listen to and I haven’t read a lot of these books you have.  I hate to admit it but I haven’t even heard of a lot of them.  But I’ve done a lot of reading, you know, all kinds of things, I like ancient history a lot.

      And, you know, there was a time when mankind didn’t know about procreation.  The female of the species was the source of increase so Man woshipped the Great Mother.  Women were available to all men, in theory at least, or as a woman might put it all men were available to her.  But then Man discovered paternity.  He learned that he was the inseminator.  In his vanity he became the Creator.  The Great Mother became the passive receptacle of his creativity rather than the source of all things.

     With the knowledge of paternity came the desire for immortality by creating a son in his own image much as God created Man in his own image.  That’s why all men think they’re gods Suzanne.  The Great Mother cult was unrestrained in its sexuality and orgiasm which runs counter to self-control and reason.  Man was also becoming more conscious of who he was and his surroundings, hence he left the Garden and entered the World.

      Now the Great Mother had to be destroyed for those two reasons.  Reason had to supplant unreason and women had to become the property of men so that paternity could, hopefully, be assured.  Beyond that men have no real use for women.  But men like them and want them because they are beautiful and desirable.  But men don’t want responsibilities so if they can get what they want without obligations so much the better.  You dig?

     Men have been good to you because you are beautiful and I suspect, because you know who you are and how to manage them.  But, you know Suzanne, everything changes.  There comes a time when the incoming tide washes away the magnificent sand castles built on the strand.  We have to retreat further inland and start a new life.  Do you get my drift?’

     ‘I think I do, Dewey.’  Suzanne said with a tear in her lovely eye.  No mascara ran down her cheek because she didn’t wear makeup.  She was hep to the bone.  ‘I think what you’re saying is that I should find a harbor for my craft.’

      ‘Well, yes.  In your shoes, I suppose I would leave the well traveled roads and look for that Mansion On The Hill, put the past behind me and look to the future.  You have had the best of lives.  Looking at your records, Suzanne, I can tell by the covers that they’re all old.  I mean, I like folk music too but I’ve never heard of half those people.  You don’t have any Limelighters or Glenn Yarborough, no Christy Minstrels or any new stuff.  Even then Folk has just about run its course.  It’s really turning trite and sappy.

     You don’t look like you could do Jazz and you’re too old for Rock n’ Roll.’  Dewey bit his tongue.  ‘So I’d look to those new vistas opening on the horizon there.’

     Suzanne looked at him long and pensively.  The changes he was talking about clicked through her brain in successive images but she couldn’t retain any of them long enough to form a sentence.  She intuited the truth of what he had said even admired the way he had said it but she liked men, not a man, men.

     She liked the intoxication of feeling universally desired.  What would she do to get that?  No.  The die was cast.

      Dewey really liked Suzanne but now it was time to go.  She had that quality; he wanted to do something for her.  Unfortunately his money was in his billfold, one of those clunky things that made it look like a man had tumor on his buttock.  He didn’t want to stand there and ostentatiously withdraw money to give her.

     ‘Um, I have to go Suzanne.  May I use your bathroom?’

     In the bathroom Dewey took a five out of his billfold, a lot of money to him at the time, put it in his front pocket and went back to Suzanne at the table with the oranges on it.

     ‘Well, Suzanne, I have to leave.  I’ve got work to do but, look, here’s five dollars.  I want you to have it, you know, I mean, uh, keep it.’

     ‘Oh, Dewey, I couldn’t take your money.’

     ‘Sure, just consider it a loan.’

     ‘How would I ever be able to pay you back?’

     ‘Oh, if not me then loan it to somebody else sometime.’

     ‘Here, here Dewey take some oranges.  They come all the way from China.’   She said thrusting three oranges at him.

      ‘Thanks.  I love you, Suzanne.’

      Then Dewey walked out into the sunshine across the causeway.  He got into his car, backed out and was half a block away when the air was split by the roar of two motorcycles.  Fat Tony and Stig wheeled into the parking space.

     ‘Who the fuck was that, Stig?’  Fat Tony roared.

     ‘I don’t know Ton’ but only bill collector’s wear suits.’

     ‘Come ’round here and we’ll stomp his ass good.’

     ‘Damn right.’

     ‘She’s ours now.  Wait’ll you see her.  Cans out to here.  That folk singer guy told me about her.  I was here last night and wooee.’

     Four black engineer’s boots thundered across Suzanne’s walkway.

     ‘Say mama, I’m here, and look who I brought, my friend Stig I told ya about.  Say, who was that guy I saw drivin’ away.  Don’t want to see him no more.  You ours now, Mama.

     What the hell do you call these, bitch?’  Fat Tony said pointing to the oranges.  ‘Why the hell don’t you get some American oranges that look like oranges should.’  So saying Fat Tony pitched the basket of oranges out the window.  The orange balls rolled out across the black mud flat where they would soon be bobbing on the incoming tide.  Some would be left clinging to the foliage on the bank, some would be swept out to sea through the Golden Gate perhaps to return all the way to China.

     ‘Come on, Bitch, get outta those rags and get on your hands and knees me and Stig wanna fuck.  We’re horny as hell.’

     Dewey got on the freeway speeding on down to Mill Valley for the next call.  He looked over at the three oranges on the seat where he had placed them.  Picking them up he tossed them out the window into the middle of the freeway where they rolled down the fast lane.  Sploot, sploot, tires shot the juice into traffic.

      Dewey forgot that he had ever met Suzanne.

 

 

 

A Short Story

Angeline Gower

by

R.E. Prindle

     As I have told you I have never had the blues.  But, as with the weather systems, tropical low pressure systems are of the most intense low pressure systems, so while I have never had the blues, I have flirted with the blues.  So it was on the evening in question.  A Pacific low pressure system was passing through bringing with it the steady splash and drips of its persistent rains.  The drops hit the skylight and roof with two distinct tones, answered by the drops pelting the windows and the gurgle of the runoff down the drainpipe.

     I stood in the dark looking out the windows at my own reflection suspended like a phantom on the glass.  The vision of myself stirred up memories from my past that haunted my mind just below the limes separated from conscious memory by an invisible but impenetrable barrier.  There lay those troubling ghosts that I had spent my life trying to exhume.  The suppressed memories, those most painful episodes in a troubled life, that dominated my consciousness from the beyond and directed my energies into unfruitful  channels.

     Loosing the spectres of the past was my preocupation.  I had long studied Freud and De Sade, self-analysis of my psyche had often nearly driven me mad, but how could I, how can I desist.  Our minds are on the beam of the same wavelength so I can tell you this without overt shame or embarrassment.

page 1.

     Reading, my usual refuge and solace, had failed me on this particular evening.  I had replaced on their shelves Athenian Propertied Families 600-300 B.C., Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds as well as Robertson Smith’s Religion Of The Semites.

     I opted for a bottle of scotch and some old phonograph records.  Now I’m not what you would call a drinker, and you know I’m not, but this night as I saw the Blues sitting on my couch batting her eyelids at me, I though I’d fortify myself with some protection and possibly open a door on one of those troublesome memories.  Aiming for lighter hearted frivolity I got out some old Louis Prima records and tried to lift my spirits.  Oh, of course I was amused by Josephina Please No Leana On Da Bell and Prima’s other amusing frivolities but as I sipped away at my scotch I found a need for more ineffable sadness.  Thus just as Louis was swinging into Bongo, Bongo, Bongo, I don’t Want To Leave The Congo, I levered the tone arm up and began digging through my collection for someone giving voice to their hurt.  I passed up Hank Snow and Webb Pierce because they don’t reach the area I was reaching for, although both are great singers of sad songs.

     Reaching down into the section labeled ‘Moaners’ I pulled up Jesse Winchester’s first LP and Mickey Newbury’s It Looks Like Rain.  Mick and Jesse knew enough about rain and pain to satisfy my desires.

     My bottle was half empty as my brain fogged up and the notion of lying down occurred to me.  The rain was still descending as I weaved toward the bedroom with the lyrics of Winchester’s Yankee Lady and Newbury’s pleas for his Angeline dancing around in my brain.  I had hopes, even in my sodden state, that my memories would be jostled around and one might come up.  One did.  I wish now that it never had.

page 2.

     I stood for a moment clutching the door jamb while trying to relocate my balance.  I had wanted to connect links with suffering humanity and I had.  I was feeling lower than a catfish on the bottom of the mouth of the Mississippi way down South in New Orleans.  I oriented myself in the direction of my bed and gave a shove.  With a deftness unplanned and of which I would not have thought myself capable I caught the covers up and in my fall actually slid between them.  I didn’t have to wait for sleep for Sleep took my head and slammed it into the pillow.  I disappeared into the abyss of oblivion.

      Sometimes, most of the time, sleep is never so deep that you’re unaware of your blood circulating or your hair growing or anyone of a number of physiological matters, but this night, probably because of the alcohol or possibly because of psychic exhaustion I slipped below the level in the abyss of oblivion where the sun had never penetrated.  If there had not been a bottom I would probably be falling yet.

     My exhaustion was psychic rather than physical.  After a couple of hours of total amnesia, my body sated with rest, the alcohol in my blood stream diminished but not yet dissipated set off discharges in my mind that lifted me from the pleasure of oblivion to the threshold of pain.  I lay there flickering in and out of consciousness until I reached a state that was half waking, half dozing.

page 3.

     I didn’t dream, but my liberated sub-conscious sent up images and images from my subliminal reservoirs faster than I could grasp them.  Just as I was about to recognize an image it fled before my mental grasping.  And then, I can’t explain it, it’s only happened twice in my life, my inner being, my doppel-ganger, my alter ego, that image of myself in the rain splattered window, that phantom who may be more real than myself, perhaps he is the guardian of my sanity, he who suppresses and hides my most painful memories; puts them in a place where they can’t harm me, transweaves the unpleasantnesses of life into a fabric that makes my life presentable, who didn’t, can’t make himself known, seemed to say, athough nothing could be heard:  ‘All right, you want to see?  Look!’

     Then, somewhere along the limes where my conscious and unconscious meet, a hatch, a skylight opened and I was shown, I don’t say I remember, but I was shown the worst moment of shame and sorrow I have ever known.  The guilt of a thoughtless and callous man rose up and took possession of me.  I let out a low moan.  It was too late to turn away.

     Don’t think badly of me.  It was my fault but I wasn’t entirely responsible, there were mitigating circumstances.  I’m sure you’ll agree once you know.  Let me tell you the story.  I’m sure you will find mitigation to soften your censure into a compassionate pity, empathy, or even sympathy.  Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.

     I was eighteen, no, nineteen, when I committed that despicable act.  But let me begin the story much earlier so that you can understand much better.  No man can be understood without a knowledge of his childhood.  My own was not imbued with the vibrant and cheerful colors of happiness.  No, my friends, it was quite the reverse.  Nor do I seek your pity although I will not reject your sympathetic attention.  I have always been of the opinion that one must accept the situation in which one finds oneself and try to convert that dross into gold.  To shed our past like a caterpillar sheds his skin and emerge transformed into a newer better creation.  I hope when my life is over I will not have failed in this task.

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     I am not an orphan but I was abandoned by my mother when I was seven.  She left me on the steps of the Municipal Orphanage and I never saw her again.  My life in the orphanage is not germane to my story, but you must know the hardships which orphans must endure.  Orphans are social outcasts.  Just as a man without a country has no place to rest, so the child without a parent is an outcast of society.  An orphan child has no protector.  He is a wanderer in a desert with no boundaries.  He is despised  and victimized by adult and child alike.  He is compelled to wear the badge of inferiority just as the Jews in medieval times were required to display their yellow Star of David.  He wears his as the Negro wears his skin.

     In our case we were dressed in oversized or undersized clothes.  We were compelled at various times to wear mismatched socks or shoes.  Oversized shoes and socks that were more hole than sock.  Shirts so large that the sleeves had to be cut back to expose our hands, the ragged edges flapping at our wrists. Our hair was cut with cowlicks sprouting every which way.  We were made to look ridiculous, so that others might appear normal.  We did look ridiculous and we were sent to public school that way.  I have often envied Blacks and Jews their solidarity.  Despised though they may have been they could find solace together, or at least as much as humankind will allow from each other.  At school we were not allowed to win, and were denied any success.  The gates of charity were closed to us although the ‘decent folk’; gave us small conscience offerings at Christmas.  It was demanded that we be hewers of wood and carriers of water for our masters with the parents.  But the worst was yet to come.

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     When a child turned ten he was no longer welcome at the Children’s Home.  Orphaned or abandoned he was even rejected by the custodians of the damned.  The Angels of Charity arrived to claim their due.  Our foster parents arrived to pick up a means of livelihood and a slave for the house.  I was either selected by or assigned to, I don’t know which, the Wardens.  The Wardens did not really want the money they were sent for my care each month, or, that was not their prime motivation, although precious little of the money was ever spent on me.  What they wanted was a clown.

     The Wardens were much less than successful people.  Jack Warden, or Mr. Warden as I was compelled to call him, had delusions of grandeur based  on some sort of imagined connection to the royalty or nobility of ancient England.  He even kept a collection of coats of arms on the wall.  He would point to this particular one and say, ‘Yeh, that’s the one right there.  That’s the one all right.’  just like it was his, but I knew it wasn’t.  He was white collar over at Malleable Iron so that he could maintain his dignity over the blue collar workers.

     The Wardens lived in a decent house on Bay Street which was OK, but beneath his supposed diginity.  Geli Warden, Angelica, his wife, affected manners which she thought the immaculate reflection of the ‘Well born.’  But, I shouldn’t complain because those manners have stood me in good stead.  They had two sons, Skippy and Cappy.  Cappy was two years older than I and Skippy was four.  Neither boy was amounting to anything.  The townsfolks’ opinion of the Wardens was much less exalted than their own.  The status of Skippy and Cappy consequently was not the highest.  The Warden’s were not totally oblivious to reality.  While they were masters of delusion they were also acutely aware of the disparity between their illusions and reality.  They could not levitate their sons over the children of more affluent and successful people.  They could invent innummerable reasons for themselves but the neighbors rebuked them when they made exorbitant claims for the lads.

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     I was the solution to their problems.  On the one hand they could demand credit for their charity from the neighbors and on the other society paid them to keep a fool for them and their boys.  What radio beam I followed to keep me on track I’ll never know.  I suppose religion had something to do with it.  I had been compelled to attend church since a small boy.  I knew the Baptists, the Methodists and non-sectarians , whatever their fantasy may be, now, as the Wardens were very sanctimonious I found the Presbyterians.  I was always revolted by both the Bible and its devotees, but as the Bible is the dream story of a despised and ineffectual people whose lives are irradiated only by an irrational hope, I identified with that strange peoples’ desperate situation and seized the only life raft that fate had to offer me.  I embraced a vain hope as a fat man embraces a full refrigerator.  I made it my own.  It was all there was between myself and psychic desolation.  For the Wardens drove me further and further into a mental zone that was very far from normal.  As my childhood progressed I became aware of two existences.  The one, the despicable clown that I was compelled to be and the other, the real me, that stood aside and watched and doled out encouragement and hope to the wretch that walked in my shoes. 

     As society would not honor Skippy and Cappy in the manner they thought was their due, I was to give them that status in their eyes.  I was denied and ridiculed.  I was made to mow the lawn with a dull mower and compelled to watch in silence and mortification while Skippy ‘did the job right’ with a sharpened mower.  But it’s more important that you see what I was forced to become.

     While the boys dressed well I was made to look shabby and unkempt.  Just as at the orphanage my clothes never fit.  I had to wear Skippy’s worn out shoes.  Cappy’s old clothes, although I actually outgrew him.  By high school I was flopping around in oversize shoes and a pair of too small grey gabardine pants.  High in the leg and the crotch pulled up tight between my legs.  The pocket openings were all frayed and the pockets were all worn out.  Girls wouldn’t even look at me.

page 6.

     Then after Skippy and Cappy graduated it was even worse.  Neither went to college as was expected.  Both just kind of bummed around.  The Wardens turned on me savagely in their disappointment.  They wanted me to be even more ridiculous as they now thought their sons had failed them and I had been a bad influence.  I don’t like to drink because sometimes the memory of it seems to drive railway spikes through my brain.

     I don’t know when it started but I know that it was the result of the accumulated opprobrium, ridicule and denial that I had endured all my life.  It became an especial burden as I became old enough to understand, even if in primitive outline, what was being done to me.  I rejected all accusations of unworthiness and knew in my heart and grasped intellectually that I was as good as my detractors.  Nevertheless the weight of their scorn and hatred, which they of course denied, bore down heavily on me.  As my various neuroses and eccentricities developed in relation to this ostracization I began to hear a sound in my ears, a roar as mighty as Niagara.  It stood as a barrier between myself and the world.  I had to listen to people around it, with an especially attentive ear.  I was afraid.

     I held myself together through high school but upon graduation, abandoned by everyone, ridiculed and laughed at by the Wardens, I fell apart.  I became ineffective.  I had difficulty tying my clown shoes.  I often had to make two, three or four attempts before I could succeed at that simple task.  Once while receiving change from the paper boy I turned my hand sideways just as he released the change which clattered to the floor.  I was mad with anguish and self-criticism.  The hope that had sustained me fled and I was hopeless.

     Throughout the summer I knew not what to do.  When the days began to shorten and daylight began to flee I, by association, thought that I too must flee.  I had some few dollars that I had managed to save and putting on my clown shoes my shabby grey pants with the short legs and high crotch, an old white T-shirt and a too small denim jacket that I had inherited from Cappy, I walked out of theWarden’s house for the last time.

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     I wanted to get far away.  As I had never been far away before I thought in short distances.  Primary to my mind was to leave the Valley.  I rejected Detroit and the South because I knew I couldn’t deal with that many people.  I thought of going out into the Thumb but the Wardens had relatives in Caro and I didn’t want to be close to them at all.  For probably psychological reasons I decided to head up North to the Grand Traverse, The Great Crossing.  A divide that once crossed would divide me forever from a hated and hateful childhood.  As my mother had abandoned me I would symbolically abandon her.  Not that she cared.  I had never heard from her.

     Blinded by my desperate urgency I walked out of that house of the distraught and just kept walking.  I wouldn’t have spent the money anyway but it never occurred to me to take a bus.  It never occurred to me to put out my thumb; I just walked along listening to the roar in my ears which seemed to be intensifying; to be getting louder, it seemed to be engulfing my brain.  I don’t remember much of my flight.  I remember passing the multitudinous churches of Midland.  The chemical stench of the place corresponded exactly in my mind with my opinion of the parishioners of those churches.  No love had I ever known from those sanctimonious hypocrites of God.

     After Midland the roar seemed to affect my vision.  I saw but registered nothing.  The tears repressed for eighteen years began to flow and I walked and walked sobbing and sobbing.

     I don’t even know whether I stopped to rest or not.  I just kept picking those big clown shoes up and laying them down.  Because of the size of the shoes I had to lift my knees high to bring my foot forward.  I was oblivious to the catcalls of passing drivers appalled by the sight of the strange apparition that I was.  At night, local boys drove by and threw beer cans at me.  One reached out the window and tried to hit me with his fist.  I grabbed at his arm and pulled it back.  I escaped their wrath for playing ‘unfair.’

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     As I say I walked on an on until my woes engulfed me completely, until my body and mind separated and we existed in two different worlds.  As my body trudged on my mind descended by stages into a hell of despair.  Oblivion overwhelmed me, nothingness became my reality.  I don’t know what happened.

     When my senses returned, when the terrible fog lifted and dissipated and became a mere haze I found that I must have left hell and gone directly to heaven.  My overall impression was white but I was surrounded by the most heavenly colors.  White, a delicate pink and the palest of blues.  My head was resting in billows of soft clean pillows, the cases of which I never seen the like.  My body was covered by the sheets, pink and blue and a downy blue comforter.  Above, the white underside of a blue canopy glowed cheerily back at me.  It was daylight but still semi-dazed I lay there drifting in and out of consciousness.  Then just as the sun was going down I heard the door open and shut.  I looked up to find her smiling down at me.  It was Angeline, my redemptress.

     A feeling of security warmed my heart and saying nothing I slipped off into unconsciousness for the night.  When I awoke, sometime before dawn she was laying there beside me, sleeping peacefully.  Not daring to move I lay there quietly studying her.  She began to stir.  I pretended to be asleep  and she, solicitous for my welfare, dressed quietly and left for work.  As I tried to rise I found I couldn’t and spent the morning fitting my mind back into my body.  The reunion was difficult and imperfect.  I would spend decades trying to match the edges.

     I found myself weak and lethargic, unable to concentrate or even to grasp my situation.  Sometime in that morning, feeling the pangs of hunger, I compelled myself to rise and seek nourishment.  During the process of alimentation I surveyed my surroundings.  My shelter, and it was little more than that, was a one room shack.  It was small and mean but immaculate.  The lovely bed, although bed is an inadequate description of the little paradise in which Angeline reposed for her slumbers, was in one corner.  A bathtub was adjacent to it.  On the other side of the room, where I now sat, were her kitchen facilities.  Dressers and a table with chairs occupied the front of the room.  In the middle of the front wall was the door.

page 8.

     After eating, still exhausted, I lay down again to rest.

     It was as though I had received a great injury, suffered a debilitating illness for as the fall turned into winter I remained faint and listless.  As the approach of spring became imminent my mind began to regain some of its sharpness and my body its vitality.

     Angeline was very patient with me, neither pressing me nor hurrying me.  In those few months, even in my depressed state I came to appreciate and love her.  She was twenty-five and had also had a difficult childhood; which fact I only surmise as she never talked about her past nor complained about her present.  She sought complete self-sufficiency and within reason did everything for herself.  She eschewed radio and television and even never bought magazines and newspapers.  She wanted to create her own perfect world without obtrusions from an unsympathetic and hostile reality.  In the time I knew her I never saw her with another person.

      My own laughable wardrobe had disappeared and she had tailored new clothes for me.  She knew how to do everything.  Where she learned I don’t know.  Even my oversize shoes were gone, replaced by a pair of moccasins Angeline had sewn.  For the first time in my life I was dressed in clothes that fit.  Clothes that were meant to dignify me and not ridicule me.  Clothes that signified manhood and not foolhood.

     Angeline worked as a waitress in town.  What town I can’t remember except that it was on the Lake Michigan side of the Grand Traverse.  It was a small town.  Angeline’s cabin was on the rise looking out over the cool blue waters of Lake Michigan, over the Grand Traverse separating the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.  the place where Lake Michigan without any discontinuity or break changed its name to Lake Huron.

     On those cold winter days I often sat on a stump looking out over the Great Crossing, The Grand Traverse, that might someday separate me from my past, that might lead to a new and better life on the other side.

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     Angeline was always cheery, what cheeriness I know I learned from her.  Much cheerier she than I.  I was not the best of company that winter and I often wondered why she didn’t turn me out.  She didn’t.  Angeline had the capacity to make the best of everything.  She could warm up the coldest night and cool off the hottest day.  She could make the darkest corner bright.  She was able to nurse me back to health.

     So my winter of recuperation passed in the heaven created by Angeline.  Recovering by day, fed by a divine cook and passing my nights beside the loveliest incarnation of woman ever made.  Angeline would have been no-ones cover girl but there was no woman more beautiful than she.

      As Spring came on my strength and energy returned.  My psyche repaired itself and I attempted to recover my balance or perhaps I began to seek a balance I had always been denied.  As the days grew longer and daylight appeared between Angeline’s return and nightfall we began to take long walks through the woods and down to the lake shore.  There were delightful little streams in the woods, there was an abundance of wild flowers.  The air was fresh and sweet.  The skies were clear and blue.  There was nothing more a man could want-except escape from a hateful past that lay too close behind.

     As I began my slow recovery I felt the need to tell the world of the way it really was, to save it from doing to others what it had done to me.  I began to write about my pain in little stories.  I sent them to magazines but they all came back.  the world was not interested in my pain, or perhaps, my pain was so new and fresh that the jagged edges terrified whoever my readers were.  Angeline encouraged me and urged me on so that I never quit trying.

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     The roaring in my ears had continued and continually distracted me.  I was compelled to be patient with it for there was no way to avoid it.  But then one night that summer during my sleep that mighty Niagara ceased to flow.  When I awoke that morning I was aware that something was different but I didn’t know what.  Something was missing. It was so quiet.  And then when Angeline spoke to me it was as though I could hear her voice clearly for the first time.  It was then that I realized that the roaring had stopped.  The very worst part of the pain must have been dissipated.  My joy suffused my body and the look of love and gratitude with which I embathed Angeline brought a flush of pleasure to her cheeks.  Whatever happiness I was able to give her she enjoyed it then.  I could never understand what pleasure Angeline could find in me.  I wanted to be pleasant and charming for her and I tried very hard to be so but I know that my injuries were so grievous, my self-absorption so complete that I couldn’t have been.

     But we spent the summer and fall roaming over our little paradise, dipping our feet in the cool streams and exploring the lake side.  And then came the winter once again.  We still walked in the woods on Angeline’s days off and it was there on that cold January day that we came on our portent of disaster.  We discovered a deer that had been injured by a bow hunter.  The arrowhead and the broken shaft of the arrow were still lodged in the deer’s foreleg.  the wound had festered and the deer was in great pain, limping badly.  If it had been healthy it would have run away before Angeline could have charmed it.  Perhaps Angeline could have charmed it anyway; she was that spontaneous and wonderful.  The deer, with the trust and docility of one bereft of hope, subordinating his fear out of desperation in his pain submitted to Angeline’s graces and the two of us guided it to Angeline’s little cabin in the woods.

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     She lavished attention on the deer and with all the care of a loving and open heart began to nurse it back to health.

     I am ashamed.  It wasn’t jealousy.  It wasn’t envy.  I too had enough compassion to want to help the deer.  It was a feeling of foreboding.  My own pain had been so great, indeed its dissolution had only a year earlier just begun, that I had been unable, it had not occurred to me till then, to ask Angeline how it was that she had found and brought me to her home to mend.  I wish I had not thought to ask myself that terrible question then.  I certainly could not have been a prize.  My face must have mirrored the distraction of my mind.  I was wearing those ridiculous clothes, dirty from I don’t know how many days of tramping along the highway.  I was grateful to Angeline then, I’m even more grateful today, but I couldn’t help comparing myself to that deer on which she lavished as much love and attention as she lavished on me.

      I didn’t really think about it, I didn’t consciously dwell on it but my past, just behind me, began nipping at my heels.  As I stood outside her door and gazed out toward the Grand Traverse, escape from that past seemed possible and necessary.  Without really thinking about the notion of flight, or leaving, leaving Angeline behind, the notion began to take shape in my mind.

     As winter passed once more and the beauties of April and May arrived, the deer, now healed, nodded a goodbye one morning and disappeared into the woods.  I stood by Angeline and watched him leave saying nothing.  That April and May I enjoyed Angeline’s company as never before while I, myself, grew more sad and morose.

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      On a day in May Angeline and I were out walking through the woods.  I had my head down my mind dwelling on myself, Angeline and the deer.  Thinking me sad, in an effort to cheer me Angeline exclaimed:  ‘Oh, Greshie, look up, look at the sky, isn’t it beautiful?’  And it was.

     It was a sky such as I’ve only seen in Michigan.  The clouds were drifting in majestic rows from the Northwest.  Each wisp seemed no bigger than a cream puff.  Each was separated from its neighbors by an equal distance; each row separated from the others equally.  These serried battalions of fluffy white clouds marched on in endless succession with absolute precision across the blue of a fading day.

     Each cloud was tinted with overtones of pink.  Pink, white and blue.  Angeline’s colors.  The colors of happiness with which she surrounded herself, surrounded us, me too, each night in her arbor of bliss.  She pointed this out to me glowing and joyous.  Of couse I shared her joy but I also noticed a dark grey band forming behind each of the thousands of clouds.  I said nothing.  An answering ominous shade formed in my own mind.

     When we returned to the cabin the deep blue of the Grand Traverse was still visible in the fading light of a perfect day.  It was then I think that I first saw the path across the water.  I didn’t think any of this out at the time and perhaps I’m only making excuses for myself now, but Angeline was on this side of the Grand Traverse at childhood’s end. 

     Perhaps if I had made the crossing and she had found me on the other side things could have been different.  There was no hope on this side and there was on the other.  As part of my future rather than my past I might, I might never had had to leave her.  Perhaps.  I can’t be sure.

     How could I tell her; How could I explain?  How could I possibly find the words to say it?  What right did I have to leave the savior of my life?  There were no answers that came to my mind.  There were no answers.

     And this is my shame.  That deer had more compassion for Angeline than I had.  He had a deeper sense of gratitude.  He at least gave Angeline a nod good-bye.  With me Angeline just came home to an empty cabin and an empty bed.  Oh god!  I am so ashamed of myself.  How could I be so cruel and heartless?  I who knew what cruelty and heartlessness was.  How could I…

     As the ferry pulled from the slip leading across the Grand Traverse toward St. Ignace and the Upper Peninsula I was on it.  Across the water lay escape and freedom or so I thought.

     Once across the Traverse I had no idea what to do.  So I just started walking down the highway toward Sault Ste. Marie.  I had walked for a day and night; I was out there somewhere when I was overwhelmed by despair again but not so bad as last time.  I threw myself down on my back in the middle of the road spreadeagled.  I don’t know how long I lay there, perhaps five minutes, perhaps a couple hours.  Maybe I thought a truck would run over me and my problems.  None did.  There wasn’t even a car came by, either way. 

     I had no choice but to get up, I couldn’t lay there forever.  Once on my feet I looked off to the West over a mile of cutover ground.  Away in the distance the forest began again.  With shaking steps that slowly grew firmer I walked off to the woods into which I disappeared…

Finis.

The Angeline Constellation

A Story Of Young Love

A Novelette

by

 R.E. Prindle

After the wars were over,

And I was coming home to you;

I saw a Rainbow at Midnight,

Out on the ocean blue;

I saw your face in that Rainbow…

Sung by the Texas Troubador, Ernest Tubb

     I was not invited to many parties.  I  didn’t know why I was invited to this one.  I was not a popular boy.  I had never done well at parties.  As I watched myself compared to others I saw that I lacked the party spirit.  This may sound odd, but there is a party attitude that was quite beyond me.  Perhaps she had already fallen in love with me and requested the hostess to invite me so that she might meet me.

     I was fifteen, she was thirteen.  The party was a hayride held on Thanksgiving.  I had heard of hayrides. They were a very popular diversion in the Valley.  I found their idea pleasing and romantic.  I was looking forward to this one.  It was my first and only.

     I, perhaps, trying to overcome a sense of inferiority tried too hard to impress the others, I was perhaps too boisterous.  Or perhaps I was only there at her request and the others preferred that I not be there.  I was introduced to her but she failed to make an impression on me.  I might have thought her too young.  All the rest of the kids were my age, she was the youngest there.

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    In those days my desire to be liked was so strong that I was willing to force myself on others.  As we got in the wagon I tried to be gay and jovial.  I thought that was what was wanted.  It was, but not in the manner I employed.  My efforts were rebuffed.  As we rode along I tried romancing the girl next to me but was given a reception as cold as that November night in Michigan.

     She had gotten as close to me as she could which was on the other side of the girl I was trying to romance.  She only had eyes for me.  She was chatting with me, demanding my attention over the girl between us.  My anguish at my lack of acceptance was extreme.  She was grasping for my hand across the girl between us.  We began holding hands over her.  The girl wouldn’t move or let me past her.  She neither wanted my company nor would she scoot out of the way.  I scarcely knew what I was doing but desperation made me accept the advances of this thirteen year old girl.  In a few months to a year perhaps she would not have been able to be so forward.

     We spent the ride holding hands.  I was not sincere, only desperate for acceptance.  The ride ended.  We returned to the house and continued the party in the basement.  I now was obligated to talk to this slip of a girl.  She seemed to adore me.  I was mystified but continued to talk to her with no idea of romance. 

     At the time the comedian George Goebel was approaching the apex of his early career.  I identified with the sad sack comedians.  I imagined to myself that I had anticipated Goebel’s delivery on my own.  My mind was so perfectly attuned to sad humor that I had no trouble convincing myself that I had anticipated them all.  Perhaps I had.

page 2.

     We talked but I made no attempt to be as friendly as the hayride might have given her occasion to expect.  I was a very lonely not very confident boy.

     She said to me:  “Do you know that you talk just like the comedian George Goebel?”

     I fatuously replied that:  “No. I talked like this before I ever saw George Goebel on TV.”

     “I like it,” she replied, anxious to believe me.  “It’s quite a coincidence though.”

     “Well, I said knowingly, “There’s only so many ways you can talk.  I guess it’s actually fairly common.”

     I didn’t believe myself, I felt like falling through the floor.

     By then the party was breaking up.  She and I were almost the only ones left in the basement.  A few apples still bobbed in the tub of water.  I was about to say goodbye when some girl walked by and said to my back:  “Ask her out!”  So I guess that she had asked to have me invited.

     Oh, I was so afraid.  I was desperate and lonely. So desperate and lonely that I almost preferred to be alone.  Still I wanted a girl friend.  Someone to call my own.  More as a reflex to the command, anonymous suggestion, rather than desire, I asked to see her again.  Even with more encouragement than any boy had a right to expect, I still put it in the most awkward insensitive way possible.

page 3.

     “Would you like to see me again?”  I said.  “I mean would you like to go out on a date with me?”

     “Oh yes, I’d love to.”  She eagerly responded.

     “Well,” I said, casting about for an occasion, “There’s a dance at Melville- that’s where I go school- (“Yes, I know.”  She quickly interjected.) Would you go to  the dance with me?”

     “Oh, I’d love to,” she said.  “But my grandmother won’t let me go unless she meets you first.”  She said anxiously, shifting from foot to foot, fearful of having made too great a condition.

     “Why your grandmother?”  I replied startled by the thought of a grandparent rather than a parent.

     “My parents are dead and I live with my grandmother.  The rest of my family lives in Waterloo.”

     Waterloo?  Waterloo, Iowa?  They had a terrific hillbilly station that broadcasted out of Waterloo.  Suddenly I was interested in this girl.  Ange was her name.

     “Hmm.  I guess I could come by next Friday and call on you to meet her.  Would that be all right?”

     The tension fell away from her, her relief was visible.  “Oh sure, that would be fine.”

     I was to call on her the next Friday at seven.  I left her there to be taken home and began the walk back to Caterina where I lived.

     I was terrified.  I realized that she liked me, but I couldn’t understand why.  My childhood had been terrible.  I tried to exude confidence but I walked around quaking inside.  My mother had divorced when I was four.  At five I was placed in a foster home.  At six I was moved to another.  At seven I was placed in the Municpal Orphanage by my mother.  At ten, when she was remarried, she retrieved me.  My stepfather and I didn’t get along.  Sometime in the Children’s Home I had antagonized the regular kids- those from homes with parents- at school for not being submissive as an orphan should be.  They had punished me for being uppity then.  They had never forgiven me and continued to punish me.  I was considerably psychologically battered.

page 4.

     I didn’t know how much it showed.  I mean I was not aware that it showed so much.  Talking like George Goebel should have been a giveaway to me.  On top of my battering my face had broken out in the seventh grade.  It continued to be a mass of pimples untill I was twenty-two.  Then the pimples began to diminish only gradually.  Most terrifying to me was that as I left the ninth grade at an even five feet tall I had feared that I would be short.  Given my pimples, my battering and my height, it was more than I could bear.

     Then between ninth and tenth grades a miracle happened.  Sometime in the summer I began growing.  I grew nearly two inches a month for three months.  When I met Ange I was five-six and a half but I still acted and thought five feet tall.  I was amazed to learn that she was five-one and a half as I towered, or so it felt, above her while I felt shorter.

     I had experienced more rejection than acceptance.  I wondered all week long what she could see in me.

page 5.

     On Friday night I put on my best clothes.  My mother and stepfather seemed to have wanted to punish me by making me wear stupid clothes.  During the summer I had grown so much I hd humiliated myself for money by caddying at the Valley Country Club.  Actually if you worked hard the pay was pretty good.  I worked hard.  I was there at six every morning to get an early number so I would have a chance of going out twice.  Perhaps carrying double each time.  I had made several hundred dollars working seven days a week.

     My mother and stepfather had insisted I put every dime in the bank.  Every dime! I had never had any spending money in my life.  Not a dime!  I began to report less than I made and hid my money in different places.  The Country Club deducted a certain sum of money from each outing to be placed in a fund to be given to us at the end of the season.  The notion was that then we wouldn’t have spent all our money foolishly.  I had refused to give that money up.

     I had grown six inches.  You may guess at how my pants fit.  My mother refused to buy either me or my brother new fall clothes.  She and my stepfather forbade me to spend my own earnings on new clothes.  I asked her in the most responsible manner for new clothes for my brother and me.  She refused.  I had to go to school looking like a fool.  Then one day she came home with a full length fur coat.  She modeled it for me and had the audacity to ask how I liked it.  I was incensed, outraged.  Permission or not I resolved to buy me new clothes.

page 6.

     I went out and got me charcoal grey flannels and  a pink dress shirt which were the rage at Melville as well as a grey V-neck sweater.  My parents had an unerring instinct for geek clothes.  They insisted that I had spent too much.  I absolutely refused to take my clothes back as they demanded.  No! No!  A thousand times No!

     As If left for Ange’s I at least was dressed presentably, although there was nothing I could do about my pimples.  They ravaged my face and my mind.  Ange lived South of me on Melmoth Avenue.  She lived in a grey rectangle on a corner.  The porch was no more than a stoop attached to the front of the house.

     When she opened the door she was shy.  “I wasn’t sure you were coming.”  She said clasping her hands behind her back.

     “Sure, I said I would.”  I replied.  “I wouldn’t ever stand you up.”

      This remark seemed to please her as she beamed a golden smile at me.

     She was more beautiful than I remembered.  Not necessarily in a Miss America sense, nevertheless I found her appearance very pleasing.  She had a lovely face, longer than round with a funny little pug nose that came close to disfiguring her but having failed enhanced her appearance.

     She was very slender.  I remember her as being taller than she was.  She was dressed all in grey.  A grey wool straight skirt that fell just to the bottom of her calf and a grey cashmere sweater. I noted the cashmere with pleasure as it bespoke the quality I so desired.

page 7.

     We both said:  “You look nice.”  at the same time.  Laughing together  she took me into the living room to meet her grandmother.  Now that I had seen her again I was afraid I would not be agreeable to her grandmother.  Ange was still thirteen.  I could have done nothing but understand if her grandmother had refused me.

     Her grandmother acted as though I were a statue talking only to Ange.  She eyed me up and down and from side to side.  I could tell she didn’t approve of me.  She looked at Ange and said in what I considered a chilly manner:  “You’re sure that this is what you want?”

     Ange nodded yes.

     Her grandmother looked at me quizzically and said:  “Well, you should know best what you want.”

     “All right then, Grandmother, please go up to your room now as you promised.”  Ange rather artlessly said.

     Still ignoring me Ange’s grandmother gave her a questioning look and then mounted the stairs to the second floor.

     Ange raced to the foot of the stairs and exclaimed after her:  “Now you stay up there like you promised.  Don’t come peeking at us.”

    A muffled “I won’t.”  came down the stairs.

    Ange’s grandmother never spoke to me again.  When I next came to visit she was already upstairs and never came down.

     Ange put her hand on my arm and smiled betwitchingly at me.

page 8.

     “Let’s sit down.”  she said, sitting in the middle of the couch.  I was awkward.  I was terrified.  I sat in an arm chair so afraid I was almost trembling.  I had no idea what to do.  This was the first time I had been alone with a girl in my life.

     “No, on the couch beside me, Dewey.”

     I was shy, I was very shy.  She liked me, obviously.  But why?

     I slid over next to her.  Slowly, ever so slowly we leaned into each other until the warmth of our bodies mingled.  My mind was all consternation.  Two years older and I was the child.  She looked at me petulantly.  Then swinging her legs under her on the couch she took my arm and put it around her.

      Her scent, her warmth, her beauty was overwhelming.  I was petrified.  We sat and talked in that pose until eleven o’ clock.  Then I thought I had better leave.  I loved her.  I put her on a pedestal.  She seemed to love me.  I could have, I think I could have, kissed her goodnight, but to tell the truth I had never kissed a girl in a romantic way and I didn’t know how.  Coupled with my terror, I was too paralyzed to even think of trying.

     I left more mystified than ever.  Why did she like me?  Like Me! I thought.  She positively thought I was Prince Charming.  She seemed so much more mature than I.  Whatever she saw in me, whatever it was I couldn’t see it.  She had told her grandmother she wanted me.  She meant to have me.  It was a love I had longed for but now forebodings arose in me as I searched for what made her love me.  Anxiety welled up within me, trepidation seized my soul.  Yet she was much more lovely than I remembered her.  I loved the way she dressed.  She was actually perfect.  I loved her, I knew I loved her.  I thought of the klutz I had been; sitting in the arm chair!  She was so mature.  I wondered if she would forgive me.  I was serious.  I trembled.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  I feared losing her before I had obtained her.

page 9.

     I was solely concerned with my own emotions.  the bludgeoning life had given me precluded any thought of others.  With better balance I would have seen the obvious- that she was head over heels in love with me.  As a mad egoist I would have scented opportunity.  But then mad egoism is another side of this life that I am thankful I was spared.  I walked home in a euphoric haze.

II.

     Strangely I made no attempt to telephone her over the next week as I waited impatiently for the dance at school.  As I think now, this must have caused her some anxiety.  Perhaps she picked up the phone a hundred times to call me but put the receiver down each time afraid to offend me by being overeager.  Perhaps her anxiety was overwhelming too.

      I knocked on her door Friday trying to be as radiant as a face full of pimples could be.  She threw open the door and greeted me with a radiance that dazzled me off my feet.  She was even more beautiful than I had remembered doubled yet again.  I struggled to control my elation as I entered the door.  She was ready to leave and called goodby to her grandmother.

page 10

     I had the use of no car.  My parents evil- did I say evil?- how else can I explain their behavior as they denied my every happiness until they drove me from their house-evil to the core- would never allow me to drive all through high school.  They not only refused the use of their car but wouldn’t even allow me to take Driver’s Ed.  We had to walk.  Of course Ange didn’t mind.  It was actually closer to Melville from Ange’s house than it was from mine.  It was a short walk up Melmoth to the Star and then a mile up Mackinac St. to Melville.

     As we came up to the Star we passed Buddy’s Super Market.  Buddy, if there was such a person, had opened the first modern super market in the Valley.  What was at that time considered a giant of 20,000 square feet.  People wondered if such a giant store could make it.  Stupid question.  I had been gazing at Ange marveling at her good taste.  She had on a grey overcoat of a design that I have never ceased to love.

     I was gazing at her as we talked.  Approaching the Star intersection I looked up.  Much to my surprise I saw Buzz Gronski carrying groceries out of Buddy’s, that is, he had a job as carryout.  He was a very unpleasant reminder of my summer as a caddy.  Buzz had adopted the mannerisms of the gangster.  He must have seen a lot of old Cagney movies.  He had posed as a tough guy at the Country Club with a little gang of caddies he had developed.  When I started the summer I was only five feet tall and less than a hundred pounds.  It’s all right to be scrappy at that size but it’s tough losing all your fights.  I didn’t like getting beat up.  I thought I was circumspect, the bigger boys thought I was chicken.

page 11.

     As the summer started I thought I would be five feet tall forever.  I just wanted to earn money.  Many caddies arrived late, Buzz and his friends among them.  They then tried to terrorize the early birds into giving up their priority to them.  Buzz, who was short himself, never actually came after me.  His friend, Charley Horse, who was much bigger than me, did.  Charley got me up against the wall.  Grabbing me by the throat he forced me to my knees and demanded my place.  I should have punched him back but I didn’t.  I was damned if I was going to get up early to be first and then give my place to him.  He could hit but I wouldn’t give up my place.  Naturally he was afraid of reprisals from the caddy shack and didn’t hit me.  While retaining my place I still lost a certain amount of dignity.

     Under pressure from these jerks I did something that nearly destroyed my self-respect.  I began to tell lies to keep up with them.  I don’t mean fibs; I mean tall stories.  I invented events meant to aggrandize myself.  Fortunately I was caught out almost immediately.  I returned to my correct moral standards but the memory of my lapse haunted me.  My self-respect required complete honesty.

page 12.

      As I saw Buzz now my immediate reaction was one of apprehension.  But then I had grown and he hadn’t.  I now ‘towered’ over him.  With the respect for tall men that short men cannot conceal he now deferred to me.  He was also ashamed to be seen as a bagboy.  Eyeing Ange he also placed himself in a class below me.  As he hurried to place his bags in the customer’s trunk he didn’t answer my greeting.

     Ange, of course, asked:  “Who is he?”

     I was not only ashamed at having caddied, but my lack of resistance to the hazing I had taken and my lapse of integrity had left me with a feeling of guilt.  I struggled to find an answer that would be the truth without revealing my summer employment.  I thought if if Ange had known I caddied  she would leave me on the corner and go home.  I couldn’t think of anything, I didn’t want to.  I told her the unvarnished truth.

     “I caddied at the Country Club last summer before I met you, Ange.  He was just some guy that caddied there.”

    “Oh,” she said, not seeming to disapprove.

     I wanted to discredit Buzz in her eyes.

     “He and some of his friends were real crooks.  They used to steal cases of pop off the truck while the driver was filling the machine.”

     “You didn’t help, did you?”

     ‘Oh, gosh no, Ange.  I wouldn’t even drink a bottle which they tried to force me to do.  That’s why this guy wouldn’t speak to me.  It was kind of a reproach.  I wasn’t one them.”

     She turned an admiring glance on me, secure in her judgment of me.

page 13.

     As I walked along beside this pure flame I felt a sense of inadequacy.  My summer haunted me.  I wished I had hit Charley.  I wished I hadn’t needed the money that I got from the Country Club members.  I felt defiled.  I looked at her again wondering what she could see in me.  I was uneasy.

     The dance was uneventful.  The school band played its two best tunes- Night Train and Blue Moon- with some trash in between.  I knew Al, the leader of the band and got him to play the two tunes again.  I liked them both.

     We began to walk back to her house.  The weather in the two weeks since Thanksgiving had turned cold.  This night it was already fifteen, headed for ten, maybe eight, above.  The evening had only increased my respect and love for Ange.  I had placed her on a pedestal before, but now I was virtually worshipping her.  My anxiety had my stomach muscles, always taut, tight.  I had a lump in my throat and difficulty breathing.  Combined with the weather I was very conscious of my body.  Ange seemed relaxed.  How could she be so young and still be so confident?

     She had taken the glove off her left hand and walked with it exposed to the cold by her side.  Even a simpleton could have known enough to take her hand in his.  But block after block I agonized over whether I should risk it.  I looked at her and through my haze of fear I thought I sensed that she felt rejected because I hadn’t taken her hand.  I thought that for a moment she considered giving up and putting on her glove.  I thought that she despaired of my loving her.  Finally I decided that her hand would freeze if I didn’t take it.  I timidly asked:  “Is it all right if I hold your hand?”

page 14

     “Oh,” she said with obvious relief, “I thought you’d never ask.”  As cold as her hand was, I believed it.

    We now walked hand in hand.  It was a beautiful hand she had.  I couldn’t cease trembling at my good fortune.  It was a cold night.  Both are hands were cold.  I suggested putting them both into my jacket pocket to warm them up.  She consented.  I will remember the contented, perhaps even euphoric, way she walked beside me overjoyed at the close contact we immersed ourselves in.

     As we walked through the freezing cold, the cold was driven back by the warmth of our love.  Rather than two cold children walking down the street I felt as though we had turned into little suns floating through the ether, aglow ourselves, if unable to dispel the cold pressing in around us.  Rising above my insecurities I was happy.

     Suddenly we were before her house.  The little stoop of her house was no place to spoon.  We were on display.  I was confronted with a terrifying decision.  Should I try to kiss her or not?  Protocol required me to attempt it as this was our second date.  Yes, of course, I knew the answer was obvious.  Still I said goodbye without kissing her.  She grabbed my jacket and pulled me back:  “Wait!”  She commanded.  She looked up at me expectantly her lips poised to receive mine.  I knew I had to, I knew I wanted to kiss them.  Anxiety still shrouded my mind.  I didn’t know how.  Oh yes, simple enough, but now I was terrified that I would disappoint her.  In indecision I stepped backward.  She misunderstood me and pulled me back again whispering:  “Not yet.  Don’t leave me yet.”

page 15.

     I had to act.  I wanted to do it right, to show her I could be very romantic.  Suddenly every big movie kiss I had ever seen flashed through my mind.  Pouncing like a tiger I threw my arms around her.  Bending her down backwards, as I thought I remembered in the movies, I lowered her to a level where her body was at right angles with her knees.  Startled by my rapid move and thrown off balance her arms reflexively tightened around my neck.  We were in a close embrace.  I can only guess how clumsy my kiss was.  Movie scenes flashed through my mind while I tried to determine how long I should hold it.  As the seconds ticked away I decided that it was time.  With the same suddeness I had seized her I now staightened her up and put her on her feet.

     I knew I had failed.  How could I fail?  She loved me.  “I hope that was alright.”  I stammered.  “I never kissed a girl before and just did it like I’ve seen in the movies.”

     She was aglow.  “Oh no, it was perfect.  You’ve never kissed a girl before?”  She giggled and broke into a merry little laugh.

     “Well, on the cheek, my cousins, but not like that.”

     She threw her arms around my neck and kissed me again.  Her lips were soft and perfect.  The sky was filled with stars that had descended to earth and revolved around my head.  She laughed again, took my cheeks in her hands and looked with merry joy into my eyes.  She opened her door, looked back at me with a complete ecstasy and disappeared within.  The stars retreated into the heavens.  The cold surrounded me and clutched at my heart.

page 16.

     I turned to make the long walk home alone.  It was no longer a friendly universe.  The warm glowing light had disappeared.  The stars had fled my brow and returned into the cold dark sky.  It was just another dark cold night.  The windows of Buddy’s Super Market had long since been dark when I walked past.  Then a discomforting thought entered my head.  I didn’t know how I was going to get back into the house.  My mother and stepfather refused to let me have a key.  They had caused a row before I left.  They hadn’t forbidden me to date but they had belittled Ange as not good enough for me, whatever that meant.  I was asked how I was going to get back in the house at midnight.  In my simplicity I said through the door like always.  I was told the door would be locked, they would be asleep and I wasn’t to disturb them.  If I did they wouldn’t get up to let me in.

     I couldn’t understand why they obstructed my chances for happiness.  It was bad enough facing a hostile world without being harassed from behind by your own family.  Mrs. Otto, two houses down Monroe, had observed our relationship.  She had observed me and made an unfavorable evaluation.  She and her husband were having their own problems.  Shortly after she threw him out she told me what she thought of my step-father.  I was too young to understand much of what she said.  The only thing that really stuck was:  “I’ll never forgive him for what he’s doing to you.”  She was coldly analytical.  But since she was the kind of feminist who blamed men for cloudy days, I only listened.  Actually my mother was as bad or worse than my step-father but Mrs. Otto would never have believed that.  Nor was it clear what she thought he was doing to me.  Now I know he was trying to belittle me into an impotence which he himself felt.  My problem now was to be potent enough to get into the house.  It was close to eight above.  I knew that if I woke them they would only shout through the door:  “You were warned, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself.”  They were like that, that’s what they always said.  I had been almost treated better in the orphanage.

page 17.

     I cast about for some friend who might be coming home late from a date but that was chancy and another long cold walk too.  I had no choice but to wake my brother up.  We fought constantly; if he was in a snit he wouldn’t do it either.   He was my best chance.  I wove my way up the side streets from Court past the library turning at each corner until I reached Bond St., a block to the south of Monroe.

     We lived on the corner in a square little house with a bizarre porch.  The porch itself was conventional enough but it was reached by a semi-circular concrete staircase with rounded edges to the steps.  Whoever designed such a stairway must have been from Dixie.  When the ice and snow packed on the steps it was almost impossible to get a footing.  I decided to try the side window first.  I crashed through the frozen bushes in the dark.  We still had a coal furnace.  The fires were banked every night which left a very cold house.  To avoid possible asphyxiation each storm window, which was placed over the regular windows to form insulation, had three holes drilled in the bottom to let in fresh air.  I could make my brother hear by speaking through these.  I called to him softly.  I called several times keeping my voice low.  I know he pretended not to hear me.  I tapped on the window with frozen fingers; still no response.  Finally I decided to try the window facing the front porch.  Rather than crash through the bushes again I went completely around the house.  The steps were so slippery I couldn’t keep my footing so I had to crawl up the steps.  Darn cold work and I was risking tearing the knees out of my grey flannels.  I could hear my parents chuckling in my imagination if I did.

page 18.

     Worse still, I was conscious that the night had a thousand eyes.  I knew my neighbors; I knew that I was being observed by at least someone.  I knew they would gossip on the morrow.  One of my favorite songs had always been “Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.”  I hated to be discussed whether by friends, neutrals or enemies.  My voice was directed now at my brother rather than past him across the room.  The door was only slightly ajar so I didn’t think my parents would hear.  Of course they had lain awake waiting for my return, but I didn’t know that.

     Calling and tapping I finally got a response from Rip Van Winkle.  “What do you want?” was his asinine answer.  “Get up and open the door and let me in.  I’m freezing.”

     “If I get up I’ll freeze too.”

     This was no joke; I knew I was asking for a favor.  The temperature in the room was probably fifteen.  Winter nights were so cold that once the spot beneath your body in bed was warm, to move even an inch was to encounter painfully cold sheets.  I always found a comfortable position and then didn’t twitch a muscle all night.  We had a hardwood floor too.  My parents wouldn’t give us a throw rug.  When your feet hit that frozen floor it was almost worse than a blistering beach on a hot summer day.

page 19.

     “I’d do it for you.”  I hissed at him.  I honestly thought I would have too.

     After much imploring he said:  “Go around to the back.”

     “No, Louie, open the front door.  I’m right here.”

     “Oh, alright.”  He grudged.

     I had the decency to thank him.

     This ending was rather an imperfect one for a perfect date.

III.

     In the excitement of my first kiss I had forgotten to make another date.  I had to call her.  There were no more dances so I hadn’t known what to suggest.  Taking a girl to some vulgar movie house was never my idea of a date.  Ange said just come on over.  She said that I could come over anytime, I didn’t need dates.  I countered that I didn’t want to antagonize her grandmother.  She said not to worry about her grandmother, she would take care of her.

     Apparently Ange’s womanhood was superior to her grandmother’s.  I verily believed that she was a sliver from the fountainhead of womanhood.  I marveled at here seeming mature awareness.  I marveled at Ange.

page 20.

     That week my brother and I had a discussion about opening the door for me.  In a tradeoff of responsibilites it was agreed that he would get up and let me in.

     On Friday I put on my jacket and began the walk to Ange’s.  What a jacket.  It was unbearably stupid and old fashioned.  A girl would have to be deeply in love to be seen with anyone wearing that jacket.  My mother’s fur coat had it all over the jacket.  When my mother bought me the jacket she asked which of the jackets on sale I preferred.  I chose something someone might want to wear.  Having determined what I did not want she insisted on buying it.  The ugliest jacket in the whole store.  I had to take it.  Not so with my graduation suit.  She wanted me to buy some godawful piece of junk, using my own money no less.  At eighteen I went without rather than humiliate myself wearing trash.  This jacket was incomprehensively bad.  That a manufacturer could have thought that he might make money on a run of them was inconceivable.  The designer must have been out of the asylum on a weekend pass.  That a cutter had cut the pattern showed how little he cared for his craft.  He should have rejected the pattern outright.  That a wholesaler bought hundreds and sold them to retailers was the con job of the century.  the Brinks hold up robbers could have learned from him.  He didn’t even have to worry about going to jail.  That a retailer thought that a customer existed who wouled buy it shows both how savvy and savage retailers can be.  This guy knew and was mean enough to exploit it, that a mother who hated her child would buy it.  Well, money is money.  He’s probably leaning against the wall of this shop cackling still.  I wasn’t laughing.  There’s a place for him in the seventh hole in hell where his reward is waiting for him.  I had to wear the ugly thing.

page 21.

     But I was on the way to wear the stars that had settled on my brow.  The memory of her warm lips on the cold night dispelled gloomy thoughts from my mind.  I wanted to feel my best, look my best and be my best for Ange.

     The kiss had altered our relationship.  The intimacy had raised a slight barrier for me that had to be overcome.  I was shy, even embarrassed, when she opened the door for me with her eyes shining.  God, what a lovely girl.

     How could I ever have thought her an insignificant slip of a girl only a few weeks ago, now to be drawn completely under her spell.  I threw off the jacket as quickly as I could.  I threw it behind the couch out of sight. 

     “Oh, here, let me hang it up.”  Ange said putting her hand out to get it.

     Forgetting myself, I seized her hand meaning to say: “No, forget it.”

     Perhaps she interpreted the suddeness of my movement as ardent affection, perhaps it was.  It did break the discomfort of shyness.  She clasped my hand lovingly in both hers and raised it to her lips almost as in ecstasy.  My heart melted, my joints turned to butter, my legs almost gave out beneath me.  Perhaps I swooned against her.  I can’t remember.  I just remember next having her in my arms on the couch.  She was no weight at all.  I pressed her close imbibing the perfume of her youthful innocent devotion.  The twin dynamos of her small breasts pulsed warm waves of love through my trembling frame.

page 22.

     As only young lovers can we sat holding each other for an eternity of bliss.  Perhaps an hour.  The balm of her love on my troubled and tormented mind obliterated all thoughts of sorrow or misery.  My past disappointments vanished as a vapor before the healing rays of the sun.  My present angers and humiliations were wafted away as before a light summer breeze.  But a dark foreboding rose like a lazy bubble through viscous oil.

     Did she know my travails?  I was an unhappy boy.  My two anthems were songs by the western singer, Hank Snow: ‘I’ve Got A Troubled Mind’ and ‘I Don’t Hurt Anymore.’  The titles are self explanatory.  Hillbilly songs don’t fool around.  I sang the latter as a prayer and the former as a lament.  I had the insiders understanding of sad sack comedians- there will never be another Jackie Vernon- and I knew the whole catalog of sad songs.  For a joke I sang along with ‘I’ve got tears in my ears from laying on my back on my pillow crying over you.’

     I didn’t know if she knew that I carried this load of sorrow around with me.  Oh, I had a sense of humor.  I could make Ange laugh and be merry.  I tried not to let my sorrow show but it is the unconscious mannerisms and conversational traits that give one away.  The walk, the gestures, the choice of words and phrases, it is even found in the way we wear out clothes, let alone the choice of clothes and colors.  I knew I was unhappy.  Even though I would always be kind and gentle to her, I wanted her to know the sorrow that possessed my mind.

page 23.

     Not knowing what else to do I took her face in my hands.  Holding her eyes level with mine I tried to penetrate the barrior of vision that separated us.  I tried to dissolve the distance which exists between two, not to become one, but to show her everything that was happening in my mind.  At first a pleasant smile played abut her lips as our eyes met and we saw each other, perhaps for the first time.  Then I was successful and our lenses stopped resisting each other.  The plane of existence disappeared and we saw into each other’s souls.  Our divine essence flowed back and forth on the waves of union, the bridge of adoration through our eyes.  I was intent that she see what I wanted her to see so I kept the inner vision open praying not to break the spell.  But her lips quivered and opened with a slight gasp.  She lost contact as her eyelids fluttered and half lowered.  Her hand involuntarily rose and clasped mine in a warm embrace.  Now, in my turn, I tenderly kissed her hands as she swooned forward placing her lips gently against mine.

     We dissolved back against and into the couch, where a tangle of melted flesh we half sat and lay wholly in a blissful daze.  The effect was overpowering.  It was as though our warmth had coalesced to form one sun emiting its rays out into our own universe.  It was the gods’ gift to we two for one brief moment.  The moment was at once lost, the sweetness lives on a faint echo of a memory never to be recovered.

     I knew that I had failed in my intent to show myself to her, or if I hadn’t she must have been to young to know and understand.

page 24.

     Than a moment of distress came over me.  I hadn’t planned carefully enough.  No, not what you think.  I had a horror of bodily functions.  I had always taken care when I was with Ange that I didn’t have to go to the bathroom.  But now my bladder was exploding.  I didn’t want her to know that I had to go to the bathroom.  I was terrified that she think that I was inconsiderate.

     Perhaps she had seen something in my mind that I hadn’t been aware of, for as my brow furrowed and I searched for words to form the question, she said gently:  “It’s over there Dewey.  Go through the dining room, it’s on your right.”  I was in acute misery because of my lack of planning.  I felt like I was defiling her as I got to my feet and found my way to the bathroom.  Thank God I had carefully zipped my pants before I opened the door because when I did she was standing outside waiting for me.  She clasped my hand and leaning against me led me back to the couch.

    “Oh, Ange, listen, I’m awfully sorry…”  I said almost sobbing the most intense embarrassment I was ever to know.

     “Sorry about what, Dewey?”  She said a little shiver of alarm rippling through her body.  She feared she had displeased me somehow.

     “T- t- that I had to…that I didn’t plan better.  That I embarrassed you so.”

     “You mean because you had to go to the bathroom?”  She said incredulously.  “Don’t worry about that, Dewey, we all have to.”

page 25.

     “Yeh, I know, but I didn’t want to embarrass you, Ange.”

     “I’m not embarrassed Dewey.  I was beginning to think you weren’t human.”

     She said it in such a naive manner that her meaning that she really thought I was more than human was apparent.  I uttered a nervous laugh of pleasure at the sincere flattery, ransacking my stuttering mind for an equal compliment.  She saved me by throwing her arms around my neck and giving me a kiss with pouting lips.  Now that we had exchanged vows, she seemed to be much more free with me than I with her.

     “It’s getting late Darling, I don’t want you to, but you’d better go.”

     I started for my jacket when I was arrested by her gasp.

     “Oh, Dewey, I almost forgot to tell you, I hope you’ll forgive me.”

     I picked up my stupid jacket and put it on to get it warmed up before I went outside.  “Tell me what, Ange.”

     “You know I have family in Waterloo?”

     “Yes.  You said.”

     “Well, schools out Wednesday and I have to go back to Waterloo for Christmas.”

     We were in front of the door now, both hands held.  My mind reeled.  I hadn’t thought about it but I assumed we would spend Christmas day together.  I stood there looking left to right my mouth opening and closing.  Finally I said:  “Will you be back for New Years?”

page 26.

     She groaned a heartfelt “No.”

     “You can’t go for both Ange.”  I was not forbidding it, I was just protesting against a great injustice.

     “I know, I don’t want to,” she stroked my cheek, “but I have to.”

     Her grandmother shouted down the stairs:  “Ange, has that boy left yet?”

     “No. He’s going now, Grandmother.”

     “It’s late and I’m responsible for you.  He can’t stay this late.”

     “You’ll have to go, Dewey.”

     “Well, can I see you Monday or Tuesday before you go?”

     “Oh, no, Dewey,”  she moaned, “I won’t be able to see you before I get back.”

     I drew her to me and kissed her goodbye.  I was very disappointed but there was nothing I could do.

     Before she had closed the door behind me the cold and darkness had descended on me and embraced me.  I was robbed immediately of the euphoric warmth of her embrace.  I felt betrayed because she was going to be gone so long at such an important time.

IV.

     I hadn’t wanted her to go.  She was thirteen and I was fifteen, what could we do?  In the great void it left in my memory disquieting thoughts entered.  A man struck by a lightening bolt tends to organize his life into before and after.  My before was clear, my present surrounded me, my future lay shrouded in the mists of a fearful obscurity.  My past had been all pain, without knowing it I was merely now gliding through the eye of the storm.  I didn’t know it; I feared it.

page 27

     I wandered about during school vacation hoping for her return and attempting to worry things out.  The air remained crisp and cold.  The Valley never received a heavy snow.  The heavy snows fell down South or up North.  There were perhaps drifts  of a foot, bare ground and a layer of three to six inches.  It was old snow.  It had fallen in two or three falls during the past two weeks.  The sun had played on its surface melting it into a crust of ice.  A couple years earlier if I had stepped carefully it would have borne my weight, now I broke through with no resistance.

     For the last couple days the skies had become solid overcast.  The great stream of clouds stretched West and North across the continent stretching out into the tropical seas beyond British Columbia into the Pacific.  They would last a while.  I have always loved clouds.  I have loved their infinite variety.  There is nothing like the awe inspired by the great thunderheads of summer rising in great boiling columns forty thousand feet into the air, moving with the majesty of the gods across the sky until the Rider On The Storm of the towering mass of vapor slides overhead and discharges a volley of lightening bolts in a scattering and awesome display of sexual prowess.

     I loved the little puffy white clouds that speckled the sky.  I loved the great galleons that threw their shadows before as they sailed on into oblivion.  I have read writers who have described the sky overhead now as ‘clouds like a tin sheet,’ ‘a leaden sky,’ or ‘lowering slate sky.’  No man who knew clouds could write like that about them.  No man who had ever shared a Young Girl’s heart could ever describe a downy grey sky in those terms.  My eyes perceived an infinite variety of greys.  Each one an exact shade of Ange’s raiment.  A grey for her skirt, a grey for her sweater, a grey for her coat and a grey for her lovely eyes.  I gazed up at that sky in deep admiration.  As snowflakes appeared from nowhere and rather than falling seemed suspended in the air I stood on tiptoes and stretched up to kiss the lovely grey sky.  I wondered if the air would be redolent of Ange.  Of course I was foolish and realized it immediately.  I put my heels back on the ground and walked with my head bowed.

page 28.

     Where had she come from and why?  Why had she chosen me to bless with her existence that I had captured and stored in my heart.  I was so selfish.  I was so afraid.  My hope was artificial, sheer bravado.  What had I to offer her?

V.

     In time the sky cleared and she returned.  It was different now.  Not so that it could be seen or felt.  Uncertainty had entered my being.  I now saw her two or three times a week.  That was as much as her grandmother would allow, wisely so.  Schoolwork had to be done.

page 29.

     Ange had a role in a church play.  She invited me to see her in the role.  I don’t remember what the play was about; I didn’t care.  Ange had asked me and that was enough.

     In the seclusion of her house we had been able to keep the world at bay.  In the bliss of our love we floated above the housetops, above the trees, in a universe of our own.  We were one with the light fluffy clouds high above the earth, removed from the dross of earthly impure elements.

     But as we moved about in the mundane world of men and women we had, or rather I had- Ange didn’t seem to notice- to take into account the buffeting of hostile intentions.  I thought now that everyone had to like me as Ange loved me or Ange would stop loving me.  I sat in the theatre while Ange stood back stage.  She fixed adoring eyes on me from the wings while she waited for her part.  She was oblivious to all else I could hear the murmurs of others in the audience.  Perhaps their comments were normal badinage with which they discussed all swains.  Probably the difference in our ages caused comment.  Though in love, I was certainly conscious of her youth.  But my face was covered with pimples, my jacket was ugly and it didn’t represent the real me; the orphanage was part of my past and I came from a broken home.  I knew they all knew.  Perhaps when one said:  “What does she see in him?”  they were merely being curious.  Perhaps they wanted to know.  Maybe as we had never been intruduced they wondered what I was like.  Maybe.  I took their comments, I don’t think I’m far off, as rejection, as detestation for me.  I thought Ange might discover whatever they didn’t like in me.  My past had given my demeanor and actions a caste that seemed to replicate the attitude wherever I went.  I was acutely conscious of their critical evaluation.  I may have been hypersensitive.  But I sat in the middle, as it were, of what I interpreted to be a species of revulsion and the silent adoration of Ange gazing steadfastly at me from the wings as though I were the angel sent down from heaven to please her.  Who was right?  I was too inexperienced to dismiss them and accept unqualifiedly the love that was offered to me by my sweet Ange.  Self doubt plagued me.  I wished that Ange would temper her obvious devotions.  Jealousy probably drove the other auditors to despair as they redoubled their whispered comments.

page 30.

     I prayed that Ange might diminish her attention to me.  In my embarrassment I looked away.  But then, knowing that I couldn’t refuse her adoration and not wanting to give her the least doubt of my own affection, I returned her gaze.

     Then her turn to perform came.  Ange scandalized the crowd.  As she spoke her lines she turned toward the audience and spoke her lines in such sublime innocence to me alone.  Oh, Ange, how I loved you, how you flattered a heart that wished to steal you from a hard hearted world and hide you away in my heart, but how I wished you hadn’t done that.  I was emotionally unequipped to withstand the storm of indignation that swept the the auditorium of that most Christian of churches.  Still, it was such a lovely gesture that I haven’t recovered my senses yet.

     One woman ignoring my presence stated indignantly:  “I don’t care how fascinated she is with that pimple faced boy- at her age it’s only fascination, what could she know of love- but that doesn’t give her the right to ruin this play for everyone else.

page 31.

     I could let “pimple faced boy” go by but I had to defend my Love.  “Ange didn’t ruin the play.”  I said, next offering a correct, but in the circumstance irrelevant, evaluation of the play.  “It wasn’t a very good play, she enhanced it merely by being in it, it was impossible for her to ruin it.”

     “Impossible to ruin it!  Young man my daughter wrote that play.”

     “Well, the first one’s always the toughest, if she’s got talent the next one will be better.”  I volunteered, quoting some forgotten critic I had read.

     Ange had joined me in the midst of the exchanges.  The woman flashed indignation all over me, thinking me a very impertinent boy.  Perhaps I was but she could have kept her comments about Ange to herself.  At least she, an old woman, should have had the sense not to utter her absurdities in my presence.  If you throw a stone into a pond you shouldn’t be surprised if you get splashed.

     Outside the church when we were alone and our universe had returned to its rightful form, Ange shyly took my hand and lovingly admonished me for having given Mrs. What-was-her-name the why for.  She was pleased that I had defended her.  It irradiated her being.  Alone with her once again in an adoration I could endure I didn’t mention my discomfort under her gaze in the church.  I thought I would but I couldn’t find words that I thought wouldn’t hurt her.  I couldn’t stand to see the love dimmed in her eyes for an instant.  I sighed and just assumed that the opportunity wouldn’t happen again.

page 33.

VI

     We couldn’t spend all our time together talking, kissing and spooning on her couch.  We did have to go on dates.  As our romance went on I found to my discomfort that I was being drawn into the circle of her family and acquaintances.  She had other family in the Valley than her grandmother.  She also had other friends.  Some were boys, but it never crossed my mind that she would look at them.  She didn’t.  But my paradise was with Ange alone and her grandmother who I never saw.  My vision was of Ange.  Had she been a picture in a museum I would have been oblivious to all the others.  I didn’t need them.  I didn’t want them.  Ange so excelled all others that they seemed shabby in comparison.

     My social station was not too high.  I, as well as Ange’s grandmother lived nevertheless in decent neighborhoods, if not the plushest.  Our neighbors reflected, in varying degrees, certain cultural standards.  I considered myself to be of a certain cultural class.  I considered Ange to be above class, to walk on air, to discourse with other angels.

     In my personal psychology I thought myself a victim of circumstances.  A frog prince, captured in an ugly body awaiting only liberation.  The beautiful Ange validated that opinion of myself.  I knew I could only be released from my prison by leaving the Valley behind and exhibiting my true worth in some glittering capitol that left a burg like the Valley in its true perspective.  Ange saved me from being myself.

 page 34;

     But her friends, her relatives, the people I had to meet and with whom I was expected to ingratiate myself lived out in the north neighborhoods of town.  They not only lived there but they belonged there.  They had no culture or intellectual pretensions.  I don’t want to go to lengths exapatiating on the quality of my manners, but if I was gauche from time to time, Ange’s people were unfamiliar with the word.  They thought manners were putting on airs.

     Ange had manners.  Her grandmother lived on South Melmoth.  I had no idea what her people in Waterloo were like but I just assumed that they lived in a nicer house than either I or her grandmother did.  Through Ange I was compelled to mingle with these people and I didn’t like it.  There was a vast distance between our cloud castle and those people.  I didn’t want my dreams dashed by crudity.  Forgive me, Ange.

     I couldn’t make them go away, they encroached on my vision of happiness.  They didn’t know what true love was.  They were becoming a problem as were the other kids at school.  Alone Ange and I could stroll hand in hand through the Garden of the Gods; at social functions I had to work hard to keep the real world at bay.  My failure would become accumulatively apparent.

page 35.

     I nevertheless felt obligated to show my Darling Angeline the worldly pleasures at my disposal.  My own soul revolted at basketball and football spectacles.  I didn’t attend many games, especially basketball games, but I invited Ange to go to one.

     Our basketball court served as both the boys and girls gyms.  The court was divided in two by an immense folding door.  The bleachers were contained in huge cabinets.  When in use the cabinet doors slid back and the bleachers were rolled out to serve their purpose.

    We arrived at the game and found seats about seven or eight rows up along the long wall near the end of the bleachers in the boys side of the gym.  We had no sooner been seated than an older woman with a couple of boys in tow climbed the bleachers to take a seat behind us.  As they began the ascent Ange recognized the woman as her aunt.  The boys were cousins.  Thus I began to be introduced to her family. I didn’t even like my own family.  I saw no reason to be drawn into hers.

     It was only natural that Ange’s people would show interest in the boy she was dating.  The boy she raved about as a paragon among boys.  It was more than dating, we were deeply involved, although, in my own self-centered way that excluded the rest of the world, I didn’t understand the depth of our involvement.  Ange was mine and mine alone.  I didn’t have to share her anymore than I had to share my baseball glove.  The glove fit my hand.  It was mine.  Ange and I suited each other.  Ange was mine.

     At the time I was unaware that Ange was telling her family about us.  I just didn’t think about it.  I told no one about her, neither family nor friends.  I just assumed she did the same.  She was in love, she expressed her love differently than I.  It’s also true that my parents took no interest in my affairs, while Ange as a young girl would solicit the attention of her relatives.  She, with her joy in me, had told them of her perfect love, had even been effusive.  In her rapture she had even told them we would marry.  If not in those words at least in a manner that indicated that we thought we had or, indeed, had found life mates.  The idea occupied Ange’s mind; in my own it rumbled along in the long wave lengths below the audible range.

page 36.

     Her aunt and family naturally were interested in whether I was sincere or taking advantage of a young girl’s heart.  Our ages were a difficult point with them and with me.  I was open to the charge of cradle robbing.  It made no difference that Ange had found me and not I her, I was older and a boy.  I was responsible; I accepted the responsibility.  I was still sensitive to the charge; I had no intention of dishonoring my Angeline.  She was my beauty; a lovely thing has to be kept lovely by loving care.  They don’t stay that way on their own.  It must have the attention lavished on it to maintain its lustre.  I had resented comments made by people who knew us as we had entered the gymn, this woman, her aunt, annoyed me.

     Ange’s cousins intruded in my fantasies of who we were.  We had always been on our best, our very best, behavior with each other.  We had never had a cross word.  Whe had never even had a disagreement.  I was elevated above the ruck of common life in her presence.  She made my life shine.  I imagined us as I hoped we would be throughout life.  Her cousins and her aunt reflected a side of life that cast shadows on my mirror.  Ange wouldn’t understand, they were her people.

page 37.

     The game progressed as basketball games do.  Up one end of the floor and back to the other.  We were playing Lake Harbor.  They had an all Black team.  We were all white.  They had this one terrific player who could win the game for his team.  He was winning it for them.  We were not, as they say, prejudiced but we didn’t want to lose to a bunch of Black guys.  The gym was definitely hostile to Lake Harbor.  Our hope was that their good guy would foul out, then we knew we would win.  As he was half the team he tried too hard and got a couple quick fouls.  When he got his third one the whole gym erupted into a great howl of delight.  The attitude of the crowd was slightly on the ugly side.

     Ange looked over at me and said:  “Gee, Dewey, basketball games are sure thirsty work.”  My first reaction was a thick headed “Yea, sure are.”  Then a shaft of light penetrated and I realized that her statement must have been some conventional witticism she had heard and that she wanted something to drink.  I thought a second and said:  “But, Honey, if you have something to drink you may have to go to the bathroom.”  Ange flushed at my use of Honey and cast a look back at her aunt, who was leaning over our shoulders to catch every word, to see whether she had heard it.  “That’s alright Dewey, they have restrooms here.”  She missed the point, I didn’t want to be reminded that she was human.  “OK.  I’ll be right back.”

page 37.

     I heaved a sigh and looked out over the gym.  The refreshment stand was at the other end by the entrance to the girl’s gym.  I usually had to fight my way from one end to the other.  There was always someone to try to trip me or whatever.  I knew Ange would be watching me every foot of the way.  I wanted to look good.  It occurred to me that I could go around the corridor from the boys gym to the girls gym and back without walking the length and breadth of the gym.  Gracik was taking tickets.  He was infuriated because I was with a girl and he wasn’t.  He’d given me a surly “Who’d go out with you.” as Ange and I had entered.  Once I got out he might give me a hard time getting back in.  I resolved to walk the length of the court.

     I was only fifteen but I knew enough to know no one would interfere with me when I was empty handed.  Lake Harbor’s  guy hadn’t made anymore fouls, we were falling behind, the crowd was restless.  I made it to the refreshment stand OK and got Ange her drink.  I knew the person guarding the girl’s gym door pretty well.  I could at least get back in if I tried the corridor.  I decided to chance Gracik at the other end.  Even with my stub in my hand he made it too difficult to get back in.  I could have tried to force it but he would have caused me embarrassment, probably spilling the drink.  I went back to the girl’s gym entrance and started back around.

     The players, big guys, were thundering up and down the floor.  Drinks in those days were open topped, they didn’t use lids so I had to balance the drink carefully.  I could have topped it off a little but then if I drank I might have to go to the bathroom and embarrass myself in front of Ange.

page 39.

     I had walked the breadth of the court.  I spotted Louis Schreiver as I turned the corner.  Schreiver was always in my hair.  Fortunately he wasn’t overly bright.  He always telegraphed his intentions.  One could explain it to him and he still couldn’t understand.  I intuited his plan this time before it was clear in his own mind.  He was going to wait until just before I passed, then pretend he heard someone above him call his name, then jump up and back into me while waving up above.  Shee, get a new new one, Louis.  I was close to the boundary line watching Schreiver when this big guy came rolling down the court on the line.  He was six-eight, two hundred forty.  A very imposing guy.  It was sort of like having a big eight wheeler bear down on you at a crossing.

     I saw Schreiver make his move.  In order to make it look like a Law and Order accident he stopped looking at me at all.  He had a mental image of the situation, sort of like a turn around jump shot with your back to the basket.  But this big guy was coming down one side of the line, I was on the other.  I saw Louis start to stagger backwards.  Istopped and stepped away from the line.  Schreiver had been watching only me, not paying attention to the game.  Now ignoring me as he staggered backward he was counting on bumping into me to stop him.  You could see the look of anticipation on his face.  I wasn’t behind him.  Louis staggered right across the line into the way of the big steamroller.  Louis’ friends’ smiles of anticipation shifted from alarm at Louis’ fate to angry scowls at me because I had avoided my projected part in their little drama.  They thought I had caused Schreiver’s embarrassment.  The school’s mood had been so ugly that Lake Harbor accused us of having gotten into their guy’s way intentionally to put him out of the game.  The Ref to defuse the situation actually gave Lake Harbor the benefit of a technical foul.

page 40.

     All the way down the gym I had to answer “What happened?”  “I don’t know, a guy stepped out in front of the Train.”

    I was quite a hero to Ange as I had seen the collision close up.  I didn’t try to explain what really happened.  I got the drink to her without a mishap.

     Her aunt was saying something about calling on them as we left.  I nodded my head but my thinking was that it would be a long time from now.

     Sure enough Ange had to go the bathroom.  Angels don’t pee.  Angel have no impurities.  I had accommodated myself to the fact that Ange was human.  I always knew it if I had tried to avoid the fact.  She had excused herself a few times before which I had accepted.  Now she was going to use a public restroom!  There was nothing I could do about it.  I would never be cross with her but I had told her so.

VI.

     During the succeeding weeks I was drawn further into the acquaintance of Ange’s relatives.  I recognized the inevitability of it but I resented it deeply.  Ange and I, I and my Angeline, had a refuge from an ugly and threatening world.  We still whiled away our evening hours in each other’s arms on her couch.  The bliss of her warmth and her sweet aroma still transported me to pleasant worlds distand from this struggle for existence.  The one made the other bearable.

page 42.

     In her arms the frog prince realized for a moment a potential he had difficulty attempting to realize in his parents’ house, on the streets of the Valley and the halls of Melville.  I was nevertheless able to sustain a more elevated opinion of myself elsewhere than among her relatives.

     I am a democrat, but still a snob.  I found her relatives’ appreciation of the meaning of life distinctly inferior to me.  They had an earthy quality.  It was enough for them to eat, rut  and sleep.  My own parents, far from intellectuals, still subscribed to a couple magazines.  I myself had a good sized library for a fifteen year old.  Relatively passive in my demands otherwise, I insisted, demanded, on receiving at least as many books at Christmas as socks and underwear.  My eyes were on the stars not in the furrows.

     Ange’s relatives had neither books nor magazines.  They were strictly functional in the decor of their houses.  They had none of the accoutrements of civilized life about them.

     Ange herself was oblivious.  I imagine she was lost in the wonders of love.  She lived to please me.  I saw no reason to be critical of her anyway.  She was happy.  I guarded her jealously.  Her relatives were of the animal spirits.  They accepted sexual relations in barnyard terms.  I don’t believe that they would have objected to our having sexual relations but they also wanted to know about it.  I didn’t even let on that Ange and I had ever kissed.  I suppose her grandmother had told Ange’s relatives that all we did was sit on the couch and kiss but still I thought that was no one’s business but our own.

page 47.

     Her aunt would make prying comments like:  “Pretty hard to control your self when you’re going hot and heavey, eh?”  The she would arch her eyebrows and give an inquiring knowing smile like she thought I was goint to offer details of what she imagined.  I felt like I was being dragged down.  None of Ange’s people associated with anyone I knew.  There was a world of difference between Ange’s grandmother’s house on the corner of S. Melmoth and this North side neighborhood.

     We were supposed to go visit a cousin of hers one Saturday.  I called to pick her up.  She greeted me at the door in jeans.  Old jeans.  I didn’t even know she had any.  She, in that wonderful light way that had entered into my existence so completely, said:  “You don’t have to dress up to go see my cousins, Dewey.”

     I didn’t know how to express my disappointment.  I couldn’t be angry with her.  I couldn’t chastise or criticize her, still I was near the edge of tears.  “It’s just Ange, you look so beautiful in your skirts.  Besides I’m not dressed up to visit your cousins, I’m dressed up to see you.  I’ve never seen you in…’ I almost said pants, but then I selected a more negative word, “trousers before.”

page 44.

     “These aren’t trousers, Dewey, these are jeans.”  She said spinning around to show me.  Throwing her arms around my neck giving me a loving little kiss on the lips she said:  “Don’t I look beautiful in jeans too, Dewey?”

     Well, of course, what could I say?  “Oh, Ange, you’d look beautiful in anything.”  But she missed the point.

     It was a long walk to the North side.  When we arrived her aunt and uncle were gone and her cousin Adele was there with her boy friend.  I was a year older than the other two who were both fourteen.  I had met Adele and was meeting her boyfriend for the first time.  I had always thought Adele OK, I was always less critical of girls, but hr boy friend struck me as crude and vulgar.  He was.  He and Adele were not in love as I considered Ange and I to be.  My impression was that they were just dating each other.

     After introductions and some light banter things began to drag a bit.  I was rather glum under the circumstances.  The he kind of roped Adele around the neck with his arm.  They began rolling and tumbling on the floor.  Ange displaying some elation looked first at them and then at me suppressing a little giggle.  I knew what was going on.  I didn’t like it.  I was certainly not going to get down on the floor with Ange and tumble around with them.  There was no reason for him to put his glove on my girl.  I knew that sometime soon I would have to increase my attentions to Angeline.  I suspected that she wanted me to.  We had discussed such things after her aunt’s rude comments.  Ange had left me with the sighing impression that that was what lovers do.  I knew, I had hpes of sex but not now with the girl I loved and respected.  I was struggling.

page 45.    

     Adele’s boyfriend seeing that we were not going to join in tried a different tack.  “Hey, want to see a game we play?  I pretend I’m the driver and Adele’s the car.”  He put her left arm out like it was a gear shift.  “See, here we shift into second.”  He said, moving her extended arm down.  “Oh,oh, look out, there’s a pedestrian,” he said, giving her left breast a couple quick squeezes.  “Beep, beep.”

     Ange emitted a delighted little laugh, pleased at the humor of the joke.  I didn’t laugh.  I didn’t think it was funny.  He looked over at me to see my response.  I gave him a stony stare, Adele became embarrassed and turned red.  I didn’t want to see anymore.  I excused myself to go get a drink of water.

     “You don’t have to excuse yourself, Bud, just do it.”  Adele’s boy friend said with a smirk.  Yeah.  Ange and I were in the wrong place.  My brow furrowed and my lips compressed as I stood before the sink staring into the glass of water.  I felt we have been besmirched.  I thought it was time to go.

     I made some excuse about a long walk, took Ange by the hand and we left.  I was deep in thought.  Wondering, wondering.  Ange in her innocence looked upat me shyly from time to time.  Then she giggled and said- she had a way of breathing out her words-  “What did you think of their game, Dewey?”

page 46.

     As she spoke a quiver rippled her palm which was in my hand.  Mine involuntarity closed a little tighter on hers.  A little shiver convulsed her but I didn’t want to dim the angel lights from her eyes.  Our relationship had progressed rapidly from love to the deepest emotional attachment.  Apart from consummation there was no further room for development.  Maturation perhaps, but not development.  That meant to both of us, I think, that we were married in all but fact.  She certainly acted the part of a contented wife.  I did not object.  I did not find it an imposition.  What else could she think?  We lived and breathed each other.  But she was thirteen, I was fifteen.  When I was eighteen she would be sixteen.

     Apart from Angeline I was unhappy with my life in the Valley.  Events seemed to be conspiring to deny me the opportunity to develop my talents.  My parents were not going to send me to college.  I was not emotionally prepared to succeed there anyway.  I would barely make it out of high school.

     My step-father’s mother had told me stories about her brother Louie who they had driven from the family.  They appeared to have no good reason for it, just some type of familial spite that repeated itself agains a member of each generation.  Some irrational psychological tradition required them to do it.  In his generation it had been Louie.  He had fled the family and gone to Australia.  I thought  that they had picked me for the Louie of my generation.

page 47.

     I couldn’t stay.  I was marking time to leave.  As I know looked at my Angeline I saw impossibilities.  I knew she was deeply in love with me and would do anything I asked.  If, when I had graduated I had asked her to quit school and follow me I know she would have done it.

     I knew I had a troubled mind filled with tangled emotions.  I knew that it would take me years to sort out those tangled emotion and reintegrate my personality in a productive direction.  Had Ange been my age, as two graduates I could have chanced taking her with me.  I had it in mind to go as far away as possible.  Unlike Louie I didn’t intend to leave the country, I intended to go to the West Coast.  I had even picked out the town and state- Eugene, Oregon.  I had selected Eugene for no more sound reason than that Eugene was my  middle name and it was an unusual name for a town. 

     Eugene was a lumber town and the home of the University of Oregon.  I thought I could get a job in the mills and go to college in my spare time.  But I couldn’t see me showing up as an eighteen year old boy with a sixteen year old wife.  It wouldn’t be fair to Ange.  Oh, I intuited that she would be glad to work to put me through college.  But then what could a sixteen year old girl do but be a waitress?  I could subject my Angeline to verbal abuse from a bunch of crude loggers.

     I felt Ange tug my hand down trembling in anticipation of my answer.  “Hmm, Dewey?”

     In her insistence we had stopped walking.  She was pressing up against me giving me an intent hopeful look.  In her anxiety she forget herself and pulled my hand down against her delta.  Fortunately we were close enough together so no one could see.  Her warmth and perfume were overwhelming.  It was as though two suns hurtling through space had been caught in each other’s orbit.  Rotating around each other they hurtled on caught in each other’s solar embrace.  They were so close together that the long solar flares of fire shot from their surfaces, were drawn into each other’s gravitational pull.  The flames shot from sun to sun embathing each in turn in the other’s flaming essence.

page 48.

     There was no higher heaven.  Immersed in this lovely girl’s glow I was yet struggling to identify my state of mind.  I was not yet ready to speak.  I gave her a look meant to indicate that I was lost for words.  Seeking to gain time I let out an “Hmmm,” gesturing with my free hand.

     I loved her.  She was unspotted.  Yet here was an opportunity for a situation that I had seen that others had.  I longed for such a situation myself.  But now that it presented itself a dichotomy arose in my mind.

     Several couples beginning in Jr. High had formed just such a relationship, perhaps beginning in the eighth grade.  Ange was now in the eighth grade.  I was dimly aware that Ange thought she was “wedded” for life.  It slowly dawned on me that these other girls had made the same committement to their boy friends.  Howie Holland and Allie Simpson were one such couple I knew.  I was in awe of Howie’s luck.  Allie was a beautiful girl.  It was their example that had created hopes in my breast.  Now those hopes could be realized.

page 49.

     But now, I realized that everyone knew that Howie was getting it from Allie.  We knew that Allie was doing it.  Howie had the strut of a stud who knew his woman.  He was proud of it.  He couldn’t help showing it.  He must show it.  They couldn’t conceal it.  Allie had sacrificed her honor for Howie.  But everyone knew she did it.  The vultures were constantly circling ready to descend and get some if Howie and Allie broke up.

     The same was true of many couples.  I also became dimly aware that thes were marriages of convenience for the boys.  They would probably be voided when the time came.  Their use over the girls who had given their all would be discarded.  They wanted to marry their childhood sweethearts and first loves.  They had been committed loving wives.  As I had suspected all along, everyone of them was thrown over at graduation.  Their hearts were crushed.

     I could have Angeline on the same basis for the next two and a half years.  I looked down at her tenderly.  My tenderness melted her heart.  Yet, I knew some of my weaknesses.  As fiercely as I now protected her I fearted that after consummation my need for recognition might force me to act the boor, to advertise our relationship.  I had seen how the other boys walked.  They were less than discreet.  I didn’t see how I could be any different, I feared I might be worse.  I had seen the strain placed on the girls too.  Everyone knew.  They couldn’t conceal it.  I knew that I had acted toward them differently because I knew.  They knew I acted differently.  I thought Allie, for instance was a good girl, but I secretly believed that she was less good than some others.  I didn’t want to cause Ange any grief.  I didn’t know what to do.

page 5o.

     Angie tugged my hand again and gave me an inquiring smile.  I laughed lightly and kissed her cheek tenderly but thoughtfully.  Then too, there was always the chance that she would get pregnant.  This was a fearsome thought.  I would have married her but our lives would probably have been ruined.  Especially if I was only the eleventh grade and she the ninth.

     Just as if I married her and took her with me when I left town.  A child or two and we could probably be stuck in a mill job for life.  Besides, I, selfishly, did not want her pregnant, ever.  She was everything to me.  I didn’t want children, I didn’t need them.  I loved her and her alone.  I didn’t want to have to spread that love and I didn’t want her to distribute it to even our children.  I felt another tremblor pass from her palm to my heart.  I had to say something.

     “I didn’t like their game Ange.  I thought it was crude and vulgar.  When I make love to you, Ange…”  What was I saying?  It just came out, an expression of what I had been thinking.  “When I make love to you I want it to be pure and unblemished.  I want a memory we can both cherish forever.”  My God,  I couldn’t stop my mouth.  I was making comitments I didn’t know yet I wanted to keep.

page 51.

     Ange’s mouth opened with incredulous joy at my words.  I was promising her everything she wanted from me.  I wanted to change my words, to say what I had said differently but I didn’t know how.

     Ange’s mind couldn’t contain the good news.  Her ecstasy flooded out in all directions.  Almost beside herself her perspiring little palm clutched my hand with a desperate clasp of complete satisfaction.

     ‘Oh yes, Dewey.  Oh yes.  I feel exactly the same way.  That is exactly the way I feel.  I couldn’t express it any better.  You said exactly what I feel.  When we do, that’s exactly the way I want it, when we do.”

     We walked in silence, each of us lost in our own thoughts and reveries.  Two clasped hands pulsed out messages of love, but I was afraid.

     I got her to her door.  We were forbidden to spend the evening together as we had had the whole day to ourselves.  Ange’s mind was still busily sifting and reexamining what I had said.  She was still at a loss for words.  Right there in the daylight on her stoop she threw her arms around my neck goodbye that promised her whole existence when I should take it.  What was I to do?

VII.

     The turmoil in my mind reached an extraordinary pitch.  All the treasure the gods could bestow on a man had been bestowed on me but at such a time as I was incapable of using it properly.  As in the old fable of the gold fish that so beautiful in the water but was only a dead fish when landed my dilemma was the same, or so it appeared to me.  No matter how I turned the matter over in my mind it came up disaster.

page 52.

     I was inarticulate.  I could not express my dilemma in words.  Thought, if they may be called thoughts, flashed through my mind in pictures and symbols.  I loved Ange.  I respected her.  I didn not want to damage that wonderful trust and sympathy she showed me.  I knew that sooner or later we would have a fight, that her whole hearted unabated affection would be clouded over but I wanted to postpone that day as long as possible.  I cherished my image of her.  I wanted her to be able to cherish her image of me.  Circumstances were crowding down on me forcing that image from my grasp.  I simply didn’t know what to know her family.  I feared that Ange would be trapped in their plebian view of society.  I thought I could handle the pressures from my classmates.  They were, after all, part of life and couldn’t be avoided.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to deal with the sex well.  I was just a dumb kid.  A heavy responsibility would be placed on me, not so much to protect Ange from others, but to protect her from myself.  I didn’t know to the extent of my own shortcomings but I was apprehensive about them.  Besides the day after we did it I knew that her grandmother and family would know.  If I didn’t telegraphy it, Ange, in her pride of being the complete little woman, without even being aware of it, wouldn’t be able to conceal it.  For her it would be the seal of our relationship, for me it would be the beginning of insatiable lust.

page 53.

     No matter how I looked at it I saw my lovely Angeline besmirched.  It began to appear to be a clear choice between tarnishing my Angel or allowing her to remain in pristine beauty.  Sometimes one can love too much.

     Ange had received my words as holy affirmation of our desires.  A sort of peace enveloped her as she waited patiently for the sacred moment to arrive.  There was a beautiful placid air of expectation surrounding her.  If possible, she was even more tender and loving to me than before.  I reciprocted fearing myself.  Why, oh why, had Ange chose me?

     My emotions had reached a bursting point.  I had no idea which way I would go.  Then fate tilted the balance.  I was walking her home from some social function, I have no idea what it was, we were approaching the Star.  We were holding hands, I more thoughtful than usual, she as admiring and trustful as ever.  Then our dream crumbled to dust in my mind.  A little musical note emitted from her bottom as she passed gas.  I turned to stare.  She compressed her lovely little cheeks in embarrassment hoping to stop any further emissions.  As flatulence goes her emission was almost pretty.  It had a well rounded pear shaped tone.  I can hear it yet.  She squeezed my hand and laughed merrily as did I  but her pedestal had crumble beneath her.  What a silly boy I was.  Even can come out of good.  Good and evil merely exist together.  It takes a truly virtuous mind to be able to maintain them in their seprate spheres.  I did not have that kind of virtue.

page 54.

     As we had walked, a huge full moon had risen before us in golden splendor.  It now sat dazzlingly among the branches of the trees.  To someone behind us we would have appeared as shadows on the moon.  As I looked at this dazzling golden disc it began to slowly dissove into shades of blue.  How could the golden moon turn blue?  I wanted to verify the sight with Ange.  I pointed and began to explain but she said unfeelingly:  “Yes, I see.  Isn’t that a beautiful golden moon?”  I wanted to say no it isn’t golden, Ange, didn’t you see it turn blue?  But in that moment a gulf between our minds had opened.  Something had changed in me.  I had somehow come to a decision.

     We kissed goodbye.  I started walking down S. Melmoth.  By the time I had reached the Star tears were streaming down my face.  I was vaguely aware of the decision I had reached.  My only justification was one and it was futile.  Angels don’t fart.

VIII.

     Immaturity might be an explanation but not an adequate one.  Insensitivity offers no explanation at all.  Fear of losing the obtained but unrealizable hope of my life is the only explanation I can offer.  She was mine but I knew that I couldn’t have her.  The fear had been on me from the beginning.  Even as I entered her mind to show her mine I knew that I was secretly purloining her soul.  I took it from her and stored it in my heart.  She had been only too happy to let me have it.  Now with Angeline safely in my heart, my mind, my will was paralyzed.

     With what must have seemed a perverse cruelty I did the most incomprehensible thing I have ever done in my life.  I simply dropped Ange.  She could have had no indication of her fate.  As I kissed her goodbye there was no indication that I would never call on her again.  There had been no argument, there had been no fight.  There had been in indication I was displeased with her.  I wasn’t displeased with her.  I loved her.

page 55.

    She was the mountain of my pride.  She never called me on the phone to see what the matter.  But a young girl’s heart cannot be crushed without some protest.  I got home from high school before she left Junior High.  She lived only a few blocks from South but for some reason she went to Lindsay.  She walked up Bond past Monroe on her way home.  One day on her way home she looked up Monroe anxiously hoping to see me and have me call to her.  I was in the yard.  I saw her.  Numbly and dumbly I let her walk on by.  I saw her recoil within herself when I made no response.  The heavens fell shrieking about both our heads.

     Her family was desperate.  Her aunt sought me out somewhere and confronted me.  With apparent inner franticness, hoping, I think, that I would recant, she said simply:  “Why did you do it?”  I had to answer. I wanted to answer.  I answered with characteristic clumsiness:  “We went too far, too fast.”

     “I thought so!”  She said, shaking her head grimly in a knowing way.

     It suddenly dawned on me that she thought I meant I had bedded Ange.  “No! No!”  I exclaimed.  “I didn’t mean that.  I meant that we had fallen too deeply in love too quickly.”

page 56.

     I meant that I had had no time to adjust to paradise.  I had been caught in something I couldn’t understand.  But she began walking away quickly.  “You disgust me!”  was tossed over her shoulder.  She wouldn’t have, no one could have understood anyway.  Besides I was in the wrong.

     I can only guess, but Ange was dreiven nearly to distraction.  The sweet trusting girl whose love had been betrayed so dastardly humbled herself before her pride which fell into the dust, a sacrifice to her great love.  She had been wronged and that sense of having been wronged prevented her from making a direct appeal to my sense of justice.  After had aunt had reported her conversation with me perhaps Ange dimly realized my perplexity.  Perhaps she was only desperate.

     Instead of walking up Bond on her way home she now took to making a lonely walk without friends up Caterina which brought her directly to my parents’ door.  I tremble with fear of the humilation she must have felt as her aching heart compelled her dragging feet to perform their reluctant duty.  I saw her walk by on more than one occasion.  With eyes that spotted every movement no matter how shadowy she knew that I saw her.  Whatever the misunderstanding, whatever my problem, it would have been a simple matter to open the door and greet her. I didn’t.

     Her pain was great, her love was greater.  She couldn’t sacrifice her pride by imploring me for reasons.  I had begun the silence; it was up to me to break the silence.  I couldn’t.  I wouldn’t.  My fear of losing Angeline was too great.

page 57.

     Ange conceived one last desperate hope.  I guess, but perhaps she left school early and patiently spied my return from school from a distance.  I don’t know whether she knew but it was my habit to get the mail just arter I returned to the house.  When she had seen me enter the house, my parents rule was that my brother and I use the back door, she took up a position before my front porch directly in front of the door.  When I opened the door to get the mail I wouldn’t be able to miss her.  I would have to break the silence.  I would have to accept or reject her.  If she only wanted to assuage her pain she could reject me.

    Oh Ange, I wish your plan had succeeded.  Rather than make a futile trip to the mail box, as was my custom, I went to the bay window from which I could see the mailbox to percieve whether there was any mail in the slot provided for that purpose.  There on the sidewalk head bowed in silent supplication stood Ange.  Her books were clutched to her breast in the manner girls carried them.  I loved her, I wanted her, but my cruel fate had placed what had been in my arms beyond my reach.  I didn’t fully understand myself, I couldn’t begin to explain to Ange.  Had I been able to explain, my reasoning would have been beyond anyone’s understanding, let alone that of the beautiful Ange.

     it was not fear, it was not indecision, it was with calm if numb resovle that I took up a position opposite Ange on my side of that terrible door.  The pure flame of Angeline burned in my heart.  I had taken her from Ange.  The goodness, the purity, the transcendent beauty of her had been placed where she was safe, where no one could take her from me.  Without ever having thought about it I had devised a means of obtaining the beautiful goldfish without removing it from its pond.  Angeline floated up to become my Anima at that time.

     The gods loved her.  In a quick council they resoved to spare her, to unite the flame of her essence with my existence, in deference to my youth they sent flights of angels with caressing and soothing song to move my heart.  They sang:  Go to her!  She is yours!  We make a free gift of all a man can desire in your world.  Take her, press her to your heart and receive the peace of a perfect love.

     The angels were used to prompt obedience.  But I knew things of which they were not aware.  They knew celestial perfection; I knew of the corruption of the furrow.  I held my ground.  I began to erect barricades around my heart to protect the image of my love.  Dismayed but tolerant of my youth the gods sent a further flight of angels to move my heart.  Their song was sweeter than that of the flight that had preceeded them.  The raptures they promised were a temptation beyond mortal man’s will to resist.  I resisted.  I strengtened the barriers of my heart.  Even gods lie.

     The gods believed me insolent.  They meant for the Girl Ange to have her desire.  Great streams of harpies and furies rose up from their subterranean dwellings, they streamed from their dark caves.  Wheeling high in the obliterated skies they descended on me to drive me forth; to break the plance of the door separating Ange from her desire.  Their mere appearance was terrifying.  The pain they inflicted was excruciation.  The wheeled past my body in the black birdlike forms tearing little pieces of my flesh away.  I was stripped of flesh to the bone.  But my heart had been surrounded by solid oad within which burned the purest flame of the sweet virginal love of the Girl Angeline.

page 58.

     In their form of great black birds with more than imposing beaks the harpies and furies tore at my mind while great tidal waves of sound crashed over my brain.  It would have been easier to go to Ange but still I stood firm.  Out of the corner of my eye through the bay window I saw the broken hearted girl, Ange, abandon her vigil trodding her hopes into the dust as she left my door forever.

     In anger and disgust the gods commanded the harpies and furies to fill my brain with their droppings as they returned to their dismal haunts.  The gods now decreed that I was to be given no surcease, no rest.  The defiance of omnipotence cannot be done with impunity.  I cared not; for the pure virginal flame of Angeline’s love burned with a warm glow in my heart.  Through it all I kept her.  I had won out.  She, Angeline, was mine.  Only mine.

     Her love was worth a great price, I paid the price over again with interest.  But, with no regrets.  Je ne regret rien.

     The birds returned every night to haunt my dreams and prevent me from sleeping through the night.  All the nightmares took different forms, but they all had the same meaning and they all left me sitting bolt upright between sweated sheets.  I was too young at the time to know what I had done.  to understand any of this.  I did not understand the nightmares nor did I know why they began that very night.  The most persistent nightmare, in symbolism that should have been so easy to interpret, was of this very house.  My very brain.  I was in the house.  Some force, whether malevolent or not I could never determine, was trying to force entry.  Figures stood about observing my distress.  Cold and without pity.  I now recognize that one of them was Ange, evjoying her revenge.  I was unable to lock the doors.  The locks wouldn’t turn.  I ran back and forth between the front and back doors trying to keep the force without.  I even had to defend those little ventilation holes in the storm windows.  Of course I was always able to keep that force out.

page 59.

     Now I realize that force was Ange’s love.  I had cruelly driven her away in real life, howcould I fail in my nightmares to do the same.

IX

     I don’t think Ange ever ceased loving me.  How could she, I had placed her essence in my heart.  She was mine now, she didn’t belong to herself.  It had been Spring when I had driven her away.  I can only guess what a long lonely summer she must have had.  A summer during which she had possibly conjured up long warm days of bliss.  I had promised her that I would make her mine.  Perhaps she had visions of love as we spent long hours in each other’s arms.  Did she still pray that I would come back?

page 60.

     I went about my affairs as though nothing had happened, as though Ange had never existed.  I probably hadn’t forgotten her, but I didn’t think about her; at least not consciously.  As must be obvious I never actually stopped thinking of her.  She was never off my mind.  But I could bear Ange on my mind with Angeline in my heart.  Of course my heart was unavailable for anyone else’s love, which I did not comprehend.  I did not rush out to find another girl friend although I was now available.  The consequence of my selfish and fearful desire to hide my love from the world in my heart was that no other girl could compare to that virginal flame steadily burning in my heart.  The flame came from the untarnished virtue of the first love of a young girl.  It is the pearl of great price.  It is only there once in any girl’s life and only at that time of her life.  With each passing year, even month or day, she becomes bemirched with the foulness of the world.  Without ever realizing it her innocence is chipped aeay.  She becomes knowledgeable.  Her love, perhaps quite against her will, becomes more worldly.  Angeline’s virginal flame could never become worldly.

      But, what had I dont to Ange?  In attempting to spare her a hurt that seemed inevitable to me at the time I soiled her life worse than if I had proceeded in a blindly self-serving way.  Even had I taken her love and used it only to discard her, as others did to their girls, she would at least have had a pleasant girlhood.  She would have had pleasant memories to solace her heart.  She would know others in the same situation.  Her fate would have been comprehensible to her.

page 61.

     Looking back, I could have prepared her for the fact that I would leave town at graduation.  I could have explained that I wanter to finish school.  In two years the worst excesses of the mental ravages of my childhood would have dissipated.  They did dissipate. With that maturity gainedI could have come back to her if she still wanted me.  In any event she would have been spared the degradation she endured.  Her young girl’s heart would have been kept pure that much longer.  Those alternatives did not present themselves to me at the time.  I do not attempt to exonerate myself, only to understand what I did.  It seems so cruel and heartless.  The reverse was my intent.

     Ange must have brooded during the summer and the fall.  That next winter I went down to Reuchlin Park.  Reuchlin Park was a large natural hollow, slough, that was flooded every winter to create a huge outdoor skating rink.  When there was snow the slopes of the basin were used for sledding.  I don’t know how Ange knew I was there that night.  I hadn’t known I was going, I had told no one.

     Perhaps in her anguish she and her friends and relatives were spying out all my movements.  Maybe her cousins spotted me and telephoned her.  It seems farfetched that she would still be so preoccupied with my memory.  I guess I failed to understand the extent of the injury I caused her.  But on that night, as it happens, I struck up an acquaintance, or rather they struck up one with me, with a couple guys.  They suggested playing in the snow at the South end of the park.  I demurred; there was never anyone on those slopes; I saw no reason to be there.  They invented reasons and I went along.

page 62.

     They adopted, as what seemed to me a rather sinister attitude as we reached the South slopes.  We threw a few desultory snowballs.  I was about to bid them farewell when I looked up and there in her grey coat silhouetted in the white floodlights against the black sky was Ange.  I was taken by surprise.  Why I expected that I would never see her again I don’t know, but I did.  Now, suddenly as a spectre, here she was before me. 

     “Hello, Dewey.”  She intoned as though her voice came from beyond the grave.

     I stuttered out an Hello Ange.  For the first time my cruelty and heartlessness became apparent to me.  I hadn’t stopped loving her.  But how silly would my explanation sound if I were foolish enough to attempt it of the pure flame of Angeline in my heart.  Foolish enough to attempt it?  I wasn’t even aware of it myself.  But, before I could say anything to her, she turned on her heel and walked away.  What pain she must be enduring.

     Just as I had walked out her life without a word, without an explanation, she now thought to pay me back in kind.  But she would not be able to do so.  I had left her but she had not left me.  Had she been wise, had she known on that night when our essences mingled, she would have taken my soul from me, then I could not have left her.  Better yet she should have sent me away.  I still loved her.

page 63.

     X.

     That was the winter her grandmother passed away.  I don’t which was the most disastrous for Ange:  Her love for me or her grandmother’s death.  The pain I caused her was immediate and apparent; the injury done her by her removal to the North edge of town was slow and invisible.  Of course, her aunt, with whom she went to live, loved her and wanted the best for her.  Within their means and understanding I’m sure they provided it.  But there were no books or magazines in her aunt’s house.  All the unapparent but significant apparatus that elevates the intellect and forces one’s aspirations to the astral level were missing.  The electric satan- the television set- ran continuously from dawn to retiring but the evil it spewed forth in the guise of entertainment would no nothing to raise her level of consciousness.

     Even had she been going with me, still my struggle to prevent her aunt’s family from unduly influencing her mind and character would have been misinterpreted.  I would have had to keep with with me except in the dark hours of the day.  She would had had to live with me during her waking hours.  Had my parents allowed it, who know, she might have been a civilizing influence on them.  Perhaps I would have unintentionally given my mother the daughter she had always wanted.

page 64.

     It was far better for Ange that Angeline was safe in my heart where Ange’s true image couldn’t be tarnished.

     I next saw her in the summer between the eleventh and twelfth grades during the Fourth Of July fireworks display at Reuchlin Park.  She was sitting on a blanket high on the slope of the central section tending to the North end of the park.  As I remember it there was a great deal of difference in character between the South end, the central section and the North end of the park.  In the North end the lower ground was a swampy morass.  Through the trees, across the railroad tracks, that were no longer in use, one could see the old cemetery.

     She beckoned to me to sit with her.  Strangely, I thrilled to her voice.  I was now seventeen.  I had a greater understanding of the world.  With approaching maturity I had a better, if vague and undefined, understanding of what I had done to her.  Her injury was obvious.  I was willing to do what I could to relieve her hurt.

     I would have seen her and allowed her to take her spite out on me.  Especially during the late winter and early spring I had witnessed how mean people can be to each other.  I had been down to the bus station while my mother saw her sister off on a visit to Detroit.  There were a bunch of guys at the station on their way to the US Naval Receiving Station in Philadelphia.

     I didn’t really know this guy who started talking to me, although we were aware of each other’s existence.  He was twenty-one.  I was only sixteen and a half.  He was under extreme stress, he had to talk to someone.  I seemed sage to him.  Because he recognized me he began talking to me as though he knew me well.  To me he appeared the epitome of what I would like to have been.  Tall, well dressed in the conventional way, confident and in charge of himself.  Apparently, as he spoke, I learned that he made himself over from something like what I was.  Beneath her surface swagger lingered fear and insecurity.  He had just got his life working for him.  He had what he considered a good job.  He had been recently promoted.  On the basis of that promotion he and his sweetheart, with whom he was deeply in love had been married.

page 65.

     He had enemies, powerful enemies.  He said he knew who they were but he didn’t name them, they remained shadowy.  Had he told me who they were I might have secretly avenged him.  I was an attentive listener.  He went on.  When he had returned from his honeymoon he had found his draft notice waiting for him.  I believed then that he had powerful enemies.  Men were clamoring to get into the service, there was a waiting list, there was no need to draft anyone.  It became apparent to me then that the draft could be used as a political weapon.

     So here he was, his job gone, with a lovely young wife form whom he would be separated right after marriage for two years.  How cruel on his enemies’ part.  How vicious.  His worst fear was that he would lose his wife.  I could sympathize with his fear.  Most of our State recruits were assigned to the East Coast.  He said he intended to hitchhike home every time he could get a seventy-two hour pass.  I was impressed.  The East Coast was so far away in my imagination that it might as well have been on another planet.  The risks of being AWOL several hours or a day were great.  To be AWOL was to be brought before a Captain’s Mast and your Navy reputation was in jeopardy.  No small matter.

page 66.

     I listened to him and watched him with intense interest.  His bus arrived.  He waved goodbye to me as, shaking with trepidation and anguish, he boarded the bus.

     I wondered if people were out to get him.  I seached out this address and walked by it several times.  I saw his young wife who was a very lovely young woman.  She worked downtown.  She took the bus home every night at five-thirty.  I contrived to become acquainted with her and even walked her to her house on occasion to learn how she and her huband’s situation was developing.

     He did manage to hitchhike home on two occasion over the next three months.  Then his squadron was sent on a Mediterranean cruise.  By the time he returned his home had been rifled and taken from him.  I was never able to learn why his enemies hated him so.  Perhaps it was a simple matter that in having raised himself from an inferior social status he had aspired to and won the love a girl considered above him.  Perhaps he had won her over the hopes of someone who considered himself a social better.  I don’t know but the denouement may give some indication.  He enemies had the power to crush his heart, to defile his love, to emasculate his manhood.

     His wife had been a good girl; thus a direct approach would have failed.  Girl friends of a higher social station appeared who discovered her good qualities and befriended her.  She was flattered by their attention and accepted their friendship.  then there were gatherings where her friends had dates and she was a spare wheel.  Then a boy was provided, a very charming boy, handsome and well connected, just as a sort of escort so she wouldn’t feel left out.  Thus she was gradually weaned from the notion of fidelity and compromised.  Then, without her realizing it, she began to be passed around to other men in the circle.  Gradually the quality of the men was reduced until she was seeing men of the station the sailor’s enemies considered his.  The sailor could hear their laughter redounding around the world.

page 67.

     Thus his enemies by using the draft as a weapon to separate him from his wife and involving his wife in a whirl of parties and social affairs deftly robbed him of his happiness.  He was still overseas not yet fully aware that his love had been defiled, that his marriage was a thing of the past, that the cup of life had been lined with a bitter rim.  His wine, no matter how good, would always have to pass the bitter rim of his glass.

     Angeline was safe in my heart.  Who knew what my enemies might have attempted when I left home.  Fut this sailor’s circumstances had increased my compassion for Ange.  She, I and Angeline would not have to worry.  Ange could never be defiled.

     The change in her from when she had lived with her grandmother was obvious.  Her manner had lost some of its refinement.  This was occurring at the very critical stage of passing from late girlhood into young womanhood.  My interest in her was clinical as well as personal.  Even though I had shattered her self-esteem and confidence I hoped to be able to restore her self-respect.

page 68.

     I had come over and sat by her.  She was pleased that I had but her hurt and anger were such that having sat by her she now ignored my presence.  She wanted me to suffer.  She had interpreted her standing before my door as crawling to me.  She now wanted me to crawl to her.  I probably vaguely understood.  I was uncertain what the consequences would be.  We were not to be married.  Should the result have been a rejection of me I would have assented but if the consequence had been a reunion as plighted lovers that was impossible.  The sailor’s example had shown me perils I had not imagined.  I knew know in a sense that transcended the notion of fate that my future was not mine to control.  There were both impersonal  and personal forces capable of wreaking havoc with my life.

     I was anxious to explain myself but if she wouldn’t speak to me I would leave.  “No, wait.  Stay by me.”  She said as I began to rise.  There may have been some more words I could have said, some move I could have made to dissolve her resistance.  If  so, it was beyond me.  She still refused to speak, gazing out over the crowd.  I excused myself again.  She let me leave.

page 69.

XI.

     After graduation I prepared myself psychologically to leave the Valley forever.  I had no intention of returning.  I was taking one last walk with my brother.  A drive-up hamburger joint had sprung up on a point of the intersection of Bay and Court.  As with all this type of hamburger stand it had attracted a band of toughs who held court there.  My brother and I put on our meanest mien and walked up to buy an ice cream cone.  As we did so a girl dashed up and slapped me on the arm, crying:  “Hey you, Dewey.”  Then dashed away, turned and stared at me in a most distracted manner.  Her face was unwashed, smudged with dirt.  Her clothes, an old pair of jeans and what appeared to be be a boys, shirt, unwashed. I stared in astonishment and then I recognized my own Ange.  The change was astonishing.  It was worse than I had feared it would be.  So this was the result of her aunt’s tutelage.  Deep anger welled within me.  Ange had been, was a beautiful girl, by which I do not mean only that she had attractive features.  She had been, she was, pure of heart.  Glimmers of this future had danced across my mind long ago when I was too young to do anything about it.  Which was crueler, fate of people?

     The little woman who had put me in awe of herself was gone.  To be sure her destruction was also my fault but the deteriortion in her expectation had been her family’s doing.  My little Queen of Heaven had been cast to earth.  I wanted to do something, to say something but she wouldn’t let me.  I implored her:  “Ange…”  but she shouted things at me and danced away.  She was a tough among toughs.  The order of the planets in the heavens would have been beyond my capacity to alter.

page 70.

     I tried to tell her that I was leaving town.  I tried to make her see that she must talk to me now or it would be too late.  She wanted me to humiliate myself as I had humiliated her.  I would have if it would have made her feel better, I wanted to, I owed it to her.  But to do it it would have been necessary to penetrate the psychological barrier caused by my apparent rejection of her.  I didn’t know how to  crawl to her as she had crawled to me.  I would have if I had known how.  It would only have been to help her because it couldn’t hurt me.  I had Angeline where no one could take her from me.  Ange wouldn’t have understod; perhaps she would have been enraged if she had.

     I was desperate to make her understand that this was her last chance to save herself.  I was in tears as I implored her:  “Ange…Ange…”

     She misunderstood.  “Cry!  Cry! and you’ll cry alone, just as I did.  It won’t do you any good.  Hard hearted son-of-bitch.  I’m hard hearted too.  Just the way you made me.”

     She didn’t understand.  I understood only too well.

     The sun set in the West, my extended thumb silhouetted against it.

page 71.

    

XII.

     The worst of the abuse, shame and embarrassment was lifted from my consciousness after a couple years on my own away from parents, town and my past.  The rest of the damage of eighteen years was not discarded so easily.  The psychological overburden was deep and complex.  My actions were not my own.  I was directed by deep subconscious fixations inflicted on me by others.  I knew how if not why.  While I tried to live my life I fought every day every minute to free my psyche.  I studied, I read.  Freud, de Sade, history, biography, literature.  I made a study of popular music.  I worked at the common symbols of psychological doctrines delineated in all those modes of expression.  My fixations were stubborn.  They didn’t want to reveal themselves.  Fear of the unknown prevented discovery for long periods of time.  None of these memories when revealed appeared that fearsome.  Decades passed.  My work went on.

     I once read an article about this pirate chief.  He had finally captured the treasure he had bee seeking all his life.  Once in his possession he didn’t know what to do with it.  Cruising the storm ridden coasts of Newfoundland he determined to bury it where it could never be retrieved.  He had his pirate crew dig a deep pit.  Into the pit he laid the treasure at the bottom.  Then he built a devilish contraption of logs with traps and dangers.  It was so contrived that like the Gordian Knot it could not be unraveled by the mind of man.  His treasure at the bottom, his contraption of great thickness over it, he then killed his crew, threw them in on top of the contraption and shoveled a thick layer of dirt on top.  The grass grew and waved in the breeze like a flag over it all.

page 72.

     So my life had been.  But I was more clever than the builders.  I disassembled the enigmatic psychological structure.  As I resolved each psychological dilemma my character did change and it did change for the better.  Instead of acting compulsively I assumed the direction of my own acts.  As I resolved so I accomplished.  A day came when I had cleared this pit of remembrance but to my dismay no great relief came.  A feeling of oppression remained with me.  I sifted and sifted the memories looking for either another one or key I had overlooked in the detritus arranged in piles before me.  I was at the bottom of the pit of my psychology.  The overburden had been removed.  The structure had been disassembled.  I sat on the edge of the pit staring down into the murky darkness.  Where was my treasure?  Where was the relief I had been working for?  I could now deal in a free manner with the people about me.  My vision was assuming truer perspectives but I still had no relief.

     I sat staring into the bare bottom of the pit.  Then the skies cleared a little bit; the warm healing sun illumined the dark earth.  As I watched a vapor formed and rose.  It coalisced, gained density and form.  As it rose before my eyes I saw the smiling fact of the young girl Ange.  She was my treasure that I had ruthlessly, perhaps desperately might be a better word, placed at the bottom of my memories.  The wrongs that had been done to me had been placed over the great wrong I had done to Ange.

page 73.

     My other fears, my other traumas had disappeared when brought to light.  After a short period of discomfort they had dissipated into a manageable memory.  Less than that.  They had vanished as an oppressive force.  They had all been wrongs done to myself such as what had happened to that sailor.  Now Ange rose up before me.  I could not dismiss her.  I had wronged Ange.  My worst memory was my best memory.  At first I tried to laugh it off.  Well, life is tough, we all have to make our own way.

     It wasn’t my fault, life, circumstances, youth- I dreamed up a myriad of excuses for my behavior.  None were valid in my mind.  Ange’s memory haunted me day and night.  I compared her memory with the image of Angeline in my heart; they were identical.  I walked with my eyes very nearly tearing every minute of the day.  A huge lump was constantly in my throat.  I had wronged an angel.  I was a victim of love.

XIII

     Some girls will kiss and run away.  Some girls thing love is just sport and play.  Some girls thing love is just for a day.  But some girls hope that love is there to stay.  Ange had been one of the last.  I had failed her.  Some boys just don’t care.  Some boys take delight in hurting and just run away.  Some boys take it and leave.  Some other boys throw away the most precious gift the gods can bestow on man.  I was one of those last boys.  I ruminated on what I had done to Ange, that sweet innocent slip of a girl.  I loathed the double blow of fate that had taken her grandmother and setn Ange to the degradation of her uncultivated people.

page 74.

     I feared what her development might have been but I resolved to attempt, at least, to explain myself.  I wanted to ease the pain, if I could, that had been so apparent at our last meeting.  I didn’t know whether she had married.  I interpreted our last meeting to mean that she had pined for her lost love and had never married.

     I had fled the Valley thirty years before.  I had kept my vow and never returned.  Now I felt I must break the vow.  I had never spoken to my family for all those years.  I didn’t know if my brother, Louis, still lived there but I was given a number by the operator.

     Louis still lived in the Valley.  He was very surprised to find me on the other end of the line.  We worked around our mutual hostility and exchanged information about what we had been doing.  Then Louis asked for what reason I had called, certainly not for small talk as he put it.

     “Well, Louis,”  I said, “I do have an ulterior motive.”  I emitted a short nervous laugh.  “Do you remember that girl I used to date in the tenth grade?”

     “You mean that girl we saw at the drive-up just before you left?”

     “Yes, Ange.”

     “You mean you don’t know?”

page 75.

     “No, of course not, how could I know, I haven’t even seen anyone from the Valley for thirty years.  Why, who did she marry?”

     “Why she didn’t marry anyone, Dewey.  She came by the house a couple times after you left.  She thought maybe there would be a letter for her, maybe you didn’t know her address so you sent it our house.”

     “Hmm.  That’s strange. Well, then, what did she do, go to New York or someplace?”

     “No, Dewey, she stayed right here.”

     “OK. Can you get her address and phone number.  I’d like to get in touch with her.”

     “She doesn’t have an address or phone number.”

     “Oh for Christ’s sake Louis, you always we…Stop being mysterious.  Tell me where she is.”

     Louis paused a while before anwering.

     “Dewey, she committed suicide around Thanksgiving of the year you left.”

     “Committed suicide?  Why would she do that?”

    “Yes, Dewey, she committed suicide.  She left a note.  She didn’t mention your name but we knew you were responsible.”

     “I was responsible?”  I cried, denial and anguish rending my soul.  “I was responsible?  What did the note say.”

     “It was just one word, Dewey.”

     “Oh come on, Louie,”  I demanded in anger and frustration,  “What was the word?”

     “Forsaken.”

     “Forsaken?”

     “Forsaken!”

End of the Angeline Constellation.  I will next put up the story of Disco Donn.  It’s a good story, you might like it.