"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Monday, January 17, 2005
Beth the Second - Black Magic
treach-ery Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English trecherie, from Old French, from trechier, trichier to deceive, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin triccare -- more at TRICK
1 : violation of allegiance or of faith and confidence : TREASON
2 : something that has no place between two people who are in love
I had never been slapped so hard, and everyone in the store stopped what they were doing and stared at me.
But, I'm jumping ahead of myself. Let me bring you up to speed.
The events of that night started, at least for me, only a scant fifteen minutes earlier. It was summer, 1979, and I was the featured act at Sloppy Joes at Myrtle Beach, and dating a magician named Beth. Things were good. I walked into the club that Saturday night a few minutes early, and was very pleasantly surprised to find Frank, a good friend from my childhood, waiting for me.
We caught up for a few minutes, and I said "Frank, I'm dating a girl that works across the street at the Ripley's Magic Shop. Let's go over there, I'll introduce you."
When we walked in, the place was busy. It was almost exactly Beth's time to get off work, and I asked the clerk if she was there. "Oh, she's in the storage room, she'll be right out."
Frank and I stood there and waited. A moment later, the door to the storage room opened, and Beth came out.
In an evening gown.
Which surprised me. It didn't upset me, we had agreed already that our divergent schedules made it only sensible for us to have separate social lives at times. But, the rule was to let the other person know.
"What's this?" I said in confusion. Beth froze, turned and glared at me.
And then she came up and slapped me harder than I had ever been slapped before. Without a word, she turned and left the building, leaving me with my mouth hanging open and my cheek stinging.
"Not a good time, huh?" said Frank.
A couple of hours later, Beth's friend Chris came in. "Have you seen Beth?" he said. I told him what had happened. He seemed worried, very worried. "I'm going to go look for her," he said.
Later, he came back in. "Did she come in?"
"No," I said. "Have any luck?"
"I found her car. But I couldn't find her."
"Where was the car?"
"At the pier."
I had a bad feeling. You know, sometimes you can just tell when something is in progress that's life changing, especially when it's one of those really bad situations that seem to drag us in like helpless twigs in a river.
"What do you think?" I asked.
Chris didn't answer. "I'm going to go look some more." I wanted to go look too, but I couldn't until after the bar closed. Fortunately, on Saturday nights it closed at midnight.
An hour later, Chris came back. "I found her. She's pretty upset. She definitely wanted to hurt herself, but I've talked her out of it."
"Whats going on here? Something is way out of kilter."
"I don't know. But I'm still worried. She left in her car and I'm not sure where she went."
"Was she drinking?"
"I think so."
Finally, at midnight, I dashed to my car, so worried I could hardly think straight.
My first stop was the pier. No car.
Then I started checking out the clubs in the area. Nothing. Even the private clubs that only the locals knew about. Still nothing. By now it was 2am.
I was as panicked as I could be. I drove to her house, which was about 20 miles inland. Her car was not there, and the house was dark. I drove back to town, and made the rounds again. Still no trace of her.
By now the town was almost deserted, or as deserted as Myrtle Beach ever got. Since all the clubs had closed at midnight, everyone was home or at their hotels or wherever.
I decided to try her house again. When I got there it was just before 5am, almost time for the first rays of sunrise. Her car wasn't there.
The worst possible thoughts were running through my head. I headed back to town.
And then, on the far lane of the highway, I saw her. I flashed my lights and blew my horn, but she didn't see me. I whipped my car through the median, pulled in behind her and flashed my headlights for all I was worth until she pulled over.
I ran to her car, opened the passenger door.
"Beth!!! I've been so worried about you! Are you OK?"
"I can't do this anymore," she said, in a vacant voice, staring at her steering wheel.
"Do what?" I said, climbing in.
"You're too possessive," she said.
Huh? "Too possessive?" I repeated, baffled.
Then, and I will spare you the details of those awful moments, she outlined to me in specific detail what she had done that night.
First, with a car salesman she had bought her car from.
Second, with a group of complete strangers, football players, she had met at the pier.
And there were more. I'm thinking five or six encounters all together. And I heard every move, every bump and grind, every snap, buckle and zip that had been done to and with everyone involved. And all done, apparently, to hurt me and for no other reason at all, and she made sure I knew that with no doubt in my mind.
I do not think I have ever felt quite so betrayed. Here I had been frantically looking for her, afraid she had harmed herself...
I sat quietly for a minute. I took a couple of deep breaths. I think she might have cried a bit, but maybe not.
"Well," I said. "Goodbye."
A cold spot had formed in my heart. I opened the door to her car, got in my own, and left, leaving her by the side of the road in the gathering dawn, a new day starting ahead of me like a cosmic spit in the face.
This story is not over yet. I am ashamed of the rest, but I'll tell it in its own good time.
If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.