Jun 23, 2014 Writing 101, Day Sixteen: Serial Killer III Today, imagine you work in a place where you manage lost or forgotten items. What might you find in the pile? For those participating in our serial challenge, reflect on the theme of “lost and found,” too.
“C’mon, you want to, I want to, why not?”
“I don’t want to, not like this. It should be better than a car, you know? Somewhere comfortable and nice. Even outside, but not…”
“You’re right. You’re, I don’t know, you’re…” His tongue wandered around the outside of my ear, then in. “I adore you,” he whispered. “I ADORE you!”
“But I love you.”
“Adore is more than love. It means I love you and admire you.”
Home again and soon the phone rang. My brother answered then held it arm’s length away and yelled, “Martha Ann, for you! It’s pig-eyes! David Snob!” My brother did not like my boyfriend.
“Why do you do that? What if he heard you? You make me so mad!” I took the phone. “David?”
“Guess what! Friday! Friday my parents will be gone. They’re going to a ‘progressive party.’ They’ll be gone a long time. Come over. You can see my speakers.”
“I can’t go to your house. You know my mom’s rule. I don’t go to boys’ houses.”
“She doesn’t have to know. Tell her you’re working that night.”
My heart began to pound. I could not imagine lying to the smoking dragon sitting on the end of the sofa. That dragon was fierce in catching me in lies, even lies I hadn’t told, wouldn’t tell and hadn’t thought of. Her method was to wake me up from sound sleep, sit me on the couch, turn the light on and demand what she called “answers.” Because she had already made up the answers, my returning to bed any time soon depended on my ability to read the mind of the dragon.
“Malerie, listen. Are you working tomorrow night?”
“I always work Fridays. Why?”
“I’m going to David’s house tomorrow night and we’re going to…”
“You ARE? Good for you! Doug and I…”
“Here’s the thing. I’m telling my mom I’m working. If she calls Ay’n’Dub to check on me, tell her I’m in the bathroom or I’m car-hopping or something, OK? Tell everyone, OK?
“I’ll see you don’t get busted. Have a great time. You’re going to LOVE it!”
Malerie was a competitive and equivocal friend at best, and I winched at how she had to make sure I knew she’d already done it. I didn’t feel the shove of peer pressure; the opposite. If I went ahead with the plan, she would now think I was imitating her. I shuddered.
I felt strangely sickened by the whole plan as I started the car — 1964 Ford Galaxie — my MOM’S car — and headed not toward North Circle Drive and the A&W drive-in, but to the (then) new development, Village 7, and David’s parent’s house.
I punched the buttons on the car radio, hoping for a sign, but all I got was “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry. Nothing pithy. Nothing poetic. Nothing meaningful. In fact, it was prophecy. I sensed it, and I should have turned around. But it’s a failing in me that once I’m on the way to do something dangerous, stupid, and irrevocable, I seldom give it up.
His dad was an Air Force Colonel and his mom a typical Colonel’s wife. It didn’t matter to them that my dad out-ranked him; as a civil servant (with a top secret clearance and working for the Air Force, mind you) my dad was inferior, even at the pay-grade of a Brigadier General. David’s mom, Mrs. Snotty, let me in and allowed me to follow her around as she “dressed” for the party. You’d think it was the White House not just a random progressive party between a bunch of people who happened to move onto the same Colorado cul-de-sac. I saw her collection of topaz (from KOREA) and her antique Chinese medicine chest and a random collection of expensive and to me meaningless possessions netted during her husband’s various tours “abroad.” Her word. Her topaz (smokey topaz) matched her silk dress and her hair. I thought of a book I’d read long ago called The Golden Fury in which the heroine was famous for her “topaz” eyes. I was disappointed to see these eyes were probably nothing more spectacular than a dingy kind of pale brown, vaguely resembling root beer. “Understatement, Martha. Some women prefer diamonds, but…”
By the time David’s parents left, I was completely intimidated. I imagine this was his mother’s strategy; to make sure that I knew that her single child, her pride and joy, this young man described by my brother as “pig-eyed,” was her prize jewel.
“Bye mom! Have fun!”
“We won’t be too late, sweetheart. It’s just a neighborhood party!” She was wearing a smokey topaz colored mink stole over her smokey topaz colored silk dress which hovered just below her knees and about 18 inches above her smokey topaz colored 3 inch heels. She had not traded them in for the 70s fashion, lower heels, square toes, the whole Carnaby Street thing. How could she? She was, after all, a Colonel’s wife.
I could not imagine David and I were at all safe and, what’s more, in my mind’s eye, I could see the smoking dragon, sitting on the brocade French Provincial styled sofa, the end closest to the front door, lighting up one Old Gold after another, the smoke rising up the chimney of the table lamp. The dragon would be looking at the television in a desultory way, her attention truly fixed not on the program or on my dad, but on the front door to her right — storm door closed, front door open.
“Come on,” called David, from an upstairs room. I went up. The house — from the entryway — had appeared to be something new and spectacular, but when I really got into it, it was just another late 1960s split level. Just as there was nothing special about the house, there was nothing special about my feelings. They were not that pleasant enthusiasm one hopes to feel on entering the “love nest” in which one is to “lose” one’s virginity.
David was posing! He lay on leopard print sheets. He wore blue bikini underwear. He was stretched out on one side, looking up at me, one arm outstretched — the lower arm — inviting me to lie down beside him. He was a good looking kid, a swimmer and weight lifter, but even so my brother’s remarks about David having “pig-eyes” lingered in my mind, due, no doubt, to their accuracy. I followed through on the stupid, life-changing, irrevocable decision I had made to lie to my mom and lose my virginity.
“How was it, baby? Did you like it?”
There were a lot of things I had liked better.
“Aren’t you glad we did it?”
“Yeah. I, uh, I…”
“What, my love?”
“I, oh David…I don’t know.”
“I know it’s a big moment for you.”
“For you, too!”
“It’s not my first time.”
I was not shocked or surprised or anything. When I had first entered the vaulted entryway with its — you’re right — smokey-topaz colored chandelier — I felt I’d walked into a strange world far away from any world I knew. I would never return, either. I was completely sure of that.
When it was over, I just wanted out of there. I was terrified the topaz lady would come home. I was terrified of my mom. My shift at the drive-in ended at 11. It was 10:30. I couldn’t get home too early, but I didn’t want to hang around. I didn’t smell like French fries. In so many ways, I was fucked.
I drove around for a while until I was sure I’d pull into the driveway at the expected time. Surprising the dragon was a sure way to spend the night on the other end of the sofa under a bright light. I opened the garage door with our new garage door opener and parked. I came in the kitchen instead of the front.
“Why did you come in that way?” asked the dragon.
“I put the car away.”
“You usually come in the front. Where have you been?”
“Bah,” said the dragon. “You weren’t at work. Work called.”
“Yeah. Malerie — that’s your friend, right? She called in sick. They needed someone to sub for her. I told your boss that I thought you were there. They said you weren’t. I haven’t known whether to wait for you or call the cops.”
I sat down. I knew then and there that the dragon would have a field day making up lies for me to tell her. Now that I really had lied, there would be no end to it. I was, finally, the awful person my mom had always believed me to be, or so I felt. “I’m sorry mom.”
“You’d better be sorry to your own self,” she said, inhaling. “I know what you’ve been doing.”
I just sat there and waited.
“Well?” she said.
“I went to David’s.”
“Were his parents there?”
“Yes.” I shuddered remembering that woman and all those topazes.
“Did they invite you?”
A trap. If they HAD, I would have told her. I would not have sneaked out. I looked down.
“No. They didn’t. I doubt they were there,” she inhaled forcefully, then stumped the cigarette out in the well-filled ashtray.
“I don’t want you going to boys’ houses. You know that, but you defy me every step of the way.” In fairness, I’d only gone to a boy’s house twice before. Once to pick him up for a Sadie Hawkins dance (the dragon drove) and the second time because his mom (same boy) called to invite me over because she’d made German pretzels (I walked, as I had only a learner’s permit at the time. I left at 5 and returned home at 7). The boy’s mom spoke to the dragon on the phone.
“I’m sorry. Other girls do it. I don’t know why I can’t.”
“Because I’m your mom and I say so. You’re NOT other girls.”
“You think that makes it better? You go on this way, you’ll go too far.”
“You know. Go to bed. I really don’t want to see any more of you tonight.” She stumped out a cigarette and lit another. Fine with me. It meant we were done. I went to my room, undressed and lay down on my bed. In an ironic pocket of my being, I relished the thought that at least I was finally guilty.