The Last Rung

Page One

I’ve been doing this—keeping a journal—for the last 837 days. When it began, I’d no real plan for its keeping, nor an understanding of its value. My discovery of those things having taken so long, says more about me than anything I can write. Perhaps “better late than never” will find home on my tombstone.

What appears here are tidbits detailing the very beginning and very end of that journey.

10:36 p.m.
“Odd Sensation”

There’s an odd sensation that accompanies doing a thing for the first time. I’m not sure how best it’s described. I can think of no single word. It’s more like a combination of "ingredients". Like mixing a drink or making a cake.


  1. 1 cup trepidation
  2. 1 pinch fear
  3. 1 ½ cups excitement
  4. up to 2 tablespoons anxiety
  1. Blend trepidation and fear for several minutes. Set aside.
  2. Whip excitement with fantasy until wildly erotic
  3. Blend all ingredients in a stomach-like pit and stir. To heighten
    sensation, stir several hours.

Even a simple thing, like writing these words, can invoke the sensation. Perhaps it’s that journals are the province of women and girls. Men and boys display their "stuff" on playgrounds and athletic fields. There we can hide, safe from ourselves, so busy doing what we do; we need not examine whatever the activity. In contrast, writing something down seems to require we examine, instead of just displaying, our content.

Page Two

I cannot recall when first I noticed her, but for the past three weeks, she seems at every corner. I saw her a lot yesterday; five, maybe six times. Then today. I don't know why the difference. Why I finally spoke.

* * ** * *

"Hello. I don't believe we've met. I'm with the International Group, over in Building One. You work for Thom Johnson. Right?"

She sat alone. Eating lunch. It looked to be ham and Swiss on rye. A small bag of corn chips lay atop the squat, round table that kept me three feet from her. She tipped a plastic cup away from lipstick-model lips to reveal a slightly puzzled smile.

"Yes! Thom, um, Thom Johnson."

* * ** * *

Perhaps it was her dress; the reason I risked conversation. She wore a bright white, soft cotton, blouse. Its high collar rode gently around her neck, with lightly starched ruffles framing a rounded chin. The full skirt fell in graceful waves. A heavy, blood-red material trimmed with a wide eyelet, cotton duster hid all but black pumps. She might have stepped from a Laura Ashley catalog.

She is tall, only slightly shorter than am I. Her weight, proportions, and general appearance are those about which schoolboys dream and for which schoolgirls would mortgage their souls. Her complexion is fair but not pale. Her almost shoulder-length hair is brown; thick, deep, and rich looking like Dutch Chocolate icing on a birthday cake. She has big, beautiful eyes and a captivating smile. Her beauty is hard to describe. I would not call her ravishing. She is not a young Elizabeth Taylor. Yet, she is stunning. Hers is the kind of beauty that catches one off guard, almost by surprise.

I did not see her after lunch. I toiled watching the clock until long after I was certain she'd be gone, then courageously slipped from my office and down the hall. I eased past an almost silent cleaning crew sweeping shards of November sunlight into dustpans, to be lifted edge-side of fifty-gallon, grey plastic wastebaskets, dumped and there captured when large, black petroleum-based bags were sealed with wide yellow ties and trucked away. It seemed they'd mastered the task of turning daylight into dusk. Only when I passed a desk—adorned with a polished acrylic block displaying the company logo and engraved letters spelling S-a-d-i-e W-i-l-s-o-n did I realize we'd failed to exchange names.

So this workday has come to its end. Only that makes it like all others. For the first time in my life, the playground is much too public to display today's content. So I sit here risking some examination. There is that and more. I cannot free my mind of her image. Also, I am consumed by that odd sensation that accompanies doing a thing for the first time.

Page Three

3:15 p.m.

It has been two weeks since my clumsy introduction. The bright yellow sheen of my legal pad has faded to a more subdued shade. No doubt, I expected the same for my thoughts of her. That has not happened. For two weeks I’ve been busy—reading, exercising, pampering Kristin, yard-work all designed to occupy my mind—with things, not her. Here I admit, that effort was useless. Unable to think of a suitable alternative, I’m off the playground to write again.

This morning we passed in the hall. I was returning from the library, she stood in the doorway of Thom's office. She nodded as I entered the corridor, then just as quickly resumed her conversation. For some reason, I felt uneasy about noticing her legs. I was completely past her before I realized she’d spoken.

* * ** * *

"How old are you?" Her words chased me down the hall.

I turned in the direction of her voice. "Twenty-nine,” I said backing down the hall away from her—the question. “Is that too young or too old?" My question seemed to startle her. I abandoned surprised eyes without a response and hurried to my office. The telephone’s ring interrupted my lingering embarrassment.

"Maxwell here. May I help you?"

"Uh, excuse me, but did you say what I think you said?"

"What do you think I said?"

Without accent or embellishment, she repeated by question.

"You've not only got the question, but that's a damned good tonal replication of my voice. You ever been told you should do nightclubs? I mean like, be a professional impersonator. I hear they make good money."

Her response, silence.

Page Four

"Awesome. Anyone offer to pay you? You could charge for doing celebrity voices on answering machines. You know, the outgo—"

"Do you have a preference?" she said flatly.

"I've never been much good at that sort of thing. Guessing, I mean. My old man used to say ‘If you’ve ever a choice between knowin' and guessin', it ain’t a real choice. Never guess.’ I suspect he was right. What's your take?"

"My question was not 'Can you guess?' I asked if you have a preference. That, and since I've never been one, I'm not qualified to comment on fatherly advice, besides I need to go."

My mouth opened but whatever I was going to say stuck in my throat.

"Perhaps we can continue this silliness some other time. Some of us work for a living."

"Hey wait" — the phone clicked — "please don't—" The tone of a disconnected line ignored my plea.

* * ** * *

I am lost as to why I find her so intriguing. Okay, so there's her obvious beauty, but that’s so superficial, so not me. Since I know nothing of her, perhaps I can be free of this 'silliness' as she called it by knowing her better. Tomorrow I will invite her to lunch. That’s the key. I'll find why she's so captivating, then undo whatever it is.


7:03 p.m.
"Event Horizon"

Lunch bore little resemblance to what I'd imagined. It was more like my Junior-Senior Prom than a meal with a co-worker. I again drank from the

Page Five

Recipe for First-Times. Too, embarrassed that she might have expected more from a self-assured, intelligent, urbane International Lawyer. I am relieved she helped with the planning. I pitched the idea of lunch, she picked a small Italian place about a half-mile from the office. Could that mean we're good togeth—? See! What the fuck? How is that even in my head?

I hate that the hour at lunch seeme always to be missing thirty minutes.

* * ** * *

"Two for lunch?" The maitre`d seemed anxious.

"Yes, in smoking if you have a table. How about there, in the corner?" She pointed to a small table across the dining room, adjacent to the kitchen door. She didn’t seem at all anxious.

With a sharp smile, he led us to the table. The only quiet place in the building was the small cocoon settling over that corner. After a time of polite smiling, she lit and took a long draw from her Virginia Slim while my surprisingly nervous fingers ironed wrinkles from the rose-colored tablecloth.

"Does your husband know a lot of people?" I asked the table in a whisper. My shy eyes found hers as my dry tongue attached to the roof of my mouth.

"What?" She partially restrained a laugh.

"No really! Does he have lots of friends? I mean . . . I’m . . . well, new here and” — my voice was less whisper but filled with embarrassment’s uncertainty — “I know several people at the office."

"To my knowledge, he’s never had an audience with the Pope." Her glance fell to the tabletop as she twirled the Virginia Slim against the ashtray’s base sharpening its ashes. Each twist seemed exaggerated, each one somehow intensifying the silence. "If I may say so, that's an odd

Page Six

question. Do you have lunch only with women whose husbands have lots of friends?" Her laugh was gone but the lightness of wonder remained in her question.

The noise of the restaurant suddenly returned.

"It’s a silly question,” I said. “I was just thinking . . . Someone” — my head followed my look around the dining room — “might know him. There are at least seventy-five people crammed in here. What if someone knows him? Or you?" I could hear the panic in my voice but was unable to control it. I had no idea why, nor explanation, for either the question or my behavior thereafter.

"No more than usual.” She took a second long draw on the thin cigarette, then let the smoke carry her words, “Friends, that is. He's probably got the normal number. I can’t remember the last time I was asked a question that was more interesting than its answer. I don’t know what you intend, but there is nothing we can do here but eat lunch. People seeing us eat lunch shouldn’t be in any way alarmed. Should they?" She offered a wry, slightly suggestive, yet lighthearted smile laid the Virginia Slim in the saddle of the ashtray then handed me a menu.

* * ** * *

I’ve no idea what happened to me at lunch. I certainly hadn’t planned that inane friend's interrogation. Like I said, a real ‘Junior-Senior Prom’ performance. I remember hoping she wouldn’t think me an idiot. I now think that's unlikely. Though, I fear we slipped somewhere that could make my idiocy turn out to be petty.

It was 12:57 when we returned to the building’s parking lot. I apologized for returning late and asked if Thom demanded strict adherence to office rules. She smiled and said something like 'If I do, let's make it worth it.’ Then like mutant-human magnets, we collapsed into one another and kissed. Not a Junior-Senior-prom-goodnight-cheek-kiss. A wonderfully sexy, completely inappropriate, insane kiss.

I'm perplexed by how I could set out to undo something relatively harmless and instead accomplished what feels like stepping off an event horizon.

* * * Six hundred eight-one days later. * * *

Page Seven

3:19 p.m.
"Dead Words"

If the dead could talk, their words would sound like those Sadie Wilson uttered today. When we spoke this morning I knew things were bad. With Sadie, there never seems to be just a hangover-bad. By now I should know to expect the worst.

A cold front, rare for this time of year, pushed through the area leaving the morning sky brilliantly blue, with air that was cool and easy to breathe. It was the weather that brought more than the usual spattering of people to our park, all in some way giddy in its splendor. Searching for a quiet place to sit caused tension to join us on a bench in the shade.

* * ** * *

"About your suggestion. A vacation. That’s what you called it. I got that” — she turned to see my nod — “right. Right? I . . . it's a good thing, a good idea. I’m thinking we break, for a while. Not seeing one another, makes sense.” Her glance at a passing couple caused her to pause. “Um . . . Charles is . . . is filing for divorce and . . . Well, making things more complicated than necessary just doesn’t make sense. I'm sorry, but this is best, um . . . the best way forward."

I searched but found no more life in her eyes than I heard in her voice. She was there in front of me, but only in a strange, one-dimensional sort of way. She was absent emotion, feeling, regret, there seemed nothing remaining in her but cold, lifeless words.

Like a character in a play of the dead, my response was very much like her revelation. "I get it. I knew . . . I mean this was inevitable. I’ve been preparing for a while . . . for it—the end—for a while. Was he drunk when he said . . . threatened the divorce?"


"He won’t, you know? He's done this before. When he sobers up and thinks about losing you—or especially losing to me—he'll change his mind."

"Yeah. I suppose that's possible, but it doesn't change what I have to do. I have to do this because I'm fucking exhausted. I have to get off this ride. This roller coaster. I'm really tired of my life."

"Your life, or me in it?" I hooked her little finger with mine.

Page Eight

"You know it’s not that, it’s” — death vacated her voice, her eyes, and in its place appeared the frequent tenant despair — “like I have no direction, no purpose, no . . . no anything to my life." Then fear arrived. "I'm afraid that if I can't be freed from this . . . um, uncertainty, I will never be at peace again. Without that, I'll literally go crazy. I think Charles is having his own breakdown. I'm scared. Really scared.

“If our relationship doesn’t have God’s blessings, no matter what happens to me, my marriage, or with you and Kristin . . . I am afraid, no, convinced we're doomed. We’ll never have a good . . . a relationship that lasts. I’ve failed three times. I know at the very root of my soul, that if our relationship goes unblessed” — anxiety completed the teapoy — “we’ll fail too. I couldn’t bear that . . . that we would end up like . . . like all my relationships end. I’d rather never lay eyes on you again than for us to call it quits because we hate each other. I just couldn’t—“

"Hey” — I took a deep breath — “slow down a sec."

“—bear that.”

She moved to stand, but when my finger held tight to hers, she returned to the bench.

"This is so much crap. God has had nothing to do with your relationships. That was you and Ronnie, you and Allen, and you and Charles. As for us—"

"I know, and that's my point. A relationship without—"

"No, that's not the point. I'm going to suggest that you did involve God in each of those relationships."

"How can you possibly say that? You can't make things up beca—"

"Just hear me out. You and Ronnie split because you didn't love him. That's perfectly healthful reasoning. You and Allen divorced because he was a sadistic asshole. Even better reasoning. Your problem with Charles comes more from the bottom of a bottle than the absence of God, or whatever else some preacher might have you believe is missing from your life. I wish I could convince you you're worthy of a healthy relationship. One that doesn't demand your needs and wellbeing be subjugated to a man. And before—"

"Yeah but, I can't ever make a right decision. Why” — resignation replaced exasperation — “can't I ever do what's right?"

"We've talked about this, and I’m not sure a return to that will net a different result. You know how I feel about that. You just have to believe it's possible." I released her pinkie to hug her.

She stood, paused, then walk off to her fight.

"Remember" — I called after her — "this is the first decision you've ever made, and it’s a correct one."

After a few steps, she stop and turned to face me. "Why doesn't it feel like it?"

Page Nine

"Don't be silly” — borrowing one of her lips-only smiles, I smiled — “of course it is. Now get on with it."

I remained on the bench as she walked away from us. I was taken by how small and delicate were her steps. She might have been making her way through a minefield, not quite sure where next to place an untrained foot. Too, I was flooded by the images of that night not so long ago in my bedroom. Her lying there, holding desperately to my wrist, that vacant and distant look in her eyes. The one filled with the ladder of my imagination; greased, impossible to hold on to. Perhaps she was finally letting go. Her hands just too tired, she was, at last, without an alternative.

She looked back only once. I do not know if she could see my smile. I hope not. It was sad, empty. The kind that should find some other way of expression. Smiles should be saved for happy times, joyous moments.

As I sat there, I remembered how that afternoon in the ballpark felt. Alone, atop empty bleachers, waiting, searching for her car which never came. I was less alone this time. The streets were full of lunchtime strollers, the traffic of a busy downtown. Gone too was the emptiness in my soul, the emptiness in the pit of my stomach. I knew this day would come and I had hoped I would be able to cry. Now that it’s here, I do not know why, but I am content not to.

* * ** * *

It was not lost on me that while not a sadist, a drunk, or unloved, neither am I without faults. Perhaps awareness of that is why this afternoon was different. Self-realization might be seeping into my pea-brain. Somehow, I don't think so. I never learned how to develop the ability to keep her situation from impacting my behavior when circumstances betrayed expectations. Yet something has changed. On each occasion, each time I was left with the lonely companion of disappointment, I think I changed a bit. Is it possible, that part of what makes us capable of love and being in love, can be changed, made into something different? Like a lung or colon deteriorating from cancer. Each still functions while at the same time being much different from its original incarnation. Perhaps a Kafka-like metamorphosis of the heart is possible. Not the heart that pumps blood, the heart that pumps love. I think that explains today’s experience.

I know there is nothing more I can do for Sadie Wilson. She must change what only she can change. It’s not that she has failed to evolve. She has. Yet perhaps it was more superficial than I thought. Could it have been just a mask, which at times, but only at times, hid conditioning, history, religion? Perhaps the ladder I thought imaginary was more than illusion. Perhaps we all come to the last rung; some to hold on, some to let go. It might be that I have grown up, matured some since that hot, endless May afternoon alone on park bleachers.

When my grandmother died, the feeling was very much like those bleacher feelings. I felt cheated, betrayed, lost, even alone. When mom died, it was like I almost understood the meaning of life, and more importantly, death. I was not left beside her coffin making bargains that would somehow pull

Page Ten

her back from death, like I did with grandma. It was as if she’d slipped through my fingers willingly, purposefully. She had given to me, to her time here, all she had to give. Her accomplishments acknowledged, her rewards received, she went on to some other task. I felt for her a silent, almost welcome relief. I do not miss my mother less, either in intensity or frequency. I just do not begrudge her passage.

If this afternoon is a reminder of that lesson, I welcome it. I will not miss Sadie less, I will just not begrudge her passing from my life.

11:15 p.m.

Kristin has taken a second job. She seems never to stop working. This one's at Book Stop, the evening shift. Anyway, this evening I was there for her ride home. While awaiting her shift change, I browsed the many offerings in the discount bin. A few seconds after picking up a 2004 edition of the Farmers' Almanac I felt a tap on my arm. I turned and about eight inches from my nose was Roger's. Yep, that Roger. The one from the office. The I-used-to-work-with-that-guy Roger.

* * ** * *

"Hey man, what the hell’s going on? Long time no see. What'a you up to these days? You still practicing?" His greeting seemed genuine, his eyes smiling.

"Nice to see you too. I didn't realize you could read."

Roger let out a rousing bellow and slapped me hard on the back. "It’s really nice to see you. I’d forgotten that delightful sense of humor. Who you keep laughing these days?"

Roger's attempt at sincerity was almost flattering.

"Mostly, headhunters. I'm still looking for a permanent gig."

"No shit! God, how long it's been? Fuck man, you must be getting discouraged. Hey, if it was me, I'd get outta this shit hole. Man, there's plenty of work on the west coast. I know some people if you want their names." His tone had a softness I’d no memory of.

"Thanks, but I'm keeping the wolves at bay. Been doing some consulting, some title work, and the sort. You know, an occasional contract. Anything that comes along.

“So tell me some good news. What's happening at the salt mines? Anything exciting going on? Can corporate law even be exciting?" I glanced to

Page Eleven

find Kristin counting her cash drawer. Thankfully, the reunion would be short.

"Just work mostly. Which is pretty much the same old crap. I guess you heard." His face twisted in the same way a roommate freshman year at CU—he slept beneath a ping pong table where he played all night and swore he'd be an Olympian or die trying—when he was about to tell me something he knew but I didn't.

I looked at him questioningly.

"Woodward? Don't tell me no one told you.”

“No fucking way. What’d he—“

“They busted 'im for using company frequent flyer miles so his cow-of-a-wife could fly with 'im on business trips. There one day, then BAMB! His ass was gone. No severance, no grace period, no nothing. Just 'don't let the door hit you in the ass'."

I said nothing but a simile must have conveyed my delight.

"How 'bout that shit? What goes around, comes around. Nobody probably told you, but everyone I talked to thought you got a raw deal. I know that don't pay the bills, but it ought to make you feel better. But listen, that's not” — there was a sudden glow in Roger's eyes — “the real news. You'll never guess who I'm seeing. And I don't mean just for lunch. Go ahead, try."

I shrugged. I haven't any—"

Ahh, c'mom man. Just guess. Who'd you think's getting all of" — he moved an open palm from about eye level to just below his crotch — "this?"

"—idea. It's been months since—”

“Shit, don't spoil the fun. Your’s truly" — his head nodded like a bobblehead doll glued to the dash of a ’57 Chevy jumping a green light — "has a regular squeeze.”

"I’m not sure I want to know. Um . . . I don’t . . .”

The smile on his face widened, his arms were thrashing. He looked more twelve than thirty-seven.

"I’m sorry, I haven't a clue. Go ahead, tell me, before your aneurysm bursts."

"You know her. I think . . . Nope. I'm sure you” — his head started nodding again — “took her to lunch. At least once. You remember Thom Johnson's sec—"

Page Twelve

"No fuckin' way! This—"

Way man, way. I swea—"

I jerked a cellophane-wrapped picture calendar from atop the 'Clearance' table — "—this is a two thousand" — and waved it at Roger's face — "four calendar."

Roger stumbled back like he feared being assaulted. "You gettin' a bit worked-up" — he nodded at my hand — "over some shit, man. Maybe I shouldn't say who I'm—"

"It's just these people" — I threw the diversion back on the table — "are selling this useless piece of shi-i-i . . ." I returned his gaze trying to hide my humiliation.

"Okay, yeah, I could just fucking tell you" — his twelve-year-old arms flailed again —"but where's the fun in that? C'mon man, surely you remember? Jeeze, you're killing me here."

He needn't . . . I couldn't bear to hear him say her name. Horror built, then rumbled through my gut with a force exceeded only by a Pacific tsunami. I could not make myself look at his conquest dance; his expression, his body language, his joy. I looked again for Kristin. She was assisting a customer and would be no help.

"I am sleeping with Sa—"

"Yeah, I’m um" — I turned away from him and toward the clearance table — “um, sorry. I wasn't trying to be . . . be impolite. It's just shit like this" — my gaze, my finger, my voice fell in the direction of the tabletop — "pisses me off."

I don't remember you being so, so, so egalitarian. You thinkin' about a future in Civil Rights work?"

"Isn't it risky?"

"Civil Rights law? I gue—"

"Telling people. Talking about an affair in the local Book Stop. Never know who might be listening behind the stacks." I tried to keep dispair out of my admonition but doubt I kept it from my eyes.

"Huh? Oh, yeah. I knew you'd remember. Hell yes, I'm telling people. We're just talking about the hottest woman in the building. Now, it's me that don't want to be impolite, but why the fuck wouldn't I shout it from the rooftop? Not that this isn't damned close." The grotesque sound returned to his

Page Thirteen


"She’s married. Or she was, I think. Some guy that works downtown. Accounting or something like that, as I remember."

"Shit. Ho-ly shit! You don’t know.” With the delight of a teenage girl spreading gossip about her rival’s boyfriend, he continued. “God, I'd have thought she sent out announcements."

"Heard what?" Finished with her shift, Kristin walked into the conversation.

“Roger this is my—“

"Charles, I think that's it. Stupid name for a stupid fuck. Anyway, he beat the fuck outta her. Broke an arm; did some permanent damage to one of her eyes. Anyway, the next-door neighbor heard the commotion and called the police. They came and fuckin' hauled his ass off to jail.”

“She pressed charges?”

“Yeah, buddy.”

I looked at Roger, then away, trying to secret any real interest.

"Is he talking about—?" Kristin gently rested her hand on the small of my back.

"Yeah. So did he" — I answered without looking at her — “spend time in jail?"

"Time? Yeah, I guess you could say that. The mother-fucker’s in the pen as we speak."

“It’s about time,” Kristin said. “That was a pattern for—“

That's unusual isn't it?" I said.

”—them, wasn’t it?

"Might be,” Roger said to me, then nodded to Kristin answering us both. ”But not so much when you beat the fuck outta the cop who answers the call. He got five years. Aggravated assault on a police officer. He hit ‘im with a six-pack of Budweiser. The son-of-a-bitch is in Huntsville.

Page Fourteen

“Anyway, it seemed to change her . . . her entire life. After she filed for divorce it was like she became a completely different person. She still goes to church a little too much for my taste, but other than that, it's amazing. She takes shit from no one. She's confident. She even got a promotion. We were laughing about that the other day at lunch."

"About what?" Kristin said as we shared a glance, then looked back at Roger.

"About how much she’s changed. I’m trying to get her to write a book about how divorce transformed her. She thinks it’s a good idea but said the book would be more about friends. She claims it was friends, not divorce, was mostly responsible for her change."

Roger glanced at Kristin who was by now busying herself straightening disheveled books on the shelf three feet to our right, then looked at me with eyes in search of confession. He got none and didn't search long.

"Best of all, the really good stuff, is the away-from-the-office stuff. Praise the Lord” — Roger raised his face skyward as his expression turned boorish — “can she do the down and dirty!"

Kristin spun abruptly to face us, allowing a book to fall to the shelf with a loud plop, and started walking away.

"C'mon" — she said over her shoulder — "let's get the hell out of here. I got better things to do than listen to a blow by blow of this guy's sex life."

"Yeah, I guess we should be going. It was . . . um, nice" — Roger slapped my shoulder — "to see you, man. I think." I smiled, turned, and with a couple skips was even with Kirstin and took her hand.

"You too. Hey, don't forget. Let me know if you want those names," trailed after us.

Fortunately, our ride home was silent. I didn't want to defend Roger and couldn't talk about Thom Johnson's secretary.

* * ** * *

Understanding notwithstanding, the boy in me feels like I’ve been set on the curb. The trash gets collected Monday. Things needing to be disposed of should be wrapped neatly and made ready for their inglorious end. There are soiled diapers, exhausted cigar lighters, torn cardboard packaging, dirty paper plates, plastic utensils, crumpled napkins, empty bottles, disposable this, disposable that. We use things up, then throw them out. It’s what our culture does better than any other. We measure value by metrics of immediacy, usability, convenience. Usefulness is transient. For these reasons and more, people become disposable, too.

Page Fifteen

This was not my first disposed-of experience. I was a new kid in a new town. I wanted to play high school football. My tryout was four plays. I was not suitable fodder for the gridiron. The overweight has-been-athlete masquerading as a football Coach had his 'You've Failed - Move On' speech memorized. ‘Don’t feel bad, most guys don't make it.’ This giant man with only slightly more observation skills than coaching skills continued, ‘We live in a society that demands most of us fail. This is okay ‘cause we also have unlimited opportunities to succeed.’ He concluded by suggesting I try 'band or debate’. At least, he reasoned, that way I'd be ‘close to the competition’.

I’ve given no thought to his take on Western Culture, but I now think him right. Almost the entire process of maturation, matriculation is one of elimination, disposal. Only the good go on to do "things". Children must try out for the class play, the sports team, the band, the pep squad. Inclusion in those activities is made special because most who try fail.

There is debate among the intellectually idle about the trauma professional athletes suffer in retirement. Something about the stress born of transitioning from idolatry to obscurity. I am a sports fan but feel no sorrow for these heroes of the playground. The real tragedy goes merrily on, unnoticed. The list seems endless. There’s our treatment of elderly, mentally ill, domestic, sporting, and commercial animals, the unwanted child. What about the fifth-grade kid who never knew the elation of idolatry because, at ten, he was too small to play linebacker? Each, either used to some extent or not allowed to even display their value, simply to be disposed of, most without a second thought. What about the thirty-one-year-old lover set out on the curb? Coach was right, and like most of his fellows, not bright enough to see the tragedy of his insight.

There is to be sure, less tragedy in my self-pity than the real tragedy in this culture. It is just that now the curb is hard, cold, and lonely.

For reasons unclear to me, I keep hearing my grandmother recite her favorite Bible verse: Matthew 5:5; Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. She wanted us to believe that by being meek only good would come our way. I loved her, but she was wrong. The words meek and inherit don't belong in the same book, much less the same sentence. I am unbearably meek and Roger shall inherit what I . . .

Page Sixteen

11:15 p.m.
"Things I Have Missed"

Today I rediscovered the comfort of being alone. I don't remember when last I enjoyed that comfort. Too, I remembered solitude is conducive to clear thinking. Clear thinking caused me to remember things I've been missing. I have missed peacefulness: The peacefulness of looking into Kristin's eyes and seeing only her, not the image of another; the peacefulness that is a part of guiltless sleep. I have missed simplicity: The simplicity of Kristin's uncomplicated love; the simplicity of honesty and truthfulness. I have missed purity: The purity of a thing unpolluted by deceit and lies; the purity of Kristin's devotion and dedication.

I have missed all these things and have a newer, stronger appreciation of their value. I am sure they exist in other places; places I have been wont to see. Yet, I am better by their re-discovery here. I am sure of that.

I think!

It has been five months now, to be exact, five months, eighteen days, eleven hours, and fifty-six minutes since that moment in the crowded park. On a day much like today, its cool air fresh, easy to breathe. There are times, quiet times like these when I’m alone with my truth and realize that truth is I miss Sadie Wilson. I miss the passion that took me to a place I had never been. In a strange—surely demented way—I miss the obsession. I’m not sure I will ever be free of its impact, its aftereffect.

I've been told by my therapist admitting all of this is a step to become freed from it. I'm weary of steps, perhaps a leap is in order.

* * * Ninty-six days later. * * *

Page Seventeen

7:10 a.m.
"Montrose Memo — Your Neighborhood News Source"

The Police Blotter


A man fell to his death last evening from a highrise condominium at the intersection of Montrose Blvd. and Barkdull St. near downtown Houston. There has been no official cause of death, but passersby told authorities it "Looked like he just lept from that balcony, the one on the corner, there on about the tenth floor."

The authorities found only limited identification on the body. Because a positive identification has not yet been made, the police at the scene would only tell the Memo's reporter the deceased was holding an expired Texas State Bar card which might mean he was a lawyer. We can report that a woman claiming to be a long-time friend of the deceased, found the body and called a woman she described as his wife and then called the police. A positive identity is expected soon.


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