It’s 1975, her name is Susan the most popular girl in her high school. This is Tennessee but she has the type of California blonde that made you understand everything the Manson Family was all about. She wears low rise bell bottoms that show off her sharp hip bones. She wears flower crowns and white dresses at festivals. She smokes weed, believes in free love and says things like “groovy” and “right on”. There’s a shy boy who likes her in their small town named Adam but she’s planning on escaping. Moving to a big city somewhere and becoming a lawyer. Maybe Boston…. yeah Boston
Looking back 2016 was the best and worst year of my romantic life. In January I just got out of a serious one year relationship with the Redhead who went on to get breast implants to boost her self-esteem and decided she should upgrade her boyfriend status while she was at it. When something like this happens, your friend give you sound advice. That you should maybe take a break from dating, take a step back and get to know yourself again. But to me getting dumped is like getting fired from a job. With a job you worry about when’s the next check coming with women it’s when am I going to get laid again. You were so addicted to the constant human attention physically and emotionally and now that’s gone and all you want is some semblance of it back again. Recovery is just a state of mind that everyone experiences in their own way.
But I’m initiated in the dark arts so I know the drill. Back to the streets, reactivate OKC, join this Tinder thing the kids are talking about. OKC is the happy medium of the two. I look through all the faces and one catches my eye. Her hair seems blond with a few brown streaks. The picture looks manipulated to lighten her skin in such a way that her lip stick look orange and her eyebrows look black. She’s something out of a Bright Eye’s song, 27, 5’11, thin and a writer. She’s online so I send her a message asking her out for a drink. She responds by telling me she doesn’t drink. My interest is peaked. She sends me a link to blog post she wrote about being in recovery (NA) and her fear of dating and sex and what happens when those worlds meet. We decide to grab sushi for the first date.
Susan graduates and moves to Boston and gets a job interning/working in the District attorney’s office while going to school. She’s young and beautiful and plenty of male coworkers want to date her. Jason is a young attorney and quickly climbing the ropes at the office. He managed to date or sleep with most of the single women in the office so Susan was warned about his advances. She slightly flirts and keeps it cordial but other than that dodges him. Finally, after a few months Jason asks her on a date. She thanks him but turns him down. Jason isn’t deterred at all and few weeks later he asks again this time through a funny card. Again, he’s rejected. Out of frustration he corners her in the stock room and asks her what gives why she won’t give him a chance? She tells him she’s just not interested right now, she just wants to concentrate on her school work and focus on her job. She pushes him away and hurries out. This is the 70’s there’s no such thing as HR or maybe there is but nobody reports sexual harassment.
I take her to my classic sushi spot at this point it’s been ten years and all my dates go through there. Grandma Wu knows what’s good and treats me like the prodigal son that I am. Our first date is an awkward dance. I order a sprite and halfway through I realize this is the first time I’ve been on a date or talked to a woman socially that I can remember with absolutely no alcohol. We go through the motions of a conversation but I’m outside of my body watching the whole thing. Finally, we land on politics and she’s as liberal as they come. Her voice rises embarrassingly with excitement as we talk about the subject. Our Second date is dinner on a Friday at a rooftop bar in Chinatown close to my house. It goes well we talk about her class and teaching and life in general. She is thin. An ex ballerina with a flat chest but at 27 just now starting to carry weight on her hips and ass. Date number three is on Monday Memorial Day. She meets me at the Renwick Gallery and we walk around looking at exhibits. She did a semester abroad in Italy studying art of course. She speaks Italian fluently as well. You get the sense she’s the type of girl who’s done everything you can think of already in another life. We leave and roam the streets of DC like some fake tourists. We try to get into different galleries but the lines are too long. There’s a parade we try to navigate around on Constitution. We hold hands and she tells me how it all started. In a small town in coal country she started drinking at age 12. This quickly moved to cocaine by 15 pills and finally heroin. She overdosed twice. Her town sounded like something out of the show Justified mixed with this other show, Banshee. There were different characters, local Mexican Drug cartel, she tried selling for a while but someone wouldn’t pay her so she paid some high school kid to beat him up. Her second overdose was when she was 20 and in college. That was her rock bottom. Shortly after that she wrote Croatoan on the whiteboard on the white board on her door, packed some clothes and jumped in a taxi straight to rehab. Clever. We were hot and sweaty from walking we stopped in DC Chop House for a quick meal and to cool down. This was date three.
Jason barely remembers that night. He was drinking at his place and before he knew it, he was at Susan’s front door drunk. She reluctantly answered. He was drunk he still demanded answers. She told him how highly inappropriate this was. Jason didn’t remember leaving his house with the butcher knife in his pocket. But when he reached in he found himself gripping it tighter than he’d ever held anything in his life. He’d had enough of her games. He put his shoulder to the door and barged in with such force Susan fell backwards. She let out a scream so loud she knew she’d never ever make that sound again. He was on top of her, his left hand around her throat. The knife was out of his pocket in his right. There was nothing but adrenalin between them. The knife quickly disappeared into her left side, right below the ribcage. The rage took over, it was all downhill from here. She kept fighting but it was pointless. He pulled the knife out and stabbed at her repeatedly. Each strike easier than the last. So much blood on both of them, so thick it felt like warm milk and honey. She stopped screaming once her right lung was punctured. She accepted her fate. Neighbors heard the screaming, the struggle, someone had called the cops.
For our fourth date, I invited her over for dinner at my place. She showed up wearing a black cocktail dress and I knew we’d be sleeping with each other. On home cook dinner dates, the meal is to be prepared in front of your date. Women love to see a man cooking in the kitchen. On the menu was rack of lamb with sweet potato and asparagus. I finally let myself have a white wine but for her I got her the Mexican Coca Cola with the cane sugar so she knows it’s real. After eating we sit on the brown tufted leather couch. I point out that she’s never really spoken about her family in depth. I asked her if she was close with her mom. “No, not at all” she replies. I ask her why not? She tells me her mother was hard on her growing up. How she was always in some weird fucked up competition with her over her looks. Apparently in high school her mom was some kind of knockout that all the guys wanted. Her mother never lets her forget that she used to be a size 2. But her mom wasn’t that way anymore. “What happened? What do you mean” I asked. She tells me that in college or shortly after her mom was getting her law degree and clerking up in Boston. One of her coworkers became obsessed with her. One night he almost killed her, he stabbed her twenty something times and left her for dead. Even though her mom survived she was never the same emotionally after that. Her dad eventually wrote to her mom while she was in the hospital they had known each other since high school. It’s amazing how parents fuck up their kids.
There’s a certain sadness in the air while she tells me the story. When she stops for some weird reason it seems this is the perfect time to kiss her. I put one hand on her cheek and go in. The kiss turns into an eruption of longing. I’m on top of her on the couch when I decide to move us to the bedroom. I get up grab her hand and lead us there. Her dress hits the floor.
You have been in my thoughts and in prayers the last couple of months. I asked your mother to give this letter to you. I heard about the horrific incident that happened to you. I was relieved to hear that you are recovering well and once you are in better condition you’ll be able to start physical rehabilitation. I must confess you were never far from my thoughts or my heart. I’m writing to ask when you come home if I could pay you a visit and keep you company from time to time. I always enjoyed our conversation and would love to see you again. Take some time, rest up and let me know if that’s something you’d be ok with.