Catch up here – Part one – Introducing The Players
Lover Boy left to go to Mary Ann’s house. I didn’t go because I had no connection to Mary Ann. I thought it would be highly inappropriate for me to be there. He went out the door and I collapsed. I was dizzy the way it happens when all the blood drains from your face and you forget to breathe.
The next days were full of shock and pain and chaos. I learned Mary Ann’s first husband had also committed suicide and this was more than I could compute. Although there was a degree of separation for me, I had experienced loss via suicide in my own inner circle just a few years prior. I knew firsthand, what a person goes through post a loved one’s suicide. Boy did I ever.
Lover Boy? Well, I was kind of stuck. It was no time to rock a boat but as days passed I really didn’t like the way he was acting in her crisis. The emphasis there is on acting. He kept saying he cared but I didn’t believe him. It seemed veneer to me; this was all just something to discuss among the social circle.
I was remote from Mary Ann but she must have felt Lover Boy was a friend considering the timing of her call. She called at the exact top of the hour. She must have been waiting with the phone in her hand, Is it late enough to call? She was reaching out, he was constantly looking for an angle. Never a day off from social maneuvering. Never. She needed a real friend. He was a calculator and this made me very sad.
I felt angry and I worked privately to cope with the intense feelings, memories and nightmares linked to my own experience with suicide. The whole thing would play like a horror show in slow motion, at night. The shed, the dark of night, the gruesome discovery, the shock. And two husbands! She was twice shocked. Twice shocked. How could her husband have done this to her?
Her movie would morph into one more personal to me and I would wake up to swallow hard and stare at the wall. After that, I’d lie back down only to have the scenario repeat
I hung in for about a week or ten days. This is about how long it took Cruella and Lover Boy to wrap up their grieving for Mary Ann and take up where they left off. Same old crap. Same old posturing. Watching this was an agony because I knew the reality of the loss had probably not even hit Mary Ann and they were already moving on. These were her two best friends from what I’d heard. I thought of Mary Ann and her and her children. I thought that sometimes life really is a bitch.
Then one day I was driving over to meet this whole crew. I didn’t think, Mary Ann would be there but this would be a large gathering of the employees from their workplace. Something planned before the tragedy? I wasn’t sure. And why was I going? Driving there I wasn’t sure of that either.
Sense of duty? Loyalty? Habit? Because I was Lover Boy’s girlfriend? Why am I his girlfriend, again? I didn’t know. The whole thing was surreal. I wanted out. I wanted to get away. I didn’t belong but I’d not found a door… yet. But I would. In fact, here it comes now…
Bo Diddley came on the radio and I started to sing with him. I sung loud and then I sung even louder and I began to feel happy. It dawned on me it had been a long time since I felt happy and it was strange, like a drug. The song ended and the announcer said he would be playing in town that night. He was? Hmm…
According to the radio, he was playing at the Racket Club. I knew the bartender there. What the heck is Bo Diddley doing at a Tennis club? And since when do they have concerts there?
I thought about going and it made me smile. “Tickets are available at the door…” the radio said as I pulled into the parking lot of the place I was meeting everyone.
I walked inside to find Lover Boy. I needed a break, you know? I decided I needed a fuckin’ break. I spied Lover Boy and made a beeline over to him.
“Bo Diddley is playing down the street tonight, do you want to go?” I asked.
“Bo Diddley! He’s a wonderful artist,” Lover Boy exclaimed. “I would love to see him some time, Elsa.”
I didn’t believe him.
“I wish we could go, but Cruella is on her way…”
I was quiet for a count of five. I counted too. I actually counted in my head. It’s Richard Brautigan’s fault. A librarian gave me his book when I was a kid.
“I’m going to see Bo Diddley,” I said.
“Elsa, we can’t. Cruella is bringing blah blah blah. I’m sorry, but we have to meet her. But I would love to see Bo Diddley. What a great artist…”
“Not we. Me. I’m going.”
I turned to leave, and walked away as he called my name. “I’ll call you tomorrow”, he said but I didn’t look back. I felt good. Actually I felt great.
I got in my car and drove straight to the show, buzzed on adrenaline. My timing was perfect. The show was about to start but once in the parking lot, I waffled. I had never been to a concert alone. Can I do this? What will people think? Capricorn cares about that, you know. And I was poor! Should I spend this money? I couldn’t think of anything to do so I got out of my car, paid my seven dollars and I was in.
The show was through the bar, and outdoors. I didn’t see the bartender I knew but when I walked outside, I saw Bo Diddley, sitting on the grass with his guitar talking to folks. So much for pretension! It looked like an impromptu picnic. What a vision this was after what I had endured over the last weeks.
I looked around and saw people of all colors and all ages. There were half a dozen dishy looking men. At least. I sighed. It felt so nice to be back in my own land.
Bo Diddley got up off the grass, stepped onto the stage and started to play. I started to cry. Not a lot, I just felt a little shaky, that’s all. Slow tears formed and slid down my cheeks so I grabbed a napkin from the porta-bar and wiped my face.
Elbow on the bar I breathed slowly to ride my waves and I watched him play. This is what it is like when you survive something and I knew that. Damn people dying. Damn them, why do they die so much? Twenty three years old and I knew so many dead people I wondered if I could I even count them.
I figured someone could see I was crying but I decided not to hide, in spite of my Capricorn. You know. Run to the restroom, or something. I told myself not to panic, I was pretty sure I could ride it out.
I slowed my breathing even more so I could get a grip, and get myself back in my body. I stared at Bo’s guitar, red like an exclamation point. I waited to feel myself ground. It worked. I started to feel myself relax so I looked around to get a fix on where I was. It wasn’t a time hack, I learned that term from an engineer. It was a space hack. Earth to Elsa. I scanned the crowd.
Bo Diddley’s appeal is universal. I saw grandparents dancing with grandchildren. I saw children of all colors dancing together. It was striking, especially in the era. I felt privileged to witness it. I had lost people who were close and critical to me, but I was seeing real magic now. I saw hope and beauty all around me. I was deeply moved and this is when it happened. I transcended.
I went home that evening and the whole world had shifted. The next day Lover Boy called me from work. It was supposed to be business as usual, but no. I had already gathered his things from my home and left them at his. I was done, but this story is not.