What If: Vol 4-5
June 25, 1952
He waited four days.
lived through four days
without speaking to Susan,
taking a deep breath
he called at 5:30 p.m.,
a time when he was sure she’d be home
and her father wouldn’t;
meaning he would have a 50/50
chance of either Susan or her mother
answering the phone.
Silent a moment,
Susan’s voice destroying all composure,
his throat thickening,
barely able to speak,
“it’s me, Sue.”
Feeling her heart pound,
fighting back tears,
desperately wanting to talk to him,
to tell him,
I love you.
I miss you…
Susan said nothing.
finding his voice,
I had to talk to you one more time.”
He waited three heartbeats for her to speak,
and when she didn’t,
“I love you!
I promise no one in your life will
love you as much as I love you!
And I know you love me, too.
I know this is because of collage
and I promise
I’ll do anything
to get into college, Sue.
Only please don’t let them do this to us!
“Yes, Mrs. Friedman.”
“Susan does not want to talk to you,
and she does not want you to call her again!”
I know what I did was wrong!
But I got trapped that first night
and had to say what I said!
But I swear I did everything to make it right.
You have no idea what I did
or how hard I worked to make it right!
And I promise I will make it right!
Please, Mrs. Friedman,
I’m still the same guy,
and I know you and Mister Friedman like me…
Apparently you are not ‘the same guy’
we thought you were,
nor ‘the same guy’
my daughter thought you were!”
I love Susan,
and know she loves me, too!
Susan does not love you!
Susan thinks what you did was reprehensible
and she does not want you to call again!
Do you understand?
And if you do,
we’ll call the police!
Do you understand?”
he broke the connection.
What If: Vol 5-1
June 26 to August 25, 1952
Summer was spent in an eclipse of unbearable loneliness.
July passed into August…
And the young man passed his eighteenth birthday in black despair.
Refusing to go to dinner with his family,
barely pretending to be
thankful for the gifts given him.
the night of his birthday,
sneaking a half full
—not in a very optimistic mood—
sneaking a half empty
bottle of Canadian Club from
his father’s liquor cabinet,
driving to Talman Avenue,
at 11:30 that night
he parked in a tight,
but perfectly situated space
directly across from the building
then shut the motor.
The window shade partially pulled
to allow a breeze,
Susan’s back-lit bedroom window was opaquely visible.
Leaning against the passenger side door
with legs stretched across the seat,
opening the bottle of bourbon
he took a full-mouthed drink and,
concentrated on keeping it down.
Lighting a cigarette
he took another near-gagging swig.
Putting the bottle between his thighs,
staring at Susan’s window
his heart lurched when the bedroom
light went on and the shadow of a
person he knew was Susan passed
back and forth behind
the partially drawn shade…
Then the light went off
and his heart pitched once again
as the shade was lifted higher to allow
the passage of more air.
Imagining Susan pulling the summer quilt back,
lying on the bed and closing her eyes…
the bittersweet memory of that one time
—that one time only—
when, in the darkness of her bedroom,
Susan had allowed her nude breasts to be kissed
and a nipple to be suckled and,
stretching her hand under the top of his pants,
she’d actually touched his bare penis.
And knowing where that was leading!
And knowing where his next touch would be and,
Oh, God, she had thought,
I want him to!
Desperately wanting him to touch her “there,”
pulling her bra over her breasts,
Susan had left the room
—he remembered that once Susan and he had lain on that bed together,
Though the words were for Susan,
the words were a prayer, too.
“Susan,” he whispered,
“do you remember me?”
Taking another drink,
“do you think of me, Susan?
Do you know what you’ve let them do to us, Susan?”
Holding back tears,
closing his eyes,
drawing on the cigarette,
taking another drink,
fixing his mind,
said firmly under his breath,
“Think of me, Susan!”
willing his thoughts to her mind:
Cry for me, too, Susan!
His tears came.
Miss me like I miss you, Susan, because…
“Oh, God,” he said aloud, “how I miss you!”
To be continued
©March 18, 2012 / Mark M. Lichterman