What If: Vol 5-1
June 26 to August 25, 1952
Summer spent in an eclipse of unbearable loneliness;
July passes into August…
And the young man passed his eighteenth birthday in black despair.
Refusing 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!”
What If: Vol 5-2
Crying, his chest heaving with sobs.
…Forcing himself to stop.
Attempting to force himself to stop,
at the moment wanting,
needing physical rather than emotional pain,
he bit his lower lip until he tasted blood.
But still he cried.
Mixing with blood,
The bourbon stinging his lip,
causing a bit more pain than he’d wanted.
Drawing on the now raggedy end of the cigarette
he got a mouthful of tobacco
and not knowing if the cigarette was wet from bourbon,
or the snot that ran from his nose,
he flipped the cigarette out the open window.
Taking his handkerchief from his pocket,
he wiped his eyes,
blew his nose,
dabbed at the double cut on his lip…
then took another swig from the bottle,
and thoroughly soused,
his eyes closed and his chin dropped onto his chest.
Not awake and not asleep,
even in this,
usually peaceful twilight place
he could not escape the ache of his boundless dark depression…
But now things began to happen:
his head began to spin,
the car began to spin,
the world began to spin,
and, oh, yeah,
his stomach began to spin.
Wrenching the door open,
staggering to the rear of the car,
bracing himself against the right rear fender of his car
and the front fender of another car…
a white, 1951 Cadillac.
The young man had done dumb and,
even stupid things in his now eighteen years,
but he had never been spiteful,
and he had never purposely hurt another person
or damaged someone else’s property,
Susan’s parent's 1951 Cadillac.
The young man turned his head to the left and….
To be continued
©March 19, 2012 / Mark M. Lichterman