Coed found dead in Woods. Sitting on the subway, bored, I surreptitiously glanced at the man sitting next to me’s Daily News when I saw the headline.
I couldn’t help it. I, princess of silence, girl with the greatest street face in history, gasped.
My face, chameleon-like, everywhere but the streets and the subway must have changed expression to one of shock, maybe sorrow too but that would have been my normal subway face.
The man was middle aged and pudgy with a warm winter coat and hat. He looked at me with a mixture of concern and want:
“Would you like my paper?” He wasn’t being obnoxious at all. If I had been capable of being comforted he would have done a decent job.
“Thank you. Yes. I, uh, I knew her. We went to school together. She was missing for about a week. It’s…”
I was blabbering as we reached the 28th Street and Broadway stop.
“I think you should get off the subway. Get something warm to drink. Is there somebody I can call for you?”
“Thanks. No. I have a job interview that I have to go to. We weren’t really friends. I’m friends with her roommate.”
I had introduced her roommate to her boyfriend, a boy I had known since we were twelve. He had been a high school football star; now he was a wannabe hippie. I loved him as you love a little brother, a pet that won’t stop following you around. When were twelve, however….
The man jolted me back into the present: “You’re in no condition to go to an interview. Would you like to get a drink?”
Though eighteen was the legal drinking age then and I was 20, I looked, on a good day, almost sixteen.
“No,” I said, “I have a boyfriend. I’ll call him.”
I wasn’t really lying. I had an on and off boyfriend, Noah, who was camped out at his parents house. This round I didn’t want to be with him.
Not because I didn’t love him. Maybe I did and maybe I didn’t. I had no idea. But I had dropped out of school, and wanted to begin a new more sophisticated life.
Though I had drank maybe ten times in my life—I mean a drink, not drinking to excess, I had visions of a glamorous job and drinks at The Plaza. Though I knew I was much more The Village type.
The man gave me two dimes and told me to reschedule the interview and call my boyfriend. Being me I didn’t call to reschedule. I thought if I rescheduled they would think I was flighty.
I knew something was off; my doctor would brush me off and laugh when I talked about the appointments I broke; the doctors I was scared to see. He wanted to talk about my parents. Didn’t he know just getting the words out was like Chinese torture for me? I missed an appointment and never went back.
I went into a candy store on the southwest corner of 28th Street and Broadway. It had a long counter with stools for sitting and eating grilled cheese or something like that, pretzels in a jar at the front of the counter, a magazine rack in the front f the store and a phone booth. It felt comforting. I had been in a million candy stores just like this one. After waiting what seemed like hours but was probably ten minutes for the phone, I called the number I knew best:
“Mommy, that girl who is missing….They found her dead. Can I come home?”
“No sweetie, not until later. I’m having the women over.” My mother belong to or ran what seemed like a hundred clubs. People thought she was like Donna Reed. I loved my mother much but at this moment I thought of her as the devil.
“But it’s freezing. And her body was near the stables for days. I have nothing to do.”
It was probably the first time in my life I admitted to having nothing to do. I didn’t want to go to school. Part of the reason I had left was the way too easy access to drugs. I was sick of stoned people. I was sick of my life. The one that had seemed so perfect just eight months ago. I had friends in the city but I didn’t want to see them.
“Go to the movies, sweetie. See something light.”
I went to see The Music Lovers by Ken Russell, my favorite director, not realizing that Tchaikovsky (Richard Chamberlain) was one sick dude who made his wife crazy, (Glenda Jackson), and that this movie would haunt me forever.