Sense Memories

       “What fresh hell is this”Dorothy Parker

I only saw the demon come out of her one time. It scared me like nothing had before or since. It was simultaneously the most nerve-wracking and the most wonderful, magical day of my life. If you have a son you know what I mean.

The nurses coaxed me into the delivery room just at the moment of her worst contractions when I found myself in the pivotal scene from “The Exorcist”. If you’d have asked me before that moment about her I’d have said when she goes to the bathroom she leaves behind Tiffany cuff links. The voice that came out of her in that moment was summoned from somewhere south of Hades “You did this to me “she shrieked.

It was 1964; I was sixteen and she was seventeen when she appeared before me like an apparition; a vision, the most beautiful human being I had ever seen. I was hiding behind the Bar in her parents’ basement recreation room, a runaway, brought there by a mutual friend who found me sleeping on the wooden bench in the Downers Grove, lll train station next to his on that cold and fateful morning. She smiled and laughed and brought me food and drink. For the next five years we never parted.

We were Bonnie and Clyde. Once; we broke a friend, AWOL from the military, out of the local hospitals psych ward. Not ten minutes after we dropped him off to safety the cops and the military MP’s armed to the teeth pulled us over and with shotguns trained on the trunk; popped it open. Surprise suckers!

We tooled around that county in her daddy’s red Ford Falcon completely free, alive and wired with the adrenaline of youth. It wasn’t too long before we became each others first lover and since it was a more innocent time I still didn’t even know what a condom was. Not long before that some older guy asked me what a prophylactic was and I said somebody who wasn’t catholic. I thought he meant protestant. So, after the trauma in that hospital she gave us a son. We got married down at the courthouse and then again in the church with our new baby boy welding us together forever; which turned out to be five years.  

When we met I was fresh out of spending a year as a guest of the State of ILL at their less than accommodating juvenile reformatory so I wasn’t used to soft treatment and no one outside my family had ever treated me as good as she had so I fell in love with her before I realized she treated everybody that way. Everybody I knew loved her and she deserved it. She was the kindest person ever assembled. What a lucky boy was I. Those next few salad years where some of my best; when all that mattered was that her warm body was waiting for mine at the end of every otherwise meaningless day.

What made her so good? Perhaps it was a result of her beginnings. Five days after Christmas in 1947, still wrapped in her swaddling blanket, her mother asked a woman waiting for a train in Chicago’s Union Station to hold her baby while she went to the bathroom. Her Mother never returned. The Carmelite Sister that answered the policeman’s knock on the door at St. Vincent’s orphanage, with the precious bundle in his arms, was Sister Melanie and that’s how she got her name.

It’s hard for me to image carrying around dis-ease like that for a lifetime; not knowing who you are or where you came from. This alone made her always tougher than me. Most women are but she was so on another deeper level, on some spiritual plane; gladiator tough.

And then she was gone. We both faced south to watch the setting sun. She took a left and headed for the Big Apple and fame and fortune while I took a right and didn’t stop till I felt the waters of the Pacific Ocean on my toes. We each clung to our respective lands end from then on. We’ve been separated by the entire North American continental land mass ever since; even now she’s in Florida. Had we ever gotten any closer to each other we’d have probably got back together. There was always passion between us both good and bad; but never indifference.

The word shot across the wire today. She can’t walk anymore or sign her name. No one knows why or how, only what; a tumor is attached to her brain and it is growing. The doctors say four to six weeks. I want to face that tumor and tell it “you may kill her; but when she dies you die; you fucking spawn from hell”. I seem to want to shatter something valuable; to break something that can never be repaired. I want to tear out my teeth. I don’t know what I want to do. How can something so vile kill something so beautiful?

She’s in a five-star hospice where the rich go to die with our son by her side as he has been 24/7 for the past eight months. I don’t have anything else to say about this except to note that the others close to me that have passed over to the other side have taken a moment to stop by and  say goodbye to me after the fact. It’s a bit disconcerting, I know. But nonetheless; I’ll be waiting.


About circusinpurgatory
Nick Masesso Jr’s fictionalized short stories, poetry and prose have been published in the Starry Night Review, Elegant Thorn Review, Language and and Vagabond Press; the Battered Suitcase. His latest book “Armor of Innocence” and first book “Walking the Midway in Purgatory, a Journal” are available on-line and through bookstores.

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