Monday, June 18, 2012

Life on Mars - Forty Year Flashback

I could tell you how my landlord finally got a replacement for the door window that broke 2 years ago, that we taped together so shards wouldn't fall in the house (I did the replacing, at least he bought the plexi).

I could tell you that the accident prone child stepped on a yellow jacket and was screaming for hours until the Diphenhydramine kicked in and he fell asleep. Or that we got it from the neighbor that uses it on her dog instead of killing the fleas.

I could tell you that we had a drought last week, no rain, no sales.

But instead, I want to tell you about something that happened 40 years ago. Well, almost 40 years ago. Some events this week, lead me to remember this, and what I thought was a terrible disaster, might have been part of the bigger plan all along. You see, sometimes you can't know what a horrible event might actually mean in the grander scheme of things.

I was young, I hung out at a local bar, and I drank there. Usually we just drank, but that particular night, unlike the usual nights, some generous person got a supply of barbiturates that he shared with the rest of the kids. I got one and paced myself with the alcohol. Not that I was a good girl by any means, it was just that night I was more cautious. Almost everyone was far more wasted that I had ever seen, and the bar had a "different flavor". More falling, more dancing, more hugging, kissing, secret sharing, whispering.

That night Star was there with her girlfriend, and they both tasted the candy. Star was the lead singer in a local band that I loved so much. She sang like Joplin and was just as crazy. Her friend was very young, a plain dresser, but pretty, and she was always wasted and always sad. I never saw her smile, not once. But Star odored her.

Things got so wild and crazy that night, but near closing time I was starting to get a bit sober. A few of us stayed with the owners after the bar closed, Star and her friend among us. Star was so incredibly wasted, she couldn't possibly drive, but she was getting ready to go. We weren't friends, we barely ever spoke to each other, but I couldn't let her get in a car, or drive that girl. I quietly went by her and took her keys while she was talking with another patron.

She walked around for a long time, looking for her keys, asking everyone if they had seen them. She came to me and I said I hadn't seen them either. I suggested that it might not be a good idea for her to drive in her condition, but she insisted on finding her keys and leaving. I had the keys in my hands, I had the keys in my hands. Then some Damn drunk ass moron, who saw me take the keys, took them out of my hand and gave them back to her. I had the keys in my hands.

A few days later I heard that there was an accident. Star's friend died and Star was in jail. She eventually had a considerable amount of time to serve, for vehicular manslaughter, let alone that she lost someone she loved dearly. I saw her after she was released. She was not the same person, but maybe that was s good thing.

For nearly forty years I blamed myself for letting go of the keys. And this week, I thought, at least I held her off for a time. One girl had died, but if I hadn't done at least that, who knows how many would have died. You see, she would have left at closing time. There would have been more people on the road, but as it was, the roads were pretty empty by the time they finally hit the road.

If I had held more tightly, maybe no lives would have been lost, maybe Star would have continued her self destructive ways, maybe her friend would have become so sad she would have ended her life at her own hands. But I didn't hold tight enough, and a life was lost, but maybe there would have been more losses, if I didn't care and stick my nose where it wasn't wanted.

1 comment:

Jane Skoch said...

This is such a sad story. It happens way too often in our society. You cared enough to take action - which is more than many of us would have done. You can't blame yourself for the actions of another person. I'm sure the "whatifs" can eat you alive if you let it.

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