Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Nanowrimo Day 11 Cowardly Lions

November 11, 2009
Cowardly Lions

I won't, of course, send that email. First of all, I can't send emails right now because my Outlook Express is corrupted in some way. And, even more imprtant, I want to see Mark next week, and one very strong part of me wants to just enjoy the time we have together. And besides, only a coward would break up by email.

Of course some cowards just play the "ignore it and it will go away" game. That's even more craven than an email.

And that may well be the tipping point for me; the thing that will ensure that I don't just enjoy our time together. I did that last time and look where it got me! I will be ending it ... not the way he would like to end it ... by staying friends with me so that I can meet all the needs that cannot be met in that sham of a marriage he seems to be flirting with these days.

When I met him he was separated. Now he seems to be just somewhat separated. Fuck that noise. He didn't lie to me. He really was leading a totally separate life in every way.

But a strange thing happened once we began communicating and then getting closer. I filled all those empty spaces and he began to respond to her nagging pleas. He was finally able to meet some of her needs. A social partner when she needed one. Someone to hike with occasionally. Someone to bring the brat daughter into line. Someone to plan a financially stable retirement with. Someone to have on a leash that she could jerk occasionally. Not someone with whom to share dreams or ideas or writing or a deep concern for the developing world ... and certainly not a lover ... No I could fulfill those roles.

The bottom line was that he couldn't face the idea of ending a sterile marriage. It was too risky. And it required too much energy. It was just like the terrible job situation whose misery he alleviated by writing poetry, building a fairy house and starting the Ugandan project. His marriage was of no help to him during those terrible years, and his wife had no interest in beoming part of these things, but he didn't leave the marriage or the job. It was easier and required less courage to stay and grit his teeth, to escape into his own space whenever he could than to make the break and start anew.

But I too have a bottom line. I have no interest in being a peripheral shadowy figure in anyone's life. And only a man without concern for someone he professes to love would expect that he could drop in once every month or two and take up where we left off ... that he wouldn't have to nurture a relationship with me.

And he has finally reached the point on the balance beam where he is more married than single ... and I have no intention of being the other woman ever again, not after Armand.

He even stopped phoning ... no doubt in response to her querying the number that came up so often on his cell phone. Just how separated is a woman who checks her ex-husband's cell phone calls when she sees him?

Well I won't ignore him. I'll be honest, and the hell with a pleasant little interlude this time.

"Is that what you are doing with me, ignoring me so that I will just disappear?" rumbled the voice of my grandfather, the voice I hadn't heard for a few days because my own inner voice was drowning it out.

"Maybe," I replied.

"What are you afraid of?"

"I don't think fear has anything to do with it. I think maybe I don't care very much how you died."

There was a sharp intake of breath, and I continued. "Either you were killed by one of the sleazy gangsters you hung out with, probably because of some disagreement, or you were shot by the police when they raided some illegal enterprise you were engaged in, or one of the women you treated badly got angry enough to want revenge."

"And you don't give a damn?" he retorted.

"No, quite frankly, Grandpa. I figure you probably got exactly what you deserved. I think most men do in the long run."

"That's not quite fair, you know." His voice was more subdued than I had heard it before.

"Well, am I right?"

"No," he said. "Greed killed me."

I thought about the statement off and on all day. Grandpa didn't need to be greedy. He had everything he wanted laid out for him on a silver platter that had been fashioned for him before he was born.

That night, a stranger appeared in my dreams. He sat down on the edge of my bed, and moved Remi to one side, so gently that the dog's only reaction was a deep snoring sigh that made us both laugh.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"John Custard is my name."

John looked a bit like Remi ... a shaggy golden mane, and eyebrows so bushy they acted like curtains. I wondered how he could see.

"Well you don't look much like Custard, the Cowardly Dragon," I laughed. "More like a golden doodle. Were you a coward?"

"I've never heard of your doodle or your dragon," he said. " A coward? Some certainly thought so. Your grandmother certainly did. That woman had the sharpest tongue I've ever encountered. She could castrate a man with a single sentence."

"What did you have to do with her?"

"I dated her for a while."

"Why? She was a terrible bitch."

"She was also very beautiful and knew exactly how to wind a man around her little finger."

"Did you dump her? I asked.

He laughed. "No one dumped Marie."

"Paul did."

John shook his head. "No," he said. "You've got that wrong. As soon as the baby was born, Marie told him to get lost."

"But why?"

"Marie wanted his parents' money. Paul was just a means to an end. That's all any man was to Marie."

"How were you going to be of use to her?"

"She wanted me to kill Paul."

"My god," I said. "I knew she was awful, but a murderer?"

"When I wouldn't agree to kill him," he said, "she blackened my reputation every way she could. Said I was a gutless bastard who beat up on women. I never figured out how she got the bruises and black eye she blamed on me, but I had to leave Toronto when it finally blew over."

"I guess she was making sure you never revealed what she'd asked you to do."

"Exactly. Who would have believed me?"

"Why did she want to kill him? He was the golden goose."

"It was the thirties, and Paul was going through money awful fast. I think she figured there'd be none left if Paul stayed alive."

"Did Paul know this?"

"Yes, I told him."

"What did he do?"

"I don't think he did anything about it. Probably didn't have time. Marie found someone to do it less than a month later."

"But who would commit murder for her?"

"I told you. It was the thirties. Times were tough. There were lots of people who'd have shot Paul for a few bucks."

John gave Remi a final pat before leaving left my bedroom, and I stayed awake for a very long time thinking about what he'd said.

I didn't like the idea that I am carrying murderous genes. It was bad enough to know that my grandmother was bitchy and my grandfather a playboy; that my mother was as irresponsible as her father and my father a controlling disinterested parent, but this was worse, far worse.

Or was it? The woman killed everyone who was close to her in one way or another. Maybe my father thought he had good reason to keep me away from her. He needn't have worried about me emulating her, however. Even at four or five I hated and feared her. There was certainly no love lost on either side.

Grandpa and Nana fell right off my radar when I checked my email on the internet connection in the morning. There was a letter from Mark. It was a self absorbed kind of letter ... the kind I've recently grown accustomed to receiving from him, especially since the phone calls stopped.

I can't respond by email easily and he says he's left his cell phone behind by mistake. Since that number is also his business number, one wonders how the man functions in the real world. Ass hole.

But what I would be saying if I could get in touch would be a simple fuck off and die, you ass hole. Go lead your tiny little half life and leave me alone completely.

He wants to drop in on Tuesday while he's in Ottawa next week ... long enough to eat a free meal, and break up the work week I guess.

Whew! I guess I do carry Nana's genes ... Even if I wouldn't commit murder, I'm not as nice as I manage to convince people I am. Of course Nana couldn't actually pull the trigger herself. I wonder who she convinced to do it.

Someone like the homeless guy I saw with all the dogs? No. He couldn't have done it either. He was a gentle man.

Maybe one of the gangster types she'd have met through Paul? Nah. She couldn't have afforded him and those hoods probably detested her and her fake hoity toity airs. Ball breaker, they'd call her.

What about one of the girls he dated, mated and dropped? More likely ... especially if she couldn't work for some reason ... like an unwanted pregnancy.

But it couldn't be someone who would have been immediately suspected or there wouldn't be a mystery to solve. The police would have caught the murderer and whoever it was would have been tried and convicted.

Who, Grandpa, who?

That reminded me ... I had to do some work on my Le Hibou project ... and I had to get ready to teach today ... enough of old mysteries and weird families.


Barbara Carlson said... ARE dredging up a dysfunctional
family you have clearly tried to shed -- and not repeat. I can feel your misery -- or is it all mixed up right now with your anger towards Mark?
I've known his type, too, and fled. So has my sister, but it almost killed her to realize this.

Oma said...

Yes ... and like everything else in life it's never simple ... we fall in love with the wrong men for good reason. Stay tuned!

Barbara Carlson said...

It will doubtless be an opportunity for ...something...
My experience with it led me to the life I enjoy today.
There would have been no other way, hard as it was.