May 24, 2018
“No one had ever seen anyone like her, she wasn’t beautiful in a way that was standard, but her enigmatic charm was enough to take your breath away. She walked into the room and without intentional thought, people drifted, turned and leaned in closer. She had to be smart, no one could appeal to that quantity of people without understanding human nature itself. Each emotion seemed primed and ready to be accessed at a moment’s notice. She would get in a blinding rage toward her boyfriend with a pronouncing, showstopping slap across his cheek, followed by fits of sobbing and ecstatic happiness. No emotion spared, just a blast of heart-pounding excitement and energy. The excitement stemmed from her volatility, you never knew what you were going to get.
“No one knew anything real about her, just those peak emotions that would shine above the surface, alluding to the glaciers beneath. Maybe they were hidden because she never seemed to be alone. She never got a chance to have a private moment, moments we all need to ourselves. Her boyfriend was a constant presence. He struck me as half bodyguard, half man candy. But then, that was always her type. He smiled at others, he frowned at her.
“Me, that is to say, the best friend. I’m Patricia Wallis. Yes, Marlene Davis has been my best friend my whole life. She always had friends, but that kind that doesn’t call if you’re sick, unless it means she wouldn’t be able to come to the party. Marlene was the entertainment at parties. If you were anyone, you wanted her there. She could just create a feeling of ease for people. As if she was saying, “I’m gonna be real, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be.” “No apologies,” she always said that to me.”
“And how did you come to find Ms. Davis’ body, Ms. Wallis?” the Chief Inspector queried, taking a sip from his coffee mug, scribbling down notes.
“Oh, well, Marlene and I always had Saturday morning coffee together. It always got interrupted, but the ceremony of the act hasn’t changed for years.”
Patricia was speaking nervously fast, she had never been in a Police Station before. It was not at all like she’d seen in the films. The reality was always a letdown, even Marlene Davis couldn’t defy the rules of this mundane world. Her life ending on the bathroom floor. Some part of Patricia thought she would stand back up, arsenic be damned, proving that people with a larger than life energy do defy death. A silly notion, if one was as enigmatic as Marlene, why would you want to stay here?
“She was on the bed?” verified the Chief.
“No, in the bathroom,” corrected Patricia.
“And did you ever wonder whether she would do something like this to herself?”
“I wondered daily if she would, Inspector, but I never thought she could.”
“What does that mean?”
“She was up and down every day, multiple times a day. It was the beauty and the madness that made her so wonderful to be around.” And destroyed her, thought Patricia to herself. No one gets to be complicated in this world and have it be accepted. Marlene got close but she always had so much inner turmoil about it. It never could be pinpointed by Patricia.
“Well, Ms. Wallis, if that’s all…”
But Patricia interjected, “I just, I will always wonder why. She was so wild, there was no way to ever know what she might do…”
“Yes, well, have a good day Ms. Wallis…” The Chief Inspector said, dismissing her from the room.
Outside on the hot cement street of the late August day, Patricia tried to take a deep breath, but the Police Station still felt to close for comfort, too meddling. She started walking up the radiating sidewalk, feeling flushed and indignant. Thank God that was over. Silly men, in silly hats, investigating things they didn’t understand. Fear of death, how trivial! As if life was so grand when people are made to suffer for no cause. When you see extreme evil plague others and injustices running amok. I mean, he was the policeman, didn’t he know the kind of system they lived in?
“An illusion of freedom with only closed doors.”
Those were the last words of Marlene Davis as she sobbed on the bathroom floor. Remembering it made Patricia walk a little faster. Maybe she was hungry and that was why she felt edgy. She had been in the Police Station for quite a while. There was a coffee shop on the corner. Marlene always said this place had the best overall vibe.
“The coffee is decent but the cushy chairs, that is the true mark of a quality coffee house. The quality is in the chairs.” She would bounce on the chair cushion and laugh like she was twelve, those were the good times.
Patricia honestly didn’t know why Marlene had more trouble than others to keep it together and have a normal life. She just always knew that the fact that Marlene never had any interest in living a normal life was one of the things she had enjoyed most about her. She liked her men and her parties and being the bell of the ball, and then just as swiftly she wouldn’t be seen for weeks on end. When Patricia would ask where she had been she would say, “sleeping.” Patricia wanted to blame the man, most people blame the partner; but they were always revolving through her life. The high and low dance was all her own, in a completely different rhythm than even Marlene could predict. She had been talking so much about escaping, yet she knew that she would never escape from herself, hence the sleeping hiatuses.
“An illusion of freedom with only closed doors.” It became her favorite analogy that last few weeks of her life. Life had become a closed circle to her. Marlene had conquered life really, she was a success and could express herself as freely as she desired, and it still wasn’t enough for her. It was as though Marlene was just passing through and she had had enough. So I gave her some coffee with arsenic and a puff or two from her last cigarette.
What else was there to do? Watch her grow old and maintain her misery? She didn’t want to feel trapped anymore, so I freed her. The cigarette dangled from her limp wrist, and a calm smile played on her still face.
over & out. ANgr