“I killed two, maybe three, souls. The state of Virginia will not convict me. But there will be no place in heaven for me. If you will love me, you must know the truth.”
Stalker had never told anyone the whole story. For 35 years, he carried the pain of the guilt. His voice carried a note of fresh pain, as though it had happened yesterday. Perhaps if I listened carefully and with an open heart, he could start a journey.
I feared what I might hear. Would I still love him when I heard the full story? I pulled the covers over me. It was 2:00 AM, and we had been on the phone seven hours. Stalker in his Bronx apartment. A humid, August New York night, that was just turning to morning. Me, in the close, cool darkness of the still-dark night in my Portland, Oregon home. I turned out the light by my bedside, held the cell phone closer. Realized I had been holding my breath. The birds were starting to call to each other on his end of the phone.
“Tell me, Stalker. Tell me now.” Confess to me, I thought.
“There is a waterfall in the Blue Ridge Mountains,” he began. A waterfall nestled in the lush green mountains where Deborah and I visited one hot summer day in Virginia, 1971. As we started down the hilly path, a heavy rain began. Other hikers, tourists, passed us as they ran up the path to their cars for shelter. We didn’t care. The rain drenched us; Deborah’s tee shirt was soaked. No one else seemed to notice. When we reached the pool at the bottom, the sky cleared and we swam naked by the waterfall. We played and grabbed and laughed. The best ten minutes of my lifetime. If only I could go back to the waterfall. Promise me, Baby. Promise me, when I die, you will take my ashes to the waterfall.
She was beautiful. Deborah Richard Dubois. So slender. Her hair was soft, silky brown to her shoulders. She stood a couple of inches shorter than an average woman, and she looked almost like a tall child, she was so slight. Her family lived in Virginia for many generations. Her father owned a large farm; she grew up hunting and rugged and knowing the things I thought only men knew. She was brilliant, she was gorgeous. She didn’t need to work, but she wanted to heal people. She was a doctor. She was the most eligible bachelorette in Virginia. And somehow she wanted me.
When I first saw you, Deborah said to Stalker, it was the sun coming out.
I was 19 when we met, Deborah was 27. My brother brought her to the Bronx one break from the Medical College of Virginia, in Richmond. They studied together. I looked at her across from my family’s kitchen table. She looked out of place in our small apartment near Kingsbridge Road. She might have been the only Baptist girl my Irish Catholic mother Mary ever allowed in her kitchen. But she wasn’t a girl. A woman. And just a friend — they were just friends. And Deborah needed a place to go for the break, to get away. Far away.
She looked old and tired across the table. But her eyes said she needed me. We laughed and tickled each other and cuddled the rest of the night. In the morning she said, “Don’t let them see my shoes by your bed. What would they say?”
I went into action. I had to be with her. The next day I made some announcements.
. . . to be continued