Stalker’s Assignment Number 12
Dave was in love with Thelma, and he was a new person. More like the person I had thought he was, when we first met. More like the person I had expected him to be, but he refused to become. But now, somehow, he had forgotten all about dropping out of school and going on the road to become a rock star. He was going back to CCNY to improve his grades so he could transfer to a state college upstate, and Thelma would transfer to the same school from her private college. They had it all mapped out, how they would be together. After all, they had been going together for a long time – two weeks? Or was it three?
“But, she wears make-up!” I protested, remembering Dave’s once insisting that I remove my surprise black eyeliner right away, before his friends saw his hippie chick reveal her lame collegiate roots; take it off or he was getting off the bus and never talking to me again.
“I like her make-up.”
“She wears stockings!” How bourgeois and unhippie was that! The ultimate! Any self-respecting chick knew better than that. And that was what Dave had required: hippie chick cool. All that effort I put into it, and now he doesn’t care?
Yes, I knew about Thelma. Thelma, petite — even shorter than me — with her waist-long, silky, straight red hair. Skin so white, it needed freckles to survive in the real world of sunlight. Thelma and my best friend, Ava, and I graduated high school together. Ava had introduced me to Thelma. And I had introduced Ava to Dave, and, and, and – how could this have happened?! — this summer Ava introduced Dave to Thelma! Damn her!
I remembered Ava saying, Oh yes, Thelma wears jeans. (In those pre-designer days, jeans were the simple, cheap, cool thing to wear by the unpretentious. And we so aspired to being unpretentious.) But hers are made by her private dressmaker!
Yes, one thing Thelma inspired better than anyone else we knew: envy!
“After we broke up, wherever I went, I was looking to run into you,” Dave said. Finally I phoned. Your mother said you were away for the summer. Somehow, after that, I felt free. Knowing that I wouldn’t run into you on the street, on the bus, suddenly I felt free. Then I ran into Thelma at the painting party . . .”
All this and we still told each other exactly what we thought, no inhibitions.
“Thelma wears a bra!” I said. How low can a person go?
“I like all that.”
Thelma phoned me. All chit chatty and friendly. She gave me all her news.
“Dave and I made love nine times this Saturday.” Yes, I know he liked to count. No wonder he became an accountant. He counted everything. I mean everything. Thelma gave me their statistics like she was reciting a darn weather report.
I didn’t let on how much it hurt. I didn’t let on how cruel I thought her, for telling me. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t tell anyone. I just filed it away. Cruel bitch. Just filed it away.
Why did I ever leave town and allow this to happen? If I had been home to take Dave’s call, none of this would have happened.
Ava told me Dave’s parents were so happy. “Dave has really straightened out since he stopped seeing Baby and took up with Thelma.” So I was the bad influence? How unfair!! I was the one begging him to . . . Oh, what’s the use.
Later, I wondered. Did I help kill her?
Was it my long memory that killed Thelma?
. . . to be continued
© Barbara E. Berger, 2011, all rights reserved. “Stalker” is a work of fiction.