Well — every month except this one!!!!
“Looks like this is the big day, Pete!” The mailman called from his truck on an unseasonably balmy March Saturday. Pete looked up from his weekend ritual polishing of a gleaming black Firebird and laughed. As he sauntered over to the truck and retrieved the official-looking envelope marked ”Harvard University” he responded, ”It could be the worst day of my life...if they rejected me.”
”Valedictorian of our high school class, probably the best grades of any college student in New York State, and a singer in the church choir to boot -- not likely.”
Pete answered absently as he ripped open the envelope.
”Come on, Joe. The choir thing’s just for my mom. You know how she is about all that church stuff.”
He let out a shriek and read the opening lines aloud.
“Dear Mr. Andrews: Congratulations on your acceptance into Harvard Law School.”
Joe grinned. ”See, I told you this was your big day.”
Still shaking his head in awe and admiration, he shifted the truck into gear.
”Well, I’ve gotta go, Pete. Mrs. Johnson’ll have a fit if she can’t make it to the bank with her Social Security check before noon. I’ll see you around. Congratulations, Harvard Man.”
Pete laughed. ”Thanks, Joe. I’ll see you around.”
Pete eased his Firebird into the driveway and up to a neat bungalow, beeping the horn. A tall slim girl with long blond hair and sincere blue eyes emerged from the house tugging on a pale yellow sweater and flashed him a somewhat breathless smile. Pete stepped out of the driver's side and greeted her with a quick kiss.
"You're early, Pete. The movie's not 'til 3:30."
"I know. I thought we could go someplace and talk first. I've got a surprise."
Laurel's eyes lit up with anticipation. "Oh? What kind of surprise?"
Laurel gave a little pout and watched Pete quizzically as they both got in and the Firebird rolled out into the street. Pete ignored her dad Larry's frown of disapproval through the front window and squealed the tires loudly on takeoff. Larry watched them disappear from sight, then dropped the curtain and disappeared as well.
Pete seated himself on the hood of the car beside Laurel and looked out across the lake shimmering in the afternoon sunshine. Laurel watched expectantly as he reached into a jacket pocket. Her face fell ever so slightly when he pulled out an official-looking envelope, but she covered with a quick smile. Pete handed her the envelope and smiled back.
"What's this?" Laurel asked. "Harvard? Oh, Pete."
"Can you believe it? I'm in! Goodbye Hicktown U. I'm moving up to the real world."
"What's wrong with our school? I'm just happy to be getting my nursing certificate in May. Who cares where it comes from?"
"Well, that's different. I mean, it's a good school for a two-year degree like yours. And even for my undergraduate work. But when I go out to swim with the big fish, it'll be a lot easier to keep up when they see that Harvard diploma in my wake. And maybe when I come back here to visit, your dad won't look down on me anymore."
"My dad doesn't look down on you."
Laurel fell silent for a moment, although Pete got the impression that she had something more to say. He waited. At last she spoke, her voice quiet and he thought, somehow oddly sad.
"What do you mean 'when you come back to visit'? Do you mean to visit your folks or...uh..."
Her voice trailed off and he looked at her as if seeing her for the first time.
"Yes. And to visit you, of course."
"Nothing. I just...I guess I always thought with you and me graduating at the same time...I mean, we've been going together since junior high. I always thought that when you left for graduate school, we'd be leaving together."
It was clear this thought had never crossed Pete's mind. He knew it and now Laurel knew it, too. He felt bad as he realized he was hurting her, but this was his future.
"But, Laurel, you've been doing all your clinical work at County Hospital. I thought you were going to stay on there when you graduated like all the nursing students here do."
"They don't have hospitals in Boston?"
"Well, yeah, I'm sure they do, but...I mean..."
"I know what you mean, Pete."
Pete pulled into the driveway with a sideways glance at Laurel. She'd held his hand without enthusiasm all through the movie and had barely spoken at dinner afterwards. Now she sat white and silent beside him and he wished for some way to narrow the distance that had grown between them during the past few hours. He had never meant to hurt her. Even though he'd never expected they'd be together forever, he'd never thought his plans for the future would drive them this far apart. He'd never thought she might have seen their relationship as so much more. He'd never thought -- well...he'd never thought.
"Looks like your parents are out."
"Yeah. They went to a party at my aunt's house. They won't be back 'til late."
"I could come in for a while. We could watch TV or whatever..." adding with a devilish smile, "preferably whatever."
"Not tonight, Pete. I'm kind of tired, actually."
Laurel had never been so dismissive of him before. Pete knew that in wanting to go to grad school alone, he'd wanted to break away somehow, but somehow he hadn't envisioned it happening like this.
"I'll call you tomorrow. Maybe we can do...something..."
He caught her and gave her a kiss she didn't return before she slipped out of the car and was gone. Pete sat in the driveway staring after her for a moment before looking over at where she'd sat so close beside him, and yet so far away, and noticed she'd forgotten her sweater. He started to get out and go to the door to give it to her, but thought better of it; he could bring it by tomorrow as an excuse to see her if she brushed him off again.
He dropped the sweater back onto the passenger seat and swung the Firebird out into the road, flicking on the wipers as a light rain began to fall. He still felt oddly shaken by her mood and thought back to her face when he'd pulled the Harvard envelope from his pocket, realizing suddenly that something like disappointment had flickered there. True, he'd taken her to "their" spot, the place they'd gone to be alone for years, the place she'd first made love to him on the night of junior prom. Had she been expecting something else from him today...a ring, perhaps? No. Surely not. That had just never been part of the plan. She had to know he'd get out of this place and go on with his life someday. Maybe she was just tired. Things would be better tomorrow. They'd talk about it some more and she'd realize this was best for both of them. He looked over again at the pale yellow sweater. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.
Pete woke to a loud noise outside his slightly opened window. At first he thought it was thunder from the storms that had been moving through since he'd dropped Laurel off hours before, but when he heard his father's voice in the hall below he realized dimly that there was someone at the door.
"Where is that punk?" the visitor railed, and he thought still half-asleep that it sounded like Laurel's dad. In the middle of the night? That didn't make sense. Maybe he was dreaming, he thought, and drifted off once more.
"You killed her, you bastard!"
Pete threw up his arms in defense as a blow just missed his ear, and looked up to see a livid, half-drunk face staring down on him, his parents trying desperately to hold the attacker back. Pete scrambled out of bed, suddenly very much awake.
"What...what... Mr. Thompson...," Pete stammered.
"Larry, please calm down and tell us what's going on,"
Pete's mother entreated in a worried but soothing tone.
Struggling momentarily for control, Larry faced her to explain.
"Laurel...she cut her wrists...we were at my sister's...Her mother found -- ...and this note."
Pete tried to read the torn sheet of notebook paper through shaking fingers.
"No one can face the future while clinging to the past. But I thought my past and future would be the same. Maybe they are. That's why I can't face either now..."
Pete felt like his chest was about to explode and his legs would no longer support him. He sank to the edge of the bed.
"No...no... she's not... she couldn't..."
"She's dead!" Larry's anger returned in a violent rush. "And it's your fault! I knew you never really cared about her. You've never cared about anybody but yourself!"
Suddenly Larry was on top of Pete again, pummeling him repeatedly through tears of grief and drunken rage. Pete heard his father yelling, "Larry, stop!" as he scrambled from under the blows and fled the room, scooping up his clothes off the hamper and dressing on the run as he hurried down the stairs and out the front door.
He fished the keys from a back pocket and made a beeline through the pouring rain for the shelter of the Firebird. His head still spinning, his heart pounding in his throat, he turned the key and the engine roared to life. He peeled out of the driveway and sped off into the night.
"No no no no no..." His mind repeated the word like shots being fired over and over in his brain. This couldn't be happening. Laurel couldn't be dead. He couldn't have killed her.
He glanced over and caught sight of the yellow sweater. Tomorrow he'd planned to return it. Tomorrow they were going to talk things over and everything would be all right somehow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow would never come. The future. The past. They were one. They were over.
He stared out over the Firebird's hood and into the blackness of the deserted road, unable to see more than 15 yards ahead through the rain incessantly rolling down the windshield and the tears incessantly rolling down his cheeks. He rounded a bend, the tires skidding perilously on the wet pavement as he barely touched the brakes, and glanced over at the sweater again, then at the massive trees speeding past him along the side of the road. Tears and rain still mingling in his eyes, he sped up ever so slightly.
"You can't face the future while clinging to the past." The words from the suicide note still echoed through his head. Laurel was his past. She'd wanted him to be her future. Between them, they'd killed both. Well, not quite. Not yet.
But he could fix that.
Pete watched the tach rise as he punched the gas once more. He reached over and grabbed the sweater, burying his face in its fragrant softness for a moment before again focusing blindly on the road. Suddenly he jammed the wheel to the right and closed his eyes, waiting -- hoping -- for the night and his life to fade from varying shades of gray into a merciful solid black...
The rain was still beating a tinny refrain on the Firebird’s roof when Pete opened his eyes. Momentarily confused, he quickly patted down his body and the car seat beside him, trying to decide if either or both could really still be intact.
Before he had fully arrived at a conclusion, a bolt of lightning flashed a ghostly light across the scene and made everything only too painfully clear. He had left the road just past a grove of trees and come to rest in the tall grass of an unplowed field. Wonderful.
How could anyone get accepted into Harvard and so completely screw up suicide? He let out a string of frustrated expletives and quickly pounded both palms against the steering wheel. Surely all his teacher had been right in declaring him “gifted”.
Still muttering to himself about his God-awful good fortune, Pete stepped out and immediately sunk in mud almost halfway to his knees. Leaning against the car for leverage, he pulled out his boots, creating a loud sucking sound, then made his laborious way around the vehicle. The barest tops of the tires peeped back at him teasingly above the muck. No chance of driving back home tonight. Not that he wanted to go home, anyway.
But, obviously, he had to go somewhere. He’d run out of the house without even a jacket, and now began to shiver violently as the rain continued to pelt him like icy shards of steel. He made a quick check of the car for something more to wear, but turned up only Laurel’s sweater, an object which at the moment provided very little warmth.
Deciding against climbing back in and waiting for daylight, at last Pete instead slogged his way back to the road and started walking. Joe’s place was only about a mile away. He could spend the rest of the night there and decide how to deal with everything else tomorrow.
Unfortunately, tomorrow would be coming after all.
M i l M a n i a
The Official Newsletter of WWW.ARTISTINSANE.COM
All Content Written By Mil Scott Unless Otherwise Noted
© Mil Scott www.artistinsane.com
Welcome To The March/April ‘08
Volume 4, Issue 3, March/April 2008
Ravings of a Mad Woman
This column corresponds with the Mad Ra-vings On section of www.artistinsane.com, and is dedicated to selected reviews of movies, television and books… most of which are unlikely to represent “the latest” in any of these categories, but rather a random selection that represents a new and/or noteworthy discovery to me.
Saving Grace — I should probably preface this review with the pertinent bit of info that I’m a huge fan of late night TV host Craig Ferguson. I think he’s a gifted physical comedian, with a wonderfully sharp wit and a just plain silly streak that works for me simply because it seems to reflect such a genuine joy for life. Of course, his Scottish accent doesn’t hurt, either. In any case, I think he’s hilarious — not to mention warm and engaging when wholly serious. In fact, it was a moment of such “sobriety” more than a year ago that really cemented my appreciation of his lighter side. A recovering alcoholic, he dedicated an entire monologue to a decision not to mock celebrities/potentially vulnerable characters in the news by explaining the desperate (and to some perhaps “mock-worthy”) character he himself once was. A moving story of his lowest point — and ultimate triumph, I dare you to watch this clip and not fall for this very real, and yes, very flawed human being. (Here’s the full web address lest the abbreviated link doesn’t work for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bbaRyDLMvA)
If you missed the announcement in
E-mail your “Molly Madvises” questions to mil@ artistinsane.com and I’ll pass them on to Keela. Thanks!
That said, on to this month’s question…
P.S. Since the last issue of Mil Mania, both my mom and I have become contributing writers to the wonderfully creative It’s a Rat’s World magazine. My review of The Revenge of Randal Reese Rat appeared in March (along with a picture and profile of me!), and a letter I wrote David Letterman recently (about his constant stream of negative rat commentary, which he seems to actually think funny) is being published in the May edition. As for Mom’s work, she was asked to write an article on The Year of the Rat for April (you can read the whole issue for a limited time by clicking here. By the way, Mom also wrote the poem on p.4 which, sadly, commemorates the passing of the editor’s own dear rat friend.) And, she has another article set to come out in June. Of course, both of us will be submitting more work in the future, so be sure to keep and eye out for that.
Comments from Mil Mania readers
Writings From The Asylum
“If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”
“No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader.”
"A work of art is a confession."
Thanks for reading this issue of Mil Mania! And, remember, this is a work in progress, subject to many and varied changes — all adding up to a new and improved publication...so I hope! Please drop me a line to let me know what you think, including any and all suggestions. Thank you!!!
If ever there were appli-
To conclude this journey I’ll only add that a May newsletter is still planned to follow — “may”be even in May! What a crazy idea, huh?!
As noted in the December 2005 edition of Mil Mania, I continue to include news in every issue to keep readers up to date on the latest happenings with the acts most prominently featured on www.artistinsane.
com. However, I now also choose one additional artist — in some cases a new discovery I’ve recently made, in others an individual or group whose work I’ve long appreciated — to make a one-time appearance here. And, as with all aspects of Mil Mania, feel free to offer suggestions.
This month’s featured artist: there isn’t one! With the addition of the Psycho Therapy column (which has been enthusiastically encouraged) and a somewhat over-length Writings From the Asylum entry this month, there’s no room left for this “feature”! Depending on space allotments in future issues, however, it will very likely return. I’ll keep you posted.
Dear Dr. Mil,
I think this is not only an excellent question, but also one that relates strongly to the issues raised in this month’s “Molly Madvises” column — because here, too, the matters at hand seem to be survival and change. What’s more, depending on one’s interpretation of the moniker you’ve chosen as a signature, it would seem change might well be “mandatory” for “survival” to be achieved — unless, of course, you’re sitting very still with those dangerous sharp tips. Whether intentional or a Freudian slip, this name also underscores the need to approach change at a careful and steady pace rather than rushing headlong in a new direction — which may or may not prove more beneficial than the misguided one that prompted silent summoning of help.
“Just read through your Mil Mania, and wanted to say I loved the letter you wrote to Dan Reed at XPN. My thoughts exactly. I didn't want [Michael McDermott’s] music ‘til it came out in hard copy, either.”
(regarding the Tied Up in Tech Nots article)
In A Nutshell
Welcome to March — in May!!!
H A P P Y
to be continued...