It was like watching a fairy tale, or something written by Shakespeare, but set in a more modern era, if 1979 could be called that. That is the key, really, when the footprints hit the sand, if a writer can reach into the future with a story and people still see his work. Good writing, like human behavior, is eternal. Good writing captures people going through the same plays, the same drama, the same tragedies and comedies as we always have. So as it ever was, and same as it is now. I wish I had known I was a writer then, I would have been able to take notes, or at least gotten it down during the fact.
Daryl and Candy were High School sweethearts, who got married, stayed in Blakely after they graduated, and settled down to a nice comfortable small town life. Daryl worked as an electrician with his father, Candy got a job at the bank, and the two were the perfect little couple. It wasn’t long after their first anniversary Candy announced she was pregnant, and they would live happily ever after. Happy endings do not make for interesting writing in most cases, and when Candy slipped in the car port and fell, the future fell with her. A miscarriage isn’t the end of the world, but it created a tiny seam in the life they had created for themselves. Daryl went out one night with one of his old drinking buddies, Bobby, and it was right there I saw the beginning of the end.
Daryl and I had never ran with the same crowd. Most people considered me insane, dangerous, and downright scary. I was never sober, always trying to find something to get into, but I did have good pot. Daryl had never been much of a smoker, but he and Bobby were looking to kill some brain cells and to implement a little self- medication. I sold Daryl some pot, they went their way, and I went mine. A week later Daryl came back to bum a joint off me, and I almost said no. This was not the same confident and smugly happy person I had always not really known. Honestly, I knew it was evil, yes that is the word I want to use here, to sell him anything. Why? Why would I? I felt like the serpent in the garden at that point. But he came to me, I did not go into his home and tempt anyone. In all good truth, I wanted to see him fall. He was clean, sober, sane, connected, respected, had a future and life smiled upon him. Daryl dipped into my world, slumming, looking for sympathy and relief from his perfect life gone wrong, and I made a buck off that.
Daryl came back on a regular basis after that, and each time he bought pot from me he stepped a little further away from that world he once lived in. As he bought more I knew Candy was smoking too, and I knew it was a matter of time before something happened. Daryl started drinking again, started missing work, and his father finally fired him. Bobby got him a job working pulpwood, it was just temporary of course, until he got back on his feet. They threw a really wild party one night, and I wandered into it no more than a ghost. In four years of High School I had never seen Candy drink, but she was now, and she looked all Chinese eyes and scary. In school, Candy had never given me so much as the time of day, but they were out of pot so I was her new best friend. A minor demon in the underworld, I was someone she would have never allowed into her house, but this was a party. I looked around and didn’t see any of her old friend, but plenty of Daryl’s new buddies. Their prefect little house was getting beer spilled on it, and if buildings have hearts, this one was breaking. Someone fell into the rose bushes, breaking them off at the ground, and someone cut a doughnut in the front yard as they left. Rumors swirled around after that night about wife swapping and sex parties. Candy lost her job at the bank when some money was miscounted. The first night I saw her working as a cashier in Blakely’s only fast food joint was a stunner.
Daryl showed up one night, nervous as hell, and I sold him a quarter pound of pot. I cleaned out my car, and waited. I knew he was going to sell the stuff, and I also knew he hadn’t a clue as to how to hide what he was doing. They picked me up the next day, and I knew Daryl had ratted me out. It didn’t matter one bit, because they knew me, and I knew them. They knew there were those of us who saw it coming, and there were those who didn’t.
They offered Daryl a deal, and that deal was to turn over as many people as he knew, to save himself and Candy. The cops told him who to sell to, and when, and they rolled in and picked up their prearranged prey. At that time, pot was being sold in ounce bags, so Daryl sold out four of his friends, who in turn would sell out whoever the cops wanted from them. All in all, about twenty-five people in Early County went down in a couple of days.
Daryl and Candy tried to pick up the pieces of their lives again, but it is very hard to look back at what you’ve done when you were stoned and drunk and then deal with it when you’re clean again. The people you were smoking and drinking with are still smoking and drinking, but you want to stop and cannot, because they are your friends, right? One of the people Daryl sold out was Bobby, so that made it easier to keep away from a lot of the party crowd, but at the same time, turning on your friends is never easily forgiven, not even by those who have committed that sin.
I saw Candy a few days ago, in a Wal-mart in Thomasville Georgia. I was almost out of the store when I realized who she was. I went back in, and saw her looking baby clothes. It’s been long enough for there to be grandchildren, yes, and I almost went to speak to her. But almost thirty years ago, I had a chance to not do something, and I wish I could undo it. I can’t. I really have no right to speak to her, and I will always wonder if she knows it.