The great thing about still being alive, and still being single, which I guess is redundant, is every once in a while I’m going to get a call from someone in my past, usually female, who is looking to reconnect with me in some weird way. My father must get an never ending source of amusement from all this because he keeps handing out my number to anyone who calls, but mostly because he hasn’t bitched about it yet. A week or so ago he called to let me know that once again he had given my number to someone in my past, but this time it was different.
To make a long story short, which I’m really not in the habit of doing, this was not an old flame of mine, but rather someone who was seriously involved with an old friend of mine, or to be exact, she was involved with two friend of mine, and there was at least one point in time where she was dating one of the guys, and they were double dating with the other guy and the woman he was seeing. This woman has danced with the devil in the form of drink, and it hasn’t been pretty. This year has been weird for her in ways I cannot relate to you without sedition, and in many ways, it was a conversation I knew.
We went through the list of things we already knew; who was where who was married to who was doing what whose kids were how old as if it were some incantation or ritual we had to perform before we got to the place one or the other of us did not know. Robin Willis is dead, she told me, and that one caught me off guard.
I’ve dated two women with that name, and both of them lasted about the same amount of time. Two months or so, just long enough to get past the preliminaries, and to get gone. The second Robin was looking for a husband and a father for her kids she hadn’t had yet, and that was enough to send me screaming from the room. The first Robin lived back in my hometown, and we saw each other on weekends because we had weird work hours. I cannot recall her face, no matter how hard I try. The second Robin’s face always juxtaposes in the mental picture, and I cannot remember either woman’s middle name, and for some reason, that is troublesome to me.
Robin, the first Robin, that’s what all of this is about, was a friend of my younger sister, back in High School, and the fact I didn’t remember much about her back then should have told me something. She came from a good family, not wealthy or anything like that, but classy people who everyone respected and their youngest daughter married well beneath herself. She married into one of the worst families in Blakely and I remember hearing about it, and wondering how in the hell she managed to screw her life up so bad. Years passed before I saw her again, she got divorced after a year or so, and when she and I went out her daughter was just three years old. I did ask her about it, how she managed to get hooked up with someone everyone knew was headed nowhere, and it was the same thing for so many small town girls; no one else seemed interested. Alcohol, boredom, and sex unprotected just one time too many and presto! Being the girlfriend of a deadbeat is bad enough in a small town but to get knocked up by one was just too much. He bailed on her as soon as the bills started piling up and she moved back in with her folks. That didn’t work out so she rented a duplex and was working her way to the bottom again.
I had a decent enough job, and it didn’t take long for me to wonder if that was what it was all about, that coupled with boredom and alcohol. One night her parents had her daughter and we went to a party and left early. It was odd being in her place alone with her, without her daughter, and without the awkwardness of sobriety. I remember her sitting on the edge of the bed, the security light cutting a knife’s edge of light through the edge of the blinds that hit her on her naked back as she drank a beer. The light reflected in the bottle, just a brief flash as she killed it, and I could see the muscles in her shoulder move, and the slimness of her hips in the light. She's there right now, frozen in that memory, still naked, still drinking the beer, still on the bed, and I remember quite vividly thinking Robin would have made a stunning photograph, but just at that exact moment in time, right then was her time for immortality, and then she put the bottle down and lay back with me, and she was gone forever.