In a dream before dawn, I’m given a small case by the District Attorney to prosecute, even as I’m charged from another quarter with murder of a woman I claim not even to know. The setting is Nashville, Tennessee, but the woman is from outside Nashville, in the countryside. I tell the D.A. I can’t accept the case assignment because I have to stand trial for murder today. So began another day in the school of very hard knocks, as I lay in bed wondering who I murdered? Was it my first wife? We met at Vanderbilt, in Nashville. Was it the creed of my college fraternity, “Deus et les dames,” Latin for, God and the women, I killed? Was it yesterday’s posting,“Objective.Subjective,” in which I described how it’s going for me with the woman I’ve written about some lately?
A Key West friend called me yesterday, said I was crazy for publicly sharing yesterday‘s posting. But by the time we were through talking, he thanked me for what all I shared with him. I said the woman and I haven’t even been out together. In all, we had talked maybe an hour. I just didn’t have it in me to enter a relationship with another woman with whom I can not relate. It was not against her. She is a nice person. But he and I’d both learned learned in spades what it’s like to be in relationship with a woman who is not on the same page we’re on. He said women are crazy. I said they are a different species. It wasn’t so in the beginning, but that’s how it ended up, because of how it had gone for women on this world. But what did I know? Maybe I was full of shit, I said. Maybe he was sent by God to let me know that. I said I was asking God to show me what I needed to see.
As I lay in bed, pondering the dream, my thoughts drifted to my last wife, Patricia. Our romance began out of the blue in late April 2001. She knew where it was going quite a while before I knew, she later told me. She knew a lot of things, which she later told me. Things that would have made our time together a great deal easier, if she had told me to begin with. Things that literally had to be pried out of her, if not by me, then by the angels assigned to us both. The depth of it was revealed the first time we made love. Just as we joined, I knew beyond any doubt that she had a sexual history very different from the one she had described. The knowing was so overwhelming that I lost my erection. Talk about embarrassed. I was mortified. And furious at heaven for once again using sex to stir up hidden shit in a woman I loved.
I had hoped this would never happen again, because it had made sex a Catch-22 the coiner of that phrase could not possibly imagine. When the angels wanted us to have sex, there was no way we couldn’t. Then the shit would come, and we were in hell, trying to survive, often not, as she took off for parts unknown, left me writhing on the ground, feeling as if I had been bitten by a cobra, wondering how I would survive, hoping I wouldn’t. Not just Patricia, but with all paradise mating partners before her did this happen. And even when were weren’t having sex, when we weren’t even together; maybe we were only talking on the phone long distance, trying to move back together, and the angels found a way to trigger yet another dump truck load of shit, which left us both reeling, gagging, gasping, as she took off again for parts unknown.
I thought about Patricia some yesterday. About how she fought tooth and nail to keep her secrets. About how she fought to prevent heaven from showing her stuff about herself that she had forgotten, repressed, or just wanted to pretend wasn’t relevant. I thought some yesterday about just how little I want to go through something like that again with a woman. Then, at Bubba’s last night, at the intersection of Fleming and Margaret Streets in Key West, during a break in the live entertainment, Deedee Finney, the female half of the musicians, offered me the mike to cut some jokes, use as a platform. Right off, a woman in the audience asked me to sing a song. I replied, “Lady, if I sing a song, you will get up and leave as quickly as possible.” She, laughed. She, everyone there, understood I meant I was a really bad singer. But, and to my shock, I launched right away into what I remembered of “Honky Tonk Angel,” a country singer’s lament about a woman he’d fallen head over heels in love with, who wouldn’t read his letters even if he wrote them, so he wrote it in the words of a baleful song: “I didn’t know God made honky tonk angels, but I knew that you’d never make a wife! You gave up the only one who ever loved you, and went back to the wilder side of life!” Then, I cut some jokes.
That was Patricia’s song. She was my honky tonk angel. Over and over again. Whenever she took off, twice she took of on Valentine’s Day, she wouldn’t answer my cards and letters. Then, weeks or months later, out of nowhere, she’d call. A couple of times she’d write, but she really didn’t like writing. Last time she called was late in the evening of October 7, 2006, my birthday. I’d been laid low all day. Felt like I would be better off dead. A lot better off. The call came about 10:15, on her old cell phone, which she told me she’d given to someone else. I’d tried to call her a couple of days before, because I felt I was supposed to. The new owner of the phone tracked Patricia down at work, and she was calling me during a fifteen minute break, because I had called her, because it was my birthday. I had figured she would call me, but wasn’t sure. She tended to do that on my birthday, and then we’d start moving back toward each other again. Not this time., I told her I’d felt like shit all day, and now that she called, I knew where it was coming from. She said she didn’t want to make me feel bad. I chewed her out for giving me the silent treatment. Asked her to change positions, try to look at it from my side of it. Would she, if she was me, feel like she cared a shit about me? No, she admitted. She said the angels were putting her through her paces, ripping her a new one. She had been feeling like writing to me about it. I said, if that was so, how come she didn’t already write to me about it?
Then I softened. Said the angels had sold her out, because they’d told her years before that she needed to return to her hometown and leave no stone unturned, so she could come to me without hesitation or reservation. But when she went back, they didn’t get to work on her. They let her alone, mostly, and she kept going back and forth between coming toward me and doing some work, and running away and going back to her old ways. I said I’d been giving heaven hell about how it had treated her. And, I said, I just didn’t know if I wanted to get any letters from her, be drawn back into it with her, just as it seemed I was starting a new life. Maybe I’d feel different later, but that was how I felt then. Maybe if she wrote, something would change. I just didn’t know. She said she had to get back to work. I said she was at work talking to me, and what she called work wasn’t work. How many times had we had that conversation, I could not begin to remember. Patricia said, yes, I was right, but she had to get back to work.
I told my friend yesterday, who called to tell me I was crazy, that this political work I do is a pretty recent development. Before politics, eighty percent of my work was with the woman I was given to be with, twenty percent was away from the relationship. Even when Patricia and I were not together on this world, the mating work continued, if only inside of me. For her, it seemed she was left alone, put in some sort of suspended animation where she did not yearn to be with me, pine for me. For her, from what she kept telling me, it was as if she had only just left me. She was in “no time.” For me, it was living hell, and she just could not seem to see, feel, comprehend, what it was like for me. It was like that with women before her. When they ran, they did not suffer. I always suffered. With Patricia I suffered the most. Our leavings were, as I said, like being bit by a cobra. I was fucked up for months afterwards. I messed up work assignments having nothing to do with her. The most notable was pulling out of the county commission race in the early spring of 2004. The race for Sonny McCoy’s seat. It took heaven two years to put me back together after I dropped out. I can’t but help wonder, if I had not pulled out, would I even be here now? Would I be doing something else entirely? Would I even be on this world?
Back to the night of October 7, 2006. My birthday. The last time I heard from Patricia in a human way. I said I was glad the angels finally were leaning on her, but it seemed way too late, and they didn’t seem yet to have impressed on her what bad manners she had, or how much more important her work with me was than working at some women’s clothing store, or taking a vow of celibacy. She said she wondered about that, too. She admitted it wasn’t for God that she took the vow. We had fought about this before. Now, she had to go back to work, and she had no phone because she’d given it away. She didn’t know if she should write me, she didn’t want to cause me more problems. I said to write if she wanted to write, but I didn’t know how I would receive it. The conversation ended.
The horrible feeling started lifting off me. I started feeling like I was going to live. I fell asleep, and was sweetly ministered to all night in dreams by women. I knew none of them. They were tender, loving, encouraging. It was the best night’s sleep I’d had in years. The best night’s sleep in the time to come. By far the best night’s sleep I can remember. And now I’m charged with murder? I plead self defense. I plead the truth. I plead love. If I didn’t love Patricia, I would not have cared enough to tell her anything. I’d have just left her to her own delusions. My love for her was never questioned by heaven. Never. My behavior, yeah, sometimes that was questioned. Sometimes. But not my love. Nor her love for me. I still love her. I will always love her. I can’t stop loving her. It’s useless to try.
When she came to me in a dream about month ago, to tell me about something coming in and to wish me good luck, my heart wrenched, felt torn out of my body. I gasped, could barely breathe. Barely weep, even though I so very much wanted to weep. And now I’m accused of murdering her? She killed herself. She gave up the only one who ever loved her, which she told me many times. Maybe women really are crazy. Maybe there’s nothing a man can do but love them. I’ve said that many times. I’ve also said many times that I’d be crazy, too, if I was a woman, living on a planet where women are viewed so disparagingly.
The assassination of the former Prime Minister of Pakistan hit me very hard. I felt nothing when 911 came, but her murder stuck me as the worst thing that’s happened to humanity in centuries. Despite her perhaps sordid history, Benazir Bhutto was humanity’s best hope for the return of the female to this world. She was a woman. A modern Mary Magdalene. Hillary Clinton is a man in woman’s clothing. Consider that, if you ever are inclined to throw darts at Bill Clinton over Monica Lewinsky. As are most women men in women’s bodies. Not their fault. This world made them so. Patricia, her predecessors, taught me this; and just how powerful they were; and just how screwed up this world is because they were unable to be what God made them: women.
If there needs to be a murder trial, then indict Moses, who wrote Genesis. Indict St. Paul, who wrote women into oblivion. Indict whoever left out of the New Testament the love affair of the Age: Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Indict whoever destroyed Patricia. Indict the angels who told her to go home and leave no stone unturned, then they took a vacation. Indict whoever destroyed Patricia’s predecessors in my life, each of whom, in her own way, committed suicide. I know, I saw it happen. Even as I saw me kill myself. If I’m to be indicted, indict me for that. Killing myself. The Eve in me. But do not indict me for the death of the species. For the death of Patricia. The female angels loved me through the night after she and I last spoke. The charges against me are false. I plead guilty to loving her too much, for being a fool. But I did not kill her. She killed herself. And she darn near killed me. Darn near. Well, she was convinced she had been Mata Hari. Maybe more than darn near. Maybe I’m dead but just don’t know it yet. No country for old men. No siree.