Playing: a different spin on the same book

  • Playing:

    Roseanne sat in the waiting room listening to the air cleaner and not speaking to the patrons.  Sometimes there were people she’d seen before but more often not.  She missed the old receptionist, in fact, she missed the last two.  It seemed the job didn’t pay in proportion to the work involved but maybe that wasn’t the fault of the company.  She was grateful for them being there at all.   “Jordan will see you now.”  She said.  So they were informal already, Roseanne grinned.  Doc had a way about him that was for sure.

    He was wearing a button down shirt and slacks, she wondered what he wore on his days off.  Jordan Jenkins was easy on the eyes with his chestnut hair and slight tan, he’d worn a beard since she’d met him so she had no idea what was underneath, but it suited his personality.

    “How are we today?”  He asked.

    “Introspective I suppose.”

    “Have a seat and we’ll talk about it, or you’ll talk about it, whichever you prefer.”

    “I had a friend I’ve never told you about, in fact, there aren’t many people I’ve ever told and the ones I did tell, it was just so they’d know up front instead of finding out later.  I’ve been thinking about him a lot over the past twenty years but I don’t talk about it.  Do you think that things get bigger to a person when they think they can’t talk about them?”  Roseanne wasn’t even sure if she should go on.

    “That’s a difficult question.  Maybe it depends on the person.”  He replied.

    “Why is it that people pretend something will disappear from your thinking if you just don’t talk about it?”  She asked.  “He told me that I don’t pay enough attention to what people said around me, that I miss a lot just because I don’t pay attention.”

    “Do you agree with him?”  Jordan got comfortable.

    “In retrospect, I think I do.  You see, he and I worked together and became close friends, sometimes a little more, but he was a different race, sometimes people don’t like that.”  She revealed.

    “People don’t pay much attention to that.”

    “They did back then Doc.  Especially around here.”

    “Where is he now?  Do you know?”

    “I was nineteen at the time and our friendship lasted a little over a year if that.  But Doc, so much seemed to spill out of that year and into my life and thinking almost ten years later.  He wasn’t from around here and he seemed ahead of his time, cultured somehow.  He tried to get me to run off with him to California.”

    “Why California,” He asked.

    “Haley said that in California people didn’t care about mixing the races, he knew I wasn’t happy in my marriage but the truth is, Doc, I didn’t know that I was ready to stray that far from the nest either.”

    “So you didn’t go.”

    “Oh I considered it but mentally I wasn’t ready.  He said he’d be in someone else’s car at the end of the road.  I was packed and waiting but somehow my mind wouldn’t register that the car on the road must have been the car he was in.  I waited a while and then I turned back and went home.  No one was ever the wiser.”

    “He left without you.”

    “He did, but then he returned.”  She was wishing she had a cigarette.  She remembered Haley telling her that a puff off a cigarette was a good way to pause when you weren’t sure what you should say next and Roseanne wasn’t sure what else she wanted to say.

    “You said you were married then.  How did this affect your marriage?”

    “Not like I’d hoped.  You see, he was prejudice and I was hoping he would divorce me.”

    Doc covered his surprise like a champ.  “Um, why didn’t you simply get a divorce if you wanted one?”

    Roseanne’s eyes turned to ice, “Wherever you go, whoever you see, whatever you do.  I WILL be there.  That’s why.”  When there was no response she added, “That is what my first husband told me before we were married and I tried to break up with him.  I thought I could make him hate me.  I thought I could make him want me to leave with his blessing.”

    “You didn’t hide your friendship?”

    “I did worse; I caused them to be friends as well.  It was the ultimate betrayal.”  Doc was listening and she wondered how he was judging her.  “The thing is, Haley talked about things when I knew him that seemed to be relevant in my life later.  Doc, they seemed to tie in to the trouble I had in Utah before I left.  You see, I told him my opinion about something and……….” She trailed off.

    “You don’t feel comfortable talking about it?”  He asked.

    “No, I don’t.  It involves the government and conspiracies and what was going on in the news in Utah seemed to bring everything full circle.  Remember I told you I thought I heard a murder upstairs?”

    “I remember.”  He said.

    “Sometimes I think it might have been him.  That maybe he was more than I thought he was when I knew him and if he wasn’t, he was later.  You see, race was very important to him, much more important than I thought it was to me, but sometimes I wonder if I lied to myself, sometimes I didn’t let myself entertain thinking about it at all.  Still there is no denying that you can’t live in a vacuum and mixed couples attracted a lot of unwanted attention back then, sometimes they still do.”






    Her gift to herself had arrived today and true to form, she let someone else unpack it.  The card players by Cezanne and she could hear his voice in her head as he said, “perfect” with a smile.  She rotated the other artwork on the walls so as to have a good view of her new acquisition and sat down to admire it with a cigarette and a glass of wine. 




    She glanced at the new carpet, admiring how it matched the jacket of one of the men in the painting and thought, “perfect.”  The leftovers were out in the garage to tell the powers that be, should they ever need to know, that May might be important.  Not only was it the month the carpet was made, but a lone black woman named May had been there in Utah twenty years before when this all started.  A lone black woman might go unnoticed most places, but not in Utah.  They notice black people there, and like an exotic lover, she’d left Utah in the past but had not been able to forget what had happened there.  He wasn’t there but when it came to talking about race, he should have been there and it was only retrospect in her thinking that put him there, retrospect, and circumstantial evidence.

    May on the back and London fog on the top, “What do you think of Princess Diana?” he’d asked.

    “I watched the wedding when it happened and dreamed about being a princess.”  He chuckled.

    “Have you ever heard that song by Elton John, Rocket man?”

    “Yes,” Roseanne replied, hearing it in her head.

    “I turned on the radio in the car one day and heard the end of it, it was the first time I heard it.”  

    It occurred to her that not once in the months she’d spent with him had he ever chosen the music they listened to nor had he talked about his own preferences, except for Jimi Hendrix of course, he seemed quite partial to his music.  She only knew two of his songs and they seemed dated to her.  Some people told her she’d missed her proper place in history and should have been a flower child but that had been about her conversation, not her taste in music.

    “He’s okay,” she would say.  Later she would find out that Hendrix had died in England.  London fog carpet for a princess who couldn’t live out her dreams could also remind you of a man who never realized his full potential as well.  Had they really died or had they lived on in another life as the people in the chat room had been fond of speaking about?  Almost everyone in the reflecting pool had talked about living many lives and she’d debated with them against the notion.  What if they had though?  What if they were a group of people who spent their lives investigating things that the government would never reveal to the public?  Roseanne felt a new conspiracy theory coming on.


    The décor in Roseanne’s home was carefully tailored to tell a story to a person who had eyes to see and only to the person who had eyes to see.  She saved cat whiskers in the Utah shot glass because the women there were given carte blanche to control the place, or so they thought.  Women who were from outside the church were generally not welcome so she saved the claws as well.  The men kept their business and plans to themselves, preferring the women handle outsiders, the women, the old folks and yes, the children.  These attributes differentiated them from other cultures.  One could argue that such ‘training’ was necessary for the survival of the religion and likely a bonding experience, but Roseanne had been reared in a culture where children stayed out of grown folks’ business.

    Still, she tried to guess where they hid the ‘grown’ folks.  She’d put money on Hollywood for the princess and the Ukraine for Fayed, considering the administration involved when it happened.  After all, neither of them had been paupers and it wouldn’t do for them to lead a pauper’s life after love.  She assumed the things on the table were the things on the table but what a person kept in their hand, ah, that would be a different matter.

    She believed Hollywood made movies all the time reflecting things the “stars” hadn’t told about their lives, or the lives they studied when they weren’t busy being stars.  It hadn’t surprised Roseanne when the ‘accident’ happened; she knew England would never let those boys grow up under the influence of the Muslim religion.  Maybe the princess had revealed Dodie’s information, and he had revealed hers.  Torrid love affairs are highly over-rated.  Roseanne didn’t believe everyone who went into the witness protection program did so blatantly, she believed some of them faked their deaths first instead and kept their deepest secrets as secrets all the same.  Drugs, guns and Mexico went hand in hand, if you tossed in poppies from Afghanistan; wouldn’t that possibly explain what Dodie knew?

    “How do you hide a dead body?”  She’d been asked the question more times than she cared to count and only later in life did the notion occur to her that maybe dead wasn’t always literal.  If it wasn’t literal, the person in question would have to be planted far from their past life and moved to interests of the future, wouldn’t they?  Diana for Hollyweird and the Ukraine for Dodie, the Ukraine might be the other end of an investigation and he knew the religion, he knew the mindset.


    Roseanne kept peacock feathers in the large Mexican vase, the one that would never hold water due to the weld.  Peacock feathers had eyes, but so did hurricanes.   She’d read somewhere that one of the fictional giants named Io had many eyes all over his body and when the gods had defeated him, they turned him into a peacock.  Roseanne remembered being two and chasing some of them trying to catch one to pluck a coveted tail feather.  They were running from her until she locked eyes with one and she knew he was going to allow her to catch him.  She didn’t remember what happened next, but her mother said she had come out on the bad end of the deal.  She still had a fascination for peacocks, as well as a healthy respect.  She supposed that nature had a way of protecting its most beautiful prizes, peacock feathers and cactus flowers and water lilies.

    When she’d first met Roger he had brought her three peacock feathers and in her madness she’d assumed he already knew the story of how she’d wanted one so badly when she was two so he was fulfilling that wish for her.  Madness can cause you to assume so much and miss the obvious at the same time.



    She supposed Haley would have wanted her to focus on the blue curtains in the living room, but they were there for the curious.  Curtains, she thought, the beginning and the end of the matter.  How had curtains become synonymous with collars?  And collars synonymous with clothes?  Sometimes her mind didn’t work right, or rather, like everyone else’s mind, which is basically the same thing.  Did they call them collars anymore or was that just a dragnet term?  So little to say and so much time to say it in, such was life.  “Don’t say any of it,” she reminded herself.

    For good measure, the curtains in the bathroom window represented a long overdue rainbow, ‘please don’t destroy my world again.’  She didn’t think she could bear it.  Indian poker hadn’t been much fun.  There were five of them on the floor and two on the table, she’d chosen one of the five without knowledge that it was a game, but then those who rig the game will remind you that life isn’t fair.  She had come to believe that the weekend get-away was more than it seemed to be at the time and that likely it was the most defining moment of her life.  Roseanne had this nagging belief that there were moments in time in her life that she had not been the smartest person in the room, that somehow she’d been left out of the loop but not out of the game.  But why?  Who, what, where when and why?  She had answers but who had the questions?  But then she also had questions she didn’t want the answers to.  “Perhaps I’m just his time capsule so he wouldn’t be forgotten,” she mused.


    What was his name again?  It had been in the sky when the princess had perished.  Larger than any sign that any billboard had ever seen.  Haley’s comet.   He’d talked about it more than once.  It was the name of a writer and the name of a comet.  He’d also mentioned how the comet had brought Mark Twain into the world and he’d followed the comet on his way out of the world.




    If life had taught her anything, it had taught Roseanne that husbands come and go but dues are forever, some things were a matter of birthright and sometimes, for some people, you aren’t born until you make a good decision or a bad one, depending upon how you look at it, at least you weren’t born into some people’s world until then.  Roger seemed to prefer to believe she hadn’t existed before him.

    Her current husband had been playing head games, making things disappear and then reappear later, hiding pennies under the runner in the kitchen then denying he’d put them there, just little things designed to make her think someone other than the family had access to the house. She figured he believed it was his turn to be blessed with a wife who walked out the door leaving all the goodies behind which she would gladly do as she’d done twice before, but this time there were children she refused to abandon to the whims of the flavor of the week.  One homeless night was all it took to bring her to the resolve that she would not be homeless if it was within her power to avoid it and neither would her children.  She wasn’t like Debbie, the homeless lady who scavenged town and by virtue of her station in life knew all the town secrets.  As it turns out, no one fears the rantings of a senile old crazy lady except of course, for Roseanne who believed in conspiracies and listened.  Sometimes she wished she didn’t listen quite so intently because the old lady had some pretty fantastical ideas and sometimes truth was stranger than fiction.

    Some of the staff at the hospital knew that Debbie snuck in there and watched the news in the lobby and occasionally took a shower in an unoccupied room or the showers they had set aside for those who stayed there with their loved ones.  Debbie dressed according to what kind of attention she wanted that day, rotating between her begging clothes and her going to the movies and eating out clothes depending upon the task at hand.  Sometimes Roseanne would imagine that Debbie actually had quite a stash cached away somewhere and only lived the way she did for the challenge and the fun but then she thought that was a crazy notion, no one would actually do that.  “Oh yes they would,” she giggled.  Debbie would.


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