Margie’s face looked gaunt as she entered the light filled room. Squinting, and shielding her face, she walked past the silent crowd and climbed the platform.
The last several months hadn’t been easy. Solitary confinement never is, even if it is self-imposed. Sort of.
Her clothes hung off her newly lithe frame, and she tried her best to smooth the wrinkles of her dress, and tuck her overgrown, shaggy hair behind her ear. This wasn’t how she pictured her big day in the Cloud. She needed more time, more time to prepare – a speech, or a presentation, or at the very least, her strategy.
As she finally reached Front and Center, she looked down at the ‘X’ and turned on her heel to face the Regents, her features hinting reticence and then, finally, resignation. There is really no preparation necessary for The Truth.
This was a time of great unrest in the city below. Margie’s city. A grave war between those with power, and those without, and all those who’d been duped into thinking they had it, or didn’t - had been bubbling underneath the surface. She had tried her best to lead all sides to understanding, to peace. Indeed, the last six years had been nothing but negotiation and compromise, ebbing forward a bit, before flowing back, passing the point of origin so no progress was actually ever made – in fact, the way things were right now, her side had made the opposite of progress. It was in retreat.
But maybe that’s what was needed. Her retreat. Her admission. Her story.
This was afterall, her life. Her mind.
Margie looked at Og and sucked in a breath. He was angry. He’d been angry for a while. Too much time taken for this resolution and not enough progress.
“May I sit?” Margie asked tentatively.
“No.” Og answered dryly, “Ms. Kearns, you only have seven days left here. I suggest you get started,” and then with a sigh, relenting, “We’ll take breaks when you need them, you can sit then.”
Margie nodded, and began. “I think this whole … war… this six year battle … was my own fault.” Margie shifted her stance, pressing her lips together to keep from quivering. “I compromised myself. In the beginning, by being with someone I had no business being with…and then marrying him.”
Margie continued, “I just…I didn’t know who I was. I mean I did, but I didn’t know what exactly that meant.”
Margie took in a deep breath, and exhaled, long, slow, and steady. Leaning back on her heels and lifting her eyes to the Great Room’s ceiling, she tried to remember what it was about Pete that had engaged her so. She’d been so discerning in the past, well – it always took awhile to discern a partner’s true motives, but she eventually would, at least.
“His hands,” she mumbled, before lowering her gaze to Og.
“I was attracted to his hands…they were large. Hairy, and very straight.” She smiled, realizing she still had good memories, despite having surfed the waves of hatred for him these past six years. Pete had also been a milestone for her, in a sense, as she’d often questioned her sexuality. You’d think that, at thirty-four, these questions would be answered. But after a particularly bad relationship would leave her stone cold toward even the idea of being with another man, the questions would rise again to the surface - wondering what it was about herself that kept attracting the wrong kind of man. Was it because she was gay, or simply a poor judge of character? She briefly toyed with the idea that, perhaps, the reason those kinds of relationships seemed to haunt her since she was a teen, was due to some outside influence; but those ideas quickly left her mind.
She was in control of her own destiny.
Margie scrolled through the profile photos and zeroed in on the one she liked. “Good4U” wasn’t at all like her “type.” With a roundish face, kind eyes, and glasses; Pete didn’t have the “lanky rockstar” look to him that Steven did.
Steven. It had been almost a year since they’d made the trip from La Jolla to her hometown, staying in this house with she and her step-parents. Margie opened another window of her Internet browser and searched his name: “Steven Browning.”
She thought for a minute about the strange relationship between he and his ex-roommate “Trent” – remembered how her son’s father, Michael, warned her about him, if indirectly:
“Callum doesn’t feel comfortable there.”
He was right, of course. Margie didn’t feel comfortable there, ignoring every red flag.
On a hunch, Margie searched the address where she lived a year earlier with Trent and Steven:
“4550 Goldberg Way, La Jolla, California”
Then, adding a comma, she added the words “hit and run.”
There it was. The search resulted in links to several articles originating from in and around La Jolla about the hit and run accident of a prominent gay lawyer.
She opened one, feeling the blood beginning to leave her face as she began to read the article: “Gary Turnblad, prominent La Jolla attorney, dead at 33.”
The article went on to describe the time and manner of his death, according to several witnesses. What stopped Margie in her tracks, was the description of the van. Black…fully loaded…noisy muffler.
Her palms began to sweat as she closed both browsers to the computer, the very same computer Steven helped her parents purchase while they lived here a year ago.
It was evident that this man impacted lives everywhere she went. His stories, from being in the military to being incarcerated for marijuana; from being a lead singer in a rock band, to wanting to start an acting career; from wanting to start his own business; producing bands or learning computers - this man was not to be trifled with, and so she made a note to contact the FBI about him, again.
Margie shook her head as she finished that part of the story, becoming once again aware of the eyes upon her.
Vesta interrupted, graciously, just before Margie began to speak again.
“We already know all about this, Margie, what we….what we would like to know is …how did you meet Peter?”
“Oh. Well, I thought I just told you. Online. On a dating site. His profile was ‘Good4U’ – it turned out…. Pete was not good for me.”
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