It was a strange phone call by anyone’s standards. She had gotten to know the caller, and her daughter, through Steven’s best friend, Ron, whom he stayed with in California. She identified herself as Darla, and asked how Margie was.
“I’m doing okay.”
“That’s good. You’re probably surprised to hear from me.”
“Honestly, yes. I haven’t spoken with Steven in months.”
Margie went on to explain how their relationship began to devolve.
Margie and Steven had auditioned for the next theatre play that her friends were producing. It was an original, and premiere production that everyone was excited about. Entitled “Raindance,” it was a story describing the final days of Mayan culture, and how greed-driven agriculture and war-making fell upon deaf ears of a local celebrity host – a caricature of Martha Stewart. It was a brilliant play, and the director-slash-writer had developed an affinity for Steven, casting him in an important role as a Mayan wise man.
Steven did well in character, but it was obviously difficult for him to be himself outside the role, and among people. He wove several stories about being a singer in a rock band, or a writer, or a computer geek. He renamed himself, and made everyone understand and repeat his new stage name: Dillon Michaels.
Margie was embarrassed by his hubris. She noticed the secret smiles, the stares and mocking in secret – it was evident they weren’t buying his story. If there was one thing Margie knew, it was that other people seemed to be a better judge of character than herself. It didn’t take long for her to feel embarrassed at having believed all his stories herself.
Their bubble had broken, so …she broke up with him.
Darla seemed concur with her story on the other end of the line.
“Well, you know he came to stay with us once he came home.”
“I didn’t know that. To be honest, things got much worse before he left. He was involved in some kind of fight, and I had to pick him up from the hospital – he was beaten pretty severely. He said he was jumped. Also, I can’t prove it, but I think he robbed my mother.”
Margie went on to describe how her mother had discovered that her videos had been depleted by almost half. They were stored in a bookshelf, two or three deep, and one day – upon investigating – she noticed she was left with only a single row to a shelf.
It was obvious that her mother blamed Steven, but Margie was still in denial. Until weeks later, when Steven had contacted her, saying he had got a job, and wanting to get back together.
They met for lunch, which he paid for. He was wearing a brand new suit, and a beautiful gold watch.
Margie was wary, asking him about his new job. He explained that he was selling gold coins for a local broker, and the money was pouring in.
She told Steven that it didn’t matter how much money he was making, they would only be friends.
She drove him to his van, on the premise that he had something to give her. He opened the door cautiously, pulled out a piece of paper, and one of the coins he had discussed – as if to provide proof.
Margie glanced inside the van quickly and noticed the VHS tapes, as well as a large red raincoat, before smiling at Steven and leaving him with only a slight promise they would ever speak again.
After that day, she informed her family to never provide Steven with her whereabouts, especially after reports on television that week described an assailant, wearing a red coat; robbing a bank and then fleeing on foot toward the airport.
She told Darla that whole story, leaving out the fact that just a few days earlier, she had walked into the local FBI office, described her suspicions, what she saw in Steven’s van, where he may be now. They took his name, the photo she provided them, said thank you for the tip, and let her go. The entire meeting took all of 20 minutes.
Darla described how they picked up Steven from the airport. How he disappeared for two days, and then came back high.
She described how Steven tried to coerce her daughter, a 6 year old girl, into giving him fellatio, while high – and then fleeing their house when her daughter told.
Margie was devastated, her mind echoing the events of her childhood, as well as the ‘what-ifs’ of her own children. After hearing that he could be prosecuted for violating his probation when leaving the state, Margie nodded silently, relating possibilities for any other place he could be.
She thanked Darla for the information, and told her to take good care of that little girl.
It was obvious to her, in that moment, that she could no longer be trusted as a viable judge of character.
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