December 9, 1980
I flew down to Tallahassee on Sunday morning, and found a hotel near Wakulla Beach. I hadn’t spoken to Melanie, but I was here in case believing my crazy story changed her mind about her anger with me.
Sam wanted to come with me, but she didn’t have a license, so she agreed to stay at the house in case Judy or Melanie called, she’d be able to tell me to call them, or give them my number.
With about thirty six hours until John Lennon’s death, I knew that there would be no change in either of them, and that I had to find something to distract myself. I walked down to the beach and rented a wetsuit and a surfboard. The water was cold, but it wasn’t excessively cold, I was surprised because even on my feet which weren’t covered by the wetsuit, I didn’t feel any of the numbness that comes with truly icy waters.
I alternated between surfing, and sitting and reading. I had picked up One Hundred Years of Solitude, a few days earlier at Walden Books, and it seemed a fitting title given that I essentially had no one in the world to communicate with for the next two days, and would be alone in my own head. So far it’s good, but not reflective of the title.
I’m not a good surfer at all, so the time I spent in the water, my only focus is on what I’m doing. My mind was completely clear as I paddle out, and focus on balancing on my board waiting for a wave to try to ride. My muscles don’t have the muscle memory, or even the endurance trained into them, and I fatigued quickly.
The board was due back to the stand by 7, and I went back to my hotel, and checked messages with the front desk; nothing. I went to my room, and called Sam at my house.
“I watched the nightly news, there was nothing about John Lennon. Did you just Google the date, or did you read about the time too?”
“I had to remember events and details, scores to games, it was a lot so I didn’t bother to look into the other details like that.”
“Yeah, that’s ok.”
We only talked for a few minutes before hanging up. I went and got some food, and came back to the room and slept.
At almost 1 am, I woke to the phone in my room ringing. I picked up, disoriented and unaware of where I was at first.
“Darren?” It’s Melanie’s voice, and it’s filled with concern.
“Melanie?” I missed her voice so much.
“I just spoke to Sam.” There was a silence, like that was all she could say.
“She told you who she was?”
“Your sister?” There was confusion in her voice, not that she didn’t believe, but that she didn’t get it.
“Yeah, she came after I did. She’s like in her mid-fifties.”
“You know this sounds crazy right?”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“A half an hour ago, a nurse came back from lunch, and she was crying. She had seen on the news in the cafeteria about John Lennon. You were right.”
“Can I see you after work?”
“I’m leaving here in a few minutes. Where are you staying?”
I gave her the address, and hung up. I got out of bed and brushed my teeth and showered to be fresh for her. I put on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, and made the bed up.
I sat for about twenty minutes before she knocked on the door, and I opened it not knowing exactly what to expect. I didn’t know if she wanted to talk, or just wanted to see me, but I knew that I wanted to see her.
She stepped forward and kissed me, and we moved to the bed. Even though we were used to not seeing each other for whole months at a time, we immediately needed each other.
Afterwards, laying in the bed, with the light still on, her under my arm we talked. I knew she must be exhausted, and I certainly was, but we had too much to talk about.
“So those people, Scott and Maria, you knew them didn’t you?”
“That’s my mother and father. But they can’t know.”
She laughed, and I pulled back to look at her in the eyes.
“You were so weird that day, I just assumed you like her.”
I looked at her again, and tried to control the look of disgust on my face.
“What she’s young, and pretty. And you were without a doubt acting like a weirdo!” She kept laughing.
I shrug. “Yeah, I suppose that makes sense. But it’s still gross.”
“When do I get to meet Sam?”
“Can you come up and visit me anytime soon? I think her plan is too leave after Christmas.”
“When are you going home?” Her head was up on my chest now; her ear right above my heart.
She looked up at me and kissed me on the lips, her breath still minty from what I assume must be a stick of gum she chewed on her way here; her lips salty with sweat. “Why don’t I go with you?”
“I have a day shift tomorrow, and I’ll ask my friend Gwen if she can cover my Thursday shift, then I was off for a four day weekend.”
“That sounds perfect.”
We both laid there for a half hour, not speaking but not sleeping. We were too excited, and our bodies hadn’t calmed down yet.
“So, I’m quite a bit older than you huh?” I couldn’t see her face, but I heard the smile in her tone of voice.
“Yeah. You’re a cougar and you didn’t even know it.”
Her head lifted off of my chest, and spun around toward mine.
“A cougar?” She looked confused by the term.
“Is ‘cougar’ not a term yet?” She shook her head. “It means an older woman who likes younger men.”
“Ugh… you have a term for that in the future? Is there a term for when a man likes younger women?”
I shook my head. “Not that I’m aware of.”
She put her head back on my chest. “Good to know sexism still exists in the future.”
“It really sucks. Sorry.”
“Tell me something good that happens in the future. Something that isn’t too specific, but that you can tell me without any consequences.”
I shrug, and rub her bare back gently as I think. “What do you want to know?”
“There’s a thing, I guess technically it already exists right now, but not in its full form, called the internet. Essentially, everyone has a computer, and access to all of the world’s knowledge.”
She smiles and looks up at me and kisses me. “I guess that explains why you’re so smart.”
I laugh. “Well, a lot of things have been made better by the internet, but overall, I’m not sure that anyone is necessarily smarter or better informed.”
“If everyone has access to all of the world’s knowledge, how could they not be more informed?”
I smile a sad smile. “Well, there’s more information, but there’s also a lot of contradictory information, and so everything can seem a bit more complicated. Also, there are people not interested in using it for learning.”
She looked blankly.
“Video games become more elaborate, but not necessarily more educational.” I stopped myself for a second. “Although, they have made the world smaller, you can play a video game here in Florida, with a little boy in Japan. That’s pretty cool.”
I told her about the internet, and how she’d be able to contact distant relatives, and forgotten friends, and more pornography than any one human could imagine; she thought I was playing with her when I mentioned those; and that we could see footage of events happening on the other side of the globe seconds after they occurred. It was clear that her mind was blown, and the sleep that she had avoided up until that point overtook her. I don’t know how long I laid there before I fell asleep too.
The next morning when I woke up, there was a note on the night stand.
I’m not sure what I’m supposed to call you now. Do you still want me to call you Darren or Michael? Think about that and get back to me.
I had to go to work, can you meet me at my place at seven tonight? I want to pack up some things before we head off tomorrow morning.
I love you,
Her scent lingered in the room, and I felt intoxicated. After sitting here, holding onto it for a couple minutes, I decided that I am going to go surf again. I have plenty of time.