What the song means, my dears...
"...And Never Brought to Mind..."
by Donna Lamb
Admin Note: Originally published on BigCloset TopShelf on Saturday 12-30-2006 at 1:50 am, this retro classic was pulled out of the closet, and re-presented for our newer readers. ~Erin
I found her in a back booth on New Years Eve in the sleaziest lesbian bar in town, Diamond Jill's on the south side. Two heavy-faced bulls sat eyeing her from their table so I approached with caution. She waved her drink at me to let me know she'd seen me and it was okay to talk to her.
Her neat cashmere office suit looked almost as out of place as my hetero-masculinity but Noelle never looked less than cute and frequently achieved beautiful. Not tonight though, she'd been drinking and crying already.
The bulls glared as I passed them. If looks could castrate.... I settled into the booth opposite her and brushed my moustache with thumb and forefinger in a gesture of not-entirely-unconscious reassurance.
"I couldn't save her, Nick," she said. "I couldn't keep her safe and now she's dead." It didn't happen often but Noelle always took the death of one of her therapy patients personally.
I nodded and signaled the bartender for two more of what ever she was drinking. It turned out to be bourbon, neat. When it arrived, I held out my shot glass to hers and we clinked them together.
"Rudie, we miss you," she murmured.
"Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest," I returned as quietly.
Noelle shook her head. "There are no angels, Nick. Rudie is just gone. The answer to the question, 'to be or not to be,' is just 'not to be.' We'll never see her again."
I considered switching plays, but all that came to mind were quotes from Lear and MacBeth, hardly cheering. Before I could work out whether As You Like It held any promise, she had already burst into tears. Comforting a crying woman in a lesbian bar has to be one of the more awkward things a man might try to do; the bulls were restless. I patted Noelle's wrist awkwardly and hoped for the best.
"She didn't have to die so young," she whispered.
"She took risks," I said.
"Don't blame the victim, she didn't kill herself."
"I'm just saying, she took risks. Why she took risks, I couldn't say, but it wasn't as if no one had warned her that cruising biker bars before her surgery was dangerous. Hell, even after surgery it wouldn't be considered the better part of wisdom."
"Goddamit," said Noelle. "She just wanted to be pretty, to feel pretty. She just wanted to feel loved."
I had handled legal work for Rudie, filing papers for new ID and change of name. Noelle had sent me more than one of her patients for such services but this was the first one that had ended up murdered.
She wiped her eyes on a bar napkin. "They caught him but will it go to trial?"
I shrugged. "He as much as confessed; the D.A.'s likely to offer a plea. His lawyer would be an idiot not to have him take it."
"A plea? What? Second degree?"
"I'm figuring Man 1. They may settle on Man 2."
"She fucking bled to death from thirty-seven slashes and he may spend, what? Six years behind bars? And isn't Man 2 supposed to be involuntary manslaughter? How can slashing someone that many times be in-fucking-voluntary?"
I glanced at the bulls. The heat in Noelle's voice had attracted their attention.
"The D.A. won't really want it to go to trial," I said. "You know she was hooking."
Noelle threw her hands up. We didn't hash that over because we both knew it didn't matter what we thought. Killing a hooker, even a transsexual hooker, should still be murder but we lived in the real world and we knew that sometimes it wasn't. Legally in a court of law, anyway. I ordered another bourbon to catch up with Noelle.
We talked about other things but the subject kept coming back to how Rudie had died. We must have talked loud enough to attract attention again.
"Someone killed your friend and he's going to get away with it?" one of the bulls suddenly asked.
"Looks that way. He's not going to pay what he should, at any rate," I said.
"That's freaking rotten," said Miss Diesel. "Justice stinks." Her companion nodded.
Being a lawyer, I couldn't really argue with that one but the tough old dyke's delicacy in saying 'freaking' instead of the full obscenity amused me and endeared her to me. "What are you drinking?" I asked.
"Boilermakers," she said, "but we'll have what youse is drinking." She hit her 's'es like a Midwesterner and the 'youse' clinched it.
"They drink bourbon in Cleveland?" I asked.
"Freaking A," she agreed, "but Stewie here is from Columbus where they waters all they booze." Stewie's amiable grin had a missing tooth.
I ordered four more bourbons and we moved to the table with our new friends. Miss Diesel turned out to be named Viv and Stewie actually was a former stewardess or 'flight attendant.' I kept my mental images to myself and Viv and Stewie refrained from looking down Noelle's blouse.
Midnight approached and a brand new year. Noelle made the toast, "To Rudie, absent but not forgotten." She'd had enough to drink that her focus seemed softened like a romantic camera shot.
Viv hesitated. "This, uh, this Rudie? A guy or a gal?"
"Yes," I said and held out my glass. Stewie clinked hers against mine and Noelle took enough care to do the same.
"Ain't we all, more or less," said Viv. She tapped her shot against ours and we drank to absent friends.
Want to comment but don't want to open an account?
Anyone can log in as Guest Reader -- password topshelf to leave a comment.
If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks.