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Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Never Learned How It Ended

I’ve been caught in a flood of sorts, a flood of memories wherein I am repeatedly made aware that what I’ve seen/heard in the past is either not what I believed it was or, worse, something I forgot about: The guy who was clearly crushing on me, the boss that sexually harassed me, the “friend” who made sure that I failed, and recently, this:

In 1985 I went to San Diego to meet a friend stationed there with the Marine Band.

As was the fashion in those days, there was a certain amount of partying to be done. I’d only been to California as a child, not as an adult; and one night we spent the evening on the beach, drinking, smoking, sticking bits of various food stuffs onto sticks and holding them over the fire. We started early and went late, as was our wont; and by 3:00 a.m., the men were practicing their rifle twirling with driftwood and I was dancing around the fire.

We were delightfully drunk.

And then a car pulled on to the beach, startlingly close, to this Minnesota girl’s point of view, to the water. I was, after all, raised to be a “lert” – so when two women and a man got out of the car, I was watching.

They were drunk as well, but one of the women was particularly drunk-looking. She was hanging, head down, between the man and the woman, who were looking at each other over the center one’s head.

They walked to the ocean.

They walked into the ocean.

The woman in the center raised her head, her arms flailed as she appeared to be pulling away from the people supporting her.

“Hey, John,” I said. “Look over there. What are they doing?”

John turned around and we watched as the two people on the outside of the threesome let go of the woman in the center and pushed her down, down, until her head was under the water.

“Hey! Hey!!” I screamed, running toward them.

“Pearl!” John yelled, running after me.

“What are you doing? You’re gonna hurt her!”

The man grabbed the woman’s head and pulled it up and she sputtered, spitting water for a bit, and then her head hung down again. She appeared to be horribly drunk, but then again…

“What’s wrong with her?” I said. “What are you doing?”

“Oh, uh…” the man trailed off.

“She, um…” the woman trying to get the drunk (drunk?) woman to stand straight began to stutter. “She, uh, she, she, she, she took some, uh, pills. We’re trying to help.”

“What?” I said.

John grabbed my arm.

“No,” I said, pulling away. “No. What’s going on?”

The man and the woman, in the meantime, had managed to drape the middle woman’s arms back over their shoulders and were walking, quickly, up out of the surf and onto the beach.

I tried to follow.

John grabbed my arm, and this time I couldn’t pull away.

“But – “

“No,” he hissed.

In the meantime, the three were back to the car. They pushed the middle woman into the back seat, got into the front seat, and drove away without turning their lights on.

I’m sure there were cell phones available back then, but I certainly didn’t have one, nor did anyone I know. I watched as the car pulled away.

John handed me a beer and I began to hiccup.

“Are they going to kill her?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “But we’re not getting involved with strangers on the beach.”

There was nothing I could do. The drunk Marines I was with didn't want to hear about it. I returned to the fire.

And then I forgot about it.

And now, over 20 years later, I’ve remembered this night.

I hope she lived. And if she didn’t, I hope the perpetrators have been caught and punished.


@eloh said...

Sometimes I remember strange bits of crap too. The harder I try to pull it to the front of my brain the farther it pushes away. Kinda glad to hear someone else "suffers" this crapola.

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

I do the same thing...and I have to wonder if they are meories or dreams...and if they are memories, if they are accurate...being a child of the 60's and 70's, I wasn't "present" for a lot of my life :(

Ms Sparrow said...

Wow, Pearl, you reminded me of a disturbing incident I saw several years ago. But, I didn't intervene and it has haunted me ever since.
I think I'll blog about it.
Thanks for the inspiration.

Kavi said...

Ihave such recollections. And often times wonder if it is for real or is it part of a larger hallucination on my part!

Of that i am not sure. In any case 20 years is a long time. And that in case, only you can Pearl !

Pearl said...

Oh, you know I woke up so nervous about this post. I was concerned that I hadn't been over it enough, that it didn't tell enough about how late it was, how far I ran to the strangers, how abrupt the ending feels -- and how odd I've felt, all these years later, remembering something so awful... I was just the right amount of drunk -- did I really see what I thought I saw? If I did, how horrible was that?

That's one of the things about posting every day, about trying to write something different from the previous posts, something that stands on its own, requiring no real knowledge by a casual fallen-upon-this-blog-acciddentally reader.

Memories. Shit.

The Retired One said...

OMG Pearl.
Do you realize you may have saved someone's life?????
You may have been an Earth Angel.
And she will never know you did it for her.

Irish Gumbo said...


Memory is funny that way: like being in a thick forest, and every so often something comes crashing down out of the leaves above, soemthing we couldn't see and didn't realize was still there.

The forest of memory...Pearl, you navigated it exquisitely.

Bravo on an excellent post!

Pearl said...

Retired One, I believe I did, yes, but for how long? I can't believe how much, since I've remembered it, this bothers me...

IG, thank you. :-) I'm always hesitatnt to write the things in my head that veer from the flippant. I fell asleep thinking about having set this piece to post, and I woke up thinking about it as well. I shouldn't really care about how my stuff is received, as this blog was meant to be a daily "practice", but I do care...

darsden said...

OMG!!! I would have done the same thing...jumped in...left that damn chicken ass marine on the shore...LOL damn Pearl!

darsden said...

Oh I think John Walsh is looking for you too Pearl, just a hunch

Chris@Maugeritaville said...

You'd think the Marines would've done a little more about the situation, wouldn't you? Hope things ended up okay.

Fancy Schmancy said...

Wow, that must have been hard, feeling so helpless about the situation. I'm not sure what more you could have done, but I can understand why it would haunt you. Thanks for sharing it.

Warty Mammal said...

Wow. Holy cow. Yep, that would haunt a person.

Now I'm going to wonder the rest of my life how the story ended.

Not The Rockefellers said...

You tried to help, though...
What made you think of this evening after all these years?

Peace - Rene

Joanna Jenkins said...

Whoa! That's scary. Hopefully it scared the crap out of the drunk girl too and she straightened up... and got new friends!

Pop and Ice said...

You have to interfere in such cases. To not investigate is to sanction such behavior. Hopefully they were just trying to sober her up. A rather dangerous way, though.