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Monday, July 18, 2011

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. Supported between the others, her head hung down, the man and the woman supporting her looked at each other in what I believed to be a meaningful way over her 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?" I yelled as I ran, "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.

57 comments:

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Cold case.

Leslie said...

I lived in San Diego for 8 years. I had a night like that on the beach...not long after Rodney King. It scared me to death.

There is a reason I left.

Kansas is much more my style.

R. Jacob said...

This was a change of pace from you. It started out with me thinking groups of people traveled around to bedevil other people besides me and turned quite somber. I wonder what jogged this memory?

Beach Bum said...

Damn, I have a somewhat similar story. Was doing pizza delivery a few years back to help make ends meet when I was sent to one of the worst looking houses I ever saw. Walked up and rang the doorbell only to be assaulted with the worst smell possible bordering on toxic when the zombie looking guy finally opened the door.

As he stumbled off to find the money for the pizza his sweet little girl talked to me for close to thirty minutes. I was seriously disturbed at what I was seeing and reported it to my boss when I got back to the pizza place. He told me it was up to me to report it but I might regret the results.

I was a coward and did not call the police. I drove by that same house a few weeks later and saw that it had burned utterly down to the foundation. I still think about that little girl and pray she is safe and with better people.

Lazarus said...

Possibly it was innocent Pearl, let's think the best of people! I remember when I saw my first cell phone, it was in 1991 and a guy I worked with at a law firm in Boston had one, it was the size of a brick but it worked. Not sure when the first ones came into use (I'd have to Google it and I'm too busy reading your posts to do that...) but 1985 might be a tad early, not sure. Anyway, let's assume the woman is fine, your blog is a happy place!

Simply Suthern said...

Thats a heavy memory to carry around.

Sausage Fingers said...

Damn that's heavy stuff.. what caused the flashback? was it the heatwave and the boozing?
all kidding aside I do hope the lass made it out alive and is safe and well in 2011
cheers, Sausage...
PS. you would freak out when we go to St. Augustine beach we park about 20 yards from the shore then move as the tide comes in, same in Daytona...

Miss Scarlet said...

I'm trying to remember if I've ever been in a situation quite so dramatic. Probably not. There was a strange incident where a middle aged woman tried to get me to break into a garage with her... but I thought it was a set up by the programme makers of You've Been Framed, so I walked away.
Sx

mapstew said...

Man! :¬0

xxx

Kelley said...

Wow! That is so scary! I think it is amazing that you jumped in and tried to do all you could. You probably saved her life. I bet you scared those two enough to make them think twice. What a story!

Sioux said...

I'm wondering too...What caused the flashback?

Shelly said...

Wow- that is one of those things where you just have to shake your head. However, you could very well have saved her life through you intervening and doing what you did. I, too, hope it turned out well for her.

Esther Montgomery said...

I suspect hoping for the best won't work; will merely side-step the challenge. We don't know what was happening so we don't know how reasonable it is to hope things turned out ok. Maybe people wouldn't murder someone in full view of so many others - but one of the most frightening sides of a situation like this is that something is happening outside what we can make sense of. If you can't understand, you can't act - and land up carrying a brick in your heart.

Esther

Oilfield Trash said...

Seems like a made for tv movie in the making right here.

Susan in the Boonies said...

Holy cow! What a memory!!! What caused that one to re-surface? I hope she's OK, too!!!!

Pearl said...

What I find even more disturbing here is that I hadn't really considered that the flashback/memory has been caused by something, for some reason. Why did I remember that? I don't know. I've been dreaming a lot lately, every night, and normally I can go YEARS without remembering a single dream. Now I've got wild animals I'm taming (a buffalo!), abandoned buildings and roads, things falling down around my ears and piling up, all manner of strangeness...

Worse yet, I'm having a hard time writing.

Maybe it's the heat. The heat index was already a 100 when I went to the bus stop this morning...

IndigoWrath said...

Good grief, what a sinister tale. And yes, I concur. Hats off to you for stepping in.

jenny_o said...

Makes me glad to live in a small town. However, that doesn't keep it from happening elsewhere... Good for you for stepping in and pffft to the Marines. The Marines, for goodness' sake! If anyone could have made a difference, they could have. Brrr.

jenny_o said...

Pearl, there is a good chance the temperature does have something to do with the wild dreams. Or spicy pizza. Having any of that on a regular basis? Seriously, in my experience anyway, our external circumstances frequently leach into our dreams.

Doubting Thomas said...

Hijo. (translation: sonuva...) Wow, that's one heck of a scene to stumble into.

Leenie said...

Wow that you had the chutzpah to try to intervene. You should feel good about that if nothing else. Weird dreams seem to go with changes...weather, job, new classes at school etc.

Mandy_Fish said...

Hopefully the fact that you were intoxicated too clouded your perception of what was going on. I'll keep the hope that it was much more innocent than you thought. Perhaps they really were trying to revive her with cold water. Sounds like drunken logic to me.

ellen abbott said...

I was driving my kids to school one day when the passenger in the car ahead of me raised up a gun and pointed it at the head of the driver and then he turned around and looked me square in the face. They turned at the next street and I pulled into the the convenience store parking lot in the next block and called 911. gave them all the info my rattled brain could remember. don't know what happened to that poor driver. spooky. freaked me out when then gunman looked directly at me.

CarrieBoo said...

You know, Pearl, I think that when you start writing, you really look inside yourself and find things hidden there; things you couldn't yet process, morally or emotionally. You were so brave to run out there like that in the first place. And you did what you could with no help, and no time to really grasp what was going on. If only super powers were real, eh. I remember a guy I knew through friends, turned up at my flat and asked me if I had any tights. He was acting really strange. Jittery. Not all there. But I thought, 'this must be a joke', so I went and got some nylon-ish tights out of the drawer. He then proceeded to put them over his head. I acted as though everything were normal (at least I tried - I was freaked right out) and he took off, never to be seen again. I really don't know what I was supposed to do in that instant. Or even after. It was just too bizarre. But I do imagine things worked out okay, somehow.

Cake Betch said...

Wow, that's really fucking scary. I hope that she's okay too.

powdergirl said...

Not really much else you could do at that time of night, drunk, no one backing you up, and with no cell phone. But Jesus, what a thing to witness. I guess we'll just hope the dunking revived her enough to put up some fight. Ot that being seen by a group of people put those two off their apparent plan.
Sucks to drag that one around Pearl.

Russ said...

That is wild. Gotta wonder what triggered that memory.

aBroad said...

Oh man, what a memory ... if only a drunk Marine with a rifle had run over saying Leave her here, we will call 911 ..
hindsight, .. feh.

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

I think your wild dreams and reappearing submerged memories are trying to give you the plot for your next novel. Something about a buffalo tamer who ticks off the mafia and ends up with her feet encased in cement off the shore of San Diego where she is resuced by a crowd of drunken hippies led by a wild woman named Pearl the Girl. I'd read that. Oh wait, I just did.

Belle said...

Good for you for trying to rescue the woman. Too bad your friend wouldn't help you. No one I know had a cell phone way back then either. I remember once seeing a man do something bad and I was so shocked I just stood there while he drove away. I have always been sorry I didn't get his license number.

Glen said...

Moments like that leave you feeling cold. You did what you could. Hopefully all be well/

Jhon Baker said...

I always wonder what amount of my memories are invented to fill in gaps. I always wonder if I remember something from a dream or a movie and recall it as real life - I try to take the ugly memories and turn them into movies seen at too young an age in some empty disgusting movie house.

The Elephant's Child said...

Aaargh. So way back then you were a good person too (I still remember the post where you outstared someone bullying your friend). Hope it did turn out OK and that you can find (or regain) some peace with it.

Ryan said...

I'm sure she's alive and well in a beachside condo somewhere, sipping a martini. If they were going to kill someone then surely they wouldn't do it on a beach full of marines!!

Cheeseboy said...

Well, it sounds like you saved her life the first time. I think you did all that you reasonably could.

Eva Gallant said...

Wow, what a scary memory! I hope she's okay, too.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I've said it before: You are a strong person. Seriously, they left with the lights out? That part makes me wonder. But then, they were drunk. So maybe they just wanted to sober her up.

mrwriteon said...

Scary scenario and I commend you for your courage even though it was probablu kind of dangerous.

As for your Marine buddies, Semper Fi, eh? Hope none of those guys ever actually saw battle.

Gigi said...

Your experiences remind me of that Chinese fortune - May you live in interesting times. You really have, haven't you?

Despite all the sinister overtones - I'm going with they were trying to sober her up. And you kept them from accidentally killing her; since they were too drunk and dumb to realize what they were doing. So in my scenario - you probably saved three lives.

R. Jacob said...

So you were drinking with a bunch of Marines and they did not want to mix it up? The few,the proud?

Douglas said...

Was she a tall redhead? It sounds like my ex-wife. But I was not there, trust me. And I can guarantee she survived the ordeal because she continued to be a pain in my... uh... side.

Happy Frog and I said...

That is such a powerful memory to be carrying around with you. I hope she is okay too. I've seen in a couple of your posts that you tend to wade in when you see people in trouble and I can relate to that. Years ago when I was living in a particularly dodgy area in East London I saw a woman in a car being attacked by a bloke and just started hammering on the window and telling him to let her go. Ended up getting an escort of passers by to accompany me and her back to my place while we waited for the police to come. Hope she is okay.

Annie said...

Gutsy to intervene.. Go You! Whatever they intended they thought twice. :)

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

The brain works in mysterious ways. That was really scary. I'm glad you spoke up and also glad John held you back. Of course and as always, you told this story very well. I like it too when you show us a more serious side to your writing.
Be well.
xoRobyn

vanilla said...

Oh, Lord, Pearl. It seems you have awakened from (to?) a nightmare. But really, 1985? You certainly were not old enough to be drinking on the beach in 1985? I'm so confused.

Vapid Vixen said...

The part that amazed me is that little ole you took action. I love that you tried your best even when being dissuaded otherwise.

Julianna said...

How brave of you to try and protect her.

How sad that the MArines did not.

I also hope she is ok. :)

Daisy said...

Wow Pearl! what a memory to come back. I too hope that your intervention led to a happy ending.

That Janie Girl said...

Dang, girlfriend.

That's rough stuff.

lisleman said...

Surprising story. You should be proud that you took action. Your action may have made the difference. I want to think that they just wanted to keep the woman awake by putting her in the cold water.

Tempo said...

Interesting story Pearl. Makes me wonder

River said...

That certainly is an awful memory to suddenly surface. I'm glad you tried to help the woman, and like you I hope she survived. Maybe you saw her face on the street and that triggered the memory.

Pat said...

In their drunken stupor they could have been thinking the salt water would make her sick and she'll get rid of what ever poison she had been taking. What could you have done differently with no-one to support you?
All of us have memories of when we should have been braver or kinder. We just have to accept we aren't perfect and try harder next time.

Julia said...

Wow... I hope she is okay as well. You should do some research... I would... :) Hope your bad dreams stop soon.

the walking man said...

Drunk or sober that doesn't sound like any Marines i ever knew. I would like to know why John stopped yoou from stopping them. If the chick took pills she needed a hospital not an ocean.

Joanie said...

I'm having a problem with Marines not wanting to get involved.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I bet you watched the news for WEEKS after that night...