Back to The Beginning: Every Beauty is a Tragedy Waiting to Happen
Back to Part 7A: He stretched out his arms but she was not there

Part 8A of the Tragic Beauty Anthology
One of Three Potential Part Eights

I turned on the television and was delighted to find that Candy had MTV. There was also a fully stocked bar, so I fixed myself a rum and coke and settled into Candy's recliner and soaked in the visuals from Duran Duran's latest video. Kettles Johnson was semi-conscious on the floor, and moved every once and a while. That reassured me that he was still alive. In the bedroom I could hear the sounds of Don and Candy making slow, beautiful love. Everything was okay with the world. At least for now.

Then Kettles startled me by sitting bolt upright and screaming out Jayne's name. He looked as if his outburst had shocked him far more than it had me. He got up, rumbled off to the bathroom and returned with his fly unzipped. I reminded him politely to take care of that and he took a seat on the couch and stared out into space.

We simultaneously looked over at Don's Hartford Whalers hat sitting upside down on the coffee table. It had come off in a flurry of passion and had not made it into the bedroom with the lusty couple. For a moment I thought it might be a magic hat and thought about putting it on. Then I remembered Don's tendency to use discount store shampoo and as a result his hair was never all that clean.

"Believe me, there is a lot about Jayne that you could never understand."

While Pat Benatar belted out Hell is for Children in the background, Kettles went off on a long diatribe about the evils of the modern world. There were a lot of disconnected thoughts and his logic was inconsistent, but somewhere in his speech were elements that made sense to me. All Jayne wanted was to be free of her past transgressions, and she was able to do that. The problem was that one of those transgressions had produced a little human life that was part of her. She wanted that back without taking any of the other elements as well.

"She doesn't think I could possibly understand.
That is bullshit.
I've been taking psychology classes and sitting in on family counseling sessions in town."

Even I thought that approach to understanding Jayne was a bit too simplistic. Kettles' obsession with her was pushing him closer and closer to the edge. I wondered what Jayne really thought of him. Candy seemed to know him well and from what I had seen she liked him. The only encounter I had ever seen between Jayne and Kettles had been a disturbing festival of harsh words and yelling. Was that all there was to them or was I missing something?

Love and pain become one and the same in the eyes of a wounded child*

I kind of wished that Pat Benatar had released Tropico because that might have created more interesting background music for the moment. The We Belong magic toilet paper video would have made for a more surreal image on the television. However, this was 1983 and that album would not be out until 1984. As it was, I had to try to concentrate on Kettles' speech while Pat was singing about bad things happening to kids. It made my drink taste warm and flat. I hoped MTV would play something a little more peppy and goofy next.

You shouldn't have to pay for your love with your bones and your flesh*

The doorbell rang and was promptly followed by the sound of keys turning in the lock. With an embittered look plastered across her face, Jayne walked in on our pitiful little party. She had two packed suitcases, one in either hand, which she immediately dropped on the floor near the door. She pulled out a trio of airline tickets and dropped them on the coffee table in front of Kettles.

"What the fuck, Kettles?
You ain't looking so good, huh?"

Kettles got up and stood in front of Jayne, trying to look as composed and on top of things as he could under the circumstances. He stretched out his arms, hoping to receive a hug, but she sidestepped his action and took a seat at the far end of the sofa.

They blacken your eyes, and then apologize*

The door opened again, swinging wide and slamming against the wall. Jerry walked into Candy's apartment, a cigarette dangling from his lip and a little blonde haired boy holding tightly onto his right hand. Jayne got up, took the boy from him and handed him an envelope stuffed with bills. He started to say something, but Jayne shot him an evil look and pointed him to the doorway.

Be a good little boy, and you'll get a new toy
Tell grandma you fell off the swing*

Jayne informed Kettles that the plane was leaving in two hours and they needed to leave for the airport immediately. She refused to tell either Kettles or myself what the destination printed on the tickets was. Jayne's little boy came over to me and smiled. He picked my empty rum and coke glass off the table and looked at it. After he put it down I could not help but notice that it was full once again. He winked at me, took his mother's hand and walked out the door with Jayne and Kettles. They did not even say goodbye. I would never see them again. I just sat calmly, staring at my drink, thinking about getting back to class and looking forward to the release of Tropico. I never even noticed Candy walking out of her bedroom in just a long t-shirt. She handed me a blanket and a pillow and told me the couch was mine for the night. I tried to explain to her what had just happened, but she already knew. She just smiled and told me "good night."

That would be the night that I decided to start taking my college life more seriously. I stayed awake all night, staring at the videos careening past me on the television and smiled. I was going to be somebody someday and I would always look back on these days fondly.

*Lyrics to "Hell is for Children"
copyright 1980 N. Geraldo, P. Benatar, R. Capps
Chrysalis Music (ASCAP), Neil Geraldo Music (BMI), Big Tooth Music/Muscle Tone Music (ASCAP)

The End
Alternative Endings Available
Return to Beauty is in the Eye of the Beerholder
Choose either Part 7B or 7C

I missed & hated her for 7 years. When I finally saw her she was neither as miserable as I’d hoped when she left nor as ebullient as I pictured when I felt grownup and forgiving, which was practically never. Her hair is shorter, a good cut, and her eyes are tired behind concealer. She says she has her own business & just sold her house. I drop my mug. She spills her coffee. I wish when I closed a book I could set it on the shelf and know it was really over.

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