16. "Drive with a Dead Girl"

"They were yelling the secrets but I couldn't hear them because I was looking at them from the wrong! place!"

"When you know how to listen[,] everybody is the guru[.]"

= Baba Ram Dass, Be Here Now

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by Lucas Edwards

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Sixteen

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The rest of the letter to Dean and Maggie that November of 1979:

(As I type it I see content which concerns post-Halloween events. Thus, my thought that this was similar to the letter under toast is mistaken.)

___

To make a much longer story merely long, I shouldn't have been reading the newspapers with their crap about Berkowitz, Carr, dogs' ears, Satanism. When I asked the hotline if Carr had lived at my address, I was told I couldn't be told that information. It only proved to me I was right.

When Sheriff Gardner agreed to see me, it made me more important than I wanted to be and I blew through the paranoia roof. I'm getting slowly better on my own.

Gardner was a regular at the restaurant years ago when I first worked there. I called and was told "no such name has come up." I worried that the call would be traced. Fatal ingredient number two? Three?

That night, I was scared of Halloween and especially the restaurant, thought I was going to be killed just for being so inadvertently close to such nefarious activity. Before I called Gardner a second time, I drove around with Cindy and discussed my fears. She was the wrong person to confide in. She added fuel to the fire, telling me about a night at the restaurant when the lights went out and strange noises were heard in the basement. Are there tunnels there?

Assassin!

I called him again and told him about possible tunnels. I told him I'd lived in that house. I would not talk to him in the restaurant itself but met him in his squad car outside. It was witnessed. It was afternoon of the day before Halloween.

Gardner brushed me off so Cindy and I talked to the restaurant owner about noises and tunnels. He placated me, thinking I'm having a dizzy queen breakdown.

I slept and realized I'm having vibes from that house I once lived in before I moved to Seattle. I called Gardner again. He shows up at the restaurant that night unexpectedly, so I figured he wanted to know how much more I happened to know. Cindy and I join him in his squad car again and after he drops Cindy off, I ask ten questions, each of which is answered, "Yes."

I'm suddenly ten times more scared and thinking ten times as fast as I'd been to arrive at these thoughts and connections.

Halloween morning, I started to doubt Terry Gardner. How could all ten questions be "Yes." Why would he lie to me? If I can't believe him then I can't believe myself and am cracking up. I need to be removed from society for the day. I wrote a four-page letter to Dean.

The letter was a confession of my entire life, all my thoughts and suspicions in a tearful fit of paranoia. If I'm dead by tomorrow, here's what I knew.

I worry my folks' phone is tapped. My teeth and lungs hurt still from last week's pneumonia and dental work. I try to sleep!

I called the Seattle FBI to ask them if I can trust the Spokane FBI. Can I trust this particular sheriff? I am too frightened to go to work in the costume I'd planned the week before with Cindy. I was going to be a fang-less vampire (remove my partial denture of front two teeth).

At noon, I had mom call the restaurant and tell them I'm sick (I'm due at work at 10:00 p.m.). I can't sleep. I try to distract myself by reading: newspaper, Newsweek; everything I read fits into my paranoia and tells me I'm going to be killed tonight.

Mom left to get groceries. I was alone at home. 

I put down the news reports and read "The Waste Land." Every word made sense. Half-way through the poem I locked the doors.

By the end of the poem, I was comforted. I called the restaurant to say I'm feeling better and will be in as scheduled - and in costume!

I put on white make-up. My sleepless eyes are stressed and red. I put on my black cape and shirt. I put the letter to Dean in my pocket so it would be found on my person should I be killed, etc. The perfect vampire.

I left for work.

___

What I'm recalling about the rewritten version of this letter that ended up on a plate of toast is that by this point in the recopying of it from this original draft to the draft which has been lost forever, the two drafts have gone two different directions completely. For that reason it's almost of no use to continue to quote the original here, but I'll stick with it for just a while longer: 

___

At midnight, enter six sheriffs and one of the number one suspects minutes later at a different table. The combination was so intense that I figured I was already dead. I passed my Jesus letter under the toast.

(The retired sheriff, another regular customer, is also at the restaurant in civilian clothes, with his wife. His name is Holland. Their presence is meant to calm me, reassure, I suppose, but the effect is the opposite. I don't want this attention, these semi-celebrities around.)

And odd customers, a strange and unexpected rush that lasts for hours, forcing us to stay open beyond 2 a.m., our usual closing time (the only time that ever happened).

___

The letter begins to conclude, omitting the stress after the customers left, waiting to be shot as I was vacuuming and singing along with the radio blaring public service announcements about poetry contests and the song "The Long Run" by the Eagles, "Who is gonna make it? We'll find out in the long run."

___

The night over, since then everyone has been trying to give me clues as to which "side" they're on or were on that night. They try to give me hints what to do to learn more but I don't want to learn more. Who is "In" and a team member? Who is "Out" and due to die?

The letter under toast mentions that I know and talked to the local FBI director (husband of the public library's head librarian). I didn't. I meant to provide information, not disinformation.

Since then I continue in inconsistencies and being watched, making dental appointments wondering if they're putting microphones in my teeth. Have you ever heard of a dentist ordering you to stay in bed for two days and not work? I'm suspicious. I can't tell the good guys from the bad, too many of both around Spokane at this time. I can't wait to be in Seattle in three weeks.

Yours,

Edward

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I thought that knowledge alone would prove that I could learn more. All these years later there's no other way to explain what Edward was thinking.

Crucial, now I see, to the disorganization of the senses: the initial "fissure" which seems a pinacle is only the first of many such fissures and earthquakes. Edward's next would occur almost immediately: hostages in Iran.

The Hacker writes Leaves of Calamus, indeed. Who is busy rewriting history now? None of it trustworthy.

I'm at work constantly, a thankless and payless job. Will it end?

Calvino's book in Borges's library! The subject of this book can only be "Qubits on Toast." (It used to be called "Shit on a Shingle" at Comfy Kitchen when I worked Edward [sic] there.)

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