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November 24th, 1973
She slumped in the chair and gazed out the window onto a dismal November day. Black skeletons of trees– a thick soupy gray sky. The bare branches of the trees rocked and quivered with the threatening strength of the oncoming winter.
She began to understand that it was all over for her. She had reached the point she had been heading for all her life. She was a tired, pitiful middle-aged woman and she had never been loved the way she so desperately needed. Her son was gone. Her lover was gone. Her home was gone. The future was gone. That was what had happened. The future had ceased to exist. All that would ever be left to her now were long gray days stretching off into nothing. And she was tired. Her forty-year-old body had no more sources of energy. She would sit in front of the television set for hours and see the screaming faces of women and mothers and young happy girls.
What had happened? How could it all be over and leave her this way?
In her mind, God was the Father of mankind. And he had betrayed her as mercilessly as all the other men in her life. Now she was here in an old woman’s body waiting out the remainder of her gray days alone.
“In your rocking chair, by your window dreaming, shall you long alone. In your rocking chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel.” -Sister Carrie
Her own body had always been rather filthy, shameful part of her existence. She hurried through showers– closing her eyes directly beneath the gushing warm wet flow and feeling the numbing sweetness of the warm enveloping stream. Her body relaxed into a slump– her skinny white arms hanging like pieces of dead meat at her sides– as she tilted her head back and accepted the seduction of this warmth. This good, kind thing that was being gentle and good with her.
her showers were over quickly.
Drying off and dressing quickly in the squawking glare of the bare lightbulb reflecting in putrid arcs along the unnatural yellow colored walls. Coarse towel scrubbing at legs– at those awful dumpy legs. God, how she hated them. Her own legs. She had short, thick legs that had been splotched since a very young woman. Splotched from months and years of standing and working on them all day long. Years of folding hot smothering sheets as they came by the dozens out of the dryer. Standing in a line with four other young women. Sisters. Friends. Standing and talking to each other all day. Red lipstick and curled hair. Bright hopeful young middle-class women in Missouri. Their parents had fought to survive– they had suffered and died through the time-cyle known as the depression. A bad dream of history. Even these young women had fragments of the bad dream in the images and inner quiverings of the nighttime. A car that goes by in the empty street at midnight that trails off into consciousness like the empty howl of desolate winter ringing round a barren farm– twisting and gnarling itself through the half-rotten lumber of the barn– clanging and thumping at the tornado cellar– that gaping, stinking spidery womb sinking into the black pulsing Missouri dirt. The unpainted house. The front porch collapsed on one end. The grease and soap smell of the kitchen. With the dry cracked and torn linoleum.
The father sitting like a madman– his head in his hands– making barely audible whines and moans through the night. A suffering animal. Moaning with the ache of his pains. The aches of the body that strained like a workhorse against the dumb despair of the days. Skinny children– guant wife– a sickly ashen baby that hasn’t made a sound since the day it was born.
daddy daddy– how can daddy keep up living if he is dying.
But not here– not now. Time, like a queen of heaven, had swept the nightmares away. The fifties had come to America like Salvation. Cars and TV sets and jobs and opportunities. Battered rusty pick-up trucks loaded with mattresses and chairs and skinny children had rattled down down desolate farm roads for the last time and had carried the survivors like refugees of a silent rural war off to the cities.
Springfield, Missouri was known as the Queen City of the Ozarks. The majestically wild pure Ozarks surrounded it in awesome splendor. In the fifities, Springfield became the incarnation of the wide world for many people. There were schools there. Colleges. Television stations and shopping centers and high school football and movies and beer joints and culture.
To the children of the depression– the hungry skinny children that had grown up on the farms from the country– Springfield was the promise of their lives.
Muscular, tough young men who had grown up half wild on farms and who had matured as soldiers in strange places around the world– who had smelled the smells of a whorehouse in Japan– and had fucked fourteen-year-old girls in Germany who had bright red lips and a brassiere stuffed with nylon stockings– he remembered those painted little girl lips when he kissed the bright television glow red of his clean good wife at night. A little girl who was younger than his sister the telephone operator in Joplin. Fucking, fucking jabbing that wet hard meat into a tight pulsating hole. On a parking lot, behind trash barrels in Germany for a quarter– American money.
But now, now, they had come home as respected strong young men. The country turned its deep respect unto these new leaders of America. These young men whose historical duty it now became to transform the human misery of the previous decade into a world of technological domination and security.