Heart Fades to Black

Chapter 10 – Two Letters


Winter 11, 2049
Liberty City

Dear Karen,

I hope this finds you well in body and spirit and that the problems with your sons that you'd mentioned in your last letter have been resolved. I've no complaints for myself. You might be surprised to be getting a real letter from me in addition to my usual holiday card, but I never adequately responded to your letter of some time ago and I feel I owe you one.

Actually, this isn't exactly a reply to that letter. It's that a very odd thing happened this week. I ran into Cliff. He's in a pretty bad way - he's living on the streets and has been for some time now. We had dinner together and I offered him help, which he refused for reasons he did not state but which we can both guess. I've not seen him since – perhaps he left town after finding out I lived here.

The encounter got me thinking back to that year in Mineral Village – gosh, nearly 30 years ago now – and I went sentimental on myself and did a queer thing. I wrote up something akin to my memoirs of that year. So the main reason I'm writing is to ask if you're interested in reading them. I must warn you that I wrote rather honestly, indeed bluntly, leaving nothing out – and rest assured that I was as unsparing of myself as of anyone else. So if you'd rather not see them, I would understand completely.

But if it would interest you to read them, please let me know and we'll work out some secure way for me to get them to you. That I think is necessary – I'm not sure how much you've told your husband of your past but I can imagine that he'd be disturbed at reading some of the events of that year – even with them being so long ago. And whatever you decide, I of course wish you and yours a peaceful and joyful holiday season.

Love,
Jack


Winter 17, 2049
Citrus Valley

Dear Jack,

It's always good to hear from you and if you have no complaints then I know you're not on your deathbed as I know it'd take at least that to get as much as a mild whine out of that stoic mouth of yours. My husband is on the road for most of this winter, leaving the matter of the boys in my hands as usual. It looks as if Ralph will be able to get heavily supervised probation if he'll keep his mouth shut and follow the script, but Tommy was in too deep and will probably be going away for awhile. I'd like to think it might scare him straight but I know he's too set in his ways to change now.

That Cliff would end up that way does not surprise me in the least. He always had it in him and frankly I wouldn't have thought he was still alive. And if we're going to hash over old times, I did finally hear about Popuri's death – from Ann, of course. I suppose the two of you hadn't mentioned it to me before to try and spare me from thoughts of those days. It's sweet of you, but really, when did I ever need to be spared from anything?! I'd like to say I'm sorry for her meeting such a nasty end but I can't really feel much sympathy for her. She lived the life she chose and when a woman like her finally does pick up the wrong man, the results are rough justice of a sort. I've not heard anything about Josephine since she ran away from her. I'd do so hope that she's not living on the streets but being 'brought up' by a mother like that it wouldn't be surprising either. I'm a bit surprised that you haven't gone looking for her (or maybe you have) but I can only assume you know how you want to live your life.

I'm astonished, though, that you were willing to relive that year to the point of writing it down. It's the kind of thing a person like you would want to forget, I would think. Thank you for offering to share with me, but I'm not sure if I want to relive that year in the detail you surely must have written. You see, my romantic streak is not completely dead and when I do think of you, I prefer to do so through the gauzy fuzziness of selective memory. I always want to remember you as that sweet considerate boy who kept smiling as he rolled with the punches he took. And yes, I also like to remember what a firecracker that boy was in bed! Yes, I think it best if we leave it there, so please keep your memoirs to yourself. If I change my mind, I'll let you know.

I hope the holiday season is peaceful and joyful for you also – don't just sit alone in that apartment drinking, OK? Get out and do something nice for yourself. You deserve it.

Love,
Karen

FINIS