Crying Jag

 

 

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From that moment, Sue began a behind-the-back campaign to undermine

Nicole's authority on the paper, and destroy friendships Nicole had made

with other people on and off the newspaper. Sue would spread lies about

Nicole, constantly demanding people not repeat what she told them,

knowing they would, swearing everyone to utter secrecy, when secrecy was

impossible. But Sue's primary target was Glenn, and Sue bent all her

powers of persuasion to destroying that shaky relationship.

 

Strangely enough, Sue failed at her primary mission -- partly because

her wiles have little effect on truly mature men like Glenn, and partly

because Nicole transferred out of William Paterson College to Rutgers,

well beyond Sue's reach.

 

Joel in his attempt to learn more about Sue's college life, scoured the

internet seeking people from the Beacon crowd and managed to interview

Linda Bloom, Nicole Bush, Bill Madaras, Ron Goldberg, Larry Henchy, Glen

Kenny as well as several professors, including Fort Manno, Richard

Attanally and Stanley Wertheim. Indeed, when Joel heard that, Philip

Ciofari, a creative writing teacher from Sue's era at school, was

reading at the Barnes & Noble in Edgewater, Joel scurried up there to

dig for dirt.

 

Many of those Joel contacted expressed embarrassment over what they did

and said at school. Some feared their habits back then would cause

damage to their careers if revealed to their employer. Nicole, who

writes advertising copy for a pharmaceutical firm, didn't want her past

revealed. Even then, she was fuzzy about those years of her life. She'd

spent too many weekends smoking pot to relax. She hasn't been involved

in the scene for years, and remembers having to rescue her husband from

the dancing pit at a punk concert.

 

Joel pressed many of these people to tell him things Sue had told them

in secret, trying to unravel the reason behind some of her actions, then

and now. At first, some were reluctant. Sue had sworn several to

secrecy, and even after nearly twenty years, they were reluctant to

divulge what Sue had said. But one factor seemed to come to light. Sue,

it appears, had been raped when she was three, by -- apparently -- one

of her mother's boyfriends.

 

"She displays the behavior of someone who has been abused. I can't say

she was without better information. But her tendency to use men like

Kleenex fits the pattern," Joel said.

 

Joel's investigations had uncovered some other details of Sue's life and

her continually consistent behavior. Sue has been attending NYU seeking

her masters in English. Glen, a friend and colleague from William

Paterson, actually helped her with her paper on Marquis De Sade, a

notorious historical pervert and sadist. This fits in with the pattern

of Sue's life, echoed by the uncovering a 1984 Halloween photo in which

she came to a party dressed up as a prostitute.

 

"It is clear from what I've found out, Sue is someone who wanted to push

the edge, was fascinated by it, in a very voyeuristic way. She may have

been suffering from a Histonic Personality Disorder, which is a disease

that makes people need attention,. The DSM, the Diagnostic Statistic

Manual claims almost every actor and actress in Hollywood suffers from

this disease."

 

Of course, Joel, like many current and former social workers, suffers

from trying to ascribe psychological theories to people he meets. He

would later claim Sue fit the classic bi-polar disease pattern when it

fit wmeets. He would later claim Sue fit the classic bi-polar disease

pattern when it fit with his theory on her being dead. Unfortunately,

Joel had just enough knowledge in these areas to over prescribe, often

reading things into my motivations, as well as Sue's, and he clearly did

not know Sue addiction to self-help medical books, or how she was a kind

of hypercontriact of psychological disorders. If she read about it, she

displayed the symptoms -- and indeed, seemed to have several psych

 

Joel did contact a psychiatrist, a former colleague from his days as

social worker in Brooklyn, who claimed Sue fit the pattern of an abused

child, acting out situations, creating scenes, seducing older men, all

in a vain attempt to regain control of her life.

 

"I get a sense that she was addicted to the life and got a thrill out of

performing," Joel said. "From what people have told me so far, this

seems to be a theme with her, seeking power over men."

 

Sue, Joel said, came to William Paterson College at a time of open

enrollment, when the lighter standards allowed her time to pursue these

social games. In many respects, when she was there, school was already

attempting to change, getting rid of the people did not take their

education seriously. In 1978, William Paterson College suspended or

ejected hundreds of students whose grade point average didn't come up to

the minimum acceptable standard.

 

"This may be in anticipation of the changes that occurred in 1984," Joel

sail, whose recent trip seeking background on Sue took him back to the

campus. "What struck me at William Paterson was the change in the kids.

The wave we saw when we were there doesn't exist now. You won't find the

same kind of nutty kids we used to see."

 

When Joel sought out the Beacon office, he met Yonnie Rosenbaum, the new

editor of the Beacon, someone who has studied the past twenty years of

the newspaper in order to get an idea of what kind history the paper

had. Joel only looked as far back as 1979. Then and now, the biggest

issue seems to be apathy among the student population. Joel seemed to

confirm Sue's interest in editorship.

 

"When I went back to look at her work," he said during his resent visit

to the campus. "I was shocked to see how little she wrote about the

arts. Most of what she did was news. When I talked to Nicole, she

explained to me that very few people every came out of the arts to

become editor and chief."

 

Sue's manipulation seemed to work, She rose in power on the paper,

exchanging title as she climbed towards editorship, a climb cut short by

her graduation. At which point, she took a head long dive into a darker

and more dangerous real world.

 

Since my few contributions to the school newspaper fell under the

category of the arts, Sue seemed to disregard me as a useful commodity.

 

Joel was not been able to acquire any of Sue's stories that were

published in the literary magazine. Some of the problem may be that Sue

sometimes published under the initials S.M.

 

But the biggest problem, Joel said, was getting people to remember.

 

"Most people don't have the memories we have," he said. "After 18 years,

people aren't going to remember the details."

 

He said he called first, as to jog these memories so that four or five

days later, they might remember something that can help him in his

investigations.

 

When Joel finally reached him Bill Madaras reluctantly confirmed some of

the Pattern's Sue established while at college. Sue had sworn Bill to

secrecy, the way she had many others, telling him she needed him to know

certain things and then told him stories that Joel said he had already

heard from many of the other people he interviewed -- though Bill did

say Sue once told him she had been sexually abused at age three.

 

Madaras now works as the press person for a software company and lives

in the Mahwah area of New Jersey. He married another WPC graduate and

lives near where he grew up. His father passed away over the last

decade, but his mother lives near him, a protective women who one

student from WPC called "clinging."

 

Madaras at college, dated Linda Bloom until she decided to be a lesbian.

Apparently upset and drunk, Madaras stood up in the middle of the pub

and announced the face. Within hours Sue moved in and began what some

have called a turbulent relationship.

 

But Sue, according to Madaras, was not to blame. He called her "noble

and brave," and stuck by this tale even to the point of breaking off

friendships with people who disagreed.

 

Joel, when interviewing the man, was struck by the loyalty the man still

displayed.

 

"He said he wasn't sure he would talk about these stories," Joel said.

 

Yet Joel managed to pry them out of Madaras anyway, if only to learn the

secrets were no secrets a all. Madaras' relationship with Sue ended with

equally bad feelings. Sue apparently would tell him tales of stalkers

(saying he should say nothing to anyone) and he -- so enraged that

anyone would think to hurt his precious Sue -- would march up to that

person and tell him to leave Sue alone. Madaras was often greeted with a

blank stare.

 

At school, Madaras seemed to hate Nicole and Glenn -- though by this

time, had already graduated WPC, coming back for possible graduate work.

Sue used him continually to write her papers, and fight her battles, all

the time, she talked behind his back, badmouthing him with others,

telling other men how much she wanted to be rid of him. Although a

debatable point, Madaras once came near to belting Nicole over Sue, and

shoved her away. Madaras later claimed Nicole had hit him.

 

She did not, however, resemble the "noble and courageous" soul Bill

Madaras claimed she was, nor the helpless bird she painted herself as in

her fiction, but a weary wanderer who at age 19 or 20, life had already

ceased to make sense, just webs attached to webs and circles within

circles. And perhaps in those moments alone, Sue actually did try to

find the truth inside herself, confused by the innumerable lies she'd

invented and stories she had told, unable to remember which stand led to

the center of her web, and which alternative history was actually hers.

 

One other memory, however, seemed to stand out for most of those people

Joel interviewed.

 

"For reasons that no one seems to know or recall, Walsh went into a

crying jag [in a Student Center stairwell] that was so intense as to

frighten her friends," Joel wrote in his unpublished manuscript. "no one

could calm her down and she retreated whenever someone came near to her

to talk."

 

At the time, I did not ascribe great significance to the freak out. We

all did crazy things. Even after I started searching for Sue in July,

1996, the moment lacked weight in my memory, until jogged to the surface

by subsequent research and the claims of people like Rob Hardin -- who

claimed Sue the victim of bi-polar disease, an untreated condition he

thinks led to Sue's death.

 

While I still disagree with his conclusion (I believe Sue is not only

still alive, but very conscious of the search for her, taking it in as

another form of entertainment), I do now belieas another form of

entertainment), I do now believe that the circumstances leading to her

disappearance, may have resulted in the last of at least three

psychological freak outs, the

 

In my journal -- written years after the incident -- I recalled people

telling me about Sue's freakout. But after thinking about the affair, I

recall now that I was actually in the building when Sue fled to stairway

and refused to come back into the halls or the newspaper office.

 

In fact, her position on the stairs was a regular hangout of mine, one

of the few places a person could find privacy, and warmth on a winter

day. And with the stairways surrounded by glass, the view of the campus

was remarkable. Sometimes I would spend hours there with my books and

notebooks, yet would get little done for staring out at the people

passing below.

 

I remember seeking out that same refuge and running into a crowd of

people from below, people who muttered and struggled to look up the

stairway over the heads of people closer to the scene.

 

"What's going on?" I asked, annoyed at the crowd, the way I was

sometimes annoyed when I found some coral group occupying the stairway

ahead of me, coming here because of the natural echo.

 

"Some girl is freaking out up there," one of the students said.

 

I did not know at the time that the girl was Sue. That news reached me

later, via reports from others, who claimed Sue had camped out in the

stairway, refusing to talk to anyone, screaming and crying as people

rushed from offices throughout the building.

 

Dave Bruce heard it, and ran to find out what the problem was. Stephanie

ran there. So did Bill Madaras.

 

"She wouldn't let anyone into the stairway with her," someone told me

later on. "I just couldn't believe she was doing this."

 

As managing editor, Sue had a lot of pressure on her back, especially

with the loan negotiations going on. The school newspaper was a private

entity then, funded differently from the rest of the clubs such as the

literary magazine. Instead of a direct subsidy, the newspaper took out a

loan, then paid it back through advertising revenues -- more or less

guaranteeing the school a free press. If it didn't have to worry about

support from the SGA or the college administration, the paper could feel

free to write what it wanted, honestly.

 

But SGA and the college administration had begun to have second

thoughts, disliking the idea of a free press, disagreeing with the

liberal editorials that routinely blasted both. While I didn't know the

details, I gathered they wanted some kind of censoring power, and the

power to hire and fire the newspaper's editors.

 

How much Sue had to do with these negotiations I didn't know, nor did I

know if they had anything to do with this sudden public spectacle. I

later learned from others that she cried long and hard and wouldn't let

more than one person come down to talk to her, as she huddled in the

corner of the stair, her arms wrapped around her head.

 

I talked to Joan Tanner, Eric Kessler, Dave Drowin, all confirming the

freak out, without any knowing why Sue suddenly had a fit. Bill Madaras

finally went down to talk to her and eventually, with his arm around her

shoulders, led her back up the stairs, telling her, everything would be

all right.

 

"She did finally calm down," wrote Joel later, "and concerned friends

were startled when she continued about her business as if nothing had

happened."

 

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Doug & Danny

 

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