Doug & Danny

 

 

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Many of Sue's boyfriends during her college years fit a pattern that she

would later take with her when she graduated, a type of boy with whom

she most often attached herself.

 

I did not know Doug Baker well, except as a contributor to the various

campus publication. He like Sue's later boyfriend, Rob Hardin, had a

talent for poetry, music, and perversity. Sue often bragged about owning

a picture of his limp penis.

 

Unlike Hardin, Doug tended to emphasis incest and Darwin in his writing,

as opposed to S&M, calling to an older generation with his allusions to

Bob Dylan.

 

But like Hardin, and Sue herself, Doug flaunted the new age of punk

rock, making every attempt to break away from the Bruce Springsteen

image New Jersey branded on most of its residents.

 

In one essay on music, Baker blasted conventional tastes by writing:

"All is not well in musicland," then questioned why so many people

praised Springsteen and put down the Clash. He mockingly challenged

these attacks -- but above all, kept Sue's secrets.

 

The only one of Sue's boyfriends I knew reasonably well was Danny Kling,

a lanky, blond-haired boy with a short square face that looked and

sometimes acted like Elvis Costello. He claimed to be a wizard and

sometimes played around with magician's props. Some people called him

"Danny the Mystic," though others simply called him a "bullshit artist."

He was very fond of drugs and booze, and he used his mystical angle to

pick up girls.

 

Even then, few people would have actually intentionally hurt him,

viewing him as one of those characters on campus that made college life

fun, a bohemian, we all knew would eventually grow out of his

misbehavior to settle into a technical job somewhere or perhaps middle

management. No one took his artistic pretensions seriously, except Sue,

and she maintain him the way a horse breeder might as a stable horse,

someone she could claim to have a relationship with as she shopped

around.

 

As with Bill, Danny tended to dispute criticism of Sue, although his

battles with Sue sometimes rocked the campus. He was jealous and moody,

and often accused her of fooling around behind his back. Yet for the

most part, he was blind to Sue's activities, spending most of his time

up to his elbows in paint or clay in his stoned-effort to study art. In

fact, he spent so much time in Ben Shahn building, he often remained out

of range of the rumor mill, where Sue's activities were most documented.

Even when rumors reached him there, he didn't believe them, since the

arts building often saw the rest of the campus as unable to understand

the artistic sensibility.

 

When Danny finally did come to his senses, the shock nearly killed him.

Unfortunately, his artistic temperament seemed to make him more

vulnerable to the hurt than most, leaving him to stagger pathetically

behind Sue when he should have told her off, his footsteps echoing the

parade of other men's who also moaned and groaned in their pilgrimage of

pain. Of all Sue's victims, I felt most sorry for Danny, though his

wounding finally enlightened me to what was going on with Sue. Even when

Sue sought to seduce me (the one and only time), I thought it an oddity.

 

Perhaps what made this incident stand out most in my mind was the lack

of originality Sue displayed in approaching me, resorting to one of the

oldest pickup lines in history, when she told me she was unhappy with

Danny as her lover.

 

Glen Kenny later claimed that "despite her active romantic life" Sue

feigned indifference to sex, telling you how little she enjoyed it

before going to bed so that you either stood out as a lover or fit in

with her general disappointment. Bill Madaras claimed she would go out

with one man and flirt with others while on that date.

 

Perhaps when Sue finally got around to me, she sensed my vulnerability.

My sex life sucked at the time, after I had just broken up with another

girl at school, and like many men Sue used, I tended to want to help

fellow sufferers. And Sue was very attractive in her uncomfortable way.

So when she asked me over to her house to study one afternoon, numerous

motivations prompted me to say yes.

 

I knew the town of Wayne well enough to locate her apartment easily

enough, one of a string of what were then still called Garden

Apartments, though in the greedy 1980s mostly converted to Condos. She

lived with her mother, using the convertible couch as a bed. Her mother

often threw Sue out, usually over some pretext I didn't understand. I

had met Sue's mother once, and didn't like her, one of those spoiled

hysterical women with bleached blonde hair who looked like a large

version of Shirley Temple, right down tGarden Apartments, though

 

Sue's mom wasn't around when I arrived this time, something I suspect

Sue knew, wanting to me to be there alone with her. The apartment was

remarkably neat, though lacked the plastic furniture covers typical of

other clean-fanatics I'd met. Actually, I had expected clutter from the

way Sue carried on, crumpled paper from countless attempts at writing

the great American novel. Sue had a few books spread out on the couch --

which I later figured had been strategically placed to justify her

excuse of having me over to study.

 

Unfortunately, Danny was on the telephone when I arrived. So I

immediately felt guilty for all the thoughts that had preoccupied me

during my five minute ride from campus, my imaginings as to how those

soft breasts Sue so often display might look like without my sneaking a

glimpse down her blouse. Perhaps, Sue had arranged to have Danny on the

phone as well, one of the many sexual kinks Sue was capable of

displaying. Like owning a picture of Doug Baker's limp penis she had Rob

Goldberg help her develop.

 

"Sue was not your basic bimbo," Goldberg later told Joel. "She exuded an

amazing sexual energy."

 

Dorothy Alexander remembered that Sue often went out with more than one

man at once, a habit she did not break later. Rob Hardin claimed Sue had

at least seven boyfriends at the time of her disappearance.

 

Joel said Sue's sex life at school seemed "more hyperactive than most,"

with which Dorothy agreed.

 

"She seemed to be going out with a whole bunch of guys at once," Dorothy

said, "A lot of them were older guys whom she seemed to have some

fantastic power over. They would loan her cars, let her stay at their

houses and give her money."

 

As I stood in her mother's living room, I could fully imagine Sue

seducing me on the couch while still talking to Danny on the telephone.

At the time, however, I was struck by her vetelephone. At the time,

however, I was struck by her vehement denials, claiming over and over

that she hadn't been to bed with some unnamed man which Danny had heard

rumor about, as if any one name mattered when the list might go on and

on and on,

 

Was I interested in Sue? Absolutely. But hearing her on the phone

unnerved me, and then, I was struck, too, by the way she looked at me

when she called for me to come inside.

 

"I'm only on the telephone," she said, and smiled, and repeated her

denial to Danny on the phone, though still looked straight at me,

undressing me the way I had undressed her in my mind dme, undressing me

the way I had undressed her in my mind during the ride over. That made

me feel uncomfortable, too, and

 

"I really need you to explain this allusion," she said. "I know you know

all about literature."

 

An untrue statement at best. I had less formal education that she and if

she'd wanted help with English, Michael Alexander would have served her

purposes better. Or any of the professors she allegedly slept with.

 

The suggestiveness in her voice at the campus and again at the

apartment, stirred feelings I had felt at the go-go bar a few days

earlier. I kept watching the go-go girl and thinking of Sue, and I was

horny and bitter about being promised a good time by the barmaid only to

have the woman tell me it would cost me money.

 

All I wanted was cheap sex, and kept recalling the rumors, so when I ran

into Sue again, I was primed. After all, she had involved herself with

so many men, what was one more to her. I wanted to be invisible again. I

wanted to make love to a woman without all the emotional attachments I

had suffered over the last year. I wanted to walk away afterward without

even needing a cigarette to make it seem worthless.

 

Sue motioned for me to sit on the couch and I eased over to it, and

lowered myself onto the far end, furthest from where she sat, her bare

toes stretching across the rug towards my sneakered feet, her eyes

bright and her smile broad, as light-hearted an expression as her

conversation was grim.

 

Only then, did Sue strike me as fundamentally different from the rest of

our college crowd, the way I was fundamentally different, and the way

Glenn Kenny was, wolves of a wiser ilk that walked freely among the

sheep, able to choose our victims -- if we wished. And whereas people

like Glenn chose to sample his with discrimination, and I had chosen and

made only one dreadful mistake, Sue chose at will, taking advantage of

the simpler and more naive people like Danny, who were still struggling

to work out the difficult details of sex, how to get it, with whom, and

how often, all the time attempting to make sense of the emotional

turmoil basic body contact created, as if one couldn't have sex without

creating such static, too.

 

From my occasional talks with Danny, I knew he hadn't quite worked out

all the kinks in his relationship with Sue, that he had mistakenly read

her as someone capable of a long-term relationship, someone who might

someday want to settle down with house and kids, and allow him to work

some straight job somewhere, making love on Mondays, Wednesdays and

Fridays, going to the movies on Saturdays and church on Sundays, and

filling their lives with meaningless chatter.

 

I knew for all Danny's bluster about art, all his talk about mysticism,

all his huff and puff when picking up girls, he wanted one girl and a

simple life, and presumed Sue could give him that. I knew that was the

reason he had taken up his job in Willowbrook, doing market research on

customers as they shuffled through the mall's dark corridors, and why he

kept helping Sue get a job there, too, whenever she needed money. Did he

know Sue was screwing his boss behind his back, or flirting with the

mall guards, making arrangements for secret meetings there later at

night?

 

Ironically, Danny kept trying to live up to his name, clinging to things

he believe in rather than examining things for what they were. Sue knew

him, had hooked into his fantasy, and would not allow him to break free.

She would -- like any good fisherman -- let him reel out some line for a

while, fiddle with somwere. Sue knew him, had hooked into his fantasy,

and would not allow him to break free. She would -- like any good

fisherman -- let him reel out some line for a while, fidd

 

Did he know that he fit a pattern of men Sue chose for herself, men who

thought they could help and shelter her from harm, while she manipulated

them? No, I think not. Danny, of course, knew something was wrong, but

largely blamed himself. If she cheated on him, it is because he somehow

failed her, not satisfied her, and yet, the more he tried the more he

seemed to fail and the more she rejected his efforts to seduce her. And

yet, even as the last of a string of men Sue reportedly victimized,

Danny was compelled someway to remain attacked, to cling to her as if he

had to live up to his name, and she, in that cat and mouse way of hers,

leading him on only until he came too close, then turning him off again,

leading him to believe he had some permanent and exclusive relationship

with her, while she maintained four or five mutually exclusive

relationships with other men around campus, some whom she had sworn to

secrecy, some to whom she said she could not yet commit herself until

she broke off with Danny, but always needing to break it off slowly with

Danny, so as not to hurt him, all the time, torturing him with a torture

as cruel and excruciating as Chinese torture, the slow pain far worse

than a simple stab in the back.

 

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Danny & Me

 

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