Married

 

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After college, of course, she issued an open invitation to her old

friends in the English department to see her debut at the SHOWPLACE in

Times Square, where she headlined as Sister Sue & the Lewd Brothers. I

myself did not attend," said Michael Alexander, later, looking back.

"You might look up Dr. Fort Manno or Larry Henchey or even Glenn T.

Kenney. Later, I would hear every once in awhile about her continuing

adventures. Living with coke dealers. Go-go dancing. Driving her car off

the road while flying on coke, attacking a cop & landing in re-hab where

she met Joe Walsh's brother. Marrying him. Having his kid. Leaving him.

Why, its epic."

Love left marks.

 

That was the point of it. That man in the dark when she was three had

said as much.

 

"Baby don't groan so much, you know I love you and I wouldn't do nothing

to hurt you, just you stay still, you hear me?"

 

And she did, feeling his touch on her as if he touched her with cold

steel. She remembered the blood later, thinking how much it hurt when he

tried to scrub it all off from between her legs, missing most of it,

slicing her thigh with his pocket knife later to make an excuse for the

blood.

 

In her dreams for years later she could only see the knife, glittering

at her, leaving that mark.

 

She saw that knife in her head when she woke up in rehab, and wondered

how she had gotten there, and then recalled the judge telling her that

if she didn't clean up her act, didn't stop the cocaine and the alcohol,

she would die or wind up in prison.

 

She was already dead, at least, life felt that way, no job, no sense of

worth, just that fog around her head she could never shake, sometimes it

was worst, sometime better, but it always shook her at sunset when it

made everything seem hazy and distant, and the people less real to her.

 

As for prison, the rehab already felt like that with its locked doors

and courtesy attendants, men in short sleeves who didn't even look at

her twice, who didn't take any of her moaning and groaning seriously,

having seen every performance a person could dig up, and hers -- to them

at least -- wasn't even as good as some. She wanted to run away. To take

on a new name, a new identity, the way she had talked about it at

school.

 

Where were her two Todds now? Probably living with some other bimbo, or

maybe poking themselves at her expense, suddenly becoming transvestites

on her when she could not crack the whip and make them behave.

 

No one loved her. She loved on one.

 

That was the only reality she ever knew. Love was a trap, full of

swirling expectations she could not supply. She didn't have what it

took, and no man she'd met was significant enough for her. Each one

lacking something she needed.

 

What was the point of love when it didn't do anything, didn't mean

anything? She had seen her mother go through men like peanuts, one after

another, all of them tasting exactly the same.

 

And Sue had repeated the offense, finding nothing flavorful in any, only

a bulging penis and a mouth full of lies, and those stares, those ugly,

painful lusting stares.

 

It all tumbled around in her head as she stumbled around the ward,

trying to pretend like she was cooperating, the fog from the past

lifting a little, making her feel less weak than usual.

 

"It's like a vacation," she thought. "I'm here to rest up again before I

go on."

 

But on to what? She had lost her job at the paper and she didn't dare go

back to dancing, or tempt herself with a snort or a jigger. But it was

love she feared, insignificant love, temporary love, love that didn't

hold up to everything it promised.

 

That pain, that bleeding always seemed to start up inside her after

awhile. She just had to get up and leave. There was never anything to

stick around for.

 

Only pain.

 

"Maybe that's why I'm here," she thought. "To rest up, away from

everything."

 

She was off the merry-go-round at last. She could breathe. She didn't

have to worry about love failing her or how disappointed she felt. She

didn't have to worry about her leaping disappointed she felt. She didn't

have to worry about her leaping from man to man to satisfy that furious

need inside her. She didn't have to rely on her wits to work out of some

difficult problem, or cry out when at some critical time, she fell

apart, love leaving her in a puddle of misery

 

She didn't now have to worry about enduring, and that made her feel

fine.

 

Sue did not like rehab.

 

They couldn't really cure the disease she had inside of her, only the

symptoms, and only she could see the signs. She had a flaw inside that

drugs hadn't caused, and removing them only left the original problem.

 

She looked better, acted and sounded normal. She even felt stronger,

refreshed, roaming the carpeted rooms in search of something, probably

an exit.

 

She did not like being behind locked doors, or being in the care of

keepers.

 

At which point, she saw Mark.

 

She didn't know he was Joe Walsh's brother. He was a kind of trustee

here, someone well-enough along in his own treatment to help with the

treatment of others. Sue later told Holly how impressed she was with his

mastery.

 

One of those odd comments that had Holly scratching her head. Him? Mark?

Mastery? He was a shallow shadow who had attained rehab largely because

he followed in the footsteps of a man who had achieved near greatness.

 

"He was an authority figure," Dorothy later said. "That's all Sue really

saw. That's all she needed to see."

 

Then, Sue found out about Joe Walsh.

 

This fact transformed Mark into an even more attractive being, one with

the map of Sue's future tattooed on his forehead. Here was the

connection she had lacked when working at the newspaper, the leap-frog

thing she needed to get instantly significant. Joe Walsh, formerly of

the Eagles, what luck!

 

Suddenly Mark's lack of social graces took on a look of quiet

indifference, his rude behavior the sign of an individualist, his

irritable nature at night, signs of genius.

 

If she intended to use Mark to get to Joe, she told no one, but Mark --

was so vulnerable at that moment, and so needy, he might not have

objected even if he had known. Later, Sue would drag him through a

thousand small plots, making him an accomplice to her abuse of other

men. She would introduce him to the porno scene. She would use him to

take care of their child when had other urgent duties with other urgent

men. And when she disappeared, she used him to help it happen.

 

Few even know the details of the romance besides the extremely

uncommunicative Mark, though with Sue it must have been quick. She

lacked subtly and was impatient with courtship that didn't wind up in

sex the same night as meeting. Other men claim she initiated the sex

when they were reluctant, and one can easily envision Sue sneaking

through the dark halls of the rehab at night, crawling passed the

sleeping attendant to tap at Mark's door, whispering for him to let her

in.

 

And then, in the dark, after a sigh and a cigarette, asking: "Are you

really Joe Walsh's brother?" taking his answer as a marriage proposal.

 

It was lull time in Sue's cycle. The furious desire to do harm had lost

its hunger. She did not need the same satisfaction from him. She could

afford to bring him along slowly, grooving up, making him feel so

superior, while telling him how inferior she felt.

 

Other people were now helping Sue.

 

She no longer felt the strain of inadequate resources. Her father,

Floyd, had responded admirably to the crisis, his guilt so thorough that

she only had to tuck it in at times and stir up its old coals.

 

He wanted to do everything he could to help, and she let him, allowed

him to bring her writing assignments -- as godawful as they were, and as

far beneath her talents.

 

He said he would find her a job, always praising her and doting over

her. He didn't even question too much when she told him that she and

Mark had come to terms and would marry the moment they graduated rehab.

 

Floyd must have frowned, must of thought how odd this was, and if he had

talked to someone, sought out professional advice, he would have

realized just how significant this attachment was, and how much illness

still showed in his daughter's behavior, the powerless little wrench was

now seducing one more soul, using all of those subtle talents she'd

perfected at school to cling to another man.

 

Sue didn't love Mark. Sue didn't even want Mark around. But Sue needed a

vehicle, one of those men like Danny she could depend upon to be at

home, someone who was just dim-witted enough never to ask the wrong

questions, or make her conform too much to those house-wife-like duties

marriage usually demanded.

 

Sue's mother must have been pleased. After throwing Sue out of the house

time and again, the marriage more or less made sure Sue would not come

back.

 

No more need to send Sue to her grandmother's. No more need to keep the

bed by the door. No more fear that Sue might interest her newest bow

better than she did.

 

And for Sue, the promise of Joe Walsh's rock and roll wealth allowed her

to relax a little more.

 

She didn't have to dance. She didn't have to work at the newspaper

(though by that time the strike had been settled and the rest of the

scabs laid off). She didn't have to borrow against her grandmother's

promised inheritance, a rapidly shrinking rateable she might need later

on.

 

Perhaps, Floyd, Sue legitimate father, felt a twinge of increasing guilt

as the details of his daughter's disastrous life began to emerge -- and

even then, he might not have known about the more grizzly particulars,

the trips at age 13 to Plato's Retreat, the money she had conned out of

boyfriends for cars, accommodations and other basic comforts of life. He

could not have seen the danger signs or known that this was only a lull.

He could not have understood that her conversion to productivity in

society was a vacation from the edge, a temporary arrangement that

allowed her to regain strength, a strategic retreat away from the war

front where she could plan a new campaign. He trusted too much in the

traditions and ceremonies of normal society, as anchors to salvation:

marriage and children bringing out instincts that Sue in her childhood

had not known or needed. And in some respect, Floyd was right, but not

in the way he might have expected.

 

For Floyd, the marriage might have meant an end to Sue's career on 42nd

Street, and proof the rehab had cured her, not only of her alcoholism,

but of her taste for danger as well. For the rest of us, the report of

Sue's marriage was a shock, something few of us every expected, and

couldn't believe when we heard.

 

To whom? Was it Bill or Glenn or Danny or Stanley? Had she finally

decided between white or black Todd?

 

"No," someone told me in passing. "She married some guy named Mark

Walsh, someone she met in rehab."

 

And if that was not enough of a shock, imagine how many of us felt a

little less than a year later, when reports came about Sue's having a

baby?

 

This last gave lie to presumptions that Sue had used Mark solely to

escape rehab, to prove herself in some odd way to her father, friends

and the legal authorities that she had recovered, and better, altered

herself. We, of course, did not know the subtler details and the grand

disappointments that made her shift her plans. Perhaps she had figured

on moving up from the poor brother into the Walsh family to the

wealthier Rock and Roll star. If so, Joe's declaration of bankruptcy a

few months after Sue's marriage must have stunned her and caused the

beginning of a serious emotional rift between her and her new husband.

 

This was Mark's fault, after all, she figured. He should have told her

Joe Walsh had no money.

 

Perhaps she even went into another depression or found herself

temporarily without options with the sudden news of pregnancy an

additional shock. More than likely, she feared losing Mark, or fancied

the idea of living a middle class life for a while. She had walked on

the wild side for so long, perhaps curiosity made her stroll this side

of the edge.

 

Old Friends Meet

 

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