The Treadmill of Life

 

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Day in and day out, she did her job, a routine so full of personal

torture that it actually caused her to feel ill again -- not as ill as

she would feel years later when go-go dancing wore on her in a similar

way, but frail, useless, incapable of doing anything else. For the first

time, she understood the metaphor of the treadmill, where a person could

walk and talk and act perfectly normal, yet get nowhere at all.

 

For three years she walked and talked and go nowhere. She didn't

understand all this while it was going on. She thought she was doing her

duty to her child, and that the few times she fell off the treadmill she

felt she was letting her son down.

 

But she did have to meet people beyond the confines of her office,

people who did more than talk about metal and how to get it out of the

ground, people who thought in terms of music and poetry, not chemical

compositions.

 

And vaguely, in the back of Sue's mind, she thought of what it would be

like to find someone -- not Mark -- who could help protect her child

from the raging world. Her more practical side, of course, said no such

man existed, that all men where made from the same brutal mold that had

taken her virginity when she was a child, the same mold who would devour

her son if she let the boy beyond her reach for an instant.

 

But she did dream.

 

It is not hard to imagine Sue as a good person, a caring mother, a hard

worker, a truly brave and noble soul struggling against overwhelming

odds. For this is the portrait of herself she had sold to people like

Bill Madaras, unwise men who's wish for her goodness blinds them to her

art as a creator of living fiction, and this was the only model she had

with which to reshape herself.

 

What is hard, is imagining Sue as a utterly bad person, someone who has

manufactured every aspect of her public being, shaping love and lust

into means of manipulation, someone who uses her sexuality to frustrate

and humiliate her lovers, someone who takes what she wants from her

friends, then collects a new batch of friends, takes from them, and

moves on again, a perpetually circling shark, deeply involved in the

cruel world of S&M and prostitution, stealing souls the way vampires

steal blood.

 

Perhaps, Sue had managed to repackage herself, the way her later lover

Rob Hardin claimed she did.

 

She could not shed herself of everything. At least not at this early

stage. While she broke off her marriage with Mark, he refused to leave

her, clinging to her heals like a shadow, vowing to watch over David,

who was also his son. Mark continued to live near Sue, maintaining his

connection -- one acquaintance said -- because he wanted to be near his

son. Mark and Sue never divorced. Perhaps both feared the consequence of

a custody battle at which a judge might not find either of them

competent enough to raise a child. As said earlier, Sue and David

apparently argued over the child frequently.

 

Nor did Sue shed many of her manipulative habits. She met the same kind

of men she had met when she was younger, and used them much in the same

way as she had before, but now, using them for a purpose far less

selfish, not for herself at all, but for her child, taking those things

from the men she met she could translate into benefits for her small,

two-person family.

 

Perhaps this was a more pivotal time for Sue than even she realized, a

brief window of opportunity when love could have transformed her into a

whole, new vibrant being, a time when she had already found her own key

to a better life, but needed someone, something else to help turn her

whole perception and keep silent the voice of rage she had carried

inside her for so long.

 

Perhaps, if someone could have isolated Sue, taken her away from the

glitter of the city, away from her past and all its association, moved

not to the suburbs of New Jersey which she would eventually do, but to

some mountain cabin somewhere in Montana, where she could not be tempted

to play me off other men, and perhaps would settle down to talk about

her art, her dreams, and her life -- the real life, without the lies.

 

But she lived in the heart of the city, or, at least, spent her days

going to and from that pot of boiling hormones, go-go bars, porno film

stores, vampires and such always around her to remind her of what had

been and what would be again, those things waiting for their opportunity

to become important again in her life, to take over her life, and to

ruin everything she believed she had gained, tempting porno film stores,

vampires and such always around her to remind her of what had been and

what

 

And day by day, evening by evening, the temptation grew. She would run

into familiar faces on the street, people she knew from her old life who

would ask her what she was doing now, and why they hadn't seen her and

when she would come back. Their eyes full of hate, though she saw it as

some kind of connection, perhaps just a reflection from her old life who

would ask her what she was doing now, and why they hadn't seen her and

when she would

 

I don't know if Sue really believed in reincarnation. She talked new age

hogwash long before the movement seized people's imagination. Perhaps

she had hope that she might evolve into a better person over a few life

times, from vegetable to spirit, though if she has evolved into

anything, she has become the predator she projects onto the world around

her, feeding off the eggs of innocent creatures, drinking their blood,

celebrating their pain. Although Dorothy believes Sue evil, as does my

wife, something happened to Sue to halt her progression onto a higher

plain, turning her back, allowing her to commit such deeds as to

transform her into an amoebae in her next life cycle. She kept in

contact with her source at Screw, may have even written a review or two

during this period.

 

Yet in many ways, Sue seemed to evolve out of two early 1960s American

female myths, combining the best and worst elements of Marilyn Monroe

and Silvia Plath, drawing her images of sexuality from one and her love

of the dark side from the other, both cursing her with an image no real

woman could live up to. For deep down, Sue knew she could no more shed

the curse laid on her with her early childhood rape than she could

people in the past, the guilt that stained her, and created her rage. In

the end, she was already sinking when in 1987 the New York Stock Market

crashed, she just didn't know it.

 

 

 

Child or no child, to Sue the world was a market place, where everything

and everybody was a commodity. The issue, however, was to sell something

distinctive, unique, something nobody else had to offer. And she

couldn't understand what make some things marketable when they clearly

did not offer anything of significance, and she seemed to resent other

people getting ahead when she could not, when she was stuck on the same

treadmill day after day after day.

 

So when her boss told her the magazine wouldn't be needing her services

any more, she was stunned -- and sort of relieved. The company was

downsizing to help save it from ruin -- although they would go out of

business within a year anyway.

 

Somewhere in the back of Sue head, she still dreamed of making a living

as a writer, and this seemed like her great opportunity, and might have

been eopportunity, and might have been except for one small, yet

 

Sue knew how cold the world was and how much it could hurt someone so

innocent as David. It had hurt her, and she was now the only thing that

kept the world's gnashing teeth from devouring him.

 

Her boss at that moment would not have likely read any of this from

Sue's expression. Her face is a contradiction, in shapes, as if

different parts of it belonged to different people, her too large

forehead only emphasizing her hard, blue eyes. Even when she smiles, she

doesn't appear happy, or even friendly, but more like a small,

suspicious creature from the wild, easing up, distrustful and wary, like

a careful fox ready to snas if different parts of it belonged to

different people, her too large forehead only emphasizing her hard, blue

eyes. Even when she smiles, she doe

 

Her body has always been more honest, though this, too, has always

served her as an instrument, moving with mechanical grace that is both

sensual and artificial, lacking an ability to relax into a pose that

would seem comfortable. Her body is that of an actor's, shifting roles,

more at ease with some roles than others, but never really natural in

any. Only a careful study would reveal the impact of her firing. She

always put on a nonchalant air, as if nothing mattered, contradicting

herself only in private conversations with her manipulated men when she

sang her song of woe. In public, she always to sophisticated for woe,

too worldly for despair, all her needy and helpless attire she saved for

the bedroom.

 

But at that moment, Sue was shook. The cruel world had ripped off her

mask of normality, it had come hunting her again, seeking the only thing

left she had to offer the ever hungry beast, and she was not about to

give up her son so easily.

 

A Desperate Move

 

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