A Flawed Child

 

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Starting in early 1991, Sue would reach the peak of her life -- though

she didn't know it at the time. Things would seem to click in place for

her as she worked her way up the misperceived ladder of success. Over

the next five years, she would live the high life. Al Goldstein would

pick her up in his stretch limousine, give her space in his magazine.

She would begin to see some purpose in her life, working her way up

through to a point where she would become a successful writer for the

Village Voice. In fact, work she did for Screw Magazine drew attention,

and during the next few years, she would embark on the most important

project of her life, co-authoring an impressive investigative piece on

the Russian Mafia's take over of the local sex industry, and eventually

she would write the book "Redlight," something she believed would make

her career.

 

During this time, she met many other writers. She dated Rob Hardin,

then, broke up. One man who knew her for a few years during this time,

told me Sue seemed "very positive" at this point. Sue called him Mutant,

though used to joke that his first name was the same as her son's.

 

They were friends, Mutant told me, not lovers, though she did express

interest in his 24-page magazine, Hype, a fairly successful publication

that had just started to appear in bookstores such as Boarders before he

gave it up in 1992.

 

He knew her during the transition years, after she had moved to Nutley,

after she had just finished up with Paradise Lost. She didn't talk much

about the private club. But she did talk about her days working massage

parlors and how much she hated it, and how much the other girls hated

the men who came to get serviced.

 

This was late 1990, early 1991. Sue used to drive into Manhattan with

her son, parked downtown on Broadway in Soho, and meet Mutant for an

occasion movie or dinner. He had met Sue through Janet, Sue's best

friend at Paradise Lost, who Mutant had seen romantically for a while --

though Janet's drug use put him off. He and Sue sometimes met to discuss

how to help Janet get off drugs, though the conversation sometimes

turned towards Sue's possibly writing for his magazine. Mutant said he

was struck by Sue's desire to stay "straight," and her clear dedication

to her son, David.

 

"She was really focused on her kid," Mutant said. "She was very careful

about putting her son in an environment where drugs were being used."

 

Sue's story about her own drug use varies somewhat from tales she'd told

others, though the essential result was her getting straight. She told

Mutant that she had come to realize the error of her ways when one

Christmas she found herself riding home, high on cocaine, after having

spent all her Christmas present money on drugs.

 

She did not affix a date to this Christmas story.

 

"Sue always talked about staying straight," Mutant told me. "She was

very serious about not falling back into that old way of life."

 

Which was why it surprised Mutant to hear later reports that she had

fallen back into drug and alcohol use before she disappeared six years

later. But unlike many of the other men I talked to from that period

time, Mutant was not sexually involved with her.

 

"I didn't have the kind of thing with Sue," he said. "We never connected

in that way. "After things fizzled with Janet, I went out with Sue a few

times. Sue would bring her son, David, in with her and we would go to a

move or dinner."

 

Occasionally, he and Sue would attend a syncroenegy thing to which he

belonged, where they would put on special glasses and listen to special

sound effects, and between the sound and the strobe lights they were

supposed to experience some kind of alpha state.

 

They talked frequently about his magazine, and the possibility that Sue

might write for it. But Mutant couldn't keep up the magazine, even

though it was very successful for its kind. He was working for Bell Labs

at the time which encouraged its employees to have outside interests and

allowed them free time. The magazine, which was actually printed in

Texas, had a press run of about 12,000 copies, but as time went on,

Mutant changed jobs, hooking up with a Wall Street firm that required

much more of his dedication, and the magazine began to drain his

financial resources. By the time, he gave it up, he had lost about

$10,000. He folded his magazine in early 1992 about the same time Sue

seemed to lose interest in him.

 

"She had a habit of blowing me off," he said. "I didn't take kindly to

that. The few times I had to cancel, I was very careful to let her know.

After the third time, I figured it wasn't going any where."

 

Mutant said he tried calling her again in September or October, 1992,

but didn't talk to her again until December. He was also aware of Sue's

now dating Goldstein, and wasn't exactly conformable with the idea of

making romantic plans.

 

Then, in March or April 1993, he was walking along with his girlfriend

along East 5th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue when he saw a car pull

out from in front of the police station. The horn beeped, and a blonde

woman waved to him from behind the wheel. They talked. She seemed

hopeful. She mentioned that she was getting back together with Rob

Hardin, and seemed to be very happy with the idea.

 

"But I couldn't help getting the feeling that she might have been dating

a cop," he said. "At least, it looked as if she had just come out of the

police station."

 

During his time with Sue, she had already started researching

"Redlight."

 

"She talked about it, and did a lot of interviews -- or, at least, she

was always setting things up," he said. "It was a big thing in her

life," he said.

 

 

 

A photograph taken of Sue at the beach with her baby sometime shortly

after David's birth showed just how much Sue cared, holding up the baby

despite clearly being in pain herself. The photographic images of Sue

over the years continually revealed subtle hints of the misery she felt,

and the isolation -- except for those photographs with her and her baby.

Only in these, did Sue seem less alone, less scared, as if she had

finally found an ally she could trust in her never ending war with the

world.

 

At some point after she moved to Nutley, she may have begun to suspect

an awful truth. Perhaps this truth had been evident all along, a haze of

sorts over David's eyes, sluggish response to stimuli that made him seem

to float in a fog. Her love as a mother blinded Sue to these things

until the boy reached school, and then to her horror, she discovered

herself possibly saddled with another Bucky.

 

Bucky, who had walked through his early life with a sign on his back

that said: kick me, who had suffered from Sue's aunt's abuse for so long

, eventually went crazy, a combination of psychological flaws and

environmental torment Sue would not allow her own Son to suffer.

 

Perhaps Sue never saw herself as part of the problem in Bucky's life or

in her son's, that this strange occurrence that suddenly made itself

manifest in David could be cured by a proper education. Friends and

neighbors said Sue took on the school system single- handily, refusing

to accept no when she tried to get him admitted into special classes.

 

What went on behind the scenes is anybody's guess. But she knew

important people now, people with connections who could get her what she

wanted if she pleaded hard enough, and did everything their wanted her

to do.

 

But inside Sue, something else changed, as fundamental to her psyche as

her loss of the Metallurgy job. Once more she found herself betrayed by

the world, robbed of those opportunities for fair play that most people

seemed to get. And this betrayal ripped open an old wound she found to

keep sealed, as if someone had finally managed to sneak passed her guard

and rape her son's mind the way a man once had Sue's body. She went back

to the belief that she was at war with the world, that she needed to

find power, but above all, she needed to fuck up the system, somehow,

humiliate men. Her brief career in a massage parlor didn't satisfy her

because it was too servile.

 

She woke often in the middle of the night, racked with raging dreams, of

bleeding and penetration. She kept finding herself in the middle of some

city, alone, with haunting, unreal people hunting her down. Some part of

her brain telling her to run, while she could not force her body to

listen. In her dreams, a man's face seemed to close in on her, as his

hands tore at her clothing. And he would not go away, even as she clawed

at his face. He would not leave her alone until he was satisfied and she

melted into his ejaculation like overheated wax.

 

Her arguments with Mark increase and her threats to flee with David grow

more frequent. Sue seemed to blame Mark for the flaw in David, though

deep down believe the flaw as some extension of her own original sin,

the mark of Cain passed along to her prodigy in much the same way as the

Vampire cults claimed.

 

And by this time, Sue began to see the folly in her own thinking, as if

fate would allow her to escape after so many years hunting her, or allow

her to produce something so beautiful as David.

 

Her old wound began to ache, and she felt the same chill she did when a

very young girl, wearing the same, squinting, desperate look of the

hunted whenever she entered the same room as her son. Inside of her,

deep in the crevice of her swollen heart, was the central flaw, that

evil thing that made her seek to destroy everything good and decent,

always betraying itself the moment she felt the slightest happiness.

 

More than once, she tells Mark she is leaving, going off to places like

Paris, or London or even Miami, Florida, but always she can't make the

transition, can't steal her son away.

 

If she is to go, she must leave her son, and that is something she is

not yet willing to do.

 

More and more Sue's hope for saving herself and her son seemed to settle

on her getting credibility as a writer, and more and more she began to

work towards a publishing credit that would make her reputation and

allow her to give up the sex trade forever. She used Screw Magazine as a

platform to launch herself into the Village Voice, and then, moved on to

write "Redlight."

 

Visions of Redlight

 

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