Dart Etiquette – Ch. 33

The sun had not yet risen when Maeve pulled up. I was on the steps of the Craven’s house with the team. The Tully flowed. Cookie Hill’s bowl was filled three quarters with Grolsch and she lapped it up. The Polito’s Econoline van was in the driveway. The M3 trench knife was back on the wall, after Mrs. Polito cleaned any inculpating evidence from its blade. Mr. Craven, Martin and Viggo toasted to my departure. Cookie gnawed at her feet beside Mr. Craven. Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4 filled the entire house and blasted from the windows of the basement. We said our goodbyes and I told them good luck and they’d hear from me in a few days. I said I would write and send some gifts once I got situated. 

I put my bag in the backseat, and checked if my plane ticket was inside my jacket pocket. It was. I had it. 

We drove off, and two fire trucks wailed right past us. Burn Whitestone, burn. We didn’t say much for the majority of the drive. Maybe we didn’t know what to say to each other or was it that we didn’t want to hear what was going to be said. I looked out of the window and saw a brilliant red mass of synthetic hair lying on the roadside. I smiled to myself. 

“How long are you leaving for?” Maeve asked. 

“I don’t have a return ticket.” 

“What does that mean?”

“It means I don’t know when or if I’m coming back,” I said. I took my Mets hat off. I ran my fingers through my hair and put the hat back on. “I have to leave. I can’t stand it here anymore, babe.” 

“You don’t know if you’re coming back? Are you serious?” 

“What do you want, Maeve? You want me to stay here. You want me to work until I’m dead and never have anything to show for it. It will be great. We’ll get married and have beautiful babies and a mortgage and mad debt. Before long you’ll realize you made a mistake and you’ll resent me for not being able to give you all the wonderful things that I know you deserve. You’ll hate me in time and I’ll be miserable. Is that really what you want? You want me to ruin your fucking life? You want to rip up this plane ticket? I’ll stay but in the end you’ll hate me for it. I guarantee it.”

“It won’t be like that. You don’t know that any of that will happen,” Maeve said. “We are not our parents. It would be different. We would be different.”

“I would only be a curse to you. I will bring you down and when it all falls apart, you will hate me, you will, and then you’ll leave and I can’t bear for that to ever happen.”

“All I want is for us to be together and all you want is for us to be apart. You can’t wait to vanish. You can go off and just leave me and it’s nothing to you. Do you think it’s alright to keep breaking my heart? But it’s ok because it’s you rejecting me. Do you think I’m so awful that you’d rather run away to another country? How is that supposed to make me feel, Colm?”

“I’m not running away. I’m just trying to find my place. I’m sorry. I won’t be able to give you the life you deserve. I’m man enough to acknowledge it. I’m making the hard choice that most don’t.”

“How do you know what I deserve? What you’re doing isn’t fair.”

“Nothing ever is, Maeve.” I knew that better than most. “Look, once I get settled in then maybe you can come and visit me. See how it goes. We could make the book club international. You pick the next book.”

“Book club sounds nice.” 

“I made you something.” I pulled my bag from the backseat and retrieved a Maxell cassette tape out of the front pocket. “ Some songs for you.”

I compiled a mix tape for Maeve. Each song hand selected for their beauty, and thematically connected, soulfully sung classics ranging from the 1960s to 1980. Not a long span of time at all. It had the only song that mattered from King Floyd and my favorite Stevie Wonder song on it. It had I’m Afraid The Masquerade Is Over by David Porter, As Long As I’ve Got You by The Charmels, You Don’t Have To Worry by Doris & Kelley and Giving Up by Glady Knight & The Pips. It had Jimmy Ruffin, Al Green, Otis Redding and The Intruders. What becomes of the broken hearted? I knew the answer to that question. I didn’t think anyone wanted to hear it said out loud.

I loved all these sad songs. I loved that I discovered them with my friends but the songs connected with me on a much deeper level. They painfully spoke so much truth and proved that sadness was universal. I could listen to these songs and picture the covers of the records, and fonts on the center labels. Graffiti made me more aware of that sort of thing, I gave more attention to those particular details. I made note of the record labels and the years. Motown. Stax. RCA. Volt. HI. The song I chose to start the mixtape was a B-side from Ann Peebles, Trouble, Heartache & Sadness. I wrote the name of the singer and song titles on the paper insert. I didn’t know what to call the tape so I borrowed a line from Ms. Peebles. On the label for side A, I wrote the word Heartache and for side B, it read, Stop Knocking At My Window. 

“Thank you. I’ll listen on my ride home.”

Maeve looked so sad and sweet. I said, I’m sorry.

“I know.” 

“I love you, Maeve. I hope you believe me.” 

“I love you, too. I believe you. I believe you’re making a mistake.”

“You may be right.”

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