Copyright is held by the author.
Therefore, the love which us doth bind
But fate so enviously debars
Is the conjunction of the mind
And the opposition of the stars.
— Andrew Marvell
“IT’S TOO early to go home,” she said. “Besides, I don’t want to park in front of the house.”
She was sitting kind of skewed, her back jammed half against the door and the seat, her legs stretched out over the floor hump, feet almost touching mine. It was maybe around 1:30 in the morning and we were on our way home from a rather disappointing movie. It was neither our first or second date although I can’t really remember, what a difference does it make anyway? It’s in the dim past of long ago. But I do remember the events of that night . . . , yes that much I do remember. Anyway, we had stopped for a coffee and something to eat after the show. I, humorous, anxious to impress. Her, shy perhaps, somewhat guarded and reserved as most women are in the beginning of a relationship.
The manner of our meeting had been unusual, to me it had been love at first sight although the affair never lasted long enough for me to determine if the feeling had been mutual. Suffice it to say, she was defiantly interested, I can at least say that. We had met at some youth group’s social outing. God knows what that was about, to this day I certainly don’t. Vaguely I seem to remember seeing her as I was getting off a bus, which is totally ridiculous because I had a car — so much for memory. Anyway, we saw each other from afar as the poets say — quite a distance as I recall and the chemistry kicked in with a vengeance. Thus, we gravitated to each other and locked on for the rest of the day.
Now two weeks later, I was sitting across from her in this 24-hour greasy spoon stirring the dregs of a second coffee, not wishing for the evening to end and wondering about her “too early to go home” with everything closed on the planet except this gross monument to casual dining.
“I know a place.” She had broken the silence of my desperation.
“You do?” I queried relieved.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s not very far and it’s very quiet and secluded.”
Secluded! My expectations quotient soared but not wishing to appear overanxious I decided on a gentlemanly and concerned approach.
“Well that sounds nice,” I responded stifling a silent cheer. “But you said you had to work tomorrow.”
“Yeah, I do, damn it,” she answered. “But Court doesn’t convene until two o’clock so I can sleep in.”
“Yes, didn’t I tell you? I’m a court recorder.”
“No, I don’t believe you did.”
“Yes, I’m recording for a rape case tomorrow, should be really interesting.”
Rape! Guilt! The law! Crime and punishment! Confinement and hard labour!
Suddenly, quiet and secluded had acquired a rather ominous potential.
“You okay?” she inquired pleasantly. “You seem to have turned a little pale.”
“No of course not,” I protested gallantly. “It’s the air in here. It’s kinda hot and stuffy.”
“Yeah, it is,” she agreed. “Look, I’m going to the ladies’ room to freshen up, why don’t you go get the car and I’ll meet you out front.”
Eyes sparkling, she straightened up from the booth, her pearl necklace falling free emphasizing the gentle swell of her cleavage.
“I’ll be quick,” she promised.
I collected the cheque, placed a few coins on the sticky table and departed, followed by the sleepy bored eyes of the mousey blonde waitress. Outside, the air was cool and clean, pushed around by a freshening breeze, clouds skating across a full moon bathing the ground in shifting puddles of light. I pulled the car around to the front and waited.
Ten or maybe 15 minutes passed, then she came out bouncing down the steps swinging her bag and slid in close beside me.
“Take the number 20,” she ordered turning to face me. “Sorry I took so long but I tend to fuss with make-up.”
I had to admit it had been worth the wait, she looked positively stunning, her perfume had been given a booster shot and the top buttons of her blouse were now invitingly open. She moved closer and rested her head against my shoulder. Things certainly looked promising I thought despite the unpleasant vision I kept getting of a judge solemnly placing a black cap on his head.
“Turn on Old Mill Road right here . . . Here!”
I spun the car around spewing up gouts of gravel driving her tight against me.
“Nice move,” she said planting a softly lingering kiss on my neck.
Normally that would have been an inducement to press forward at greater speed but the “old” part of old Mill Road rapidly became a pot holed nightmare.
“It’s just this part that’s bad,” she explained. “It’s better once we turn off.”
I sounded irritated, I’d just mentally priced a set of new springs and shocks for the Chevy.
“Couple of minutes,” she countered sweetly. “You’ll see the old Quarry sign.”
“We’re going to a Quarry?” I exclaimed. “For God’s sake!”
She started laughing. “No of course not silly, a cemetery. It’s at back of the old quarry.”
“A cemetery — surely you jest.”
No, apparently, she didn’t — I kept driving but the expectations now became those of fear. The lines from an Andy Marvell poem were churning in my head:
The grave’s a fine and private place
But none, I think, do there embrace
But then — he was trying to seduce his mistress, wasn’t he?
The thought cheered me up.
The lights of the town were now far behind us, nothing now but farmland and wood lots, the breeze had picked up and threads of mist were starting to meander the gullies.
“Turn here, see the sign?”
It was difficult to see but it was there all right, a weathered board with faded letters now almost overgrown with brush and grasses. I turned onto a narrow cart track. The headlights illuminated two wavering ribbons of dirt and gravel disappearing into the murky gloom. A mile or so later, we passed the quarry entrance, a gaunt black hole between jagged limestone walls. It was uphill now and the transmission kicked down into 2 low. The moon had disappeared behind the clouds for the umpteenth time. It was darker than the hobs of hell. She sensed my nervousness and gives my arm a reassuring squeeze.
Then excitedly, “It’s just ahead.”
“I don’t see a thing.”
We crested the rise just as the moon breaks free revealing the remnants of stone pillars dividing the track, a broken rotting sign leaned against one — “Hillcrest Cemetery.” Strands of mist swirled wraith-like in the headlight beams. Slowly we followed the track to its ending amid the weathered tombstones. We were in a small clearing watched over by a stone angel — a ruined crypt barred farther progress. As if cued for sound effects, the breeze now a wind, started to moan through the trees like a soul in torment.
“See . . . , we can park over there,” she suggested pointing to the crypt.
“You mean there’s no valet parking?” I quipped.
She burst out laughing. “Sure there is, they’ll be along any minute.”
I could almost have believed her; the travelling patches of moonlight gave the impression of shadowy figures moving among the tombstones. I pulled the car over beside the crypt and cut the motor, praying to God that it will restart again.
“You know, I love your humour,” she said, “You can be so funny,” then oddly, “Don’t you just love this place?” she added with a strange enthusiasm.
The valet parking bit had gone over so well that I decided on an encore, something a little derisively encouraging . . . I paraphrased Josephine Baker. “What you’re saying, I believe, is — Canada is my country but Hillcrest Cemetery is my home.”
“Yes,” she yelled delightedly. “How’d you guess? I’m your lovable fiend from the tomb.”
Before I could even think of a reply, in a flash she’s on my lap astride, straddling me, a wild amorous lap dancer, her perfume rocking my senses, her silken hair lashing my face. Her lips pressed mine as her tongue glided into my mouth — there was no mistaking the invitation. We were fused together — her tongue moist, on fire, probing, thrusting, inflaming our passions to white heat. Romance was cast aside, trampled under the pounding hooves of lust. She twisted around onto my lap — I was cradling her in my arms.
A voice was thundering in my head.
This . . . is . . . it! THIS . . . IS . . . IT!
She drew my hand to her breasts, my fingers fumbling to unbutton her blouse.
Horror! Something ran across the back of my hand.
Then twice more!
A scream: “My necklace!”
I was shaken, dazed, confused — what the hell is happening? I couldn’t see a thing. We needed light. I threw open the car door.
In the feeble GM dome light, she appeared kneeling on the seat, frantically clawing at the upholstery.
“What is it for God’s sake? What’s happened?”
“You, you dumb ass,” she snarled. “You’ve broken my necklace.”
“I’ve done what?”
“Can’t you see? For Christ’s sake, you’ve broken it, the God damned pearls are all over the place.”
As if to prove her point, one dribbled out from under her bra and disappeared into the upholstery.
“Please, don’t worry,” I croaked and grabbing my flashlight, crouched outside to search the floor. My head was underneath the seat, which muffled the tirade from above that reported the pearls were real, really, really real. Priceless! Having once belonged to her Great Grandma.
Some that had been on my lap obligingly disappeared into the grass.
In the end, I thought we found them all. Regardless, my apologies, regrets, and promise to heap ashes and rend my garments fell on deaf ears.
The drive home was glacial. She sat a football field away tight against the far door, smouldering, glowering, saying nothing. There were no goodnight kisses, French or otherwise. No words were spoken.
Of that parting, I only remember the door being slammed so hard, the car almost rolled over. I never saw her again. Well, that’s not really true unless you count a sudden glimpse of her several months later in a shopping mall.
Sadly, perhaps as lovers are destined, like Romeo and Juliet, we were truly star crossed.
Incidentally, pearls played a part in the historic romance of Anthony and Cleopatra . . . that one too, came to a rather sticky end as I recall.