I had another nightmare last night about S who wasn’t really a friend, but someone who wanted to be friends and whose overtures I resisted; something that felt mildly bad, then horrendously bad, because S was murdered not long after I began ducking her phone calls. She was shot through the head at her house in LA at point blank range on a cold night in December. There was no sign of a forced entry. It was in the papers both New York and LA, and lots of articles were written. There was even a movie made in which S was a peripheral character. They made her witty and chatty and slightly glamorous. By the time I met her, she was still witty and chatty but her teeth were bad, and she needed a dye job.
In my dream she was old and in tatters and when I looked at her she looked away.
S was murdered just after my son left for college, but for the brief time when she was in our lives he was still living at home. He liked S and her lap dogs, but not even his approbation made me want to be friends with her. It wasn’t that she took the dogs with her everywhere; I love dogs. They were always shaking and she was always shaking. Maybe she knew she was in danger. Even the first time I met her on the terrace of this very grand house owned by a famous rock star, she was shaking. When she took to dropping by unexpectedly in the afternoon if my son was at home, he would make her a cappuccino, which she’d praise lavishly. So lavishly he kept making her more cappuccinos. Until she was on caffeine high which she seemed to be on anyway.
The reason they found her sooner rather than later was on account of the barking. The cops broke down her door and found her with the gunshot wound in her head.
As I mentioned, we met on the terrace of some fancy joint in Malibu. We were the guests of a record mogul who was in his uber mogul days. Once upon a time he and S went out. S always made catty remarks about the mogul’s wife. And told me that she didn’t understand why the mogul had married her rather than S.
She was the daughter of a Jewish gangster and had grown up as a princess in Las Vegas. She had written a memoir and had a movie deal at one point. Like a lot of people born to wealth and privilege, S acted like the world should operate according to her desires. She would invite herself to dinner, or stay so late after one of her drop-ins that I had to invite her. She was allergic before it was fashionable and seemed to subsist mostly on chicken, broccoli and cappuccino. She was partial to the nasty chicken from the KooKooRoo, which I’m allergic to on principle. But that’s what we had for dinner when S dropped by. She insisted on it.
“Here I am,” she’d say, and kiss the air. She couldn’t hug because the little dogs were in her arms.
I’ve never minded strays dropping by at dinnertime. My husband almost always works late and it was lonely around the house. I felt sorry for her. Or maybe she made me feel guilty. But guilty for what? Still, she was funny; she was smart. She pronounced “Chili” “Che-lay” and molestation with the emphasis on the MO in the word. People who have elaborate ways of pronouncing words often can be a pain in the ass, and she was that. But there was something else too.
Back then, I was renting a room to write in from a Russian graduate student with a terrible stutter. I don’t remember telling S about the room, but she kept turning up, waiting for me on the bench in front of the bagel store when I’d be walking home with my lap top from the Russian’s.
It happened once. Twice. Three times. The first time I took her home; the second time I didn’t. The third time I told her I was in a hurry. And then I started walking home by different routes. She turned up at the house and I pretended I wasn’t home.
The last time S called, she told me, “You hurt my feelings. I haven’t yet recovered from it and I wanted you to know.”
I don’t tend to be rude to anyone other than my husband, so I was curious.
“What did I say?”
“You said you couldn’t talk because you were working. You were too busy for me. I looked forward to our visits. And I missed you.”
“I’m so sorry,” I said, and in a way I was. I hate hurting people’s feelings. Even people like S who don’t seem to get how intrusive and inappropriate they are.
But, I didn’t try to talk her out of being hurt, or tell her I wasn’t working that hard. I’m sure I was trying to work hard, but I remember that period of time as being one where trying was the chief description of what was happening at the Russian’s.
Anyway, I have to go, she said, and I heard the dogs bark and a doorbell ring.
“Someone’s at the door,” she shouted, “Don’t forget me!”
And I haven’t and I won’t. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I often think of poor S and her last cold night on earth when the dogs barked and the doorbell rang again and she opened it up and that long, last terrifying moment before whoever it was, shot her in the head.
Mary Marcus is the author of The New Me, which is currently on sale for $1.99. Visit our website for information on where to buy it.