Part Two: Two Years Later (Continued)
Shamir whistled under his breath and Janet elbowed him. “Wow, still… play your cards right Ian, go after the Mom –she is crazy but beautiful and very rich. You’ll be made for life.” They had another round of drinks and another and then played some pool, and drunk some more and with all that alcohol, and the feeling end of school always brings teachers in summer, of months of freedom, like they’ve never grown up, like it is the same as for the kids, that feeling, still his talk was evasive, still he refused to discuss it for a moment. Just a lot of money and if they’d understood Ian better, noted he was meant to go back east and visit his family and had cancelled it, they might have known that money was not in any sense a deciding factor here.
The first day was Tuesday July 11th, and just a breathless thrill seemed to have him in its grip. He hadn’t seen Michelle in a couple of weeks and just driving along the long winding driveway to the mansion, he couldn’t care less about the money he just wanted to see her again and Ian drove slower and slower, his heart beat harder and harder and he wanted to just wait for the moment when he would catch a glimpse of her, her casual intense beauty, timeless, long legged, a deep blue blondeness, a blondeness of the mind of privilege. Ian was Catholic and he had a sense of guilt, of atonement, of doing right and also doing wrong. Both of his parents were very traditional and when his brother committed suicide when Ian was just 17 and his brother was 29, the bookends of seven siblings, his sense of right and wrong shook and wavered. Going off to teach a girl, a child, his sense of guilt was mooted in the belief that thought wasn’t deed and while his interest in Michelle was, strictly speaking, a huge sin, there were no actions, no molestation, rape, nothing, that wasn’t what he wanted. All he wanted most, Ian thought, was to be with her.
The mansion smelled of money, big money, but in Beverly Hills there was nothing particularly shocking about that, and Ian had no interest in it, parking his car, walking up the stairs to the main entrance, waiting patiently, being taken to a huge school room, to the side, somewhere between the servants quarters and the house problem, hidden away like a dirty secret, where man feared to dread, the huge room included a blackboard embedded in one wall, a bank of TV screens, computers at each of five desks but not just that, personal work areas, some seated one person, some two, some more. Ian’s job, as he saw it, was to get Michelle through a year of curriculum in three months.
As far as Ian was concerned, what matter here was just and only that: the job at hand, his deep love for the girl, if it was that… was it that? Desire? Appreciation? What Ian loved about Michelle was one of the things Michelle loved about Ian, she looked at him deeply. It was like all his own school days where one unrequited love after another shook him to his core, compounded by guilt, death, loss, Michelle looked like a girl who could save him by concentrating on him.
In thought what he would do was give Michelle a background in everything and then pinpoint the facts she needed to know and he had been considering this huge first lesson for two weeks, like an actor rehearsing the first act of a play, spinning words, even the mundane, “Hello, Michelle, I am so looking…” no “Good morning, Michelle, don’t you look lovely…” Absolutely not. He was hooking up his Mac, when Ian heard the door open and he didn’t look up even then, he actually closed his eyes, his stomach fallen to the bottom of the ground, her footsteps, click click, heels not sneakers, he didn’t look up, didn’t look, “Good morning, Mr. Cardigan” and still he didn’t look up.
Michelle, who always knew what she was doing, wasn’t absolutely certain what she was getting into. Sex didn’t scare her, sex with Ian didn’t scare her, studying didn’t scare her, what scared her was an intimacy that might be simply too revealing to be acceptable. She had worried about how to dress in for her first class. Decided, something simple, but not too scruffy, minimum makeup, her long blonde hair straight down, skin tight straight legged jeans, and a white tee shirt, a no frills bra keeping her up-close and personal. She walked in surprised to find Ian in a smart suit, concentrating on his computer. She didn’t feel quite nervous, but not entirely relaxed. And she didn’t quite care about skipping a class, and at the end would decide not to even try, but she was excited to know what exactly he could teach her. Then he looked up at Michee and he smiled and she just knew. Hannah had told her how a woman always knows and Michelle just knew how he felt for her. Ian was tall, thin, angular, he looked a little like Adrian Brody, with a large nose and dark sunken eyes, not traditionally handsome but when he smiled everything became smoothed out and Michelle liked the way he looked, a serious mind in repose and concentrated on her and happy and she was happy too. As happy as she had ever been. “Please call me Ian.” He said.
Two weeks after the first lesson and they had been the happiest of his life, the two had become very close because, concentrating on studying, they were together in a common goal neither creepy nor wasteful, they were close because sharing in thought forced a closeness that moved back and forth between teacher and pupil, friends, lovers, a troubling growing up process, and a wrongful, lustful ickiness. On his part, it was as though every girl who had ever turned him down was nothing anymore: as though Maggie Fernandez staring through him and walking away as he approached her just to talk, small talk, never even happened. She didn’t happen. Nobody he ever obsessed and didn’t get, could matter less. His first sexual experience, in college at the age of 19, borderline rape drunken hellish mess, even that didn’t matter. All his sexual miscreant stupidity done away just like that. The two, him and her, all that mattered. Then he got on a call on the third Monday from Hannah’s assistant telling Ian that Michelle had fallen ill and he wouldn’t be needed the following day. They would get back.
What did it mean? Nightmare scenarios filled his head but he couldn’t see them at all. Sick? Dead? Sick of him? Hannah found out… but what? Ian called Michelle but it went straight to her voicemail and then all he got was email telling him that he would be paid till she was ready to resume her studies and then nothing. Hours stayed stock still for days and weeks and Tuesday finally became Wednesday and finally Thursday and now their work week was over, all he could think about was Michelle. Where was she?
Saturday afternoon he went to brunch with his buddy Fred at an outdoor café literally five blocks away and Ian hit the Mimosa and within an hour he was drunk and within two hours very drunk, he staggered into bed around 3pm and dreamt of court cases and hearses in the dead of night and guilt, he dreamt of guilt and he was deeply sleeping when his cell rang and her voice was like a whisper, “Ian, I was soooo ill…” Michelle said.
“Oh God, what happened?”
“Bad bad cold met food poisoning. Really bad but I feel better…”
“You’re better now?”
“I think better… Still in bed, you are the only person I’ve spoken to in a week…”
“Oh my poor wee one, what can I do?”
“Come back to me, Ian. I missed you…”
“I will, whenever I will be there, Tuesday.”
“Yes, I’ll be waiting…”
Still drunk, the next words toppled out but not as a drunken declaration of love but of a simple truth: “I love you, Michelle.”
“I know you love me and I love you too.”
This wasn’t romantic quite, it was just a truth, it just was, and there was no reason to hide it right that second. Ian was drunk, Michelle was weak and why not just say it?
“I can’t wait to see you, this week has been terrible for me, Michelle. So worried.”
“I miss you Ian, I love you, I’ll see you Tuesday.”
He started to reply but the phone was already dead and Ian smiled happily and then the smile caught him. Wait, is this it? Was this too far? Was it too revealing? He couldn’t tell, he couldn’t tell.
Opening the door to the schoolroom Tuesday morning and Michelle was already there, she jumped out of her seat as he closed the door and hugged him.
“What’s that for?” He asked her.
“I don’t know, it is just great when the only person you want to see in the entire world walks through the door at the very moment you most want to see him.”
Ian just stared at her, you could spend a lifetime and not hear someone say that to you. At least, not the person you most wanted to hear it from and suddenly just like that it was over. Michelle, who never babbled, began to babble telling him about being so sick and ill and lying in bed, and worrying about him and Hannah worrying about her and driving her crazy and Grandma coming over with some guy and even Grandma, who was a cold fish, being worried, and her having to get them out of her quarters but then she changed her mind and decided to let them say and it was strange, I guess being sick makes you younger, right?
“I think they bonded over me because when I was really young, like five, I nearly died and legend has it, I know you’re gonna think this is wacky because it is very wacky but the family legend has it that my mother’s father’s father’s mother came down from heaven and saved me, which was good news for me because my Grandma was on a love trip with her latest guy and couldn’t make it. When Grandma got back, my mom had had it with her and for the past ten years since have been cool between the,
“Mom doesn’t get Grandma but I kinda do. She is like a male woman, she does all the things a rich older man would do, she likes young guys and she likes to keep them under her control but I just wish she was better with my mom.”
“I wanted them to go away because I felt so sick but I liked them coming together even if only for a little while and I liked… I guess I liked being vulnerable.” Michelle laughed to herself. “I feel vulnerable now.”
Ian didn’t know what to say for that, he scratched his nose, surprised a little and very pleased with this new Mische. “But what was wrong with you?”
“Oh, it was a meeting of ugh, food poisoning and a really bad summer cold and between them I was so weak. I so seldom get ill, never this ill, it held me back like me in your arms, or me not in your arms just now. I was so ill and dizzy, and tired. Not good. “ She paused. “I thought about you a lot.”
Then suddenly the room went quiet and she stared at him, almost quizzical but with layers of affection. Michelle was working her way through it, she’d decided over the long week that she needed to be real with someone, somehow she needed to break out of her stoic self-control and Ian, Ian really cared for her. Every glance, every moment they spent together, every quiet peaceful silence, every awkward silence, he battled himself and moved closer. He looked young and he looked a little out of his element with her but he also looked as though he’d risk his life and would have to, for her. Part of Michelle was disturbed by the age difference and by the retribution of society not against her, but against him, that if she forced the issue, it might cost him his freedom. Was she worth it. And how would she feel in the future, Michelle wasn’t stupid, it was all a little rapey. Why even pursue him or let herself be pursued?
Yet somewhere between an Elektra complex and an adult world that surrounded her that couldn’t be more childish and a world of friends she couldn’t bring herself to trust, there was always this need for something very deep and important… and maybe sexual. On the other hand, any man who would go for it should be a man she wouldn’t want to start with and she wondered to herself, was it her age, her physical wow, or her her, that Ian was so intensely obsessive over.
The question would have made no sense to Ian. About ten years after her Grandfather died, her Grandmother had a very serious relationship with one of her boys. It just happened, somewhere between the fun and games they fell in love. The guy was childish and silly but completely affectionate and she could give herself to him in ways she couldn’t share with her own sons. They fell in love, it tripped her up and it lasted for years but one question she kept on asking him was: “do you love me or my money” and his answer was, “whoever you are part of that is your money. There is no dividing line, I love you.”
At this particularly time in his life Ian was certain his obsession was with a girl regardless of age or anything else, though, a look forward just three years would find him squirming in a court. No family there, no friends there, as he pleads for clemency.
Nothing else happened, they studied, they talked, they read, she studied in quiet and he watched her. She walk him to the car and squeezed his hand and then he drove away, nothing said yet, everything waiting the world pending, how much longer?
Three days later he broke.
The White Buffalo is at the Regent Theater
from Dermot to Nickelback is a highway to hell
seven days later she falls to earth
emotional vocals crooning over a gently plucked acoustic guitar
nostalgia as the last exit to oblivion
The Earliest Bird: Top New Recorded Release 11-25-22 – 12-1-22, Jimi Hendrix And Zayn’s “Angel” Reviewed
I can’t see how it can be a hit but it sure deserves to be
Thank you readers, thank you Alanis, thank you, thank you, karma.
a weekend of stardust-spangled grandeur
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – September 1980 (Volume 12, Number 4)
excellent work by future editor John Kordosh
let’s share the music, laughter and love of this past year