creative non fiction
|He did it. Of course back then pretending came easily. Take, for example, his music career. He was half of a little known and lesser-booked folk duo called Me and Steve. When introduced to the adoring snoring crowds the two of them would leap onto the stage and Steve would yell out "Hi! I'm Steve," and without missing a beat he would say, "and I'm me! We're Me and Steve!" Yeah, they really said that.
They sang Irish folk songs beginning their performances with songs like The Balled of the Orange and the Green, Finnegan's Wake, and Rattlin' Bog. The middle set invariably featured Steve doing Alice's Restaurant - full regalia, and the gig would end with folk-pop favorites from Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary and Simon and Garfunkle where he played Art Garfunkle to Steve's Paul Simon. They adopted accents, Steve a thick Irish brogue, which he came by naturally since he was of Irish descent, and Mark a thin English accent that he tried to weave into their banter unnoticed. They used the accents to set up their stage presence, Steve the Irish Catholic and Mark the English Protestant. He thought it gave them a persona on stage and he was a boy deeply in need of a persona.
So it's not surprising he pretended to like Linda. They met at a summer party upstairs in the duplex his mother owned. Linda was hearing impaired and spoke with the slight misformed tonal pattern some of the deaf have. She was also very pretty with long brown hair that flowed seductively over her shoulders, brown eyes lit up behind John Lennon glasses, and a full white bosom that was partially hidden behind the gathered folds of a peasant blouse. She really was pretty.
He told her he sang in a folk group and she told him she lived in Edina. He told her he used a fake accent on stage and she told him she had a swimming pool in her backyard. She told him she was twenty-one and he told her he had a birthday coming in December and that he was nineteen. He was seventeen. He was just pretending to be nineteen.
He spent most of August with her without sex. Linda was a virgin, but he liked being with her. It was incredibly powerful how she would focus her gaze on his face when he was speaking, like his words were important. She would watch him intently, carefully, as if the very movement of his lips gave meaning to his words.
Over the Labor Day weekend he was traveling to Vail, Colorado, with Steve. They were going in order to advance their music careers. They were going to meet girls. He didn't tell Linda of his plans until the night before he left. Lying entwined together on the sofa in her basement, listening to Paul McCartny's long and winding road, he felt warm and safe so he told her he was leaving. The room was lit by a black light and the beads she had hung over the window glowed like a peyote mushroom. She kissed him. Then he lied.
"Come with me! I'd like you to come with me." She said yes. He would pick her up at 6:30 p.m. and they would drive all night until they reached the mountains.
"Are you nuts?" Steve said, "We're going there to meet girls! She can't come. There is no room."
It was 5:00 p.m. The Gremlin was cocked and loaded and ready to fire. He went inside and left a note on the kitchen table for his mom. He told her he loved her. He told her he would call once they arrived in Vail. He lit a cigarette, hopped in the Gremlin and drove the first leg to Omaha.