A Secret Grave 152: Love Tragedy

 

Joe didn’t answer right away. He moved his fingertips over Lynn’s face as tenderly as if she were a long lost friend, and I thought I saw the glisten of tears in his eyes. I also thought that, if left unchecked, he would begin to kiss Lynn. She must have sensed that too because a blush rose hotly from the base of her throat to the very top of her forehead. She continued to submit to his touch, and a moment later he drew his breath in deeply and dropped his hands. Both of them looked pretty shaken up. I knew Lynn as a well-married and loyal wife, and I had always assumed that Joe was devoted to his own wife, Caroline, even if she wasn’t currently as devoted to him. We were all silent for a moment, the air around us still and thick. And then Joe said, “Her name was Anna and I met her when I was a graduate student at MIT. She was a poet. She worked at a restaurant I used to go to and that’s how I got to know her. I’d had girlfriends before, but never anyone like her.”

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I don’t have a picture of Anna, but Joe said she looked like a young Joan Baez, only with short hair.

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If Joe is goofy now, he must have been really goofy back then in the Cambridge of the late 70’s, the sort of guy who wore socks with sandals and whose skin was ultra pale from never leaving his classroom. The minute he laid eyes on Anna, he fell in love with her. She had a delicate beauty that one might not notice at first, but she carried a power that could be felt immediately. Men came onto her all the time at work, but if any of them really bothered her she’d shut them down with a look that cut right to the bone. She wore her hair as short as a boy’s, was thin and slightly androgynous, a chain smoker with an absolutely beautiful singing voice. That was what ensnared Joe – the beauty of her voice, whether saying “Good morning” as she took your breakfast order, or belting it out in front of a mic. She wrote her own songs – that’s where the poetry came in – and performed in bars and music venues all around Boston. She had a big following, Joe told us, a big future. The two of them moved in together within six months of knowing one another. They were well suited, with the same sense of humor, the same somewhat cynical outlook on life. Anna had a deep and fervent belief in god, just not a strong belief in mankind which she saw as foolish and destructive. This was at about the time when Joe began to experience changes in his sight.

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Baez playing in Hamburg, 1973, Heinrich Klaffs, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

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And what happened? Joe wanted to marry Anna. He wanted to travel the world with her, settle down, have babies, live a life of eternal bliss. He wanted to fall asleep every night for the rest of his days with his arms wrapped around Anna’s skinny body and to listen to her gorgeous voice forever. These dreams weren’t too much to ask for, especially since Anna wanted exactly the same thing. But then one night tragedy struck.

 

To be continued…

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Cover photo ~ http://palosdeciegodbd.blogspot.com/2016/04/en-tu-ciudad-de-noche.html

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