D.I.D. I?

The late afternoon sun slants in through the bars, high above the table where I sit. The room smells like a bar room on the morning after, like old beer and stale cigarettes, like anxious armpits and heavy cologne. My inquisitor just stepped out of the room, so I want to hurry and tell you my story. We better hurry, also, before the life line on my right palm begins to feel like it’s on fire. That’s a sure sign that I am transitioning to one or another of my alters. The alters… they are the others that live in my body but they don’t know the score.
“My name is Angel and I’m innocent. I don’t care what the others say, I am innocent. Do not, I repeat, do not listen to those other characters. They don’t know what they are talking about. And it will only confuse you. Follow these instructions and you will know what happened. Wander from them and you will be lost. I speak from experience.
Ah, I can tell you need a little background information. It all started a very long time ago, when I was a wee one. Only after years of therapy have I been able to piece it together. I won’t bore you with all the details. Suffice it to say my childhood was traumatic; serial shitty experiences left my psyche ripped and torn. The cloth woven in those hours of therapy and psychotropic drugs is still holey and incomplete.
My way to cope has been to develop many faces to show the world. The clinical term is DID. Dissociative Identity Disorder. They used to call it Multiple Personality Disorder. You know, “Sybil”, “Three Faces of Eve”, “United States of Tara”?
I told my shrink about finding new clothes in my closet that I couldn’t remember buying; waking up in places I couldn’t remember getting to; experiencing complete memory loss for many days running. For diagnosis, I had to have distinct personalities which take over sometimes. In my case, I have four of us. There’s me, Angel. Then there are Gina, Jeannie and Candy. They started showing up a long time ago. Gina was the first. She is always trying to fight for justice. We think of her as wonder woman. Jeannie is the good girl, but a pain in the patootie. She does keep us all organized though. Candy? A good-time girl doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Stressful events seem to trigger my cycling from one of my alters to another then back to me. Since my life is always one big stressful event, it happens all the time.
So…that’s me – in a nutshell. Ha, ha, a nut in a nutshell.”
The detective is back in here. He is adjusting the camera above my head. I see the winking light, urging me to spill the beans. Whenever he leaves again, I’ll try to set the record straight.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Anyways, I’m Angel. Angel Martin. I don’t use my last name if I can help it, because every time I say it, I think of my old man. But you are going to need all the facts, so now you have my full name, as do the cops.
Me, I’ve always been shy. I like to hang back, listen, observe. Melt into the background, blend into the ambient noise. As a little kid, I practiced being invisible, and I swear sometimes it worked. The nuns would look right past me when they were trolling for some arm to pinch at early morning Children’s Mass during Lent. The crossing guards didn’t notice me when I walked across outside the lines on the busy street in front of school. Nobody picked me for teams, and they didn’t notice while I watched them work up a sweat at recess. This trick never worked when my old man came home drunk, though. But that’s another story.
I pretty much sat out my teenage years. I dressed like everybody else, ate and drank the same stuff, just to blend in. I skipped the ballgames and dances, and missed school on picture days and then again on the make-up picture days. There is no record of me during those years, except a high school transcript and maybe a diploma mailed to my family after I had skipped town the day before the graduation ceremony. My mom probably threw it away.
The bad things were happening then, but I try not to think about them too much. I saved my money from babysitting and waitressing, then took a Greyhound that landed me here because this was as far as the money could travel. I’ve been here ever since.
I kept on making myself small and thin and transparent for the next few years, but weird stuff started to come out.
My palm is starting to itch…getting hot. Who is there? Can’t you just go away?”
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Why don’t you just shut up? You make me sick. ‘I was just shy, wanted to remain on the outskirts.’ You little wuss. Remember how I tried to show you how to come out of your shell? If you would just listen to me for once you might not be in the hot water you are in now. No, you just kept saying, “Stay in there, Gina.” Well, can you hear me now?”
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Stop fighting, you two. Can’t we all just pull together here? I have picked out some nice clothes to go to the arraignment. We can tell that lawyer Angel refused to go get them at that pigsty we call home. I try and I try to make us look nice but you gals don’t really even begin to appreciate my efforts. Honestly, I don’t even know why I bother. Gina, you are not going dressed like a dyke, for once, are you? And Candy, try to keep your boobs in your blouse.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Stop interrupting. Jeannie, I don’t want to spend any time fighting, either. Gina, I have tried to listen to your stupid advice. But it was you getting interested in politics that started this whole mess. If you had never volunteered for his campaign. But to be fair, it is Candy who seems to have…”
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Me, me, me, me, me. You’d better start thinking about “me” as “us” or your ass is grass, sister. Candy is us. We occupy the same real estate, Angel, and we’ll all be in the can together. Me and Candy are the only face he knew but that won’t change a thing unless you start copping to how all of us exist, kiddo. In the meantime, slow down. Chill.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Have a drink. That helps me tremendously. Candy wants a little drink, girls. Or several drinks. Think we can get that cute cop to score one for us? Life looks so much better when seen through the bottom of an empty bottle. And Candy wants a fuck. Fucking calms us down every time.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Please don’t talk like that, Candy. You know it upsets the rest of us. Just settle down now, everyone, and think. Oh, here he comes again. Angel, he wants to talk to you…”
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Ma’am? Ms. Martin, may I call you Angel? Please try to focus here. The question we are trying to get you to answer is, what time did you meet up with the Senator?”
The police detective is looking at me like I have four heads. “It should be a simple question to answer.” he says.
“I told you. I did not meet up with him. I have never met the man. I mean, I know who he is, of course, from his pictures in the paper and I’ve seen him on the t.v. but I don’t know him.”
He looks indignant. “Angel, come on. We have several witnesses who saw you enter the hotel room where the body was found. We know you were there. We are just trying to establish the timing on things. Now, I’ll ask again, what time did you two meet up?”
“Can you get me some water please? And a cool cloth or some hand cream? My hand burns so. I really didn’t know him, the Senator, but I will try to get someone here to talk to you about him.”
“Are you asking for a lawyer? You said you didn’t want…”
“If you will call me Gina instead of that stupid name, Angel, I think I can help you some, Officer.”
The cop does a double take at the change in voice. “Gina, Angel, whatever, whoever you are, just answer this simple question. What time did you and Senator Bennett meet at the Clarion Hotel?”
Gina puts on her glasses and squares her shoulders. She seems to grow bigger as she tells him, “We met at the campaign offices at 4:00 yesterday afternoon. I have been his unofficial campaign manager since his reelection campaign began last month.”
“Were you a paid member of his staff? On his campaign? A volunteer?” The cop is looking more and more confused. “ And how and when did you get to the hotel?”
“Maybe I can answer that, honey,” Candy coos as she undoes the top three buttons of her blouse, revealing a lacey black bra and quite a bit of skin. She pulls in her cheeks and purses her lips into a small moue, while taking off her Gina/Angel glasses. “Especially the part about hotel rooms.”
The detective puts down his pen and stares at me. He flips into a succession of micro-expressions, ones that I have been accustomed to seeing on the faces of lots of people who have watched this parade of alters present themselves.
Rebuttoning my blouse, I begin again. “I need to explain this whole mess, or the part of it that belongs to me.”
But my itching palm tells me Candy wants back out. Before she can start her striptease act, the one that announces her presence, Jeannie, that little peacemaker, tries again.
“We need to have a meeting, Officer. All of us alters and Angel. We to figure out what happened to whom, when and why. Don’t worry, we are very good at piecing things together after the fact. We have had plenty of practice. Could you let us be for a minute, please?”
The detective shakes his head and looks at the tape recorder and the camera. He knocks on the door and calls through to be let out. He is still shaking his head slowly as he walks out the door.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
I look directly at the camera and begin talking.
“My alter, Gina is a do-gooder and quite political. I am always finding posters and buttons and articles all over the apartment, remnants of her left wing leanings. She has walked a lot of precincts in this town.
Anyway, she has apparently volunteered to help in Senator Bennett’s campaign. From what I read, he is, er, was… a crusader for human rights and the underdog. Right up Gina’s alley. I think she has been putting in quite a bit of time, after work, my work, that is, at his headquarters right downtown. Sometimes, I would find myself there late, late, late at night and was exhausted the next day.
Hang on, Gina wants to say something.”
“He was the most interesting man,” Gina begins, “A true feminist. I was helping him in order to support women’s issues, but also because he had promised to create a platform on gay rights.”
“Well, I can tell you, he isn’t, whoops, I mean, he wasn’t gay. Kinky maybe, but not gay.” This last crack comes from Candy, primping in her hand mirror and reapplying her carmine- red lipstick. “If he hadn’t been so kinky, he’d still be alive, probably.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . .
At this bit of information, the detective reenters the room. He has a rather strict looking woman, a matron, I presume, beside him. She sits next to me and begins a gentle series of questions.
“With whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?” the matron questions.
“As I said to the detective earlier, I am Angel. Angel Martin. And I am innocent of any wrong doing.”
“May I speak to Candy, please?” She picks up the tube of lipstick and places it in front of me.
“I don’t want her saying anything. I don’t want any of them saying anything.” I try to push the lipstick back into my pocket, but I feel my hands burning and reopening the tube.
“Sure. Here I am. It’s me, Candy. But I would rather talk to this cute dick here. Isn’t that what you guys were called in the 50’s? Dicks?”
The matron continues, “I am a police woman and a psychiatrist, and I would like to talk to you, Candy. Were you present at the time of the death of Senator Bennett?”
“Yes. But I was pretty busy right then.” Candy smiles at the policeman; her mouth opens as her tongue darts toward him then licks her lips.
“Candy, just shut up, please. Get a lawyer.” Jeannie tries to step into my body but Candy isn’t having it.
“I want to talk about it. I love talking about sex. And that is what we were doing alright. Having lots and lots of it, right there, right up to the end. The end – now, that was a buzz kill.” Candy pulls her mouth into a pout.
“So, what happened at the end, Candy? Did you get angry? Did he hurt you?” the matronly doctor still sounds concerned and kindly.
“Oh, no not at all. He just liked it like that. I am busy blowing him and he is busy pulling that little noose we had made a little tighter, ‘cause that lack of oxygen makes for a killer cum. I guess he misjudged it a little bit or it got caught or something because when I looked up, he didn’t look so good. He looked…well, dead.”
Candy smiles a little and then quickly lets it go.
Both the detective and the shrink sit back and stare.
I take over again.
“We, I mean, I, would like a lawyer now. We, um, I, have nothing more to say.”
The light behind the bars above my head is dark now. I put my head down on the table and try to make myself invisible in that darkness. I am quiet, very quiet and still. My old trick will come in handy now.

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One Response to D.I.D. I?

  1. Barbara Toboni says:

    Wow, Donna. Wild and entertaining, another side of your writing. Enjoyed reading it.

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