Of the Mind: Creating a Memory in Absence of an Actuality

Pexels. Sam Pineda, Photographer

by LJ Frank

A year ago.

Janine Erikson. That was not her actual name. She was a professor, considered by her peers to be a remarkable if not odd intellectual. And, she had classic, celebrity looks along the lines of an actress, as if she stepped out from the celluloid screen of a black and white 1960’s art film.

I forget celebrity names…. I remember Janine. How could I forget? Intellectually seductive, physically sensuous, and a disarming personality. She listened and asked questions without revealing anything she didn’t want revealed. When you spoke with her, she focused all of her attention on you. I had to catch my breath the first time I saw her walk across a room. She had an undefinable presence. She was alive. Everyone else around her felt somehow…. less animate, less alive.

Existence is filled with the unexpected – the casual discerning remark, a look in passing, the smile from a stranger you meet in a coffeeshop, and years later their presence at a wedding ceremony.

As she sat in her office in the Social Sciences building during the course of one morning an ex-husband followed by her last ex-lovers stopped by the office for what appeared to be warm conversations…. from what she later told me. She had an edge to her voice when talking about the two men.

Neither of them really understood her. She thought I did. What did I really know? The well-worn phrase, little did he know fits in here. It’s called by assorted literary types as the dramatic irony effect. Perhaps. Or maybe it’s something else altogether.

The partially renovated 1920’s art deco architecture of the Social Science building where Janine’s office was located stood in the center of the main campus. The 1920’s is a mythic period of architecture…. an era filtered with a titillating nostalgia of a perceived romantic time that was not so memorable for any number of traditionalists at the time. The building is considered Modernist with a machine aesthetic. Depending on newspaper descriptions there were those who were not enamored with the style, to others who, with a bemused wink or raised eyebrow, merely nodded in reflection. Across from the Social Sciences building was a gothic edifice along with nearby ivy-covered brick buildings.

After the meetings with these two men, Janine grabbed her shoulder bag and headed downstairs. She stopped in her cautious descent down the central staircase of the building in her four-inch heels, surveyed the stairwell mid-descent. She was alone. She set her shoulder bag down on a step then lifted her knee length flare skirt to adjust her thigh high nylons and a strap with an attached small-holstered pistol.  

Life is witness to colorful textures not all of them have meaning within a given moment. The downstream effect can be misunderstood…. that is, an effect can occur without the appearance of reason, intent or being premeditated. Cognitive dissonance was and is a mildewed phrase but there are times when the odor seems applicable to one’s current situation.

Janine then brushed her brunette mane back with her long fingers, picked up her shoulder bag and continued down to the first floor. Upon reaching it she began walking towards the exit when she heard a voice call her name.

She looked in the direction of the voice to see Chancellor Sheila Greystone approach. Sheila was close to the college president. The president was a former mobile home salesman who effectively “negotiated” his being appointed to the top position. Money affects reason. Profit is the endearing pursuit of the capitalist, regardless of academic, public, or private sector. When a measure of wealth is secured then the velvet rope separating classes of people is put into place…. the rich can afford a more socialist environment …. sharing their riches among themselves.

Everything squared away, Greystone asked Janine.

She didn’t know what Sheila was referring to but didn’t have the time to inquire and open up a suspected lengthy conversation, so simply said – all part of life’s rich tapestry.

Ah. Speaking of tapestry…about your quote in the school newspaper.

Quote?

Well, it was memorable.

Fascinating…but…

Not to worry.

Thanks.

Perhaps, later, when you have time. Over a cup of coffee at the Café Existentiel?

Sounds delectable.

There was one thing about the phrase you used to refer to…. well…. I mean theoretically….

Phrase?

Existential Entitlement.

Hmmm. The concern?

Well…we do have some freedom …. academically…. although we have the fog of unknowability.

Say what?

I know…. perhaps the café would be a good place to meet…

I ‘m all for a diplomatic tryst.

You have a way with words.

Well…. we can discuss my rhetorical style later ….

Over that cup of coffee.

It should be informative.

By the way, how’s your partner doing?

Which one?

The one I met at the wedding reception a few months ago.

Oh, that one at my ex-husband’s wedding.

That one?

I thought you meant….

What? Or whom?

Relationships can be confusing.

Tell me.

Part of the state of amnesia? I look for the livable beyond the survivable.

Reality can be a bitch…. and with that comment they agreed to meet for coffee later and to text each other if there was a change.

Janine smiled as they departed. She thought of the pistol strapped to her thigh, then took a deep breath. Peaceful social discourse is essential. She reflected on what the political scientist, Barbara F. Walther alluded to…. we are closer to civil war than anyone might believe …. the reasons – a toxic mix of polarization, political extremism, social and cultural tribalism, popular embrace of conspiracy theories, proliferation of guns and well-armed militias added to the erosion of faith in both the government and democratic state…. (we’re fucked…. unless….)

As she departed the building Janine noticed the leaves on the maple trees in front of the building were already turning colors. It was early October.

Janine?

Yeah? She turned to acknowledge her confidant and colleague approach.

You carrying your pistol?

How did you know? She grinned.

I know a few things about you. Are your worried?

Would it help?

Do you think anyone knows about the situation?

Only you as far as I know.

Seriously?

Not even my ex-spouse or last ex-lover.

What time is it supposed to take place?

We have time.

Ok…and you’re sure about it?

Yeah. I was hoping you wouldn’t back out.

I’m here. You know my feelings.

I’ve got the plan mapped out in my head. Are you still game?

I was after our first meeting…. they kissed each other on the lips. May I ask?

What?

Are you certain that your ex-husband or ex-lover don’t know.

I told you. Anyways, my ex-husband has issues of his own. That’s why he stopped by to see me this morning. He’s been married a couple months and wants an annulment. I wished him well. He’s also going under the knife in a few days.

Under the knife?

Not sure why, but he’s getting his penis stuffed….

Jesus!

Religion has nothing to with it. It’s fat from his butt….

Insecurity?

Like a woman with her breasts…. or….

Cancer or other concerns.

Emotional and physical comfort intersect.

And the lover?

He thinks he’s really asexual.

I asked him what honest, rational person doesn’t ask themself at some point in their life about their sexuality?  We have both the feminine and masculine within each of us though some lean more to one side than the other or refrain for whatever reason. Told him to be kind to himself.

And our next steps?

Things are locked. I have a spare security deposit key and the numbers to disarm the system in case needed.

You never told me how….

Insignificant within the scheme of things… 

Did you see the person that standing under the tree across the way has been watching us since I approached you.

Hmm. Well…. is it sexualization? Your transparent blouse…I can see your nipples…, your anklet on your bare leg above your high heels…. who knows…. let him stare or flash him when we walk by….

Good grief.

Let’s keep walking. If he follows, we will find out pretty quickly. I can always shoot him. I’ve seen him in the president’s office and with Chancellor Greystone.

I thought you might be reserving those bullets.

Just joking. Though I’ve got some extra in my shoulder bag.

Her colleague shrugged her shoulders.

One hour later after withdrawing money from the bank and removing some valuables from a security deposit box Janine looked over at her current lover.

I didn’t know you had a security deposit box with diamonds in it.

I don’t. Are you still game?

As I said before, I’m here.

Janine looked down as she placed the diamonds and documents in her bag and then looked over at her lover. Their eyes seem to entertain each other’s libido, their lips met…. and their tongues began to explore the other’s mouth as their breasts pressed against each other.

There was indeed something else. Janine knew there was something unsaid. Their lips parted and Janine held her colleague and lover at arm’s length. It’ll be okay, Janine told her.

Janine glanced at her watch. It was time. Her lover could only guess at what was actually taking place. She was in the dark. Like being able to see the physical world around you but blind to what was taking place in front of your eyes. And she knew it. Her breasts expanded and contracted. She decided against asking. Answers in life are not always what we might anticipate or wish.

The two hugged again.

I’ll lead the way Janine told her.  They departed for the next steps of which only Janine was fully aware.

As her biographer and one of first lovers, Janine emailed me that she would write later to enlighten me as to events after she and her lover departed the bank. Her email was encrypted. I was still waiting after a year.