The Last Word

Today was Marguerite’s 37th birthday.  She celebrated it alone at the Friar Rose cafe as she’d done each of the last six years.  Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” was playing over the speakers when she paid for her almond latte and blueberry muffin.  It was fitting, bittersweet to hear her first love’s young adult anthem at that moment.  It was ten years ago to the day, New Year’s Eve, that Marguerite had asked Catalina to marry her at the cafe — Catalina said no.

The law was on their side, their families were supportive, their friends ecstatic, but Catalina had never been one for meeting externally suggested expectations.  If Marguerite had waited one more day, Catalina would have proposed.  This contrary characteristic initially attracted Marguerite to her.  Catalina’s family thought she would go to university and study chemistry; instead, Catalina went to university and majored in comparative religion.

Marguerite spent most of her life surrounded by unwavering rule-followers no matter the irrationality of the rules.  Catalina was a blast of fresh air and water in comparison.  Over time, though, the insistence on going her own way turned into an unwillingness to empathize, to take one for the duo, and just irrational as the followers of old.

Marguerite drank from the mug of latte as she acknowledged fully to herself that Catalina’s refusal was probably for the better.  At that very instant, a customer approached her and asked if he could join her for a few minutes.

“It won’t be long, and I realize this is strange,” the man began. “But, do you see those people over there trying not to look obvious with their cameras and phones?”

Marguerite nodded and realized why this man had asked to sit with her. “You’re Patterson Chen…your fans want to know if it was you in that car the police found in the ravine and you still won’t confirm or deny.”

Patterson nodded.

Marguerite told him he could stay as long as he wished, confessing that she was more of a hockey and college football kind of gal so she wouldn’t be making small talk about America’s national pastime.  Patterson didn’t mind at all, he rather liked sitting quietly with someone who didn’t want anything from him.


5 thoughts on “The Last Word

  1. Christopher

    Patterson Chen does sound intriguing. What lies behind the mystery of him and the abandoned car? He appears to be escaping something (or someone). But what? Or who?

    Having fans, he’s no doubt famous for something. But I suspect he now craves anonymity. He wants to be free in anonymity, instead of imprisoned in a gilded cage of fame – the cross that the famous have to bear.

    Patterson Chen does have the initials (PC) of Political Correctness. Perhaps, then, Patterson also wants to escape always feeling compelled to be Politically Correct, to act in a way, or say the sorts of things, that everyone expects of him. He feels he can’t be himself, unless he escapes the public eye, or even his family. Only then can he feel free to be the Patterson Chen he feels himself to be inside.

    He wants to be loved, not for what he does or has achieved, but for who he really is. Perhaps, in Marguerite, he has stumbled upon the person who’ll love him for who he really is?

    1. sittingpugs Post author

      It’s a stand alone piece, so there won’t be another installment, but to answer your questions, since Marguerite mentioned she liked hockey and football more than the America’s national pastime, one can infer that Patterson is a baseball player (probably professional). He hasn’t confirmed or denied if he was in the car…because he believes he’s dead. And very confused as to why hordes of the living can still see him. And he’s just tired of trying to figure out what to do next. Maybe he isn’t really dead, but believing that he is is the only way he can cope with the guilt of involuntary vehicular manslaughter.

      I’ve always wondered why “laughter” is in the word “slaughter.”

      1. Christopher

        Patterson Chen is The Man With the Rifle by another name, no?

        From what I’ve learned about alleged communications from the Newly Dead, it’s not uncommon for the them (the Newly Dead) to think – at first – that they haven’t died. So – unlike Patterson Chen – they’re surprised the Still Living can’t see them when they continue to encounter them in their new “spirit” form. It apparently takes a short while for the Newly Dead to get used to the fact that they’re now corporeally Dead.

        I’m also led to believe the spirits of the Dead continue to try to influence their still-alive Loved Ones (sons, daughters, or what have you). So they get frustrated when their Loved Ones can’t “pick up” what they’re trying to communicate – which is intended for the Loved Ones’ well-being.

        I can empathise with the communication frustrations of the Dead, because I, myself, often feel, when with others, that I’m unable to “get through” to them because they seem either willfully deaf to what I say, or they simply can’t understand what I say, because what I say is either “over their heads”, or they find it too much for their emotional comfort.

        It’s as if I know too much. Hence, like Patterson Chen, I often feel I may as well be dead.

        Perhaps – and quite apart from anything else – Patterson Chen (and The Man With the Rifle) know so much more, or are sensitive to so much more, than most ordinary everyday people. So they can’t “get through” to them, and thus feel they’re dead?

  2. sittingpugs Post author

    Mais non. Patterson Chen n’est pas L’homme avec le fusil. Until your first comment, I did not think more about these characters. But then, I thought, “ooo…maybe he’s dead or just believes he is.” I am imagining the latter. Unless, of course, the people trying to take his picture are also dead…and there was a massive traffic pile-up accident in addition to his car in a ditch. So Marguerite can see the dead.


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