I’ve been experiencing bits and pieces of Dess’s Beloved coming to Raleigh to take her home in late November 1979. She’d spent the past three months there with Roger in an attempt to run away from what she couldn’t have all to herself in Tampa.
Her Beloved didn’t hesitate one bit to come and get her when she called his office that Wednesday afternoon. He just hung up the phone and went straight to his plane. He didn’t tell anyone where he was going or even file a flight plan. Mainly because he wasn’t supposed to be flying his plane, at least not alone. He’d had his own health problems that last year or so and the extra bourbon he’d been consuming while Dess had been gone hadn’t helped matters any.
Never the less. He flew straight to Raleigh. The first thing he saw when he stepped off the plane was her long red hair blowing loose to where it covered her face. It was windy and cold.Yet, she was still barefoot in a sweater that just about swallowed her whole and a billowing burnt orange skirt.
She flew into his arms and didn’t want to let him go. Not even long enough for him to go to the car with Olivia and get her bags. They loaded everything up and did a quick takeoff. No sooner were they coasting comfortably when Dess started screaming about not wanting to go back to things being the way they were before. She begged him to stop and give her just one night where he belonged only to here.
They landed somewhere in South Carolina. I am not sure of the exact town. It doesn’t really matter because they went straight to the nearest motel. They made love as if their bodies were starved for each other.
It wasn’t until afterwards when she lay sobbing in his arms that he noticed how much weight she’d lost. She’d always been lean and as tall as she was she hadn’t had any fat to spare. She had deep dark circles under her eyes from too much booze, too many tears, and not a whole lot of deep sleep. It was the first time in her life that he thought she’s actually looked her age. She’d turned 35 the month before and the lack of Florida sunshine had left her looking as fragile as others had always seen her. Still, to him, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.
They went out to the closest restaurant, a little italian place, and ordered a pizza and a bottle of red wine. He got it half cheese and cut her a slice in the middle of the cheese so she wouldn’t complain about the meat being near her food. He then cut that slice into little bit sized pieces like one would do for a small child. He had to coax her into eating every little bite she took.
She told him she’d left because she just couldn’t deal with always being his mistress and never his one and only. He told her he loved her and he always had and always would. She said she missed her garden, her pool, and most of all her snakes. Olivia and Roger hadn’t let her bring snakes in the house and the yard was just a mess. Olivia didn’t keep the backyard snake friendly and mostly all she’d been able to summon where black snakes and an occasional copperhead. She missed her favorite rattlers and the cute little coral snakes by the canal. All that snake talk left him wondering if maybe she loved her snakes a little more than she loved him.
After the bottle of wine was emptied she admitted how much she’d been drinking. The last month had pretty much been a blur. She’d gotten to where she’d lace everything she drunk with vodka. It wasn’t her favorite liquor, but it didn’t smell and she had tried to hide her drinking from Roger and Olivia. Roger didn’t like her drinking and would fuss at her if he thought she was getting pickled for no good reason. Her Beloved thought Roger should have been more concerned about her not eating than how much she’d been drinking.
The next morning he got her to eat a biscuit and drink some orange juice sans vodka. When they got back to Tampa, instead of taking her home, he took her to the doctor. She cried all the way there, but at least she didn’t scream about it. He got her seen right away because of who he was. The doctor prescribed her more nerve pills and vitamins and urged her to eat. He bought her a milkshake on the way home and she took a couple of sips of it and he somehow coaxed her into swallowing a valium.
When they got home she immediately stripped naked and dove into the pool. He joined her for a swim and stayed with her until the valium kicked in and she fell asleep. When he came back that evening to check on her she was sitting in the backyard cuddling a huge menacing looking rattlesnake. He didn’t say a word because he knew his Dess was back where she belonged.