Her Grandmother's Ring
the things you will do when you get depressed. My lover
had left me for some chick she met in a bar while I was on a business
trip; and the business trip, a last ditch effort to plead
for additional funding for the social service agency I worked
for, turned out to be a total waste of time when the entire grant
was denied and the plug pulled on the whole agency; my cat
died while I was gone and my lover left me a note on the kitchen
table telling me that I owed her $85 for the vet bill;
I had little money, no job, no lover, no pet.... even the furniture
was gone, for my lover said in her note that she had grown emotionally
attached to it and knew I would understand.
for some insane reason best not analyzed too closely, I decided
that I would turn my life around by learning to play the guitar.
Don't say it. Just don't go there. I know how it
sounds. I don't know what the rationale behind my reasoning
was. I only know that it made perfect sense at the time.
that is how I ended up in the pawn shop, when Lisalee walked
can I describe her? I won't..... I can't...... for even
now I can't really see her clearly, she seems so beautiful
there I stood, absently strumming an old Yamaha that had seen
better days but still sounded like I thought it was supposed
to (like I really knew), and I watched her as she paused just
inside the door. She had a black eye, bruises on her left cheek
and a monstrous hand print on her right. Her manner was
hesitant and she looked at something in her hand as pain flashed
over her face and was gone. The butch in me rose up in
a protective wave and my throat clenched. She was little,
she was lovely, she was in pain........and my fingers paused
on the guitar.....I wanted to touch her and help her.
It was spontaneous, it was instantaneous, it was inexplicable.
She stood, head bowed, and then her back straightened and she
walked to the counter. I watched as she negotiated the
pawning of the whatever-it-was that she held clutched
so tightly in her hand. Then, as she took the money and
left, I saw the tears in her eyes... and somehow tears
of sympathy started in my own eyes. I gazed through the
window at her straight back as she walked rapidly down the street
and then I walked to the counter.
man behind the counter was holding a ring in his callused palm;
he shook his head. "Man, oh man I hate my job sometimes,"
he said. "I can't sell that little girl's ring.
No way, man. I don't care if I do get fired. I'm gonna
put it away till she gets money to come back for it. About
once a month she comes in here, pawns something, and leaves.
Half the time she's all beat up..... lord, I hate that.
She's hooked up with some bulldyke looks like she got Virginia
hams under her shirt sleeves, her arms are so big..... woman's
strong as an ox.... and she's got a drug habit. She beats
on that little girl and it makes me crazy. My wife and
me, we offered to take her in but she just pretends like nothing's
wrong. So far, she's just pawned stuff like TV's,
CD players, things like that. But this ring......
oh, man, I hate my job. I give her about 6 times what
it's worth even though I know the money's gonna just go in the
hole in that bulldyke's arm. Dammit. I ain't never
seen her take this ring off, till now. It's her grandmother's
quietly put down the guitar. There was a small voice
in my heart..... one I seldom listened to, but I was listening
now. Oh boy was I listening. "How much does
she need to get it back?" I asked.
he told me, I stood for a moment and reminded myself that I
didn't have a job..... that I was now in the apartment by myself
and responsible for the full amount of rent..... that I had
just a little cushion in the bank buffering me between stability
and homelessness..... but the voice in my heart said back at
me, 'She needs you. She needs you. You have to help
her.' I closed my eyes and told myself that I was an idiot,
a fool, a stupid butch with no more sense than Don Quixote tilting
at his windmilling dragons.... and then I took out my checkbook
and spent every last dime I had, to buy back Lisalee's
was five years ago. I write this now, and I think of Lisalee
asleep in the next room. I pause and look again at the
ring I have bought her for our 5th anniversary, knowing that
she will wear it on the same finger as her grandmother's ring.
I remember that first year we had; being stalked by the
bulldyke with the habit; being evicted and living with
friends till we both found work; her learning to love
without hurting and how hard that was for her; me learning patience
and gentleness and loving her more every time she smiled and
melted into my arms without flinching; our commitment ceremony
at the beach; I remember it all. I remember wondering
what a beautiful woman like her could possibly see in this clumsy,
scarred, big old butch like me. I still wonder that sometimes
but don't dare look too close..... you don't want to peer inside
the magician's hat for fear of killing the rabbit, you know?
of all, I remember the small voice in my heart, whispering to
me to defy the odds and forget my past; the little voice that
spoke of magic and heart's desire and dreams come true.
I believe in magic? Do I believe in fate? Do I believe
that love is where you find it? Do I believe that something
scattered fairydust in my path that day, as I walked into that
shop to buy a guitar to chase my demons away?
tell me. I only know, my dream is sleeping in my
bed in the next room. And I see fairydust when she smiles....
and moonbeams when she looks at me with that special look she
gets right before she kisses me.
never did learn to play the guitar. Maybe one of these
Teresa, who watched quietly while I sold my soul and then spent
all she had to buy it back for me.....te quiero, darling........