Life happens, and we sometimes grieve when it does
July 16, 2016
Caleb Pirtle III
LIFE HAPPENS, too often, it happens on the wrong side of a wrong street, and we sometimes grieve when it does.
This is not fiction.
I wish it were fiction.
I knew the girl well.
She was easy to know.
She was friendly and ebullient and always smiling.
But her secrets ran deep.
So did her demons.
Sometimes, the torment never ends.
Perhaps she didn’t even recognize it anymore.
I’m writing about her life.
It is an American tragedy.
The streets are full of them, far too many of them.
She grew up in a small town, and, as far as I know had a good life.
It probably wasn’t a great life.
Teenagers rarely lives they would consider great.
At least they don’t know it if they do.
She was popular in school.
She was a cheerleader.
Among the femme fatales, she was among the chosen few.
She was always selected as a beauty queen in the yearbook.
Boys parted like the Red Sea and watched her as she walked down the aisles.
Their worlds stopped.
Their eyes popped.
Their hearts raced like the hotrods they would never own.
They would never own her either.
She was never alone.
Boys wanted to be with her.
So did the girls.
In small town Texas, she was royalty, and she had a smile that could brighten every dark corner in a room without light.
Sun didn’t shine?
Here she comes, and the sunshine is never more than a step behind.
She left high school and became a Kilgore College Rangerette.
If you’re from Texas, you know what I mean.
If you’re not, you don’t know what you missed.
The Rangerettes are a dance team once described as girls with the ‘Misbehavin’ shoulders.”
She didn’t just high kick in the dance line.
She was an officer, a lieutenant.
She was out front.
Regardless, of what she did, she was always out front.
And the crowds followed close.
Boys were in love with her.
The girls wanted to be like her.
That’s not quite right.
The girls wanted to be her.
The world was her oyster, and she held it in the palm of her hand.
If she reached for the stars, she was the one who could touch them.
Maybe she did.
I don’t know.
I hadn’t seen her for a long time.
In fact, after I left home, I never saw her again.
I ran across her name recently.
It was in the newspaper.
But then she was always in the newspaper.
Usually it was a picture.
Lord, she did take a fine picture.
Her entourage was always draped around her in the black and white photographs.
Life’s like that, you know.
And she was always smiling bigger than the rest, leading the parade and never alone.
Then she dropped out of sight.
Don’t know why.
Some said it was drugs, but that’s hard to believe.
Some said it was alcohol.
She was the life of any party, and if you threw a party, her name was first on the invitation list.
Someone finally found her a while back.
She was no longer missing.
They found her in a ditch outside of Dallas.
Her clothes were rags.
Her hair hadn’t been combed in days, maybe months.
She was dead.
But was her death an accident?
Was it a homicide?
Was it a suicide?
It didn’t matter.
No one knows how long she had been lying there in the rain.