The final chapter of a serialized adventure Walhydra first published on The Crone Thread in 1996.Part 10: The conclusion
When Walhydra's on call beeper went off, her life did not exactly pass in front of her eyes. She was too high to be that coherent.
Instead, what passed before her eyes—in rapid succession—were several interesting variations on driving out to the prison at midnight, being caught stoned by the officers, being arrested, being fired, being put into prison....
All of this somewhat dampened the fun of the evening.
Doing rapid damage control, the Crone whispered loudly: "You're just stoned, dear. Remember? None of that has happened yet. Just be professional. Do what you know how to do."
"Um…excuse me," Walhydra said to the other guests.
"Show me your phone," she said to Dr. Bob.
"I'm okay," she said to Jim—who seemed also to be imagining her already arrested and in prison.
When Dr. Bob took her to the phone in the kitchen, Walhydra stared at it for a while.
Then she said: "Oh...uh... phone numbers. My memory's out in the car. I'll be back in a minute."
The gentle reader must understand that, around the time Walhydra turned forty, a cluster of memory chips began to burn out in her head. This meant that at crucial moments she would forget trivial details...like the name of the friend of twenty-some years to whom she was speaking at the moment…or the common, everyday word for...um... whatchamacallit...or phone numbers.
Walhydra's solution on the job was to carry a folder of numbers and rosters and names and policies. She joked that if she ever lost that folder she would have to resign.
Retrieving that folder was why she now had to go out to the car.
Have you ever walked outside from a warm delightful party in the middle of a frosty late December night with thousands of stars and a nice buzz on and a long strange residential street with your car somewhere on it and you know you came out here for some reason other than staring up into a black sky which goes all the way out to the edge of the universe and...um….
...um...oh, yeah...phone numbers....
"You're just stoned, dear. Do you job."
Somehow Walhydra got back to the phone before the century ended.
She laid out lists, numbers, notepad.
Thought about what she had to do.
Thought about how to punch the numbers on the phone....
"You're stoned, dear. Just make the call."
She made the call.
"Hello? You just paged me. Yes? Sgt. Who? Okay. Connect me with him."
Walhydra was using her Most Calm and Professional Voice. All business.
I am Virgo, and I know exactly what I am doing even though I am stoned out of my gourd and scared shi....
"Hello? Who? Oh, yeah, Inmate Q. He's threatening suicide...?"
Walhydra reeled with relief.
She had just spoken to Inmate Q yesterday and knew he was not the type to kill himself—or even to risk hurting himself. He was the type to threaten suicide when his debts to loan sharks on the yard were too high, and he wanted to hide out in lock up.
"Yes. I talked with him yesterday. He's not the type to...etc.
“Has he actually done anything yet? No?
“Okay. Put him on Suicide Watch in lock up. The shift supervisor has the forms. All you have to do is....
“Oh, sorry. Yes, I'm telling you things you already know...."
Walhydra noticed that being professional while stoned tended to make her do way too much step by step instructing of others. Sort of like "I'm the Virgo, and no one else knows how to do this exactly right...” carried to the nth degree.
"Thank you, Sgt. Who. I'm at Dr. Bob's house at a party. I'm going home now. I'll check back once I get home. Bye."
Walhydra stared at the phone, savoring having just escaped a death sentence.
"This has been a test," announced the Crone. "Had this been a real emergency you would have...."
"Thank you," said Walhydra.
"Don't rub it in," said Walhydra.
"I need to get home now," said Walhydra.
She found her way back to the dining room, where the various guests were taking their leave.
Walhydra very graciously explained her call and her own preparations to return home. She told them all how glad she had been to meet them. It sounded like a grand dame of the theater giving her farewell speech to her fans.
The real grand dames—and gents—nodded politely and went their separate ways.
As she swept around the room to gather up hubby Jim, Walhydra was filled with the vacuous exhilaration of having survived another incredibly stupid mistake.
"You don't think they'll find out you were stoned?" Jim offered helpfully. "You don't think Terry set you up, do you?"
Never suggest paranoid possibilities to someone who is already in an altered state.
"Uh...no. Terry's stoned too. Terry's my friend...uh...."
It took some coaching from the Crone, but eventually Walhydra convinced herself—and Jim—that everything was alright.
As they followed the other guests out, Walhydra and Jim stopped in the vestibule to say goodbye to Dr. Bob.
Beyond them in the living room, R. and D. still sat together in a halo on the sofa.
Even knowing that the veil of memory and desire had been closed across the scene, Walhydra longed to reach out. She struggled, vaguely, politely, casually, offhandedly, to show off some professional knowledge... without, um, seeming too, um... while Dr. Bob gently pushed her out the door after Jim.
She trailed after Jim, who, not being distracted by the entire universe revealing itself above them, easily found the car. She climbed in on the passenger side.
"Drive," she said.
[Sorry. Couldn't resist it.]
At home, familiar witchy safety rose up around them.
Walhydra called the prison to confirm that Inmate Q was ensconced in lock up.
She told Jim that everything was okay.
Then she looked at him. Really looked at him.
The reader will recall from early on that Virgos do not like to admit to their romanticism.
Walhydra looked at this man whom she had dragged along on the scary tightrope walk. She remembered how he had borne her witchy silliness with Cancerian calm. How he had glowed, the quiet Leo, and pleased and amused the other guests.
[Yes, Cancer and Leo. July 23rd is right on the cusp.]
How he had indulged and delighted Dr. Bob by spotting and laughing at the very obscure geometry joke.
Walhydra got all googoo eyed.
We will not go into the subsequent details of the evening. As another wise woman has observed, the Virgo is a lady in the parlor and...um, well...ahem. Suffice it to say that Jim, who is usually a morning lover, was kept awake for a while.
Is there a moral to this story?
The gentle reader is surely clever enough to recognize the obvious lesson about careless partying while on call. But there seems to be something deeper.
Does the Crone actually egg us on to test our maturity, our poise, our wits, with moments of seemingly reckless abandon?
Walhydra has decided she doesn't want to try this particular test again.
Nonetheless, when the Trickster steps forward to offer unbidden a magic brownie... or a job, or a move, or a relationship... there seems to be something about the Dark and Bright Path which says, "Take it."
To do so without eyes open, without calling in faith upon the Divine for guidance, is foolishness.
Yet to accept the challenge with the prayer, "Let me do no harm....”
Is that not, at least, sacred foolishness?
A note from the amanuensis:
I'm concerned that the final paragraphs of Walhydra's story and the comic style of the whole narrative may tend to gloss over the seriousness of what happened to me that night. Laughter is a legitimate defense in response to fear, yet one dare not in the process trivialize the dangers one laughs at.
If one rereads the story critically, one sees that at every turn I was faced with aspects of my own vanity, fantasies of self gratification, etc. These are impulses which ego usually restrains automatically, as part of my being a fairly mature adult. That night, however, I had disabled the autopilot, so to speak, when I ate the brownie.
I could have done any number of hurtful things to myself and others, ranging from embarrassment to disruption of relationships to professional dereliction of duty. It is the good fortune of all involved that, even in the midst of playing, I challenged my own integrity by calling upon the Christ and the Crone to keep me whole and to stop my doing harm.
The result of calling up these watchers was twofold. First, I saw moment by moment and with unusual clarity each of my foibles as it sprang into play. Second, I foresaw the hurts each might cause and usually managed to stop short of serious missteps.
The outcome was a pretty thorough "Virgo x ray" examination of my social self, showing me the whole range of vulnerabilities which I usually gloss over. Also, as the reader can see, the process was intensely challenging to my concentration, and not at all the enjoyable "free ride" I thought it was going to be.
Not to put too much of a damper on the fun: I do accept as a gift the ability to retell the story in humorous style.
Being able to laugh at myself has been my salvation ever since I came out of the gay, witchy closet. In fact, being able to laugh at myself repeatedly that night is what got me through the hair raising adventure.
My perpetual mantra in this life is a chiding yet self affirming one: