Part 1

Episode 4

Betty had finished school and failed her Higher School Certificate. With no inclination to get a job, she started on the dole and with still no plans, she mooched. She played with her cats, sang to herself, wrote bad doggerel verse, painted, met everyone down the pub every night smoked weed and didn’t get up in the morning! Every day! She bemoaned her lack of a love life but  did not actively  flirt with anyone. She was the very epitome of a nervous wall flower around boys.

 It was around 5 years after the AIDS explosion and Ruth had seen those adverts on the telly when she was 14. Sex was a dangerous thing. 

Betty eventually lost her virginity to a bloke at school, when she was 17 nearly 18 she would have done it sooner given the opportunity but no one had been interested  up to that point.

Her and Dave, the pair of them were both actively encouraged to go out with each other even though they didn’t fancy each other that much. Neither did they have any great passion for each other.

 Betty finds it funny that she can't remember the lad's surname. Is that wrong?  

He was all right though, Dave. He was part of the gang; he was funny and very talented guitarist. They had fun even if they didn't go out much. 

 It was telling that when he went off to Brisbane for a holiday she was the last to know but she didn’t really mind at all. 

Now you might think that’s because she didn’t care about herself or him but you’d be wrong. Of course she cared about him, he was a mate and they’d had a good laugh but they just weren’t that into each other. He was a bit of a dick about telling her but she thought it was pretty much played out anyhow.

Ruth had had a couple of one-night stands with another bloke after that; and had her heart bruised. The sex had been less than scintillating but she had had a crush on him and loved him. Yet again though, she wasn’t that cut up about it! Y’know, bruised, not broken, he was a bit of a dick that’s all. 

 Then almost a year later James and Ruth made out in the back row. They held hands in the street; she slept with him on their first date. She had really wanted to and felt as an emancipated woman, in a post feminist dawn that that was entirely acceptable. And so it was.

Their courtship was brief, all of 10 days together but they had a nice time. There was lots of laughing, dressing up and playing silly buggers, listening to music. There were Barbie’s with her mates, talking late into the night, the cinema, the pier, out for dinner. James told Ruth about his family, his career in fine art, the things he was going to do.

 She sang to him and listened as he talked, getting more and more enamoured of the image he portrayed. She told him of her desire to change her life; her family struggles, her wish to feel vindicated and do something new.

Now people don’t commonly set out to meet a psychopath. If you thought that was what was going to happen, you wouldn’t go out of the house would you?

 There were perhaps a few indicators of what was to come but she didn’t pay them any heed whatsoever at the time. Neither she nor James could drive but he joked that they should leap over the front seats, take the wheel and just drive off, Thelma & Louise style.

 He also whispered gently about them going off together to South America to sleep forever in each other’s arms. She thought it was daft, emo, romantic shit that loads of people do and joined right in! She didn’t think it dangerous at all because they obviously didn’t mean it!

 He told her amongst and amid other things, that she was not to be afraid of his dad and that his mum didn’t eat.

Perhaps he actually did mean for them to enter into a suicide pact. Perhaps he believed that’s what she wanted too, perhaps he did.

 He was 27 at the time, the same age as Curt Cobain. Then again, he never mentioned South America again after that, nor has he to this day taken his own life. 

Perhaps his mum was neurotic and his dad was scary though, maybe?

 There was a thing that Betty didn’t feel comfortable with about James and she addressed him about it in a letter. 

She did not like the way he pulled at her hair from time to time, tugging her head backwards; it was a trifle too hard.

 Perhaps he really did want rough sex; maybe he hoped Ruth was a masochist? However, in all the 16 years they lived together, it is an undeniable fact; he did not pull her hair like that again.

At the end of those ten days, Ruth saw James off to rejoin Fred who had gone on ahead; and a week later he and Fred were back in England.   Boom! 

James had drawn an illustration on Ruth’s bedroom wall and left his home address and telephone number. If it turned out he hadn’t wanted for them to become an item, he had a funny way of showing it!

 Did he really ask her to marry him 4 days into their relationship! Had he really phoned his mum at 3 o’clock in the morning, to tell her Ruth was the Woman he would wed? Yes he bloody well had! She was absolutely made up, over the moon, ecstatic!

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