Early February 1971
Four and twenty years ago, I come into this life
Son of a woman and a man who lived in strife… *
Ron did that song so beautifully it made Libby’s heart ache.
On this particular evening the song seemed to make Ellie grumpy. “Oh, poor him,” she said sarcastically. “Except that he’s not poor, he’s not alone, and his bed is not empty, so what the fuck does he have to whine about?!”
“Uh, who are we talking about here?” asked Ron, as if he didn’t know.
Alerted to her cue, Libby said her usual lines as brightly as she could: “I’m going for a walk; don’t wait up!” She put on her long rain cape and hurried out.
‘It was a dark and stormy night’… Ha! Libby scoffed to herself as she pulled her hood up and stepped outside. You think I can’t walk all night when it’s dark and stormy? You can shove your cliché up your ass!
And so she began her nightly routine, walking the sidewalks of North West Washington till well past midnight. She wanted to be sure that Ellie and Ron would be asleep when she returned. Finally, sometime before sunrise, she would tiptoe in and take to her bed – Ellie and Ron’s extra mattress, that is.
Despite the rain and cold, she loved being alone in the dark streets. She imagined that no one could see her because her cape was black, the hood covered her blonde hair, and she kept to the shadows. Anyway, no one ever bothered her.
This night, the rain stopped after an hour or so. She shook the water off her cape.
She breathed deeply.
She walked faster.
She took off running as fast as she could, laughing and crying, down the middle of the street, cape flowing behind her like dark angel wings.
Then she felt herself lifted up, above the lamp-lit pools, above the diamond-studded trees, above the sleeping city, above it all.
I always knew I could fly! she exulted as she slowed from a run to a walk, and then flopped down onto a wet park bench by Dupont Circle.
* * *
Libby had caught her breath and her heart had stopped pounding when a stretch-limousine pulled up to the curb in front of her and stopped.
A tall, stylish woman jumped out of the back, danced coquettishly over to Libby and said in a sweet, low voice, “Hi, I’m Willie! Wanna come to a party with me?”
What she should have said was … Oh hell, she said “yes.”
* This excerpt, and the chapter title, are taken from “Four and Twenty” by Stephen Stills
© August 21, 2018 [draft]