Portrait of Mary Anne as a Nice Young Lady

Mary Anne and Logan Bruno broke up when they were 15, but stayed friendly, until they lost touch when he moved back to Louisville, Kentucky junior year of high school. He’d hoped for a football scholarship, but wound up enlisting in the Army right after graduation. While still in Basic Training, an M16 rifle backfired and gave Logan a brain injury. All things considered, he was lucky. He could have died.

Today, he leads a relatively normal life. He lives at home with his parents, and works at his father’s plexiglass manufacturing company, and most of the time he does fine, but…he has his bad days. On bad days, he is confused, irritable, drowsy. He doesn’t remember basic little things, like his email password, or further back things, like huge chunks of time before Basic Training. On the bad days, his mother sets up a nice cozy spot for him on the screened in back porch, looking out at the woods behind their home. She brings out a pitcher of iced tea and blankets, and his high school yearbooks, though they lost the ones from Stoneybrook in the move.

“Do you remember when we moved back to Louisville?” she asks him, rubbing his arm as he flips through the black and white photos of his teenaged years.

“Yeah, Ma” His eyes scan through the images of him with his football team, crowded together eating pizza in the cafeteria and dancing to “Hot Stuff” for the Senior Talent Show.

“There’s Jimmy and Kyle. Yeah, I remember that, Ma”

Mrs. Bruno is relieved. Going further, she asks,“Do you remember where we lived before we moved back to Louisville?” Logan looks straight ahead, searches for what she is talking about in the trees, but his memory is blank.

“Didn’t we always live in Louisville?”

“No, for a minute we lived in Connecticut, for Dad’s work?” She folds her hands tightly in her lap, worried. This is the first time he can’t remember Stoneybrook.

“I remember…I guess there was… I remember a lot of girls. I was always around a whole lotta girls.” Mrs. Logan nods heavily, relieved. He remembers.

“I must’ve been a real player with the ladies. Bein’ around all those girls, Ma”

Mrs. Bruno smiles chastely, and flips further through the pages of his yearbook.

“Ma, how bad of a player was I, with all those girls wantin’ to be around me all the time?”

Mrs. Bruno closes the yearbook in her lap.

“Ma?”

“Actually, Sweetness, you were in a club with those girls. A Babysitting Club” Logan’s face falls.

“A Babysitting Club?”

“Yeah, y’all would hang out and get babysitting jobs, and go to meetings and pay dues…yeah, it was this club you were in…with all those girls” Logan buries his face in his hands.

“This sounds so pussy, Ma” Mrs. Bruno puts her hand in his hair, grimacing. She hates when he gets frustrated and rude.

“No, Sweetness. It wasn’t. You were just an alternate member, you weren’t even full time. And anyway, you had a girlfriend who was in the club, that’s why you were doing it. She was a nice young lady.” Logan looks up from his hands, brightening.

“I had a girlfriend?” Mrs. Bruno takes her phone out from her sweater pocket and taps Mary Anne’s name into Google. She brings the screen into his view, scrolling through the image results. There she is in her staff photo at her library job, here she is breaking a piñata at her friend Kristy’s 30th birthday party. The next image makes Logan’s eyelids flutter. Mary Anne is standing on a dimly lit stage, reading from a piece of paper into a microphone with a banner above her head that reads “Poly-Positive Poetry Festival” She is wearing a rust colored vintage blouse with vinyl toed black boots. There is a papier mache sculpture of a giant phallus with its tip engulfed in a cluster of pink helium balloons in the background.

“This is her?” Logan is bewildered, and feeling warm.

“Yeah, Sweetness. That’s her. Do you remember her? Her name is Mary Anne”

Logan stares at the photo, then scrolls through the next few, from the same reading, Mary Anne presenting whatever erotic thing she is reading from her paper with a small grin that is not quite shy, maybe just nervous, or patiently waiting.

“Yeah” Logan’s throat is dry. “I think I do remember her”

Portrait of Mary Anne as a Nice Young Lady

2 thoughts on “Portrait of Mary Anne as a Nice Young Lady

  1. EDF_FDE says:

    Egad. Make me cry why don’t you. I just found your blog from the Slate article and this was the first entry. Little did I know that it would also break my heart. Two thumbs up.

    Liked by 1 person

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