As a school girl, I spent several years avoiding high school biology class because I dreaded the thought of dissecting worms. However, as a college track student, it was pretty much mandatory to have this class on my transcript. So, I ended up taking biology in my senior year with all sophomores as my classmates.
The kids in the sophomore class were much nicer than the kids in my class. Not once in that entire year did I hear anybody get picked on or disrespected in any way, shape, or form in that room. Never did I have to second guess anything that came out of my mouth as being something that could possibly draw negative attention to myself. In spite of the dissection of worms, it was pretty relaxing in there. It made me think that my life would have been quite different and a lot more fun if I had been in their class instead of mine.
The Class of ’81 has a very nice Facebook page, too. All the postings are supportive and polite. They seem to really like each other.
A while back they were trying to compile a list of all the classmates who had died since graduation. One name jumped out at me. Someone said she had been murdered in Florida and it was a cold case. This was shocking in and of itself. But the reason her name jumped out at me was because I remembered she showed up at a party I threw back in 1980.
Party-throwing is a rare activity for me. I do not just throw a party on a whim. Any party that I throw has to have a specific purpose. That way, I can be sure people will actually attend.
This particular party was for a co-worker at the fast food restaurant I was employed at in 1980. Although I was young, nineteen, I was a parent by then and my just-above-the-poverty-line little family was self-supporting. It was a noisy party because I was nervous and had the music turned up so people would have to shout. And because of that, we did get yelled at by our landlord. It was not a drunken brawl, however, and one of the guests brought some homemade chocolate chip cookies.
I know I talked to this girl who showed up at the party but I don’t remember what we talked about. It was so odd that she came. She obviously knew someone who was invited because there would not have been any other way for her to hear about the party. But she was a couple years younger than us and still in high school. My impression of her from school was that she was kind of naive and not super smart. Just an impression based on moments here and there passing her in the hallways.
My impression of her at the party was that she might be a little out of control. She was tall and a little awkward and had very dark hair and eyes. It seemed like she needed to be out and about. Any party, any place, any people would do. Her body language and behavior were fine. I think it was just the fact that a high school girl had gone to a stranger’s party, my silly little party, instead of doing almost anything else, that left me with the impression that she was a little bit desperate.
It turns out that her Florida story is a little less shocking than the word of mouth story on Facebook.
A search on her name turns up at least a dozen mug shots from the same county in Florida. I imagine, then, that she was well-known by the Sheriffs Dept. She looks very skinny in the photos but she has the same eyes that I remember. Eventually, she looks a little ragged and even skinnier. In one mug shot, she has a nearly healed black eye. At one point, she was using the name of an old high school friend as an alias.
There was nothing to indicate she had been a murder victim, though I can see how someone might think that from the way the websites come up in the internet search. No, she was actually the victim of a hit and run accident ten years ago. During a three month period that year in Florida, there was probably close to a hundred hit and run accidents. Only one of them was a John Doe. All the rest were known.
I’ve been thinking about her all day long. If someone had told me that night at the party how her life would end, I would not have been surprised. However, when I learned about it today, I was surprised. I guess because I have lived long enough to have met people who should have met such an end but did not. They are still going strong and causing trouble and will probably live a very long time in spite of it all. I would have thought she’d figure out a way to save herself.
There is an old man in town with the same last name as hers and I wonder if he is her father. I have had dealings with him in the past as have local law enforcement and mental health services. In my dealings with him he seemed to have some kind of mania and/or paranoia. I learned to never look him in the eye, rise to his bait or engage him in any kind of meaningful conversation. If he is her father, then I can guess why she came to my party that night.
I never did use the biology class, not even when I finally went to college. I still haven’t been part of a large group of really nice people. I have not given a party in years.
This summer, I invited a couple people to a bonfire in our backyard. Nobody could come, so we never had the fire. I might try it again this summer. If nobody comes, though, we will have the fire anyway.