Carnivore Dreams – Deadfall – cont.

Part 2:

It was none of the obvious things:  The fact that he wore one set of clothing when he went to work at Newberry Mental Hospital (Upper Peninsula Asylum for the Insane), came home in other clothing claiming he’d had to change in order to run the trap line; the fact that his appetite for both sex and food seemed to vary wildly from day to day; the fact that his shoes disappeared twice and he claimed he’d had to buy new ones.

How could she be fooled?

You would think that if anyone could know him intimately, it would be she, a keen observer of life; that she of all people would know.  Norna was color-blind, but rather than relying on her other senses, she was more focused on the blackness or whiteness.

Perhaps anybody can be fooled.

For instance, what does it mean to know somebody?

Did it mean you recognized their heart and soul?  Was their being like a contained body of water in which you lost yourself, diving until you’d immersed yourself in the entire essence of it?  Is there a connection between two people that can never be quite the same connection between two others?  Did it mean that, in this case, he became predictable to her?  That she knew how he would behave, say, in a dangerous situation?  How private he was, how selfish, how generous?  Did it mean that she recognized the taste of him (garlic and tobacco late at night), his smell (tobacco again, sage and lye soap mixed with old flannel wool from a shirt several years too old)?  Did knowing him mean she had memorized his body?  Would she recognize anywhere his wide, square hands, knobby knuckles, hairless smooth fingers with skin the golden color of maple syrup in sunlight?

Norna didn’t presume to know him like she knew her own heart.

No, she thought.  She would settle for knowing him enough to tell him from someone else.

                                                                                ***

You might wonder and she wondered herself through the years, why she stayed if she was convinced that there were two of them?

Much contributed.  This would not be the last time there would be more than one man in her life, and she would be accused of a certain lack, a failure within her character to make commitments.  She would never defend or explain this.  It was untrue at the time and untrue later.  It was, rather, the necessity within her character to over-commit—and not lightly or often, usually due to unusual circumstance—to more than one person at a time.  Commitments that would not end when the relationship—as most people defined one—ended.  A commitment much as a mother commits to more than one child.  Timing, to her, wasn’t everything, and ultimately it became about her investment.

She would not be fool enough to fall for their double standard, the one that said that women were immoral at worst, unromantic at best, to care for more than one person, while men, could and would, love the masses.

In her lifetime, Norna would love and be committed to twelve people.  Six women including her daughter, and five men, four lovers and her parents.  Sex wasn’t relevant.  That people considered her shallow, frivolous, impulsive or promiscuous didn’t occur to her and if it had, she would have found it laughable.

A personality in such stark contrast to someone who would leave another person in a dump.

                                                                                **

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