I have been sitting here for the better part of an hour trying to decide if I want to talk about Cassie. I have thought about twenty things I would rather talk about because that’s easier. Talking about Cassie dredges up memories that cause me a lot of emotional pain, and I am having enough trouble dealing with my physical pain already. What’s left of my sanity already feels paper thin, and I am scared that talking about her will make things worse. I don’t know if I can deal with worse right now.
Quitters say that stuff. People who are afraid of facing the truth say that kind of nonsense. I loved her, right? Why should I mourn her so powerfully when so much of my memory of her is so pleasant? I should celebrate my relationship with her instead of mourn my one bad decision about her.
Typing that helped. It’s amazing the power of writing your feelings. Okay Mr. Journal, here we go. Might need to take a few breaks to get some tissues. Brace yourself.
I met Cassie when I was working at a strip club right after my discharge. Not stripping at the club, I was working security there. It was a fairly reputable establishment in the city. She was working as a bartender there and the moment I saw her I knew I had to try and get her number. I mean it was that simple. Saw her, knew it. She and I worked off nights for weeks before her schedule changed a bit and she started working Friday nights, which was the one night of the week I worked. As I’ve said before, my skills with women were questionable at best so I had to work myself up the whole night to say something to her. It’s funny that I have no problem at all wandering downtown into a horde of undead to face potential death, but the thought of saying something to a girl puts jelly in my knees.
Cassie was pretty, very pretty. I wouldn’t have said she was hot, but she had this innocent charm that suckered people in. She came off as the girl next door, the farmer’s daughter, the babysitter, you name the cliché. She had auburn hair leaning towards red. More red than brown really, and I have always been a sucker for redheads. She had green eyes. Pretty ones that changed color when she got mad. Maybe they were more hazel really? I don’t know, I’m sticking with green as the color. I like green.
Cassie was dressed a little slutty that night, as all the girls who worked at the club had to. The service staff wore all black every night. The waitresses wore black skirts, and the bar staff wore black slacks with tight black tank tops. She had her hair in a ponytail too, which for some reason I am a complete sucker for as well. It was almost like she was trying to get my attention. She was hitting me on all cylinders that night. Every night really.
It was a really busy night that night. I can distinctly recall having something like ten ejections of drunks, or assholes that thought there really was sex in the champagne room. There are plenty of clubs where you can get something in the private rooms, but this was not one of them. I was walking a dude out the door all wrapped up after grabbing one of the girl’s asses and I happened to look sideways at the bar and caught Cassie watching me. I gave her one of my patented rolls of the eyes and she gave me an overly enthusiastic thumbs up in mock celebration. I decided right then I’d get her number before we left. Had to.
I didn’t. Fail. Right as the club was closing we had a fight break out and her shift ended. I was pinning some prick against the wall waiting for the police to show when she punched out and left for the night. You want to talk about frustrated masturbation? To borrow a phrase, I beat my dick like it owed me money that night.
The next week she worked on Friday and right off the bat I walked up the bar and said hi. I’ll never forget it, the first thing she said to me. I said “hi.”
Her response with a smile was, “I don’t date ogres.”
Fortunately I have a sense of humor, and I laughed. I don’t think she expected that. My reply to her was, “I was told you had sex with them though….” My sense of humor is my in with girls. I might be awkward, but I’m fucking funny.
We hit it off immediately. She was a wiseass just like me. She was a senior in college, and was finishing school in a few months. She was going to school for finance, and interning during the late afternoons a few days a week. The bartending job was paying most of her tuition and she hated it. I gave her my number, told her I was independently wealthy, had a huge dick, could last in bed for days, and had a problem with lying.
She called me the next day, and we talked on the phone for hours. I never talk on the phone, so this is a pretty substantial thing for me. We had so much in common. She hated her dad, I hated my mom. We had the same tastes in music, we both wanted to travel the world, and we both liked porn. Too good to be true. The next weekend she had dinner at my place, made by me, and she spent the night. I called her a slut for putting out on the first date, and she called me a manwhore for doing the same. I blamed my parents and their shady morals. She blamed her poor ability to recognize assholes. It was a really nice night. Comfort right off the bat. We had skipped the whole awkward “getting to know you” phase.
She moved in as soon as she finished school. Once I settled in at work here I bought my condo with the GI Bill. My mortgage was jack shit and when she moved in and got herself a full time job working in the city, we were rolling in it. We took long vacations all over the place. I get weeks off because of the school schedule and she wound up doing CPA work so off of tax season she had a lot of free time. We backpacked Europe, took a few cruises in the Caribbean, spent a week in Hong Kong, climbed ruins in Guatemala, and a bunch of cool shit in between.
I knew she was awesome after she met my mother. We went over my parent’s place for Thanksgiving and we had our typical disheveled holiday. Dad was telling war stories, mom was being bitchy, Caleb and his wife were trying to contain their little son Adam, with Rebecca watching it all in horror. I was completely fucking mortified. It was the exact scenario I had dreaded my entire life. My family in all their backwards glory. In fact, that was the first time I had ever brought a girl home for a holiday. As in ever. I almost never took girls home growing up and sure as shit never took any of them home for a holiday. No fucking way. Cassie took it all in stride, smiling, being sweet, she even laughed at my dad’s shitty misogynistic jokes. I can remember the way she looked sitting next to my dad at the dining room table, as all of us guys retired to the couch to watch football. She was leaning on the table, resting her chin in her palm. She had her hair in a ponytail again that day and I can remember the faintly crimson shimmer of her hair as she pretended to like all my dad’s stories. I could almost envision my family life as being normal right then. It felt good. I wasn’t embarrassed, and she just looked so…. Beautiful.
Our conversation in the car on the way home that day went something like this:
“I like your brother.” She said.
“Yeah Caleb’s cool. I like his wife too, and their kid is awesome.”
“Three years old is a tough age.” I think she said. I replied in the affirmative and we sat in silence for a bit. I could tell she was trying to find a way to phrase her next statement. I remember resting my hand on her leg. I always did that in the car with her. I just liked touching her. I wanted the contact.
“Your dad seems… interesting.” She said awkwardly.
“My dad’s a great guy. He just postures up to impress cute girls.” I laughed. She laughed back. She knew I was full of shit.
“Your mom seems like a complete cunt.” She said without missing a beat.
It’s rare when two people connect so thoroughly in life. She had it all figured out the first time, and I couldn’t have been happier.
We had a great relationship. She was a redhead, so she was pretty hot tempered. Full of passion she used to describe herself as. When she loved, she loved hard. When she was angry, she was pure Scottish fury. Caber tossing and all sometimes. I think she was the only person I had ever met that could actually scare me when they were angry. Even my dad didn’t scare me after I was 15 or so. Cassie did.
Cassie worked her way up the ladder in the company she worked for. When she dressed herself up she could knock ‘em dead, and she was damn smart and motivated. She kicked ass at her CPA firm and made junior partner this spring. We were looking at new houses closer to the city to cut down on her commute right before the world ended. Between what we’d saved and what we could afford we were actually looking at some really nice places.
I don’t know why I never married her. I’ve wracked my brain over and over in the long nights here trying to figure it out. I just can’t come up with a real answer. Were we too busy? Was she too career oriented? Was it some form of PTSD I was in denial about? Was it some repressed bullshit mommy issue? Fucked if I know. If I could take anything back I’ve ever done, I’d take back not making her my wife a long time ago. If I knew the world was ending I would’ve told her how much I loved her, and told her I wanted her in my life forever.
Maybe that’s the moral of this story? Maybe that’s the lesson I’m supposed to learn out of all this death and destruction. Live each day like the world will end tomorrow. I know that sounds like a fucking Hallmark card, but it’s really true now. The irony of it all sickens me now. I’ve almost died too many times, and ended too many lives during my 34 years on this earth to take anything for granted anymore.
Cassandra Ann MacKenzie, fury of the highlands. Cassandra Ann Ring. Cassie Ring.
God I miss her. We would’ve made such fun babies.
I feel numb without you.
I love you.