The Catt Box

'Bittersweet'

 

Ron and I talked on the phone about three more times from when he brought me back from New York City until late night Friday, August 27th. He called me around 2:30 in the morning...so, that would actually be 2:30 Saturday morning....the 28th. He had been on a truck run and then went out with his friend for a few drinks. He wanted to come on over to see me, but was very tired. We talked on the phone for a long time. He had a very strange 'urgency' to his voice. He seemed upset, worried, concerned, and began talking about what I would do if I became pregnant. WHAT? 

I assured him that I was not going to allow that to happen and not to worry....but he kept insisting on talking about it and making me promise that if anything happened and I should become pregnant, to please come to him before doing anything...before making any kind of a decision. He make me promise that I would talk to him first. Well, okay...but it's not going to be a problem. Then he restated everything, again with the same 'urgency'. He kept saying that he did not want me to do anything stupid. I didn't understand why he was saying all of this and I was beginning to get worried.

I asked him what he meant by 'doing something stupid'...did he mean 'something stupid' by 'having it' or by 'not' having it. He immediately said by ' not having it'...he did not want me to make that kind of a decision. But I kept assuring him he had nothing to worry about. Why were we even talking about this?

He seemed really choked up and said he needed to talk to me about something really serious....I was beginning to get really scared. I didn't know where he was going with all of this. I told him he was scaring me. He said that he needed to talk to me...to ask me something...and that it was not going to be bad...that I would be very surprised...and that he had a surprise for me. He wanted to come on up, in spite of how tired he was. I couldn't talk him out of it. He said he was going to go by his place first. 

So, I waited up till about 4:30 in the morning. I couldn't get his very strange conversation out of my mind. But, no matter how uneasy I was feeling about it, I knew it would be 'good'....he assured me of that. He said I would not be disappointed. I was getting so tired...and I fell asleep. 

Then I woke up at around 6:30 in the morning...he had called me on the phone....he was frantic, stumbling all over himself....scared that he had upset me. He didn't, and I was laughing at him. He said he took one look at his bed and laid down 'for a few minutes' and then woke up at 6:30. He kept apologizing to me and I told him all was fine. He wanted to know if he could still come see me. Well, I talked him out of it because we were to hook up later on that night at the Lighthouse Inn with Robin and her boyfriend Gregg. I told him I'd just see him there and not to worry about anything. 

Ron was never late picking me up....never stood me up...and always called me if he even thought he was going to be running a few minutes late. I did not have a problem with him falling asleep. I more than understood. I'd see him later. And, I was really curious as to what he needed to tell me and what surprise he had for me....what was my baby up to?

He had to go to a bachelor party that evening on Lapidum Road...his cousin was soon to be married and Ron was going to go to the party for a while. Lapidum Road....that was were he had just told me he loved me. I was beginning to really like that road. 

He intended to leave the party at around 9:00 or so and then meet us at the club. Robin came to pick me up and we were at her apartment just passing the time. We were all laughing about what 'bad thing' we would encounter THIS weekend. Well, I can't say I was complaining too bad...more boo-boos to kiss! 

Well, Ron called me at around 8:00...the party was boring and he wanted to come early. We obviously hadn't left for the club yet and instead of going on, we'd just wait for him to arrive and all of us go together. This made me even more excited about seeing him.

So, we all had a few drinks.... talking, enjoying ourselves...and it was getting late and Ron had not shown up yet. This was not like him. Robin began calling his apartment to see if he had perhaps gone home to change his clothes or something...maybe he was having truck trouble. But no one answered the phone. Robin said she'd call every half hour and keep checking on him.

The evening wore on...and I was beginning to really get worried. What is going on? Where is he? This is so unlike him? Finally, at around 11:30, Robin called his apartment again. By this time, we figured that maybe he had gone on to the Lighthouse Inn, thinking we'd be there by now. But we weren't .....we were waiting on Ron. 

Robin was talking to someone...and she was turned away from me. I had been sitting on the couch talking with someone...and I could not hear what Robin was saying. We had the music up pretty loud and everyone was talking over the music. She hung up the phone and walked slowly and very 'stiffly' through the living room and paused as she stood in front of me....then she bolted back to her bedroom...crying. 

As I got up from the couch I was asking her who she talked to....what was going on...what happened....and I went to her bedroom and she was sitting on the bed sobbing. "What's wrong, Robin? Did you talk to Ron? Is he coming? Did something happen?"

She looked up at me with a face full of heartbreak.....and then she uttered the words that Ron had been killed in an accident. Well, I immediately thought of her cousin Ron....Ron Burkentine....and I know how close he and Robin were. Oh, no....poor Ron....Oh, my God! My eyes began to well with tears and my heart ached for her. She sat sobbing with her face in her hands again and after what I think was  full minute, she looked back up at me and said, "NO, Ron Price....YOUR Ron is dead.....YOUR Ron...RON PRICE..." 

And I went numb. My heart disappeared from my chest....my eyes would not blink....my mouth froze open....my mind could not wrap around what she just said...I held my breath....I could not process that. No, No, NO! Ron is on his way to pick me up....there's been a mistake...maybe it's Robin's cousin who was killed and she's in denial....she just doesn't want it to be her cousin...but it can't be MY Ron...I just talked to him at 8:00 tonight...(Oh, my God.....)

I began to tremble inside...I felt weak and had to do something...maybe if I just go back a minute or two....if I didn't breath my next breath, this would all just go away. He can't be gone...I'm wearing new clothes I made just for him...he's coming to get me...we're going to spend the night together....I began to cry....tears were spilling from my eyes. Robin calmed me down a little and then tried to gain her own composure.

Robin stood up from the bed and said she was going to go to his house. Apparently a family member had answered his phone and Robin said that if they were lying to her that she was going to kill them. Robin was very angry, very upset, and told her boyfriend to get the car keys...she was going to get to the bottom of this. She told me to wait right there, she'd be back in a few minutes, and she'd be able to tell me what was going on for sure. Her and Gregg left in her car....and I went out to wait on the stairway landing. 

I couldn't sit with people...I couldn't talk with anyone...I waited for what would be the longest 20 minutes of my life. Every thought possible went through my head. What if it's all a big joke? Please let this be a huge, nasty, tasteless practical joke. Let Robin and Gregg and Ron pull up in that car and all of them be laughing their butts off at me.....me, with mascara down to my chin, lipstick wore off....eyes puffy and swollen....and hair clinging to my tears and sweat. My hands were wringing in anticipation. I didn't know what to do with myself. Johnny had come out to the landing very quietly. What on earth could he say? Not only were we in shock over the news, but we weren't even sure if the news was true. All we could do was wait it out. (please God....)

The last words he spoke to me played over and over in my mind..."Well, if I don't see you before you reach the club, I hope you and your buddy have a really good time. I'm going to try to make it before you leave. Take care and I'll see you later tonight, baby."....and I began to cry again as I realized I was standing in the very place where Ron kissed me for the first time. Johnny tried to just 'be with me'....we could not believe this was happening. 

The compliments Ron gave me were running rampant in my mind...he loved the way I dressed....he loved my laugh...he loved my hair....he loved me. Please come back to me, baby....don't let this be true....don't do this to me. We are supposed to go look at the leaves in Virginia in the fall....you're going to take me on some of your road trips...I wanted to be with you in that truck. I just made love to you two days ago in New York City. I haven't finished the crocheted afghan I said I'd make for you. You have a surprise for me tonight....you have something you want to talk to me about...something 'good'....Oh, Ron....I haven't had enough time with you....You can't be gone....(oh, God....)

 

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August and September 1982 and January 22, 2001 Copyright Cathy Palmer - Scruggs / Catt Alexander

 

Background by Whisper