|She opened her eyes.
The real world flooded in.
I AM a junkie.
Rebecca finally admitted the truth to herself, and she felt
disgust at her lack of self-control. She had always sneered down on addicts as
weak-willed, as lacking the fortitude to face their problems.
I wish I were someone else, someone normal
Head down, hands in pockets, she cast furtive glances around
her as she walked down the street headed inexorably into yet another lost afternoon, like
a bullet fired from the chamber of a gun.
Just this one more time, then I'll quit, she told
herself, and immediately knew it for a hollow lie. Her compulsion tore at her
consumed all of her pay and all of her sick days and she was holding on to her job only
thanks to her long history with Mr. Atkinson's firm
seven years without ever missing
a beat. Weddings, funerals, births, illnesses
she had worked around them all. All but
this. This was beyond her capability to subdue.
As she crossed Main Street, Slick looked up from a customer
and blew her a kiss. Her pusher's 'client' (as he liked to call them, though they were
truly just customers) turned around to see the object of his affection and Rebecca saw she
was a young woman not unlike herself. She wanted to scream out at the top of her lungs,
'Run, escape while you still have a chance' but instead remained mute, and the girl turned
"Well, well, well, Becky! You back again so soon?"
Slick asked as she approached, his voice always nasal to distraction. "You're helping
me put my kid through college!"
Rebecca hated being called that name; hated even the mere
fact that he KNEW her name. HIS moniker wasn't 'Slick', of course, it was just her
nickname for him derived from his ever present, gel-laden comb-back.
"Yes, it's me again," she replied flatly.
'Kid through college'
he's such a comedian.
She found herself wondering for the thousandth time how old
Slick was. He seemed much too young to be a pusher, much too nerdy. Seemed more like the
type to be a Radio Shack salesman, droning on and on about the differences between the
green batteries and the red ones.
How did he ever become a hustler?
Maybe he learned it at the 4H club, she thought, and
smiled to herself. At least I still have a little sense of humor.
"What'll it be today, Becky?" He liked to tease
her, and he made an exaggerated show of detailing each of his offerings, knowing full well
that she had her own personal poison.
One from column 'A', she thought. No substitutions
"The usual," she replied. She handed him her money.
"What's this, ten times in the past two weeks?" he
asked. "I might have to cut you off, for your own good, 'Becca."
The ONLY thing she hated more than being called 'Becky' was
being called 'Becca'. She glared at him as she snatched her fix from between his fingers.
She knew he was joking about cutting her off, but a part of her wished he WOULD stop her,
before her family and friends were forced to intervene.
'Intervene'. There's a word for you.
God, they make it too easy, too available. It's on
almost every street corner, everywhere you look.
She gazed down at her daily dose, her fix, and the feeling of
falling, of being totally out of control, began to engulf her once again.
This is the LAST time.
"See you again real soon, I'm sure, Reba," Slick
schmoozed, as he turned to service another 'client'.
A sudden image filled Rebecca's mind - her hands around
Slick's scrawny neck, his eyes popping from his head like a cartoon character - and she
had to shake her head to chase the thought away.
She turned and walked down a narrow corridor, as she did
every time; a sloping alleyway littered with addicts like herself, all in various states
of repose, awaiting their own magic ride. She thought she recognized a few and wondered
idly it they despised themselves for their weaknesses as much as she did. She sat in her
usual spot, her sanctuary, and settled in to relish her fix.
We're each entitled to a 'vice', she reasoned. We
all need help to find something special in our lives. What's so wrong with that? It's not
like I'm robbing 7-11's to get the money, or hocking Mom's precious pearls.
Not yet, anyway. Hey, maybe Slick has a 'frequent
She clutched her fix tightly in her hand, and closed her eyes
in anticipation of the dose coursing out to all her senses.
When she re-opened them, the world had gone dark around her
and she was no longer within herself. Swirling in front of her, like scenes from a dream,
were amber images, and she was surrounded by a sorrowful voice that reminded her of an
angel singing. Suddenly, letters appeared before her eyes; a signpost announcing the
entrance to her own personal twilight zone:
. And then
"Thirteen meters ..you should see
Rebecca could remember very well the day she started
She had, to her great relief, finally been able to ease down
her "Titanic" viewings. The magic had subsided just a bit, enough that she could
resume a semblance of a normal life. She now knew all the dialogue by heart, so much so
that she loved to squeeze quotes from the film into any possible conversation opening. She
had memorized each scene, each shot, each nuance of the actors' inflections and
mannerisms, and had even begun to fashion her banter with colleagues at work after Molly
Brown's colorful style.
She adored Mr. Andrews, hissed at Ismay, yelled for action
from the impotent Captain Smith. She loved Kate as Rose, though she was always aware of a
tinge of jealousy when she thought about the actress and her role, sometimes merging the
two into one entity in her mind. After all, Kate had Jack
As for Leo
"NO! I do NOT go back to see the film in order to drool
over Leo! He is a great actor and he is quite cute, but I am certainly NOT a Leo
If I had a dollar for every time I have had to say that,
Rebecca mused, well
I would have enough money to go back to see the movie a few
She laughed at her own joke.
Rebecca had to admit that, though she knew little of Leonardo
DiCaprio before seeing "Titanic" the first time, she had quickly developed a
huge crush on him. It had been a long time since she had had a crush on ANYONE; since
college, and Sean, and he had turned out to be good for only one thing. She felt foolish
even acknowledging her feelings, especially towards a person as nebulous as a 'movie
well, there it was.
So on that Thursday, in the supermarket in West Hollywood
where she always shopped, she was at first too flabbergasted to move when she dropped her
usual 'Lamb in Mint Sauce Hungry Man Dinner' into her cart and looked up to see Leo gazing
directly at her from around the bend in 'Condiments'.
He smiled and then vanished down the next aisle over. She
blinked several times, frozen in place, and then finally found her legs still functioned.
She sprinted down the aisle and around the bend
.and she ran smack into Mrs. Ganz, knocking the woman's
hand-basket full of cucumbers flying in all directions and sending the poor woman into a
back dive that earned a "10" while leveling a pyramid of cranberry juice
containers in the process.
Rebecca would like to have been able to say that her first
reaction was to check on the well-being of Mrs. Ganz, but, in truth, she ignored the woman
just long enough to search the length of the aisle with her eyes. For Leo.
He was nowhere to be found, nowhere amid the full house of
Rebecca was never able to adequately explain to Mrs. Ganz why
she had been running full bore down aisle 7 of Grocery City in the first place, and she
left embarrassed, ashamed
and wondering how Leo had escaped so quickly.
A week later, at the LA County Museum of Art, she saw him
She was strolling with her best friend, Brooke, looking at a
winterscape of some boys ice-fishing and discussing Rebecca's upcoming trip to visit her
"You going to drive up to Wisconsin to see her?"
"I'm flying," she replied, when she happened to
glance down the length of the room, past a Rodin statue of a reclining nude, and saw THOSE
eyes, THOSE brows, THAT hair, looking up from behind a sketch pad. He gazed back at her,
their eyes meeting like focused lasers, and her heart stopped, her vision went spotty.
She turned to her friend, her heart aflutter.
"Brooke, he's here!"
Rebecca turned and pointed down the room to
bench. Shaking her head, she dashed to the center of the museum and did two complete turns
on her tippy-toes, searching for him over the heads in the room. Brooke caught up with
"Who are you looking for?"
"Leonardo DiCaprio. He was right over there, sketching
Brooke's expression of doubt totally eclipsed her usually
"There would be about 2 billion screaming tenny-boppers
around if he was really here," she noted.
Rebecca had to admit that Brooke was probably right. She
slowly slumped onto a bench, staring abstractly at a Picasso.
"I saw him, Brooke, I did. And that's the truth, though
I know it's not logical."
It was at that moment that Rebecca began to doubt her own
sanity. She told her friend about the supermarket incident, and Brooke considered her
story for a bit before replying.
"I see you
you work too hard, you keep too much to
yourself," Brooke said. "You need a vacation, to go lay on a beach
or maybe you just need to get back together with Gilbert, Jr."
"Hmmmm." Gilbert Jr. was her 'ex'. They had split
up over an argument about basketball, of all things. Gilbert was nothing if not stubborn -
Mr. 'Always' Right - and he, fatally (to their relationship, anyway), refused to ever
admit it when she was correct.
He had insisted that the Lakers had been formed in 1912,
though she knew for a fact that they didn't exist until a few years later.
So stubborn, so typical. She had written a scathing
report about that day in her diary, and closed the book on him. For good
or so she
Maybe I should get back with Sonny. (His Mom always
called Gilbert Jr. 'Sonny', to prevent sour grapes if the wrong Gilbert came when she
called, and he seemed to prefer the nickname to his given one.)
"Maybe you're right," Rebecca responded.
"Perhaps it's just growing pains. I need to just head out for the horizon; do
. Or get together with Gilbert."
With that in mind, Rebecca called a surprised Sonny and made
a date to attend the Auto Show at the Convention Center the next weekend.
They strolled the aisles, talked about old times (the few
good ones, anyway), dreamed away while sitting in expensive cars
just relaxed in
and she found the jumble in her mind easing somewhat. And she had forgotten
completely about Leo. Sort of.
She was glad she had decided to attend
until Sonny made
a fool of himself, as usual.
They were at a booth, eyeing some sports cars, when Sonny
decided to get cute with the salesman.
"Where are the windshield wipers for your cars
made?" he asked.
The salesman had been busy resetting his watch and his face
stirred almost imperceptibly, like a faint breeze on a pond. He pointed with a bored
expression to the fourth entry on the list of manufacturing facilities on the Alfa Romeo
"Joliet?" Sonny responded, wondering where in Italy
the Illinois city might be found.
Rebecca had wandered away to another car and was admiring its
"Put your hands on me!" the car said, startling
her. "Wouldn't you just love to?"
Just a computer-generated voice, Rebecca realized. Geez,
you can't tell a computer fabrication from the real thing nowadays.
A horn honked behind her.
She looked around in confusion for several seconds until she
spotted the source of the sound, leaning forward from the back seat of a nearby
No No No! I will not fall for this again, she
thought. I WILL NOT!
Leo just smiled pleasantly back at her, beckoning to her to
join him, so she closed her eyes tightly, willing the apparition away.
She re-opened them
and it was still there, smiling
quizzically this time. She slammed them shut again- so tightly that it hurt - forcing the
image from her retinas, squeezing it out.
and Sonny was standing directly in front of
her, staring at her with a confused look.
"Would you MOVE!!" she screamed, shoving him
"What the hell
.," Sonny exclaimed.
"What's gotten into you?"
Rebecca felt her heart plummet. The seat was empty.
She was seeing things again.
Maybe it's time for me to admit that I have a problem
see someone. I need to talk this out with someone who won't think I'm crazy.
Feeling woozy, she sat down against the wall and closed
her eyes, listening to snippets of the conversations swirling around her as she tried to
regain her composure.
HER: "Where are you going? I don't think the concession
stand is that way!"
HIM: "I can smell rice, I tell you! It IS this
SALESMAN: "I will now demonstrate that this is the most
powerful rear-window defroster ever made by the hand of man in all of history. You there!
Run your palm down the inside of this window, show these fine folk just how fogged-up it
Forget it! The whole world is crazy, she
thought. Why unburden my soul to a co-lunatic? Maybe I'm just sick
disease, a fever playing with my mind
an infection spreading through my body like a
She shivered as the thought scared her.
"You're trembling," a voice said, very softly, very
She opened her eyes and Leo was inches away, leaning over her
with a look of such concern and warmth that she plunged deep into his eyes and
..fainted dead away.
Water hit her
cold, ice cold
and she felt herself
struggling to surface, to reach the light. It seemed so far, a long, long way
then she was awake once again.
She was in a small room
a cubicle, really
on a table. A woman in a nurse's uniform was splashing her, obviously in hopes of reviving
"Oh, I see you're back with us again, darlin," the
nurse said. She looked strangely familiar.
"Where am I?"
"The first aid room, at the auto show, 'B' Deck.
Dont ya remember?"
.." She still felt light-headed.
"I thought I saw
.and then I fainted, I guess."
"Saw who, dearie?" Nurse Black (or so it said on
her name-tag) asked, winking past Rebecca.
Rebecca whirled around, causing her to see stars again.
Leaning quietly against the door behind her was
"Oh, God, I need help!" she sobbed, despondent,
feeling she was losing her grip once again.
"Don't speak like that, child, you're scarin me!"
the nurse said.
Rebecca kept her eyes on the apparition and it stepped
forward, causing her to jerk back in alarm. And then it spoke
I didn't mean to frighten you. I just want
to confess something. I've been following you for a while, though I can't explain exactly
why. I was hoping we could meet, maybe go out for a drink, so I could better understand
this feeling. But I thought that might be too forward
and then you collapsed, and I
Leo looked down, embarrassed, his words failing.
He's so shy, Rebecca thought, and so she said:
"I don't need you to save me."
Leo peered at her closely, and it was as though a small light
went on behind his eyes.
Why did I say that? Rebecca wondered. How did those
words get into my mouth?
"I know this is all mixed-up ..but
what is your
"Yes, it's crazy
"My pleasure, Rebecca. I feel like we have known each
Rebecca could almost understand what he meant
but not quite.
"Why me? Why would you follow me? I'm no one. You could
have any woman you want."
"Because you think you are no one. But you are much more
than you think."
Leo stepped forward to clasp her hand.
Why do I smell the sea? Rebecca wondered with the tiny
fraction of her mind that wasn't acutely focused on the touch of Leo's hand on hers.
He lifted her hand to kiss it, putting his lips gently to the
back of it, and she could feel his breath against the small hairs on her lower arm.
"Pleased to meet you, Rose."
Rebecca swayed, feeling the gentle rocking of the ship on the
ocean swells. Nurse Brown became concerned and ran to the medicine cabinet.
Why did Jack call me 'Rose'? Rebecca wondered.
"Isn't that your name?" he asked, his presence
She hadn't realized she had spoken aloud. She closed her eyes
to fight off another fainting spell, and was rewarded with another cold splash in the
"Rebecca, are you going to pass out on me again?"
Nurse Black asked. "Perhaps a shot of something will pep you up."
Rebecca tensed. Leo read the concern in her expression and
squeezed her arm reassuringly.
"Don't worry, Becky. It's gonna hurt; I'm not saying
that it won't. Just close your eyes and it'll be over in a second. Then we can stroll the
promenade of the show."
I love the way he says my name, Becky thought. Then
she saw concern fill Leo's eyes as he caught sight of the length of Nurse Black's needle.
What is it about men's preoccupation with size? she
wondered, closing her eyes to the shot despite her fear of losing her place again. And
why do I wonder about men's preoccupation?
salt pungent in her nose. The squeak of
the table beneath her sounded strange
different. She opened her eyes a crack, afraid
of what they would show her this time.
It was night again.
Jack was above her, looking down. Over his shoulder a rocket
soared skyward and exploded in brilliant white.
Oh God, Rebecca thought. I can't go without him ..I
I won't lose him. I'm never going to close my eyes again.
She stood up in the lifeboat, amid the chaos and the
shouting, and ran forward, leaping into space and against the hull of the great ship,
clinging for dear life.
For my dear life
for Jack's dear life.
"NO ROSE!!" Jack screamed down at her.
Rose raced through the decks, towards the grand staircase,
towards the launching point of all that had happened between them
Never close my eyes
never close my eyes
They met, embraced, tears flowing, hearts soaring in relief
and reunion, obscuring everything around them, delicious ecstasy
As long as I never close my eyes again, I'll never lose
"Rose! You're so stupid, Rose! Why did you do
"Jack! I couldn't go! You jump, I jump, remember?"
As long as I never close my eyes, we'll always be together
She closed her eyes.