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Rag Doll

My dear Jack: You are absolutely right, I have been uncharacteristically silent for the past week or two. I suffered what Hemingway called an attack of “Black Ass.” I think you know exactly what I’m talking about. We’re both moody kind of guys, aren’t we?

It’s a most depressing and irritable state of mind. When it descends upon me I get very clumsy—both physically and mentally. I drop things. I bump my head against the hood over the stove and then in frustrated anger kick the trashcan. When Black Ass takes over, it’s best to keep my mouth shut. Otherwise I’ll say things that I regret and have to apologize for. But I feel better now.

Remember that shrink Vittoria was seeing during her disappearance? Well, he keeps calling. He says that he’s concerned. Wants her to come back to his therapy, because it’s clear to him that she’s not yet resolved the adoption issue. Furthermore, he will waive all fees. If she doesn’t want to come to his office, he’ll be happy to do the free therapy by telephone. Why? Because she’s such an interesting case.

And—you won’t believe this, Jack—he told her the other day that he just stumbled across a photo website by one James Stephens, the book writer and photographer, and—get this—he’s been looking at the Vittoria nude studies.

I can see you shaking your head in astonishment. The shrink told her that those nude pictures are verrrrrry beautiful. But he feels “jealous” of the photographer.

That made Vittoria angry. She told him, “Stop calling me. I don’t need any more of your therapy.” But I suspect we haven’t seen the end of that screwball.

Anyway, to shift to an entirely different topic, take a look at this:

Rag Doll LJ

Restituta, Vittoria’s adoptive mother, told Vittoria this rag doll was a gift from Maria Marrella. Restituta had kept it hidden all these years in her steamer trunk. She never thought she’d ever have to show it to her. But now…

When Vittoria told me about it, I said I wanted a picture. It took a while, but finally Vittoria snapped a shot with her digital camera, downloaded it onto her laptop, and sent it along.

This gift of Maria Marrella to her infant daughter some 30 years ago touched me. And I expected it would touch Vittoria as well. It did, but not in the way I expected.

“I’m getting all these emotions,” Vittoria said.
“That’s perfectly natural,” I said.
“It’s too big. I feel like I’m going crazy. All I want to do is cry.”
“You can cry, and you can share your feelings. But you may NOT run away anymore.”
“Maybe you’re grieving because you know you have to say goodbye to being a child. Because it’s finally time to really grow up. And that’s always sad and painful.”
“Nope! I’m still going to be me.”
“You claim disappearing is just being ‘you.’ But I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. By the way, did you get the picture I sent you of the cover of Maria Marrella’s biography?”
“Yes. I couldn’t believe it.”
“The resemblance is unmistakable.”
“Yes. All she has to do is look at me, and she’ll know.”
“Are you still there?” I asked.
“I’m crying again. I hate her, and I hate that doll.”
“It’s okay.”
“Why is this happening to me?”
“Sweetpea, you did nothing wrong.”
“I will NOT shed a tear. I’m ANGRY.”
“Anger is okay. Running away is not.”

Finally she said: “Okay.”
“No more running away. Got it?”
“Yes, master. Whatever you say.”
“Now you're talking. I get hot when a woman says that to me.”
“I know.”
“Total obedience. That’s the ticket.”
“And I’m going to burn you with all this heat. I’m at your mercy. Master.”
“Now you have seen the light.”
“Master! Please, no spanking today.”
“I better call the Bishop of Naples. To report a miracle.”
“You made me smile.”
“I’m glad.”

It’s obvious Vittoria is still struggling with this issue. She keeps repeating that she hates Maria Marrella. She can’t understand what would make a woman give up her own baby. And I, in turn, keep telling Vittoria Maria had a reason, and until all the facts come out we have to withhold judgment.

More later, Jack. I’ll keep you posted.

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Perhaps you’ll have Vittoria dying in James arms, as did the real Vittoria in Buonarotti’s. She would probably die of starvation, wouldn’t she? I think that symbolism would be wholly appropriate. She would feel guilt at having starved James of her love, thus she would starve herself to death. And didn’t many female saints starve themselves? Abstinence is a holy-endeavour, isn’t it? In all it’s various forms. James is forced into a kind of abstinence, whether it’s physical or not is beside the point. Perhaps she’d have one last, starvation-induced hallucination whereby she sees James writing about her as an angel, thus delivering her from her multitude of sins and setting her free.

Marlene Mason

Interesting analysis. I suppose all of this represents our striving toward the unattainable...a dream of apotheosis. But I'm thinking more along the lines of "boy gets girl," because I'm both a Romantic AND an optimist!

Re: Sainthood

As am I. A practitioner of Santa Ria once said that life's pleasure and beauty would not be such without seeing and/or experiencing pain and ugliness, without them, the opposite would be be unidentifiable. Think of the colour gray in The Lathe of Heaven. I don’t think you can have a character like Vittoria and a happy ending both. You cannot savour the bitter-sweetness of a tragic character and expect to cleanse the palate with a happy ending.

Marlene Mason

What I love best about being the author of this imagenovel is that I can do whatever I please!

Re: Sainthood

What I love most about reading something like this, aside from the eloquence and wonderful storytelling, is that you may show something that hasn't been done before. And yes, I agree, that could be a tragedy with a happy ending. I wait in anticipation. Whatever path you choose to seek in your wood, I will not be disappointed, that's my nature.

Marlene Mason

Many thanks, Marlene, for your kind & generous comments!

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