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I didn't do it

Kilkenny, March 2002 —

Smackin' bitches

The story in question

A woman standing down below gave the international signal for "do you have a lighter?"

I saw one on the table, and handed it to her.

She lit her cigarette, and kept the lighter....

I just wanted to tell the story for its own sake. It's water under the bridge, since Saturday-week-ago. But it interested me, and I enjoyed getting the perspectives of those present. My friends were obliging and interested and gave me the time and attention that I wanted in order to discuss it.

I'm satisfied for my own purposes that I didn't push the girl. I'd never suspected myself of doing so—but you never know. I didn't know, specifically, whether I'd in fact developed a new problem.

Truth is, no — I didn't black out, didn't do anything substantial that I don't remember. (The fogging of adrenaline, in indignant anger, is a brain-fuck; let alone the beers-and-joints factor.)

The main source for my certainty is external verification from Gary. Gary is dead sound. He's got an eye for psychology, and he watches. He's rational. He had to admit that he didn't see everything that went on that night — but he knew that I didn't push the girl. "I know you didn't do it." Gary and I got a chance to talk about this two nights later, on Saint Patrick's Day, as we were smoking hashish in a makeshift pipe in the darkened pool room at Syd's pub.

Again, this was all water under the bridge by that time. Gary was happy to indulge my interest in the topic, and it was interesting to him. Eddie was equally obliging, and for equally obliging reasons. Nobody was after the story but my own self.

Here's where it gets tricky, this story. Or, where it got tricky — because we step back one day to Saturday. The day after the event. I talked to Justin at his work as I stopped by on other business. He said they'd all decided I hadn't done anything. They'd gone to Justin's after the Venue, the late club where we were that night, and had tea until 7 a.m. He said they'd all decided I'd not done anything — and they had wondered that I'd split so unceremoniously. Gary told me that Justin had had his doubts. Fair enough.

But... no — here's where it gets tricky. Saturday. Saturday evening. I'd spoken to Justin already. Right? Now it's evening, and I go to Syd's. "For a change." Justin and Molly were there when I got there. Molly saw me push the girl! And dig this; I didn't argue with her, not for one word.

Molly said the girl had fallen on her ass once before I was talking to her, my back turned. She fell again when I went down there — and I had pushed her down while grabbing the fag box. Well, shit.

I've seen Molly be an unreliable visual witness before. I've also been in an argument with her, too. That time, it had whirlpooled from a polite but firm disagreement to a great and furious political firestorm, within the space of one word to the next. She had stormed off the property with great effect, and [in doing] so wrecked my head for days. Next see, she acted [like] nothing [had] happened.

Fuck that. So I didn't even defend myself. And then, here's where it gets really tricky, even again. Molly showed a new respect for me from that moment.

Here's how I see it. Molly got a false memory, based upon factors 1) Harsh words were spoken. 2) Girl's friend had said I pushed the girl. Voila; that's what sticks with Molly. Now, mind y'all, Molly was the star of that evening. She is the one who brought me back down.

But of the two friends who claim to have witnessed, I believe Gary more, and have no reason then to doubt my own memory. (Well, there's always doubt, isn't there — and that's why I like this story.)

But that part about Molly showing respect. That's beguiling to me, curiouser and curiouser, and especially after last night. This compounds not with Molly, but with Gillian. She was there. I had worked with her, as well, at Lautrec's. Nice girl, mostly. Mad as a loon, and knows it. But anyway, we were at Syd's last evening.

Gillian mentioned that girl story. She too had seen me do something. She implied that I had pushed the girl. She said she saw what had happened. I had a vanishingly brief desire to ask her what she had seen — but I quashed it. I had an intuitive moment. I felt that if I showed any doubt on the matter, that I would be supporting the whole wrong side of the story — and let's face it at that point it was just not my side of the story, however true or untrue. I didn't want the sense of the matter to go that way. I said nothing.

She asked me if I'm proud of myself. I said "proud enough," and the subject was over.

And she started to sit a little bit closer to me.

Don't ask me, boys. I'm just telling the story. You're free to think what you will think.

— March 2002, Kilkenny