DON’T THINK TWICE
by Elizabeth Zelvin
It was no use, he sang, gazing at me soulfully over the
top of his
guitar, to wonder why.
I did wonder why. I wondered why for the third time this
was sitting on the unmade bed of some guy I hardly knew in Cambridge listening
to him sing that fucking Dylan song.
No, we didn't use that word. I remember being shocked
when I heard
a girl a year younger than me say it. In fact, “ain’t no use” made me wince. But
they all wanted to be Bob Dylan. And they expected us to be impressed. Jewish
girls like me got over boys like little Bobby Zimmerman in junior high. We
didn't expect them to change their name, write songs that made them famous, and
win the Nobel Prize.
The song was right. If I didn't know by now, it didn't
anyhow. I did know. The guy hasn't
even unsnapped my bra, and he's singing me a manifesto. He'll be gone by
morning. No, I’ll be gone. I’m the one that has to pay for a taxi and sneak
into my dorm at three in the morning. Commitment is as off the table as
breakfast. He calls me babe not because it's cool, but so he doesn't
have to remember my name. And he tells me it's all right. All right for him. Because
the Sixties came before the
women's movement, and the love-hungry young girl I was didn't think twice. She
did it anyway.
Back then, we talked about one-night stands, not hooking
up. And we
didn’t even pretend we weren’t hoping for love every single time. The Sixties
were as cool as they sound if you were a guy. Or if you were a girl with long
straight hair and thin thighs and a cool boyfriend. Otherwise, you had to fake
it. And wonder why. Dylan didn’t have any answers for girls like me.
So I found my own. I don’t remember anymore how
many times I was
disappointed and humiliated before I decided I was not going to listen to that
damn song one more time. But one night I had had enough. The self-absorbed
asshole of the moment was singing his heart out. I listened to the words. And I
did think twice.
“I’ll just be a minute,” I said.
I locked myself in the bathroom and rummaged around until
I found a
razor blade. Then I went back out there, climbed up on the bed where he was
still strumming the guitar, knelt behind him, put my arms around him, and slit
his throat. Then I washed the blade off, put it back in his safety razor, wiped
down everything else I'd touched, and booked, as we said back then. I didn't
think twice, and it's been all right for sixty years.
Why wasn’t I suspected? He'd picked me up outside
a folk club in Cambridge.
Now, what was it we used to call the dropouts who hung out in Harvard Square
flashing green cloth bookbags along with their guitars, hoping everyone would
think they went to Harvard? I can’t remember after all this time. But they all
looked alike. Sexy long hair. No one wanted to look like Dylan. Blue
work shirt. Faded jeans. No one ever even knew I knew him.
Elizabeth Zelvin writes the Bruce Kohler Mysteries and the
Mendoza Family Saga. Her stories appear in Ellery Queen's Mystery
Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and Black Cat
Mystery Magazine, as well as Yellow Mama. She will have a
story in the forthcoming Murder, Neat: A SleuthSayers Anthology.