Friday, March 28, 1986

Your Good Friend Noah

a short story written during my college freshman year

I don’t suppose it matters now. I only wanted time. I guess that is sometimes the most valuable thing to ask of someone. But is it all that unreasonable? I never felt it was. But then, I guess I was the one with the time.

Oh, I suppose answering your question is in order about now. I’m Noah. You see, I have always valued friendships on the basis of time commitment. After all, I gave the most time to those friends I valued most. It seemed only fair that the favor be returned. But it wasn’t.

In the strictest of terms, I guess I was wrong. But it had been so unfair. I did not see it as perversion or obsession, but the courts had chosen to disagree with me.

Dearest Laura,

I sincerely apologize for the brutality of the last letter. I certainly don’t mean to sound possessive, but I tend to get jealous of your time. I honestly do not wish any more than your friendship. I realize your commitment to Ron is an important one and have no intention of interfering. But I still want you as a friend. Oh well. I guess you don’t have time to read anymore; I just wanted to get a postcard off to you. The Grand Canyon is great.

Your good friend,

I wrote that shortly before Laura and Ron’s engagement announcement. I responded that I thought she was doing it for all the wrong reasons. I didn’t see her relationship with Ron as a strong enough one. I assured her that I just wanted friendship, and that her escaping from me by getting married was extreme. She was furious and what was left of our friendship was pretty much destroyed.

When they married in late July, Laura didn’t even invite me to the wedding. I wrote a terse letter suggesting that she was afraid to face me because my previous accusations were correct. She wrote back - our first communication in three months. She said we had to talk before this got out of hand.

She had moved to Houston with Ron; I was still in Cincinnati. She said she and Ron planned a trip back to visit family at Thanksgiving and we would talk then.

I waited anxiously. I wrote a couple of letters which got no response. She called me on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and we agreed on dinner that night. I made reservations at a fancy Mexican restaurant I knew she liked and was ready for a pleasant evening.

Ron only knew she was having dinner with a friend, a fact she pointed out quickly. I asked why it made a difference and said she seemed quite flustered. I again made comment that Ron was not really important to her and that she really only wanted to get away from me. She walked out.

I couldn’t stand to see Laura in such a marriage. Ron was an okay guy, but he just wasn’t right for her. I went over to Laura’s parents’ house where they were staying to confront him. Ron answered the door declaring I wasn’t welcome in his home and that I was to stay away from Laura. “Ron, you are just going to have to face it. She doesn’t love you. She’s just angry with me and trying to get back at me. You are just the unfortunate victim.” Ron became enraged and slammed the door.

I refused to give up. I would not let Laura destroy her life. I would prove that she didn’t really love Ron. I quit my job, packed my bags, and moved to Houston. I lived secluded and privately in a one-room apartment not far from their house. I was able to watch out my window and see Ron drive down the street on his way to work every morning and quickly picked out their routine. I also became familiar with Laura’s routine. She wasn’t working, but I knew she had planned to go back to school. I watched her drive by enough that I soon knew her routine as well.

One afternoon after she had returned home and hours before Ron would get there, I finally decided it was time to confront her. She was shocked when she answered the door and quickly tried to close it. I forced my way in. She screamed at me to leave. I insisted she admit that she didn’t really love Ron, she just was angry at me. I tried to grab her and settle her down. She grabbed a vase to hit me with and in my struggle to get it away from her, I knocked her down. Her head hit the edge of the coffee table and her body fell limp. I lifted her head up to see a small trickle of blood dripping down the back of her neck. She had gashed her head. It was not life-threatening, but the bump had been hard enough to knock her unconscious.

I panicked. I was sure the incident would be misunderstood. I picked up her limp body and carried her out to my car. Moments later, I was carrying her up the stairs to my apartment. As far as I knew, no one had seen us.

Once in my apartment, I realized she would be hysterical when she became conscious. The only way I could get her to listen to me was to keep her from getting away for as long as it took to get my point across. I bound and gagged her and tended to her gash.

When Laura awoke, she looked terrified. I desperately tried to talk some sense into her, but she was stubborn and wouldn’t listen. Night rolled around and she still wasn’t cooperating. I decided to keep her there overnight.

The next morning she looked weary. I asked her if she was ready to be reasonable yet and she shook her head in agreement. I told her I would take off the gag so we could talk, but she couldn’t start screaming. I didn’t want anyone else to think something was wrong. I didn’t want to hurt her if she started screaming.

Laura agreed. I removed the gag and she began pleading with me. “Noah, please. You have to let me go. You can’t keep me here. Please, Noah, please.”

“Laura,” I insisted, “I never wanted to do this. I have to make you realize that you aren’t meant to be with Ron. He isn’t right for you.”

“What do you want from me?” She started crying.

“Laura, I just want you to tell me you’ll leave him. You can’t stay with him.”

“Okay, okay, I’ll leave him. I’ll do whatever you want. Just let me go.”

“Laura, this isn’t for me. It’s for you. I want you to be happy.”

“Noah, you’re right. You’re right. I don’t belong with Ron. I never did. I was just angry at you and wanted you out of my life. I resented you trying to take care of me. I wanted to lash out at you. I’m sorry. Noah, you were right all along. Let me go. I’ll leave him. I promise. I’ll leave him, Noah.”

We drove back to her house so she could get some of her things. It was decided she would stay with me for a couple of days until she figured out where to go from here. I was very happy to see that Laura was now taking control of her life, that she was doing the right thing.

We had not been in the house more than a few minutes when I heard police sirens. Within minutes, there seemed to be cops surrounding the house. I told Laura she had to explain it to them. I looked at her standing in the kitchen. Suddenly she lunged for a knife and I grabbed her wrist, trying to wrestle it out of her hand.

“Freeze!” I heard from behind me. I turned to see a police officer behind us.

“Officer, it isn’t what you think!” I yelled. “I haven’t done anything wrong! You have to let her leave her husband! She just wants to leave her husband!”

The officer stepped forward and took the knife from Laura’s hand. She fell into his arms, sobbing as a second officer approached me with a pair of handcuffs.

As they marched me out to the police car, I begged and pleaded with them. “Just let me talk to Laura. She’ll explain it to you. She just wants to leave her husband. I’m just a good friend! I’m just a good friend! I would never do anything to hurt her!”

No one understands, though. No one realizes that she doesn’t really love him. I tried to make Laura realize she didn’t really love him, and for that I am in prison. I hate to think how miserable she must be. I’m her friend. I just wanted to help her. I was the only one who could save her - I used to be her good friend Noah.