Track Nine: Temporarily Blind

A Rose Mary Stretch of the Imagination, pt. 9

The story of Richard Nixon’s secretary told as if Built to Spill’s seminal release Keep it like a Secret was a concept album about the Watergate Scandal.

She didn’t speak with Richard again. Not face to face. Pat would phone over the Holidays, but they never broached subjects of the past, and so talked mostly of the weather. The sisterhood was broken.

Robert Gray came to visit every now and again. They would wander through Silver Park amongst the buckeyes and talk. Each time Bob left—as soon as he was back on the plane—Mary would ply Rose with vellum-thinly-veiled questions and observations about their relationship. What did he talk about? Is he going to visit again? I wonder why he never settled down? He seams to get handsomer with age. Her combination of naiveté and unflagging perseverance made Rose smile, and broke her heart.

Dick fought to be free of history’s lessons—unheeding its portents, disinterested in its value. His eventual return to the public eye would be complicated; contingent on nations at a distance from the U.S. and interviewers with a temporary blind spot for the past.

But all it took was the buckeyes to transport Rose back to D.C. in the fall. When the first frosty breeze started to pick at the seams in her overcoat, she would stop in the park, close her eyes and remember her busiest days. She would stand still, imagining, defiant. She would linger in the swirl of memories, unflinching as they grew colder. The bitter chill reaching bone deep, but ultimately passing though her.

She had found that history could teach, if nothing else, how not to be numb.

Coming soon: Track 10: Broken Chairs [an epilogue]

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