Pip R. Lagenta|
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Saturday, March 29th, 2008
|The Scientist and the Murderer
I must warn you at the outset that this story has no point, it has no moral, and no lessons may gained by reading it. It is simply the recounting of an odd, if unimportant, incident in my life. It happened more than twenty years ago, but I still remember it quite well. The whole thing was weird, but no more than that.
There are four people involved in the inconsequential comedy that you are about to read. One of these people I have written about before: Linda Mayfield. It would be a good idea to read what I wrote about her, to refresh your memory about who, and what, she is. The title of this goof-fest is "The Scientist and the Murderer". The word "Murderer" is in reference to Linda Mayfield.
Another person involved here is Dan Alderson. It might be a good idea to read the short Wikipedia article about Dan Alderson now. Dan died in 1989. At the time of his death, I was very disappointed to note that his obituary did not give any real information about who Dan was. The one obituary that I saw, the obituary that got reprinted around, was written by my friend Charles Lee Jackson, II. This one obituary told how Dan was Charles’ friend, and it told how Charles felt about the death of his friend, but it said nothing about who Dan Alderson was, or what made him interesting as a person. It gave no history. The Wikipedia article helps make up for this oversight. I strongly urge you to read it. The word "Scientist" in the title of this piece refers to Dan Alderson.
The third person involved in our story is a small, bouncy, pip-squeak who’s name I never knew, but who I will refer to, here, as The Clown. Picture in your mind a small, hyperactive, Jester-of-a-man in pied balloon pants. Not that he was actually dressed in pied balloon pants, but that would have been very fitting for his character. I never saw The Clown before the day that our story takes place, and I never saw him again, after. The Clown is a cipher and a mystery. My understanding was that The Clown was an artist friend of Linda Mayfield’s. The Clown was from out-of-town, and possibly from out of the country. I seem to recall that he was from Australia, but I may be conflating and confusing him with another goof-ball from Australia.
The forth person is me. But I was nothing but the witness, the onlooker, the spectator. I preformed no action in this play.
Our story takes place at the clubhouse of The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. The front building in the two-building LASFS complex is called "building 4SJ", in honor of Forrest J Ackerman. It was early on a Thursday afternoon. The regular LASFS members had not yet begun to arrive. In building 4SJ, the four of us were alone.
This was before Linda got married. This was the early, or mid, 1980s, and possibly before Linda even met the person that she eventually marries.
It had come to Dan Alderson’s ears that Linda Mayfield was having difficulties. Linda had been rooming in the home of Adams Douglas and his girlfriend. There had been personality conflicts. [Please do not confuse the former president of the LASFS, Adams Douglas (1955-2003) with the famous author Douglas Adams (1952-2001). That would not do at all!] Linda reported to me that the situation with her roommates came to a head when someone tried to maim or kill her horse. Linda had to sell the horse to pay the veterinary bills. She also had to find a new place to live, and Dan Alderson knew this.
Dan attempted to broach the subject with Linda. But when Dan spoke, The Clown bounced up, said something stupid, bounded around the room, and said something else that was stupid. Dan was never a skilled communicator with members of the opposite sex, even when things were going well. Add an obnoxious loose-cannon to the mix, and Dan’s efforts were doomed to failure, even if Linda hadn’t had other plans.
Dan attempted to broach the subject a second time. When Dan spoke, The Clown bounced up again, said something stupid, bounded around the room, and said something else that was stupid. Emotionally for Dan, this was a Horror Show.
Dan attempted to plow on. He tried to make an offer of a place for Linda to live. He was constantly interrupted by The Clown. In anger and wild frustration, Dan yelled at The Clown to "Shut up!" The Clown, not aware that he was being addressed, bounced up, said something stupid, bounded around the room, and said something else that was stupid. While still angry and frustrated, Dan attempted to make clear his offer of a place to stay to Linda. In the end, his words were coming out in angry gasps.
Linda would have none of it. She was not interested in staying at Dan Alderson’s home. For that reason, she made no attempt to rein-in The Clown. She let Dan’s failure be on The Clown’s head. She did not make it easier for Dan, in any way. She smiled at The Clown’s antics, and said nothing.
The nightmare scene petered out at last when Linda quietly demurred. Dan understood that Linda was not going to come live with him.
Did Dan understand that neither he nor The Clown undid the deal? Linda had other plans. Dan’s offer was never going to be accepted. I will never know what Dan thought of the whole thing. But I do know that The Clown added spectacle to an otherwise ordinary exchange. That is the power of stupidity.
---Pip R. Lagenta
______________Historical note, April 28, 2013:I strongly believe that the person in the above blog post whom I call "The Clown" is, in fact, Christian Gerhartsreiter.
History has moved on since I wrote the above blog entry. I have long known that "things are always more complex than they at first appear to be". And with the above, BOY... are things more complex in this case! At the time that I wrote the above blog entry, for example, I had never heard of Christian Gerhartsreiter. I leave the above unchanged as an artifact of history, fully aware though I am that the assumptions that I made for the above blog entry were wildly in error. Friends of Linda Mayfield Sohus are quite angry with me for accusing a victim of being a perpetrator. To them go my profound apologies. I did not know Linda as you did. While I attempt, for the most part, to not "be a dick", this is one of the occasions on which I failed. I have had enough experience with humans to know that some people have a very dark side buried deep within them. Making an error about who does and who does not have a dark side can be quite catastrophic. At this point I can tell you that Christian Gerhartsreiter has been convicted in a court of law for the murder of the husband of Linda Mayfield Sohus. Linda Mayfield Sohus continues to be listed as missing.