“Jolene” (1973) by Dolly Parton
"Jolene” (1973) by Dolly Parton
Billy cheated on his wife, Eloise. There I've said it. It's difficult to even elaborate upon these words. It's hard to talk about my best friends' separation. Well, separation is not the word to describe it. Neither is deceit. I don't know how to describe it. See, I've always known them as "Billy and Elle." Whenever I thought of Billy, I thought of Elle. Whenever I thought of Elle, I thought of Billy. The two were a living word-association. They were inseparable.
They had this great partnership going on: from a shared account to raising their cat to cooking flat dinners - here in Mt. Eden. They were Perfect. They were godly, in that sense. I looked up to them as the yardstick for how a relationship was supposed to be. I was jealous. I was jealous that something so Beautiful was right there in the lounge playing Scrabble, bickering over whether 'Tentacion' is a word. My two best friends, a mechanic and a hairdresser, were Divine.
But when that fucking huckmole, Madeleine, turned up - my image of God became fogged. The Devil had disturbed one thing I seldom found beautiful in my life. I've found it! HERESY- that's the word. From the second he surrendered to that slut's seduction, he smashed my portrait of God; he broke his word and betrayed his wife.
I think that hussy was jealous too. Lucifer envied God and wanted to supplant him.
Consequently, I'm convinced that Love is just another four-letter word. Yes, Nietzsche- God is dead. As a writer, this is the most gruelling fact I've had to recognize- that's why I don't know how to put words to this story.
They used to be so tight. I have many a fond memory of them. One time, we three drank two bottles of Mother Russia at a party in Onehunga. We drank her hard. It was a silent Capricorn night and I lay there, half-conscious, hugging the frosty grass. Then, beside me, I heard Billy say those three words to her. He said them so easily, with such a painless flow. They popped like bubbles in the crisp air. He clearly meant them. She responded similarly. That was a memorable moment. I do not remember the rest of that night.
Then enter that fucking blonde broad. It was at Pierre's 21st (Billy's brother) and she was talking to Billy, playing with her hair; glad-eyeing him. Elle was at home; she had to work the next day. Everyone there shrugged it off- everyone! It WAS nothing. Billy was engaged to a gorgeous brunette. Why would anyone think that Billy would ever do THAT?- That would be plain Blasphemy! Everyone continued watching Pierre vomit.
I couldn't attend the Wedding. I had a Writing exam. But I viewed some photos. However, looking back now, one photo stood out. The nuptials were in the foreground for a group shot. Everyone was in it, including our team drunkard, Geordie. But behind the Groom's side, just between Billy's grandparents, lurking under the fruit trees, was that Jezebel harlot. My word! Look how the serpent lay in wait by the Apples! That photo spoke a thousand fucking words.
After they got back from Fiji, word got around that someone saw Billy with that ghoul in Takapuna. No one believed it. No one would believe it. But everyone KNEW about it - everyone, bar Elle. It was fun but also cruel. It was fun as it was the one topic that tip-toed on the tongues of ALL the team - even Geordie gossiped soberly about it. But we always ended it with "Mum's the word", because Elle should never know. That was the cruellest part. It was so very cruel. The cuckold was oblivious, smiling away like an innocent child with big eyes. And, all the fucking knitting circle did was remain wordless. I don't know why we did that. Why'd we do that? How can people do that, to a friend? Why didn't any of us tell Elle? Why? I'm so sorry, girl. I don't know why we didn't tell you. I don't know why. Words fail me.
And then Elle spoke: 25th October, 2002 - Apocalypse. All the Team were down at the Local having after-work drinks. But, I didn't know that that whore was there too. It happened so fast. All I remember was talking to Pierre, then, I heard this Banshee-scream from my left:
It happened so very fast. I turned around and that tramp was on the floor, and Elle was stomping on her face with her high heels. Those first two words must've belched from her maternal gut. Like Moses, she declared them. Like tablets, she testified them.
The following eight tore apart the sea of cigarette haze in the bar. The bouncer was faster. He moved in and tried to contain her. But you cannot contain a Burning Bush. Elle was spitting and tossing violently. I’d never seen her like that before. Eventually, he took her outside.
And then stillness- the entire bar was lost for words. Polly and Georgina (that tart's two best friends) quietly motioned outside to find out if Elle was alright. No one helped that wench. Geordie was laughing. It happened so fucking fast. That was an unforgettable moment.
But from that, Billy and Elle split up.
Few months later, Pierre showed me photos of his Aunt's birthday. Billy and that viper were there. Another photo stood out. Those two were smiling, but a guy in the backdrop quickly ducked out of view: Dare naught be caught in the same frame with Billy's new flame- Shame. Anyway, those two looked fatigued: Good. That photo spoke a thousand words too. That was the last time I've ever seen Billy.
Elle's with Justin, and all the adder's friends are now Elle's friends. They all treat her well.
Geordie's in jail, and everyone's doing their own thing now.
It's easier to write words, than to say them. I wish I'd said this to each of them:
I love ya, bro. But you're a liar and a cheat, a fraud. 'Integrity'- are you familiar with that word, pillock! Why, Billy? Why? Money? Family? Please don't say it was Sex? If that trollop swallowed than you're more a meathead than I thought you'd be. How can you shatter something so special simply for the sake of a swallowing snake?
I miss you, dude, but you're never allowed to come back, here, to Eden.
You- deserved - what you - got. I have no more words to say to you.
Yesterday, I heard a Dolly Parton song. I thought of you and I cried just a little:
Your beauty is beyond compare
Flaming locks of auburn hair
Ivory skin and eyes of emerald green
Smile's like breath of spring
Voice's soft like summer rain
And I CANNOT COMPETE WITH YOU, .Jolene
He talks about you in his sleep
There's nothing I can do to keep
From crying when he calls your name, Jolene
You could have your choice of men
But I could never love again
He's the only one for me, Jolene
I'm begging, please don't take man
Please don't take him just because you can
See you at the BBQ, Angel.