I received a call from Beth last Monday, the 18th of July. She said that she wanted to come over the next day, that she'd thought about all of those things that we talked about about two months ago, when she had left yet another flaming bag of poo on my front doorstep.
I had not spoken to her since. She's tried calling, but I'd just let the calls go to voice mail, sick and tired of the excuses and the promises to go get psychiatric help. After a few days of these phone calls, I would eventually listen to the messages saying that she really had learned her lesson this time. She earnestly spoke, saying that she had even taken an entire extra month longer than she'd at-first planned on some self-improvement thing she was calling Old World Blues. A bit wackier, more boisterous offering, she promised me in the phone messages and others on her blog than her previous works.
In this last voice message she left me, she sounded so desperate, so sincere, about this new leaf which she swore with sobbing tears in her voice that she had turned over that I admit I felt I'd be a horrible person if I didn't at least give her just one more chance. Defeated by her earnestness, yet still expecting to find that familiar bag of poo aflame on my porch step the next day, I picked up the phone and dialed Beth's number.
And I invited her over.
4:00 came and went with no sign of her, which strange to me in dealing with Beth. She'd only been late once in my memory, which to be utterly fair was no her fault of her own. She'd been trapped for nearly a month down there with that growing list of other missing passengers and loved ones on the P Station Network, the tube which she'd always taken to come see me and many others. But you all remember that, some of us are even still angry at the over it, but that's another matter entirely.
The doorbell finally rang, Beth was at the door. We greeted each other with a hug and she apologized briefly for being late, saying that she got waylaid by some street performer down in the tube - the P Station is usually full of them. and a little bit of chit chat - a good start I thought; no dog poo, flaming and baggy'd or otherwise. Finally, with pleasantries aside, she sat down on the couch and gently patted the cushion. She began to sing along with the radio, but still to me, an all-too familiar song in a demure and haunting tone. It was one I found at-once both unsettling and enticing, inviting me to see her new offering. Inviting, yes, but hinting more that all was not as I had been led to believe.
I took the bait and played the game. Hilarious, over-the-top characters quickly greeted me and I was even delighted as I certain that I recognized the voice of Doctor Venture. The playing was smooth, and I encountered no bugs - game breaking or otherwise. The story of Old World Blues is what I've come to expect from Beth's Fallout: as deep or superficial as you are willing to let it be. she had told me that it was to be goofy and the most amusing of her offerings and it is that, it is hilarious, especially with the school-yard style taunts being shouted over the loudspeakers of Big Mountain between Dr. Mobius and the Think Tank.
What she had not told me, nor at all prepared me for, was the more which I witnessed, dug, read at Big Mountain and then compared to that which I've learned and been witness to back in the Mojave Wasteland, Sierra Madre, in Zion Nation Park, and even back in the Capital Wastelands of D.C., the more I was chilled to the spine. Old World Blues was revealing truths to me about the entire world- not simply the segment which is OWB or even the microcosm of FO:NV - which she created.
Simply put and spoiler free, Beth has not quietly, nor overtly, been so dark since the days which she spent telling us tales of the Capital Wasteland. Perhaps not even then. She has waited until now, when she felt time was right for the revelations to fill in holes left unanswered and to push her audience to question things which we thought we knew as certainties.
As I placed down the controller to absorb the new information and to get dinner ready, Beth looked to me with a small smile - a smile that spoke quietly of a personal victory over her past. She hummed a soft song to herself as she gathered her things and gave me a hug.
She was silent except for that hum as she took those measured steps.
Silent, though the look held in her eyes as they met mine spoke volumes.
We both knew for certain that she was going to be back and next time I'd be the one extending the invitation.