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The Artist by Bobby Grafe introduced us to Pauline Powers. Pauline now has a story of her own. I am starting with an introduction, and will be adding content regularly, so keep checking Booksie for more of Pauline's story. Follow The Artist and Pauline on Facebook for posted alerts when new content is available - @TheArtistBG

Submitted: August 25, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 25, 2017









Bobby Grafe










Pauline Brown was seventeen years old when she left Milwaukee, Wisconsin with $3500 dollars and a dream.  She wasn’t like most young women who leave town suddenly, she was different.  Pauline had planned her departure for three years.  And so, Pauline, driving south on I-94 towards Chicago, was feeling good.She felt that the journey was the beginning of something big.  She knew that nothing was going to stand in her way.  She was right.

The $3500 dollars would go far in 1974, and it felt like a million bucks to Pauline.  She would be able to settle into a small apartment, and the money also bought her time to find the right job.Pauline knew that she needed to rub elbows with the middle class, and to do that would take some doing on her part.  Pauline had no doubt that she could fake her way in their almost elegant parties.She would slither like a snake through the ranks looking for him.  She had planned him years ago, the perfect man.  Planning, that is what Pauline did best.

People were easily distracted in those days.  Everybody wanted to be an intellectual at parties.  The news of the day was interesting, and Pauline found it easy to sound sophisticated when she rehearsed her party conversations in the mirror at night.  Watergate, the energy crisis, Patty Hearst, and the cold war all offered ways to connect with the imaginary person behind the glass.  So, Pauline practiced and practiced, again and again.  Her conversations were informed and interesting.  They sounded elegant, nothing like the rantings of a midwestern runaway.  Other girls were dating their high school sweethearts, while Pauline carefully planned.  Other girls giggled at the thought of a dreamy guy down on one knee, while Pauline plotted.  Other girls were lost in emotion, Pauline was not lost at all. 

If you are wondering how a seventeen-year-old girl got her hands on $3500.00 dollars, it was simple.  Pauline had a Kodak Instamatic camera with attachable flash.  She also had a math teacher that was fucking the English teacher during her Junior year of high school.  Pauline had paid attention.  The English teacher, Mrs. Grant, wore expensive fashionable clothing while the math teacher, Mr. Very Married Hanks, drove a new Mustang.  Neither seemed troubled by a teacher’s salary, and neither could have imagined that a seventeen-year-old girl was about to put them into a very uncomfortable position.  And so, Pauline snapped her soon to be favorite photograph on a Thursday afternoon while the other girls were still trying to decide whether to go all the way on Prom night. 

Pauline had been sneaky.  She got the photos without her prey ever knowing that it had happened.  The happy couple kissed their way into a motel room while Pauline documented the mating rituals of the American adulterer with little effort.  This not-so-rare breed of human often suffers from hormone surges that cause stupidity and carelessness.  Pauline did not feel nervous as she blackmailed her teachers.She did it anonymously. 

At first, the note and photos put the once happy couple into a worrisome state.  After all, they had been caught cheating, but Pauline made it very clear that she only wanted $3500 dollars for the film and photos.  Although this was a lot of money, Pauline had chosen her prey wisely.They gladly paid to keep their secret, and Pauline thought for just a moment that Mrs. Grant smiled at her during the exchange as if to say “Go, Pauline.  I did it, too.  I clawed my way into something better than life was ever planning for me.  You can do it.”

When life has shit on you for years, emotions can take a back seat to survival skills and a drive for success.  Mrs. Grant’s eye twinkled for Pauline.  The exchange had been more than a monetary transaction, it had been a soul mirror.  Kindred spirits had crossed paths, both recognising the secret core that the other possessed. Mrs. Grant did not smile because Pauline had done something amazing.  No, she smiled because Pauline had revealed herself.  When you navigate the cruel waters of life with victory after victory affirming your skills as a winner, you don’t expect to get caught.

Mrs. Grant smiled because she knew that Pauline was just getting started.




© Copyright 2019 Bobby Grafe. All rights reserved.

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