“I hope Jeb had presence of mind enough to put the coffin back in the grave.”
They had something, presumably, when it all began. She was a beautiful, self-sufficient woman. He was a wealthy, ambitious man. She had fire in her eyes — deeper and hotter than he realized, but it seemed warm and inviting, at the time. He surprised her with little gifts, just to show her that he was thinking about her.
That probably had a lot to do with it, actually. Not the trinkets, just the fact that he thought about her. He was the first man she’d ever dated who wasn’t mostly in love with somebody else.
It’s one of those mixed marriages between the fantastic and the mundane, or at least it was supposed to be. A hard-driving captain of industry with a publishing empire falls for a blue-eyed cover girl, who’s cooling her heels while she waits for another demonic space-time fissure to jump into. A man of the world meets a spirit of the woods, and she enchants him. He gathers her up carefully, and carries her home.
This fairie queen has been lazily drifting her way through time, starting in the late 19th century and heading in the general direction of now.
All of her friends were gone, in one way or another, and she was on her own, traveling through the decades one step at a time. She may have passed through some powerful families along the way, wiping out the occasional dynasty, just to keep in practice.
There were others traveling along the same route, from 1897 to 1970, doing all the things one needs to do when the world grows old without you. They created aliases, invented new histories, accumulated a new stack of interests and peer groups. Those friendships were based on lies, of course, but not so anyone would notice. I mean, do you know exactly what your 30-year-old friends were doing, 45 years ago? It doesn’t come up that often.
And after seven decades, you’re a different person anyway. You’d have to be. You’ve seen wars, and depressions, and astounding new inventions. You’ve lived more than a lifetime, according to the average life expectancy, back when you had one.
Of course, if anyone recognized her, as she bobbed and weaved her way through history, they might ask awkward questions — the kind that usually get answered with holy symbols and fire. So she became a model for fashion magazines, just to be on the safe side. There was another eternal creature traveling along the same timeline, who tried to blend in by becoming a famous actress. Some people just aren’t very good at keeping out of sight.
He saw her picture in one of his magazines, and it was love at first sight — on his end, naturally, not the magazine’s. He showed up at her next shoot, and asked her to dinner. The next day, he sent flowers, with another invite. Tasteful things started arriving by messenger. He was persistent.
She’d gotten used to being alone, after all this time. She was only allowed to stay in this world if she found a man who would fall in love with her, but for all these years, it never clicked.
This woman, looking exactly like this, with this charm and intelligence and self-possession, and it took seventy years to find a man who would fall in love with her. Now you tell me one.
What does he see, when he looks at her? Not the real thing, astonishing and unimaginable. She offers up a mirrorball to dazzle and delight, dozens of little shards of twinkling glass, an ever-changing surface — but it’s just catching the light, and reflecting it back. Everything that he knows about her is made up of little excerpts of him — his assumptions, his desires, his needs — bouncing off her surface, and boomeranging back to his lovestruck eyes.
And what does she see, this Valkyrie with clipped wings? The culmination of a journey that started in the West Indies, all those years ago?
She claims that the Dark Lord challenged her to find a man, to fall in love and get quietly hitched, so she could give up her powers and experience normal human life. Obviously, the Dark Lord said no such thing. That doesn’t even sound like him. This is her own self-inflicted punishment, dressed in a blue suit, and if she can endure him, then she deserves to pretend to be happy, for as long as she can hold it together.
Now, among the wealthy, there are those who know how to create things, and those who know how to acquire things. He’s one of the acquirers.
He saw her in one of his magazines, which apparently doubles as a catalog; he placed an order, and here she is. Now he buys her expensive little tchotchkes, which she sees as evidence of his boundless generosity. It hasn’t occurred to her that they live in the same house, so he gets use out of them too. There’s always a loophole, with rich people.
She’s one of his acquisitions, a part of the decor that happens to be soft and warm and smells nice, imported from the island of Martinique. When she spoils, he can throw her away, and find another. Not that he ever would, of course. She’s the love of his life, for now.
Anyway, one of these days, he’ll submit to his inhuman masters, and metamorph into an indescribable nightmare creature that poisons and rapes the world. This is another thing that rich people do, although usually in a more metaphorical way.
But her life is just as likely to spin out of control as his. It’s tough to bury your past and forget it, especially when it stretches back a couple centuries. She’s got a lot of mistakes buried out in the yard, and if she wanted them to stay buried, then she shouldn’t have spent all that time teaching them to sit up and play fetch.
Anyway, if she wanted a life where everybody stays quiet and keeps their secrets to themselves, then she shouldn’t have married a publisher. She could have held out for a tycoon who makes noise-cancelling headphones. Well, it’s too late now, I suppose.
So when it all goes bust, it’s hard to figure the proportionate blame. They fell madly in love with the outside of each other, spending so much time worrying about their own masquerade that they forgot about due diligence.
Better the devil you know, they say, but if you both know the same one, then things can get messy. And it all falls to pieces, over the course of a single cocktail hour.
And here we are in the penthouse, far from the world, settling things the way that rich people do.
She looks into his eyes, and she sees everything. He meant it when he said that he loved her, but he only meant it at the time. That’s in the past now, along with all of their other terrible mistakes.
And as he picks up a flaming torch and advances on her, planning to sear the life from her bones, she thinks: My god, he’s a psychopath. After all this time, we finally have something in common.
Tomorrow: Once Again.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
On the terrace, Barnabas shouts, “Megan!” at the same time that she calls, “Is someone there?”
In act 2, when Angelique asks Sky to tell her about the important visitor, people are talking in the studio, and we can hear someone shushing them.
About twenty seconds after that, we can see Marie Wallace passing by, reflected in the mirror on the wall.
When Sky comes back into the room, he and Angelique talk over each other.
Tomorrow: Once Again.
— Danny Horn