For a while, I’ve kept what I’m about to tell you to myself. Why I’m sharing it with you now, dear writers and readers, I’m not exactly sure. Maybe it’s because TNB is celebrating its fifth birthday, and being one of the site’s original writers I’ve always done my best to be as open and honest as possible in every piece I’ve posted.

I’m also driven to share this tale because I’m fascinated by the interplay that occurs between creative artists and their online audiences. Once we writers put our work out into the world, there are scores of people we’ve never met checking out what we have to say. We writers have no idea whether or not our words will resonate, offer purpose and meaning. It can sometimes be an overwhelmingly vulnerable experience to bare our souls, only to feel our most heartfelt thoughts have slipped off—unnoticed and unloved—into the farthest, loneliest reaches of cyberspace.

When our words work, however—when people comment and sing our praises—it’s a true high. Better than heroin. Because every one of those compliments make us feel strong, healthy. Truly noticed, understood. That high offers an even bigger kick when the person complimenting is HOT.

That’s what I’m about to share with you: a story about a time I hooked up with a hot TNB reader. While what I’m about to tell you doesn’t strive to point blame at any particular party (I, for one, am as innocent or guilty as the others involved), it does serve as a cautionary tale for those of you writers who are thinking about meeting up with a fan, or any fans who are thinking about meeting up with a writer in the real world.

It all began about two years ago. A woman began leaving favorable comments on a few of my TNB posts. This woman—I’ll call her Jane—and I eventually connected on Facebook. That connection led to texting and phone calls.

I’m usually terrible on the phone. Any conversation longer than five minutes, I become anxious, irritable. But with Jane, I could stay on the line much longer. She was bright, quick-witted. Was interested in the same art, music and literature as me. And her voice: soft, warm, inviting. A lush, beautiful bed in my ear.

During one of our calls, I suggested we get together in person. Since she lived less than a day’s drive out of LA, this seemed a fairly reasonable request. While the idea intrigued her, she couldn’t commit to a rendezvous. I let it go at that.

For a period of time afterwards, we fell out of communication. Not because of any awkward feelings. We were just busy leading our own lives.

Then, about three months ago, we reestablished connection. Without explanation, our phone calls and texts grew in frequency and intensity. More intimate, more sexual. In one of her texts she even sent a photo of her standing in her bathroom in nothing but a bra and panties. She wrote that she was sending the picture because she liked the light at that time of day; how it streamed through the window and across her body.

I must admit it was an extremely lovely, alluring shot; both tasteful and tawdry in its depiction of light and shadow falling across her flat belly, full hips and breasts. Think Edward Weston crossed with Richard Kern.

Despite its artiness, I saw that picture as an invitation: the chance to finally meet Jane. And I won’t lie to you, dear writers and readers, I was also hoping our meeting would lead to sex. I phoned Jane. Instead of rebuking my advances, she agreed to drive to LA.

That phone call was on a Thursday night. We made plans to meet that Sunday.

The next day, Friday, after work, I checked my phone. Noticed I’d received a series of missed phone calls without messages. The area code seemed familiar—like Jane’s. I dialed the number.

A guy answered.

“Hi,” I said, confused. “I noticed you called but didn’t leave a message. How can I help you?”

“Do you know who this is?” the guy asked.

“No idea.”

“Well I know who you are,” he said. “You’re Rich Ferguson, that LA spoken word guy.”

He said that like I was some bigshit poetry rock star. In any other situation I would’ve been flattered, but not with this guy. His voice was tinged with contempt.

“How can I help you?” I said.

“I’m Jane’s fiancé.”

Those three words spun my head roulette. “You’re what?”

The guy proceeded to tell me how he and Jane were engaged, had been living together for some time. He then spit out, “You fuck her yet?”

“Dude,” I spit back. “I’ve never even met her.”

“Well has she sent you any naked photos?” he pressed.

The way he said those words, like he’d asked that question to others before me. Suddenly, I felt bad for the guy. So I bent the truth. Since Jane had only sent that one picture of her in a bra and panties, I told myself it didn’t technically count as a nude photo—just an artful study in shadow and light. “No way,” I told the guy.

He said since I hadn’t known about him, or hadn’t yet had sex with Jane, things were cool with us. But if he ever found out that I did have sex with her in the future, that would be another story. He closed with: “You cross me, and I’m coming for you. I swear you’re a dead man.”

Then click, he was gone.

Keep in mind, dear writers and readers, I’ve had guns pulled on me twice—once while working a job in high school, and years later while wandering lost through Harlem at 3 a.m., and a gas station attendant I’d approached for directions thought I was about to rob him. As scary as those situations were, neither seemed as frightening to me as someone verbally swearing my death. Those words seemed far more real, far more imposing than any pistol pointed at my heart.

Add to that: I’ve never brawled in my whole life. These days, I get my aggressions out by ranting on stage, or doing push-ups in yoga. If I were to be involved in a fight club, I’d be the waterboy, or the guy that offers encouraging words to someone who’s just been pummeled to pieces. If this fiancé guy ever did come for me, it was exactly like he said: I’d be a dead man.

I was terrified. I stood with the phone still pressed to my ear. Couldn’t move. Couldn’t speak.

Once I came to, I realized I had two choices: remove myself from Jane’s life; no contact, nothing. Or speak to her one last time, demanding an explanation. I chose the explanation: that seemed fair after what had just occurred.

I texted Jane. Told her I’d just spoken with her supposed fiancé. Asked what was up with the guy.

She got back to me right away, swearing they’d once been involved but it was long over, and now they were just friends. When I asked how he’d found out about our conversations, she told me he’d gotten hold of her phone while hanging with mutual friends one night, and had read her text messages. She apologized profusely for all her drama spilling over into my world. Said if I never wanted to contact her again she’d understand.

I replied, yes, time apart would surely be best for all parties involved.

The following week, I headed to NYC to perform a series of spoken word shows. Also hung out with TNB compatriots: Greg Olear, Jessica Anya Blau, J.E. Fishman, and Kristen Elde. As amazing as it all was, I couldn’t help but to feel haunted by what had occurred with Jane.

Upon my return to LA, I remained hurt and confused. Add to that, the California-hippy, touchy-feely part of me yearned for clarity and closure (told you I wasn’t fight club material). All those conflicting emotions got the best of me. Despite the fiancé’s threat, I contacted Jane. This time I wasn’t thinking about sex. All I wanted was an honest explanation for what had occurred. She agreed to drive to LA so we could discuss matters face to face.

Once she arrived at my place, I realized she was far sexier, far more charming and intelligent than she’d been in any of our phone calls, texts or online correspondences. My raging hormones clouded over all the bullshit weirdness.

I wrestled with those hormones—doing my best to let reason prevail over fantasies of kisses and coitus—as I asked all kinds of questions about her supposed fiancé.

Again, she swore they were no longer together—just friends. “That was how he found out about us,” she reiterated. “It was one night while out drinking with friends that he got hold of my phone and read my texts.”

The way she spoke—direct eye contact, no wavering of voice, no nervous hand gestures—seemed absolutely convincing.

Still, I had my doubts. She could be telling the truth. Or was one hell of a good liar. In the end, I believed her. Not because she was so convincing, but because I needed to believe her. Didn’t want to believe that our last two years of conversations—our trading of intimacies and experiences—had been built on lies.

Furthermore, dear writers and readers, I also realized I was at a crossroads. The sensible route: walk Jane to her car, wish her well, and tell her it was best for everyone if we never again contact one another.

Or, I could pursue my darker curiosities.

And as we all know, we creative artists—and most human beings for that matter—are driven to pursue our curiosities, no matter how dark and dangerous they may be. Call it sheer stupidity, the pursuit of a dark curiosity, or a death wish, I made a choice.

Fiancé or no fiancé, I slept with Jane.

It was sweaty, passionate. Tender, caring. Kissing, caressing. All the things you hope for in sex. Afterwards, we talked, laughed, went out for a wonderful meal. Through it all, I’d become so high on endorphins that my logic skills were shot. I was officially punch-drunk crazy about Jane.

Later that evening, we parted ways; promising to keep in touch, figure out a time in the not so distant future when we could again be together.

Over the next two weeks: a blizzard of traded texts and phone calls, the two of us dreaming out loud about our next rendezvous.

Then one night I received a call. Without checking the incoming number, I picked up the phone: “Hello?”

Silence on the line.

That silence spoke volumes. It was the fiancé. My stomach twisted up, so did my tongue: guilty origami.

“I know you fucked her,” he said.

I didn’t know what to say. He’d given me fair warning. Had clearly said things were cool with us as long as I didn’t sleep with Jane. But I’d clearly crossed that line. I figured I deserved whatever I had coming: be it a beating or a bullet in the head.

“Game on,” he said. “I’m coming for you, fucker.”

Then click, he was gone. Just like me: a full-on goner.

I texted Jane. Asked what the hell was up. Why was I still hearing from this guy? Was he truly her fiancé or what?

Nothing from Jane.

I texted again. Even called. Left a message, saying: “So you’re just gonna leave me hanging alone on this one, huh?”

Still nothing.

What an idiot I was, I thought. I’d been so blinded by her attention to my creative work, and how I’d felt she’d seen me for who I truly was, that I guess I’d missed some huge red flags. Like maybe she really did have a fiancé. Or if not, how I’d misjudged her as a person. Just when I thought she cared for me, she’d cut all ties when I truly needed her. I was devastated.

That feeling carried on for days.

Not only was I heartsick over Jane, the fiancé also made me a nervous wreck. Everywhere I went—be it performing in a dark club, or strolling hoity-toity Larchmont, yoga mat in hand—I was constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering whether or not that would be the moment he’d appear, ready to take me out.

I eventually decided to come clean, contact the guy. Tracked him down through Facebook, wrote a lengthy letter. Said I didn’t mean any disrespect. I’d only pursued Jane because I’d become quite taken with her in the time I’d known her, and wanted to believe everything she’d told me was true. Swore to him that from that moment on I’d no longer have contact with her.

It’s been at least a month since I’ve sent the letter. In that time, I’ve kept my word. Haven’t spoken with Jane. Haven’t heard from her or the supposed fiancé either. And while I don’t miss the drama and death threats, I do miss certain moments with Jane—the laughter, the sex, and conversations about music, art. And, of course, TNB.

Can’t forget TNB, now can we?

Can’t forget all those great writers like Jonathan Evison, Aris Janigian, Nick Belardes, Milo Martin, Lenore Zion, Irene Zion, Duke Haney, Megan DiLullo, Erika Rae, Uche Ogbuji, Wendy Chin-Tanner, Slade Ham, Richard Cox, Joe Daly, Gina Frangello, J.M. Blaine, Zara Potts, Simon Smithson, James Irwin, Gloria Harrison, Tawni Freeland, Becky Palapala, our fearless leader Brad Listi, and oh so many more!

So happy fifth birthday, TNB. And to all of you out there, let me say that TNB is a great place to share creative ideas, build alliances, maybe even hook up on the side.

But if you do, be careful. First make sure your hookup doesn’t have a fiancé.

Or don’t listen to me at all, dear writers and readers. Like me, maybe you’ll decide to throw all caution to the wind, and pursue your darker curiosities. After all, that’s what being human and being a creative artist is all about, right?

TAGS: , , , , , , ,

RICH FERGUSON has performed nationally, and has shared the stage with Patti Smith, Wanda Coleman, Exene Cervenka, T.C. Boyle, Jerry Stahl, Bob Holman, Loudon Wainwright, Ozomatli, and many other esteemed poets and musicians. He has performed on The Tonight Show, at the Redcat Theater in Disney Hall, the New York City International Fringe Festival, the Bowery Poetry Club, South by Southwest, the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, Stephen Elliott’s Rumpus, and with UK-based poetry collective One Taste. He is also a featured performer in the film, What About Me? (the sequel to the double Grammy-nominated film 1 Giant Leap), featuring Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, k.d. lang, Krishna Das, and others. He has been published in the LA TIMES, Opium Magazine, has been widely anthologized, spotlighted on PBS (Egg: The Art Show), and was a winner in Opium Magazine’s Literary Death Match, LA. His spoken word/music videos have been featured at poetry film festivals throughout the world. Ferguson is a Pushcart-nominated poet, and a poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown. His poetry collection 8th & Agony has been published by L.A.’s Punk Hostage Press.

87 responses to “An Open Letter to TNB Writers Pursuing Online Admirers (aka: An Open Letter to TNB Readers Pursuing Online Writers)”

  1. Quenby Moone says:

    You are both brave and foolhardy! I love this tale, though I’m looking over my shoulder on your behalf.

    TNB: Where the hook-ups are dangerous.

    Thanks, Mr. Ferguson, for being so courageously honest!

    • Thanks for reading, Quenby. And you can call me Rich. I get called Mr. Ferguson enough by my students.

    • kristen says:

      Ahhh… I sped through that last bit, worrying worrying worrying for you. Glad things have… settled, and I certainly hope they remain that way, though I’m sorry things didn’t go differently w/ Jane. Blech.

      As Quenby points out, your courage/bareness is a beaut to read.

      And, for the record, this is one great and telling description: “I’m usually terrible on the phone. Any conversation longer than five minutes, I become anxious, irritable. But with Jane, I could stay on the line much longer. She was bright, quick-witted. Was interested in the same art, music and literature as me. And her voice: soft, warm, inviting. A lush, beautiful bed in my ear.”

      • Kristen! Lovely, Kristen!

        How the heck are you, my dear? Thanks for reading and, again, thanks for being such a wonderful friend and supporter when I was in NYC back in April. You’re a true gem in every sense of the word. Hope all’s well in art and life.

        • kristen says:

          I’m well, my friend, thanks. A touch overheated (ahh, summers in NY), but hell. Hell!

          And, for the record, supporting you comes quite naturally; I eagerly await your next inspiring East Coast run.

  2. Joe Daly says:

    Rich-

    You live life on the skinny branches.

    Because of that, I’m always very interested in what you have to say.

    This was a horrifying tale, and while part of me wanted to yell at the screen, “No! Don’t do it! It’s a trap!” I knew that such decisions are best made without external intervention.

    Here’s hoping that Jane’s kooky ex never finds you. But if you need a place to lay low and you’re not allergic to dogs or coyotes, mi casa su casa, man.

    • Ah, Joe. I like that: living life on the skinny branches. Nice way to put it. And nope, I’m not allergic to dogs or coyotes so I may take you up on that gracious offer. We’ll see. As for Jane’s ex, he wasn’t so kooky. More like a guy that seemed pretty crazy about Jane. Just like I was for a time…

  3. dwoz says:

    The way I see it, Rich…you either did the guy a huge favor, OR you’re quite obviously the least of his worries. Or both.

    When you ask a girl to marry you, it behooves you to just do a quick reality check on the whole “takes her panties off for other guys” thing. Or, you’re good with that happening. At any rate, you can’t blame the bees for wandering over to check on the open honeypot.

    I absolutely can’t stand bullies, no time for them anymore. Time is just too short and precious.

    David Willis has some interesting perspective on this, I think.

  4. Becky Palapala says:

    How frustrating. I thought I commented on this earlier, but the site was being glitchy, so I guess it didn’t go through.

    I think I said I was already married when TNB came along and part of me can’t help but wonder if I missed out on some essential aspect of the TNB/writerly experience.

    Some critically awkward, tawdry nuance that will be forever unavailable to me.

    Then again, maybe it’s just like any other kind of dating ever was–except, like, everyone’s way more feely/sensitive and neurotic and the break-up letters are much lengthier and more grammatically correct.

  5. J.M. Blaine says:

    Happy Birthday TNB.

    I was Jane.

    • Gloria says:

      How weird. So am I!

      • Thanks for reading, Gloria. And yes, you can be my Jane any time you want. Also, I can’t wait to play cowbell in your band. In fact, just as soon as I finish typing these words, I’m gonna go practice some air cowbell just to make sure I’m good and ready for my audition.

        • Gloria says:

          More Cowbell!

          Thanks for inviting me to be your Jane. I understand from this piece that you’re into flat bellies, full hips, and full breasts. So long as the the adjectives can be rearranged in a different order amongst the nouns, we’re in business.

  6. In my post I forgot to mention a couple other TNB writers that I love, love, LOVE…

    Matt Baldwin and Ben Loory.

    And speaking of Ben, congrats on the new book, my friend!!! Can’t wait to read it!!!

  7. Irene Zion says:

    Rich,
    I have been trying to comment for hours and hours but there appears to have been a squirrel in the server again. Perhaps it was in my computer…I should check.
    As I read this, I was like Joe, yelling: “NO! Don’t do it!” as though I were watching a horror movie.
    Do you think you should call the police or something?
    Hire a bodyguard?
    This is scary!

  8. Greg Olear says:

    I can’t believe you went through with it!

    And it’s smart to share this story. You should put it in writing here that you’ve privately told a bunch of us the names involved, so in case anything happens, that dude is toast.

    • Hey Greg:

      Thanks for reading. And again, thanks for being such a wonderful friend and host when I was in NYC.

      As for sharing the names involved, I’ll keep them to myself for now. But the letter I wrote to the guy is on the desktop of my computer. So should anything wonky happen to me (with the exception of me becoming a Spinal Tap drummer and I suddenly go up in smoke) that’s where you should start looking for names and such.

      Peace out.

  9. Tawni Freeland says:

    Holy crap. As I read this, I was absolutely freaking out on your behalf. What a crazy situation. I’m so sorry your emotions were toyed with in such a heartless manner. And what kind of a marital engagement starts out with one party cheating and the other party cell phone-spying and threatening the people to whom the cheater has lied? I certainly hope Jane’s fiancé has since figured out that you aren’t the enemy… and that he should find an honest woman to marry instead of this nutjob. Wow.

    “I’m usually terrible on the phone. Any conversation longer than five minutes, I become anxious, irritable.”

    Me too, brother. I hate it. I can’t take the pressure of forced conversation. I have offended so many nice people I’ve met online by telling them I don’t give out my phone number because I don’t talk on the phone. But this seems kinder and more honest to me than giving out the number and then never answering the phone. (I don’t ever answer it. I turn off the ringer and screen my messages at the end of the day. I need to find peace in my home.) Instead of talking on the phone, how about we meet somewhere instead- preferably where I can drink a beer to calm my shy person nerves and not feel like I have to fill every silence with inane chatter? Sounds much better to me. (:

    This was a fascinating, thoughtful, heartfelt piece, and a great cautionary tale. Thank you for sharing this brave story about the pursuit of the darker curiosities with us, Rich.

    xoxo.

    • Thanks for reading, Tawni. And I’m glad I found a kindred spirit in regards to telephone anxiety. I guess that means if we want to talk at length in the future, we better start picking out some decent bars right now. First round is on me…

  10. Oh, and for the record, y’all, another TNB writer that I absolutely ADORE and forgot to mention is Reno Romero. Jeez! How the F**K could I forget Brother Reno?!

    Love it when he talks about music, women, drinking, literature, you name it. Even love it when he talks about sports. And that’s a big one for me. I was born deficient of the sports gene. Really takes a lot for me to get hyped up on football and basketball. But somehow Reno does it. Kudos, brother.

  11. Those yoga push-ups truly are a wonder…

    ; )

  12. Dana says:

    Rich,
    I read this yesterday and couldn’t comment because I was too choked up about this very public betrayal. As I told you repeatedly, he’s NOT my fiance.

    😉

    Holy crapoly Rich! Glad you’re still with us and I’m pleased to see your honesty; with your readers, the fiance and yourself! I’m just sorry you got your heart trampled along the way.

    You’re a gem.

    • You are a FUNNY one, Dana. If you like, you can be my new Jane anytime you like. Though, come to think of it, I should lay low in that department for a little while.

      Thanks for reading, and thanks so much for being a part of the TNB team.

      Onward and upward, my dear.

  13. dwoz says:

    This brings up another point of question for me.

    At least, this has been my personal experience…that the really CRAZY women are often the ones that you experience the most intense physical intimacy with.

    And that then really messes with your ability to parse out the fact that they’re batshit crazy. It’s almost like having transcendental sex with a woman has to be interpreted as a potential red flag.

    Do women find this same to be true of men?

    Also, don’t interpret this to mean I think that you should expect mundane sex from the good women. That doesn’t logically follow.

  14. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Rich,

    Wow. You had me on the hook for this tale. I do appreciate your laying it bare for us. I don’t think you should regret anything you did. A few quick thoughts.

    You acted with humanity to every situation you described. You were right to believe Jane, who had interacted with you over a period, and whom you were dealing with face to face, over some threatening voice on the other end of a phone.

    I wouldn’t be too quick to blame Jane. I think the only thing that was definitely shady was her ignoring your last text messages. But it might not have been because she was guilty. It might have been because the same asshole who thought he should threaten you was also threatening her. It could be that they were not affianced at all, as Jane said, and that in effect they had long since broken up, but he was not dealing, and doing his best to make her life miserable without him. That’s even possible while Jane still considers him her friend, because of course things are always more complex than any of us would sanely imagine. Anyway not to fantasize an elaborate explanation on behalf of a person I only know abstractly through your story, but I wouldn’t tend to assume her guilt. That’s beside the fact that I find it hard to fault people for having romantic and sexual impulses that could cause them social problems. That’s just human.

    Finally, I know it’s easy to say, but I’d relax about the bully boy. I suspect if he meant business he wouldn’t bother with the threats. I think that with the distance and anonymity of his calls to you, it’s easy for him to talk tough. But you already intimidate him without having to resort to any physical imposition. That’s clear from his first phone call with you. I honestly don’t think he’d have the gumption to confront you directly.

    I’m glad you had that beautiful moment with Jane, however it works out in the end. Savor that. Get it into a poem 🙂

    Peace.

    • Very wise words, Uche. And yes, you’re right, my friend. I’m not quick to blame Jane. Or anyone for that matter. We all just got caught up in a pretty intense situation for a while. Glad the dust has settled.

      Other than that, I hope to join you in Boulder in a couple/few months. That would be a blast if it all can work out. Peace.

  15. Paula Austin says:

    Mr Ferguson:

    I am Jane!

    I am an avid fan and reader of many of the writers here on TNB. I have read and reread your story with keen interest and a sense of familiarity. This familiarity has led to a few thoughts of my own. As being: I am Jane!

    Why do we write and why do we read? I could get into a long physiological discussion on this one. But I think I can sum it up in a more simplistic approach. We have an inherent need to connect, to connect with each other. A God given desire. I think C.S. Lewis said it best, “We write to know we are not alone.” We also read to know we are not alone. When we pick up a book, or whatever is at hand. We hope to connect, to read words that challenge an adventure, give us hope, or simply connect my heart to yours by a description of thought, feeling, response, etc. So we write, we read, hoping for that connection. We have our favorite writers because they speak to our heart, they complete us:

    These are my words to one of your writers: “The first time I read your words they touched my heart, they warmed my senses. They brought my soul to life. I think your words are your gift. Of all the things in life that I admire that I covet is words. What a gift. For what is a sunset, the color purple, the song of a bird…..without the words that create the sight, the sound, the experience for my heart to be connected with yours. For in the beginning was the word.”

    So Rich, if I may refer to you as such. I am Jane, otherwise known as Paula. I have commented on and connected with a couple of the writers here on TNB. I offer no apology or recourse on this fact. Facebook friends, a few calls, and some texts. We have shared thoughts, feelings and communications that were very heart felt and connected. I have actually met in person one writer who I very much admire and adore.

    To my surprise when I clicked over to TNB this morning your story was there. Blaring at my senses, leaving me with a sick feeling of utter disgust and remorse. I felt like I had done something wrong, committed a crime. After jumping in the shower and thinking long and hard, I got furious and passionate about what I believe is truth. Sometimes we take chances, we make choices that can affect us adversely or favorable. The important thing is we took a chance, a risk. All great things in life were accomplished by taking a risk. You took a chance by putting your work out there into the world, looking for connection, for affirmation, a soul to believe in you. Your words were met by someone who commented, who sung your praises, one who you felt connection with. You took a chance, you connected, and unfortunately you got your heart trampled on.

    I think your story was more of one of the possibilities of the pain that can be involved in risking relationships. Any relationship. Be it through connection on a literary journal or someone you happen to meet at the local coffee shop. It involves risk. (I am not saying we should not be cautious and wise with anyone we should meet, this is a given) I don’t know what your Jane’s story was, but keep in mind there is always a story. I love Uche’s take: “I find it hard to fault people for having romantic and sexual impulses that could cause them social problems. That’s just human.” This guy is one smart cookie.

    Referring to C.S. Lewis once again, one the the greatest writers of all time. The great love, and the woman who was to become his wife, Joy Gresham, was his admirer. They corresponded through letters, at her instigation. She adventured to England to meet him, having been separated from her alcoholic, and unfaithful husband. ( I am sure this dude would have gone after Lewis’s throat have been given the chance) Later after divorce, she was to move to England where she and Lewis became best friends and later married. One of the greatest love stories of all time (Shadowlands). This relationship spawned some of his greatest writings. Lewis’s brother Warnie wrote: “For Jack the attraction was at first undoubtedly intellectual. Joy was the only woman whom he had met… who had a brain which matched his own in suppleness, in width of interest, and in analytical grasp, and above all in humour and a sense of fun” So sad this love story, and sadder yet if Lewis had never taken the risk involved, and if Joy had not taken the extreme adventure and the risk involved to seek him out.

    I am sorry Rich that your story has left you with pain and disillusionment. But I am with Uche, what beautiful moments you had with Jane. What connection, what longings of the soul fulfilled in your tender union with her. Yes, savor it, bask in it. It could be your greatest work yet.

    I shall leave you with a piece of a poem by one of the greatest: Kahlil Gibran.

    When love beckons to you, follow him,
    Though his ways are hard and steep.
    And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
    Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
    And when he speaks to you believe in him,
    Though his voice may shatter your dreams
    as the north wind lays waste the garden.

    For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
    Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
    So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth….

    So Where have all the REAL men gone?
    ~jane

  16. Jeffro says:

    You son of a bitch! Here I warned you and you have the nerve to write about it and gloat of your sex with my Jane. Just kidding. Great little tale. No pun intended. May you live long and well… and if that guy ever shows up, go for the nuts. All’s fair in love and war.

    • Jeffo!

      How the heck are you, brother? Feels like it’s been ages since we’ve spoken. Did anything ever come of that Nels Cline interview you were going to do? Also, thanks for reading, my friend. Hope all’s well.

      • Jeffro says:

        Unfortunately no. The Nels Cline Singers interview fell through. Let me just say, the publicist was the biggest dick I have ever had the joy of dealing with. Honestly, I felt like telling the guy if I ever met him in real life I would bitch slap him. It was bad timing too. Between the time I requested the interview and shortly after it was granted, he bassist quit. It turned into one big clusterfuck. I did interview 1/3 of the band, Scott Amendola. Cool guy. Actually, they’re all cool. I met them all and hung out at soundcheck a few years ago on a writing assignment. I was hoping to dig deeper this go ’round; but well, it just didn’t pan out. It happens. Same thing happened with the Jello interview. I may actually follow-up on that again — even though it’s been months. The publicist said, “Yeah, sure thing.” Then I didn’t hear from him again. I felt like I jinxed myself with those two interviews. I was really excited about them, told some folks, and then damn if they fall to shit.

        On a personal note, me, I’ve been doing well. Really well actually. Living the dad life. My wife and I had our first child mid-April: Annabelle. She’s great. I’ve been sort of scarce in Internet land since . . . actually since November. I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts in Nov in preparation for fatherhood and other reasons. Figured I’d tell you that in case you noticed I was no longer on there. Ha.

  17. D.R. Haney says:

    I must admit, I’m apprehensive about responding privately to messages generated by stuff I’ve put out there, if only because I’m sure I’ll disappoint, if not initially, then later. But I’ve done it, to be sure.

    Thanks for the mention, Rich man. (A man who’s rich, get it?)

  18. Hey Duke:

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m honored. Also, it’s very cool to see that you’ll be taking part in the TNB-San Diego reading. I’m sure you will represent us LA folks quite well. Take good care, brother.

  19. Balls deep, kimosabe. What a read.

  20. What a great story! And I can’t believe this all happened BEFORE we saw each other in New York and you didn’t tell me all this!
    I’m glad the fiance appears to have forgotten you.
    I’m glad you had great sex with Jane.
    And, it’s nice you still have the text photos to look at every now and then!

  21. James D. Irwin says:

    The only private message I’ve received from a reader was from a homosexual gentleman. It wasn’t weird or explicit though. It was somewhat flattering really.

    Even if I were to end up in your position I have an entire ocean protecting me from death threats. There don’t seem to be many British-based readers knocking around here…

    It doesn’t seem like you’ve posted for a while. This actually reminds me of the first post of yours I read, which I don’t fully remember. I think it involved transexuals or some other element of sexual misadventure.

    Flattering to be mentioned in your post, in the same sentence as some truly talented writers.

    Thanks.

  22. jonathan evison says:

    . . .yikes, rich! . . . scary stuff!

  23. Art Edwards says:

    What a piece of work, Rich. Both your piece and Jane. I was riveted.

    I’ve had psychos threaten me in a similar fashion. They’re all bark most of the time. Scaring you is their objective, and they succeed, but that’s usually the end of it.

    • Thanks for reading, Rachel. And yes, it was worth it. For so many reasons, actually. Taught me some good life lessons.

      • Rachel Kann says:

        I’m glad something good came out of it for you, and that you learned some good life lessons. I personally don’t know if I could deal with the repercussions. My prayer is that all the people involved (you, “Jane”, and mystery fiance,) stay safe.

  24. Wow-o-wow-o-WOW.

    I can’t wait to see you next month and drink to your coming out of this whole experience [relatively] unscathed.

    (and for as much as I love your poetry, you sure can write one hell of a prose piece!!)

  25. Erika Rae says:

    Oh MAN. I can’t wait for you to come out here now in the fall. I want more details. DETAILs. hahaha

    I’m so impressed you aired this publicly, by the way. I mean, on the one side you may very well be enraging a psychopath. And – as Slade is fond of saying – crazy doesn’t bluff. On the other hand, though, if what he told you is true and he’s now an enraged boyfriend – at least we’ll all know what happened if he comes for you and can pack up the TNB vigilante posse and TCB.

    Also, I’d like to say something to the guy who claims to be “Jane’s” fiance: If she is (was) truly your fiance, then man, this sucks. Totally get it. Rich is a good guy, though. He wasn’t crossing you (who he doesn’t know), he was just believing in her. There is, however, one detail he is not being 100% forthright about – and that is the fact that he is the human host to the ghost of Bruce Lee. If you think those are just clever words he’s spouting, you would be wrong. They are chi balls. The man can help lead my back-alley onslaught any day.

    • Holy crap! [email protected] Rich’s post but…

      Man, if he’s the human host to the ghost of Bruce Lee, you better just call it a night. Chi balls= excellent. 😉

      Rich, you may well have dodged a pretty huge bullet on this one. Usually, I can field my way through the cheater jet set- but oh, the bunny boilers. Get me every, single time.

    • Oh, I just adore you, Erika. Everything you say is super fortified. Forget the Solid Gold Dancers. You got the Solid Gold Tongue, my dear. So hope to see you and the TNB posse in the fall.

  26. julieK says:

    Cautionary tale for sure. I’m not sure letting her know where you live was good…wanna move in with me?

    • Thanks for reading, Julie. Actually, I think things are cool for the time being. But if Armageddon should eventually come in some form or another, I may be in touch. Peace.

  27. New Orleans Lady says:

    Wow, I was on the edge of my seat for a few moments of this one. Great story and thank you for sharing. I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out what it is I want to say and all I can think of is that old saying, “The heart wants what the heart wants.” Who are we to say no?

    In your situation, I can see how things unfolded and honestly, I think I would have reacted the same. You take some one at their word until they give you a reason not to. Plus, a connection as deep as you had with your Jane doesn’t happen very often and it would be silly NOT to persue a relationship with someone who could turn out to be your happiness. It’s definitely better than telling us a story about a woman who could have been perfect but you’ll never know because you walked away before ever you met in person. Regrets are worse than consequences. Right?

    • Ah, thanks for reading, my dear. And yes, you’re absolutely right. I have no regrets about any of this. Jane was/is a delightful person, regardless of all the bullsh**. So honored to have you read and comment; I always love hearing from you. And just so you know, I have the gifts you sent me proudly displayed within my writing desk shrine. Thanks so much!

  28. OMG, Rich! You just gave me a few heart palpitations there. What a story! I guess this is the flip-side cautionary tale, the antidote to the romance of Greg and Claire’s TNB Baby tale! I sure as hell hope this guy doesn’t turn up again. And WTF with Jane?! That’s so not cool! Watch your back, man, from the crazy chicks as much as their possible fiances. Though I’m glad you had some fun along the way!

  29. derrick brown says:

    holy moly rich.
    I hope some beautiful women contact you from this story and it generates another well written true story. But dont die.

  30. sheree says:

    Glad the crazy guy hasn’t landed any sucker punches on your chin.
    Did you ever think to ask Jane to send you a photo of the guy, so you could at least know who to be on the look out for?

    I had a stalker ex once. Took me kicking his ass three times before he finally left me alone. I’ve never thought much of people who think they can push me around.

    Stay safe and get that guys picture, so you can at least relax a little.

  31. Wendy Chin-Tanner says:

    Rich!

    What a riveting story! Glad you shared it and glad you are okay. In a world that continually tempts us to close our hearts and minds, it is an act of courage to remain open.

    Once upon a time, a certain introverted poet met a certain introverted graphic novelist. After only a few weeks, she agreed to move across an ocean to live with him. How crazy! How impetuous! How entirely out of character! But the poet and the graphic novelist were never so sure about anything before. Eight years later, it remains the best decision they ever made.

    Believe in love at first sight! You will know her when you see her. Trust your intuition – it’ll never lie if you listen, whether it tells you to tread carefully or throw caution to the wind.

    And thanks so much for the shout-out!

    Peace and Love,
    Wendy

  32. Matt says:

    Wowza,

    For the record, Rich, I would have gone through with it as well.

    Whatever bomb blast occured between Jane and her fiance happened long before you entered the battlefield; you’re just the unlucky civilian who happened to catch some shrapnel. Might as well get some pleasure for your pain.

    Rock on brotha man!

    • Brother Matt: Thanks so much for reading. And yes, if I had it all to do over again I would’ve still caught the shrapnel. It’s been a wonderful learning experience. Also, I believe I’m gonna be down in your neck of the woods on Friday, August 5th to do a spoken word/music show. If it all comes together I’ll send you the details. Would love to see you!

  33. David Halenda says:

    Mrs. Candy Cronk,
    3167552 D-level
    Corcoran Correctional Facility for Woman
    Modesto, CA
    966710

    Mr Ferguson,
    I’m so sorry things didn’t quite work out for you with Jane. The woman is obviously a liar and should be punished. But that isn’t really why I’m writing you. You see, I’ve read all of your work posted here on TNB, and have even seen your spoken word performances on you tube as well., over and over again. Your poetry has been such a positive force, a garden of orchids in a life that’s well, not so easy. And the HAT, I love it! Reminds me of my brother so much. When we were just kids, for the better part of a summer we worked on a farm in North Dakota, in one of the foster homes we were assigned to. And he wore the exact same hat! The house was fairly crowded with the other children, so we shared a room. You have to understand, it was kinda like us verses the world. Anyways, whenever I think of my brother Rick (rest in peace) I remember his hat, the smell of straw on a hot summer day mingled with his own sweat…
    So I know that this thing with this woman didn’t work out so well. But I was just wondering, I get out on parole next week, and I just wanted to meet you and thank you for your work, how it has been such a vital source of positive vibes, leading ultimatly to a transformation in my life. I no longer feel the same anger that I used to have towards men. And hey! I’m also into yoga.
    Anyways here’s some photos of me. I hope you don’t find them too erotic. The first one is with my brother Rick, at six flags, when I was just thirteen. It has taken me so long to get over the guilt of his…well. But when I first became engaged with Sam ‘Black-Jack’ Cronk, the number two in the Banditos San Jose chapter? Rick, well, he…
    Anyways, I’d be so cool if you could read some of my love poems. I’ve been writing now for the past eleven years, They have such a great creative writing program here. Could I call you collect before they process me out? They don’t allow cell phones here. I’m looking SO forward to meeting you.
    Hugs and kisses xxyyxx, Candy

  34. adult match maker…

    […]Rich Ferguson | An Open Letter To TNB Writers Pursuing Online Admirers (aka: An Open Letter to TNB Readers Pursuing Online Writers) | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

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