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Rant #238
(published August 4, 2005)
Dispatch from a Writer's Retreat in Minnesota
by Cara Spindler
There were two students who did not show up—or didn't last the whole week. One was my roommate, who just never showed, and the other was a woman who had to be escorted away by the police.

She missed the first evening meeting due to "feeling under the weather" and possibly the first morning meeting as well. She was older (remember, the average age at this retreat was 50; she was decades older than that) and seemed perfectly normal — friendly, shared her writing the single afternoon class she attended, ate with us at dinner. Then she didn't come to class on Tuesday, and no one had seen her at all since 6 pm the night before. "She said she was going on a walk," someone offered, and then this horrible silence descended on our classroom in the middle of Tuesday afternoon hours.

So we all assumed she was dead, but it turned out she wasn't dead, or dragged off by bears. She was quietly, thoroughly, soddenly drunk, which they found out by either banging on the door or opening it with the master key (accounts vary.) And she stayed that way for the rest of the evening, except for when she drove into town to get more booze (which I witnessed, carrying my own brown bag and thinking, "nah, this doesn't always happen in the movies" and "fiction only imitates life"). The police escorted her away, but only to a hotel. They can't stop a person from drinking themselves to death. At least not there.

Her name, by the way, was Dorothy. People from the retreat say they saw her walking around town, so goes the rumors. Her car sat in the parking lot all week.

This is the sort of kernel of truth that winds up being at the heart of an urban legends begin.

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