Laetitia and her group left Tate and stopped to hike in Georgia’s Tallulah Gorge State Park before continuing on to South Carolina. They walked the three-mile circuit that includes both the north and south rims past waterfalls, some of which plunge more than 700 feet into the canyon below. Later they did a scenic drive through Chattahoochee National Forest before heading for Ware Shoals, South Carolina, their evening’s destination.
The town grew up around a nineteenth-century gristmill operated by William Ware at Rutledge Ford on the Saluda River. Today the town has around 2,400 residents. It was a textile milling town during the early twentieth century, but the mill buildings are now gone. The restored Ware Shoals Inn, a commercial hotel built in 1923, serves as a reminder of the town’s past. Laetitia and her group did a walkabout in the town before arranging a time and place for dining.
At dinner that evening, Laetitia was within earshot of a table of locals whose topic of discussion was a recent survey about students’ goals conducted at the local high school. Most of those at the table were shocked at the gossip and what they viewed as an inappropriate response by a local teenager named Reed. Students at that age generally haven’t had enough life experience to choose realistic goals for themselves, so they write down what they think will please their parents and teachers, but Reed apparently shocked everyone by stating his actual ambition.
Laetitia knew from her own experience that educators like to encourage teenagers to have goals, but she wondered how sound this idea was. In high school, she would not have listed becoming a limericist as a goal. She became one as the result of a chance encounter at the Leprechaun Hotel in Limerick.
The one example Laetitia knew of someone who seemed to have achieved her stated high school goal was femme fatale Matty Walker, played by Kathleen Turner in the film Body Heat. In a scene near the end of this nouveau film noir, seedy lawyer Ned Racine (played by William Hurt), serving time for helping Matty dispose of her wealthy husband so they (she) could collect his fortune, receives a highschool yearbook in the mail that confirms that he’s been betrayed. From the yearbook pictures, he learns that Matty’s real name is Mary Ann Simpson. Mary Ann has impersonated her friend Matty, lured her to Florida, and then murdered her. Ned concludes Mary Ann has likely fulfilled the ambition stated under her yearbook picture, “To be rich and live in an exotic land.”
“Enough of this musing,” Laetitia thought, “I’ve got a limerick to write.”
When the guidance department ran polls
To establish high school students’ goals
Reed truthfully said,
“To take girls to bed”
Which shocked the whole town of Ware Shoals.