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The Puzzling, Tragic End of A Golden Couple

Duncan and Blake didn't just fall for each other; they grew so close they all but intertwined. "When you called, they were always both on the phone," said Jason Meadows, an artist and friend. "When you e-mailed, they'd take turns writing back. At some point, I realized it doesn't matter which of them I'm communicating with. They were that tight."

One of their shared passions, friends said, was a distressingly paranoid view of the world. The two would describe plots by the government, plots by Scientologists, people tailing them, breaking into their home. All of it sounded so far-fetched that it was easy to think occasionally that they were kidding. They weren't.

"It was like a Tom Clancy novel," said Meadows, "except that was very real to them. And if you said, 'This can't be true,' there'd be a lot of anger and you'd be exiled. That happened to me several times and I had to work to regain their friendship."

Gradually they seemed to slip into some sort of shared psychosis, and they had each other to reinforce delusions that friends were powerless to talk them out of. Many of those friends bailed out, frustrated and bewildered. But for all the tumult, the pair remained focused and Blake, at least, was applying himself to work, said Binstock. Duncan could be prickly and acerbic and sometimes one would say something loopy, friends said, but the couple generally kept it together.

"Obviously there was much more going on than any of us realized, but he never said anything that suggested there was a problem," said Anne Schwartz Delibert, Blake's mother, who lives in Takoma Park. "He was devoted to her. He was a loyal caretaker."

It was Blake who discovered Duncan's body -- police say she killed herself with a combination of pills and alcohol -- and even in the days before he walked into the ocean, friends and colleagues heard nothing from him they found alarming. He was distraught, but seemed to be moving forward and planning for the future.

Then again, speculating about the motives of any suicide is hard enough. Trying to figure out two of them seems even trickier, and given the complexity of the people involved, nearly all the answers seem kind of trite. Duncan seemed to anticipate this very theme, when a few weeks ago on her blog she quoted Kafka:

We are as forlorn as children lost in the wood. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the grief that is in me and what do I know of yours? And if I were to cast myself down before you and tell you, what more would you know about me than you know about Hell when someone tells you it is hot and dreadful?


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