Monday, June 18, 2007

paved 3a

Ain’t Maryanne stood just inside the yard. Gasping for breath, scarf gone, hair disheveled. She bent over, putting both hands on her knees and gulped in draught after draught of cold, dry air demanding, “Is that my cigarettes you assholes are smoking?”

“No, they’s Ed’s.” I told her.

“Goddammit! Deborah, I told you to bring me my cigarettes and call my sponsor. Did you call my god damn sponsor?”

“No Nanaw. I forgot.”

“Forgot my ass. Now get in there and get on the phone and call Harry! You want me to start drinking again?”

“No Nanaw.”

“Bring me my Marlboros first! And you, you little son of a bitch.”

“Don’t start with me Ain’t Maryanne. You think this has been a good day for me? Huh?" I wouldn’t look at her. Couldn’t look at her. “You think I enjoyed sitting out there in the cold knowing he could go any minute? Drinking beer and thinking, ‘Oh shit, what if he has a fit or something’, you think I was having fun drinking to that?” I could feel her staring at me but I wouldn’t look. I just kept staring toward the river.

Deborah came out with Maryanne’s cigarettes and I shut up for a minute.

“Deborah, sweetie, why don’t you go in and pick out some records to play.” She said it in that high sing song voice a lot of people use when speaking to a retarded adult; a praxis which usually leaves all parties slightly embarrassed.

Deborah knew something was up. Offers like this didn’t come around often. She was to be allowed into the living room, amidst all the records with absolutely no adult supervision. This was big stuff man. On the other hand, Nanaw and Walter were definitely going to have at it and that would be fun to see. Ultimately, the realization that she would be able to take out the records and feel the grooves, all of them, unmolested and uninterrupted, won over the decision. She turned on her heel and was gone. You saw a flannel plaid shirttail flutter through the door and the same door slam and she was gone and we were completely out of her mind for as long as we chose to be.

“What are we gonna do now?”

“You’re gonna tell me what the hell you were doing taking that sick old man out in this cold weather. And getting him drunk! Jesus Christ you dumb ass. What in the hell were you thinking? I’ll tell you what you were thinking! You weren’t thinking at all! That’s what you were thinking. You goddam dumb ass. Do you know how much trouble you might be in? Huh? Do you? Jesus Christ!”

“I was thinking he was going to die any way so I thought I might as well do what ever he wanted. I was thinking that that’s what you’re supposed to do when people are dying. We’ve all known for months that this was going to happen. That he was going to die. Why are you getting pissed off at me because I went to the river with him and had a couple of beers? Huh? What if he’d died alone in that goddam stinking miserable trailer? Would that have been better? Huh? Jesus Christ!” I still couldn’t look at her. I knew I’d lose it if I did. “All we did was go two blocks away. All we did was sit there. That’s all we did. Just sat there. And he just died. He just lied down and died. I couldn’t stop it. I wouldn’t have if I could’ve either.”

“That’s hate full.”

“Is not. He was tired of being sick. He was ready to go. He talked about dying all the damn time. He was more than ready and he went. Poof! Gone! Can we please call somebody and get him picked up. We can’t leave him lay there.”

“I can’t figure you out boy.” She lit a cigarette.

“I’m thinking that’s a good thing.”

“Did he suffer?”

“I don’t know. He didn’t seem to.”

“What’d he do?”


“Like, did he have a fit or something?”

“No. I was afraid he might, but he just grabbed his chest and said something or other. And died. Would you please call somebody and get him picked up!” I got up and walked around to the back porch, still never looking at her, shouting, “Get him picked up goddammit! Get him picked up!”

“You don’t even remember his last words? ‘He said something or other’? You are a dumbass! Jesus Christ”

Then she finished her cigarette. Acknowledged the cold to herself and went in to call whomever one calls to pick up a corpse.

Friday, June 15, 2007

meus apology ut Sinatra

Two drag queens in a bar:

Drag Queen number one:

"I hate California, it's cold, it's damp."

Drag Queen number two:


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

paved 3b

Ain’t Maryanne stopped at the front porch and caught her breath. She bent over and put her hands on her knees and gulped draught after draught of cold dry air. Deborah turned on her heel and went back inside. She suddenly remembered Maryanne telling her to bring the cigarettes and to call Harry. Plus she was scared of the way Maryanne looked.

I just sat there on the step and smoked my cigarette. Maryanne looked at me for a while. I could see her out of the corner of my eye. Disheveled and panting. Angry and hurt and scared, she glared at me wordlessly.

Presently she began to realize it was cold and she was barefoot. Her breath restored, she climbed the step onto the porch and entered the house. At the opened door, she turned to me, and in her most dramatic fashion asked, “When did you change?” Without waiting, she again turned and entered, slamming the door for effect.

I knew she would go in and call whatever authorities needed to be called in the event of a death. I smoked my cigarette and waited.

Soon a sheriff deputy came by and asked me some questions. I answered politely. A station wagon from the morgue came and picked up Ed.

Maryanne never came out of the house. I could feel her watching me from the window though.

The sheriff deputy gave his condolences and left. I sat out there until late afternoon. Looking out at the unpaved roads and the propane tanks in front of the trailers and the trash in the yards. Yard after yard of abandoned cars and toys. And tow headed children whose noses were never wiped because they didn’t have mothers who wiped children’s noses; and who wore old tube socks over their hands because that was the closest thing to mittens people like us had.

Near twilight I got up and walked back to the river. Going up the dirt road I saw the mistletoe up high in the leafless hackberry trees and remembered harvesting it with Ed when I was a little kid.

We’d take mop handles and throw them into the trees like spears at the big bunches of it and knock it down. Ed would get drunk on ripple and give me some to take out the winter chill. He’d start laughing and acting like a kid himself. We’d act like we were throwing real spears at an enemy who thought he had camouflaged himself well. Then we’d go all over the neighborhood handing out the mistletoe to the people who couldn’t afford to buy xmas decorations, which was pretty much everybody.

Then, after dark, Ed would start thinking about his dead wife, and his dead kids and he’d start crying. It always freaked me out to see a grown up crying when I was a kid. I’d walk him home and tell him everything would be okay. He’d hug me hard and tell me I was a scholar and a gentleman in a very slurred voice. I sure missed Ed.

I walked past Ain’t Maryanne’s house shoe on the road and picked it up.

I went down to the shell dock and pulled the last beer out of the grass near the river. I went back to where we had been sitting just hours before. I pulled out the pack of benson and hedges and fished out the last cigarette and lit it. Then I smoked the last cigarette Ed would ever buy me and drank the last beer he would ever buy me.

Cried my eyes out. Cried great big, round, four year old boy tears. Cried out loud. Pounded my fists on the cold grass until it hurt. Threw my hands and face up to heaven (whatever the hell that is) like an old woman who just heard her grandbaby had died. I cried until it was well dark and my face was covered in tears and snot. Cried until I was done.

Then I got up and threw Ain’t Maryanne’s house shoe into the river.