It all starts off with my mother’s first suicide attempt. I’m upstairs practicing guitar when the phone rings. I figure she’s going to pick it up, but it just keeps on ringing so finally I answer it.
“Is your mother home?” I recognize the voice as that of my fat cousin with the face lift. “Hold on a second and I’ll get her.”
I go downstairs and there she is lying real still surrounded by a veritable who’s who of saints on hundreds of prayer candles. Through the blazing inferno I see these sixteen envelopes all addressed to people whose fault it is, two pill bottles, and the requisite empty bottle of vodka. I shake her but she won’t move...so I guess she’s kicked the bucket and I better get rid of my piglet cousin and use the phone for some 911 action.
“She’s too dead to come to the phone right now, so hang up and let me make some calls.” Fatso starts babbling so I tell her, “Hang up right fucking now Julie, this is an emergency and I need the phone.” She continues on. “Now.” Click.
So I do the 911 thing and being that we live in a small suburb of St. Louis where the only doughnut shop is two blocks down, four cops and an ambulance are over in two minutes.
By the time they arrive I’ve figured out that Seconal is what’s put her in God’s little waiting room. So, the ambulance guys go into their official suicide drill... you know – do some earnest CPR, see that doesn’t work, shout a few obscenities and throw the body onto the stretcher and get her to the stomach pump pronto.
As the paramedics are taking her out one of the cops starts doing an interrogation number on yours truly.
“What’s her name?”
“Lucretia Garbo Thibault.”
“Date of birth?”
“July 9th, 1928.”
“Let’s see – she was Catholic this week, but last week it was Unitarian and two months ago I think she was a Buddhist or was it Hindu, I know it wasn’t Jehovah’s Witness because I haven’t seen the Watchtower in about a year. Anyway who cares?”
“These are questions I have to ask,” he says officiously, “now what’s her education?”
It’s just then while the ambulance drivers are navigating their way through the
side door that I see the note, taped in big letters on the garage.
W H I L E
I ‘ M
D E A D
F E E D
T H E
D O G
Now I don’t know about you but when I read a suicide note that says “While I’m dead feed the dog,” I laugh. I don’t care if it’s written by my mother or goddamn Mother Theresa it deserves a good chortle. Unfortunately the cops and ambulance drivers don’t see the note yet and are starting to give me the ‘I bet she did it because of you – you uncaring son of a bitch long hair drug consuming commie’ look. Meanwhile Duke is barking out back, probably because he’s read the letter and damn well wants to make sure that I fully understand it. He’ll have to wait. Finally one of the cops notices the note and he breaks out laughing and can’t control himself either, causing the ambulance guys to see it and lose it too; so we end up having a whole procession of hysterical emergency workers carrying my mother off to the emergency room.
My sister shows up just in time for me to ask her to go with Mom to the hospital. I hate waiting in those type of places and besides this way I can make some calls. As he loads my mother into the back I hear the ambulance driver saying she’s probably dead but he’s going to hurry to the hospital anyway and give it the old college try.
So while the obnoxious cop resumes his questioning I feed the dog who seems okay with the programme now that he sees he still has clout around the place.
“I didn’t hear your answer. What did you say is her education?”
“Does this determine whether she gets sent to smart doctors? I mean who the fuck cares?”
“Look we need this information for statistical purposes,” the burly doughnut king of Clayton, Missouri retorts, eyeing his nightstick longingly.
“Fuck yourself, my mother may be dead and you want to know how far in college she got? Is this what they teach you in your sensitivity training courses?”
“Listen we have a potential homicide investigation here and you may be a suspect.”
“Homicide my ass, how do you explain the suicide notes?”
Finally the cop’s boss shows up and realizes it’s in bad taste to badger suicide victims’ next of kin and that I might be interested in discussing other things than her educational development. “Look son you must be stressed out – we’ll just leave this questionnaire here. Fill it out at your convenience and mail it to us, okay?”
“No problem. I have some calls to make before I go to the hospital, so thanks for coming and have a nice day,” I say, reaching for the sixteen unread suicide notes.
“You can’t have these.”
“This one’s addressed to me and I want to read it.”
“Only if you let us look at it first.” The doughnut cop grabs it from my hand. He starts reading, I can tell because his lips are moving a mile a minute until he gets to a big word. “What does opprobrious mean?”
“Abusive or malevolent,” I answer, thankful that I read my mother’s Readers Digest ‘Improve Your Word Power’ column.
“Well you’re opprobrious,” he says as he reads on, “and you’ve been fucking her best friend.”
I suddenly feel the dread that has so far eluded me through this situation. How did she find out? Marge Bender better not be letting on. She’s my best friend’s mother and I only did it after she blackmailed me. Was it the same detective that she hired to catch my dad? Mom’s a psycho-bitch alcoholic whom no one will take seriously if she lives, but if she knows, who else? Billy Bender will be pissed that I was nailing his mother, not to mention how his father – her husband the ex-college football player turned neo-Nazi sporting goods salesman who does a very good business in shotguns might feel. What happens if Nina Pennington the subject of many a late night wet dream, finds out; will I be dead in the water with her, especially since we were just getting somewhere in our relationship? I mean I had my hand inside her bra for five minutes last night while my tongue was halfway down her throat. There could be big trouble in River City.
“Enough about me... I want to know what this one says,” I say, picking up the one addressed to ‘My Son-of-A-Bitch Husband.’
“Leave it alone,” Dunkin’ Donut cop decrees, snatching the epistle from me, not noticing that I have with my other hand slipped the one addressed to Marge Bender under my shirt.
“What’s it say?”
“This is official police business and it isn’t addressed to you anyway. We’ll hold on to these until after our inquiry is complete.”
So it takes the cops a few more minutes to gather all the evidence of wrongdoing before they clear out. I try to convince them that the candles are important to the investigation and need to go to headquarters, but they aren’t that dumb. Too bad. I hate those candles.
I finally have the place to myself. Time to open Lucretia Thibault’s message from slightly before the grave. The phone rings as I open the envelope.
“Hello.” Oh no, it’s Fatso. If I tell her the truth she’ll be on the way over to show how much she cares. I start perusing the ramblings from my recently departed (but how far?) mom.
“What did you mean by she’s too dead to come to the phone? What’s going on? Why did you tell me to hang up?”
“Uh, mom tried to commit suicide they just took her to the hospital... Yeah, it’s drugs, 50 Seconal, she might be dead... I think they might need blood donors down there, I can’t go because I think I’m coming down with bronchitis but maybe you can give. Kristen’s there with her; and I’m making calls and answering the police’s questions.” She wants to press charges against Marge for corrupting me? I read on, “I think you better hurry down to the hospital Fa, I mean Julie, Quick!”
That should keep Fatso out of my hair for a few hours or so. Maybe if Mom hangs on, Julie will work a few pounds off pacing earnestly back and forth in the waiting room. Hang in there Mom, for the good of humanity. Don’t die for at least twenty million calories or so.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
It was Marge, the bitch got drunk and told her. She left out how it happened. I had no choice. It’s kind of embarrassing, but here’s the way it went down.
You know I have the job at the radio station filing the records after the jocks get through with them. A few weeks ago this promotion woman, which is a record company term for ‘prostitute’, comes in to blow everybody in exchange for them playing the new album by David Bowie, who I can’t stand. Now believe it or not, at this point I’m the most naive kid in the world.
I’m sixteen years old and I have never had sex with anyone including myself. Nobody explained the old birds and bees to me, Dad was off in California shacked up with his mistress, Mom was too boozed up to care, and I was too busy playing guitar.
Everyone at the station knows I’m a twentieth century Vestal Virgin, and decide it is their job to initiate me. There’s a woman sitting in the news booth, which is a small glass cubicle in between the control room and record library. Jimmy Leach, the deejay, tells me she wants to meet me. Her name’s Dominique and she’s wearing a leopard print bikini which barely exists, and a pair of knee length matching leopard high heel boots. She has platinum blond hair and is alternately sucking on a Tootsie Pop and a bottle of cognac which is a violation of FCC regulations, although I’m not going to be the one to mention it to the feds.
“Hi, uh, Dominique, Jimmy said you want to see me.”
“Yeah, drop them,” she says, nodding towards my pants.
“Excuse me?” I notice Jimmy Leach and a couple of the other guys watching me through the glass.
“Take off your pants silly.”
“Uh, I, um,” I stammer while seeing Jimmy nodding his head at me to do what the lady asks. I don’t want to be a nerd so I guess I’ll go along with the joke.
“Your underpants too,” she says giggling into her cognac bottle.
“Uh, I can’t.”
“Because you’ll see my...”
“Prick? I’ve seen lots of pricks today. Are you shy? Maybe this will put you at ease.” She removes the bikini, leaving me totally speechless. Jimmy nods again but I’m frozen in place with my pants down around my ankles. I see the station manager and two other guys watching me while they run one of the tape recorders. This must be my lucky day, I’ve won the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes booby prize and get to be the biggest moron in the world. Dominique rips my underpants off. “Come here.”
Jimmy is besides himself as is everyone else in the rapidly swelling control room. Fortunately that isn’t the only thing rapidly swelling. She puts my cock in her mouth and I utter the single most inane sentence of my life.
“Don’t you know I piss with that!” Jimmy tells me later that he wet his pants he was laughing so hard. Dominique is on the floor in more ways than one too, but it isn’t her pants that get wet.
As I pull myself back together I make a mental note to go buy all of David Bowie’s albums since he’s my favorite rock and roll star of all time. Meanwhile Jimmy’s playing back the tape of my close encounter of the finest kind. While my face turns redder than Nikita Khrushchev on May Day everyone slaps my back in congratulations. Dominique comes up, kisses me on the lips, and hands me two backstage passes to tonight’s Bowie show.
I saunter on home and call Billy Bender to ask him if he wants to see Bowie. “Bowie sucks,” says Billy. I correct Billy about who does the sucking in the Bowie camp, and all of the sudden Billy wants to come to the show.
We go down to Kiel Auditorium and get herded backstage into the V.I.P. lounge which is actually the men’s room with a couple of garbage cans full of beer. We share the hospitality room with two writers with bad breath from the Evening Tribune, a satin jacketed hoodlum type from Bowie’s record company, Jimmy Leach who is going to introduce Bowie, and about a dozen leather and lace clad groupies eager to service the star of the evening.
I look for Dominique who eventually saunters in like she owns the place. She’s radiant in her outfit of gold lamé hot pants, gloves, and halter top. She sees me and waves. Any doubts Billy has about me telling the truth disappear as she comes over and plants a lingering kiss on my lips while exercising my zipper with her gloved hand. But then she stops and says she has an important business conference with some deejay from Cedar Rapids. They vanish into the farthest stall and I can see through the bottom opening that she’s indeed on her knees taking care of business.
Billy whispers to me that he’s in love with Dominique – and I’m the proudest guy there as I’m sure with his big mouth everyone back at school will soon be regaled with the exploits of Ric Thibault, backstage stud.
A few minutes later Dominique returns and while fixing her lipstick tells this girl with incredible tits how we met this morning. Unfortunately Billy hears the whole story and he’s giving me the ‘you were a god, but now you’re kind of a geek’ look. But luck returns when Dominique suggests that Big Boobs take me to the back room and complete my education. She seems willing and Billy is flashing me the ‘you were a geek, but now you’re the luckiest guy in the world and can I come along?’ stare. I ignore Billy and trot along with Marie, whose friends call her Boom Boom.
We go into this little room where I complete my sex education class with honors. I try to get some post graduate study in but Boom Boom doesn’t want to miss Bowie and so I go back and search for Billy. I can’t find him so I watch Jimmy Leach get booed while trying to introduce Bowie. Bowie is amazing – but being his number one fan I’m prejudiced. After it’s over I walk backstage trying to hook back up with Billy since he is the one with the car. He’s nowhere to be found, but a friend of Boom Boom’s tells me Dominique had him thrown out for getting drunk and puking all over her.
It’s midnight and I’m stuck at Kiel Auditorium with no ride. I don’t have enough money for a cab and it’s a ten mile walk home to Clayton. To further complicate things I was supposed to be back one hour ago. Mom will be up drunk waiting for me and I need a better excuse than ‘I was getting laid by some big titted bimbo named Boom Boom at the Bowie gig after getting my first blowjob earlier this afternoon.’
The truth just is never good enough. I need a good lie. I run through all the old reliables, but I don’t have a car to blame for mechanical trouble, my dog could not have eaten my homework, and I haven’t been held hostage by bank robbers. Think man think. There has to be a good alibi out there somewhere with my name written all over it. I’ve already walked four miles and I’m still looking for that one big whopper to make things right when Providence smiles upon me.
Passed out face down on the sidewalk is a genuine miracle from above. Not only have I been blessed with a generic smelly wino, but the Almighty has been putting in overtime, ‘cause this one’s bleeding. Good Samaritan that I am I call the cops who upon my insistence that the man claimed to have been beaten by a gang of thugs before he passed out from his concussion, reluctantly (“Not this old wino again”) take my savior to County General. I insist on going with them to make sure the guy is okay. This enables me to make the safe call home.
“Hi, it’s me.”
“Do you know what time it is young man?”
“No, I called you just to find out what time it is.”
“It’s two in the goddamn morning and you’re grounded until the 21st century smarty pants.”
“Before you start grounding me don’t you want to hear what happened?”
“It better be good.”
“I’m at County General...”
“Are your legs broken?”
“No, they’re fine.”
“Then I suppose you’re hooked up to a life support system and called me for Father O’Brien’s phone number so he can come and give you the last rites?”
“No, I’m fi...”
“Well then, you better have come up with a real good story or...”
I interrupt her and test my alibi, “You see I found a guy who got beaten up pretty bad by some muggers... He was unconscious on the sidewalk when I found him, so I had to bring him here and wait for the police to take a report. You can call County General’s emergency room and ask for me if you don’t believe me.”
“Original,” she pauses while I hear her take a drink of something, “Assuming I believe you, you did the right thing.”
My fib works! I try and press my luck a little, “Um, Mom can you come get me? The busses aren’t running anymore.”
“I’m too tired,” she hiccups, “take a cab.”
“I don’t have any money.”
“I’ll pay for it when you get here.”
“Okay, thanks Mom. See you soon.” I hang up relieved. After all if that is the biggest lie I ever tell I’ll probably be in good with St. Peter when it’s my time – plus Lucretia is springing for the cab.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
It’s the morning after the concert and I’m over at Billy’s house. He’s pretty mad about me going off with Boom Boom and leaving him alone. He says he was just having a few beers minding his own business when a security guy tells him he has the wrong pass to be in the hospitality room. Billy argues and gets in a shoving match with the bouncer. Dominique walks in and Billy does a Technicolor yawn all over her from drinking and being punched in the stomach. She’s pissed and he’s 86ed from the place. So he goes home and when his mom asks what happened he tells her the whole story including my coming out ball, so to speak.
I apologize to Billy and tell him what he missed making sure to give him the blow by blow action with Boom Boom. I embellish it a little telling him how I hung out with Bowie and Dominique who were trying to get me to go on the road with them. The only reason I didn’t go is because I was looking for Billy who, it turned out had stranded me. I’m playing that tune out when Mrs. Bender marches into the room and she’s not a happy camper.
“Billy told me what happened to you yesterday.” I shoot Billy the ‘How could you have told her the whole story you bastard’ glare. “Billy go upstairs to your room while I talk to Ric.” Billy leaves with a ‘sorry you’re in trouble but it’s your fault’ expression on his face.
Marge Bender is one of those women who could audition for a role as a TV mom. She can bake cookies with June Cleaver, clean a house like Donna Reed on black beauties, and dispense morality like June Allyson when she still had a bladder. But she would never get the part because unlike TV moms she chain smokes, drinks Seagrams straight up and swears like a wounded sailor. She’s also my mom’s best friend.
“So Billy tells me you got both a blowjob and laid yesterday.” So much for Mrs. Subtle. “Congratulations.” I’m sort of unsure where this conversation is going so I decide to take the 5th and remain silent. “Of course Lucretia isn’t going to be happy about you messing around with sluts is she?”
I silently give myself the Miranda warning “You have the right to remain silent, you have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one...”
“What are we going to do about this, Ric?”
“No, no I didn’t mean to come off angry with you. I’m your mother’s best friend and...” she’s starting to smile and get TV mom sincere, “I’m your friend too.”
Oh no, it’s the schizophrenic version of good cop/bad cop, and she wouldn’t give me a dime to call my lawyer if I had one. Remain calm...admit nothing...shit I can’t stand up to much more of this prosecution or is it persecution?
“Tell me what happened.”
“I thought Billy already told you.”
“You tell me.”
“It’s too embarrassing.”
“Then show me.”
“Because we, um, kind of didn’t have all our clothes on all the time.”
“Like this?” Forget what I said about TV moms, because unless you’ve got some special channel which I don’t know about, you never get to see Mary Tyler Moore’s breasts. I mean you can tell she has good ones but you never see more than the bulges under those tight sweaters. Marge Bender takes off her shirt and I get an unobstructed view of my best friend’s mother’s tits. I’m ready to plea bargain.
“Were her breasts bigger?”
“I don’t remember.”
“What did you do to them?”
“With Dominique I just looked.”
“And Boom Boom?"
Goddamn big mouthed Billy, isn’t he an accessory after the fact? Get him in here I’ll turn state’s evidence.
“Ric, just answer the question, or better yet, show me.”
“Yes, just like you did to Boom Boom.”