Skip navigation

A Novel

Our Lady Of The Blues

Book VII

The Heart Of The Matter

by

R.E. Prindle

Clip 15 and End.

     The two made a terrific team during the turbulent sixties and the degenerate seventies.  Guy was known as a hanging judge while having a somewhat disreputable style.  Meggy balanced that off magnificently with her seeming rectitude.  Either alone might have been a bit too much  but together they were a terrific combination.  Many women having such relationships with judges adopt the appearance of a kept woman, I almost said prostitute, while having a number of psychologically dependent young women attached to them.

     Meggy had a cadre of loyal young women to scout and research any rumors but any rumors about her and Guy were definitely false.  Carrying her psychic scars from her accident Meggy inadvertantly aided and abetted Judge Pascal’s social hatreds which were directed against the Anglos.

     Notwithstanding Top Cop Hoover’s protestations to the contrary the Mafia and organized crime did exist and right there in theValley.  Whatever motives the Top Cop had for denial, every schoolboy understood the influence of the Mafia.  During WWII when the Mafiosi had refused to serve this ‘great country’ those connected had all the gasoline and restricted commodities they wanted while law abiding Anglos and others dutifully went without.  Naturally the wiseguys considered themselves ‘smart’ while others were stupid.  Today, at least, they have the self-respect and decency to gloat over their success rather than resort to hypocrisy as the Anglos do.

page 1961.

     Their wartime successes made them bold too.  When the government went to the incarcerated criminal, Lucky Luciano, to ask his help on the NY waterfront from prison, mind you, to facilitate shipping from the Mob controlled docks of the East, Italians knew they had it aced.  With the end of the war they issued forth from their Little Italies in force.  The Mafia divided the country into zones just like the post office divided it into area codes.

     I don’t know if they gave the zones numbers but the Pasquales got the Valley from below Flint to Bay City.  It was like there were two different governments non-Italians had to deal with.  You had the legally constituted authorities on the one hand and the illegal Mafia on the other.  One could crush you legally while the other could break your legs with impunity.  Officer De Cicco of the VPD might not be interested in pursuing Sicilian buddies while Officer Walker knew better than to.

     These were the days of Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters who were adjuncts of the Mafia and Sam Giancana and the Chicago Outfit.  For some reason reason Northern and Western Michigan seemed to be Chicago territory rather than Detroit’s.

     These guys were arrogant.  When they were in town you got out of their way.  Hoffa and the Mob used various locales in the Upper Peninsula as hideouts for hot lamisters.  When they were in town life was uncomfortable for the locals.  More than uncomfortable, unpleasant, it was like sewage that you daren’t clean up had infested the town.  Top Cop Hoover boasted that he gunned down John Dillinger while Al Capone ran Chicago but I would rather sit down to dinner with a John Dillinger than share the same public john with Al Capone.  Apparently a Top Cop felt differently.

page 1962.

     The Pasquale clan was connected with the Giancana led Mob of Chicago.  Jimmy Hoffa was unpleasant enough but Sam Giancana was terrifying.  In dark glasses and pulled down hat with that contemptuous smile on his lips he exuded evil from the seventh level up.  In the years after 1958 he was coming into his own.  With the rise of the son of the old mobster Joe Kennedy Sam Giancana thought he was to have a lifeline to heaven.  Joe Kennedy played Sam just right to get his son Jack elected president.  It seems fairly clear at this point that Sam spents lots of plundered money on Jack while stuffing Illinois ballot boxes to swing the election to JFK.

     After his election in the year of Kennedy’s victory Judge Guy himself had been introduced to the Mafia chieftain.  Sam knew how to treat a paisano on the Bench.  He regaled Guy with the tales of how he fled the Federales through the brambles and woods of Appalachin in 1957 when ‘proof’ of organized crime was made evident to everyone except J. Edgar.

     Sam, who had been raised on the concrete of Chicago laughingly asked Guy if he knew that wet leaves were slippery on a downslope.  In his mad flight from the cops Sam hadn’t taken that into account having fallen on his ass a couple times as he ran.  He still got away but he couldn’t get over how slippery wet leaves were.

     He confided the inside story to Guy about how the Chicago Mob got Jack Kennedy elected and the terrible doublecross when Bobby Kennedy turned on the Outfit.  But, he said, the Outfit still had an in with Dick Nixon so that the Sicilians were going to be in with the In Crowd; hang in there.  And then after that there was Ronnie Reagan.

     Guy had been flattered to get the inside scoop directly from one end of the horse or the other.  He had his own sources that indicated the growing power of Sicily through crime.  He turned the screws on Anglos brought up before him.

     First the Mob brought the dope into the Valley, then sold it to the Anglos;  then the cops busted the Anglos for possession of a joint sending them up before the hanger, Judge Pascal.

     The judge with Meggy’s approval gave Draconian sentences of five, ten and even fifteen years in the penitentiary, the Big House, for the possession of one joint.  The Penitentiary!  Not even the county farm, the Big House.  True, marijuana was illegal but to criminalize a whole generation and more for the uncontrollable situation was unconscionable.  It wasn’t like the Mafia wasn’t importing heroin and whatever by the ton while escaping prison sentences altogether.

     It wasn’t like the Pasquale clan wasn’t the biggest importer of grass into theValley.  They were.  But Judge Guy, that impartial soul, was in a position to punish or favor.  He chose to favor his Pasquales while taking vengeance for Giangiacomo’s humiliation on the Anglos.  Having inside information he could in most cases warn his family.  If arrested when they came before him, the legal fiction of the name Pascal versus Pasquale was maintained to appear impartial.  He found some technicality to get them off.

     Marijuana was profitable but when cocaine came in Judge Pascal, as well as many another judge and cop, improved his standard of living materially.  People wondered how he could manage so well on his salary.  ‘Private investments.’  Judge Guy explained.  ‘Private investments.’

     Meggy Malone saw all but she closed her eyes to Judge Guy’s peccadilloes so long as he let her have hers.   These were changing tumultuous times on the personal level as well as the social.  The feminism Meggy ingested in Mrs. Hicks’ class became institutionalized in the years following the publication of Betty Friedan’s ‘Feminine Mystique’ in 1964.  Meggy saw herself as the Fulfilled Woman.  The notion of the Matriarchy which came to dominate the sexual theory of the times gave a focus to Meggy’s notion of men.  She had always intimidated the men in her life but after her accident she dominated them to the point of emasculation.  Her feminism all but made them impotent in her presence.

     This dovetailed nicely with her relationship with the Black miscreants brought up before Judge Pascal.  They farmed the Blacks just like they had segregated them and look out for its physical manifestations.

page 1965.

     The Whites had successfully kept the Blacks on the East Side.  Melville had remained White.  The Whites had come up with all kinds of maneuvers to keep schools segregated.  Rightly so in my opinion but the Urban Aristocracy thought differently.  Meggy was now an important member of the Urban Aristocracy.

     Thwarted in their aims to mingle the races the Aristocracy now sat down to come up with the insane plan of busing  Black students to White schools and White students to Black schools.  If  ‘bigoted’  Whites thought they could thwart the desires of the Aristocracy they were wrong.  Democracy be damned.  No vote was taken but now long lines of buses traveled from the East Side loaded with Negroes to attend Melville regardless of what anyone thought, White or Black.

     As usual the Aristocracy paid no attention to the evolution of Black psychology.  It was no longer 1958 when they began the busing.  Black ball players had been shaking their roots in the face of White America for a decade and nothing happened.  The Honkies sat respectfully and sucked it all in.

     LA had gone up in ’65 and nothing happened.  The Steppin Fetchets of the thirties and forties had become more militant.  They were more angry.  By the time of busing they were seething.  These militant angry young Black men were turned loose in high school hallways of White America while White Americans were told they would go to jail if they offered the least defense of their rights.

     Violence escalated in the halls.  Weapons developed from knives and spring blackjacks to pistols, machine pistols, machine guns and bombs.  The Urban Aristocracy just shook their heads over kids nowadays.  The only way to stop the violence, they said, was to eliminate any vestige of liberty, a total lock down of the Whites.  The schools must be run as concentration camps.  By eliminating freedom for Whites you restored order.  Anyone who read the Protocols of Zion will recognize the game plan.  Thus spake the Greatest Generation, the men who had fought the arch demon, Hitler,  to make the world free.  Free?  They only made it over  into the image of Hitler’s concentration camps.

page 1966.

     You’d better go along if you want to get along was their motto.

     On her feminist side Meggy exaggerated the integrity of women.  Like all feminists she believed that women could do no wrong, they were always in the right.  Since she used her influence and power to crush the manhood out of any men she knew she could only despise them for being effete.  Reminiscent of the young sailors aboard the Teufelsdreck who thought that college men and officers were too mentally developed to be good sex partners Meggy thought that only men with no attainments had real sexual drive.  Driven by her male desire which she had inadvertantly clothed with a ‘low class’ image she could only find sexual release in what she considered the lowest of humanity.  At this time she would have slept with Dewey Trueman, her archetype of low class had he been there and willing.

     Sex is where Meggy went wrong.  Judge Guy over the years had watched her anxiously from the bench.  Pascal was a very jealous man.  If Meggy was to give it to anyone he had better be first in line or there would be hell to pay.  Judge Guy hadn’t wrestled with his X chromosome and come up triumphant yet.  Meggy was not so discreet that her sexual activites escaped the watchful eye of the Sicilian judge.

page 1967.

     There was only one bike club in the Valley.  The Valley Varmints.  As they are quite primitive fellows in their social relationships that directness appealed to Meggy.  Low class, violent and sexually charged.  Meggy went for the gold.  She insinuated herself into the club as a part time mama.  She would spend a weekend with her boys from time to time.

     She had gained her introduction through her job when one of Dalton Dagger’s cousins had been brought up on dope charges.  The evidence had conveniently disappeared from police storage.  Some said the cops sold it but Meggy had discreetly let it be known that she had been responsible.  Devon Dagger had taken it from there.

     Judge Guy Pascal quietly raised his eyebrows.

     A woman of Meggy’s importance was eminently useful so the club treated her as she liked excusing her the worst abuses with which bikers treat their women.

     Meggy should have known that secrecy is impossible in our society.  What secrets you don’t have people will invent for crying out loud.  The eyes of envy soon ferret out all secrets.  After all the bikers had to get their dope through the Pasquales.  How sharp did Meggy have to be to think of that?

     It was never clear that Judge Guy Pascal ordered the raid that precipitated Meggy’s humiliation but it is certain Meggy’s doings came to his attention.  Guy Pascal had made passes at the ‘fast Mick broad’ which she had rebuffed with offended purity.  Nothing offends a man’s amour propre more, especially a powerful self-important man like Judge Guy Pascal.  More especially when his outrage was created by the excesses of Meggy’s doing.

     When word reached him of Meggy’s proclivities he was not only insanely jealous but shocked while at the same time being disgusted and pleased.

     The raid came as a complete surprise to Meggy who was usually apprised of everything.  Sometimes things even Judge Guy didn’t know.

      When the cops burst into the biker house they found Meggy naked on the floor surrounded by bikers waiting their turn while Fat Tony Frankenheimer was pumping oil from her well at 78 RPMs.

     She didn’t know, nobody could have guessed, but this was the result of ‘summoning’ Dewey Trueman to her bedside twenty years earlier.

     Meggy was a justified sinner.  It was impossible to besmear her own notion of her purity.  The mind is a strange thing.  Meggy did not ‘believe’ astrology but like the rest of us she read the newspaper column regularly and sometimes bought the Virgo booklets at the grocery store check out stands.  For Meggy was a Virgo, the Virgin.  Now, in the Olympian Zodiac Virgo is ruled by Demeter the mother of terrestrial growth.  Her daughter is Persephone the wife of Hades and the symbol of the virgin growth of Spring.

page 1969.

     Meggy had studied her Greek mythology in the feminine branch of Mrs. Hicks’ instruction.  With the girls Mrs. Hicks had paid special attention to the goddess myths.  The most important of all women being that of Hera and her ability to restore her virginity.  Meggy couldn’t have articulated it but she had put together the meaningof Virgo-Demeter and Aqarius-Hera.   Thus no matter her sexual adventures she always remained a virgin in mind and hence in appearance and attitude.

     Given her position in the courts her embarrassment never reached the papers but because the records showed the cops bagged a ton of amphetamines, cocaine and marijuana Judge Guy Pascal thought it wise for Meggy to resign her position in his court.

     It is true that the bikers insisted that the house was clean, which in fact it was, but when the representatives of the law say they bagged the dope on the premises who’s going to believe a bunch of greasy bikers?  It was a good joke but the bikers weren’t the ones laughing.

     Just as Meggy was always a virgin she didn’t need any proof to know that Judge Pascal was behind the whole raid.   Vengeance, you know, the Lord…people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.  Meggy’s people believed Meggy’s protestations of innocence.  Judge Guy should have kept his in his pants too; he had messed with the wrong party.

     Meggy Malone knew some secrets of her own while she knew people who continued to think very well of her on the force and in the DAs office.  Those guys always know more than they’re telling too.

page 1970.

     A shipment of cocaine to Rocco’s Pizza Parlor was intercepted at the back door.  Rocco’s was a distribution front for the Pasquales so the whole clan was now exposed as the city’s premier dope dealers.  Documents found their way into the hands of the police and DA as well as the Valley news which clearly implicated the austere hanging judge, Guy Pascal.  It was now ‘discovered’ that Guy Pascal was really Guido Pasquale.

     Several of the Pasquales found their way to the State pen while the Judge who was able to evade conviction left town to begin a new legal career for the Outfit in Chitown.

     Satisfied that she was avenged Meggy followed on his heels out of town unable to bear the wagging tongues of gossips.

     Meggy’s first move was down to ‘Bama.  But those Southern Whites have no love for Northern carpetbaggers.  Meggy’s advocacy of Blacks did little to endear herself down in Dixie.  She found actual contact with the race less pleasant than her long distance affection for them.  Unable to live with the Whites with her attitude but unable to move in with the Blacks Meggy had no choice but to move on.

     Her next choice was Bozeman, Montana.  This was not her final destination.  After a couple years she left for Boise.  She didn’t like life in the desert.  She heard the hills calling so she packed her bags again for her final destination, Coeur D’Alene.

     She had at last outrun the rumors but time had taken its toll on Meggy’s psyche.  Her troubled mind drove her in predictable directions.

page 1971.

     The demon who governed her dreams changed his character.  He became a real Rider On The Storm.  Her dream changed so that she rode on a bad motorcycle behind the devil in colors.  They were racing down a long bowling alley at ninety miles an hour toward eight foot chrome plated steel pylons shaped as penises which formed the ten pins.  Meggy with her arms tightly around the devil’s neck flapped in the breeze behind him to the cracking of bones broken so long ago on that icy Motown street.

     She never hit the pins but the very notion of sleep became such a terror to her that she could no longer go to bed.  She sat up night after night recalling herself from dozes lest she dream that terrible dream.

     It was then that she began to seek some form of penance.

     Penance for what what she wasn’t concious of but her subconscious knew and showed her the path.  She began to search for some hillbilly beau with whom to form an alliance.  Her path happened to cross that of Dart Craddock.

     When Dart had been sent to the brig at the beginning of  ’58 in Guam he accepted his fate with resignation.  He received his discharge in 1959 at which time he returned to Northern Idaho.  Dart was really a raw mannered guy.  In the environment of the Navy where everyone came from the other half some really raw manners passed unnoticed in the general milieu.  Dart wasn’t really raw in the sense of basal crudity but he come from mining stock which had fought the wars of the hard rock miners around the turn of the century.

     As noted earlier his grandpop had been with Big Bill Haywood and the Western Federation of Miners.  I suppose Big Bill is pretty much forgotten now except with specialists but his autobiography is worth reading.  Coeur D’ Alene had been a terrific battleground where the hard rock miners of the WFM put up a stout fight.  The memories of those days still lived on in the Idaho hills.  The hard feelings still existed.

page 1972.

     When Big Bill Haywood had been run out of the WFM he became part of the Industrial Workers Of The World.  Dart’s grandpop had followed Bill into the IWW.  The biggest battle of all Wobbly battles had been fought in Spokane a few miles to the West.  Then the battles raged down the coast until grandpop had gotten the IWW branded on his lower cheek down in San Diego.

     Dart still carried the chip on his shoulder from that the same as he had in San Diego.  As Meggy’s subconscious adjusted her conscious mind to her new perspective Dart Craddock became exceedingly attractive to her.  Especially when she learned that he lived out of town on a mountain hillside in what was close enough to a hillbilly shack to suit her psychic needs.

     Dart was already a two time loser; he didn’t see the need to take a third hitch.  Meggy thought it over a little and decided to humble herself by showing up on Dart’s porch with her suitcases in hand.  She set the suitcases down to look imploringly in his eyes.  Dart gave her a hard serious look for a few mintues then opened the door to admit her while he picked up the suitcases and placed them inside.  Meggy had found a home.

     She became a real mountain mama, bought herself some combat boots, a couple Ma Kettle looking outfits for the winter and Daisy Mae cutoffs for the summer and settled down in her own personal little Dogpatch.

     The life was good for her too.  Dart thought he’d acquired a real lady.  He didn’t know about Meggy’s biker days while she projected eternal chastity of sorts.  Dart was a big fellow by this time.  His six-four frame having filled out to two hundred sixty pounds.  This was the kind of bull Meggy’s male need wanted.  She was more than happy with her hillbilly beau.  Thus it seems to be true that there is a boy for every girl and a girl for every boy.  Sometimes the way to each other is a little roundabout, that’s all.

     As she settled into this hillbilly existence as penance, over the months much of her guilt was allayed so that her dreams became manageable.  She could sleep once again.

     She and Dart went to town on a Saturday night in his old beat up pick up truck; the kind she wouldn’t have gotten into back in the old days.  She sat as proudly beside him as though he were driving a Mercedes-Benz.  As they drove back of an early Sunday morning after a night in the honky-tonks the lights of Dart’s truck as they turned the corner shown on the street sight that announced:

TOBACCO ROAD.

The Man Who Had Life Made At Twenty

     Dewey’s caustic treatment of Meggy Malone in the hospital confrontation had grievously offended LeBaron Briscoe.  It was inconceivable to him that someone who,  from his point of view, had barely been tolerated in his own group should even attempt to defend himself before a girl of the stature of Meggy Malone.  He should have taken whatever abuse she offered him.

page 1974

     Briscoe was familiar with the Hirsh side of the details of the situation in kindergarten and second grade.  Nearly everyone involved had given the details to each member of the eating club in their campaign to discredit Dewey before his fellows.  Briscoe wouldn’t have excused Dewey if he thought he had been wronged back then which he didn’t.

     Meggy was Meggy and Dewey was Dewey.  She had value and he had none.  Briscoe had even gratuitously clued Dewey into McDonald’s and Dewey hadn’t even enough sense to grasp it.  There was no way a guy like that could insult Meggy Malone and get away with it.

     Briscoe had called Buzz Barrett to lament in shocked tones how Dewey had treated Meggy.  Buzz had been one of the members of Dewey’s eating club as well as Briscoe and Denny Demwitter.

     Because of the kindergarten and second grade incidents involving Dewey in which Meggy participated Hirsh/Yisraeli had determined to destroy Dewey.  The registration of Dewey at Melville Trade and the attempted expulsion from Mrs. Hicks’ class are an indication of the extremes which Hirsh was willing to employ.

     When Dewey established himself as a social presence in the eleventh grade with his eating club Hirsh had at first scoffed.  By the end of the eleventh grade however the eating club was challenging Michael Hirsh’s circle for preeminence.  Something would have to be done in twelfth grade.

page 1975.

     Various attempts were made to discredit Dewey but he survived them all.

     Then Hirsh got Michael’s friends to badmouth Dewey relating to the incident in second grade in which they depicted Dewey as a coward who timidly obeyed orders.  Dewey’s group listened but between groups of boys they refused to act lest they appear to be doing other boy’s bidding.

     Then Hirsh got Meggy to work using LeBaron Briscoe, who worshipped her, as a lever.  With only six other members in the club of which half were loyal to Dewey she had scant success obtaining only the votes of Briscoe and Buzz Barrett.

     As Dewey was searching for three new members to round the group out to ten, Hirsh determined to undermine the club by getting members of his own choosing.

     Dewey had known better than to include hs secret arch enemy and neighbor Ward Sonderman in his club.  At Hirsh’s instigation Sonderman formed a city league touch football team which included every member of the eating club including Dewey.  Thus by December  Sonderman had been selected bringing in a tenth member selected by Hirsh while Dewey brought in the ninth member.

     Hirsh, Meggy and the others now had enough latitude but the year was too far advanced for Dewey’s expulsion to mean anything so as graduation neared the club just fell into desuetude.  Dewey was spared the humiliation of being expelled from his own club.

page 1976.

     Nevertheless the deed had been consummated in the hearts of seven of the other nine members including Demwitter, Briscoe and Barrett.  Dewey’s replacement had even been hanging around the club ready to slip in.  He was a fellow by the name of Jerry Kramer.  Dewey had wondered why he was always about but never figured it out.

     Meggy had woven in and out of this situation.  They all thought she was top drawer.  Indeed because of the hatred felt toward Dewey by the elite most the club was associating with people far above their social status which they found most flattering.  Dewey could not be allowed to insult Meggy without a response.

     Buzz Barrett hung up after talking to Briscoe immediately calling Denny Demwitter to discuss the situation.  Although he had been too busy to have anything to do with the man who had been his closest friend in high school Denny now found time on the twenty-third for he and Dewey to call on Buzz.

     Denny and his girl friend picked up Dewey for the drive to Buzz’s home.

     ‘When’s the last time you saw Buzz, Dewey?’  Denny asked.

     ‘Oh gosh, I don’t know.  When did we have our last dinner?  March?  April?  Maybe at Klutz’s graduation party if he was there.’

     ‘Yeah.  All three of us were there.’

     ‘Must have been it, then.’

     Dirk Klutz had been the tenth member admitted to the eating club.  As Hirsh’s appointee he had been hostile to Dewey from the start.  As the newest member he had been the last house at which they were to have eaten in April.  He had refused to honor his obligation thus bringing the club to an end and Hirsh a small triumph although April would have been the last month anyway.

page 1977.

     Klutz had had a graduation party to which he invited the club to make up for his lack of observance for which he did come under criticism.  Dewey was not invited but told as an after thought that he could come if he felt like it.  He had swallowed his pride and attended only to find himself being ridiculed by the whole Hirsh crowd.  He fled in confusion with visions of the second grade dancing before his eyes.

     ‘Boy, Buzz has really got it made now.’  Denny enthused.

     ‘Oh yeah?’

     ‘Yeah.  He got married eight months ago.  First one of us.  Beautiful girl.’

     ‘Ya?  Anybody I know?’

     ‘Probably not.  She went to Lacramae Sacre.  Did you know the Catholic crowd?’

     ‘I knew some of them in grade school and Junior High but once they dropped out of public school they always thought they were getting a better education than us so we never talked.  What school did you go to, Carol?’  Dewey asked Denny’s girl.

     ‘I just moved to the Valley a year and a half ago.  I went to Grand Rapids Catholic Central.’

     ‘Anyway, like I was saying about Buzz, he’s really got it made for life.  You remember the deal he had with Mel Larsen, don’t you?’

page 1978.

     ‘Sure.’

     Mel Larsen had been the owner of Larsen’s Sporting Goods  downtown.  Like a lot of store owners do to stabilize their employees he had made a deal with Buzz when Buzz was only a part time worker in high school in tenth grade that if he would stay and work hard Mel would will him the business when he died.  Buzz had been easily seduced by the offer.  He had worked well and hard for Mel for what was now five years.

     ‘What do you think happened?’

     ‘Mel got on that train bound for Glory?’

     ‘What do you mean, train bound for Glory?’

     ‘Mel died.’

     ‘Yeh, he did.  How did you know?’

     ‘Guessed from something in your manner, Denny.  So he really did leave the business to Buzz.  That’s almost impossible but I suppose it does happen.  I was sure Larsen was leading Buzz on.’

      ‘All the details aren’t known yet but Buzz knows for sure that he’s mentioned in the will.  Here we are.’

     Buzz’s wife Melanie opened the door.

     Buzz was seated on his sofa in the attitude of the grand seigneur ready to greet his vassal.  At the age of twenty he had come into the fullness of life.

      They hadn’t planned how they were going to chastise Dewey for having been rude to Meggy they just thought that some general humiliation would ensue.

page 1979.

     ‘I guess you heard the news, Dewey?’

     ‘What?  You mean about Larsen?  Denny said you were mentioned in the will.’

     ‘That’s right.  You remember how you used to laugh at me because you thought Mel would cheat me in the end?’

     ‘I didn’t laugh at you Buzz.  I just don’t think Mel’s word was worth relying on.  I still don’t.  I still think you should have quit him and gone to college since you could have.’

     ‘Well, I think it’s clear that you’re wrong now, hey Dewey?’

     ‘If it turns out well I’m really happy for you Buzz.  I just don’t think employers keep their word on these things very often.’

     ‘Yes.  Well, you went in the Navy and just look at you now.  I took an honorable man’s word and now I’ve got it made for the rest of my life and I’m only twenty years old.  I’ve got everything and what have you got, another year to go?  Look, my wife Melanie here.  What do you think of this couch?  It’s mine.  New.’

     Dewey saw a repulsive overstuffed couch that he wouldn’t have sold his soul for but he complimented Buzz on it.

      ‘What do you think of my new combination TV/Stereo in genuine simulated Walnut finsh?’  He said pointing to a huge piece of furniture against the opposite wall four feet away.

     Dewey couldn’t believe his ears.  Did Buzz say ‘genuine simulated?’  Dewey thought back a couple years when he and these guys had been the coolest heads around, or thought they were.  How they had laughed at old folks who had been sucked in to flim flam like ‘genuine simulated.’  And now here, a mere two years later one of his group, hell, throw Denny in too, had fallen into a trap they had all despised.  Dewey said nothing but Buzz and Denny slipped over the edge of his earth.

     ‘Mel an I are going to get a genuine reproduction of a Renoir to put above it.  Every hear of Renoir?  French expressionist artist.  Know what a stereo is?  Mel, put the demonstration record on to show Dewey what a stereo is.  New.’

     Mel put the record on the changer and let the tone arm drop.

     Dewey smiled at the sound of the ping pong ball being slapped from left to right and back again.  The effect was something you never really got over.  Almost beat the hell out of the Sputnik.

     ‘Amazing isn’t it?  Ever heard anything like that before?’  Buzz demanded while Melanie took a seat on the arm of the sofa draping herself around Buzz giving a vacuous but beautiful smile to Dewey.

     ‘I was at a party maybe a month and half ago in Oakland, that’s in California, Buzz, and the guy had the same demonstration record only he had a setup that makes your combo look primitive.  He had a whole professional radio type setup with a control room and everything.  Half a dozen speakers.  Then there were these couple of guys there with bongos who got this multi-phasic rhythm going with the ping pong ball which had an absolutely mesmerizing effect.  You shoulda been there.’

     Both Buzz and Denny involuntarily drew their chins in at this unexpected display of knowledge.  They not only didn’t know what bongos were but they didn’t understand the word mesmerizing.  They let the latter pass.

page 1981.

     ‘What’s bongo?’  Buzz asked.  Apparently bongos hadn’t yet made their appearance in the Valley.

     ‘Bongo drums?  Well, they’re these two little drums attached to each other, one bigger, one smaller.  Sort of like upsided down tambourines that you play between your knees.’

     ‘Oh, bongo drums.  Why didn’t you say bongo drums I would have understood.  Just bongos I didn’t catch.  Heard anything from Jerry Kramer?’  Buzz asked referring to Dewey’s projected replacement in the eating club.

    ‘Jerry Kramer?  At West Point?  Me?  No.  Why would I have heard from him, we weren’t even friends.’

     Buzz was just trying to hurt Dewey because of Dewey’s knowledge of stereo  thwarting the intent of Buzz had been received like a slap in the face.  Buzz was relying on private knowledge about Kramer between he and Denny to return the slap.

     After the last question things lapsed into a prolonged embarrassed silence.  They all stood staring at Dewey with him staring back at them.

     ‘I’d probably better go Buzz.  Leave you and your lovely wife, sofa and combination TV/stereo to your Christmas.  All this stuff didn’t leave room for a Christmas tree I guess.   Good luck with the will and take care of that genuine simulated walnut finish.  Bye Melanie.  you want to drive me back, Denny?’

     ‘No. You go on ahead.  Carol and I have something to talk over with Buzz and Mel.’

page 1892.

     ‘You making me walk home alone?’

     ‘There’s the phone.  You can call a cab.’

     ‘I’ll walk.’  Dewey said with a glower.  ‘See you guys around.’

     The closest he came to seeing any of them again was when Denny and Carol drove slowly by him as he walked back to Grandma’s house in the ocld.  Denny politely tooted the horn in acknowledgment as he passed.

     Mel Larsen’s will was opened and read.  The good news was that he had left the business to Buzz.  The bad news was that he also left it to four other employees.  He had made each the same promise enjoining each to secrecy.  Strangely none of the five suspected the outcome.

     Mel’s profit divided five ways was a nice addition to their income but hardly enough for Buzz to have it made at twenty.  Besides that, as  businesses can’t be run by five equal partners, somebody had to be in charge.  After a year of constant bickering the store burned down in the middle of the night.  The insurance was split five ways.  Now without a job Buzz received his share bitterly.

     The year since the reading of the will had been a humiliating one for Buzz now left without a means of support.  He was devastated.  He did feel that he had been put upon by Mel Larsen.

     Buzz sat and drank and brooded for a month then divorced his lovely wife Mel for no other reason than that her name reminded him of Larsen.  He had to gag every time he used his wife’s name.

page 1983.

     Shortly thereafter the house he was living in burned to the ground along with Buzz’s sofa, combination TV/Stereo and the genuine Renoir reproduction that hung above it.

     Then Buzz packed his sorrows in his old kit bag and moved far far away.

     For Dewey as he walked back it seemed that he could hear doors being slammed behind him all over town.

That Sad Old Wintry Feeling

     Baffled by the cold treatment by guys he thought of as his best friends Dewey stepped out the next morning to take what he knew would be his last stroll around town.  The only door that still seemed to be open was the exit.

     As happens when the subconscious takes control Dewey’s steps led him to the corner where Susan Doughty lived.  In the manner of the subconscious it blocks out all detail irrelevant to its needs.  Dewey was unaware of where he was standing so he was suprised when a voice behind him said:  ‘I turned you in.’

     Dewey turned to look into the eyes of Susan Doughty.  He was astonished that she wasn’t wearing a coat.  Unaware of where he was he didn’t realize she had just stepped out her front door.  Had he any consciousness at all he might have looked up to see the Spider Woman watching him from the dining room window.

     It had been a little over a year since he had seen Susan on his leave of the summer of ’57.  Life had been so densely packed with adventure since that time that he had forgotten that she had been back.  Or, rather, he had been so distanced that he hadn’t had time to think about it.  As he had digested nothing of the time he had only disjointed and isolated memories of it.

page 1894.

     He remembered how she had invited him to that party and gotten him drunk.  In his resentment his reaction to her was very, very cold.  She didn’t notice as she felt no warmth toward him.

     She, on the other hand, remembered the last time they had seen each other on the porch after returning from the swimming party in the Bay.  She thought he had been rude but he had only shown more backbone than either she or her mother had expected.

     ‘I turned you in.’  She repeated.

     ‘Turned me in for what, Susan?’

     ‘For those rapes.’

     Dewey looked at her closely.  He was mystified.

     ‘What rapes are you talking about Susan?  You aren’t saying I raped you, are you?’  He said inquisitively, searching hopefully for some attempt at humor.

     In fact, she did think he had raped her.  When he had walked off the porch in disgust his rejection of her in her mind had been translated to rape.  She had mentally converted his reaction into images of rape.  Subconsciously she knew he hadn’t touched her, but she wanted him punished for outraging her sensibilities anyway.

     ‘There was a guy reported in the newspaper who brutally raped four innocent girls in a row six months ago then disappeared.  I know it was you.  So I turned you in.’

page 1986.

     ‘But, Susan, I wasn’t even in town six months ago.  I was in San Deigo.’

     ‘Doesn’t matter.  I don’t know how you did it but it was the kind of thing you would do to innocent girls like me.’

     Dewey looked Susan in the eyes.  He wondered how he could ever have had a crush on her.  Memories are always synthetic.  The synthesis always supports one’s own point of view.  The fact that Dewey considered himself OK was irrelevant, in her own way she was right.

      He had shown a great deal more interest in Susan than she had for him.  An impartial observor would have testified that in his ardor Dewey had forced his attention on her.  He had been sixteen, she had been fourteen.  She had said no she didn’t want to see him.  She didn’t have the know how or impoliteness to drive him away.  So they had had a very cold unpleasant relationship.  She had grounds to claim that Dewey was her misfortune, still, he was the only boy who had ever seen worth in her.

     When she did turn Dewey away in the eleventh grade she had done so in such a brutal unfeeling way that Dewey had been crushed down below where the lilies grow.  Oh boy, did he remember that; even score, or least.  Since he was vaguely aware of how much she had always resented his attentions he bore her no grudge but he insisted on a clean break.  She had violated that condition by approaching him in the summer of ’57.  He no longer felt any obligation toward her.

page 1986.

      Life isn’t that clean.  She obviously couldn’t get him out of her mind.  Thus Dewey was unaware of how painful his presence had been to her for her to have converted his love for her into a series of rapes.

     ‘What did the police say, Susan?’

     ‘They said they thought it was impossible.’

     ‘I should think so.’

     Dewey wanted to say something cruel but all he could remember was the vision of loveliness that had appeared before his eyes on this very corner, indeed, this very spot, what? only four years previously?  Only four years in a world without time, a clock with no hands.  The vision must have taken place on another planet in a different universe, far away beyond the thick dark veil of space.  How could time have so little coherence?

     How could Dewey remember everything but none of it have any meaning to him.  Susan had existed but not in the flesh and blood.  To him she was like ‘Pinkie’ a portrait in a gallery lined with pictures on both sides stretching toward infinity.  Each picture had some relationship to his life but distant and drawn by others.  He could walk the gallery admiring the portraits and pictures relating intimate details that only he knew but they meant no more to him than that.

     There was no organic connection.  He was he and they were they.  He had lived each scene from the outside with no closer involvement than as a patron in the gallery.

page 1988.

     He sat down to Christmas dinner a stranger at the table.  Gone were the big family gatherings of past years.  Some were dead all had dispersed  the year he graduated.  He had been the glue that held them all together in some mysterious way.  His grandmother was no more than a cutout cardboard figure.  His half-brother ate silently beside him.  He finished a second piece of pumpkin pie, got up, put on his hat, grabbed his bag and walked out the door to the bus station for the return trip.  Neither his grandmother nor his brother said goodbye to him nor did he say goodbye to them.  He merely walked down the front steps and out of the picture.

     The last door slammed shut behind him.  As he boarded the big Grey Dog he rode away from a past of which the back cover of the book closed behind him.  He now knew no one.  His course was all his own.  His youth was fled.  The rump end was nine remaining months in the Navy before he could begin his new life.  Actually his new life had already begun.  All else was memory.

     Like Salvador Dali’s brilliant painting, The Persistence Of Memory, handless clocks melted across branches of leafless trees while the luxurious landscape he had known faded into a bleak desert punctuated by the decomposing corpses of old memories.

     In compensation Dewey created a fantasy of high school that would last for twenty-five years.  The more unpleasant realities took shape in his dreamlife where they formed a stable of nightmares that was also to last for twenty-five years.

     He looked back but the last buffalo had fallen on the plane of consciousness never to rise again.  The future lay ahead.  A future dominated by Dr. Queergenes whose story begins in Vol. IV of City On The Hill,

If they gave gold statuettes

for tears and regrets,

I’d be a legend

in

my

own

time.

-Don Gibson.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: