Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Orleans Story Part Five: Brandi

New Orleans story part 5: Brandi
Beatrice Mae Buttons had always been a big girl. She was born on the Button’s family farm in Eagle Rock, Missouri. In those days Eagle Rock was no more than a cluster of failing farms with a post office, a fire station and a filling station next to a convenience store that sold hot lunches to migrants in a bend in highway eighty-six; Eagle Rock was a haven for Hispanic illegals because there were no police to speak of in the vicinity.
Migrants hired themselves out to the dirt farmers around planting and harvesting time before moving south or north following the crops. They worked for a little money or the barter of goods and services. You see, there is an unmarked migrant workers highway that stretches from Canada to Louisiana where camps are set up and abandoned as the workers move south to north starting in spring working down up to the Canadian border and then back to the Gulf of Mexico to catch harvests; in this way hundreds of undocumented workers could remain below the radar, make a living, feed and clothe themselves and raise their families. That song “On The Road Again” was not a hit amongst those who had no other choice.
There were waystations and wooded encampments, abandoned farm buildings and even a midwife or two within reach and ken of the growing, moving, traveling, gypsy hands that were an important part of making the best of bad land and low incomes in places like the one that residents called ‘Eagle Rock Misery’ and other small poor communities and properties that no one could afford to live on and nobody else was fool enough to want to buy.
The Buttons’ farm was no better or worse than any of the neighboring properties; there was one thing that Mr. And Mrs. Buttons did raise in larger quantities than their neighbors, and that was children. They had nine living children and they all got as much schooling as necessary and then worked the poor land from that age on. In prosperous times they had a milk cow, yard chickens and occasionally a pig in a sty. Prosperous times were few and far between. The farm was just east of the highway and just west of Fire Road 2285. Forty acres; no mule. Help from migrants when they could afford it.
In hard times they ate corn and potatoes cooked in lard. Mrs. Buttons planted a truck garden every spring and usually a good portion of the crops were eaten by insects, stolen by migrants or rabbits which Mr. Buttons took great pleasure in shooting at with an old Winchester rifle. They often had rabbit for dinner but never a migrant worker. The Buttons worked the land a parcel at a time, when one parcel got played out they would work another parcel that they had cleared; an acre at a time. With all the clearing and planting and harvesting, the Buttons had no end to work. Just as the last parcel played out, the first one was ready for replanting. So it goes.
This was the world that she was born into; poor whites, poor browns and had she lived further south, poor blacks. These are folks that we hear referred to as ‘dirt poor’. Beatrice Mae Buttons was the fourth youngest and only one of the two girls, her sister Bonnie Jeanne being the baby of the clan. Beatrice, or Bea as she was called, was born after a late harvest on a dark and stormy night; there was a chill in the air and a north wind whistled through the chinks in the wall and under the door. Mr. Buttons had long since given up on helping with deliveries; Mrs. Button’s body had so much experience birthing babies that Beatrice literally fell out of her cervix. It was Mr. Buttons pleasure to never have to plow hard to plant another baby Buttons into the Missus.
Little Bea was cute from the start. She was born a little dumpling with freckles and dimples all over her, she had a shock of strawberry blond hair that would soon turn to pure sable. She was born with blue-grey eyes which would remain the same color all her life; they shone with a fire from within. Upon reaching her mother’s breast for her first taste of milk she looked up at Mrs. Buttons and smiled with her entire face and being; an angels smile. Mrs. Buttons wanted to hold her close forever, in fact, Mrs. Buttons did not know if she could ever not be holding her this close… or closer, forever. Another fact was, Mrs. Buttons had never been more in love with any thing or person in her entire life.
That’s just the way Bea affected people throughout her life; to see her was to love her; to love her was to want to touch her. To touch her was to want to hold her. The only challenge that Bea ever had was that anyone that held her would want to own her.
But Beatrice Mae could not be owned. You see, Bea is what you might call a free spirit. She gave of herself freely and all to whom she shone upon felt blessed. To her it was a simple act of bodies touching, souls entwining and spirits joining. At puberty she also found that there were body fluids to contend with and she went on and on into her early twenties until a trip down south to New Orleans entranced her. Without a shred of guilt or misgiving she said good bye to her family and caught a bus back with her worldly possessions packed in an old Pan Am bag that she bought at a garage sale. Six years later she received that phone call from her second cousin Anna Marie.
And that was six years ago. She had been living across the river from New Orleans proper in a place called Algiers Point; she had saved enough money to buy the house that she lived in and Anna Marie had moved in and out close by in an area called Gretna. Pretty much Anna Marie, now Anne, played her cards close to her chest and except for the askance occasional piece of advice or wisdom, the women stayed as close as they could, being a little ways apart in more ways than one.
Bea, now Brandi, opined that little Anna Marie, now Ann, had an unnatural affinity for trouble and rough times, like that Marine sergeant that she had lived with for a spell; what was his name? Oh, Billy something; he was sure a piece of work. Brandi had dropped him like a hot potato, but Anne had scooped him up like an inside fly ball. He didn’t last long with her, either; although Brandi heard through the grapevine that they still saw each other from time to time.
Brandi wondered, one time while putting on her make up for her weekend job, what had happened to old Billy; and as fast as that thought lit on her mind like a gad fly on the rump of a French Quarter mule… that’s how fast she slapped it like a fly swatter on a kitchen counter. “Good riddance to bad trash’, she said as she dismissed him from her aura. You see, Beatrice had learned the value of her warm spots and had no time for pikers, losers or bullshit artists.
Brandi had grown into herself, a wise woman now in her early thirties she was, as they say, round, firm and fully packed. Women trusted her instinctually as much as they did not trust their men around her. Men instinctually wanted to move closer to her. Men talked in lowered voices about her, referring to her as many adorable things and knowing deep in their hearts that she was, at the end of the day, just an invitation to the blues.
Brandi worked weekend nights as a hostess at a restaurant named Blanche’s in the Quarter on Chartres Street. The restaurant was named for Blanche DuBois of Tennessee Williams fame; you know, the woman that relied upon “the kindness of strangers”? She made all the money that she needed at her job and made still more in her spare time giving solace to lonely ‘new friends’. People seemed happy to give her money; money made no earthly sense to anyone that Brandi came in contact with, it was just something that they had and they wanted to give it to her. If you think that Brandi is special, if you think that she is wonderful, exciting or amazing… think again; Brandi is a frigging miracle, and make no mistake about it.
If she could see Billy now, she would not have changed her mind about him though, for he had not changed much in the last few years; although he didn’t live but across the river from her, that was still too close for her memories of him.
It was an early afternoon somewhere within a few weeks ago and Billy was getting ready for his nocturnal adventures. He picked up his phone and dialed a number. “Hello Dino?”
Continued in part six and

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Orleans Short Story Part Four

Short Story Part Four: Anne Kenney
Anna Marie Kowalski came from Ville Platte, Louisiana. She was the middle child of five attractive and gifted children that graced the lives of Maude and Paul Kowalski. The family had moved to Ville Platte from Eureka Springs, Arkansas when Mr. Kowalski’s company opened up a branch office in Ville Platte. Paul Kowalski was a mortician who specialized in body contouring, which meant that his specialty was making people, dead people, fit into the coffins that had been picked out and purchased by miserly next of kinfolk. “You wouldn’t believe how many cheapskates want to carve off savings by putting a size eighteen body into a size nine casket” he would tell his wife and children over one of Mrs. K’s wonderful home cooked meals. A transfer to the facility opening in Ville Platte meant a sizable raise for Mr. Paul and the Kowalskis bought a roomy house with an equally sizable mortgage on West Main; three bedrooms, two baths. There they settled were fruitful and multiplied.
Ville Platte was the home of the Louisiana Cotton Festival. Anna Marie attended school at Sacred Heart Academy where she had average grades and a reasonable amount of friends both male and female. At fourteen she went out for the cheerleading squad and was accepted; it was one of the happiest days of her life, she loved Sacred Heart Academy and she loved being a cheerleader. It made her feel like a goddess.
On a late night drive, after the football team suffered a bitter defeat, while with the fullback of the team, she was informed as to what was logically expected of her as a cheerleader of the mighty Sacred Heart Trojan football team. She was kind of excited when she was told that she would be giving ‘succor’ to the team as part of her duties. The fullback explained patiently (his forte) how much pressure and stress a football team member is really under. “You can’t believe how much of a load one of your team’s players carry” he told sweet Anna Marie. Anna Marie felt tears coming to her eyes as she pictured the poor brute hulks, wearing the Trojan uniform, weighed down by such strains and burdens.
She wondered aloud if she really knew what ‘succor’ was, and the fullback kindly offered to show her. They drove to Hope Park, which is on the corner of Lincoln and Railroad Avenue and she learned on a picnic table, under spreading oaks, about ‘succor’. There was a bit of alcohol involved, but just a bit. Nor did Anna Marie know exactly what a Trojan was; her new friend obviously didn’t know either or didn’t care because he didn’t use one and Anna Marie was with child six months before her sixteenth birthday. She reasoned that, although she far from minded giving her all for the team, she probably wasn’t prepared for the consequences.
Anna Marie wondered, as she lie awake in the bedroom that she shared with her two younger sisters, what course her life should take from here; she hadn’t yet informed her parents of her dilemma, and she knew that in time her condition would avail itself to wiser eyes. Already some of the older cheerleaders had noticed, and told Anna of their experiences with that ‘succor jive talk’. Most had been suckered into ‘succoring’ at least twice; once by mistake and the second with the succor-er of their choice. “You should have seen the silly look on that quarterback’s face when I looked into his baby blues and said ‘ohhmy ohhmy Johnny, how ever can I ease that heavy load you’re carrying? Do, oh please do, show me all about succoring” one of the star cheerleaders told her with a laugh “but ya know, ya gotta take precautions!”
Anna Marie decided to call one of her second cousins who had moved to New Orleans to work with widows and orphans and ask for advice. Beatrice Mae had always been like the big sister Anna Marie had always wanted. It only took a few moments on the phone with Cousin Bea before Anna Marie was sobbing out her story.
“You mean that you actually fell for that succor line?” was Bea’s first impulsive query before her voice softened “I guess you fell for it hook, line and succor, eh, sucker? Now, now, you just relax, honey, and call me in the morning. I’ve got to rush off to some poor Merchant Seaman’s rescue; he’s locked himself in his hotel room and will only talk to a trained professional therapist, and that’s me, baby; by the way, it’s Brandi… I’m callin’ myself Brandi Mae now, that’s Brandi with an I”. As it turned out, Brandi Mae was in a succoring business of her own.
When Anna Marie called the following day (“not before noon, hon”), Brandi had a plan. “Listen hon, it’s almost Christmas break; why don’t you tell your folks that you’re comin’ down to see old Beatrice ‘cause she’s feelin’ a mite bit homesick for kin company. Act like it’s a big inconvenience, but say how much I’ve been such a good friend to you and that you can’t stand for me to suffer and be lonely after all I’ve done for you, and besides which, I can’t leave my job as a therapist during the holidays, can I? You got that?”
Brandi told Anna Marie that she had a “cute little place” in an area called Algiers Point and that she was welcome to stay with her while she made some phone calls and “set something up”.
And so it was that Anna Marie Kowalski went further down south on her school break and stayed there, explaining to her folks that Beatrice Mae had gotten her into a school that was training her in the field of Psychopharisaicpharmacology, for which she had scored high marks as an applicant and seeing how Beatrice was a recent graduate who could help her with her studies in a school, one not found anywhere else in the whole country, she would work hard and do her family real proud. Naturally her family, good god fearing country folks that they were, was flummoxed, confused, impressed…and gave their consent. “Imagine, Mrs. K told the ladies at her quilting bee, “my daughter in school to become a psycho-Para… something or other. I’m sure she has a fine and secure future ahead of her; oh, I do hope she meets as wonderful a man as her father is.” To which the other ladies could not but roll their eyes, Anna Marie’s true story was common knowledge to everyone but the Kowalskis.
What happened next was, at Brandi’s encouragement Anna Marie Kowalski became Anne Kenney and got a job shelving books at the local library. She got her GED and met a Marine Corps recruiter that she liked well enough, and with adequate protection, occasionally ‘succored’. His name was William Stratford Price but everyone called him Billy. Billy had an apartment on Spain Street in the Faubourg Marigny; Anne would sometimes visit him when she thought that he would be less boring than whatever else she had going on. Brandi had introduced them; Anne considered him (as had Brandi) a failure as a lover.
Billy Price was also a failure as a Marine Corps recruiter, and was in danger of being shipped out to the prevailing war, wherever that might be, because his ‘numbers’ were too low. Anne could not let that happen to her; after all, she had boring Billy trained to behave her way and she didn’t want to have to start over with training a new, boring, boyfriend. So Anne, when she saw an opportunity, found recruits for Billy… in likely young boys that she picked up at her job in the library. Anne had grown and prospered. She had taken courses in Library Sciences at Delgado College and had matured into a lovable, but well seasoned, credit to her gender. She still shared a house with her second cousin and sometimes to relieve her boredom with Billy, went on house calls with Brandi as an ‘assisting therapist’.
Anne had visited her family from time to time and on holidays she would send many presents, but she was damned if she would ever move back to Ville Platte. She received word regularly on boring subjects like births, deaths, marriages and babies. She had made up stories about how she decided to forgo the career in Psychopharisaicpharmacology and pursue a cerebral career as a librarian to the public. She told her family how she took the ferry across the Mississippi river each day and how exciting her life was, dispensing knowledge and wisdom to the underprivileged.
Actually, Ann Kennedy was pretty bored with her life and just about the only thing that got her juices going was the effect that she had on the boys that she picked up at the library. They clearly could see the goddess within her.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Possible New Orleans Part Three

Part Three: Petey
Petey Pappas told me that he never used his real name because he didn’t know what his real name was. He was raised in the lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans by mute parents and a mean spirited older sister. He knew his sister’s name. His sister’s name was pearl. Whenever Petey asked his sister what his name was, she would give him a different answer…every time. So, Petey, finding it easier than contradicting her, stopped asking and accepted whatever name his sister gave him at any given time. Because his parents were mute, they could not repudiate his sister’s edicts. His sister’s name was not really Pearl either. It was a name that she adopted.
She had come across the name ‘Pearl Prentiss’ in a batch of birth certificates that she had stolen from the mute parent’s doctor. Petey’s parents were named Moe and Marsha. Moe and Marsha McMannis; Mister and Mrs. That was not their real name either, in fact, they were not his real parents.
Petey didn’t know when his birthday was either; he could only go by what Pearl told him. Pearl would change his name and his birthday on impulse. One day Petey came home from school and Pearl had a cake waiting for him. The cake said “HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROBERT!” It had an icing drawing on the top of the cake of a cowboy on a rearing black stallion with a lasso that he was twirling right around the name ROBERT. The side of the cake had the sweet white flesh of coconut on it and a spiral trimming of azure blue. The lettering and the drawing of the cowboy, stallion and lasso were on a snow white background; it smelled like heaven.
As she lit the candles, she explained to Petey that his real name was Robert and that today was his birthday; Petey believed her and wanted to know what the day’s date was so that he could mark it down. Pearl exclaimed (as she always did) “April Fools!” and Petey, now Robert, believed her; the actual date was June 12th. At the birthday table a chair had been set for Maureen, a headless doll. Pearl told Robert that Maureen was his other older sister and that she, pearl, had decapitated her (Maureen), because she refused to obey her (Pearl). Naturally Petey/Robert believed her. Pearl also told him that the new kitten that she had found could actually speak to her in English. Petey would take a long time before he disobeyed Pearl or questioned her. That’s how it was when Petey was growing up; at least that’s what he told me. He also told me never to believe him about anything.
Pearl was a kleptomaniac that had St. Elmo’s Fire seizures, that’s how she came to be in Moe and Marsha’s doctor’s office. While the doctor and nurse were trying to get information from the mute parents, the young girl was thief enough, even in her starry eyed condition, to glom a fistful of the doctor’s documents, among them couple of dozen copies of stillborn birth records and stash them in her book bag. One of the certificates was in the name of ‘Pearl Prentiss’; the rest was herstory.
Mr. and Mrs. McMannis, along with Petey and Pearl, lived in a camel back house on St. Maurice St. Saint Maurice is the patron saint of infantrymen, armies and oddly enough weavers and dyers. I say oddly enough because the McMannis household was a household of weavers. The adult McMannis’ were weavers of bath mats, you know, the kind that are made from scraps of materials braided together in an oval shape? Pearl wove fabrications and Petey grew up weaving possibilities.
Moe McMannis roamed the streets and alleyways late at night, gathering rags to bring home to the missus. Marsha cleaned and disinfected them with the vigor of the demon possessed; of which she was one. Later into the evening the adults would weave the scraps into mats, Pearl would fashion falsehoods into realities and Petey would fantasize about the meaning of life and the workings of his universe.
Petey used to fantasize about his other brothers and sisters. Pearl had told him that he had four other brothers and three other sisters and she pointed with pride at the seven cigar boxes by the space heater in her room where she kept their ashes. Each box was labeled with the names of the departed siblings. Pearl often told Petey of the tortures that she had inflicted on each one before she killed them and cremated them in the space heater, prior to labeling and boxing them. She told Petey that if he ever looked into one of the cigar boxes that the spirit of the dead child would escape in a cloud of ashes and choke him to death. She also told Petey that she wasn’t quite done with Maureen yet and that Maureen was still alive and that if Petey listened closely, in the dead of night (pun intended), he would be able to hear poor Maureen’s screams as she begged for death. She also showed him two empty cigar boxes that she said were reserved for him and Maureen. She also told him that her pet feline had revealed to her that his name was Professor Morriarity and that if he (Petey) crossed her in any way the Professor would tell her straight away and there would be hell to pay.
Moe and Marsha often wondered why little whatshisname slept with pillows covering his head. Moe and Marsha didn’t know Petey from a turkey giblet, and no matter how many times Pearl had used sign language to explain his presence they remained baffled at his presence. They finally eased their confusion when they decided that he probably came with the house. The condition of miscommunication occurred because Pearl signed in the English language and the McMannis’ only understood sign language in their native language. It was a language that they had made up because neither one of them could get the hang of their native language signs, which were in Macedonian; and who could blame them.
Petey came to a sad realization on his fifty fourth birthday when he was sixteen; that is to say that Pearl had given him fifty four birthday parties, an average of three point five per year. Pearl was a real nut for birthday parties and she bought birthday cakes at the day old bakery counter and fashioned Petey into whatever name was written on the cake; on occasion she would regress Petey’s age, like when she bought a cake that said “HAPPY FOURTH BIRTHDAY LITTLE RALPH” when Petey was eleven.
Anyway, Petey’s mournful epiphany was this: Petey finally realized that his sister was lying to him with every breath and that she was using him like a frigging tool for her own warped amusement and that he was destined to be her plaything for the rest of his miserable life because he was too weak to do otherwise. Truth be told, it had taken the cat months to get Petey to answer the ‘get-a-clue phone (you know, “ring ring? GET A CLUE Petey!). Better late than never, you say? Well, that was before Petey met the librarian.
From the time that Petey was little, Pearl had dropped him off at the Martin Luther King branch of the New Orleans public library system and told that it was school. He was also told that if he misbehaved that he would suffer a worse fate than his sister Maureen, and Petey wanted ever so much to keep his head on his shoulders.
To Pearl’s credit Petey did not lack for education; she schooled him at home and gave him lists of things to take from library shelves to read and understand. She started him easy and advanced him as required, even giving him diplomas and graduation parties with her and Maureen. The cakes that were served had nothing written on them. Petey advanced through the grades and sections of the library until one day a young librarian stopped by the corner of the library that Petey had used for years as his desk and workspace. He was reading a book called The Art of War by Sun Tzu. By this time Petey was a long gangly youth with peach fuzz and acne on his face; his ears, nose and feet were four sizes too big for his frame. When he was older he would learn that this life stage was called ‘adolescence’ and was quite natural.
The librarians name was Anne Kenney. Anne Kenney was twenty years old, willow thin and as pretty as a speckled pup on a red rug. She gave Petey’s pheromones an olfactory stimulation as fresh as a soft breeze in springtime and as intuitive as rutting season in the Rockies; and just as nature intended in situations such as this, all the blood in his body rushed to his face and his groin. And also, as nature intended, the winsome Miss Kenney was as oblivious to her affect on an adolescent boy as a female mantis is to her doomed lover.
Anne was wearing a light cotton dress with daisies and black eyed Susans printed on it, at her waist was a cinched patent leather belt. The sun was streaming in a window behind her and cloaked her in a radiance that Petey had never seen before; the sun was also shining through her dress, outlining her shapely legs and torso. She stood with her legs slightly apart and Petey had never dreamed of seeing anything so stimulatingly exciting.
“Can I help you with anything?” asked Anne.
"Grummasigamafrackers". replied Petey softly.
Anne didn’t miss a beat “I’ve seen you in here before, haven’t I? What’s your name?”
Petey was able to blurt out that his name was Billy and that he had just had his thirtieth birthday two day ago.
“Well… my, you look young for your age” said Anne, sitting down beside Petey and glancing over his shoulder. Petey inhaled a breath of the sweetest aroma he had ever taken into his lungs; the earthy aroma of a female in estrous.
Anne put her dainty hand lightly on his forearm. She gently started asking more questions and slowly Billy/Petey opened up to her like a lotus and emptied the contents of his soul and mind; for an hour and a half.
He told her of taking law courses by mail (he wanted to be a lawyer), how he had just about mastered chess except for the famous problem proposed by Edward Laskers and how he had taught himself four languages and could navigate by starlight.
Anne asked about his future plans and told him about a friend of hers that was “looking for a few good men”; just by coincidence, his name was also Billy and he wore a very manly uniform that she was sure that he would look “just dreamy’ in. She turned her sloe eyed Alice blue gaze deeply into Billy/Petey's big brown cow orbs and sighed.
About that time Pearl came in to fetch Petey.

Friday, November 19, 2010

addition to possible New Orleans story part two

Part two.
Anyway, while my dog was being dogged by druggies, my kitchen helper was drinking and toking deeply and consequently went into a dream-state. As I mentioned before (or did I?), Hinch’s personality changes upon any type of slumber: naps (including catnaps), daydreams, nod outs, beddy-byes, space outs and any sustained states of drowsiness. In these states of semi-somnambulism he is prone to mischief, mayhem and maliciousness of an advanced order, hence the straightjacket. It is for his own protection, believe me.
That being said, at the moment that suspicions (“it’s ALL his FAULT!!”) were dawning upon me, I was busy bleeding and heading for the dining room for some first aid; as I passed the bathroom I saw (and heard) the fire engines pull up. I quickly dropped to all fours and scuttled back to the laundry room to look out of the front windows leaving a trail of blood behind me. I cursed the day that I rescued Hinch from the Oompa Loompa casting queue at a Hollywood soundstage.
Here I must segue a moment to explain my living arrangements; hold these thoughts and images though: zonked out Hinch, Hector and Hermes in hiding, howling Hercules, smoke, shots fired, fire detectors clanging, police pounding, chiming clocks, screeching cockatiels, fainting canaries, speed bump tortoises, half awake bleeding heroes (me), stepped upon felines, fire trucks, thunderclaps, phones ringing, Petey Pappas rushing to my rescue and not one of us had a clue as to what was happening. ‘What else could happen?’ you might ask. ‘It’s just getting started’, I would answer.
I live in what is known, down in New Orleans, as a double shotgun house; meaning there are two apartments side by side in straight lines and named so because, the way the rooms are laid out, you can virtually fire a shotgun in the front door and hit whoever might be standing at the back door. Let me clarify that I don’t actually live in New Orleans; I live in a place called Gretna, across the river. Neat, huh?
This building as well as a small trust fund was left to me by my parents who deserted me on my twenty-first birthday and went to live in the south of France with the instructions that I never try to contact them…ever. My precociousness as a tot and young adult obviously did not impress them; but, that’s another story for another time.
One half of my ‘double’, as we call the structures, is a fully ‘operation ready’ private (mine) saloon and pool hall which I open on whim or when I feel the need for entertainment. I hire staff for the evening and simply go out… next door. No driving, no last call, no spending out of pocket (except for impressive tipping); AND, I live in the other half! Five enormous rooms that I have aligned so that the back of the house is in the front of the building and you have to go around back to be let in the front door.
At the moment, I was crouching in the back of the house in the room that was in the front of the building, in my Star Wars pajamas, bleeding from my left temporal lobe and holding a silk handkerchief on the wound to stem the flow of vital fluids. I then backed into the darkened kitchen just as my neighbor reset the circuit breakers and I reached out and came away with a handful of electric wires and slid on dead chickens and what turned out to be bullet shell casings; I was thrown against the 1928 Magic Chef stove that took four men, big men, to carry in. The corner of the stove caught my lower back, chickens fell on my feet and one hundred and ten volts coursed through my body until I, as a faulty conductor, blew the breakers again and the imported Italian bakers rack (another two hundred pounds) crashed into a spot directly between my shoulder blades.
The clock chiming had mercifully rung its course and the windows had been opened by my neighbor, Petey Pappas, who was also my lawyer and who was at this time explaining to the police and fire department that this was all one huge misunderstanding and that they could leave with a large donation to their widows and orphans funds. The birds and beasts had quieted and there was only a soft guilty sobbing from Hinch in the dining room which I would shortly sooth with sweet approbations and heartfelt forgivenesses. The Hispanics had blended into the shrubbery and disappeared
“I thought you said the party wasn’t until six-ish” was the first thing Petey said to me as things started to die down.
“Call for the doctor, call for the nurse, call for that metaphorical lady with the alligator purse!” I replied with all of the self control that I could muster.”My back is in excruciating upheaval, I cannot straighten from the fetal position and, even in my semi-conscious condition, I canassure you that I am in need of strong medication, it feels like I’ve been run over by a school bus of gibbering capons. Mother Superior, jump the gun!”
I was still bleeding, my head was still pounding and my shins were still barked, my back was beyond injured, but it was quiet at the homestead and I was grateful for that. I had tried to find out what happened from Hinch but he was no help, having been in an altered state of mind at the time the catastrophe was occurring. Petey and I again reset the circuit breakers and crept to the kitchen to put some of the events into perspective.
We found five naked chickens hanging from ceiling fans (three on the floor), two fans, one bird on every blade that had not broken. With the electricity back on the fans began to turn and we quickly shut off the wall switch. It was a good thing that we did, for we discovered that Christmas twinkle lights had been wrapped around, and inside the twirling birds as well as ribbons and a red Sharpie marker had been used to draw targets on their little chests: little heart shaped targets. We knew that they were targets because there was not one but two guns, as well as spent casings on the floor by a barstool and bullet holes in the birds and walls and appliances. All this time I thought Hinch’s guns were toys. Idiot Moi.
The image came to me of an inebriated Hinch, up on the stool in his cute cowboy suit with two guns, firing wildly at the spinning birds and causing a short in the electricity, starting a fire, setting off the alarm and it all going south from there. I was grateful that I had no sprinklers.
“Well, that’s it for the party” I said to Petey.
“Nah” he said “we can salvage this, I’ll make some phone calls”. He handed me a tumbler of single malt Scotch and two little blue and red pills. “Now, take these little helpers of mother’s and go lie down; I’ll call you when all’s well.”