Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The Betty and Veronica Double Digest #52 was printed in 1995. I didn't have to get beyond the first story before the adventure began.
The Archie comics "artists" have their own special brand of perspective. Here we see the giantess Veronica, as tall as a house who is approaching Betty, who seems to be standing in a waist-deep hole and eating a brick wall. Seems like the rich princess has booked herself and her best "friend" on a thinly veiled Rikki Lake reference.
"I love 'The Nikki Pond show'! Her show is so fresh!" Usually to get this level of social-disconnect in writing, the author would have to be over 50. This Author at the time was 31 years old. This fact tells me that he is a nerd that lives in an all-white neighborhood in Connecticut, whose only connection to black people is MTV.
The character of Nikki Pond floats above the crowd in the fourth panel and after landing onstage she talks to two doll versions of Betty and Veronica. Her prop-makers are on the job I guess.
What? You mean Veronica has done something nasty to her best "friend"? My question would be this; Why is Veronica Lodge going to Public School with the Proletariat in the first place?
Betty's reaction? "Well, of all the nerve!".,.
Seriously, has that line been spoken (much less written in a script) since 1950?
If you look at the fifth panel you will see that the show is being taped in a ballroom and the crowd screams typical talk-show crowd-talk:
"Go, girlfriend! Get her good!"
I'm sorry, but these words would only ever be spoken by a 31 year-old Connecticut douchebag while watching two black hookers wrestle.
Keep in mind that this was all written in 1995, when the target audience for Archie Comics were able to watch things like Batman or Tiny Toons on the local Fox affiliate.
Veronica forgets that she is wealthy for some reason, and believes that she must receive her "15 minutes" of fame in order to feel fulfilled by society. She is so upset that she puts her father's vast fortune at stake by assaulting a public figure in tape and in front of a live audience. She is also so angry that she manages to reduce herself to the size of a house cat during the attack.
Meanwhile, Vonqueesha and Nevaeh get into the act. This is actually a more realistic view of talk-shows of the day... until Veronica (the Rich bitch) for some reason starts talking to (gasp) black people and suffers the wrath of Geraldo.
Geraldo Rivera's nose was broken by a thrown chair during the taping of his talk-show in 1988. Was this (in 1995) supposed to be common knowledge to a 12 year-old comic-book reader?
Archie comics has been many things to me, but now it is something I never expected. Archie comics is a record of American trash culture, taking over the mainstream.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Maybe 40 years earlier. Ah-so, my squinty-eyed, buck-toothed Japanese friend with the soup-bowl haircut, I take it they thawed you out recently. The last time I saw something this offensive I had drawn it!
But that's not the reason for this post. The focus of this post is on the only Colored family in Riverdale.
Here we see Chuck and his mother as they begin a new day. Chuck's Father is the gym coach at Riverdale High. And it must be a good job to allow his wife to stay at home.
She may be moonlighting though. She has the arms and hands of a professional (male) wrestler or pugilist.
He shouldn't argue with her, but Chuck is not a hat guy. Y'know, his Scandanavian blood keeps him from getting cold like other black people. So... I guess there was no winter in Riverdale prior to this or Chuck would surely know that ears get cold. Either that or Chuck is the largest and most advanced newborn on record.
He hates hats so much that the thought of one being on his head for even one second has transformed him into Luke Cage! But only for a second as he realizes that it is pretty cold outside. Good thing he's still close to home so he can go back and get the hat, right?
Of course not! Chuck hates hats, remember! Hates 'em! He would prefer to walk to school with one hand covering one exposed ear at a time. Good thinking Chuck, you do the race proud! Fortunately for him Archie notices that his hands, which have been covered by gloves the whole time, look frostbitten. Time to visit the Nurse!
"Obviously you wore a hat, or your ears would have frozen too!" Or not, Chuck just has to put one gloved hand to his ears at a time. This somehow gives his hands frostbite, while protecting even the exposed ear from harm. She then admonishes him to get a pair of gloves. Not a hat mind you, but yet another pair of gloves. Whoa, hold on! Reality is bending!
The nurse drops a dime on Chuck and alerts his Father, who looks like his night-job is slaying vampires!
"No gloves? Almost frostbitten?" The coach is pissed. Without fingers Chuck will never be able to serve the good white people of Riverdale like he has!
Surely Chuck will straighten this out. Right? Right?
Of course not! Rather than ask his vampire-slayer/gym coach Father for a hat he will walk home with a pair of catcher's mitts taped to his head.
Thus ends the journey of Chuck in Winterland. Will he conquer his phobia and get a hat of his own? Will he again forget that Winter is cold? Will he someday move to a town with a few more black people in it? Well, that is a story for another time... but the answer is probably "no" for all three.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Archie doesn't have enough money to squire the rich Veronica in style.
Later, Mister Lodge is telling his 16-YEAR-OLD daughter that a COLLEGE GRAD STUDENT has requested her for a "ball". Does she freak out and tell her daddy that he's sick? No way, she goes right along with the program, like she's done this before!
Ahhh, so she knows the ropes after all. Sex for payment of a foreign car. So this is how Mister Lodge got rich!
Soon we meet the client's son:
There we go. Anyway, Archie sees them driving along, and after some attempted Vehicular-Homicide, Veronica pops out of the car with a twisted ankle. What Is Sweaty McDate Rape's response?
That's right, bitches ain't shit but ho's and tricks. I wonder if Betty can afford the trauma of the "Look at how she was dressed/she was asking for it" defense?
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
The winters chill pushing those dead leaves, further and further into the crevices. The Christmas smell coming out of the heater vents on the first cold day of the year. The Peanuts specials, championing spirituality and cool jazz to a new generation. The crispy windblown autumn leaves, my Halloween feet never trample. The city is ripe with perverts, who want to stick their dicks in me. I watch the trick or treaters from an upstairs window. Plastic fangs in my mouth. "I vant to dlink your blood... Hello?"
My mother, the spaghetti pie and Salisbury steak Monarch. I can picture her, walking down the filthy downtown streets after work. Walking toward the 1974 Gremlin that she drove. Driving home with nothing to look forward to, except cooking dinner for her ungrateful family, a few hours of fitful sleep, and repeating it all a million future days coming.
In those early years my father would come home from work drunk. Or else he'd come home and get drunk, on cheap beer, or Ripple. Sitting at the kitchen table and reading a comic book, until the pain went away for a while.
My father is drinking beer, he stares at me with bloody eyes, he is a young policeman, today he touched a rotting corpse, and it burst open in his hands. He must support his family. He looks at me with bloody eyes.
The house is full of werewolves, his two German Shepherds, hairy scary knife edged monsters, teeth like a prison rape. My grandfather comes by to walk them. He takes me into the darkness and hands me the leashes. I can hear his laughter as they drag me down the alley.
Being so young, he could be an affectionate father. Being a drunk, he could be a violently unpredictable man. I never learned to tell which one would be walking through the door. I never even realized that he was a drunk until years later, when he called me and admitted to his alcoholism. He apologized for his rotten behavior in general. I never knew. I thought he was just crazy.
As I went through my teenage years I made an effort (out of an instinct for self-preservation) to convince him that I was crazier than he was. Not that he was ever impressed, except for maybe one time.
In 1975 the family bought a Doberman to go along with the German Shepherds. The dog's name was 'Queenie", and she was good for about 9 years. Around the tenth year, she started losing control of her bowels. I was designated clean-up man, and before long I had lost my patience. Scrubbing diarrhea out of carpeting can do that to you. I complained about the situation, till my father got pissed off at me. He walked back into his bedroom, and returned with his .38 service revolver.
"If you hate the dog so fucking much, why don't you just shoot it?" He yells at me, and then walks away. This made me pretty angry. I guess he didn't think I had balls enough to do it, but I had a problem and he was offering me a solution. He came back down to the basement as I was aiming for the head. I'd put a couple of paper bags over her pointy noggin, to avoid having to clean up brains. I was depressing the trigger when he yelled out, "Hey boy! Have you lost your mind?" This from the man that handed me the gun. He took the pistol away, and stalked back upstairs. I took the bags off Queenie's head. She looked at me with a sick and stupid grin. I resumed cleaning up the shit.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
This is mister bunny before I start. He's been this way for almost a year.
I decided that the whole dark face thing was a bit contrived, so I taped off his eyes and gave him a good coat of white.
The zipper in the mouth does work, and I replaced the head stuffing.
What is that in there?
Why it's a page from The book of John. I've stuffed him with John and Revelation, the 2 most devisive and Right-wing Conservitive-empowering books of the Bible.
I removed the stuffing and added a zipper on his back.
What is that in there?
Why it's 24 dollars worth of rubber-worms, a bunch of hoodoo supplies and human bones!
The best thing about using the worms is that they both make him heavy, and they retain body-heat, so if you hold it for a while, and then hand it to someone, the body is both hot and limp.
Friday, December 10, 2010
I suppose it all really got started when I was 32 years old. I was living in Austin Texas.
I’d been having problems meeting single women for a few years. I was young and black, and afraid of black women, which limited my choices greatly, but on top of that it seemed that I lacked something that any woman wanted. At least for any length of time.
I’m sure whoever came up with the whole chat room concept had good intentions. It sounds like a good Idea. In theory chat rooms are a forum of communication for people of like interests. In reality chat rooms are a way for fat ugly women to pretend to be thin pretty bitches. In addition, chat rooms are like a stinking locker room, filled with ugly, socially retarded and monomaniacal ego-driven troglodytes who cannot form interpersonal relationships in a real-world setting. I’m not being judgmental either, as much as it may sound. It’s all the truth. The most disturbing fact of this electronic
The vast majority of the women are bitter people. Lying psychos that weald a sense of power in a world where their stinking mud-flapped vaginas are the greatest source of commerce. Most of them, as I mentioned before, are fat. If they say “thick” you can bet that means over 200 pounds. If they say BBW (big beautiful woman) I can guarantee you that you’ve never seen such a humongous hunchbacked gargoyle in your most insane LSD trip.
The biggest rule is to insist upon some sort of photograph, although web cams are preferable because chat women are notorious for posting photographs that look nothing like them. Before I learned the photo rule I went strictly by words. Yahoo women can talk a good game. One I remember described herself as a “40 year old rock & roll mom, blonde, with green eyes and a nice body.” She made a big to-do about going out with her 20 year old daughter and being hit on by her daughter’s male friends. Of course I was a bit old for the whole older woman fantasy, but since she was a single woman I was interested. Her name was Karen, and we agreed to meet one night at a hamburger stand in midtown. I got there ten minutes early, as usual, and found a spot to stake out the entrances to the lot. I stood by my car and watched the parade of women arriving and exiting their vehicles, wondering which one was Karen. Finally one got of her car, looked at me and said, “Francis?” All I could say was yes. She already had my description. There were no other tattooed and dread locked black men in the vicinity. I wish I could have run though. I could have, but back then I was too nice and too ignorant as how to extricate myself from embarrassing situations.
Karen was about 5', 7" and 210 pounds. Her blonde hair was so thin that the scalp gleamed through. She may have had green eyes, but I couldn’t look too closely because her face was so full of skin tags that she resembled a hedgehog. And her teeth... I shudder even at the memory. Horrible crank head teeth, yellow and ground down to sharp gum-level stumps. I felt like jumping out of my skin and having my bloody skeleton clatter down the street
Our date consisted of her following me back to my apartment, where I talked to her for 20 minutes, and feigned an early appointment. After she left, I thought about it for a moment. How can a person lie so thoroughly about themselves and yet expect those same lies to be overlooked?
I thought it was an anomaly until two weeks later when I arranged a hookup with a girl who claimed to be a model. I really didn’t expect a model, but I did at least expect a bit of normality. I don’t remember the chick’s name, but I do remember that she lived in a planned community just outside of the city. To get to it I had to take a dirt road as a detour because of some construction. Hers was a nice manufactured house in a community of nice suburban manufactured houses. I walked up the steps and rang the bell. A small dog yapped furiously. She answered the door and turned out to be average-looking, that is except for the fact that she owned a pair of broomstick thin legs which were criss-crossed with surgery scars.
Yet I still continued with Yahoo chat, learning (or thinking that I had) from my mistakes. By spring of 2000 I was on a mission to find a decent woman. It was the principle of the thing. I had to beat yahoo chat, to prove that I could find a decent woman online.
It was in April when I first encountered Ramona online. I’d stopped being picky about the chat rooms I went into, and bounced around like a Mini Cooper in a 12 car pile-up. I was in the adult sub-room Older Women for Younger Men, trying to send as many messages as possible when I saw her screen name. It had the word “pierce” in it, which was an interesting double entendre for me. Any woman that had a screen name that included pierced, punk, or tattooed automatically got a message from me. She messaged back, and that’s how it all started. Ramona had a cute profile picture and could hold up her end of a conversation, so I figured that I won half the battle up front.
A little about me... For most of my life I was willing to take people at face value and believe everything that I was told. I was like a five year old going for the Santa Claus routine. I can’t say that I’m ashamed of it. I was just an innocent person, very naive, so when Ramona wrote her beautiful words I believed them. Even in person all you have are the words that people give you. It was only four weeks later before we were professing our love for each other, and six weeks in before I asked her to marry me.
What made this online romance even more of a mindless whirlwind clusterfuck were two facts. Firstly; Ramona lived in
“Francis,” she said “I have a son.”
A son... I’m not ashamed to admit that I dislike children and never wanted one; but what came out of my mouth?
“Hey, that’s cool. What’s his name?” His name turned out to be
I’d gotten the marriage license and was bragging to friends and workmates about my upcoming wedding to a woman that I’d never met in person. They congratulated me, which is the polite thing to do when someone announces their marriage, but I wonder what they really thought about the situation. Did they think that I was foolish? I don’t know. I’d like to think so.
I arrived early at
Meanwhile, this whole time I’m experiencing the feeling that something is wrong, like maybe how dogs and horses get spooked before a tornado. Could I be making a mistake? My palms were sweating, not a good sign. All I could do was wait.
Ramona’s plane landed 10 minutes late. My bowels were gurgling like a pot of marmalade. I watched the door from my seat, and waited for her to come out. Was that her with a different haircut? How about that one? That one’s too old. What about that one... same haircut, same beauty mark... but she’s fat! Oh shit, she’s looking at me... and smiling. It’s her. What have I done?
Yes, I was screwed again. Ramona was a dumpy thing. She approached and hugged me. She was wearing a halter-top and her belly overlapped the waistband of her skirt.
“Hello Francis.” she said with a smile that revealed a mouth of rotten broken teeth, framed by a face full of blackheads, whiteheads, and thick black whiskers growing out of her neck. What had I done?
I tried to be jovial and talkative as we drove back to my apartment, but I was in shock. I kept sneaking glances to see if she was getting any better looking. She wasn’t. I’d promised to marry this person, and I could see no way out. I looked at her again and again. This ugly woman was my fiancée. I reached over and held her hand.
At my job I used pelletized dry ice to strip contamination off of Motorola parts. The contamination (depending upon the source) would either come off slowly in a thick powder like dehydrated eggs, or else it would chip off in giant fragments. One day after finishing a job, I dumped the leftover dry ice onto the rain wet ground. A low thick cloud carpeted the parking lot and mesmerized me. I kept the effect in mind, knowing that I could use it sometime later. That “sometime later” came a few hours after Ramona and I got back to my apartment. We were stuck there, mostly because I was too embarrassed to take her out and be seen with her. I had the two buckets of dry ice sitting in my shower stall. I can’t remember what kind of conversation I was having with her. I’m amazed I could come up with anything, considering the situation, but at some point I went into the bathroom and turned the hot water on the dry ice. Thick smoky clouds billowed forth. I shut the bathroom door, yet the clouds were undaunted as the worked their way under the door. The effect was magnificent, and would have been even more effective had I been with the beautiful fiancée that I’d planned the trick for. It was still fun though. My legs had disappeared to the knees. I fell to the ground and my whole body disappeared, but only temporarily. It was all good childish fun until the oxygen started to go from the air. I got lightheaded and rushed us out the front door, hoping nobody would see us.
That night I got into bed and waited for Ramona. I was exhausted from shock, disappointment and oxygen depletion. I lay there listening to the sounds from the shower. I wondered what the future with her would bring, and how long it would take me to get over her physical appearance.
The bathroom door opened, and Ramona walked to the side of the bed with wet stringy hair. Her breasts sagged and her belly was a large pouch of skin tattooed with a hundred craggy stretch marks.
“Make love to me.” She said. And somehow I did.
Ramona and I were married by a judge on an insufferably hot
Ramona went back to
“Hello mother.” I said. “I wanted you to know that I got married last week.” There was a silence on the line, and then my mother piped up,
“What do you mean you ‘got married’?”
“I mean I got married.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?” She shrilled. “How the fuck can you just get married like that? Boy you sure know how to do some stupid shit! Why didn’t you tell anybody beforehand?
“Because,” I said “I didn’t want anyone trying to talk me out of it. I knew you’d take it the wrong way since you never seemed to like anyone I’ve dated.”
“That’s because all you date are those trashy white girls!”
“Look ma, I’m a grown man, I make my own decisions”
“You grown alright. You’re a full grown fool. I don’t think you could make a good decision if you-
I hung up on her. She’d gotten me steamed, but she was right. I’d fucked up, but I was too embarrassed to admit it.
During Ramona’s absence the company I worked for, which employed 10 people and turned a profit within its first year, decided to buy out a competitor. The competitor was a larger business, employing 200 people, and losing money hand over fist. The plan included moving our ten employees to their giant facility. Even before seeing the new building I had a feeling of foreboding. I never liked change. My first visit to the new building left me with a feeling of horror. It was a large grey box, filled with equipment and crates. The workers were either back to back in cramped chemical-smelling cubbyholes, or side by side on lines of acid vats. The lighting was dim and there was a perpetual feeling. Knowing that I’d be working there within a couple of weeks gave me the blues. Nothing good is ever allowed to be left alone. There is always a desire to improve that winds up killing our garden of Eden.
Ramona told her family about her elopement. After the initial shock, they were relieved. They threw her a big wedding/ going away party. Family from all over
She drove from
It was around on July 12th when they came tooling up to my door. Ramona’s father worked for Chrysler and he managed to dig up one of those ridiculous k-cars for a wedding present. I stood in the doorway as they parked. She got out . Yeah, she was still ugly, and I hugged her. I shook hands with the hippie fella, when the kid runs up to hug me. Some kid, he was ten years old and already five foot tall, with a Slim Shady haircut. I was a stepfather...Christ. We unloaded the car and talked for a while in my tiny living room. Then I wrestled a bit with the kid. He was throwing punches and I grabbed him in a fake hold. That’s when he started this loud piercing tearless crying. Good lord! I barely touched him. Was this the way things were going to be? It was too much.
Hippie Bill had a bedroll in the living room and
As soon as hippie Bill got on his flight back to
Two weeks into my situation the alarm clock went off and I found Ramona missing. I looked in the closet.
“What the fuck was that all about?”
“Oh, I was breaking up a fight.”
“Breaking up a fight?”
“You’re telling me that at four in the morning you’re in the middle of a fight, while your son and husband are at home sleeping?”
“Well, I didn’t want them to fight.”
She missed the point. I didn’t know if she was being thick-headed on purpose, but she was pissing me off. I drove to work realizing that my car was actually a sled on a road between two hells.
One day I got home from work and found Ramona entertaining three strange men. “Hello.” she says and introduces me. I grunt and get a 40 from the fridge. The place was way too cluttered and cramped for that many people.
I drove for a while to try and clear my head. Parking in front of a government building I sat and smelled the black walnut trees. It started to rain so I rolled up the windows and sat in the heat. I tried to think of a way out. I couldn’t take it anymore. I thought of driving to
There were plenty of tears from Ramona and I played like I really cared, but I stayed on track. I could see freedom. That little prick needed to be out of my life. Speaking of the little prick, he didn’t shed one tear. He didn’t want to be with his mother, that was plain, but convincing his mother was a job and a half.
We managed to do it on my off days. They ran into Labor Day so it didn’t seem such an obvious rush. On the plane back to
It was a long drive From the Indianapolis airport to
That night Ramona and I slept on an air mattress in the small bedroom. The country is dark at night, as black as a baboon’s asshole. I don’t remember if we fucked that night, but by morning the mattress was flat to the ground.
The next day we went out, and Ramona did the driving. She drove way too fast down those back roads.
“Jesus Christ,” I said “slow down. You’ll kill us!” She just laughed and said,” I’ve lived here all my life. I know these roads.”
“Yeah? Well how do you know a deer won’t be over the next hill? Or a stalled truck? These train crossings don’t even have lights!” She just laughed and kept on driving the same way, the cunt.
We stopped at her mother’s house in
It was like a cosmic rocket ride to freedom, or a jailbreak. I wasn’t comfortable until that plane had left the ground. When it did, I felt a weight leave me. Ramona was crying but it didn’t matter much. Things were looking up.
I decided to try and make the best of the situation. If I was going to have to be married I shouldn’t have to fight it. I tried hard and could eventually saw beauty and humor in Ramona. It’s all in the way you look at someone. Nobody is all bad, I thought. Maybe all the relationship needed to survive was for me to stop being a closed- minded prick. Maybe it could actually work out.
The first signs of Ramona’s insanity came by early on. Our apartment was on the first floor, and one day I saw her looking out at a physically wasted guy working on a motorcycle. He looked like he’d just escaped
“That’s Charlie.” She said. “He moved upstairs. He’s a nice guy.” Maybe he was, but he was also either a drug addict or a cancer patient. She’d made a friend though, and I didn’t mind when she’d go visit him. I liked the time alone at home. It made the apartment seem bigger.
The first time Ramona actually went AWOL was three months into our marriage. She was working at a mall hair salon, and was going out that night with one of the girls from work. I asked her what they had planned, and she told me they were just going to do a little bar hopping. Before she left she told me that she’d be home by . By the time rolled around I was pissed off. By I was calling the hospitals and the jail. I was worried. At first I was just looking out the window, but soon I had walked out into the parking lot, and then into the street. I looked both ways. I don’t know what I was looking for. I didn’t know what her friend’s car looked like. I guess I was just keeping myself busy. It was humid outside, so I walked back in. I lit a cigarette and wondered what I should do. If she was dead, what would happen? Didn’t they always suspect the husband first? And what about her family? I’d have to tell them that she was dead. As I was thinking that thought, Ramona walked in.
“Where the fuck you been?” I hollered. To my surprise she began to cry. It unnerved me.
“It was awful.” She said. “I was chased home!”
“Yes.” She said. “Katrina drove us down to
“Why didn’t you call me to pick you up?” I interrupted.
“I was so scared that I wasn’t thinking right. I tried to tell people that those guys were following me but I only got laughed at. I went back on the street and found a cop and told him, but they must have hid because they were gone when he turned around. I started walking again, and when I looked around they were following me again, so I started to run.”
“Three Mexicans were chasing a white woman down
‘Nobody said anything. So I finally got to Congress and there was a bus there. I got on the bus but the Mexicans did too. I sat by the driver and they were in the back watching me. I told the bus driver to call the police, but he ignored me. A woman got off after a while, and I ran out behind her, but those guys followed. I managed to get on another bus, but they got on too. When I got to
“Why didn’t you use your mace?”
“I did. They caught me in the laundry room, and I sprayed them. I dropped it on the ground though. And while they couldn’t see, I ran behind the apartment and hid.”
“When were you in the laundry room?”
“Just a few minutes ago.”
“I went by the laundry room a few minutes ago, and there wasn’t anyone in there.”
“I was there! Oh my God I was so scared!”
Say what you will, but I desperately wanted to believe her. I could not accept the possibility of being married to someone who could come up with a lie like that, so I accepted the lie. Every brain has a coping mechanism, and I suppose mine was a denial of my reality itself. After seven years of Prozac, Xanax, Wellbutrin, Celexa, Remeron, Lamictal and the other happy drugs, I could finally admit to myself that I was cracked. I hugged Ramona to still her crocodile tears, and willed myself to believe her altered version of reality.
Exotic pets got really popular in
“Hey,” I said to Ramona. “Make sure you shake your shoes out before you put them on, the scorpion got out.”
“What?” She screamed, leaping up in bed. “Where is it?”
“Calm down,” I said. “They’re harmless. Just shake your shoes out. You’ll be fine.”
With that, I left for work without a second thought. I got to work at and got started on a set of plastic bucket-like parts covered in a thick glue type resin. At I called Ramona’s job to make sure she got there alright.
“No.” The receptionist said. “She hasn’t made it in yet.” Odd, I thought. I thanked the receptionist, hung up, and dialed my home number. No answer. I started gearing up my terrifying mechanistic imagination. What if Ramona took a shower, was getting out of the tub, saw the scorpion, freaked out, and fell through the shower door or cracked her skull open on the faucet. In my world nothing was farfetched. It seemed possible and when Ramona still wasn’t at work by it seemed probable.
I was a very hard worker back then. My supervisor often told me that I would burn myself out if I didn’t slow down. He was a decent guy, so I’m not sure why I left without telling him. Maybe deep down I wanted to be fired. I drove the ten miles back to my apartment. Rushing into the bathroom I found no blood, no broken body. I called the hair salon and screeched,
“Is Ramona there yet?”
“Hold on.” The receptionist said.
Hold on? Hold on for what? In the background I hear the receptionist say,
“Tell him that I was just following what you said! I didn’t want to do it!”
“Hello.” Ramona’s laughing voice said.
“Where have you been?” I asked.
“I got here at . I told them to say I wasn’t here to teach you a lesson.”
“A lesson?” I said. “You scared me to death! I left work to come home and look for you!”
“Oh? I didn’t want you to do that.”
That’s when unreality washed over me again. I said,
“Well, I’m just glad you’re okay. I have to get back to work.”
I hung up the phone with a weird dissociated feeling, a numbness.
I was happy to see that I wasn’t missed during the 45 minute absence. I still had a job. At least that was something, but the shocks and strains on my mind were damaging me. I didn’t realize how much at the time, but I’d find out later.
Our small apartment was cramped from the odds and ends I collected on my compulsive shopping sojourns. I collected Crazy Magazine issues from my early teen years, human skulls, punk clothing, a long tailed tuxedo coat, a mummified opossum, and finger bones. Anything that was bizarre enough to attract my attention was there. I was comfortable as things were, but Ramona wanted to move into a larger place. She would say that she wanted another bedroom because
Moving out of that tiny apartment was hard for me. I’d lived there, good and bad, for almost seven years; but those years and that life, apparently were over. I had become a husband. I was a distraught husband, but it didn’t matter because in the end the sanctity of the bachelor pad, and all of its associated memories was better left in the past.
We found an apartment just east of I-35 which looked promising. It was over 900 square feet, which made it the biggest home I’d had since leaving my parents’ house. My rental history and credit were solid, so I had no problem getting it.
The chore of loading and unloading a moving van was a dreaded thing. It felt like trauma, like getting a tooth pulled, or waiting on line for a driver’s license, you just want it to be over with and to never have to do it again.
We settled in the new apartment in January. Things were quiet for a while, which was good. I was becoming emotionally detached to a great extent. It occurred to me to suggest an open marriage to her. I figured that if she agreed, it would ultimately work out with someone else falling in love with her. There had to be somebody that would. I hadn’t been the only one on Yahoo chat, Ramona was addicted too, but whereas I only looked and flirted, Ramona was making friends. It wasn’t surprising then that she had more of a social life than I did. What was surprising was her telling me one night that she did want an open relationship. Finally, I thought, now we can both be freed up to find people that we were better suited to. I didn’t understand then that when a woman agrees to such an arrangement, she already has someone (or as in Ramona’s case several someone’s) in mind.
For some reason it was difficult for me to procure a female at that time. I’ll admit that open marriage is a strange concept, but only if you think of it in terms of a healthy relationship. In an unhealthy relationship, anything goes, and in fact can seem logical.
It was one of my off nights when Ramona brought home a young woman named Tabitha. Tabitha was about 18, blonde and bovine, but possessed a strangely sensuous face. From the beginning it was obvious that she wanted absolutely nothing to do with me, which was amusing because I considered myself to be a very attractive man. The two of them sat in the living room and talked while I feverishly searched the chat rooms, angry that Ramona had managed to one-up me. About two am Ramona announced that they were going to bed. I am one of the few men that have no interest in a threesome it seems, but that night I was owner if a half-assed curiosity. I let them go into the bedroom, gave them ten minutes to get comfortable, and then walked in. They were in bed. Ramona was naked, and Tabitha was in her underwear. A porno movie that I’d rented the day before was playing across the television. I scooted into bed next to Ramona, figuring I could get things started. I began kissing her, and had my hand on her crotch, but she said,
“Tabitha and I would really like to be alone!”
It didn’t register that I had been kicked out of my own bed until I realized that I was standing in the hallway in my underwear. About ten minutes later Ramona comes staggering out of the bedroom. She was flushed and sighed. That’s when I made the “don’t shit where you eat” rule.
About a week later to the day Ramona announced that she was going out to meet a chat room guy. At least she wasn’t bringing him home do rub my nose in my failure. I was absolutely livid at the fact that I couldn’t get any girls to take the bait. About a month later I found out that Ramona had put the word out in
At three in the morning she comes in and confesses that she’d fucked the guy. I’d expected that she was going to fuck him so I had no idea why she was crying. She continued on that she felt really guilty about it. I reminded her that she had also screwed Tabitha, but for some reason she didn’t see being unfaithful with a woman as being unfaithful. Damned if I understood it. It seemed that I was back on the hook again. She promised me she’d be only with me from that point on. So she said, so she said.
Watching a company you work for scramble through new management techniques and bosses on a monthly basis would be funny if you weren’t actually expected to take it all seriously. The company merger had fused the old company (ROC Semiconductor Cleaning) with Muneca Semiconductor Serviced, to form ROC Muneca. The first operations manager was a jolly old guy who didn’t last a month past the merger. Another two, less memorable, followed. In March of 2001 whatever Dilbert stereotypes that were in charge of such things, sent a new Manager from
“What can I do for you Francis?” He asked. It irritated me because I’d called him “Mr. Purcell”, and here he was calling me by my first name.
“The problem,” I said “is hazard pay.”
“What about it?”
“Well, the guys who came over from ROC aren’t getting it. We do the same job, but we get no hazard pay.”
“You guys are already making ten percent more than the Muneca people. Ten percent at least.”
“Yeah, but we also know how to do every job in the plant, from receiving all the way through delivery. I’m asking why we don’t get hazard pay.”
“It’s included in your pay!” He said.
“It is? I don’t remember receiving a raise.”
He was getting irritated because I wasn’t blindly accepting what he was saying.
“I’ll look into it.” He said.
It never amounted to much. We never got our hazard pay.
The job was very manual labor. There was a lot of scrubbing and polishing on delicate items. Everything had to be perfect enough that there was no microscopic particulation when things were tested. A lot was asked of us. It was stressful work. It really got on your nerves after a while. The rubber boots, gloves, plastic sleeves and respirators were suffocating. There wasn’t much to enjoy on the job, so when the announcement was made that radio’s would no longer be allowed, I was reasonably pissed off. I went directly to Bill’s office to confront him.
“Why did you take the radios out?” I asked.
“Well Francis... the guys weren’t wearing their hearing protection out there, so we took out the radios.”
“That makes no sense. Look, this is a tough job. Its things like the lack of a radio that makes sweat, and industrial noise, and fumes and repetitive action enough to make you go home and beat the shit out of your wife and kids.”
“I don’t think it’s that bad.” He said.
“Have you ever worked on the line?” I asked. He turned red.
“Yes, I have, and this subject is closed.”
“Closed?” I said as he hustled me out of his office. I’d hit a sore spot. He’d no more been on the line than he’d been a male stripper. He had no idea what we went through. I left his office more pissed that I’d entered it.
When I found out that
I had a few days of peace because Ramona had taken a plane to go pick him up. The whole time though, I was feeling lousy. She’d told me that he’d done some growing up and that a summer with his mother was needed. And I thought, Christ, can’t anyone else see that this is all a big mistake?
As soon as
When Ramona was working, and I was at home, I was designated babysitter. It was a job for which I had neither desire nor vocation. Because I was so depressed it usually entailed me locking myself in my bedroom and sleeping, while
I never trusted
Around this time, things became so unbearable at work that I wrote an experimental novel called, “My bosses family.” It ran almost 150 pages. Once while I was working on it Ramona asked to take a peek. She seemed a bit dismayed that I could (or would) write 130 pages worth of the repeating phrases, “Rape his wife. Knife fuck his kids. Make him watch,”
Things at home may have stayed the same all summer, which would almost guarantee that
Giving me a tiny bit of his concentration he said,
“I was in there with Christina and Tyrone.”
“Who’s Tyrone?” I asked.
“Why were you in there?”
“I don’t know.” He said. “Christina was showing him your room.”
“Showing him my-... hey, how old is Tyrone?”
“I don’t know. Hey, Colton.”
“How old is Tyrone?” Sid asked.
“Oh, he’s nineteen.”
I went upstairs to Stymies apartment and knocked at the door. Stymie’s single-parent father answered the door. I asked him if Tyrone was there. He said that Tyrone had come in earlier, but had left in a hurry. That was that. I’d never see that gun again.
When Ramona walked through the door I was enraged.
“Where the hell were you?” I growled.
“I was over at Charlie’s playing Tony Hawk. Why?”
“Because while you’re off bullshitting, your babysitter is fucking
“What are you talking about Francis?”
“I’m talking about you being a bad mother. You left your kid with this weak-assed whore so you could play video games with that skinny freak. Now my fucking pistol is gone!”
“Are you sure?”
I could have knocked her down right then and there, but I didn’t. I wanted the enormity of her fuckup to settle into her head. This was the last straw. She had to realize how responsible she had been. Not just with her son, but with life in general. The incessant sick days from work, the bad attitude, the compulsive spending. She was not a dependable person.
There were no tears this time when
“Something’s going on between mom and Charlie.” Then he just stares at me. What was I supposed to do with that? I ignored it.
I had to get up at to make it to my job at . I was never a morning person, plus I worked all day over vats of hot acid, so I needed my sleep. At first I had problems sleeping when Ramona was out, but I got over that quickly after a few days of sleep-deprived factory work.
The phone rang at . It was Ramona’s friend Charlie. "Come get your wife," he says "she's drunk, and acting crazy!"
I throw my clothes on, and jump in my old Trans-am. It wasn't far to Charlie's apartment yet I still had time to wonder what she was up to this time. I pull into the parking lot, and mount the stairs to his apartment. I can hear her loud garbled voice through the cheap plywood door. I knock.
Charlie lets me in, and the first thing I notice is all the crack pipes on his kitchen table. Ramona is stalking around the room, angry about something. I grab her by the arm, and try to pull her out, but she bites me on the hand, breaking the skin. She doesn't want to leave it seems. Charlie looks on. I get her by the back of the neck, grab her purse, and struggle her out the door and down the stairs. I'm opening the car door when she turns around, looks up the stairs and screams out, "That’s right! Just fuck me and leave me!"
I wasn't thinking so much about her statement so much, as I was thinking about what to do with her. I try to get her into the car, but she's struggling, and cursing me. She rambles off a string of drunken obscenities, as she staggers down the street. I'm following her, feeling like a detective finding clues. Her purse, on the ground, then a shoe, her jacket, then the other shoe. I go back, and get in my car, waking up the whole complex with the sound of the 400 big block through Thrush glass packs. I find her at the end of the block, by the Pakistani store. "Get your drunk ass in the goddamn car!" I yell at her. Surprisingly, she does.
Back at our apartment, I'm asking questions. She's rolling around on the bed, alternately crying and evilly mocking me. I'm only getting bits and pieces of information. I go to the kitchen for a glass of water, and I hear her on the phone, "I love you Charlie! Don't leave me!"
I go back into the bedroom, and wrestle the phone from her. I speak into the receiver, "Next time you talk to her, I'm coming’ over there to put a foot in your ass!" then I hang it up, rip it out of the wall, and throw it across the room.
"That's right," she says "I love him! You never loved me! You never cared!" I argued with her for a half hour, before I realized that it was futile, and I had to get to work. Man... How was I supposed to work all day in that hot assed factory, with this on my head.
I only worked for about half an hour, when I turned to my supervisor, and told him that I had to go have a talk with the guy that was fucking my wife. He seemed very understanding.
I banged on Charlie's door. He didn't answer. "Open up Charlie," I said, "You know who this is!" The door creaks open. I come in; Charlie's holding a baseball bat. I sit on his couch, and stare a him. He offers me he bat saying, "Go ahead, get it over with!"
I tell him to sit his ass down, all I wanted was information. He was reluctant. He didn't understand why I wanted to torture myself.
Here's he story: For the last nine months of my marriage, Ramona had been buying cocaine from Charlie. This explains why she was so crazy, and why I was so broke. When she ran low on money, she'd give blowjobs for coke. Somewhere along the line, she fell in love with Charlie, and was planning on moving in with him. When she told him so, he said I wasn't going to happen. She freaks out, and he calls me...
"We wanted to respect the sanctity of your marriage," he said, "So I only fucked her in the ass."
I knew it wasn't his fault. I really didn't want to bother with it, but I had to end the visit somehow. So I said, "Charlie, from this point on you're not going to have any contact with Ramona. If she calls, hang up. If you talk to her again, I'm not going to kill you, but I'm going to hurt you so bad with my bare hands that you'll want to die. You know I'll, do it too, don't you?"
He Nods his head. I walk out.
As I drove back to work, the sun was coming up. It was the ugliest, brightest sun that I had ever seen... like a searchlight. I got on I-35, and tried to figure out what to do next.
The perfect opportunity had come. I was finally able to end a marriage that should have never begin, and do it righteously, yet I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Maybe it was that I couldn’t afford the 750.00 apartment rent on my own, or maybe, just perhaps, I felt sorry for her, and wanted to help her. Actually it was both of those things and not wanting to acknowledge the fact that I’d been played for a fool. I wanted to sugar coat it, so instead of leaving Ramona, I put her in rehab.
It was an ugly scene, totally overblown emotionally. In order for my insurance to cover it, I had to take her to the hospital, and get a rehab referral from them. In the emergency room Ramona still expected me to play the role of husband, to be comforting and supportive, as she slid around in her hard plastic seat. I had to be Captain save-a-ho once again, despite the sticky tears in her eyes and ropy snot hanging from her nose. During the emergency room pre- treatment questioning, Ramona kept fading away, like she was going to pass out. I continually had to prop her up, and poke her, like she was some dormant animal.
It was only two blocks from the hospital to the treatment center, yet the doctor insisted on putting Ramona in an ambulance. That little ride cost me 250.00. I could have driven her for nothing, but they gave me no choice.
The first thing they did at the treatment center was take two polaroids of her. What a sorry sight she was, heavy lidded eyes behind horn-rim glasses, puffy snot and tear glazed face, and disheveled spiky bleached white hair. There was nothing pretty about those pictures, but they were appealing to me, as evidence of a crime against me. I wondered how I could’ve put five thousand dollars worth of dental work into that mouth, how I could’ve kissed her, hugged her, and loved her in my own way. She was going to be away for at least a week, maybe more if she needed it. Hopefully it would do her some good.
When I got home I had plenty of time to think about what had happened. I took two weeks of family leave from work. I was in no condition to do anyone’s job. No matter how harshly I speak of her now, I never hinted to her, or anyone else how I felt about her appearance. Her personality hadn’t been an issue, which makes me sound shallow, but I can only be what I am. The woman I’d married, and tried my damndest to make happy had tried to leave me for a crackhead with a video game system. I was a fool. I was a sorry, sorry fool. She had been lying to me for 8 out of twelve months of marriage. It was a heavy blow, and I wasn’t sure exactly how to handle it. It seemed that I could not win. Life was a game for which I had no vocation. I could not win. I’d forced myself to accept her into my life, my existence, and I learned to love her. I cared for her, and about her. To have something like that happen to me, after all I’d put into the relationship... All I could do was ask myself “What kind of idiot am I?” I sat around the house that week and examined my life. Not just my time with Ramona, but the whole thing. I looked back at all of the time I spent chasing women, and how it all led to eventual loss. I thought about how I just surfed through life, from one thing to another, women, jobs, hobbies. I was never satisfied with anything for long, because nothing lived up to my expectations. I expected friends to be loyal. I expected relationships to be peaceful. I expected bosses to be true to their word. I lived life like I’d never felt pain, like I’d never seen anyone turn on the one person who backed them up.
Her week inside was quickly over, and rehab had seemed to perk her up. She seemed happy, and she was nice to me to the point of being subservient in some ways. She was polite and human. I began to grudge fuck her twice a day. Before the rehab she would complain about a lack of sex. With me fucking her twice a day she still complained about a lack of sex. Some things, evidently, would never change. I was seeing her in a different light. Before she was someone, a person, annoying at times, but harmless. Now I saw that she was dangerous. I wondered if it was because she was just evil, or if perhaps it was a physical ailment that plagued her. The whiteheads, the neck stubble, the overblown sex drive, what was it about? I decided to take her to a doctor. I had to have an answer.
The doctor ran test after test, and then sent her to an endocrinologist, who ran test after test. She even went to a psychiatrist who ran tests. In the end she was diagnosed as bi-polar hypothyrodic with an overabundance of testosterone. Finally everything was explained to me. I like when things make some kind of sense. I can accept things better if they don’t seem to be happening willy-nilly. When the chips fell into place I could almost see a new day, a day with a thinner, non-bearded, non-crazy woman with clearer skin. I could have kissed her doctors.
Two weeks after her diagnosis, I was laid off. I’d just walked into work when I was pulled aside by my supervisor who told me that Bill wanted to see me up front. So I went up front, to Bill’s office. He eagerly welcomed me in. I could feel the punch of it coming, he was too lighthearted. Imagine it, being lighthearted while you’re taking away someone’s job. I just calmly sat there while he dropped the hammer. If he was expecting an emotional response fro me, he wasn’t going to get it. With unemployment insurance the fucker had just given me six months vacation.
Being without a job is a risky proposition. It requires timing. You have to know the market, and therefore when to stop slacking and start looking for a job. Until that time comes, however, its one long party. Unfortunately, at that time, I didn’t feel like a party. I was mildly depressed and bored as hell. This explains why I was awake and watching television when the first plane hit the trade center. My first thought was, “Wow, that’s amazing!” It was interesting, but no feeling of tragedy came over me. I woke Ramona by saying, “Hey. Look at this crazy shit.” Neither of us were particularly horrified. The emotional deadness of Generation X was apparent at that time.
I took the whole six months off. I lucked into a state job, at the mental hospital, doing security. At the interview I compressed my dreadlocks under a tight tam, and wore a tie and sport jacket. The interviewer was second in command of security, and evidently blind or uncaring to my bulging head because two days later I was called in to fill out the new hire paperwork.
The mental hospital had been around since the 1860’s, and the original building still stood in the center of the grounds. It was a creepy old plantation style house that featured grated basement windows. At night you could almost hear a bunch of circa 1920 bastards being tortured with electricity, hot and cold water and other doctor approved “health treatments”.
Two weeks of introduction and training. History, politically correct phraseology, harassment policy, responsible behavior, c.p.r, defribulation, and their version of non-violent restraint. Every nut house has a version of this restraint system, and nobody uses it. At least I’ve never seen anyone use it correctly. It goes against instinct. I got into a bit of trouble once by making fun of the system. Everyone thought what I was saying was funny, including the prick who first laughed, then later ratted me out.
Security was an easy gig. We made sure that doors were locked, delivered medicines, and took patients to various hospitals after hours. There was very little maniac wrestling, but it was exciting when it happened. It might have been a perfect job if it hadn’t been for our supervisor. They called Billy Pilgrim, “Sarge” because that’s what he’d been in the army for 20 years. He was an evil little nit-picker with a grey crew cut and a Hawaiian shirt. How he never had to wear the uniform wasn’t a topic he felt like discussing, other than a lopsided grin. God help the poor bastard underneath him though, who decided not to wear their crummy security Polo shirt. It was understood from the beginning that he didn’t like my tattoos and long hair. Understood by his boss, and relayed to me. Unfortunately, his dislike of my style couldn’t be considered discriminatory. Sarge loved to pick away at my incident reports, logs, and other paperwork. They were usually immaculate, but he would take time out to tell me that I needed to highlight, or double underline something that he felt needed to be stressed. It was an annoying game of “I’m not touching you”.
It’s amazing how quickly a person’s life can go to hell. I’m not talking about death or disease, but how small things can go wrong one after the other. Each thing is like a punch in the gut, taking you down bit by bit. The first punch was Ramona. After months of sedate behavior, she began to go out at night again. Perhaps she was playing monopoly, or watching television, I don’t know. But considering our past, it all seemed like darkness to me. One night she stayed out all night long, and I found her sitting on the front porch of a house on
The second thing to go was my Firebird. I was never rich, or even well off. I was always a poor working man who felt that things were pretty good when they were “good enough”. What else does a poor person have but “Good enough”? In wet weather my car ran poorly, but because I knew how to baby it, it ran “good enough” to get me to where I was going. It was a beats on sunny days, the seat was broken in to the shape of my ass, the headers scraped on speed bumps, and it went through gaskets every year; but it was my car. It was “good enough”. I was driving Ramona to work one rainy day. Her cars engine had seized up from running with no oil in it, and we got 50 dollars for it from a junkyard. It was a cold, wet morning, so my car hesitating and acting like it needed to be spanked. Ramona was a horrible shrewish, slutty drug hog, but she paid half the rent, so she too was “good enough”. I’d stopped at a four way intersection leading into the mall, looked both ways and started to go. Halfway through the intersection I hear the familiar sound of screeching brakes, and the bang of metal on metal, with a cascade of glass. Like a symphony of violence my Firebird had been t-boned, on Ramona’s side, and knocked two lanes over. When the car came to a rest, I saw that the passenger’s side was stove in, and that the dashboard was tented into an obnoxious upside-down “v” shape. I didn’t think about my wife at all, I thought about my poor car. Ramona was screaming and crying. But I really didn’t pay much attention to her. She was such an over-reactionary that I figured that she was crying wolf. If she was really hurt, I reasoned, she’d go into shock, or pass out, but she didn’t. She could move her arms and legs, and she wasn’t bleeding, so I tried to drown out her cries in my head. My car, on the other hand, was beyond repair and I knew it. The woman that ran the stop sign was in still drivable silver Lexus. I tried to get Ramona to calm down, but it was impossible, so I left her there to wail, as the familiar bands of ropy snot swung from her upper lip.
Ramona and I were taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Her lying down and me sitting up. It was a terrible job trying to get her to make sentences. She acted as though her skull was cracked open. We were x-rayed and she had a chipped vertebra, whereas I had a herniated disk. The lawyer I chose looked like a long haired hippie, and on his television spots let you know that he knew it. He was one of us it was supposed. I think during the whole time I dealt with his office I saw him only once, in his office parking lot. The person I dealt with was his office manager, who like medical and dental assistants handled the bulk of the work. She was a large cheerful woman in her early thirties, who never spoke in dollar amounts.
Thankfully, my parents came through with a car. It was a 95 probe that they’d bought for my brother, but because he kept running into things with it, they gave it to me. From my understanding, I was only borrowing the car until I got another one, but in their minds, I was welcome to it. This was good because I still had a job to get to.
Nurse Heather worked in the children’s unit. The first time I saw the attractive 40 something, I knew I had to talk to her. She was taller than I was, maybe 5’,10”, with a curvy shape and curly red hair. Maybe I’m just attracted to nuts, I don’t know, because Heather had been receiving a psychological disability check before coming to work at the hospital. In addition, she was a self-proclaimed witch. She also wound up being the only person I could talk to. I had no friends. We’d sit outside the children’s unit and smoke cigarettes and talk. I began telling her about my problems with Ramona, and how it was fucking up my life. She acted like a counselor, except she dispersed her advice with confessions about how fucked up her love life was. Pretty soon the rumors were flying about us. I hadn’t laid a finger on her, but in the minds of the hospital staff, we were fucking. There was a lot of sexual tension between us, but I was still married, so nothing was going on. Eventually I brought up the possibility that Ramona and I could get separated. The two main reasons I didn’t want a separation, was because I didn’t want to face the resulting scene when I asked to split up, and secondly I couldn’t afford our apartment on my own. Heather and I sat at a concrete table, smoking, and she said to me, “What are you going to do about yourself?”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re so afraid of hurting Ramona’s feelings that you are totally screwing yourself over. You’re making yourself miserable.”
“Yes, I suppose I am. I just don’t want to hear the crying.”
“Well, she’s going to cry eventually whether you break up with her or not. Meanwhile you’re still going to be searching the streets for her and feeling like a fool.”
“Ok.” I said, “You’re right. I’ll do it tonight.”
That night, I came home, and the first words out of my mouth were, “I want a separation.”
Surprisingly, Ramona only blew up slightly. There was more anger than tears. She just couldn’t see why I’d want to leave her. Or maybe she could, and was upset that I’d finally put my foot down and called her on her bullshit. She rushed into the other room and called her mother, who got her a plane ticket back to Asshole
She slept in the other room that night, on the futon mattress, but couldn’t resist waking me up that morning to say goodbye. I was cordial, I said goodbye, but that was it. I wasn’t going to break. I was going to go back to sleep. When I heard the front door close for the final time, that’s exactly what I did.
I woke up a free man. I could now do what I wanted, almost. I still had to find an affordable place to live. Out of habit I decided to call my old landlords from
”Hello Mrs. Woodbine, this is Francis Jones. I was wondering if you had any apartments open.”
“Well, Mr. Jones, we do. The only problem is the condition you left your old apartment in. And you left without proper notice. We had to replace the front door and the closet door, the carpeting, we had to haul that giant couch out of there and take it to the dump. All told we had to spend 900.00 getting the place into rentable condition. I mean you left it filthy.” The old broad wasn’t fooling me. There was no way they spent 900 bucks on that place, but I was over a barrel.
“Well, I’m sorry Mrs. Woodbine, but I was kind of in a situation when I moved out of there. How much would it take to square us away?”
“Well Mr. Jones, I’d have to talk to my husband about whether he wants you back. What’s a number you can be reached at?”
I gave her the number, and hung up. I wasn’t really worried about it. It took seven years for me to fuck up that apartment, if you can call it that. I knew that they’d experienced worse damage than I’d done, by renting to certain hippie individuals for less than 6 months. One thing that did frighten me was the amount of stuff that we’d managed to acquire in 2 years of marriage. There were not only bulky old bookshelves and novelties of all sorts, but I also had a 250 pound cast-iron gargoyle sitting in my living room. I’d never be finished moving if I had to take all of this shit. I found enough cardboard boxes to pack Ramona’s belongings. From her clothing, to her rock collection, but looking back on it, I could have been more thorugh, because after I packed her boxes, I went into a frenzy of cleaning. I threw away 90 percent of everything in that two bedroom apartment. I had to fill the dumpster more than twice with, records and magazines, tiki statues, old toys, books and everything else that I felt was unnecessary to my immediate well being.
Mrs. Woodbine called me back, and quoted me an outrageous price that included the 900 dollars in repairs they said they incurred. But I accepted it. I was skipping on the apartment I was currently in, and in the long run, with their cheaper rent, it would pay off. I rented a small truck and snuck quietly out of the Austin Lights apartments, only to find that the apartment I was moving into, was Charlie’s old place. Well that was a kick in the nuts. When I walked into it, I wondered how long it would be before the memories and negative energy drove me nuts. I carried the cartons up
The stairs and ran into my new neighbor Chris, who was just leaving. Chris seemed uncomfortable with being in my prescence, like he was angry with me. I couldn’t understand it. I’d known him from college, and we’d always gotten along well, but something had changed, and he wasn’t talking, so I just left him to his emotions, and finished moving in. After that, Chris gave me the evil eye whenever he saw me. I never got to figure out what was wrong with him.
Despite the fact that I was a good worker, I just didn’t look like a security guard. I was told to my face that I just didn’t fit the part. The head of the security department gave me a month to find another position in the hospital. Imagine that, a boss telling you that you’re going to be fired within 30 days. I began to look for another position. I started at the power plant, where they needed someone to attend to the boilers. It was a position that they trained you for, but they still expected you to pass a test before you got the job. I went to the library and got several books on steam power, and air conditioning, and memorized the salient points. I was confident when I took the test, which was oral. I was sure that I had passed it. I even tried to contact the head of the department and let him know my situation, that my boss would give him a good reference for being an exemplary worker. Little did I know that my boss was a two-faced cocksucker, who would tell not only the power plant boss, but also the boss at the children’s section, where I applied, that I was a terrible worker, and not to hire me. I found this all out later, a few days before I was let go. I was screwed . I was on unemployment again.
Two years with Ramona had passed. Add a year to that and that’s how long I had been out of the dating scene. I hadn’t been in a bar, or had a real date in over three years. And what did I have to offer a date now that I was unemployed? My sense of humor? Perhaps I could offer them a perceived sense of cool. I was walking with a cane. Not that I was trying to look cool, but the herniated disk in my back had led to a pinched nerve, and my right leg would go dead every once in a while. I was on unemployment insurance, driving a 1995 Probe, and owned one suit (sharkskin) whose waist was two inches too small for me. It sounds like a recipe for a bitter experience, but those were the ingredients that I had to work with. So I shave, shower, stuff my 34 inch waist into my 32 inch sharkskin pants, and drive my Ford Probe down to