My coffee had not even had time to kick in this morning when Mama called in an absolute frenzy. You’ll recall that a few weeks ago her home was burglarized–well today, Kenny had taken her there on his way to work so she could wait for the insurance adjuster to arrive.
“This place looks like a tornado has gone through it! A tornado!”
I doubt it looks any different than usual. It has been years since there has even been a place to sit in her hoarding hovel.
“I figure there’s $20,000 worth of stuff gone from here! That ain’t even countin’ the new door and the refrigerator. You know they pried the back off the refrigerator?? Somebody said it was to get at copper in the coils. And they stole all the meat outta the freezer and my fruit cocktail. They musta gotten hungry tearin this place apart.”
When I asked mama a week or so ago what all these thieves had taken, she couldn’t be more specific than “All my joo-rey! Lots of collectibles. All these Benson and Hedges cards they put out–one for each state, had little facts on ’em that interested me. A whole set of those is worth something!” So, five pieces of costume jewelry and 50 old cigarette packs? And the fruit cocktail. Let’s not forget the fruit cocktail. Part of me hopes the insurance adjuster sees right through her madness. Another part wants her to get enough money to move her modular mansion off of the seven acres she’s lived on for 30 years and into a place where she might actually make friends. At the very least, I truly hope they pay someone to come in and clean up the “tornado” although I realize full well that it is the result of her and not the work of vandals. We shall see. If her collection of cigarette packs is worth 20 grand, we need to up our homeowner’s coverage to a few million.
“Cassie’s dead.” Now, to a normal person this might have been the first thing to bring up. Cassie was our neighbor when I was growing up. Her life mirrors moms in many ways…a string of unhealthy relationships with losers, a lifetime of manipulating one government program or another, vague “disabilities” that have prevented her from ever holding gainful employment. They’ve each lost a child in recent years (Cassie’s oldest child suffered from CP and passed a few years back) And, certainly not least, a penchant for eating pharmaceuticals as if they were M and Ms.
“Dead? From what?” I knew the answer before she told me.
“OD’d. I cain’t believe she did that. I was just reading from the Inspirational Bible she gave me in 2003 yesterday. She knew me bout better than anyone.”
“Wow, that’s hard to believe. I’m sorry.”
“Ever-body’s dying. Dub (mama’s ex husband), Frank (another of mom’s exes), Scott (yet another), John (another of our neighbors), and now Cassie.”
“Well most of those people died because they lived very unhealthy and dangerous lives.”
“I know it. I’m so glad I’m off these drugs!” I suspected as much because she has been oddly coherent lately, but she had not told me this.
“You are? Since when?”
“Four weeks, since I got outta the hospital. No valium. No pain medicine, nothing but my high blood pressure pills. That coulda been me. I don’t know how many times I’d wake up in the middle of the night and reach into my purse and just take whatever I could find in the dark.”
Actually, I probably do know, since those wee-hour doses often resulted in phone messages filled with singing, slurred babbling, and wailing.
“Well, I’m really glad you are off of them. I think you’ll feel better without them actually.”
“And I think I’m on Kenny’s nerves.”
“He got drunk as a skunk last night. He’s got a drinking problem.”
Again, imagine that.
“And he knew I was pissed off this morning too. He dropped me off and they was someone in a government car out there where Pauline’s house used to be smokin’ a crack pipe! Broad daylight in a government car. He can’t be too annoyed. He’ll get paid for lettin’ me live there. I got loss of use on that policy that’ll pay him some rent til they get this place back. It looks like a tornado went through here!”
“I hope you get it cleaned up.“
“I’m sitting here on the trash can cause ain’t no place to sit. Adjuster won’t be here til late this afternoon, I’m gonna go stir crazy! Cain’t drive nowhere cause I got a flat tire.” I assume this is the same flat tire she needed my help with weeks ago, and I can further assume she did not take my advice to put air in it, pump it full of Fix a Flat, or roll a half mile to a service station to have it plugged. “I aint supposed to touch anything til they get here.” Is she missing the fact that there has been nowhere to sit in that house in years??
“But feels good to be at my house where I can use my phone anytime I want. I’m about tired of Kenny too. His dick don’t work.”
“Well, it don’t. It’s his problem, not mine. Aint a man alive I cant turn on.”
“These things happen with age.”
“He’s my age!”
“Oh. Well he looks much older.”
“I told him put some preparation H on those wrinkles. I think his dick don’t work cause he has a drinking problem.”
“Could be. Could be from his smoking. Certain health issues.” I was not interested in pursuing the topic of Kenny’s flaccid penis any longer. But she was.
“Well get on your computer and give me a print out of the reasons. Cause I can’t put up with a dick that won’t work. It’ll get hard when we’re dancin’ but get to the bedroom and it’s floppy as a spaghetti noodle.”
“Ugh. Jesus. I don’t want to know. Get him some Viagra.”
“He takes it! Won’t even stay hard long enough to give him a blowjob.”
“I just threw up in my mouth a little.”
“They’s a stomach bug going around up here.” Yeah, that isn’t why.
“I just caint believe Cassie did that. You know Robert’s dyin’ too. He’s in the hospital on his deathbed, cancer all through him. Your Granny’s a mess.” Robert is my grandmother’s longtime hairdresser–a flamboyant old gay man who does old lady “QTip” hairdo’s out of the front bedroom of his ancient trailer house. “I think he had AIDS cause it started in his lymph nodes.”
“Does that indicate that?” I honestly have no clue.
“It can. Oh, praise the Lord. They didn’t get your bronze baby shoes!” What sort of mad thieves were these that would steal fruit cocktail but leave without taking the pair of baby shoes mom had dipped in bronze and turned into bookends? Depraved minds, clearly!
“They didn’t get my angels. But I cain’t find those limited edition Nascar Micro Machines, they’ve got those. Probably worth something now.” And, by gum, she’s right! A quick look on eBay and some of those puppies are going for over ten whole dollars!