(it’s been said that old rockstars love young women with long legs
because of all their magic added leverage come the final purple VIP cord)
Who can say for truly real? By the last day of his life Gary’s health was so troubled that he couldn’t hold his plectrum. He retreated into himself, no interest in even TV—zimzum the Cabalists call it. As if Gary’s villa was tucked off some angry ripe shoal, a shrimp boat carefully tacked about the corner onto South Carolwood. The truck tugging the boat trailer nestled up against Gary’s curb, The Iron Nellie blocking the famous rockstar’s gated driveway.
A classy redhead with great long legs swung down from the cab. The redhead’s skin was pale, oaty with a comely sprinkle of freckles. She wore a flashy black and white French marine outfit, bell-bottomed, with a magenta scarf tied flamboyantly around her hips—not to hide anything, but to reveal that she had nothing to hide. The twenty-something cat-walked the brick way winding to Gary’s door; gestured at the video camera; pounded; used her own key to allow herself in.
My younger brother committed suicide within the womb. He slipped the umbilical cord about his neck and kicked the bucket just short of delivery. Today we would sue the hell out of the hospital, but back then, wombs like tumbleweed ghost towns aching for the old days accepted all the blame. The miscarriage collapsed mom into a total control freak—with everybody, with everything, except with (fruit of her loins) me: the birthday parties of other kids I could skip by simply pointing at my stomach. I could even skip my own.
Mom carried always a rolled up newspaper beneath her arm. She used it to celebrate the lives of flies and other faulty insects with a final exclamation point/smack, plus test lampshades and curtains for dust. Reese, our swimming pool guy, was my closest friend, much closer than Julia, our maid, who would cover her ears (making easy prey of her breasts) whenever she heard the approach of mother’s whacking newspaper.
During the season leading up to Super Bowl I, Reese barbered me a mod Beatles haircut. It bowled over all my natural features; I wouldn’t have recognized me at all were it not for my totally missing eyebrows. I loved it so much that I’ve still got it today—just like I’ve still got my replacement-sister: Chocolate. On the day the Packers victored Chocolate arrived home from the hospital, chilled from three weeks in the incubator, all ready to evolve into a fellow family character. She looked nothing like me – already had eyebrows.
Choc learned quite early from a pair of Muppets that there is a world of difference between announcing that you’re sorry, and announcing that you’re sorry and truly meaning it. She was hardly three when I found her working on her lines in the blue glow of the nursery television: »I’m sorry. You got me? I’m sorry. You got me? I’m sorry. You got me?« She could also count backwards from ten.
And then suddenly she couldn’t, could proceed no further back than seven before sliding from her beanbag perch to become a molten lump on the floor, meaning that a tsetse fly had inoculated her with Human African trypanosomiasis.
A second opinion from the hospital told us that our family doctor was no rigorous diagnostician: Choc had diabetes, a serious pancreatic malfunction requiring a strict diet, a tough regime of morning stomach insulin injections, and a Snickers bar just out of reach to spurn occasions of swallowing her tongue.
Mom and Choc shared some true grit girly time in the upstairs lavatory/laboratory each morning. Litmus strips mom read like Chinese fortune cookies from her own Midwestern childhood: What Farmer’s Insurance doesn’t cover only makes us stronger—When the going gets tough, the tough consent to take part in a Mayo study—Your parents are considering a divorce. The first few seasons Choc wore a Pan-Am blindfold for her morning stomach insulin injections; later, she simply waited until mom was packing away the syringe to slip on her Soflens contacts.
Then one unguarded Friday night our refurbished dynaflow Dodge turned on mom with dad at the wheel. The orange ball of flames sprinkled auto and body parts across all twelve LA expressway lanes. Our babysitter treated Choc to a Snickers. For the next several years I had a fairly private moment.
Each day: news. Each night: proverbs. Nearing fifty, Choc is still a virgin, the insulin pump on her hip not making her any less beautiful than she truly is—and I don’t mean just on the inside: her long neck, her fragile arms (both from mom), balancing her pear-shaped butt (dad), are worthy of Audrey Hepburn in a clay by Rodin.
The Iron Nellie reminded our barbecue guests to inquire after Gary’s health. Chocolate, looking lady gubernatorial in a black Catalina swimsuit with a yellow Velcro ribbon piggy-backing her black pump, passed along the inside info that Ionut, Gary’s swimming pool guy, had shared with Hanson, Gary’s gardener: »Elton John sent flowers. An arrangement by Bernie Taupin. Crosby and Nash sent flowers as well, their card reading: Shine On.«
No one needed to guess what that meant.
And nobody would have been wrong: the following morning both The Iron Nellie and truck were gone, leaving behind the anemic-looking boat trailer, and from the second floor of Gary’s villa waved a tan bedspread baptized by blood. Cars passed slowly paying their tributes by tooting their horns, smartphones like waving cigarette lighters reaching from sunroofs to Tweet images with the breaking RIPcelebrity news: Final bed sheet music! Gary joins the great rock ‘n roll hall of fame in heaven. Coroners rule!
Choc and I went down to mix and meet and greet and get from Ionut the low-down from the street. Choc was wearing a sunny little sundress, yellow, short, the insulin pump a stylish hump on her hip. Ionut was disappointed to learn that I was still very much satisfied with the haircuts and pool services of Reese’s son, Ewl. A happy eyewitness helicopter prattled overhead.
»Hey Io,« Choc said. »What’s the deal with the bed sheet?«
»I grow in Romania. I see dozens such sheets. Gary remarry on final night. The sheet prove wife virgin.«
My turn: »If The Iron Nellie was a virgin, I’m Hillary Clinton with a bonus supply of El Presidente cigars.«
»Yes, in Romania no virgins either. Naturally bride half whore—else why marry? The husband slit behind knee and bleed. He lie to everybody on sheet his wife real virgin. Like church vow. All next day he limp.«
My turn: »Or in this case all next day he dead.«
»Yes, or for rest of life he dead. Romania same.«
A van from CNN backed up to the boat trailer, three news people pouring out, two with cameras. Choc crossed the street without looking either way, Gary’s death a de facto natural South Carolwood speed bump.
»Your sister not half bad for age,« Ionut said.
Personally, I’ve never enjoyed sex without fully paying for it. »That’s one way of considering her.«
»You know Versace insulin pumps new Hollywood silicone boobs?«
»Yes. You not see World Cup?«
»Just when we played.«
»You miss outstanding matches.«
»I can’t take all that fake rolling around on the ground. Pussies.«
»Other sport have time-out. Futball? No time-out. Each match guy run twelve kilometers, maybe more, much running fast legs go. Cry Momma! Momma! roll in out, in out. You know how hard heart pounding, you know who side clock on, Momma! Momma!—match in win column.«
Marley’s No Woman, No Crime, played from the boom box speakers of a convertible Porsche with its windows rolled up and its top pulled tight. Gary’s official police autopsy cause of death as reported in the LA Times: Rockstar lifestyle. Chocolate climbed up on the boat trailer, did The Frig. Her pump looked like a furry ball tucked in her bloomers should her first service fail. Overhead, the happy helicopter was dwarfed by a second eyewitness mate. Across Mountain and Pacific kitchen breakfast screens, Choc lost her balance, then caught herself, like some surprise, five-foot-three wave schooled by Martha Graham.
»The clock’s another Boo! thing about soccer,« I said. »You never see it ticking down. It’s all over whenever the skinny ref blows his whistle—a total judgment call.«
[Refer: This story put the editors in mind of Virginia K. Nalencz’s story “The Wild Things Go Downtown.”]
Image by Matt Gibson
Eldon (Craig) Reishus lives beneath the Alps outside Munich (Landkreis Bad Tölz – Wolfratshausen). He’s an old school Exquisite Corpse contributor with recent work featured or forthcoming at such venues as Literary Bohemian, Am Erker, B O D Y, theEEEL, Word Riot, decomP, Fiction Fix, and New World Writing. A German-English translator and an all-around web and print media pro, he originates from Fort Smith, Stuttgart, Dachau, Owatonna, Bloomington, Granite Falls, Ytterboe at Saint Olaf, Minneapolis, Portland’s State Street, Berlin’s Schlossallee, and Munich’s Schellingstrasse. Visit him: reishus.de.