The third and final part of “A Weekend.” I don’t remember where this Beatles thing came from. I was probably just listening to them while I was writing. Also, I’m not gay.
A Weekend: Confederate Sunday
Back in the USSR
My grandfather stood his spoon straight up in the mess of Fruity Pebbles. He looked serious as he read the local Gazette – crime reports, neighborhood news, on the campaign trail with our local Councilman. All the unimportant, day-to-day things preserved for eternity.
I was mushing up my eggs and trying to get a grip on life, in general.
“Niggers!” my grandfather said, throwing the paper down.
“That new development on Manchester Boulevard. It’ll bring in nothing but darkies and wetbacks.”
“It’s the downfall of our race,” I replied, “I hear that Yankee devil Abe Lincoln is going to free the slaves.”
“Don’t get smart with me. I don’t want to hear backtalk from my ‘alternative’ grandson.”
I didn’t like the sound of that. “Alternative?”
“You’re gay. I know it. You and your faggot friend on Friday night giggling like schoolgirls and dancing in the yard. It’s Brad Pitt. He’s responsible. He’s turned an entire generation into faggots and polluted the good, strong democratic values we used to have. It’s –”
I rolled my eyes and fled the kitchen.
There was a heavily-medicated girl in the guest room. Having endeavored to remove myself from family activities, I wasn’t clear on who this woman was. She seemed very fragile and I hoped against hope that this wasn’t some sort of Freemason Yenta deal. Maybe a woman would save me from the homoerotic evils of Brad Pitt?
I can’t say I was surprised when I looked out my window and saw James. What was surprising was his crisp, black suit and the flower he clasped to his chest with both hands. He was lying on the picnic table, eyes closed, at peace. I slipped on my shoes, took my coffee, and wandered into the backyard.
“Good morning,” James muttered as I approached, his eyes still closed.
“Hey James. You okay?”
“I’m spending every Sunday dead from now on.”
“Why’s that, then?”
“A protest against Jesus. It’s also a wise financial move. Time is money, man. Based on my annual salary, every hour is worth five dollars. I think my math is right – 50K a year divided by 8760 hours. So if I spend every Sunday dead, I make a dollar and forty cents more per hour.”
It was too early for this. I finished my coffee and sat down. “My grandfather says we’re gay.”
“Right, like I’m going to worry about the opinion of a man who casts a write-in vote for Andrew Jackson every four years.”
There was a silence that stretched on for approximately three and a half minutes, if I was timing the snail on the picnic table correctly.
“Well,” I said at last, “I’m going back inside.”
“Okay, faggot. Go whack off to Ed Norton!”
I stood and left him there shouting homosexual obscenities. When I rounded the corner, I nearly ran into my grandfather.
“I knew it,” he whispered, “Ed Norton, eh? That whelp!”
James was playing Morrowind while I organized a deck of cards based on subtle psychic impressions received from a voice just beside my left shoulder.
“Your grandfather told me to stop watching Pitt and Norton movies.”
“Yeah. He said I had been emasculated by the modern American entertainment industry.”
“I’m inclined to agree with him, though for different reasons.”
“You should write about this on your retarded website so all those people who read your stupid shit can feel emasculated as well.”
I winced, too tired to make an issue.
“You should write about this weekend.”
“Write about the weekend? That should be easy enough. Friday: James and I got drunk and stupid. Saturday: We was all hung-over and stuff. Sunday: We’re not sure if we’re still alive. Epilogue: James OD’d, viewing is at Pumphries in Bethesda, Tuesday 9am. The End.”
“You have a natural talent. I could never write like that.”
Wild Honey Pie
James was throwing cards through the crook of my arm while I was reading an article on Culture Jamming when he suddenly screamed, “We live in a society that strives to keep you fat and poor, then punishes you for not being wealthy and attractive!”
“Did your spaceship just hit the 20th Century?”
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
“This is the American Dream,” James muttered as Georgia Avenue brought us into Wheaton. “Buy, sell, sell, buy, checks cashed here, discount video distributors. The obese masses hobbling from Dunkin Donuts to McDonalds and back again.”
“I think you need a drink.”
“Is that my problem? Jesus Christ, is that my fucking problem?”
We hit the Royal Mile Pub and ordered a pitcher of Bass. Next to us sat a large family, enjoying their Sunday brunch. Trouble was usually a foregone conclusion, but this was Sunday morning coming down. James flinched when a cell phone at the next table rang, but all he did was throw a cruel glance at the phone’s owner.
“So your office mate is leaving?” James asked.
“Yeah. Good thing to. She’s always talking or making noise, repeating things, complaining. Constant, non-stop noise. You know?”
“Yeah, people like that should be hit in the throat with a baseball bat.”
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Sunday afternoon was the quiet time, a slumbering house welcomed us as we drifted into the driveway, through the living area, and then poured through the back door, an inebriated mess. We set up HQ at Fire Base Back Patio and sat in pure silence for an hour. It was a time of introspection. James sat with his head down while I looked up at the trees, ready for the rapture.
Happiness is a Warm Gun
“I hate to disturb you,” James was saying.
I opened my eyes. Had I been asleep? I looked at James, then followed his gaze to the backyard, where my grandfather stood in full Confederate uniform with his old shotgun on his shoulder.
“Mother of God…” I whispered.
“Is this new?” James asked, worry etching his face.
“What a savage thing to wake up to.”
My grandfather raised his gun in the air, “In hoc signo vinces!” he shouted, firing both barrels.
Martha My Dear / I’m So Tired
She awoke to the sound of the shotgun, her eyes watery, pale, drugged. In the air conditioned room, she felt like she was a thousand miles above the Earth. It took her a few heartbeats before she was able to understand where she was, then she sat up and parted the curtains cautiously.
James had jumped nearly a foot, then slid down to the patio. My aunt’s cat was perched precariously on the edge of the roof, watching the action with a keen interest. In the distance, I thought I heard police sirens.
I rose and walked towards my grandfather. “You put the gun down, or I take the bells off.”
He looked up at Missy, then fixed me with a glare. “You wouldn’t dare.”
Something in me snapped. I turned and bolted to the side of the house, scaled the ladder and set myself firmly on the hot roof. My aunt’s cat turned to me, her green eyes glinting in the sunlight. I inched towards her and she backed away..
“No Missy,” I said, putting a hand to my neck, “The bells. I’ll take the bells.”
Her mind was twisted on gunshots and craziness. She continued to back away.
My grandfather looked up at me, “If you do this, you’ll have to clean up the chipmunks from now on.”
I jabbed my finger in the air, “Put the damned gun down!”
He gritted his teeth, weighing options.
She moved down the hall, her gossamer robe trailing behind her. The house was quiet, sleeping, except for the men outside. She was sick, weak, fragile. Opening the back door took all of her strength, then she stepped outside into the hard and humid heat.
James looked at her, recognition dawning in his eyes. “Claire?”
She smiled thinly.
“Claire?” I barked.
I looked down at the woman. The last I had seen my cousin, she was 12 years old. That was in 95. She was sick – cancer, and a serious case as well. I didn’t get too many details. Over the past decade, I had evolved from grandson to renter to “that guy in the basement.”
Missy took advantage of my distraction and fled down the Magnolia tree, skittering into the forest just as two police cars squealed into the driveway. The fucking neighbors probably had their fingers hovering over ’9-1-1′ ever since James and I had our Memorial Day barbecue.
I looked down at my grandfather. “Cops.”
He threw his gun down, “You see what you’ve done, now? You and that cat and your faggot friend! Do you see?”
He stormed off to diffuse the situation while I crouched down, out of view of the officers now standing on the driveway. James was watching me. When he caught my eye, he mouthed the word ‘marijuana.’
“Is it obvious?”
“It’s on my front seat.”
My cousin put on the White Album and took my hands in hers. She was sweating, her skin pale. “I don’t have long.” She said, “I thought I’d come home.” She smiled. She would have been beautiful.
I pulled her towards me and held her close. “I remember you as a child.”
“I still am.”
We listened to the first disk, and when the second disk began I closed my eyes. I was holding a child in my arms and she wouldn’t see another year.