I guess you could say that when my mother died, I came out of the closet. And – unfortunately for me – so did she. Different closet, naturally.
I’m one of those people born gay. It’s not just something I chose because there was nothing better on offer. And honestly, it had NOTHING to do with my mother. When I talked to the first lawyer he seemed to think that living with your mother until you’re forty and going to bed with women have to be two facts that have some sort of relationship. Not the case. Far from it.
So I have to make the point that my mother wasn’t sexual to me. I doubt that she was ever sexual to anybody. People who think of their mothers sexually must have mothers a whole lot different from mine, that’s all I can say. You don’t think about the body under the apron on the person nagging you to finish the food on your plate. At least I don’t.
I was a late-bloomer — over thirty before the penny finally dropped. I had rubbed bodies with girlfriends before, but I really didn’t think anything of it. If they had orgasms I sure as hell couldn’t tell. But then I was thirty-two and I met Eva. Eva was ripe. Eva was rich. Eva was honky-tonk come to life. She bleached her pubic hair with the reasoning that then it would become invisible and then she wouldn’t have to bother to shave. (NOT). That’s what drew me to her – this amazing woman with an explosion of Orphan Annie hair – a curly mirkin – coming out from under her bathing suit. I mean, you had to look inside, you know?
So I was the aggressor. I let it all hang out, and she liked that. Constant sex is my recipe for love. I was amazed to discover – this was after three months of me doing everything to her – that she was a masseuse, for Chrissake. Her job was rubbing people’s bodies. (And she was not one of those whore masseuses. She had a degree and all that.)
But when I was working her over I didn’t have those kinds of thoughts, hey, breasts just like my mother’s, a slit just like I came out of. I mean, that’s the furthest thing from your mind. But Eva and I were a short term thing.
I lived with my mother because she had that huge house and because it was convenient. Check the “get ahead” literature and they’ll all tell you to get yourself a wife. Well, this was the best I could do.
When my brother died, I became my mommy’s only kid. The rest of our relatives really didn’t want to have anything to do with us. According to Mom it was because of the divorce. Everybody dumped us. She didn’t take it well. Not too strong to say she flipped out. But there’s a lot of that going around as well as a lot of divorce. After the right to marry the right to divorce tags right along behind.
My father’s family was no day at the beach, let me tell you. Too much emphasis on who sits where, who serves what and whether you have help in the house. Bunch of snobs. We were better off without them.
My mom wasn’t better off in the technical sense, because she insisted on staying in that house. Must have been worth a half a mill ; more, with work done. Without me, no way she could have paid those bills. But I wasn’t handy, and I wasn’t making enough money. I was too thirsty for poontang.
I do collection work and I enjoy it. You live on the phone. You find out things about people that are interesting to know, and yet you stay anonymous. Lots of secrets in this universe. First off, there’s no tiny subculture separate from the Real World because there is no Real World. Everyone’s got an act, and the only people who get to find out are the doctors and the lawyers and the guy who has to fix the corpse so Granny won’t be shocked and me. Who gets to see both sets of books.
My mother was a limited person, even though it’s me that says it. She probably thought no woman getting three tasty nourishing meals a day would even be interested in sex. I do remember she had arguments with my father about it. There was time we went away for vacation to some shrine in Connecticut. We used to be very good Catholics until the pope instituted liberalities and he lost Mom. (Which turned out to be good for us because she stopped trying to make us go to church.) But now I’m wondering – if she had been more spiritual, would any of this have happened? Who knows?
Anyway, when we got back from the shrine it was pretty obvious Dad had been “entertaining” while we were away. The woman must have been a smoker because her lipsticked butts were everywhere – but worse, there were condoms lying around like exploded balloons from a party we weren’t invited to. It was plain from my mother’s outraged screaming that he should be getting his sexing the back seats of automobiles like a normal person and bringing his floozies across her threshold was a sin so vile he would writhe in hell for eon upon eon. So I’m not likely to ask my mother’s opinion if a little snatch after work is OK. I had a pretty good idea what she would say.
Then Mom got cancer, the basically curable kind that if you just spread your legs for a doctor occasionally you could totally avoid. But she wasn’t that “easy” so by the time they found out about it, sayonara.
I had one night a week reserved for myself. Not too much to ask, right? I used to tell her I was going to the “club” – she wasn’t to know Rape of the Lock was a gay bar. They always had stuff — poetry readings, treasure hunts, mini-plays. Performances calculated to make the gals hot and horny, and a good time had by all. That’s where I met Klea – she was one of the bartenders there. She always claimed to be working towards an MBA but frankly I never saw any signs of it. She was stuck in a tense living situation too – living over a garage for free for a couple she was supposed to “caretake”.
Blurry job description leads to lots of complaining. She wasn’t supposed to have any roommates – this couple was afraid that the outside world would find out they had a house loaded with QVC collectibles. What with Snoopster Mom Klea couldn’t visit me and the only way I could visit her was by sneaking. I climbed the trellis on occasion. Heavy drinking, heavy sex, heavy trellis climbing – romance killers when you’re looking forty in the face. Ask any actuary. We were primed for new life.
For a short window of time there I was busy with my work and Klea, and Mom was busy with hospitals and ladies’ clubs and life was doable.
Then there was another period where Mom was in the hospital and I could have Klea over. That was tense in some ways and better in other ways. It was better because it gave us an idea what it might be like to live together.
We felt we were through the period where you try to make the other person jealous – just to prove you can – and we were talking about selling the house right after my mother died – “as is” condition, of course, but at least it was free and clear – and opening our own place. Not a bar – no trying to keep horns clipped — more of a café. We had both reached exactly the same time in our lives where we had to make up our minds: keep babysitting the straight world, or shape our futures the way we wanted them to be. We were dreaming.
Klea worried Mom would “find out” and leave the house away from us. She kept nagging me to “come out” to this cancer-ridden lady. I told Klea she was being hysterical. The real problem was keeping Mom from finding out I was going to sell the place. If she’d been able to think in terms of progress and reward, her life wouldn’t have been such a shambles. Let me say right here that in her own way, Mom loved me and I loved her. If we loved “stylized” versions of each other – that’s family. So how do I explain what came after?
My conclusion that a person’s ghost is that person’s worst self. When you die, the good part goes to heaven or whatever, and the bad part stays here to torment us. Get it? We’re hell. That guy who said, Hell is other people? Bingo. Hell is being at the mercy of a dead person that’s shed its conscience. We’re like nightmares dead people keep having. And they’re ours.
The worst part was when the hospital sent my mother home to die. I think they were just trying to make things easier on themselves, but Mom was a willing participant. Home. That’s what she wanted. Hospice idea rejected right out of hand.
So there I was with a nurse by day and a nurse by night. Hard on me, going without sex just when I needed it most. I had to have Klea back. I needed sex to relax, sex to get to sleep, sex to clear my head, sex to digest my food. You know how it is. Mom was confined to a hospital bed. So why couldn’t I get that support?
I told Klea to only use the back stairs and never the front part of the second floor, where Mom was. But the noises she made! You could say Klea haunted Mom before Mom haunted Klea. Mom actually decided — because of Klea — that the house she’d lived in for forty- five years was haunted. My dead twin, Uncle Andrew – her own mother – people I’d never heard of like “Carla” and “Mrs. Myers” – I had to listen to hours of crazy ravings about everyone who’d ever nurtured a grudge against Mom. Who knew there was such a long list?
They taught me to give her the morphine shots – made me practice with an orange – and I just kept upping the dose so she’d be out of it most of the time. Everybody does it. The nurses don’t mind so long as it isn’t them. Towards the end there’s a very fuzzy line between life and death and everyone understands that, but the law, apparently, still operates under the Old Testament scapegoat system. That’s all I can deduce.
I was with her when she died. It was right between nurses,by coincidence, just at dusk. I had given her that last shot, and I was sitting there listening to her breathing go raspy. Definitely a death rattle – I had to leave the room. Then nothing. Hallelujah! I’d swear mom was relieved too. Now she was free. No need to Stepin Fetchit, I decided to wait for the nurse, who was late, by the way. So I called Klea down for a beer. Watching someone die is an unsettling experience, I can tell you. It’s Miller time.
Klea wanders around in the nude by choice, but when the nurse is around she will make the concession of long shirt and jean-shorts. But her feet were bare. Halfway down the stairs she doubled up with pain and started screaming. Stepped on something. “Jesus!” she yelled. “I’ve been stabbed!”
I sort of half carried her upstairs where I could lay her out on the bed. “It’s a hat pin,” I told her. “It’s really in there. I’m going to pull it out.”
“No, no, no!” she screamed, grabbing my hand. “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Promise you won’t touch
“Klea, stop being a baby about this. I can call the paramedics but when they come, you know what they’ll do? They’ll pull it out. Or we can wait for the nurse – to refuse to work on you — and who knows how long that will be? “
“Please,” she whined, clutching me so desperately her face bones turned white and stuck out of the skin like a skull, just like Mom’s before she died – “Don’t do it yet! Give me some morphine!”
I could hear myself explaining to the nurse why there was so much morphine missing with Klea zonked out upstairs. Recipe for trouble.
“Relax. I’m going to pull it out real fast. It’ll be just like a bandaid. Don’t look at it.”
But she held my hand. “So don’t give me a big dose. Just a little. You know they won’t miss it.”
“Klea! Morphine to take a pin out of your foot! What an infant!”
“You don’t know how it HURTS,” she wailed. “It hurts and I’m scared.”
Well, it was in pretty far. Long hatpin. God I hoped her tetanus was up to date. What was it doing on the stairs anyway – in that position? Tell me how likely is that? My brain was scrambling.
“Ok,” I said. “Be a pussy. Be a drug addict.”
I tell you what decided me. I had a feeling this nurse wouldn’t do anything – she’d call the paramedics anyway. She was one of those people very worked up on only doing exactly what they’re paid for. I squirted plenty out because obviously she wouldn’t need as much. But since I got rid of it, how could I prove it? I shot the inside of her elbow, and it hit her pretty fast. You could see her blink off like a light. Went right to sleep, but her breathing was good.
I hadn’t expected her to lose consciousness, but you better believe it helped me. Pliers got that thing out of there. I had the wound all dressed before the nurse arrived, so we could make the Mom calls together. Death certificate, doctor, funeral home. Then I got that Miller, long overdue.
I had no idea Klea would be such a five year old. I’ve seen her handling drunks twice her size, which is nothing I’d line up for.
She didn’t open her eyes till next morning.
“So how’s my little junkie this morning?” I asked her. She was lying in bed – clothes askew, hair spilling everywhere – it would make the pope horny.
“My foot’s sore,” she said. But she smiled. Looked like herself again. Pulled me on top of her. “So….” she whispered, “Is the place ours?” She probably shouldn’t have said that. “What’s for breakfast?”
“I got a better idea than breakfast,” I said, rubbing her hard, flat stomach and trying to get my hand under her jeans, “How about deep, deep tissue massage? Guaranteed cure-all.“
That’s when it happened. I was trying to unzip her jeans, wiggling that zipper up and down – and she started screaming again. Pushed me away, screamed I’d zipped her skin. When I realized what it was, I got the scissors and I cut the pants off her. But it was difficult because she was fighting hard the whole time. She was so upset she pissed on herself in the bed. God, it was like taking care of my mother all over again! And then to get blamed for everything. She was bleeding all right, but it was a tiny wound – just a little of the loose skin on her gut. It would grow back. It’s not my fault she wears her jeans so tight. Definitely no need for morphine here.
“Here’s the culprit” I said, trying to show her the zipper with its played metal teeth.
“YOU DID IT!” she hissed. “Don’t go blaming my zipper that never did that before! And it was your pin, too!”
I was so taken aback I really didn’t know how to defend myself. “Hey, I fixed it,” I said.
“You mean you fixed ME!” she said. “You sure did! I’m getting the fuck out of here before you slit my throat and offer to stitch it up for me!” And she shot out of bed and started pulling on sweatpants – my sweatpants.
She was flying out the door before I had a chance to warn her about the stairs. I took up the rug and the stair rods so they could take out Mom and her hospital bed and I hadn’t replaced them yet. I mean, I get tired too. Mom waxed and waxed those goddamn stairs. My hair used to hold the smell for days. Klea would have been fine if she wasn’t going a hundred miles an hour. But I heard the thump, the slam – I swear I heard a crunch – and when I got to the bottom of the stairs, there was my second corpse in a two-day period.
But I knew at that point that it was my mother who killed Klea — to keep us from living in her house! Of course! Bad anger, competitiveness, rage, resentment – they’re killers.
Don’t you see I’m next? This way she gets us both. It looks so bad, what with the missing morphine, the extra morphine in Mom, the wounds on Klea, even her piss in my bed – and I can’t find a lawyer who will treat my story with respect!
The way I see it is, it’s too late to apologize to a dead person. Too late to say the things I should have said — so she died and left pure rage behind. As a sort of default mode. What I need to know from you is, can a hant get a person convicted of murder? Because if that’s possible, we should all give up right now. Nobody’s safe.