By: Dan O’Neill
“Can you believe Mary Lou had the nerve to show up?, Kelly Thorpe says,a piece of Capone Chicago pizza,in one hand a glass of punch in the other one. She is sitting on a folding chair, watching some giggling teenage girls she doesn’t know, making some kind of exercise , dance video for Tik Tok.
No “Nothing surprises me,” says Carol Ann Morton, seated next to her on a white and gold colored wicker chair.
“Since she converted to Catholicism and became an altar lady,she’s been trying to clean up her act. She’s now posting Facebook tributes to her parents, saying they’re angels in heaven, looking out for her . The father was a cheapo control freak,who refused to help relatives in need and the mommy was a snobbish, bigoted bitch. Next thing we know, she’ll be having visions and bringing in suckers who want to know what the future holds”.
They are talking in the sunken living room of Helen Matthews two story home,in the Chicago suburb of Darwindale,Illinois.Helen,the principal of Darwindale High,is throwing a shower for her best friend,Sally Dalton .
‘Helen,is so gullible”,says Kelly,”she claims the stories about Mary Lou are just gossip”.
“I know”,says Carol Ann,she swallowed the line about Mary Lou’s kid having red hair,because of some hidden genetic trait.Everybody knew about her and the next store neighbor fucking. You could see it through the window.Though Mary Lou claimed she was doing yoga exercises,trying to help the husband’s back ..It was right after his poor wife,Glenda,had a stroke and was hospitalized .”
“Shit,says Kelly ,”The evil ones never have any shame.Her sister,Nadine,was just as bad.Even while married to that nice guy ,Roger,who used to run the computer store,she slept with lots of men.Her biggest claim to fame ,was supposedly making it with New Kids On The Block,after a concert .”
” Working near The Darwindale Hotel,I guess you were privy to all the hot inaction in those days “.
“Forget,the hotel,she entertained right at their house,the dump at the corner of Chester and Birch .Didn’t you ever notice all the trucks parked out in front of her place ?Believe me,no one gets bottled water,U.P.S.Fed Ex and floral deliveries every day !”
” Oh,my God”,says Kelly,”look who’s here ,Big Marcie,on crutches no less”
“Is she still at the day care center ?
“I think so.I bet this accident had something to do with Marcie’s fondness for drinks with rum in them”,says Carol Ann.
“Yeah”,says Kelly,The last Christmas party was she got so shit faced during the watching of It’s A Wonderful Life,she started cursing out the town for not allowing Jimmy Stewart to fulfill his dreams”.
” But,there’s one advantage to her condition,says Carol Ann,”If there’s any dancing she’ll sit it out.When she boogies the whole fucking house shakes.Now ,after all the jokes,I find myself getting up in that heavy weight class
The pandemic is going to be my Waterloo .I got hooked on Fettuccine Alfredo and baked potatoes with sour cream and chives I won’t even get into pies,cakes,creme brulee and pot du Creme.”
“My problem is the opposite”,says Kelly ,”Ever since I had champagne for my birthday,and became violently sick,my appetite has gone south I don’t even think I’ll make it through one piece of pizza”.
“Cheap shit huh?”
“No,my cold duck days are over It was Veuve Clicquot.Antonio received it as a present at work.So,it wasn’t the vino,but my fucked up metabolism .”
“Hi,kids,says Marcie,hobbling over to them and collapsing in a nearby,burgundy leather chair.
I practiced walking with these suckers for over a week and I still get it screwed up.”
” There’s a rash of these injuries going around”,says Carol Ann.Madelyn hurt herself doing pilates and Angie,got bushwhacked by some punk on a motorcycle,who also stole her cell phone.What happened,you slip on those stairs at the office!I always try to avoid those long,winding ones if I can .They’re just too damn treacherous “.
“No,it was at the shopping mall.Stupid me,I tripped over one of those dividers in the parking lot .A lot of people suspected booze again,but,so help me if I’m lying,I’m dying,I haven’t had a drop in months .I was just upset at seeing Janey Monroe get busted for shop lifting at the grocery store,while her little girl,Lindy,was standing right there “
“You’re fucking kidding!”
“No,they made a big production out of it too.The store Manager,Ludwig,started yelling they weren’t going to tolerate theft anymore .Poor Janey,she started crying and her nasal condition made it even more pathetic. “
“I can imagine it”says Carol Ann.”Whenever I think of Janey ,a picture of that big lipped ,baby snatcher ,Angelina Jolie,with a post nasal drip ,comes to mind Janey always seems to have a kleenix in her hands “.
“I thinks it’s become a kind of security blanket,prop,”says Kelly ,finishing up her punch and getting some more.
“The crying would have been bad enough,but then she fell down on.her knees abegging for mercy,claiming Lindy put the items in her purse,when she wasn’t watching”.
” Could be,” says Carol Ann,”my kids are always hiding stuff they’re not supposed to,like peanut butter melt aways or those Oreo cookie ice cream sandwiches.I just have the checker take them off the bill.But,if Mark goes with them,he just lets it slide.He thinks sugar is the building block of civilization.He’s such an easy mark”.
“I don’t think so ,says Marcie.shifting uncomfortably in the green leather chair.”A little kid isn’t likely to lift kale,saffron and Cornish game hens.Janey days she’s taking the arrest to court.”
” Sounds to me like the biggest trial since the Henderson Brothers tried to have their parents declared incompetent, so they could get control of the laundromat “says Kelly.
“I’d forgotten about those two dorks,says Carol Ann,”I wonder what happened to them?
Tom and Steven became members of the Orange Moron’s cult and Q Anon.They claimed the election was stolen and all that shit.Then they were busted for printing up fake vaccination cards Supposedly they’re in hiding in
a bunker in a nearby city They’re waiting for John F Kennedy and Junior to come back
Junior will be the Orange Moron’s vice president!”
“Wouldn’t it be more logical for him to run with Joe?” asks Marie.”Or maybe just be the Democratic President?The strange part is John F. Kennedy actually visited Darwindale during the 1960 campaign.It’s the highlight of my great grandmother ,Helen’s, life.”
“I was hoping they’d being back Marilyn “,says Carol Ann.”At least she’d be able to sing birthday songs to various celebrities”.
“Yes,that would be camp,”said Marie,By the way ,are any of you going to the farewell party for two of our parish priests?”
“Maybe,says Kelly,I usually don’t like goodbyes,but this one has a hint of scandal to it,with that sleaze, Father Michaels.
” A couple of ushers accused him of skimming money from.the collection baskets.They still might prosecute.”says Carol Ann .”It sure didn’t look good for him to be hanging out at Di Martino’s every night ,guzzling that special liquor they ordered just for him,telling dirty jokes.”
“No wonder he had trouble getting up in the morning for early mass.Sometimes it looked like he was sleeping .I was afraid he was going to do a back flip off the altar .His only saving grace was he didn’t fuck the altar boys,like a couple of his predessesors “, says Kelly.
“I liked father Crawford”, says Marie”When my mother was bedridden,he visited her every day and brought pastries his sister made, that you could kill for “.
“I might give a gift for Father Crawford “says ,Carol Ann,”but I won’t spend a dime on that arrogant prick,Michaels.He called my brother ,Jimmy ,a shrimp who would never make it as an altar boy .Not good enough for some small town priest,but he ended up serving the Bishop !”.
“It must be hard being. a priest”,says Marie,”People always asking for meaning and help and all you have as a guide is the Bible and the Baltimore catechism.”
” So ,Kelly, asks, Carol Ann ,”you ever miss your old social worker days helping people?”
“No,I always got the feeling the wise asses who knew how to play the system received the most out of it.The people who really needed help were either too numb or too dumb to to do anything about it.Besides,the job reminds me of Nick.”.
” What a douche!”,says Carol Ann .”A psychologist trained to help people and he tried to kill you.Thank God the neighbors heard your screams and called the police”.
“He must have been on drugs,said Marie “.I mean he was so calm and reassured with his well trimmed goatee and his Valentino suits” .
“He was drinking heavily”,says Kelly”.Delamin Vesper cognac was his favorite I should have know something was wrong when he started binge watching Rohmer films and he’d go on crying jags”.
“Well,at least you got the townhouse and the Jaguar,says Carol Ann,I didn’t get anything from my first marriage except stretch marks”.
“Whatever happened to Nick?”,asks Marie.”Did he ever get out of the hospital ?”
“You mean the loony bin? “says Kelly.”Yes,he had good doctors and even better lawyers He ended up remarrying some kind of society shrink from New England .Supposedly ,they do some kind of lameo podcast “.
“They deserve each other”,said Carol Ann as she finishes another slice of the gooey pizza . “I once heard shrinks had the highest rate of suicide in the world Hopefully,they’ll drive each other bonkers.What was it the doctors say you had?”
“A disfunction of desire”.
“Whatever the hell that means “,says Carol Ann.”If you kept going to those quacks ,you’d be in therapy for the rest of your life .That trip to Cabo San Lucas,did you more good than a battery of doctors “.
“They’re here,shouts one of the teenagers,who looks like Ariana Grande and is wearing an aqua t shirt that says “I’m a virgin” and in parenthesis, “This is a very old shirt”.
As everyone heads for the door to greet Helen and Sally,Kelly goes to the punch bowl.She wonders if anyone would give an x rated gift or hire an x male stripper, like they used to .It might get a few laughs .She hoped Sally would appreciate the rye humor ,in her gift of a cordless,electric ,pepper mill.After all,what fun is a gift you can actually use?.As she belts down the green liquid,Kelly is surprised at how good it’s beginning to taste .