Friday, January 25, 2008

What Uncle Louie Left Behind



We couldn’t go five minutes without giggling at Uncle Louie’s wake. He laid up there in a cut rate casket, dressed in a cheap suit he never wore during life. I couldn’t approach the coffin and the pathetic showing of flowers. I couldn’t pretend to pay my last respects for fear I’d end up rolling on the floor, laughing uncontrollably.

I sat in the back row of viewing room C, my face red and sore from laughing. I kept my face in my hands so that the few family members in attendance might mistake hilarity for grief.

"I’m starting to wish you hadn’t told me, " I hissed.

My cousin, Marky, shrugged and grinned.

"Told you what?" My brother, Walter, joined us, late as usual. He wore his navy blue monkey-suit from the factory. I could smell the grease and hydraulic oil on him. He gripped a half dozen prayer cards denoting the numerical margins of Uncle Louie’s life in his hand as though someday they might be valuable collectibles.

"You ain’t heard?" Marky asked.

"I just walked in the door." My brother looked at me, put a hand on my shoulder. "You okay, Billy? Taking it kinda hard, ain’t you?"

My shoulders convulsed. "Tell him."

"You know how Uncle Louie died, right?"

"Massive heart attack," Walter said.

"You know what he was doing when he died?"

"He was in bed, ain’t it?"

"You know what he was doing in bed?"

"Christ, Marky, just tell him already," I said.

"You ain’t gonna believe this, you remember how cheap that bastard was. How many Christmases he give us five dollar McDonald’s gift cards?"

"Nothing more embarrassing than buying a cheeseburger with a gift card," Walter agreed.

"Well, come to find out, he ain’t so cheap when it comes to buying sex dolls."

"What?"

"Shhhhh. Listen. Uncle Louie bought one of those expensive life like fuck dolls."

"Bullshit."

"I swear to God, Walt. Brunette. Blue eyes. Double D breasts with light pink areolas. It’s like a six thousand dollar model. I looked it up on the internet. Uncle Louie had the damned thing sprawled on the mattress with its head canted off the edge, and he was going to town on its mouth when his heart gave out. He collapsed right on top of it, face down in its latex labia."

"I don’t believe it," Walt whispered.

"It’s true," Marky said. "You remember my buddy, Turtle. He was one of the first EMTs to arrive on the scene after neighbor’s called complaining about the smell. He was dead just about three days. Copes thought they had two dead bodies. Couldn’t find a pulse anywhere. Wasn’t until the EMTs winched Uncle Louie’s fat ass off that they found the fuck doll underneath him, still lubed up and ready to go."

"Goddam," Walter said. After a moment’s considered, he continued. "As bad as it is, he still went out doing something he loved, which is more than the rotten bastard deserved."

Something he loved. The words reminded me of the morbid conversations we had as kids, when our thoughts often turned toward the possibility of our deaths. We all agreed that to die fucking would be the best way to go. Back then there were four of us. Little did cousin Martha know her life would be cut short four years later in a car accident before she even got the chance to give normal sex a try. She had no clue she’d die, bleeding out on the asphalt, holding up rush hour traffic. I’d since come to the conclusion there is no best way to go. But there’s a hell of a lot of bad ways to die.

Walter was correct about one thing. Uncle Louie deserved a more painful demise.

"Well," Walter said, "I don’t see me going up to the coffin any time soon."

"They gonna bury him with a lock of its hair?" I asked.
"Ha. Ha. Go look and see."

"What’d they do with the doll?" Walter asked.

"What you think?" Marky said. "They gonna wipe the lips off and give it mouth to mouth resuscitation?"

"Not the paramedics, dumb ass." He motioned to the assembled mourners, wondering as he did so how many of them knew Uncle Louie’s secrets. Or, at least, his last secret. "The family. They had to do something with it. With his stuff."

"They didn’t do nothing with it," Marky said. "I got it."

"What?"

"I got it back at my place. Goddam thing weight a good hundred, hundred and twenty pounds. Dead weight. Had to carry it piggyback to my car."
"What the hell’s it doing at your place? You don’t..."

"Oh hell no. What kind of sicko you think I am? I’m keeping it though. As a token of that cocksuckers dead. Every time I look at it, I wanna think of Uncle Louie dead. Uncle Louie lock in a ridiculous 69 of death. It eases the pain. A little bit. Not much, but sometimes enough."

My brother and I nodded, mirrored gestures of understanding.

"I wanna see it," Walter said. "I wanna see it,too."

Marky shrugged. "We can go right now, you want. But first I’m gonna walk up there. I came to see Uncle Louie dead. And I aim to do just that."
Marky lived in a studio apartment on Whiting’s north side. It was a sort of strip mall of apartments for the down-and-out wedged between a liquor store and Captain Steve’s Happy Time Inn. If no one puked below his window during the night, he could wake up to the petroleum scent of Lake Michigan a half mile away.

I hooked a ride with my brother for the companionship, but he turned up the Metallica the moment he started the Buick, letting me know talking wasn’t an option. Approaching Marky’s place, Walter turned the radio down long enough to ask if I wanted to go in half on a case of Old Style.
After the side trip to the beer store, we pulled in next to Marky’s Chevette. He waited outside for us. His eyes lit up when he saw the case of OS in my arms.

"Just like the old days," he said. "Even your taste in beers ain’t improved none."

"You could’ve put in," Walter said, "and we could’ve upgraded to Pabst Blue Ribbon."

"I got some Silver Bullets in the icebox. And a bottle of jager I was planning on celebrating with. I might come off some if you sweet talk me."
Ugh. Sweet talk me. I couldn’t tell if Marky was parroting Uncle Louie’s words on purpose or not. Walter never missed a step so I couldn’t tell whether or not he made the connection.

Marky unlocked the door and we stepped inside.

Walking through the doorway, I could tell Marky didn’t entertain many guests. Not the way this place stank. Like moldy bologna and stale beer. Breathing shallow through my mouth helped somewhat.

The front door led into the front room/bedroom. A brown and tan checkered couch pimpled with cigarette burns pressed against one wall. There were several gutted Coors troop transports strewn across the floor, the dead soldiers piled high and overflowing the garbage can standing sentry in the sliver of kitchenette. The remains of a fast food meal sat on a folding tv tray near the couch, the ketchup congealed to a splotch of red crayon. Atop two milk crates, the tv was a nineteen inch paperweight tuned in to the white noise channel.

Mostly obscured in shadow and a pea green afghan, the fuck doll sat on a bar stool in the far corner opposite the garbage can.

"Pardon the mess. Maid’s on vacation," Marky offered weakly.

"Goddam," Walter said. "I’m afraid to sit down."

"Sorry, guys." Marky bundled the fast food refuse together and, seeing the garbage can packed, opened the front door and threw the trash into the parking lot. "I’ve been having a rough go of it, lately."

"Yeah," Walter said, "but, still..."

Walter looked at me, but I couldn’t return his glance. My brother’s arms were still streaked with oil and grime from the machine he operated. His hair jutted wildly. He hadn’t shaved in a while. I didn’t look any better.
Marky retrieved the bottle of jager. He didn’t offer any glasses nor would we have accepted them if he did. Walter spun the cap and took a swallow. I took a quick black licorice taste of the liquor. We cracked open beers. Marky’s Coors never materialized.

"Here’s to Uncle Louie," Marky said. "May he burn in hell forever."

"Burn in hell," Walter and I echoed.

We drank the beer, gulped the liquor. The empties we threw on the floor near the door. After a few beers, the rank stench disappeared and with it my fear of the roaches skittering just out of eyeshot.

Finally, peering at the fuck doll, I said, "that’s it, huh?"

"Yeah," Marky said. "That’s it."

Robotic motion of our arms bringing the beer to our lips. Mechanically swallowing the liquid.

"Wanna see it?" Marky asked.

He didn’t wait for the answer. He walked across the room and flicked on the bare bulb of the shadeless lamp next to it.

Instantly I found myself staring into its lifeless blue eyes. How long had it been staring at me? No. Cancel that thought. It possessed no consciousness. No life. The smartest thing that ever came into its head was Uncle Louie’s cock, as Uncle Louie was fond of saying time and time again in reference to anything he succeeded in putting his dick into.
The blue eyes were bright and lifeless. Bright only because the orbs reflected the lamp light. Brown hair curtained down its head, hippie-style with the part down the middle. The pink lips formed a bow on top, but the bottom lip hung down a bit giving it a dumbfounded expression. A light smattering of freckles dotted the nose and cheeks. Peach-colored negligee scarcely covered the enormous, gravity-defying breasts. Nipples like a child’s thumbs poked out the fabric. The afghan concealed its lower half.

We stood there, staring, a full minute before I ended the silence and spoke what must have been on all of our minds. "It looks like Martha would have looked. If she hadn’t died. If Uncle Louie hadn’t been drunk. If he hadn’t turned right in front of that panel truck."


Karl Koweski




No comments: