» The Benny Poda Years «
Kevin McGowin
Chapter 18 - Baltimore

Well for the Love of Pete I'd better get with it, 'cause I'm about to miss my midnight deadline and then you wouldn't have a chapter today. I've been building this bedstead out of Cherry in the back all day and just got carried away. But hey, at least it hasn't come to gardening yet. Orchids, maybe—tomatoes, never. But the woman who lives across the way, she's a trained Horticulturist, and isn't that about the sexiest damn thing you've ever heard in your LIFE? She's a fucking KNOCKOUT, too, pal. Yowzaaaah.
        But I need to get this off to the publisher dude. He's a swell fella. I once got SNORKLED on tequila and beer with him and his Lady when they were visiting me visiting Sally in Milwaukee, and we jammed out to Jolson. His Lady even danced to it. She's very cool, and I'll tell you something else about tequila parties, brother, I don't know what tunes YOU have on to Set The Mood and Create the Ambience, but if you want to REALLY throw down like I threw down in those years, you're gonna have some fucking Al Jolson somewhere within grabbing distance at all possible times. Especially Wednesday Nights. Have you ever noticed that? The DAMNDEST things can happen just when you'd least expect them, Wednesday Nights. Just like all parties seem to end up in the kitchen and when you think about killing yourself (and you do, don't bullshit ME), it's usually a Sunday. This physicist named Feuerbrand writes his ass off about the Jolson thing and the Wednesday night thing and the kitchen thing. He doesn't go into the offing yourself thing. I think HE did it on a Thursday. But he talks about some other things and we'll touch on them In Due Course, which is the title I ALMOST gave to my OTHER memoir, And Now, We Fuck, about my fifty years of wedded domestic bliss with a woman named Marge Payne. It's very popular with the French, I hear. They can't get enough of it in Denmark. But hey, I don't care that you don't like me, America! I'm big in Japan.
        I was going to Baltimore for three reasons. One, Barry Mauer wanted me out of his pad in Minneapolis, and when Barry kindly asks you to beat a dash for it, well, it's just underSTOOD you go to Baltimore. And I wanted to see if Didi Walkins was anything like I remembered her fifteen years before, and I wanted to do her just to say we did because we actually DIDN'T, then, but once you've been sexually attracted to someone, they might get old and they might get fat and they might be addicted to freon, but for some reason that initial spark of attraction never quite ever goes away. Have you ever noticed that? Feuerbrand did, sure 'nuff. It's also what Paul's REALLY saying in that passage in 1 Corinthians Christians just quietly pretend ain't there. The part about the old heave-hoe. THAT part. Look it up, Rigoletto. I've grown wise with the years.
        And then there was the deal with me and that bastard Luke Primo. What did I have against Luke Primo? Well, he didn't believe in St. Paul's imperative injunction against marriage in 1 Corinthians and he had a wife but he fucked around on her with people like Didi who, if she is NOW anything like she was THEN, I was thinking (and people never really change, I promise you) she didn't care WHO she fucked, and if she was fucking that bastard Luke Primo she SURE didn't care. How did I happen to HAVE all this information, you ask? Well, the birdie with the yellow bill had hopped upon my windowsill, Storkbaby.
        Now Luke liked to Call the Eights a bit himself, so I knew a Hall in Baltimore where I could find him and rack his balls, and yes, that pun is intended. And he was gonna goddamn well know I hadn't come to read Peter Rabbit to his fat ass, either. Right when he was lining up on the white I'd just walk up behind him and PUSH the back of that cue as hard as I could, and when he turned around to see what the hell, I'd put his blood on the felt and I didn't care who was solids and who was stripes, Dreamcatcher. Nobody'd stop me: this was in a BAD part of Baltimore where if you wanted to fight, they'd just damn well let you fight. I'll tell you right where it was. It's down there by that house once occupied by that American Writer who was an Alcoholic and a Drug Addict. You know the one, right? Well, he's the one who wrote poems about how he'd sit around getting stoned out of his MIND and start seeing Big Black Birds in his goddamn room talking to him. Man, that must have been some ROUGH dope. And I hear they teach his crap to CHILDREN. They teach CHILDREN the work some dude wrote when he was just, like, FUCKED up. Ain't that some shit? They might as well be teaching seventh-graders The Benny Poda Years. Well, this land is your land. Cope.
        Didi, when I'd known her before, used to wear this blue eye-shadow that looked like CUE chalk. Sort of turquoise. I loved it. I could still smell her perfume and see the short blond stubble on her legs. She thought she was an artist, and I guess she rather WAS in that, unlike that woman we discussed in Chapter 16, she actually PAINTED. But everything she did was RED. She said when in doubt, use red. Well, I guess, man. She painted like a crappy garage band playing Sabbath—she just turned that volume up. Would to God she had with ME. Which brings us back to a certain St. Patrick's Day in Baltimore. If there could be said to be any sort of real starting point to point at and say This Is Where Those Years began, well, it would probably have to be THAT.
        She was living in Testament, Virginia, where we'd spent some courtin' time the year before, and drove up to Baltimore to visit me and go to this party. Actually, she was living in Richmond, but we'll just change the names around a little bit there so's to protect her privacy, as she now has 1,376 children, 4 of them with this guy in Chicago who used to beat her ass when she got into it with one of the fathers of the other 1,372. But I digress.
        And kiss my ass, I'll just KEEP digressing! Life itself is a digression. Tell you what you need to start doing pretty soon here. Go to Google and start typing in things some tourist might do, like Pool Halls AND Minneapolis and see what comes up. Or better yet, if you think you see a veiled reference to YOUR ass, well, go do a search under your name and we'll damn well see how many other people have or will recognize you, too! Ha! It's amazing what you can do in this world. The sky is the limit, Brother.
        I'm a Scorpio and all that entails. I'm also an Unreliable Narrator. And I just can't get over that Wednesday night thing! It's when they show Mario Lemieux on national TV these days. And I'd like to thank my close friend Charlie for his six encouraging phone calls Wednesday night. He was drunker than seven sailors on a dead man's chest, but that's okay, he had some fine suggestions for my work, two of which I've already taken. Hey! Do a Boolean on Nursery Rhymes AND Drug Addiction. GodDAMN, but it's a swell world.
        So the hoe came to visit me and she'd just been discharged from the Navy after two weeks. WHY the hell she went into the Navy I don't know, but I know why she got discharged, as she asked me, "You don't mind if I'm bisexual, do you." No, I didn't much give a shit as I'd observed she was also hetero enough, but a biSEXual nymphomaniac, my word! My LANDS, man! Goodness gracious alive. Bless your heart.
        But it seems this incident had precipitated her mother's wrath, and she wanted to Act Out. Since she was staying in my damn PLACE, I of course assumed it'd be with ME, no? No. My God, a couple of years later she was a born-again Christian who of course just believed what the fuck she WANTED to, which in her case was that she just identified with Mary Magdalene, with the exception that Didi was doing it for FREE. No, she did not read the Epistles, and the next year she was screwing her preacher. Starr Smith told me all this. He's a travel writer, and he sucks. He's an arrogant, pompous ass who thinks it's HIS world, but at least he had the doop on Didi. Want his number? Drop me a line.
        No, she asked me did I have any male friends with whom she could just get LAID. Somebody she didn't even know. Well, I started drinking green vodka THEN. I was trying to be liberal and all, but SHIT, man! So I said whatever, sure, I know this guy you'll like, he'll be at the party.
        Her not fucking me was not the rude part.
        I got as tanked up at that damn party as Jason Robards, bub. I assumed their dalliance would be consummated at DUDE'S apartment, and they had to basically CARRY my ass to my bed. I wasn't passed OUT, just—helpless! Paralyzed! And they thought I was oblivious.
        She was all over him like a cheap suit. In MY BED. Off came the shirt. Off came the bra. Well, at least she LOOKED good. He was looking around in my drawers for a condom, and he found one, though she BJ'd him first, after which they used MY KLEENEX, if you know what I mean, Virgin, and then they were fucking like rabid bobcats! Right in my BED! LOUD, too. And they weren't stopping. But I was sobering up FAST and just got up and stumbled out of the room.
        I do believe they were at it 'till sunrise. I expected an apology from them both. Well, the guy just up and LEFT, and Didi just came in the room where I was and said, "Gotta go. Big Hug. Thanks," and gave me a peck on the forehead as she adjusted her bra and noticed I was just looking at her with my mouth agape, the way you would be if your grandmother up and died and it was discovered that she was a dude. "Is anything the matter?" she asked me.
        And the fella, I'd thought he was a friend of mine, and I was even MADDER at HIM, you see. He was and is even more of a slut than she was. I won't tell you his name, as he's now a rather well-known musician and we have since come to terms, but hey, you can fuck him! I don't have his number, but I'll bet Yahoo! does, so go get a self-addressed stamped postcard and put it in an envelope and mail it to the publisher fella in California, and he'll get it to me, and I'll just write the dude's name on the back of it and send it back to you, and you and he can go have sex! On me! Again! Goddamn! This land is your land. The sky is the limit. Brother.
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