I have previously mentioned that I had an older brother named Allen, who unfortunately died from SIDS. He would’ve been two years older than me, if he hadn’t gotten dead.
In a strange twist of fate, my best friend, Shorty, was two years older than me, and he had been born in November, the same month as Allen.
It’s not a stretch of the imagination to believe I adopted Shorty as my older brother back then. Like Jerry, I had real brothers that I loved far less than I loved Shorty. Our relationship would be tested by this trip, but it would not be destroyed. And when we really needed each other, we would have one another’s back.
That’s what brothers do.
* * * *
The Big Epic Amazing Party continued despite the fact that one of its hosts and the central figure that inspired it were no longer in attendance. And it continued despite the Wrath of God thunderstorm raging outside that seemed intent on washing Dallas off the face of the earth.
It rained like a bastard. Rain came down in buckets. It rained cats and dogs. In buckets. But the epic party would not be denied. The only thing the rain did was keep everyone inside. No one in their right mind wanted to venture out in that downpour.
Why should they? It was warm and dry inside. There was food, and beer. Pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes, and beer. Whiskey, and beer. Vodka, and beer. Red wine, white wine, and beer. Quaaludes, and beer. And there was music!
Well there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you’re with
Thank you, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. That was very good advice, and I took it. I mostly forgot about Shorty and Martha, and focused my attention on Randi, and on having as much fun as I could before the flood waters reached the sixth floor.
It rained like hell for at least two hours, and then it just rained. When the rain lightened, some of our guests decided to hit the road. I have no clear memory of when Phase One of our epic party came to a close, but at the end only four people remained: Michael, Hillary, Randi and me.
We sort of cleaned up, you know, threw stuff in the refrigerator, picked up abandoned glasses and plates, random trash. I checked the keg. I was sure it would be empty.
I was wrong. There was a lots of beer left in that keg. I know, right! How the hell was that even possible? And yet, it was. I pumped the taper to keep the pressure up, I didn’t want the beer going flat, and threw a half ton of ice on the keg to keep it cold. Then I turned off the lights in the party room and locked the door. Randi and I helped each other make it up the stairs.
The door to Michael and Hillary’s bedroom was closed when we returned to the apartment, so we tried keep the noise down, like there’s such a thing as a quiet, stumbling drunk.
“Where do you guys sleep?” Randi whispered loudly. The pillows we used as mattresses were easy to find, but where the hell did the blankets go? Oh yeah! Hillary put them in the closet!
I have no doubt half the stuff stored in the small closet came falling out with a crash when I opened the door. Randi came over to help me, and we laughed, not quietly, and kissed and kissed and kissed and kissed. We eventually extracted the blankets from everything else and shoved it all back in the closet to get it out of the way.
“I gottagottagotta amember not to open that door again!” I burped loudly. Randi shrieked! Yeah, we were quiet, all right.
“Oh, this is so…open.” Randi said when she surveyed the landscape in the living room. She had a point. Luckily, there was no longer a coffee table cluttering the space, so I scooted the far end of the couch out away from the wall a few feet, creating a semi-secluded space. I tossed several pillows into the space, and just like that, I had created a love nest.
“That’ll work.” Randi announced.
I might kiss and tell, but I do not write Letters to Penthouse. The most I’ll say about this was there was a point in time when I wished I had saved a few of the condoms Raoul had so thoughtfully provided for me in Fort Sill.
I never went past a certain point if birth control was an issue.
It was the only thing I’ve ever been totally committed to and responsible about in my life. Yep, the Mother’s Curse would modify my behavior far more than all of the sex education classes I took in high school ever would.
“It’s okay. I’m on the pill.” Randi whispered in my ear.
“Here, try one of these.” Randi offered me a ‘lude. I declined. “Well, then take half!” I agreed to that.
It has been written that Quaaludes enhanced sexual intensity and performance. Yeah, I don’t know about that. It has also been written that lions copulate approximately one hundred times a day when they’re mating. I can honestly state that neither Randi nor myself were lions, but we did make excellent use of the impromptu love nest I had created in the living room. I was actually still a little sore from my erotic wrestling match with Shelly, but not that sore.
* * * *
I woke up looking at the back of the couch. I was laying on a pile of pillows on the floor, and I was naked. But I knew how all of those variables had occurred this time, and that made me smile. I rolled over and found myself
There are times when the emptiness deep inside your soul cannot be filled, no matter what you do to satiate that cavernous void, and this, was one of those times for me.
I missed Randi. I missed Martha. I missed Shelly, but I especially missed Maureen. We had broken up in May of 1975. I hadn’t seen her almost three years, and I missed her more than I missed Randi, Martha and Shelly combined. At that time, I thought she was the reason my soul was so inconsolably miserable, but the depth of my emptiness would far surpass her absence. And even if she had been present, it would’ve surpassed her ability to fill.
I curled up in a ball of spiritual pain, and cried. I mourned my losses, grieved over my heartaches, until I cried myself to sleep.
* * * *
It’s a good thing I didn’t have to respond to any emergencies when I woke up, like, you know, an actual flood. It had stopped raining. It was gray, and cloudy–just like the inside of my head. Michael and Hillary were in no better shape than I was. We slowly took turns taking showers. We slowly cleaned the apartment some more. Even the conversations I had with Michael and Hillary were slow. I’m not sure I ever completed a sentence before I ran out of the necessary energy to finish what I was saying. And just about the only thing I could say was, “Man. Was that a great party, or what.”
We ate leftover whateverthisstuffis for breakfast. I can’t remember if any of us felt any better after eating or not.
Shorty had not returned. I was still pissed off at him, so even if I was concerned, I wasn’t about to admit it. He was a big boy, he could take care of himself, even if he was in the foreign country of Dallas.
Besides, all he had to do was open his damn mouth and half of Dallas would’ve welcomed him into their homes, and the other half of Dallas would fight to take him into theirs. Shorty was all right. I kept telling myself that.
I think we all took a vote and decided the apartment was clean enough…and quit cleaning. Michael and Hillary laid on the couch. I mustered enough energy to go check on the keg and make sure she was safe and the beer was cold. The keg was fine. I could relax. I returned to the apartment and laid down on a pile of pillows in the middle of the living room.
We watched a black and white movie from the 1930’s or 40’s. For all I know, it was the same movie I had kind of watched with Raoul my last night on Fort Sill.
One person could lay on the couch comfortably, but two people the size of Michael and Hillary could not. They tried changing positions, slowly, but they eventually gave up and retired to their bedroom because they could both lay down on the bed comfortably. And more than anything else in the world on that dreary day in Dallas, all three of us were sorely in need of comfort.
I had recovered from my attack of transient global heartbreak. There was a lingering sense of loneliness, or emptiness, somewhere deep inside my soul, but it was quiescent now. I was feeling more exhausted than anything, and it wasn’t long before I fell asleep. I was awakened by the sound of someone knocking on the door.
“Fuckin’ Shorty’s finally back.” I muttered to myself, and heaved myself off the floor. It seemed like it took me an hour to walk ten feet to the door. I opened the door to let Shorty in, and those two guys in suits… don’t… look… like… Shorty…
Actually, they looked like cops. I somehow mustered enough energy to be surprised.
“Hi, how’re y’all doin’? I’m Detective Murtaugh, and this is my partner, Detective Riggs. We’re here to serve a warrant on one Mr Michael Schrödinger. Is there any chance that Michael’s here today?”
“And if so, could y’all have him come to the door, please.” the other detective added. “We’re here to arrest him.”