Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Besttiary


OK, man. If he won't tell the story, we will.
You don't know the damn story.

Then tell me. Start at the beginning.
I'm fuzzy about the beginning. I can say stuff, but it's all mangled and wrong.

Do your best man. Make shit up.
OK.
Names. Dates,.
I don't even remember my Grandfather's name. My Grandmother is named Louise.
Before marriage, she was Louise Something (McCuddy?) Lindsey, after marriage,
Louise Lindsey Fugate.

What was she like?
Fucking nightmare. We used to call her Grandmonster.
When she was a kid.
Oh, right. Well ...

Once upon a time I taped her recollections but she was old and drugged and drunk. 
She went on and on about her pony. She loved her pony.
What's the pony's name?
No fucking clue.
Well. You got it on the tape, right? 
Yeh did. But the tape was destroyed

No man. You destroyed it.
Fuck you, oK? Yeah I did and I don't want to talk
about it. 

Fine be me.






She was born in Franklin, Kentucky. Her Father was a schoolteacher, one of
those one-room schoolhouse deals. She was privileged, or at least honored. She
had her own pony and rode back and forth to school on her pony. The other kids
were in awe.

She was good-looking -- and also had a wild side. Time rolled into the 20s and
she became something of a party girl -- veneered over with Southern belle
charm and double entendre. The dances she went to were catered affairs,
cotillions, Southern society crap -- as opposed to the roadhouse variety. But
she made the rounds. I see her as something out of F. Scott Fitzgerald. A
Daisy figure. A Zelda figure...

And, somewhere along the line, she landed my Grandfather (whose name I don't
even remember) the son of "Papa" Fugate, the banker dude who owned everything
in Franklin county -- a Gentleman's C UVA graduate with a six foot shelf of
the Harvard classic that he probably never read...

No, man. You read shit all the time. He probably did too. Don't piss off his fucking ghost.
OK. Sorry sir.
I'm just fuckin with you, man. So, she landed him. You mean she married him.
Yeah. She married the rich guy. This is what all the calculated prettiness, mannerisms and flirtations was for, of course -- and it worked. She married him. She was set for life. 

Sometime I think around 1927 my Uncle Marion Lindsey Fugate was born, followed
by my father, Terence McCuddy (sp?) Fugate in 1930 and Estelle Something
Fugate a year or so later. I know it wasn't that long because my Father was
only a year or a year and a half old when his Father was killed, which is why,
as he told me ten thousand times, he never had a Father.


Fucking sad man. So, she married the rich guy. She had it made in the shade but life didn't go according to plan. All the pretty dreams an shit. That fired burned it all up.

Yeah. Down in flames. 

How she take it?
What do you think?
It fucked her up, 

All of this shattered Louise because it meant all her calculations had been for nothing. This wasn't supposed to happen. This was not her wonderful life.but ... Like what did your dad say



And so my Grandmother screamed and went mad with grief -- for the right
reasons and for the wrong reasons -- and then, since this was the Great
Depression by now, she pulled herself together and, with the money from the
will, bought a hotel in Franklin Kentucky.

Instead of being landed gentry she scraped and humped and washed dishes and
cooked meals and did the laundry and learned accounting (she'd always been
good at math anyway) and, being one of those clever, controlling people with
the kind of brain that can attend to ten thousand things at once down to the
last nitpicky detail, she made a go of it.

But this was not her dream. 
Not it was not. She wanted to be Zelda fitzgerald Southern Belle with blalhahbah.


So what happened next?

I'm sketchy on what happened next and the sequence may be screwed up here.
But, as far as I know, she made a clever leap of brain to figure Florida was
the place she oughta be and so sold the hotel and family property in Franklin
and moved down to Pompano Beach Florida -- somehow, either in advance or once
she landed, obtaining the Walton Hotel. For all I know she screwed the Waltons
and sent 'em packing to Walton's Mountain. History is silent on this point...

So there she was with three clever, bratty kids and nothing but hard work --
all work and no play. Better off than most, maybe -- but in their heart of
hearts, the abstract notion that there are more miserable people out there
somewhere never helped any human being deal better with their misery the least
goddamn bit, now does it?

Girls just want to have fun, including her. She wanted to get down. She wanted
to party. She started slipping out, going to dances and honky tonks and bad
places where she shouldn't've oughta gone. Also working her ass off, of
course. And scheming all the time. Drinking too, naturally -- perhaps a way of
holding all the contradictions together and going on from day to day. Her
glorious dreams on the one hand, her shitty life on the other....

Her drink of choice: Early Times.

Grandmother dealt with work and play by sending her kids to the movies almost
all the time. On weekends and the dead hours of the afternoon, she'd have
Daisy (the "colored" maid) drive 'em down to the local movie palace, the kids
all stuffed with enough money to stay the whole day.

In this way my Father -- like Walker Percy's Moviegoer -- grew up with his
eyes stuffed with visions and came away with a head full of other people's
dreams...

While my Grandmother's schemes continued -- namely centering on Finding a Man,
her expectations having lowered considerably (as her hands had roughened) from
her original Southern Gentleman.

At one point, if I'm not screwing the sequence up, Louise brought home some
"white trash" to the Hotel and shacked up with him. The man thought he was
instantly king of the roost and slapped one of the little kids. Uncle Marion
punched him in the balls. The man fled and that was that.

She finally settled on a coarse, no-doubt sexually deprived serviceman of
German extraction named Donald Aurand who, for some reason, was there in
Florida during the WWII years. (Vacationing on leave? Stationed at a base
nearby?) They married. He went off for the year or so left of his tour of
duty. Came back.

And instantly became her henpecked, pussywhipped slave.


That's hash, man.

It's true. I witnessed it personally ... as a kid. I thought it was funny. Haha, she's making the German guy with big ears suffer! Now I look back ... and I think God, the poor bastard. Jesus, she made him crawl.

Why?
Why'd she do it or why'd he put up with it?
The second one.

Because it was her house, her hotel, her land, her money, her kids, her her everything.


So, how did this slave thing work in practice?

She had a cowbell that she'd ring CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! that you could
hear for a 40-mile radius. "Don!" she'd scream with a voice like a cackling
hen, "Don -- do this! Don do that!" Don would grumble, shuffling along, "I'm
coming, I'm coming. Don't have to pitch a goldurn fit..." That was not her sole means of communication. She also had a bell system.


A bell system.

Like a school bell, when the classes change. There's one at the front desk at the hotel, in the back room, in his area, any place he might be. She wanted something, she'd push a button by her bed and they'd ring, they're were fucking loud. Sometimes we'd be there. He'd roll his eyes, Oh God, what' the old bat want now. He'd say all this shit like we weren't even. He'd start shugglingf along RIINGNNNGGGG. I'm going. RINGGGGGG. Keep your panties on, damn it.

Man thjat's hellish.
Yeah. Like no exit with a fucking bell.
No, man. It's a two bell system. In terms of scale, you know?  Little bell, big bells. Cowbell by the bed. And those big bells in the hotel.
That never occurred to me. 
Hre to help man.
So how long he put up with that shit.
Until she died.
Jesus. So the man just took her shit.
He took her shit ...
And he dipped in the till, right?


They got older; Don
got deafer; Louise got louder. He got slower. Other than that, the pattern stayed the same
for decades.

The kids picked up on the contempt and Don's servile status, of course --
especially my Father. Don was not their real dad. Fuck Don.

Don, realizing he was without power and totally screwed, started salting money
away in secret and continued to do this for years. Bad, bad Don.

The kids, meanwhile, grew up and, occasionally, raised a little hell.

My Father -- when he used to tell stories instead of boring lectures -- told
some good ones. One story about how Uncle Marion saw a bully beating up on
Aunt Jo and how Uncle Marion tore off across a field like a shot and kicked
the bully's ass. How Aunt Jo thought she saw God and fainted in Church once.
How Dad and Uncle Marion wanted to dress Dad up in an angel costume, suspend
him from a rope, and have him come swooping down in church to steal the
offering plate. How some kid named Pee Wee painted a picture of Hitler's open,
screaming mouth at the bottom of his toilet. How the cheerleaders at the white
schools hooted and hollered like goofs -- while the black cheer leaders
snapped their fingers, cool, styling, chanting "satisfied...satisfied." How
Dad and Uncle Marion almost gave Louise a heart attack by dropping a dummy off
the Hotel fire escape in Dad's clothes that she thought was Dad. How Dad could
argue or talk his way out of anything -- except his Brother. How Uncle Marion
wrapped Dad around his little finger -- had him running around, doing chores,
doing his work -- for a quarter, a favor, whatever that, somehow, Uncle Marion
always got out of. How a good kid got knifed and died at the hands of some
white trash. How Dad listened in on a phone conversation once and realized
that Uncle Marion was having an affair with a married woman. How Dad fucked up
constantly and was always in trouble and got sent to military school. How
Uncle Marion enrolled in the Army at age 17 and became the youngest pilot in
the Army Air Corps.



S
Fire again.

They used him as an example in the lectures at the training academy. How if
you didn't do this or did do that -- or whatever they made out it was he did
that was wrong -- you'd burn to death and die in agony. Dad likes to think
that's a load of crap and they were just using him as an example and had no
right to do that.

And so George Bush became the youngest fighter pilot in the Army Air Corps.

And Grandmother Louise went screaming around the Hotel -- screaming like a
wild animal, screaming like something out of Shakespeare, something out of
Lear...

"Oh God...WHY DID YOU TAKE MY GOOD SON? WHY DID YOU HAVE TO TAKE MY GOOD SON?"


Before he left for the train station they all went and saw a movie. The movie
had a cartoon short -- something by Disney about Captain Billy Mitchell's plan
to have a fully functioning air force. The film ended with an endless flying
wedge of planes filling up the sky in the victorious fight against fascism.
Uncle Marion went away. Dad and everybody waved goodbye.


ix months later they got the telegram that Uncle Marion died in a training
accident. Two planes ran into each other over a lake -- one pilot, obviously,
not where he was supposed to be. One pilot parachuted to safety. Uncle Marion
went down in flames into the lake and died. 

In the end theere was fire.
Yeah. That's how I'm going to end the story.
Man, that's too damn depressing.











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