Finally discovered the real ending for BC-3 and decided I was being wussy about the story, so I put back in some of the stuff I took out and now it's up past 57K in wordage. And that's with me cutting the ending I originally came up with...what was really more out of a Danielle Steele ending than my usual rough-and-tumble growl.
So just for the fun of it (and because I was sort of asked to) here's the opening of "Bobby Carapisi, volume 3".
“You know what I finally realized? It’s the people who scar you who prepare you best for this world.”
I mentioned this to a friend of mine and he looked at me like I was about to slit his throat. Which surprised me, because if anyone was going to understand what I meant, it was Moritz. He’s the epitome of the bitchy queen but without the requisite mannerisms, and his world is so completely centered around him and his needs you know he’s never really given a damn about anybody else. But he’s as sharp as they come and all too aware of the hatred the world spews at us fags (having run to L.A. screaming from glorious Idaho), so I figured he’d just nod his head and agree and then try to explain why he’s the poster child for that notion.
Instead he eyed me up one side and down the other and sniped, “Well, Eric -- is this the party of bitter?”
We were seated at Marix, a Tex-Mex restaurant in WeHo finishing off my second Corona and his third Margarita...and that was before the entrees had arrived. And to give you an idea of how fast we were downing them, this is the kind of joint where you can sit down, eat and be gone in thirty minutes; they believed in volume, here, hurried along by extra slatherings of grease.
The thing is, I wasn’t feeling the beer, yet. Maybe it was all the chips I’d chomped down or that exquisite Guac we’d had two helpings of...well, I had, but I was still stone-cold sober and hating it. It had NOT been a good day and I wanted at least a few moments of oblivion.
“No, seriously,” I said, digging another chip into the green goop and then scooping a spoonful of salsa onto it. “My folks still love me. My brothers and my father’s side of the family support me. Because of them, I’m probably more emotionally stable, right now, than I’ve ever been in my life.”
“If you’re looking for a comment on that, I’ll pass. I don’t feel like starting a fight.”
“C’mon, Moritz, you know what I mean. Hell, you and Laila and Rene all factor into it, too. You guys...you helped me rebuild my life and I-I-I know how important you were and -- .” And I was having an excellent time trying to formulate my thoughts, and not doing too damn good till I said, “If I hadn’t had you guys to lean on the last year, I’d be back on Tina and still...still...no, it’s been over a year and a half, hasn’t it?”
“Basically. Are you going to weep in your beer now?”
The bitch. “No. It’s just, you guys helped me rebuild my life, but it was Ted and the assholes on my mother’s side of the family who gave me the strength to make it through all the shit.”
“Oh. Y’know, details help in these sorts of stories.”
“You know what happened between me and Ted.”
“Yes, and in glorious detail, as regards him. But you never talk about family...and just because I don’t and nobody in my circle of friends does doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter, so...”
“Fine, fine!” I gulped down some more beer. Time for another one...and don’t you think Moritz wasn’t noticing how fast they were disappearing into me. The Corona was replaced and I had more chips, guac and salsa...and then said, “My folks used to make me and my brothers spend a month, every summer, at my grandmother’s outside Atlanta. My mother’s mother. And she was the perfect control freak. Not just over others but also over herself. If you said you were going to do something, you did it. If you caused a problem of any kind, you owned up to it. Her way was the right way and if you disagreed, you were being rude. Oh, and silly things like facts and reality did NOT factor into the equation.”
“Sounds like a Tea Partier,” he smirked.
He jolted and blinked at me. “Good God, they really exist? I thought they were all a figment of Fox-aganda’s imagination. But I guess being in our own little world out here in La-La Land I suppose it IS possible -- .”
“Moritz!” He gave me his Okay-okay shrug and sipped more of his Margarita. He wanted details, he was gonna get ‘em, no matter how many interruptions he brought forth. “So...with grandmother, if -- if you were facing anything in the way of ‘unpleasantries’ that needed to be done, you did the worst first. She seared that crap into our brains, all without ever raising her voice or hand against us. She firmly believed that if a child misbehaved you did not need to physically strike them in any way; you just locked them in their room without food or drink until they admitted the error of their ways and explained why they did what they did that she didn’t like and how they would never do it, again. The first time it happened to me, I was six; I caved in ten minutes. The last time, I was sixteen; I never caved.”
“You never learned how to handle her, because if you -- .”
“Oh, I learned,” I cut in, using the fact that our food had finally come to distract his mouth (cheese enchiladas swimming in grease for me, healthy chicken taco salad for him). “We all did. But Gerrod and Nils took the fake it route then kept out of her way when they wanted to be sneaky and just hoped they wouldn’t get caught. Me? I-I-I have this-this streak in me where sometimes if -- if she was being especially hard to take, I’d do something wrong just to get the solitude it would bring.”
“Hardly the zen of pissing off grandma.”
“Grand-MOTHER. ALWAYS grandmother. But I think that streak...that she helped hone in me...that’s what kept me from crashing too far after...after...”
Man, nearly two years later and it’s still hard to face. Just doing a drive-by of those events could shatter my brain with memories and shut me down. I mean, I’m not as freaky as I used to be, but still...
Moritz put a gentle hand on my arm and gave me a low-key smile, breaking the cycle. This, I didn’t have to detail for him; I’d done that a week after it happened and had given him his first gray hair, or so he’d have you believe. I’m sure he’d plucked it the second he noticed it and nuked it to death in his microwave then did some incantation over it to make sure none of them ever showed up, again. Not that he was vain or anything.
Anyhow, he didn’t say a word, just dug into his meal like he’d never eaten before. I layered the last of the salsa on my rice and mixed it up before I continued, “My point is, she lead me to embrace my inner hard-head, the mule of my psyche...and I think I’ll be making use of it, again, so fair warning to any and all.”
“I don’t get it.”
I took a deep breath and said, “I, uh...I got a letter from Allen.”
He looked at me for a moment, waiting, and then it dawned on him. “Barrow? Allen Barrow? One of the guys who -- who -- who -- ?” I nodded just to stop his loop. “He wrote to you?! Why the fuck would that little shit do that?!”
His voice was loud enough to cut through the noise and make more than a few of the boiz look around, to which he paid zero attention. So I felt an extreme need to whisper, “I-I-I asked him to.”