Blue Moons, Watergate, Gigolos, and Thieves
Updated: Jan 29, 2021
By Suzanne Hudson
Photo (above): by Kevin D’Amico/ Blue Moon weekend / Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson, Mississippi, 2002
It’s absolutely obvious in the photo, isn’t it? I’m having more than fun; I’m having the time of my life, struggling to keep a straight face, not succeeding, even though I know it’s not cool whatsoever to laugh at your own jokes. But I never quite make it through that particular story, “The Fall of the Nixon Administration,” published in the first edition of Stories From the Blue Moon Cafe, edited by Sonny Brewer. Even now, when I read that story aloud, I understand how performers become addicted to the stage, to the howls of ha-has from the audience, to the endorphin rush of humor pulling a community and a room together. Since it’s a rare first person narrative, I have a great time slipping into the character of one CeCe Calhoun Dozier, a bossy, self-righteous, narcissistic know it all, who dishes out judgment like a Pentecostal preacher and never fails to lord her social status and self-promotion over all of her perceived minions.
Don’t let the story’s title fool you. It ain’t about politics; it ain’t even about Nixon--except that it takes place in time during the Watergate hearings, a peripheral side show to the carnival of crazy that is the lives of the eccentric Calhoun family. It’s about a prissy, social-climbing daughter who is appalled by her wealthy, widowed mother’s much younger and classless gigolo; said ex-Marine, guitar-playin,’ dirty joke tellin’ gigolo; said daughter’s rather prissy, clumsily-closeted husband; a trailer park princess; a randy, truth-tellin’ maid; a troubled, crude-talkin’ Vietnam vet; among others. CeCe is a legend in her own mind, a character I am now embellishing, along with the other characters, as the short story becomes a novel. This transformation, this comic layering, is something I undertake with shameless, demented glee, after being handed such delicious material as I never expected, behind my bizarre experiences of a few years past. As I’ve said before, you can’t, at its core, make this shit up, and CeCe is the perfect vehicle for a certain disemboweling I need to perform. Who knew the disembowelee and CeCe would mesh so easily? Who knew that the supremely selfish CeCe would actually lend some humanity to the disembowelee? AND, because of the material, it gets to be FUN!
Allow me to introduce Miss CeCe to you, from the opening paragraphs of the new novel, as she begins her narration:
In light of my current situation with the law, I suppose it’s a good thing I did not shoot Will Luckie in the back of the head when I had the chance. And anything else that happened today was strictly a crime of passion, as you will see with crystal clarity, once you have all the facts. The only thing that even came close to resembling premeditation was my momentary lapse, a fleeting intention to blow Will Luckie’s brains out, and I obviously did not do that. Just imagine how I would have been looked down upon if I had ironically done this world a favor, become a murderess, and purged that freeloading miscreant from our midst. After all, if folks are going to get all tore up over the demise of a few pulletts, then there surely would have been a mighty hew and cry over Will’s departure from this life—even though he is no better than any of the yard fowl I exploded with my DD’s---that’s the family abbreviation for “Dead Daddy’s”---Remington Model 1100 12 gauge automatic. And I refuse to say otherwise, even if they put hot lights in my face, withhold food and water, interrogate me for days on end, or attempt to beat any endearing words out of me. Will Luckie has single-handedly brought down the Calhouns and I will never forgive him. He has burrowed his way into my decrepit old MiMi’s—that’s Mother, by the way--he has burrowed like a weevil into her heart. And he has augmented that crazy part of her brittle brain to the extent that she has allowed him to populate the back lawn with egg-laying fowl, one straw among the many he has laid across my symbolically bent and battered back.
Straw by straw, that’s how he drove me to do what I finally did, and the straws got bigger and fatter and longer as the months wore on. The largest straw, until Mimi’s birthday luncheon just yesterday, was this past Christmas Eve, when he awakened a heretofore dormant lust in the pit of my gut---not for him, mind you. God, that thought is the epitome of revulsion and leprous disgust. Rather, it was a realization that devoured me, forced me to reconsider the nature of my relationship with my husband. Which brings us to the very last straw—Lord, that one is still too unbearable to even contemplate, beyond anything I could have ever envisioned, the bile of Satan. And the cause? The root of all evil? Will Luckie, of course.
Now, I admit that Mother has always lived in a mental solar system that is a few light years from the rest of us, and she has done some outrageous things over the calendar years. But the only times she failed to step up to her role as hostess and grand dame extraordinaire were when she was hospitalized for some mental, physical, or psychosomatic malady—or when she was in one of her “moods.” Then, about a year back and out of the blue, or rather out of the blue of her consort Sir Luckie’s eyes, she began refusing to participate, aside from intimate little gatherings with our very most dear inner circle, in the social doings of the community that is our home, where we are the primary community leaders. And it has everything to do with that hard-bodied, no-brained sex factory of hers.
First of all, you have to know that Will Luckie is a descendant of the mouth breathers who live out the Pipeline Road, where they pass their beer-ridden days hauling pulpwood, screwing one another’s wives, and having an occasional trailer burning to collect enough insurance money to buy more beer and pulpwood trucks. He is through and through Florida Panhandle white trash—pure cairn---and I have been subjected to his low-class ways ever since he entered our once picture-perfect lives.
For one example among the myriad, he keeps a pouch of Beechnut in the front pocket of his double knit shorts, which makes for a rather unnerving bulge that is, at best, in bad taste, and, at worst, just plain lewd. And he knows it. To be thoroughly honest, he rarely, if ever, wears underwear. I can safely say this because of the revealing nature of sand-colored double knit; it just does not afford the barrier as does, say, denim, or heavy cotton. And when the heightened level of sexual arousal that has settled upon my mother’s abode is thrown into the mix---well, let me just say that I am quite certain---and I apologize for being so graphic---but it is more than obvious that the smarmy little gigolo is not even circumcised. Besides that, I have had occasion, which I don’t know if I dare tell you about, to surmise that his member has a life and a will of its own.
Plus, he spits. He spits that stinking concoction between his index and third finger, pulling his lips taut and skeeting that mess out in high, arching streaks of amber. His presence, ergo his spittle, here at MiMi’s house, which has always been the showplace home in Pollard, has cheapened the entire property right along with the Calhoun name. At present there are tobacco juice stains dotted across Mother’s patios, in puddles next to the ornamental urns, down the stone walkway that once wound so pleasantly among the pines, and all around the swimming pool, where he passes the days sunning and sipping fruity drinks of gin bearing paper umbrellas. Lord knows, at this precise second three of mother’s Waterford Crystal tumblers hold a few ounces of that nauseating looking, tobacco-infused saliva; I have even regularly found one of Grandma Lucie’s sterling silver goblets perched on the toilet tank, floating those little black flecks across a phlegm-glazed surface of bubbly brown spit. I have told Will Luckie repeatedly how repugnant it looks. He laughs every time. “Tell it to Bob Haldeman,” he says, laughing.
And so it begins, this bawdy thing I’m determined to get out into publication world within the year. Because it has been repeatedly tested as a short story, I can say with confidence that it has an excellent chance of actually selling, as in, copies. As in, supplemental retirement income. And I’m the first to tell you that most of my writing is nowhere close to commercially accessible, not even a little bit. But this is a different animal, and I haven’t decided with finality whether I will have it agented and ask for an outrageously large advance or just cut to the chase and publish it myself, which I’m more and more inclined to do these days (as indicated in many a “Note” on the Waterhole Branch Productions Facebook page; see footnotes**).
I do, however, know what I’m NOT going to do with it. Enough said about that.
In the meantime, I will jump through the hoops placed before me, by little bitty folks with little bitty minds, because that’s what I know how to do in the face of such puny-brained beasts. I worked in public education for over thirty years, after all, so I do know how to deal with mediocre minutae, petty gamesmanship, and downright deceitfulness. And most of my career was in a middle school, so dealing with alleged adults who behave like junior high jerks simply makes me laugh--not to mention adding oodles of outrageously delicious veins of literary ore to be mined. It’s a veritable Gold Rush, y’all.
And to those of the teeny-tiny minds: Please don’t throw me in that briar patch. Again.
I apologize for being semi-mysterious, but it will all become as clear as the Little Red Schoolhouse bell one of these here days, particularly if you know how to read between the lines, how to read through the layers in the fiction. What I’m dealing with is Crazy Town meets Asberger’s Syndrome, morphing into the Katzenjammer Kids of Wanna-be World. BUT, I’m reaping some very real creative benefits. I’m reclaiming the voices I know, the words that are mine, and the work going forward. And it is in full spite of, or maybe because of, the lingering leaves of voodoo lilies (see footnote*) casting impotently flailing hexes about this spiritually beautiful bend of Waterhole Branch. This lovely, incorruptible Branch. To quote Mr. Hammer: “Can’t Touch This.”
Of course, once the precious metal is sifted from the stream, the dregs remain, and dregs they are indeed. Likewise, there’s some shallow fluff on the periphery of my life and my writing--puffs of literary lint, if you will--that has to be blowed away on a breathy breeze from time to time. Detritus, that’s all. Projection, a la Psychology 101. A soulless entity or two, or maybe three, who might well declare, with all of the believability of an errant child, with the desperate defensiveness of a cornered rat, or with the self-incriminating certitude of a political hack:
“I am not a liar.”
“I am not a thief.”
“I am not a crook.”