In every life, there are moments, days, sometimes weeks that, even while you’re living through them, make you think “They’ll never believe it.” I encountered just such a situation that pulled me 800 miles away from home, and subjected me to such craziness that I swear, I heard Rod Serling narrating portions of it.
I’m going to ask you to strap in, this one will be split into two parts. You’re never going to believe it…but I lived it, and years later still shake my head.
A little bit of background is necessary. I was still a young airman, and I was at the time dating a bisexual girl. I’m not just bragging (accepts internet high fives), it’s germane to the story. She and I had a friend, Kit, who’d moved to the gulf coast of Mississippi. She was actually more than a friend to both of us, and we’d had some very fun adventures indeed.
Kit was one of those girls, though, who had a Television Life. I’m not saying she was a starlet…not at all. No, Kit just had things happen to her that you’d only see on TV. Her mom was batshit insane (a hoarder with MPD), she’d survived being kidnapped, she’d had her arm broken by an ex boyfriend. She was an electromagnet for calamity. I ended up pulled into a couple of weeks that felt like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride by an ill-timed phone call. I answered the ringing, mid fight with the girlfriend, to hear Kit’s mom (let’s call her Millie) on the other end of the line.
“I need you to come down here, Kit’s been raped.” This part of the story is, of course, no laughing matter. My face went pale, despite my blood pressure spiking, as white hot rage pumped through my veins. My girlfriend saw my face, and asked what happened. I told her. She burst into tears. The phone call continued, and it was a horrid tale indeed. (I’m obviously going to change a few details here, but I’ll keep the full impact of the story, I hope.)
Kit had been in therapy for a bit, trying to overcome the aforementioned drama of her life. The therapist took his sweet ass time crawling around her neuroses, and then crossed the line. Making a long story short, he sucked her into a “relationship” filled with abuse, lies, and deviances. She wasn't the first he'd done it to. I’m proud to say that he no longer bears a license to practice, though I’m quite sad that he was only ever under a house arrest and not put into prison to become Bubba’s bitch. One night, she made the leap of courage to get away from him, and told her mother everything. Ten minutes later I got the call.
I talked it over with the girlfriend, and sadly we’d been having relationship troubles at the time. She told me that if I went to Mississippi, we were done. Over. Incensed at this line in the sand, I said goodbye, and so began one of the worst breakups I’d ever gone through…but that story is not this one.
I put in for 2 weeks of leave the very next day, and headed into the deep south. I had no idea what was waiting for me. None.
I’d been given directions to a fast food joint close to Kit’s house in Gulfport. I was to call when I arrived, and be met for the final few blocks to the house. This would have been a good plan, but the Slidell Saga was about to begin.
It was a long drive, 15 straight hours behind the wheel. After such a very long trip, I wearily unfolded myself from the driver’s seat, stretching legs that protested my every order. I hit a payphone and made a call to Kit’s house, and got the machine. They’d recorded a message that said something along the lines of “Dangerboy, if you get this, call (phone number in a different area code). Something’s happened.”
My heart jumped into my throat. What could be wrong? Had someone been abducted by aliens? Molested by angry ferrets with a lisp? Had a marmot thrown into their bathtub by Nihilists? I hung up, pulled out my calling card, and started pounding digits. The salt air so near the coast filled my nostrils, but I paid it no attention at the time. Kit’s mom answered, and we talked briefly.
“Kit’s cousin committed suicide last night, we’re all at their house; you have to come out here.” I couldn’t believe it. Evidently the electromagnet was on, and running full blast.* And so I drove another hour to Slidell, Lousiana. On the drive in, I spied with my little eye a billboard for an outlet mall. One of the outlet stores advertised was for condoms. No shit, a condom outlet store. I had no idea how much Slidell needed irregular condoms, but I was about to make the discovery. I assume that irregular condoms don’t actually prevent irregular people.
I pulled up and parked on the street, weary from travel. Kit saw the car, and her eyes flew wide…we hadn’t told her I was coming. She ran toward me, full speed, and jumped into my arms. We almost fell over…my legs were exceptionally pissed about this unexpected load after an additional hour in the car, and threatened to upgrade their protest to a riot. I leaned back against the car, and just held her, her tears soaking into the shoulder of my shirt. I looked over her head to receive a Death Glare from some young punk with a Moe Howard haircut, not knowing that by the simple act of arriving, I’d become the target of a full on dose of teen angst hatred. This one had embraced the Dark Side, and the Glare was strong in this one.
After a few minutes, Kit disengaged from the hug, and introduced me to the glaring man. We’ll call him Moe…a cousin to both her and the deceased. I would later discover the reason for his instant hatred, and would be shocked in ways that being an electrician had never prepared me for.
I was introduced around, and most were OK with my presence, though I was careful tiptoeing through the minefield of grief surrounding me. Moe wanted to show off for the Yankee, and gave me a tour of his car like a 2nd grader exhibiting a toad in show-and-tell. He had tricked out a ’91 Camaro with shiny rims and a Super Nintendo, which he bragged about playing Super Mario Bros. on while he drove. I was certainly not among intellectual giants, but in deference to the circumstance, I lied and said it was “cool”. He beamed with pride, and as immature as I still was, I had one of my first “Ah, youth” moments.
Kit had promised to stay with the cousins for the night, so I ended up back in the car for yet another hour, heading to her house to sleep over, to return with her parents for the funeral the next day. Had I called Dionne Warwick or Miss Cleo, I would have come up with some excuse to play possum. But no, I entered the day bright-eyed and unsuspecting.
<--- "Psychic readin'? Dangerboy? Oh, everyt'ing not irie at all. You're fucked, boy!"
As I rode along with Kit’s parents to the funeral home, I was filled in on what had happened. The poor cousin, at a mere 20ish years of age, had come home one evening, his wife deciding to break up with him with the most class she could come up with: by greeting him with a surprise as he came home from work. He climbed the steps to his own front porch to find his wife blowing her new boyfriend…she lifted her head to say their marriage was over, and then latched her lips right back on to the new man’s love gun. His retaliation was to eat the business end of a handgun. You can’t make this shit up, people. Personally, I think he had the wrong target for his Glock, but that’s just me.
Now, you might think this would make the funeral a bit prickly, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The widow was supposed to have a private visitation and not be allowed to the actual funeral, which, given that the poor schlub’s mother paid for said funeral, seems perfectly reasonable to me. In fact, it seems a bit more than she deserved. At this point, before I continue the story, I must remind you dear readers that this was BEFORE reality TV. The Hills hadn’t been thought up yet.
Anyhow, we arrived at the funeral parlor, and I found Kit and gave her another hug. She was distraught, and I thought it just the funeral, or maybe that coupled with her recent ordeal with the therapist. Well, hang on to that thought…we’ll come back to it later. I spent some time just being with Kit, chatting lightly, trying to keep her mind off of bad things. Before too long, though, Kit’s mom came up and told me she wanted me to join the few friends singing Amazing Grace for the deceased. I argued, since I felt it was an intrusion (I’d never met him), but Millie is like a force of nature. You don’t argue with a tornado, you just land wherever it sets you and hope you don’t get smacked in the head by a cow.
Reluctantly I headed up to the altar area, discovering that even though the deceased had offed himself, the priest had agreed to a Full Mass. I found that odd, but I joined Moe and a couple of his friends at the head of the room, and they handed me a songsheet, while I mumbled my way through introductions. They wanted to know what the fuck I was doing singing with them, the best friends. I said two words. “Kit’s mom.” They all nodded knowingly, one of them even saying “Well let’s not get Millie started, then. Can you sing?” I assured them I could, and we seemed to be OK.
Moe’s friends were a young Jarhead wannabe and a Half-pint, very white, Eazy-E wannabe. I tried, for my part, to blend in to the wall. Then, the unthinkable took place.
Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion in part two of the Saga...
*Footnote: Yeah, I’ve been kind of cavalier about the suicide. The event itself wasn’t amusing at all, just the outrageousness of the entire situation. It was tragic, but it was also stupid. The grief this poor guy left behind was a swath wide and deep, all to “get even” and to escape the pain of what his wife did to him. If anyone reading this is ever in that kind of pain, please…get help. People do care, and as long as you have a pulse, IT CAN GET BETTER.