part 29

Subject: some things are just not funny

From: MackAttack

To: BoPeep

Date: 11/06        11:30p.m.

Dear Aimee,

You know, you are right, I do not fit in here.

I know how to sum up in a word the heavy impression people have. They want to hear it and are afraid of hearing it. (You could make me like you better if you pretended to understand.) Things that slipped my awareness are catching up. People want to tell me all their deep dark secrets almost immediately after meeting me. Not that I knew what to reply, and felt they were dumping.

It’s happened again with Diana, and again with Jerger’s son, Larry. He’s 22 years old and a very tortured soul. (He reminds me of you, sometimes.) I must keep their secrets in trust, even from you, Aimee, at least for right now. I can tell you what they are really telling me: they feel damned.

I know this is true as I know what phrase of music will arrest all attention in the salon with the guests. It is a kind of knowing that cannot be proven until you see its effect.

Your bother V is right about how they put on phony identities. Alter egos? Or are they trying to invent escape vehicles from the sense of damnation? They don’t want to hear that word. Damnation. But Larry wanted to tell me about all the crap he is into and how much he hates his father. Of course, he went all around the real reason why. Seemed like a nice guy with a lot of problems.

But he showed up on the boat last Sunday with two friends for a little party. Morgan-Hughes came rushing to me and said, “Mack, get ready, Larry isn’t your pal right now. Just be the employee, okay?” I was glad she warned me. Only the night before Larry told me everything and acted like I was the only friend he had. Now he was the rich asshole with the power to order people around.

First, they stayed outside on the upper deck “feeding the bird.” One of his pals had bread laced with a chemical that made the little harbor gulls around here explode after they ate it. Literally explode. Aimee, it was disgusting. Larry thought it was hilarious. The bellies popped open in mid-flight. They fell in the water and on the deck. Then Larry & Co. burst into the salon, laughing, went to the bar for drinks and cut lines of coke. He completely ignored me for a couple of minutes. Then I heard him say something about a jukebox, and I realized he was talking about me.

I can take the kidding if it’s friendly. But then it came to impress his chums. He yelled, “Hey, jukebox! Don’t you know anything other than that classical shit?” I could feel the burn coming up but said nothing. The sad fact is I don’t know popular music. So I stood up to leave and he yelled, “Where do you think you’re going, jukebox?” The friends were laughing as I turned around but Larry looked seriously pissed-off. What I’m not used to, Aimee, is backing down. I’ll hide from it so it doesn’t happen, but when it happens, I don’t like to back down.

So Morgan-Hughes stepped into this stand-off by coming close to me and said, “Just say nothing, Mack.” Larry shouted in a strange voice, “Oh, look, the whore’s protecting him!” She shook her head slightly at me and her eyes gave me a look. The things I’d heard about him came into my mind. The warning that V told you, to tell me. It all popped into my brain at once: “Rich boy, suicidal, homicidal, well-connected, don’t even think about it.”

He shouted a few more choice words about Diana, and his friends got nervous and tried to joke him out of it. Suddenly, he grabbed his head as if in agony and started screaming and crying. Then he ordered all of us to get out of the salon and leave him alone. So his friends took off to the stern, and Diana and I went up the spiral steps to the master state-room.

She locked the door and said, “You know it’s because he trusted you with his stuff. I was afraid this would happen.” I started to protest that I hadn’t ratted him out, and she said, “Doesn’t matter. Little Boots wouldn’t care if you did or even remember.” She calls him Little Boots because she thinks he’s the reincarnation of Caligula.

All of that is rising to the surface and could make sense to me.

V knows Larry Jerger, not the father, and I haven’t met him yet. The more people who show up at any given time, the greater the sense of a weight here — I don’t know how else to describe it. Maybe something like you felt inside the weird cult house. But it’s not always here, and seems gone altogether when it’s just me and Diana alone. Also, it was gone the couple of times I’ve entertained appreciative guests, all friends of Jerger who stop by with their mistresses. They look like the opera/symphony crowd to me. But when they are simply chatting with each other and drinking, it’s as if there is a big incubus in the room. Do you know what that is? Ever had a dream that you were in pitch darkness and a weight or hands were trying to push your down in the mattress?

And that’s when Morgan-Hughes is part of it, too. But they love to hear the light when it is in pure music. That’s how it slips the censors and they don’t feel so damned.

Love, Mack



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