Part II: Journeys (Chapter 9)


SR 53 South under Ohio Turnpike at Exit 6–Fremont

I’ve decided that if I ever do myself in, I’ll choose the best time possible – none of this holiday peak business – and I’ll plan my death carefully.

No messy stuff.

I’ll arrange it so that I look like I’m asleep.

But I’d have some fun first, fucking complete strangers –

Don’t look at me that way.

I’ve no plans to end my life anytime soon, but if I do, I’ll definitely go out with a bang.

Why should I miss out?

I’d go away, to Philly maybe, check into an expensive hotel, find a bar that has music and dancing, and wait for someone hot and bothered, probably some horny businessman – probably married – to pick me up.

For the first week, I’d pick up a different man every night, each one hotter and hornier than the last. For the second week –

I’d look up Paulie.

Now there’s a hot one…

I ever tell you about him?

Paulie Quest.

Artist (maybe), raconteur, bad boy, floating in the periphery of my life.

Met him by Grauman’s Chinese Theater – I suppose you could say he picked me up, or did I pick him up?

Smooth, I tell you.

Slipped right through my radar.

He tried to slip inside me.

We parted ways.

Scary then, delicious now.

After our date, he called me, but I was skittish, too young.


He, 22.

I blew him off.


Don’t know.

Sometimes people intersect at inopportune times, passions evaporating.


Well, not totally.

I sometimes dream about what could have been, where that fork might have taken me, what heights of passion I might have reached.

Had we met a few more months later, before Snake Bodine, who knows?

Me, a minute blip in his life.


Just as well. He was either a failed artist or a liar.

A loser.

Would you care if I fucked him right now?

Don’t answer.

For my death fantasy, I would stick to throwaways, strangers in the shadows.

I wouldn’t worry about AIDS or anything like that. I’d have my fun and then –

Why end it all on a sour note like Mother and her best friend Monique?


I ever tell you about Monique, the rich bitch from Bel Air? What a piece of work, that one.

I’ve never understood Mother’s fascination with her, especially since she – Mother, that is – disliked gay people.

Monique lived in a big mansion with Trish, her lesbian lover, and sat on a 50-million-dollar fortune, all inherited. You would never guess her wealth by her appearance; Monique looked like a refugee from Skag City. The kind of scum that hangs out at the local bowling alley waiting for Big Red’s Heating & Plumbing team to finish knocking over ten pins.

Leathery skin, straw hair, and a hoarse voice – she cackled when she laughed. Told crude jokes about private parts. Ugh.

I’ll never figure out what Mother saw in her.

But you would’ve loved the challenge of someone like Monique, the possibilities for her therapy. I could see you going off to Esalen – you, Monique, and Fritz Perls jumping into the hot tub, confronting each other in the here and now –

Oh, well, never mind.

And then one day Monique popped 39 Valium, “one for each year of my miserable life” – at least that’s what the note said.

I was just 18 when the phone call came from the dour Trish; I remember how Mother’s eyes remained dead for years.

Soon after, her drinking became an obsession.

Mission: death.

Though it would take another six or seven years to kill her liver....

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