Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dead Quiet

A Michigan woman came under investigation after police discovered the neatly dressed body of her companion, who was thought to have died in December 2010, sitting in a living-room chair. . . . the woman . . . would talk to the corpse while watching NASCAR. “I didn’t want to be alone. He was the only guy who was ever nice to me.”    
                                                              (Harpers Magazine, "Findings," July 16, 2012)

I mean, I been with guys, all they ever wanna do is talk. It's just talktalktalk, all about themselves or about their ex-wives, what awful bitches they were, or worse, about what's wrong with you. Which I did not want to hear again. None of it. From anyone ever. Charlie wasn't like that, he was quiet, just watched TV mostly, he knew all the NASCAR drivers, who won what races which years, that kinda thing. He wasn't one for 'Jeopardy!' nor any of the game shows, Charley wasn't. Nor nature shows for all of that. Just NASCAR mostly. Once in a while American Chopper if there wasn't any races on just then.

So it got easier after he quieted down - you know . . . died. I just dressed him the once and then left him to himself as much as he always preferred it, you know, just come in and sit with him in the evenings while my favorite programs were on. That was the other thing after he was, well, quiet - I won't say 'gone' - fewer compromises. I mean, we never disagreed about what to watch, no more flipping through the goddamn channels on the remote, you know what I mean.

Which is the other thing about most guys, the control freak part I mean. Charlie was never like that the last couple of years. Never upset, never angry, never bringing up old stuff that I didn't even remember doing. If I even did it, which I doubt. Can't recall, anyways. He was just easier than most to get along with. Seems almost I just grew fonder of him. Some days he was more decor, see what I mean. Mostly a fella that don't say much bears watching - you know, like that Norman Bates comes to mind, he was the quiet type and look what happened there. Charley was quiet but not so's to make you nervous or not able to sleep with him in the next room like this.

Norman Bates

Most of the guys before Charlie always left pretty abruptly. You know, you'd wake up one morning and the dresser would've been turned out, closets all empty, one stray man's shoe by the front door and the Monte Carlo gone.

Charlie wasn't that way at all. Old Reliable, I got to calling him. Always knew where to find him, always good for a laugh or a cry. Whatever. But it got to be he didn't really know much about some of them newer drivers on the circuit. He liked Danika Patrick but I didn't mind - and about anyone newer than that on the circuit he just never had much to say. So as time went on and the older drivers retired or got to be color commentators, I had to read up for myself on the rookies.

He never really got to smelling bad after he went quiet. I mean, you know - you'd expect a regular corpse to get a bit . . . 'high,' kind of,  light up like old Limburger cheese on a steam register. My ex-boyfriend used to like that stuff, eat it on rye bread with raw onions. Can't even think about it, I can't. But you know, Charley liked a cocktail now and again - 'just the one,' he'd always say, and we'd laugh. Yep, it was just the one, but it sure was a long one. So I think maybe that helped - it's like he was already embalmed, sort of, so he just stayed put where he liked it and I never minded sitting with him and talking over old times. Fact is, I got to kinda liking those chats we'd have. We spent some nice evenings together during the commercials.

Only problem I ever had wasn't with Charley personally, it was with the family. I was put to more trouble than a one-eyed referee at a Whac-A-Mole tournament to keep that son of his out of this house - 'where's my dad, is Dad all right? can't I talk to my dad, is dad even in there?' Dad this, dad that, every week or two he'd be at the back door like a termite on a wood porch.

It got to the point I nearly called the police on him. He's not a bad fella and he's been a good son to Charley, but I tell you it was almost more than a body could stand. And he probably wouldn't have approved of things as they were, so there was no letting him in to see his dad. I took to putting his copy of Voltaire or Pascal's Pensees next to Charley's chair - just in case the son did get by me and spot Charley lying there, he'd understand that his dad was sound asleep.

I don't know, but it seemed the least I could do. Oh, Charley. He was the only guy was ever nice to me.

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