When I walked in the door she was on the sofa in her sweat suit again, twiddling her thumbs and watching her “stories” as she calls them. Sweat suit is a diplomatic way of saying the gray sweat pants she wore to bed every night and that way too well-worn blue sweat shirt with the big pink letters across it saying Race For The Cure- from the days when Judy could still race.
I’m not sure she could run now if she had to.
Knowing Judy, if we were rich she’d be eating bonbons at her regular corner there on the sofa. We were anything but, so she made do with a half-eaten box of Krispy Kremes and the wrappers from whatever fast food joint she sent one of those neighborhood shysters out for- yeh those shysters had been coming around more and more since everything went south for Judy, and it was starting to grate on my last nerve.
I just about had enough.
“Judy what are you doing? Where’s Momma? Look at this place! I’ve been out all day selling my soul and hustling to keep things going and you’re on that damn sofa again. You’re turning into a real white trash queen ya know? Did you get dinner started or what?”
Her eyes were glued to her story.
She turned and looked at me as if for the first time. “Oh, Lenny. What’d ya say?”
I shook my head “nothing,” and walked into the kitchen. Nope, no food on the counter for dinner. I looked in the refrigerator and cupboards, and even opened up the freezer- a whole lotta nothing. I shouted out toward the sofa, “Where’s Momma Judy? What are we doing for dinner?”
In the living room Judy popped a French fry in her mouth while transfixed to whatever Susan Lucci was saying. “Lenny I’ve been on the phone with the hospital all day and you wouldn’t believe what happened. I’m so pissed off I could die! Lenny are ya listening?”
All hepped up.
“Lenny did ya hear what I said?”
Momma walked into the kitchen and kissed me on the cheek. “Oh Momma, hi.”
She pointed out toward the sofa and shook her head. “Lenny she just ate. That Tony brought her Burger King. I ain’t hungry but I’ll fix us up something okay? Don’t you worry.” She kissed me again and pushed me away good-naturedly to get out of her kitchen.
“But Momma. Are you okay?”
“I’m okay.” She walked over and looked out the kitchen window. “She’s been going on and yelling about “those rats” getting in the house, under the porch probably. She went out there to put down the poison and got as far as the shed that’s about it- just her and that TV all day and people coming and going and her talking about everyone who’s doing her wrong. I can’t take it Lenny.”
“Oh is that right? Everyone doing her wrong?” I saw the frustration wearing on Momma’s face and could feel it in her voice. “Well I’ll go out and do the poison now, no big deal.
I gave Momma another kiss and walked onto the back porch and across the lawn to the shed. Note to self: remind Judy to make sure she shuts this damn door! I stepped inside and picked up the rat poison from the bottom shelf and saw she must have indeed been out here fussing around. The seal on the box was broken and some of the poison had spilled on the ground too. What the hell? God, remember when Judy was actually meticulous? I made way back across the lawn and shimmied under the porch and shook some out.
I’ll get those bastards.
Back in the kitchen Momma was busying herself with a big chicken she pulled outta somewhere. I grabbed my smokes out of the cabinet and went back into the living room. Judy turned her head when I came in. “Did you hear what I’m saying Lenny I was on the phone with the hospital all day today.” I sat down in my recliner and lit a cigarette. “I could just die.” she said. “I was tellin ya about that Dr Newson? He’s the pain doctor who left a couple of months ago remember him? Well, he totally screwed me! He didn’t say anything about my stomach ulcers can you stand it? The tests he took shows I got em and I just found out now. I’M SO MAD I could just die! He shoulda called me, that’s a lawsuit Lenny I’m tellin ya.”
“Whaddya mean, Judy, those tests from months ago? Didn’t you follow up with him then? I hope you don’t have ulcers, that’s not good.” I scanned the room for the dog. “Hey, where’s Jake?”
She continued. “It’s his fault is what I’m sayin. Now this new doctor says he ain’t giving me any more killers till I make an appointment and get new blood work or something, I don’t know. On account of the ulcers. They’re all dumbasses, I ain’t goin to see nobody.”
“So you don’t know if you have the ulcers then? I’d think you’d feel it if you did.”
She looked at me deadpan and laughed out loud. “Baby brother. I got the oxy, how could I feel it? What I’m sayin is he’s WRONG and that ain’t my fault. It’s his fault he’s a dumb ass.” She picked up a vial from the coffee table. “Thank God Tony dropped by and gave me some. One-sixties too.” She shook the vial. “You know I gotta take my killers Lenny.”
She smiled at me but her seething was disturbing- beyond what was healthy no doubt. Anger had been her only mood as of late. And this was today’s soap opera. The thing is, it had become a challenge to even ascertain whether her “situations” were anything even to be mad about-the actual facts had long ago ceased to exist. If she was mad she’d just be plain mad until she tuckered herself out and went to sleep.
This wasn’t gonna end any time soon.
Momma was setting the dining room table and shaking her head again, undoubtedly for me to see.
I picked up the remote and lowered the sound. ”Come Judy, we’re gonna eat.” Such a deafening sound!
“Still like ten minutes Lenny,” Momma said, disappearing back into the kitchen.
“Judy let’s eat. Momma baked us a chicken.”
“No I’m tellin ya Lenny. I ain’t gonna see anyone now, for a couple of weeks, screw them too! Tony gave me enough to last for awhile. I had to give him that bag of pot for it though, damn that sucked, we gotta get more.” On the TV Ellen was ending and this was Judy’s regular cue to get off the sofa.
And she did.
She made way to the table and sat down and lit a cigarette. “Momma, you got an ashtray?” Momma was walking around the table filling our glasses with sweet tea. In all my years with Momma she always served us, bless her heart. Dad when he was alive too, rest his soul. Even though that one never showed her a bit of peace. She’s never seemed to have any as long as I’d known her.
“But Judy do you have the ulcers or not? You really ought to check that out.” I took my place at the table for dinner. “You have to review those tests with the doc.”
“Nah, he’s just a dumb ass. Dumb ass dumb ass dumb ass.”
Momma put the chicken in the center of the table. “I ain’t eatin,” Judy said blowing smoke.
Momma sat down and put food on my plate, then a little bit on hers. “Judy, Lenny’s right, you oughta see the doctor. Those pills are killing you. And killing us too. You’re killing everything around here can’t you see?”
“Oh shuttup Momma, come on now. Are you sayin this is all my fault?”
“No Judy, I’m not saying anything’s your fault. What’s there to be angry about anyway? It’s nobody’s fault Judy.” She tried to sound light and soothing and reasonable. “I want you to be okay that’s all. Those pills are doing damage, you gotta know that.”
I always wound up between these two.
“Come on Judy let’s eat,” I said. “Momma made chicken. Come on Momma, eat something.”
Judy got up and went back to the sofa. “I ain’t eatin I told ya.” She sat down and turned up the volume and picked up the vial and took out a blue pill and bit it in half and swallowed it.
“Judy shut that off.” Momma said. “We need some peace and quiet around here now I told ya, shut that off! Stop it with those pills. This is all the time already!”
Judy started flipping through the channels. “Where’s the dog?” I said to no one particular.
“Shut that off Judy, you’re killing me!”
“Where’s the dog?” I got up and put my arm around Momma’s neck. “Momma don’t pay attention to her,” I kissed her on the cheek. “Have you seen Jake Momma?”
It wasn’t like Jake to not be here to greet me when I came home, nor beg under the table when we sat down. I walked down the hallway, calling his name, and peeked my head into the bedrooms. He was nowhere to be found.
From the sofa: “Momma if I had an ulcer he shoulda called me is what I’m saying, that’s a lawsuit, malpractice.”
The doorbell rang and I walked over and answered it to Tony. He waltzed in with his latest “old lady” as he called her, and they invited themselves to sit on the sofa with Judy. She turned attention to them and Tony pulled out and lit up his bowl. Judy immediately started in on them about the dumb ass doctor, telling them Momma said it was all her “fault” and not worth a lawsuit and she was so mad she could just die.
“Momma where’s Jake?” I walked into the kitchen and looked out the back window and saw him lying in the middle of the lawn. I walked out on the porch and down the steps and I knew.
I went back into the house to the living room and Momma was now standing up from the table. “Get outta here Tony, we’re having dinner.” With an open hand she started smacking the table. The loud sound of her rings and bracelets hitting it quieted the room. “Judy we’re having dinner, stop it now, shut that thing off!” She began to sob, then shriek. “Put that marijuana out now, we’re having dinner here!” Judy stared at her wide-eyed in confusion, up and down with her hand, up and down. “Judy you’re killing me and everything around here I’m telling you.”