Thursday, March 31, 2005

"Since you seem to be up and around, Lila may want her dress back"

I'm back at the funeral home.

The room is perfectly still, unnaturally silent. Folding chairs are arranged in flawless rows. Burning candles fill the room invisibly with their warm, creamy scent.

Recessed lights in the ceiling are turned down almost all the way and I struggle to see in the weak light.

Mom is laying dead in her coffin. I kneel on the narrow padded platform next to the casket, studying her.

She's wearing Lila's Dolce and Gabana dress. It's been meticulously altered, but it's clearly too big for mom's waiflike frame.

I see the small scar above her right eyebrow, the mole at the base of her neck, the tiny creases on either side of her nose. Her lips are sewn shut.

My stomach burns. A hot wave of anger blankets me.

My problems are my own, sure. And I'll never ask anyone to go easy on me because of them. But that doesn't excuse her totally irresponsible behavior as a mother, and as a person. I know I said I would forgive, but right now, I don't feel like it.

"I hate you," I say, through clenched teeth, to her corpse. "I fucking HATE you, you bitch."

I glare at her motionless body, my jaw clenched so tightly that it hurts.

Her eyes open.

All at once, she sits up, her hands coming uncrossed, the rosary beads falling to the floor with a soft click.

I shudder silently as her lidded eyes fix on me unflinchingly, her eyebrows creased deeply with fury. My mouth tries silently to form words; my legs strain to get up and run, but I can't move.

Her jaw moves this way and that, as if she's trying to open her mouth. Finally, a stitch pops, tearing a bloodless gash in her upper lip.

Another stitch pops. "COCKSUCKER," she slurs. She's talking out of the side of her mouth, like Curly from the Three Stooges. "LITTLE COCKSUCKER!".

She reaches a french-manicured hand out towards me. The fingers are stiff and unbending, like hard rubber. Her nails press against my button-down oxford shirt, digging painfully into That Spot, right at the burn, as if she is going to slowly disembowel me.

My eyes snap open. I lay on my side, gasping for breath, listening to my pulse pounding in my ears.

Instinctively, I sit upright, and feel the worst stomach pain I have ever felt in my life.

Hot bolts of agony shoot up my chest, and for a frightening moment I think I'm having a heart attack. I have all I can do to stand up and walk to the bathroom for some Gaviscon.


Saturday, March 12, 10:30am
St. Luke's Cemetery

It is said that Harry Houdini was obsessed with death.

He was very close with his mother, and after she died, he would stand and stare at her gravestone for hours. I always found that odd. And yet, here I am, standing idly at MY mother's grave, thinking things over.

I take a step back and read the headstone: LOUISE MARY CARUSO, it says. I run my fingers over the sharply chiseled letters.

Whenever I dream about someone, I always try to talk to him or her about it. I figure that, if I dreamed about someone, I must have something that I need to speak to that person about, even if it's Phil the barber or the weird neighbor that no one associates with.

Obviously, I can't speak to mom, so I did the next best thing, which is to come here.

I scared myself this week. I was greatly disappointed with what happened with Stephanie, and in response, I drank myself into oblivion for days. I verbally abused people who work for me, and people I didn't even know. I thought only of myself and no one else.

Now that I am thinking about it, it makes perfect sense. Calling that guy in the pickup truck a "cocksucker" should have been a dead giveaway.

I'm turning into my mother.

Despite everything, despite what I said in my dream, I do love my mother. I just don't want to be her.

Steph and I have a lot of work to do together, and I think we'll be alright. But am I going to turn into a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, cold-hearted bastard every time something doesn't go my way? I don't want to live like that.

Speaking of Steph, what am I going to do about her? She still feels uncomfortable being intimate with me. How are we going to deal with that? I really want to be with her, to talk to her every day and see her just like I used to. But I can't go without sex.

Can I?

Then it occurs to me. It's a crazy idea, sure. It will be something I've never attempted before as an adult. It will be one of the hardest things I've ever tried. But, dare I say it, it might be fun!

I kiss the inside of my palm and touch it to mom's headstone. Again, without trying to, she has helped me.

I run to my car, dialing Steph's number.

"I need to talk to you!" I say.