Large Robert and the Canadian Baby…
I Need You – America, Let’s Stay Together – Al Green, First Time Ever I saw Your Face – Roberta Flack, Nights in White Satin – Moody Blues, Mama Told Me Not To Come – Three Dog Night, If You Don’t Know Me By Now – Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Heart of Gold – Neil Young, Me and Mrs Jones – Billy Paul, Use Me – Bill Withers
I woke to a persistent ringing in my left ear and as I glanced at the clock I could almost see that it`s somewhere near 7:30 AM.
But the clock is just too far away to be sure. Or maybe it’s that my eyes don’t seem to be focusing just yet.
“wh’ wh’ what the hell?”
“this better be fuckin good!”
“wait a minute!!!!”
“where the hell am I?” comes to my head all in a rush.
Followed close up by: “ooowwwwwww that hurts” and “ewwwwwwwwww what is that taste in my mouth?” all in a jumble.
I groan and fumble for the phone. It’s on the table in front of me. Just as I grab at it someone switches on the overhead light and I am momentarily blinded.
“What the fu….?” I mutter, more to myself than to anyone in particular.
The clock ticks and I finally get my teary eyes pried open to see Allan standing in his living room doorway glaring at me. Apparently I have passed out on his couch again.
I am befuddled and my brain and my mouth don’t seem to be hitting on all bangers yet. Now all I can now think of is getting outta there before his wife wakes up and chews us both a new arse hole.
“Jesus Baby…answer the fucking phone,” he says, the inference being before his one and only true love puts in an appearance.” “It’s for you.” “I think it’s that idiot Boomer.”
“Boomer?” I says. But Boomer’s been missing for almost a month…he left for Sturgis in June. Said he was taking the “circle route”. Since then we’d had one call saying he was having a blast, the proverbial time of his decadent life. Then nothing, nothing at all for close to four weeks.
“What the hell would Boomer be doing calling me here?” I beg.
” Well” says Al; “apparently he’s called everyone in town looking for you. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you started the first day of your 22nd year with half of the people you know in the world gunning for you” he laughs…”most of them just got to bed fer chrissakes”. “And little Suzie…she ain’t no happy camper, if ya catch my drift”
Then it all comes tumbling back to me. The surprise party at my bar that my pseudo family had had put on for me. The tequila belly shots off that little wannabe’s six pack and the vodka/jello shooters, music and beers, and dancing and beers and beers n’ more beers…and just where the hell are my pants???
Now I vaguely remember Allan carrying me into his living room and flopping me down onto the couch while his wife Suzie gets me a bucket. Just in case.
I think I was singing that stupid Gary Glitter tune…”I’m the Leader of the Gang I Am!” or was trying to anyway.
“jeeezzzzuuuuzzzz my head hurts, ” I groan, “twenty fuckin two years old.”
“How the hell did that happen? And where the hell was I when it did?”
“ANSWER THE FUCKIN PHONE” Allan gripes, emphatically as he fold all 6 ft 4 of himself onto the end of the couch.
“yah, who’s this?” I mewl.
“Hi Baby, it’s me…yer favorite travelin fool” Boomer hollers.
“sh sh shush man yer hurtin my punkin…where the hell you at?”
“I’m in St Paul at a place called the Dump, with my new friends from the Skull Crunchers”
“The dump…this is sommat to brag about?” I mutter as Boomer and his new found friends launch into a drunken rendition of happy birthday. A veritable cacophony of male voices that have been celebrating just like me only obviously have had way more practice than I. Allan begins to laugh and I think “skull crunchers? What kind of a fuckin name is that?”
“Whatcha doin tomorrow?” says Boomer as the wailing dies down.
“Sleeping, I hope…till August maybe…if I’m lucky.”
“Well I got a surprise for ya” roars Boomer.
“There is a ticket for you at the Air Canada counter and I will pick you up at the airport in Minneapolis. It’s one way, cos we are gonna leave Minneapolis and head for Sturgis and then on to Texas for a good ole party with my new bro Large Robert and his boys.”
“Uhmmmmhuh…Minneapolis, Texas…Large Robert?” I mumble as I fall over back onto the couch. “yeah bud..I’ll get right on that”
“Shit woman, put Al on the line” Boomer says as Suzie stomps into the room with that look of fire I am coming to expect from this tiny, deceptively fragile looking woman.
As Suzie stands there, arms crossed hugging her chest and glaring at me in disgust, I close my eyes and listen to Al talking to Boomer. Confirming that yes, I will be at the airport at 9 AM. And yes that he and Suzie will see to it that I have my brain bucket and ticket in hand.
“Good, now turn out the fuckin light” I whimper and close my eyes reaching for that blessed relief that comes with sleep.
“Not fucking likely” shrieks the big man’s tiny fishmonger wife, “Get the fuck of my couch you god damned loser!”
“Now, now, sweetie, you promised to leave her alone cos it’s her birthday” says Al as Suzie continues to shriek “I knew right from the first moment you brought this dizzy fucked up bitch into our home that she was gonna be a trial we didn’t need and just look at her!”
“She hasn’t drawn a sober breath in six months and I just can’t stand to watch her any more!”
“But sweetie you know it’s only been six months since she lost Mike and the baby, surely to god you can’t hold that against her” replies a stunned Al.
“Me and Baby, we’ve been friends since grade school, matter of fact, me and her and all the boys went to school together. We grew up together she’s always been Baby to us, and always will. You liked her enough to let her she stand for us at our wedding. She’s been though hell and needs to heal and if that means she’s gotta do it by single handedly drinkin her bar dry, then by god me and the boys is gonna carry her through!”
“Besides, she’s lying right here on the fuckin couch” I mutter “just because I got my eyes closed doesn’t mean I can’t hear you” I say as I hiccup and begin to cry in earnest.
“Mike’s gone, you bitch, and I had no choice but to give up the baby”
“I couldn’t give a baby a fair start when I’m in the crapper myself. A baby and a junkie, you know what woulda happened. I know my arms’ve been clean for close to 2 years now but I also know that it was more Mike’s doin than mine and as soon as I lost Mike chances were I wouldn’t stay sober. I know that givin my girl up was the best thing for her and the hardest thing I ever done…but without Mike to help me I sure as hell couldn’t stay clean, raise a child and run a fuckin hotel with the toughest bar in town. I gotta make a livin to raise a kid and a livin like this a kid don’t need” I wailed all in one breath.
“Besides, just who the fuck are you to be passing judgement on me you prissy little sow!” I growled as the anger crept in to replace the hurt as usual.
“Why I oughtta..” says Suzie snapping her hand up to slap me, then sighing as she sits down beside me to hold me while I cry.
“Jezuz Baby you gotta get it together…we all can’t be doing this shit for you forever” “And the cops are gonna shut you down and pull yer license if you get caught open after hours one more time” she says.
“I know, I know I know” comes the muffled reply. “Every day I get up and promise myself that today is the day that I get back on track.” I sob. “And then some sick urge leads me into the baby’s room or to the garage to see Mike’s ride sittin there all sad and lonely and I eventually end up standing at my own bar drinkin by myself and pretending that I am tough as nails.”
Al pats me on the back and looks more and more uncomfortable as Suzie sits me up and wipes my face with the hem of her terry cloth robe. “Woman you just need some recreation, new places, new faces, something to get you over the hump” she says.
“So maybe this trip to Minneapolis with Boomer’s just the ticket?” All suggests hopefully.
“Jeez Al, have you looked at Boomer lately?” I rail. “It’s not like the guy gets up close and personal with a bath tub very often, and those teeth, why the hell wouldn’t he just have those rotten stumps pulled outta his mouth…his breath would usually knock the buzzards off a gut wagon!”
“Besides” adds Suzie, “he is definitely one of those guys that thinks his waist line is two inches below his ass hole…”
“Well, I don’t know from that” interrupts Al, “but the facts are that Baby needs to get outta town for a while, to stop running into the things that trigger her monkey.”
“Me and the boys have been doing a good job of holding down our own jobs and running the bar for the last six months. Besides, it can’t be anything but easier if we don’t have to spend all our time watchin out for Baby…trying to see who she is gonna shake it up with now…it’s like she gets a belly fulla beer and wants to take on the whole world two falls outta three. ” He shakes his head.
“You know what Al…you may just have something here” replies Suzie
“Let’s get a move on it…we’ve gotta get her home and get her bucket and to the airport in an hour! ” she says as she jumps up and I fall back over onto the couch.
Apparently I don’t get a vote…and that’s suits me fine if they just let me go back to sleep.