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Fiction #177
(published May 13, 2004)
The Remorse of Willy O'Ryan (part 5 of 6)
by Barry Blumenfeld


Lucinda was divorced from Jax. Joshua's daddy. He gets my back up. Came here with his bright teeth and his bright hair, and he condescended the fuck out of me. He saw what was going on as soon as he crossed the threshold, and he wanted me to know that he was vastly amused by it all.

Those were the hippie days. Jax was a hippie, but with acolytes. A guru. I don't know what he was selling. These people had no visible means of support. They came up to Lucinda's house from Florida early in July, stayed three days, and took Josh away. Lucinda was getting her hysterectomy, first week in August, and she wanted him out of there for the summer.

So, Josh wasn't around for the cocaine bash, and I'm glad about that anyway.

This was after the fashion of a Mary Kay party. Invite your friends and let them try on the mascara. Then you take orders.

It wasn't as businesslike as all that. For one thing, Lucinda thought cops were watching the house. That affects a person's mood. For another thing, I made a scene, which was something I planned. And Nina died. That was not in the plan.

We saw Casablanca on Hillsboro, me and Lucinda, the day after Josh left. That scene where he yells "Play it again" and flops his head on the table and the bottles go flying? That broke me. I lost it. I was groveling in my seat. I was clutching my head and moaning. Lucinda sitting next to me laughing her throaty laugh. Maybe she felt sorry for me, I don't know. Maybe she was nervous. I think she was just laughing at me. How ridiculous, after all. Little turd. That I could aspire.

All men want Lucinda, not just me. She has a weird power of giving you a vision. Her eyes are like blazing torches that light the way. She has deep scooped cheeks, huge high cheekbones, hair like bronze that swirls like hot shields of dead men in the sun. You don't see her looks. You see fire. It burns you and it brands you.

After the movie, we were in the Rathskeller and that's when she told me about the party. That's when I thought of what to do. The air was cool and dark and tangy from the hops. It should have been like a womb, but light glared in at the window. Men at the bar looked like johns caught in a flashbulb. We were having beers. I don't drink beer. I don't drink at all, actually. I was dizzy.

She told me her dealer was coming — Harry, God bless his withered soul. She said, "Are you sure you want to be there?"

I said, "I don't care about him."

She said, "He'll bring something." In those mellow tones of hers. Her voice was like skin. No answer from me. She started to watch the television over the bar, it was Jimmy Carter at the convention. You couldn't hear him. He looked small up there. Lucinda got a plastic lighter and a box of filtered Camels from her purse and lit up, all in one motion with her eyes stuck to the screen. She had sunglasses tilted up and sitting in her hair. Lucinda was the first person I knew who did that.

She said, Lucinda, "You know, Harry has a yacht."

I said, "And?"

That made her look at me. Then she looked away and blew a cone of smoke up over her head.

"I'm sorry, Willy," she says. "I'm so sorry, but everything is not something you can have all the time."

Carve that on my tombstone.

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The Remorse of Willy O'Ryan (part 6 of 6)
by Barry Blumenfeld

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by Barry Blumenfeld

The Mistake
by R.A. Lubow

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