Sunday, May 18, 2008

don't look back

I'm in sonoma for the first time in 6 months, and it's proving to be vaguely familiar, but far from comfortable. the ruggeri compound has shifted and evolved in my absence into an alien configuration, and the home conundrum that all young people are forced to ponder is insistently presented at every turn. the linden street house has been emptied and sits unoccupied on the driveway, wooden shingles warping from the elements' unforgiving wear, and the once impeccably manicured rose bushes lining the perimeter are unfurling into wild, thorny shrubbery. the bunny cages near the chicken pen have sat empty for longer than two decades, but my grandfather still has a flock of 8 hens who keep the need to buy commercial eggs at bay. there's a stool next to the propane tank that has grown a layer of rust so thick that it's hardly recognizable as anything other than scrap metal, whose purpose was to provide an inconspicuous and shady spot for my grandpa to sit while he was shooting the pigeons that would try and pilfer the feed he set out for his roost. the vineyard acreage adjacent, once lush and picturesque is now empty, the weeds creeping in from the field and spreading like moss over the rocky rubble. my grandpa apparently rides his tractor in circles over the graveyard of vines with regularity, and it shows, the terrain rough from being masticated by steel teeth. my room at the main house has been turned into storage for crazy nene, the only remaining signs that I'd ever inhabited those four walls being a nail polish spill stain on the hardwood floor and a forgotten marilyn monroe light switch plate.
visiting renee was more intense than usual, but I couldn't tell if it was because she was on too many meds or off of the ones that keep her in some semblance of working condition. she is wearing sunflower pajamas at four pm, and hasn't been out of the house in weeks except to take the possibly inbred and invariably developmentally stunted black lab to do her business. she pulls me to the closet gleefully and slings a fur coat around my shoulders, and I feel them hunch underneath the surprising weight.
"it's seal skin! you can have it when I die,"she says, "you're the only person who would appreciate it."
"thanks ne."
"your welcome." and with that, she whisks the seal from my back and is on the move again, this time to the back bedroom, where she makes a theatric production of banishing the dog and locking her out in the hallway. she looks at me for recognition and appreciation and I nod enthusiastically. my years of hatred for that dog haven't gone unnoticed.
renee pats a spot next to her on her bed/army cot and motions for me to sit down, and as soon as I do she begins yelling in a sing-song arpeggio,
"I want to suck your NAZI COCK, BERSERKER!"
"so you've been watching a little clerks, I take it?"
"I want to suck your NAZI CUNT, BERSERKERRRR!"
"errr," I hesistated, "I don't think those are the right words... I'm pretty sure actually that it was "would you like some making fu--"
"oh, who cares. its clerks! I'll make my own words!"
I avert my eyes to the gallery of family photos on the wall haphazardly hung with scotch tape, and then she asks me if I wanted to try one of her pills. I shrug and silently decide it couldn't hurt, and watch her meticulously survey the veritable full pharmacy of little orange bottles that sit lined up on the shelf like toy soldiers. her finger stops on a bottle in the middle with the label peeled off.
"oohhh." she coos, snatching the cap off, "these ones are hot tuna good." she hands me a round white tablet that looks like a horse tranquilizer. I turn it over in my hands a few times.
"what is it?" I ask.
"oh, I don't know, it'll make you sleep like a baby, though. it's like an ambi-trazo-butri-nesta-done, or something."
"jackie gave 'em to me. she feeds them to her dog."
"what?!" my eyes widen.
"yeah, I know." she chuckles, throwing her hands up, "I keep telling her it's no wonder he lays there playing dead like a zombie all the time!"
"jesus christ."
"SUUUPERSTAR!" sings renee, and she hands me an empty listerine pocket strip container that is labeled in fine point sharpie, NOVEMBER PURSE.
"what's this for?"
"they make perfect pill holders." she watches as I effortlessly slip my canine tranq inside and snap the lid shut.
"you're right."

recently, someone in the family had the bright idea of introducing renee to to internet, perhaps to help her keep busy in her bat cave of a bedroom. she divulges to me that she has discovered myspace, and has been avidly stalking my cousin's pages but couldn't click into mine due to the fact that it was private. she wants to know what I'm hiding. I tell her nothing. she asks if she can add me as a friend and I immediately say no, no way. she insists that there's nothing that I could do to offend or surprise her, to which I roll my eyes.

"I do bad things, too, you know." she glowers at me.
"sure," I reply, "the key to getting away with them is not getting caught."

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