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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Study in scarlet

May 1st, 2007

fatgirl-copy.jpgBY DEAN SUESS

I have been working for some time on the outline of a novella, a study in scarlet as it were, of the dismal lives of people fascinated by, surrounded by, intrigued by, even bound by the actions of inmates in the prison system and those released, now living as ex-cons. What in God’s name makes “normal” people, whose self-preservation instincts should be shrieking “Run away! Run away!” seek out cons, insinuate themselves into their lives, accept substantial damage at their hands and through their machinations, and further ingratiate themselves in most humiliating and co-dependent ways — what makes these “normal” people tick?

My procrastination habit has hindered me from making much progress, but the biggest reason I fail to move forward is that the entire premise is inordinately depressing. Two other considerations: who would believe this entire scenario was real? and since it is, how do I manage to escape financially crippling litigation? Or, would these people be pleased by the notoriety, while entirely missing the point that others would be justifiably horrified by the travesty of their trashy, threadbare lives? This is what I’ve sketched so far:

Dramatis Personae:

Princess. Real name, Sally. No admitted felony record. No known misdemeanors. Would have you believe she has never had a brush with the law. Not true, but somehow manages to get away with murder (perhaps…). Example: pulled over for no tail lights, discovered to have no insurance in a state that requires it; hardly a warning, certainly no citation, no ticket, no lecture. Gone through two husbands, one drug addict (deceased), the other in prison (potentially dead meat). Currently living with Buster in a one-bedroom apartment. Does not get to use the bedroom. Now finishing second full year sleeping on couch in living room. Waited thirty years to “claim her man,” fulfilling her fantasy infatuation with her supposed high school sweetheart, a man who didn’t know she was alive. Kept track of him for thirty years and moved in on him when timing was right. Actually, only semi-ripe, since legal wife was living with him, too. Unusual constellation (configuration?). Only character to hold a regular paying job; therefore, pays for Buster’s apartment. Ugly verbal fights daily; behavior copied by two dogs belonging to Buster’s lazy adult daughter. Enjoys beating dogs for biting grandchildren. Prefers beatings to training. No sex with Buster because he is disabled and infirm. Refers to Buster’s wife as his “ex” (major denial). Shares her life of woe with anyone unfortunate enough to listen to her well-rehearsed litany of abuses. Raised with three brothers and believes herself capable and independent. Totally co-dependent on any alpha male in her presence. Favorite color, pink. Hair, long and blonde. “Handsome woman.” Face has character, not beauty. Fifty pounds overweight.

Clyde. Real name, George. Princess’s first ex-husband. Did six years for possession. Death by serious bodily abuse. An alcoholic when he was living.

Bart. Real name, Gerald. Princess’s second ex-husband. Currently in prison for molesting their twin daughters. Good chance he won’t survive the experience. Alcoholic.

Missy. Real name Marybeth. One of Princess’s twins. Living on welfare with Mexican man with no green card. She did two years for prostitution. Alcoholic. Described as “slightly pudgy.” Five children, none in her custody.

Prissy. Real name Elizabeth. Princess’s other twin daughter. Living on welfare with different Mexican with no green card. Two children, different fathers, neither one the current dick. Jail time for solicitation and drugs. Alcoholic. Described as “fat.”

Johnny. Princess’s son. Serving six-year sentence for armed robbery. Second prison stretch. Thin as a rail. Meth addict. No teeth. No dentures. Alcoholic.

Buster. Real name, Donald. Several assaults, no arrests. Still married to Baby (see below). Shacked up with Princess. In addition to insisting that she pay his rent, he also wants Princess to pay for his divorce from Baby, the bitch. Living on some sort of disability. Babysits daughter’s two dogs daily, often overnight when she is on a binge. Dogs fight and bicker. Probably learned behavior from “masters.” One bites children. Buster does not use the bedroom. Shares a hide-a-bed in the living room with both dogs, all three drooling and farting through day and night. Too disabled and infirm to have sex with Princess. Favorite color, black. Hair, bald on top, thinning gray ponytail, scraggly beard with “mange” patches. Suffers from diabetes, stroke victim, bad ticker, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome. Unable to move enough during any single day to take care of himself. On weekends goes on road trips, finding enough strength to ride his Hog across the state. Leaves Princess home. Returns exhausted and sexually satiated. Go figure. Two hundred pounds overweight. Alcoholic.

Baby. Real name no longer remembered, never was important. Still married to Buster. Enjoys sex with Buster several times a week while Princess is at work earning the rent. Spends weekends at Buster’s apartment. Eats lunch and often dinner at Buster’s apartment. Currently living with P-Dog, black gangsta dude into fat white chicks. Beats her regularly. Has ongoing competition with daughter Melissa, to see who can sleep with the most men during predetermined time slots (tonight, this week, this year…). Two hundred pounds overweight. Alcoholic.

Fran. Real name. Baby’s sister. Alcoholic. Enjoys sex with Buster on days he isn’t banging Baby. Not quite two hundred pounds overweight. Black-out alcoholic.

Melissa. Real name, no moniker. Buster and Baby’s daughter. Shoplifter and drug addict. Pays no rent but has dominion over the one bedroom at her father’s apartment — pride of place. Doesn’t sleep there. Shows up twice daily to smoke a bowl in the bedroom, drop off two large dogs for Buster to babysit, then go to her girlfriend’s house to get further stoned and drunk. DSHS and IRS have given her “caregiver” authority (tax breaks and monthly stipend — your tax dollars at work) over her father. Does nothing for him except drop off the dogs daily to babysit. Residence is in a centrally located (for business purposes) motel where she lives with her black drug dealer with no name. Refuses to find employment because drugs and booze are a full-time job. Can’t pass a UA. One hundred pounds overweight.

P Dog. Real name unknown. Black ex-con Baby is living with. Beats her. No one has seen or met him.

Plot (are you kidding? — is anything further required?):

Princess, despite the name, never wanted a man to be in control of her life; instead she has no life and her current, sadly debilitated “man” is in absolute control of that Nothingness. All their friends are cons or ex-cons, all have prison backgrounds, the apartment complex they live in caters to the criminal class (cons, ex-cons, and future cons). She is happy in her misery, and she is as much a con as any of the convicted felons. No one knows how to enjoy the Slough of Co-Despondency as well as a con. This life is everything she hoped for. She doesn’t want out, only to complain, which gives all the meaning to her life that she requires.

Moral:

Is this unique to the periphery of the criminal class, or is this America in all its glory? •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Suess | Link to this Entry

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