And then there was the Bailie/Owler Affair.
An out-of-town Vanderevent that hung in the future like a thundercloud
on the Kansas horizon in mid-summer. Not that it was a bad thing,
this marriage, just that all the participants knew the partying
involved would age them prematurely.
For me the chaos started sooner than for other Vanderfolks outside of the immediate family since Cee was my roommate at the time. He was a total lunatic, droolin' an' talking to himself at odd moments. I mean, he didn't seem to notice when nobody was payin' attention. He was trying to be "SuperCee", getting a mindset for married life, finishing school, buying a house, and taking care of a half dozen or so DVP-directed top priorities all at the same time. Looked like a circus juggler with too many flaming torches in the air, slippin-n-sliding, getting burnt and dodging the rotten veggies thrown by the crowd.
He came home one nite after contract negotiations with the couple he was buying the honeymoon bunglow from an' he was in a foul mood. They were tryin' to fuck him of course. He sat down in his Eames chair with the contract, cigs and a six-pack of bud. He talked from time to time, but I'd heard it all before. I figured he was really going through the ritual of "verbalizing his arguments" in order to convince himself that his position was the only noble course.
"Goddamn it! They've replaced the the appliances with second-hand reguritated units." Cee laments.
"How could they do that?"
"They're Assholes." I reply.
"I'm tryin' to do the christin' thing here, an' they keep messing with me."
"Fuck em'!" I advise.
Cee continues to talk himself through the problem while I periodically offer perfunctory answers. This causes,the least interuption to the TV program I am watching. By the time the show ends, it dawns on me that the Bailie has been quiet for some time. The only sound competing with the TV is the tropical storm blasting away outside (and inside cause the living room leaks in several places. It looks like that scene from "The Money Pit" only Shelley Long isn't here.) Chuck is passed out, his arms hanging out over the armrests, beer and cigarette dangling, contract on the floor getting soggy. For reasons only the gods know, none of the migrating ceiling drips are hitting him directly, but the splatter from the tile floor is putting a fine mist on him.
The pose reminds me of those medieval paintings of St. Andrew on the cross with all the arrows sticking out (I think it's Andrew, but what the he]] do I know ... I was a Lutheran). I turned the TV and lights down low, sprayed a generous ten foot diameter circle of Raid around him on the floor, an' just for good measure, placed a couple of strategic rat traps out before hittin' the sack.
That was five months ago and its been mighty painful getting from there to here...and fun too, but you pay the piper in brain cells.
About a month before the wedding a few of us helped Cee move Sal's belongings to the new "love nest". Sal was already on the Cape making preparations. At first, Chuck had planned to do it mostly alone with Jim Buccifferro's help for the "two-man carry" items, but I volunteered when I got wind of the caper (Bailie buys the beer ya know), and Jim volunteered our good buddy, Jeff Bowman (Jeff wasn't present to volunteer himself). It was set up for saturday (not to be confused with BLACK SATURDAY which was still a week away).
I don't remember much of Friday nite but there was budweiser, dunk-it and rock-n-roll. At any rate when the sun came up it was not a disneyland morning for me. My head hurt. I popped a breakfast bud open, set "Exiles on Main Street" to a decibele level on the cassette player to match my body temp, an' headed in the direction of Jim and Judy's. Chuck and Jeff were already there with the rent-a-big-rig and Judy was serving Danish (I don't know why Danish rolls are associated with breakfast, they clash with any kind of beer I can think of). Jim was on a mission to pick up a part for his boat motor. It was not off-the-shelf, and he had already invested a considerable amount of time on it. Judy got a call from the marine store. Jim had been there but the only guy who knew about the part was not ... The call was a warning that a pissed-off Jim was headed in our direction. We didn't need the warning, 'cause vie could see him plowing up the front yard with his Samurai through the picture window (now for the plowing test).
Jim gave Judy all his/her/their money, and we mounted up. The plan called for Cee and Jim to take the truck, and for Jeff and me to follow in my new LeBaron Turbo (we was to transport breakable items, presuming we didn't break any during the load-up). No problems on the ride. It was a typical run to south my-jammies. Christ, Cee was even able to park the U-Haul next to the Elevator, an' beer was for sale close-by. I had forbodings ... things were goin' too smooth for comfort.
Bailie went on the first of many obligatory Bud runs and then we entered the apartment. It was filled with stuff,
not all of it packed. Kinda like King Tut's tomb but not as much shine. At this point it looked like a long day. Nothin' to do but pop-a-top and formulate a battle-plan.
"I didn't think there was this much" Cee apologized.
"No Matter, let's get started" Jim.
"We get two of us loading the elevator up top, an' two of us downstairs off-loading to the truck, it should go pretty fast" Jeff offered.
"That won't work" me.
"Ok, just an idea' Jeff.
Cee hunted til he found the ancient marantz cassette portable (yes, it was made before they called 'em ghetto-blasters). The thing is a tarnished gold color. it looks like something Cortez may have picked up in Mexico. It plays fine once you learn how to put the cassettes in upside doun. I had plenty of Talking Heads tapes. We were set.
With the music and beers, things went pretty fast. We got to a point when we ran out of boxes, and Jim an' Jeff went on a mission to the pantry pride. About fifteen minutes later Cee an' I spied 'em from the balcony. They were comin' down the alley with eight or ten plastic dairy container boxes on a dolly between them. They both were wealrin' shit-eating grins.
"Christ! You guys could get arrested for rippin' those things off." I worried.
"We jus' borrowed 'em." Jim explained.
"The Garbage truck got all the cardboard boxes, an' we couldn't find anybody around to ax for more." Jeff.
"Yeh, We tried to ax 'em, an' we woulda axed 'em, but we couldn't ax 'em, so we didn't ax 'em." Jim elaborated.
We all decided to ax 'em later. By this time Jeff an' I were loading up the elevator, and Cee and Jim were unloadin' it. This is exactly what Jeff had advocated earlier, and even though the idea had been rejected, he had subtly maneuvered us into implementing it. I have to admit that it was a good idea after all, but I'll be on the look-out for Jeff's 'good ole boy' management technique in the future. Pretty fuckin' sneaky.
Jeff and I were gettin' the remaining stuff out of the front room when Jeff picked up one of Sal's sculptures, a nude woman, plain-faced but with big tits. We both made what in some circles could be intrepreted as appreciative comments, and Jeff set the sculpture back down on the shag carpeting. We were on the other side of the room when Jeff cried "Oh SHIT!" and I turned to see the sculpture fall over, head breaking off in the process.
"Oh Shit, Oh Shit, Damn, Damn, FUCK.' Jeff attempts to turn time back with a ritual chant.
"Let's find all the pieces so it can be glued back together." I don't think the chant is going to work.
Jim walks into the room.
"What happened." Jim inquires.
"We were over there, an' this thing fell over an' broke. Sal's gonna be pissed.' I explained.
"Yeh sure, so it's nobody's fault. Put it in the box. It got broke in the move." Jim suggested a painless solution.
The three of us spend about three seconds looking at each other.
"Naaaaahhhh!" in three-part harmony.
'Let's have a brew break, an' wait for Chuck to come up. He has the hard part of this tellin' Sal." Me.
We were just about finished. Bailie said the bed in the second bedroom was no good, and it was goin' to the dumpster. Jim said he always wanted to throw furniture off a balcony, so he and I threw the mattress over the side. What fun! We axed Cee what else he didn't want.
We finished up 'bout three in the afternoon, and Cee went to find the landlady. The term lady is used loosely here. We had seen this entity from time to time scuttling about. She was anywhere from her late forties to early seventies with unkempt, ratty hair and, she didn't have many teeth left. She wore a drool-stained faded cotton housedress and flip-flops. She was washing down the second floor balcony with a garden hose connected to a first floor faucet. Sittin' on the hood of my car, I could see her on the second floor and Jim at the faucet, but they couldn't see each other. Jim kept turning the water off and on. The landlady kept looking in the end of the hose like a cartoon character, but Jim couldn't quite time it right to wet her down. That was OK by me 'cause I wasn't drunk enough yet to enjoy a wet housedress contest (I doubt if I'll ever be that drunk).
We stopped at the Pantry Pride for travelin' beer and started the Karavan north on US-1. We didn't go far before a police baracade shunted us off onto a sidestreet.
"What the fuck did they do that for? I didn't scope any accident." I expressed consternation. Wandering the backstreets of Miami is not my idea of a good time.
"I don't know. Wait a min, look'it those guys runnin' over there!" Jeff pointed.
We could see several swat team cops with flak jackets and automatic weapons runnin' between buildings about a half block away.
"Shit, either the're filming Miami Vice, or there's a real operation goin' down. There's only one thing to do ... Put a Doors tape on, roll up the windows, turn the AC on high, chug our buds, and try to find our way back to I-95." I theorized.
We found the highway eventually, but we got split up from Cee and Jim. Jeff and I got to Chuck's house first and we found Judy and suzette out by the pool. Jim an' Cee arrived and we began to unload the truck and my car. It only took about one hour since we dropped everything as close to the front door as possible. OK, the move is done (for everyone 'cept Bailie at least). Back to the pool for sun 'n fun, beer, wine and rock 'n roll. This is the point where I start to lose blocks of time. Sometime during this period we decide to split up and meet at Chilies, in Boca, for dinner.
I make it home and decide to shower. I figure this exercise will have the dual purpose of washin' the stink off and maybe coaching some spirit back into my numb body. I got all soaped up 'an reached for my budweiser..
"Aaarruugggah, Fuck, damn, SHIT!" I had gotten a grip on the Selsun Blue Shampoo instead of the beer.
Hell of a way to come back to my senses, but it worked. I got dressed, down an' into the car an' headed north. When I got to Chilies, I couldn't remember what time we were to rendevous. There were plenty of folks waiting outside to be seated. I decided to wait in the car for awhile, at least 'til the J. Giles Band "Full House" cassette I was playin' ran its full circle. I thought it would be unfair of me to keep J.Giles to myself, so I kept the the windows down, the stereo up, the AC on high and the engine running, just in case I had misjudged the number of music lovers present.
After about twenty minutes I terminated the concert and went inside.
I found the whole group at the bar. Judy was pissed, near tears. Jim had backed her car into something and broken the taillight. I decided to talk to Judy about the problem.
"Judy, It's just a taillight, replacements are not expensive. Why don'cha just haul off an' sucker-punch Jim a good'un. You'll feel better, I'll feel better 'cause you're feelin' better, an' someday Jim'll feel better. He's pretty resilient."
Someone threw a flag and gave me a five yard unnecessary ignorance penalty, and diverted me right out of the conversation. Next thing I knew we were seated, the food was in front of us, and I was into my Kackling mode ... time passes ...
... HELL! t4hat's that ringin'? It's the phone. I'm Home. It's morning. It's Cee.
'Derek just called, said to be at Marina Mar in 'bout a hour or so if we wanna go out.'
"OK Cee, I'll pick ya up in twenty minutes."
First thing to do is take bearings and soundings, get dressed, feed the parrot, and check the fridge for beer. I find one for the lauderdale run. I arrive a Cee's and when he comes out, I'm attaching my Marina Mar parking sticker to my bumper. When we got to the Marina, DVP's boat was still on the Rack, so we went next door to shooter's for a cocktail. Wrong! Its still Sunday morning and we were foiled by what must be Florida's only remaining blue law, that is: No alcoholic beverages sold between Sunday four AM and noon (or one PM depending on the establishment). I don't know the reason for this law unless one assumes that if a person can't go to a saloon, then they will go to a church. I was about to try Bobby Silvia's solution to this problem, but I didn't know the Barkeep well enough. It goes something like this: "I just stopped by to pick up that drink I bought from you yesterday but forgot to pay you for." Bobby Brant shows up to retreive us. The boat is in the water, and we are soon to be underway.
We pushed off and drifted out into the middle on the Intracoastal .
"Where ya all wanna go?" DVP
"Let's go south. Cee told me he'd like to try south." I remembered helpfully.
"I've been south. It doesn't matter to me." Chuck makes a liar out of me.
"Fuck You Bailie. I wanna go south, then. That is, if its Ok with everyone else, 'cept Bailie."
There were almost too many Vanderpeople in the boat to make a decision. The occasion called for bold action. It didn't matter to Derek, or he wouldn't have asked in the first place. We went south. After the first couple of runs and intermediate no-wake zones, we cracked open the cooler. it was a good cruise as I recall, suckin' down buds an' watching the world go by. A lot that afternoon was in my RAM (Random Access Memory). That's a computer term. When a computer is turned off, everything in RAM is lost. I didn't know it at the time, but I was about twelve hours away from havin' my plug pulled.
When we got to Miami, we docked at Bayside, a new indoor-outdoor shopping mall on Biscayne Bay. It's a great place full of specialty shops and ethnic food joints, primarily a Yuppie mall. We looked at the toys, and stopped for some 'Mount-Gay-wit-a-chunk-of-lime-thank-you-please' at one of the indoor bars. We followed a band into a cuban bistro and scarfed down black beans and pork sandwiches before moving on to open water again (a person needs to be in the open after a meal like that). A cigarette boat left the docks about the same time we did. When DVP started to jockey for position, I wedged myself down into the seat. We raced for a couple of miles but broke off in a stalemate.
Back at Marina Mar and over to shooter's for cocktail hour. I spied Shafferbird, a friend from earlier days when I was goin' thru my "Christopher's" phase. As soon as her ole man, Perry moved off, I scurried over to rap.
"Byrd! Wot are ya up to?"
"Krash! How are you? I don't see you around anymore."
"I stay away from Lauderdale. Every rotten thing that has happened to me in the last three years has happened here, mostly on the way home from Roland's. My guardian angel just doesn't travel this far south anymore."
I was starting to slur my words and my thoughts, so I bid Debbie good day and headed back to the bar. We imbibed a while longer and then Chuck and I were headed north.
"Let's stop by the Dollhouse for just one." Cee asks.
"OK, twist my arm, Motherfucker. You know I'm tryin' to quit. Umm, we'll have to get you some long pants."
We traveled past the Dollhouse to the Bailiehouse. Cee took about seventeen seconds to get into jeans, and we were off again. Rolling into the inner sanctum, we were directed to a two-seater Toulose Lautrec table near the stage. Well now, we had visits from all the cuties, and within forty mimutes the number one boys were out of money. There were two choices at this point ... we fucked up.
We only had to travel as far as the Barnett Bank autoteller about three blocks to the south. Now, I'd had dealings with this particular machine before, and it seems to me that the Gawd-damn thing knows when you're drunk and fucks with you accordingly. One night I almost lost my card when I'd discovered, almost too late, that the mechanism had been removed for repair and there was nothing but space on the other side of the slot. At other times it would not allow for keystroke mistakes. It was always spoilin' for a fight everytime you walked up to it. This time, however, the Gods were with me, and I was able to retrieve two hundred dollars of MY money. I turned to Bailie and lent him fifty so at least some of what we were about to drop would come back to me.
When we got back they had saved our table for us. I can't remember any of it and Chuck refuses to. We made it home without physical harm, and that's all ya can ask for sometimes.
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Last updated: 8/3/96