Friday, November 2, 2012
“Shut up, Donny. Shut up Donny, Shut the fuck up Donny.” Every decision he made was shadowed by those words. Theodore Donald ‘Donny’ Kerabatsos moved away from California after he was shot. His friends thought it was a heart attack that knocked him down like a 180 lb bowling pin but he knew he had enemies. He went to New Jersey to find the man who shot him. He kept waiting for someone to ask him “don’t you want to know who wants you dead?” so that he could reply “I want to know who shot me, listing who wants me dead would take too long.” That’d be a cool reply. That’d teach people to tell him to shut the fuck up.
After two months in Atlantic City looking for anyone with either a handgun or motive, Donny was two incubator baby shops away from calling it quits. One evening after getting nothing but stares back as a response he turned around and walked down the boardwalk to a little club that he’d been eyeing since he came to town. The cool people seemed to go there. The people he wanted to be seen with to show his friends at home that he’d grown up and found his place amongst the In crowd.
At the door he made a joke about prohibition that nearly prohibited him getting past the bouncer. Cool people don’t care about history. “Shut the fuck up, Donny.” Inside he bought his drink, making no historical jokes, and made his way to the closest wall to plant his roots and that’s when he saw her. In a silver dress that made his stomach shiver. He was struck and in love and then she spoke to him.
“Excuse me,” she said as she was knocked into him by a drunk mess. Before Donny could even try to say something she was headed to the door, throwing on a red jacket. Donny had two thoughts at that moment. The first was that one day when he’s rich and fancy he’ll wear a fresh cut carnation everyday of the same bright red color to remind him of her. The second thought was, I must get her before she’s gone even if it means not finishing this expensive drink.
“Stop!” he yelled at her before he could help it. She stopped. Shut the fuck up, Donny, Shut the fuck up, Donny, Shut the fuck, up. “Donny! I’m Donny, my name’s Donny.”
“I don’t care what your name is,” she said.
A Scottish accent? Donny’s heart elevated from lovestruck to charmed. He loved Scotland. It’s history fascinated him. He knew about Scotland. He could tell her about Scotland. Shut up. She’s staring. He hated this town’s stares. He was losing time. Losing her. Think of something. Think. Think.
“I’m Diane,” she said and stepped back before walking down the boardwalk.
Donny couldn’t tell if this was an invitation so he ran after her just in case. He started to speak when she cut him off and went off on him about his approach. She had heard it all before and let him know it. Donny found this irresistible and that’s exactly what she intended. She was in control and Donny was drawn to that as the taxi was from her waving hand. Donny stopped cold and stared back as she took a seat in the cab and left the door open. Donny jumped in beside her before it was too late. It was the most spontaneous decision he’d made in his entire life other than the one time he flew to Atlantic City to find the man who shot him.
Like two final pins knocked down in the second frame, Donny was spared any further discussion. Diane for some reason outside his understanding was pulling him in close and any jokes or historical teaching that he’d normally share had to wait because tonight he was being kissed.
In her bedroom things escalated faster than he had ever expected or even dreamed. He had waited so long for this moment that he felt he must say something to acknowledge his overwhelming feelings. He pulled away from her and began to speak.
“Shut up, Donny,” she said.
It was terrible, what happened next. What happened when she said those words. Shut Up, Donny. The distance he had forced between him and his past, California, his friend Walter, The Dude, all came sweeping back faster than a tidal wave and crashed on his emotions like a sea of empty bottles. His eyes snapped. Diane recognized that the man child she had invited into her bed was crazy and it frightened her.
“MOM! DAD! Get in here!” she screamed. Pulling the blanket off her bed to cover herself, Donny was left covering his half naked body when her parents threw open her bedroom door.
The dad was tough. Not as tough as her mother, but tough. Donny’s face split open like a sonuvabitch. Covering his swollen face with a handkerchief did little to detract the stares he was attracting on the boardwalk.
“Stop staring at me!” he tried to yell but it came out a wheezing cry.
His walk home was filled with pulsing delusions of his possible futures. In one he was a gangster in a suit, a thin black tie, a thief, an old man talking to teenage girls, an interviewer, a kidnapper. When he saw himself as a kidnapper he saw a partner. It wasn’t Diane, it was some man, a man he knew. A nihilist. The man who shot him? He was chopping wood, chipping it in a machine. His wet eyes focused and he was back on the boardwalk, but fallen on the wood. He got up and saw Diane, in the way he’d want her. Reserved, wearing a floppy hat in the past. And he’d take her to his nice big house without her parents. And then he felt the heart attack and he was back in the bowling alley parking lot. And then he was ash and in the hair and mouths of his friends. And also at the same time he was in the Pacific Ocean and then the Atlantic.