Kern's Holler Contrarian
A love story

A love story part II

by Susie

Yesterday Mr JFK called me at the station with the news that our old pal T.T. had "passed on." The fat redneck guy had come over tp let him know. I went by on my way home--but as I was getting out of the car, their front door closed. I took it as a sign that the pain was too fresh. Tomorrow would be better I thought, so I just got back in the car and went home.

After dealing with Martian's shit today, I needed a break--and going over to help a bereaved family mourn wasn't high on my list of fun, but hey--it's my job. And I still felt bad about not having played that Statler Brothers album for him when he was alive.

One of the interchangeable sons answered the door. He was tearful, and I hugged him. "You were always such a strong boy for your papa," I told him, "I'm so proud of you all." I moved through the room, hugging and affirming along the way until I came to the daughter. "Such a good, strong girl. You were his treasure," I told her as we hugged.

"Thank you. JoAnn's back here, and she sure could use a Lizard Rub" she said, and guided me into the big back bedroom where the wife was sitting in a chair, just inside the door. Focused, I went right to work on her, putting good things into her brain.

As I was doing the Lizard Rub, the daughter spoke up. "I was just about to go, but I wanted to say goodbye to Daddy first," she said. My mind stopped on that last bit. Whaa--?? The daughter went over to the other side of the room, my eyes following her--and then I saw the huddled shape in the hospital-style bed.

I was startled to realize that T.T. was lying in state. Now, I've heard my share of Jerry Clower comedy routines about home wakes and suchlike, but I wasn't prepared for that in this day and age. Kathy went over to the bedside and murmured gently. I averted my eyes to give her privacy. This was strange, even by my standards. But hell, it was the South.

She left, tearfully, and I settled in to talking to JoAnn, who seemed worn but not devastated. Good, she was holding up. She was making small talk with me when all of a sudden--

--T.T. *coughed.*

I swallowed my scream. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCKY FUCK--?!! FUCK!!!!
Tryling like hell to stay nonchalant, I walked over to his bedside to see for myself. I gave him a soft stroke on the temple, and he was warm. What the hell--?! He was lying in a fetal curl and he was sleepy, but still what I would call ALIVE. My mind was a swirling shitstorm of confusion, but I concealed it. No use freaking out the family with crazy talk. But something was up.

I sat by his bedside for an hour or so, silently marveling at this new development. Dude, you were DEAD, I thought, and then said aloud, "T.T., you really ARE the luckiest man in the world. You're stronger than freakin' Superman, you know?" A slight rumbling chuckle came from him and he squeezed my hand a bit.

When some friends of theirs showed up, I took advantage of the interruption to duck out to run home after the record album. From the car, I called Mr JFK. "Well, I went over to give my condolences to the family," I told him.

"They holding up okay?"

"As well as can be expected, under the circumstances," I said, drawing it out. "Because there's been a sudden new development that no one foresaw--because T.T. is still alive."


"Yes, he is very much alive. I've just spent an hour with him and I'm going back. So what the fuck kinda deal are you pulling here, Lamar?"

He explained he got the story from the fat redneck neighbor, who was going around Saturday afternoon, eagerly delivering the bad news with lipsmacking officiousness. We had no idea what was going on here, but I didn't feel the need to burden the family with this bullshit. They're all finally getting into the pattern of doing the right thing for the situation--I was glad to note that the wife has given up that sad ingrained bitching game, and that the general decibel level was much lower. I didn't want to say anything that would raise it.

So I came back over with the album and the battery-operated turntable, and played T.T. his Statler Brothers record. "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott" made him chuckle. And it warmed the hell out my heart. I stayed over for a couple more hours, soaking up the surreality and watching the rain in the trees. It was really a lovely day.

He had faded into sleep by the time I left. I stroked his temples and said softly, "King of the world, Dude, king of the world," on my way out.

On Monday, the first day I was over there to visit, as I was giving the more-lucid T.T. a Lizard Rub, I told him what I used to tell the patients in the dentist's chair when I was giving *them* the Rub. "You know, I discovered something very basic that applies to just about everything. It's so butt-simple. Life is all about two things--whether to tense up, or go limp. And right now, you're in a 'Go Limp' situation."

I think that has soaked in, and everyone is in the "Go Limp" mode. This whole horrible frogmarch into the ineffable maw of the scary inevitable is taking longer than I thought, but at least now it's happening RIGHT. A symmetry has been established that will help rock them along into the last part of this dance.

And this turn has made it all fuckin' WEIRD AS HELL, which is my  preferred territory.