51. A Hooker In My Bedroom

October 17, 2011

Dad took in another boarder, Ed the Garbageman.  I’d only met him a few times and wasn’t sure what to make of him.  He was around my age and seemed like an okay guy.  I took a trip over to the house one day to see Dad, but nobody was home except for Garbageman.  I let myself in to drop off some borrowed items, and I heard female giggling coming from his room – which was actually my old bedroom.

I froze and listened but I didn’t hear anything else.  Maybe it was the TV?  I sneaked out the back door and went around to my old window on the side of the house.  The blinds were slightly open and I couldn’t see anybody, but there were definitely two people in there.  The window was ajar and I heard a female voice saying, “Gee, I’ve never been to New York before,” and Garbageman’s gruff response:  “Well, looks like we’re both getting our money’s worth then.”  I crouched down to listen, and after a while I heard smacking lips followed by moaning and groaning.

Christ on a bike.  This guy was banging broads in my bedroom.  I wonder if Dad knew.  He would have gone ballistic if any of us boys had hosted girls in our bedrooms (I had a near-miss with that myself once).  He publicly shamed and berated my sister when she got pregnant and kicked her when she was down.  But when Tina came back from her Christmas holiday knocked up by the boyfriend, Dad just tsk-tsked and give her a gentle chiding.  She gave birth shortly after Grandma died and Dad continued to send her money and visit on occasion.

Anyway, Kathleen was still living at the house and she caught Garbageman entertaining not one but two girls in the living room one day.  Then she caught him in the garage smoking pot with his friends. Garbageman assured her nothing untoward was going on because he was a good Catholic.   Kathleen was beside herself.  If that was any one of us, she said, we’d be out on the street.   And it was indeed Kathleen going out on the street.  She received a voicemail from Dad, telling her that she’d better have all her shit out of the house because he was changing the locks.  Then he signed off with “God bless.”

This is the same guy who padlocked doors and nailed things shut when Bill lived there, but Garbageman had the whole house to himself while Dad was in New Orleans for a month.  Dad didn’t lock anything away – important papers, valuables, nothing.  But he could trust Garbageman, he said, because he was a “man of the Church.”  Once again, there was one standard for family and a different standard for everyone else.

And Dad was away on another one of his mystery trips.  Shannon and I went over to help Kathleen move all her stuff out.  Neither of them had any information on Dad’s whereabouts, so I knocked on my old bedroom door and Garbageman answered clad only in a pair of shorts.  I looked over his shoulder and saw another broad in his bed, this one struggling to put her bra back on.

I asked him if he knew where Dad was.  Yes. Joplin, Missouri.  Dad had gone to help rebuild after the tornado outbreak there.  He didn’t know when Dad was coming back but it could be any day now.  Then he closed the door and resumed doing God’s work.  Kathleen was apoplectic after she overheard our conversation.  “Sure, Dad will tell this guy where he is but he won’t tell his own family…” she muttered angrily to me.

This seemed like a good time to do some more snooping around.  I went into his office and Kathleen was right on my heels.   It was all a chaotic mess, but Dad knew exactly where everything was.  I looked through some of the stuff on his desk, remarking to Kathleen that I was hesitant to move too much stuff around.

“Not me, this is what I do,” she said. “I find out a lot of stuff this way.” Like father, like daughter.  The first thing I found was a jury summons.  Apparently a juror questionnaire came to the house for Mom, even though she didn’t live there any more.  Nonetheless, Dad filled it out and forged her signature and sent it back. Next we sifted through the mountain of mail by the front door. That’s when Shannon freaked out.  She straightened up, holding a postcard in her hand.

“Did you know Daddy has a gun?” she screeched.  His pistol permit and concealed carry renewal finally came through.  Uh… yeah, Shannon, I knew.  I thought we all knew.  Dad was a cop and had a gun since forever.  Not exactly news.  But she was carrying on, wondering why he had a gun and whether he was going to shoot all of us.  Somehow I doubted that.  In the end she calmed down and we moved all of Kathleen’s stuff over to Shannon’s place.

Before we left I found Dad’s car keys hanging up in the kitchen, and a light bulb went off.  I slipped the front door key off the ring and pocketed it so I could make a copy.  Which I did, but when I brought it back the next day I saw that Dad was home.  God, this guy was like Pepe Le Pew.   And I’m sure he noticed the missing key because he’d moved his car from the driveway.  No matter – I sneaked into the house, replaced the key on the ring, and slipped out again.  It was probably all for naught since he was supposedly changing the locks, but if he didn’t then I’d be able to get into the house anytime I needed to.

I was in for a couple surprises the next time I visited Dad.  He installed new baseboard heat on the first floor, erected a roof over the deck, and cut down the rest of the cherry tree that Richard had mutilated.  And there was a familiar red pickup truck in front of the house, plastered with a hundred bumper stickers.  It was Forceps Baby’s truck.  After their mother died, his sister evicted him from the house.  She put all his shit out to the street, including his portraits of the popes and his Hess truck collection.  Dad rescued him and his belongings and ended up with yet another boarder.

“How’s your mother doing?” Dad asked, and I answered in the affirmative.  “Of course, I’m sure if she wasn’t doing fine you wouldn’t tell me anyway,” he said bitterly.

Mom had some pain in her knee several years before and had it checked out by an orthopedist.  It turned out to be nothing, but she was still on Dad’s insurance at the time and the doctor’s visit showed up on his statement.  When he asked me if I knew anything about it, I said her leg was bothering her and it was no big deal.  That wasn’t enough for him and be became really exasperated.  “Oh, so it’s a big secret,” he fumed. “There’s something wrong with your mother and nobody wants to tell me anything.”

I couldn’t tell him any more than I already had, but I could certainly do more.  Listening to his stories of helping with the hurricane and tornado aftermath reminded me that I  should be doing more help others.  And even though he was working with Catholic Charities, he still paid his own way out to the Midwest and South and back.  If nothing else, at least Dad had that much going for him.

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