Loraine Cagesmith took a long swig of water, drummed her fingers mindlessly on the table in front of her and wondered what the heck she was doing here. This wasn't like her. She wasn't the type to go on blind dates. She had a hard enough time going on normal dates with guys she had known for ages. So why in the world had she agreed to this?
Because Katie from the office had told her that this guy was "one in a million". This guy was smart, funny, good looking, and a writer. Apparently, he was on the verge of breaking into the big leagues and becoming world-famous. At least that's what Katie from the office had said. This guy sounded too good to be true, and Loraine had a feeling he was. When she asked Katie why she wasn't going out with him herself, she had just smiled and shrugged and walked off.
Yes, Loraine had had great reservations about this date but she was determined to see it through to the end anyway. Who knew? Maybe this guy would turn out to be her Knight in Shining Armor. So she had called the guy up and agreed to meet him at La Rouge – one of Maine's top dining establishments. They would have a lovely candlelit dinner there and grab a movie later. Just a simple date. No pressure.
But he was late. Forty minutes late.
Loraine sighed and glanced at her wristwatch. 11:00 was closing in fast and her Knight was nowhere in sight. Typical. Wasn't that how it always was? You spend the whole day in the bath, you glob on your most expensive perfume, you claw through your closet until you find that sexy black cocktail dress you bought at Dillard's for 50 off and the guy stands you up. Men. Who needed 'em?
The elegant grandfather clock over in the corner of the restaurant bonged the hour in deep melodic chimes and Loraine grabbed her purse off the floor. She had waited long enough. She was just about to leave, when she heard the chair across from her slide out. She looked and saw a man, probably in his early 20's, sitting at the other side of the table. He was handsome – not overtly hot, just handsome in a classic movie star kind of way. He was dressed in a crisp tuxedo and had his hands in his lap.
Seeing that dashing face, Loraine forgot all about her annoyance at the man's tardiness and decided to let bygones be bygones. "Hi," she said, extending her hand. "I'm Loraine Cagesmith. You must be Scott."
The man said nothing. He just stared at her outreached hand as if it were some strange alien thing he had never seen before. For one terrible moment, Loraine thought she'd made a mistake and this wasn't her date after all. That was one of her biggest fears in life – mistaking people she knew for somebody else. Of course, she didn't really know this guy, but still….
"You are Scott Landon, right?"
The man suddenly came to life and looked at her as if seeing her for the first time. He smiled sweetly and kissed her hand. His lips were moist. Plump. Sexy. "Yes, I am he. You must be Loraine."
Loraine giggled girlishly and took her hand back. "How'd you guess? I mean, I did just tell you." She laughed, but stopped when she saw Scott had a confused look on his face.
"Huh?" He asked.
"Never mind. So, tell me how you know Katie. She's had nothing but good things to say-"
But any other words she was going to say were cut off as Scott reached across the table and seized her hand suddenly. He swallowed loudly and sighed as if he were having trouble breathing. "Loraine," he said. "Before this goes any further, I just want to make something very clear."
There was a look in his eyes. A terrible world-weary look that made Loraine nervous. What was he going to tell her? It was going to be bad. That was almost a certainty. Was he already in a relationship? Was he married? Gay? Shoot. That would figure, wouldn't it? Here he was, the first handsome sweet guy she'd met in forever, and-
"We can't have kids."
For a moment, Loraine wasn't sure she had heard him correctly. "Excuse me?"
"We can't have kids," he repeated, still holding onto her hand for dear life. "If we do, they'll be born with the Bad Gunky and we don't want the Bad Gunky. Landons have the Bad Gunky. Each and every one. So no. No kids. Not now. Not ever."
Okay… Whatever…. Loraine smiled awkwardly and wrenched her hand from Scott's grip. Had he been kidding just now? Nope. He still had that sad downtrodden look on his face.
"Are you mad?" Scott asked. His eyes sank to his hands, which were still in his lap and the corner of his mouth twitched. "You're upset. I upsetted you, didn't I?"
Loraine smiled once more and sipped a little bit of her water. It had grown warm. The ice cubes had melted. She lowered the glass from her lips and was horrified to find that her date had begun to sob. His shoulders heaved and his face was buried in both hands as he wept.
"Scott? Are …. Are you okay?"
Scott glanced up with teary eyes and wiped his nose on his hand. It left a long glistening snot trail. "I can't have kids. No kids. You want kids, don't you? If you do, you can't have them with me. Are you mad at me?"
The Weirdo Alert was going off full-blast in Loraine's mind, but she paid it no attention. It was obvious this guy was a tad off his rocker. The movie had been blown out of the picture for sure, but she was determined to have a nice little dinner with the man. He didn't get out much, it seemed.
"Well, now," Loraine replied. "Let's just take things one step at a time. After this date, we can worry about the future." Except there wouldn't be a future. Not for Scott and Loraine as a couple, anyway. After tonight, she had no intention of seeing this man ever again.
In any case, Scott seemed to cheer up a bit. Then the waiter came around and asked him what he cared to drink. Scott said he'd have a brandy, the waiter nodded and left.
Once he was out of sight, Scott began to giggle. It was an irritating noise. Childish and just downright stupid sounding. "That waiter, he had a funny accent!"
"Yep," Loraine said, barely interested. "Southern."
" 'Can Ah tahake yer ordah?' " Scott mimicked. He threw his head back and laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more. " 'Ah'. Not 'I' but 'Ah'."
"Yep. He had a Southern accent."
"Tah-AKE. Not 'take' but 'TAH-ake'!"
"Yer. Yer, yer, yer. Not 'your'. Oh, no. 'Yer'. Isn't that a sca-REAM?"
Loraine let out a sigh and took another sip of water. She was starting to get irritated.
"Order. That's what it should have been. But no. Ordah. That's what he said. OrDAH. Sounds like a baby. Ordah. Dah. Dah. Dah. Or-"
Loraine brought her glass down hard on the table with a loud thud. "Scott, please."
The man's eyes began to tear up once more. "You're mad. I know you are. You'd think I'd be used to it. That's what you'd think. Daddy was mad. Got mad a lot. Paul was nice to me, though. Paul was my buddy. My Bool-Bool buddy. He and I and JoJo the carpenter. We was bestest friends." Scott shook his head frantically from side to side. He looked as if he were in pain. "It's here! Under my skin! The Gunky! And not just any Gunky but the Bad Gunky!" He shot up from his chair and began screaming at the top of his lungs. "BBBBBBBAAAAAAADDDDD GUNK! KEY!"
The other diners in the restaurant stopped what they were doing and turned their attention to Table 19, their mouths open in hideous O's of shock. Forks and glasses remained in mid-air as they stared on in horror. Horrified and shocked, but unable to look away.
Loraine was mortified.
A man wearing an expensive-looking tuxedo appeared out of nowhere and took hold of Scott's flailing arm. "Sir, calm down! Sir!"
But Scott paid him no mind. He was still screaming those crazy made-up words. Raving on and on about "Gunky", "Bools" and something about a "Yum-Yum Tree." Whatever that was. And then, just when it couldn't have gotten any worse, Scott grabbed one of the knives on the table and raised it high in the air. Loraine covered her mouth to stifle a scream. She was sure her insane date was going to stab either her or the tuxedoed man.
But instead, he brought the knife down over his own wrist. He looked up at Loraine with crazed eyes and grinned. "Love ya, babyluv." And then he raked the blade across the soft flesh of his arm. Blood sprayed everywhere. The beautiful white linen tablecloth instantly turned a grim shade of red. The tuxedo man gasped in surprise as his expensive suit was forever ruined with the blood of a madman.
Loraine, meanwhile, grabbed her purse and fled from the dining room. She ran past gawking onlookers and waiters. She ran into the lobby of the restaurant and out the front doors. It didn't even cross her mind that she hadn't paid for her water. She was just too upset. Her heart hammered in her ribcage as she frantically searched for her car in the dark parking lot.
What had just happened?! That …. that man! That Scott! He was totally insane! And the blood! All the blood, and that crazy talk…. It was all too much.
She finally managed to locate her car amongst all the others and she jumped inside. She tired her very best to insert her keys into the car's ignition, but failed. Her hands were trembling. She tried again, and again she couldn't insert A into B. She burst into tears.
Well, the evening turned out to be a disaster. What else could you call it when your date committed suicide at the end of it?
Loraine finally managed to get the car running and was about to skid out of the parking lot with all fours tires burning, when she stopped. There, silhouetted against the restaurant's main doors, was Scott. It was surprising to see him alive. After all, hadn't he sliced his wrists not two minutes ago? But nevertheless, there he was. He had his hands shoved deep into his tuxedo's jacket. His head was bent down and he was just pacing back and forth. Slow and sad. The poor guy looked so depressed. So lonely and dejected.
Just go, Loraine told herself sternly. The guy's a flipping nut! But before she knew it, she was driving up to the entrance. It couldn't be helped. The poor man was obviously mentally challenged in some way or another and she couldn't just leave him standing out in the cold by himself! Of course, the smart thing would have been to just walk him to his car, but he was in no shape to drive. No. It was better to just drive him to the nearest hospital emergency room and have the doctors there take a look at him. And then it would be over. Loraine would've done her good dead for the day.
She leaned over and rolled down the passenger side window. "Hey, hop in! It's freezing out there!"
Scott, still with his head bent down low, opened the car's door and climbed inside without so much as a "thank you" or "kiss my foot". Maybe that was for the best. If he started on with that weird gunky crap again, Loraine was going to loose it. But he didn't. They turned out of the restaurant parking lot and hit the dark highway without a single word passed between them.
Soft white moonlight shone through the naked trees that flanked the highway. It was a soothing sight. The episode back at the restaurant didn't seem real. Everything was so quiet now. The radio was off. The only sound was the soft whisp-whisp of the car's windshield wipers as they lightly brushed off a sprinkle of moist early-winter snow. So peaceful. Loraine really didn't want to drive across town to the crowded and noisy hospital emergency room. But she would have to. Scott's wrist had been slashed open from stem to stern and-
Wait a second. Loraine's eyes darted to his wrist and she was surprised at what she saw. She saw nothing. No blood, no cut, no wound of any kind. But … but he had hurt himself! She had seen it with her own eyes! There was blood everywhere! What could have happened?
"Scott? Hey, Scott!"
The man in the seat next to her rolled his eyes upward. He looked sleepy.
"What about it?"
"It's healed! How is that? I mean- I don't even see a scratch on it! You did cut it, right?"
A smile broke out on Scott's face. "I did. But it got better. Wanna know how?"
"Yeah, sure. I guess."
"We Landons are fast healers." Scott leaned back in the passenger seat and put his hands behind his head. "We can go places. At least I can. I can go to Boo'ya Moon and I can do things and meet people and have nice little talks with the stars in the sky. Oh my, how they twinkle!"
Loraine frowned. Why did she have to open her fat mouth?
"I know the song, do you? The twinkle twinkle star song? It goes like this. It goes-"
Scott opened his mouth to take a big breath of air, but was silenced by Loraine's hand. "Let's just hold off on the singing, okay? Since you're not injured, we can skip the hospital." Yes, they could skip the hospital, but what then? She didn't know Scott's home address. And she didn't want to. The dude probably lived somewhere over in Candy Land. And in any event, he was too wound up spend the night by himself. There was no telling if he would hurt himself again.
There was only one thing to do.
Loraine set her jaw and turned onto the street that led home.
"Where going, Momma?" Scott asked in a stupid baby voice.
"I'm taking you back to my house. I don't trust you to stay by yourself."
A pause. And then: "Are we going to have sex?"
"You wish, little man."
Scott thought for a minute. "Can we have sex anyway? I know how. You just put the-"
Loraine felt bile rise in her throat and had to use an extreme amount of self-control to keep from vomiting inside the car. "Just be quiet!" She exclaimed. "Can you do that? Can ya go three seconds without talking?"
He nodded like a good boy and settled back down into the seat. A few blessed seconds of silence passed and then he started up again. Yum-Yums and gunkies and whootchie toochies and the hokey pokey. It was maddening. On and on and on. Loraine tried to best to tune him out. She tried to focus on the task of driving, but it was very difficult. She missed her exit once due to Scott's mindless jabbering. She frowned, veins popping out in her neck, did a three-point road turn and took off again.
Beside her, Scott's voice had taken on a deep mystical quality. He raised his head to the sky and took a long sniff. "All things serve the Beam," he whispered mysteriously. "The gunslinger draws neigh to the Tower. Commala, commale. Commalitchie litchie-"
"SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!" The car came to a jolting stop and Loraine whirled her head around to face her deranged passenger. Her face was tomato red. Her eyes bulged from their sockets and her fingers were claws gripped around the steering wheel. "Shut up! Shut up! ShutupshutupshutUP!!!! I can't take anymore of your STUPID made-up words!! There's no such thing as 'gunky', or 'Yum-Yum trees'!! And who the effin' HECK is Jo-Jo the Carpenter?!?!?!?!?! Now you either shut your mouth and be QUIET for the rest of the drive, or I swear I'll drive off the next bridge I come to and kill us both! GOT THAT?!?!?!?!"
Scott nodded and began to cry.
Loraine sighed and depressed the gas pedal. The rest of the drive was quiet. Well, except for Scott's sobbing. But Loraine didn't dare utter a word of sympathy. Doing so might open up the floodgates for more idiot blabberings.
Finally, her apartment building came into view and she found a parking spot near the entrance. She turned off the engine, unbuckled her seat belt and got out of the vehicle. She moved around to Scott's side and opened his door. "Get out," she ordered. But Scott just stared at her, not understanding. His eyes were a dark shade of red from all the crying.
"Get out. Now."
And he did.
The door was slammed shut behind him and the Loraine led the way to her apartment. She unlocked the door and forcibly shoved the blubbering Scott inside. She then removed all the knives and sharp objects from the kitchen and stuffed them under her mattress. She thought about confiscating the matches too, but decided against it. She was just too tired.
"Come over here, Scott," Loraine demanded in a stern mommy voice. She flicked on the TV in front of the couch and handed the remote to her date. "This is the remote. You use it to work the television. Do you think you can sleep here on the couch and watch TV like a good boy while I get some rest?"
"Yes, ma'am," Scott said gleefully.
"Good." Loraine popped her knuckles and walked to her bed. Behind her, Elmer Fudd was turned up full blast. "IT'S WABBIT SEASON!!!!!!!!!!"
Loraine locked her bedroom door, collapsed on the bed and broke down into tears. Oh, was Katie gonna get it! How dare she set her up with that freak? What was she thinking? What was she-
But sleep overtook all else. Gracious black peacefulness….
Loraine was awakened by a sizzling sound. She jumped up from the bed with a start. The house was on fire! She knew it! How could she have left the matches? Oh geez! A fire!
But there wasn't any smoke. No flames. Loraine frowned and opened her door. A strong aroma struck her full in the face and she took a sep back. It smelled like food. "Scott? Scott?"
No answer. The TV was turned off and he wasn't lying on the couch. However, his dress pants were slung over one cushioned arm and his socks were tossed over in the corner of the room. A white frilly tuxedo shirt was placed neatly on the floor, as if its wearer has simply dissolved. A bowtie lay next to it, untied.
Licking her lips, Loraine headed for the kitchen. She hoped Scott wasn't naked. If he was, she'd just grab him by the ooh-hooh and haul him out on the streets. She was tired of playing games.
She stepped into the kitchen. It was dark, but she could see Scott hunched over the oven with a frying pan in his hands. Thankfully, he was not naked. Close to it, though. He was wearing nothing except a pair of white Jockey briefs, which was odd for some reason because Loraine had pictured him a boxer guy. He had a great body, but it was freaking three am and such things ceased to matter in the early morning hours.
She put her hands on her hips. "What do you think you're doing?"
Scott jumped and turned to her. "You scared me!"
"What are you doing?"
"Frying bacon." He gestured to the oven. "Bacon, bacon, bacon! Tastes so good, dogs don't know it's not bacon!"
Something snapped in Loraine's brain. She grabbed him roughly by the shoulders. "Okay, that's it! I've had enough! Put down the frying pan!"
"Put it down!" She yanked it out of his hand and did it anyway. "You're out of here. You're leaving now." She sprinted around the living room, collecting disregarded items of clothing.
Behind her, Scott was beginning to cry again. "You're mad at me! It's not my fault! It's-"
"The bad gunky. Yeah I know. Do me a favor and save it for your therapist, alright?"
"But where will I go?"
Loraine shrugged and pressed the bundle of clothes into his chest. "I don't care. Maybe you can rent a condo over in Bubba Moon."
"Boo'ya Moon," Scott corrected.
"Like I give a crap." She started to shove him in the direction of the door, but he planted his feet and wouldn't budge. "Move it! Do I have to call the cops?"
"But I thought you loved me! I need somebody to love! A need a babyluv! I need someone to help me fight the bad gunky!" And with that, he sank to the floor sobbing. He looked so sad. He looked so open and hurt, sitting there in nothing but his underwear with tears streaming down his face. Was it such a crime that he was different? He needed somebody to love. Everyone did. Why shouldn't Scott get that too?
Loraine felt bad for the guy and wanted to help. She felt she had to set him up with someone. But who? Who would put up with his crap? Hmp. Somebody pretty nutty in their own right. Somebody—
Then it hit her. Somebody like Lisey Debusher.
Loraine knew Lisey from college. Yes! She would be a perfect match for Scott! Lisey had a reputation for being a little soft in the head. Back at school, she would always go around doing those crazy Zsa Zsa Gabor imitations. And she had all those sisters… It was a little weird. But it was perfect. A gift from the cosmos!
"Put a smile on that handsome face, Scottie Boy," Loraine said. "I think I have the perfect gal for you."
Instantly, he stopped crying and smiled. It was weak and wimpy but a smile nonetheless. "Really?'
"Yep. And I have a feeling she'll be your babyluv now and forever."
Baby ---------- babyluv
dub a dub dub three men in a tub