What goes around comes around in this yarn of bad judgement gone of the tracks.
|John W. Stone felt like a total chump as he waited on the dentist at the VA clinic in Pittsburgh. There he was laid back in the chair, paper napkin across his chest, his perpetual good looks damaged beyond repair. He kept telling himself he didn’t really deserve it, attempting a stab at a semblance of rationalization, he told himself it was bad juju. He wondered exactly how that worked into it. As he laid back in the dentist chair, he let his mind run with the notion. It beat trying to stare down the reflective overhead swivel lamp.
All he did was go to work.
He was a security guard, a sub-contractor, posted at The Tall Stripe complex on the corner of Hopeless Boulevard and East Carson. He worked daylight, and part of his morning regime required him to place road cones before the start of business. He had finished that, cracked the lid of his morning cup of mud and then it happened.
Well she happened.
He had just leaned back in his office, which was the size of a closet, kicked his feet up on the stool and consider scratching himself in an inappropriate place when she happened. Without warning, one pleasingly plump, thirty-something year old blonde poked her head into the office and asked for ‘J.W. Stone’.
She looked familiar but not really and talked funny.
“Tis I,” he answered. “So, what can I do for you sweetie?”
“Do you know who I am?”
“Should I?” he replied and stood up, suspiciously eyeing her over.
“You remember a Mimi Thibodaux?” she asked.
“Where you from?” he questioned her, quite suspicious.
“Right now, Warren Ohio…Next week Carrick….” She shrugged. “Moved to Pittsburgh when I got a job at Compassion Hospital. Housekeeping….”
“Things that bad in Ohio?” Stone chuckled.
“Well its flat,” she shrugged. “So…Remember Mimi Thibodaux? Blonde, tall…Georgia?”
In a flash he remembered ‘Screaming Mimi’, while it was in Georgia, he remembered her from the ‘After Five’ a slop chute outside of Ft. Stewart. He was sure a lot of men remembered ‘Screaming Mimi’…Like the entire 24th. Infantry Division. She was one of that kind of women that every man really liked. Liked a lot.
Mimi was everybody’s type.
The last thing he remembered about her was her lanky blonde frame splayed out face down on the floor of a seedy hotel room. Empty whiskey bottle by her head, and a burning roach in an ash tray. As for his state of mind, polluted. He could hardly stand. The details beyond that included flash of a memory of her carousing the bar at the After Five mooching drinks.
“Vaguely,” Stone answered by-passing suspicion and delving into phobia.
“Well I’m Jessica Thibodaux…Her daughter,” she went on and reached into her purse and pulled out a pair of dog tags. “Are you this John Wayne Stone?”
After reading the embossment, he admitted to it and almost said ‘How’d you get this?’. Before anything, including his last breath could escape his lip, she grabbed him, hugged and shouted; ‘Daddy!’
“Oh shit,” he said as he felt the earth’s rotation stop.
“I know it’s a shock and I apologize…I figured you might have a wife and I might have half-brothers and sisters and I didn’t want to step into your currently life like that…” she sputtered tearfully. “That…And I might be wrong…”
She then produced an at home paternity test as he gripped the office’s counter top to steady himself.
“Well you do look like you could be my daughter…As a matter of fact anybody that says otherwise needs their head examined…Or eyes checked...” he gurgled. “How old are you?”
“Thirty-three,” she answered. “Where were you in January of 1987? I was born in December, a month earlier in Mobil Alabama…Mom got chased around a lot and she went back to Georgia at that time…” she giggled happily.
“Out of the country in Germany…” he wheezed. “Just one of you?”
“Yeah…Well sort of…I got six kids…” she happily replied. “You got more kids?”
“Plenty…Everywhere…. France…Germany…Maybe a few places east of the Iron Curtain…Like Ukraine, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, Belarus, East Berlin…”
“Got some shooting in huh?” she smiled all jovially and bubbly.
“I guess you could say that…” he wheezed grabbing his chest as he fell into the chair.
“Well, another beaver bagged,” she shrugged. She then paused, scrutinized him with the greatest intent and then announced, “You okay? You look like you’re about ready to lose a spleen or something...”
They agreed to a paternity test, and regardless of the results, to remain civil. It took two weeks of nail-biting anxiety on his part for the results. As for ‘J.T.’ she showed up twice, once going, the other coming from work, with food.
Stone thought she was up to no good.
Well when the results arrived, they agreed to meet at the ‘Cheesy Beagle’ the bar where he rented over. How it got its name is another story involving a beagle and a can of cheese whizz that’ll be save for another day. It worked out like a scene from the old west, or at least a bad spaghetti western.
When he walked in everyone in the bar stopped what they were doing at stared at him. ‘J.T.’ sat at the far end with a beer and a shot, and one for him. In the back of his head he heard the theme from ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’.
Jessica heard it too.
Her eyes narrowed, menacingly as he slowly with deliberation walked toward her. The deadpan rhythm of his footsteps is the only thing heard until the barmaid, Bird Cage, stared at him and said, saucily ‘You’re busted!’
He stopped and stared through her with a degree of disgust and then resumed.
He sat down by Jessica who stiffened up and then threw her shot of bourbon back.
She didn’t wince.
After he did the same, he turned to her and went to say, wanted to ask, the results when from the Assumed Ladies Room Mimi stormed out.
He turned to look at her.
She stared back.
After a long silence she shouted, “You flaming buttpipe! Still up to your never-do-well self you gambling, drunken, back stabbing weasel!”
“Gee, Mimi, I see age has treated you poorly…And you still have that attitude,” Stone replied and then wished he didn’t say it.
“You Scotsman!” Mimi shouted, crossed the twenty or so paces from the Assumed Ladies Room in two steps, and grabbed him by the lapels. “That’s the best you got? You knocked me up and ran off!”
“I didn’t know!” Stone shouted back. “I went to Germany!”
“A likely story!” she shouted and smacked him across the face.
“Geez Louise! Did you have to do that!” Stone wheezed. “It’s been decades!”
“Mom!” Jessica shouted. “Wait a minute please!”
“Yeah I did!” Mimi shouted. Then backhanded him. “You worthless sack of spanner wrenches!”
When she went to hit him again, he blocked it.
So, she kneed him.
“Mom! Knock it off!” Jessica shouted now standing up.
“Give it to him sister!” Bird Cage, the bar maid shouted and then gave everyone a free drink chip.
“That works for me!” Screaming Mimi shouted and then decks Stone.
“I’m going to need a dentist,” Stone muttered and then picked Mimi up and threw her over his shoulder as a means of self-preservation.
“Mom! He failed the paternity test!” Jessica finally shouted getting a word in edge wise, she then redeemed her chip for another shot of bourbon.
“What!” Screaming Mimi shouted. “I distinctly remember him taking me to the cheap roach infested hotel room!”
“That’s all I remember!” Stone shouted. “You were too smashed to walk so I took you to the hotel! You passed out on the floor!”
“Well I woke up with sore buns and a hangover!” she shouted. “All I found were your dog tags so I just put two and two together!”
“Whose teeth are that on the floor?” Bird Cage asked as she leaned over the bar.
“You have to ask?” Stone answered, looking at her as if she were a Martian.
“You’d be surprised what I find down there,” she shrugged. “You’re lucky you weren’t here last week…”
“What?” Jessica shouted, she stood up face reddening and then hissed. “You fingered him because he took you to the Hotel room?”
“It seemed logical at the time,” Mimi shrugged. “Besides most people just left me sleep it off out back by the dumpster…”
“Damn you're good,” Bird Cage commented and winked at Stone before she wandered off.
“So, let me get this right!” Jessica shouted. She stopped mid-thought, ordered another shot of whiskey, threw it back before continuing, “You told me he was my dad all these years because he took you back to a hotel room?”
“Seems that way,” Stone shrugged. “I guess this narrows the paternity quest down to about what? Everyone else?”
“Not quite,” Mimi interjected. “Put me down…I want a beer.”
“That’s bad juju,” Stone thought aloud, returning to the dentist’s examination room. “Just not yours…”
“Well Mr. John Wayne,” the dentist announced as he walked in holding several x-rays in his hands. “I have to say you seem shorter in person than on the silver screen…I liked you in True Grit…”
“The saddle makes you look taller…” Stone shrugged. “Something about light refraction…So how bad is it?”
“We can fix it,” he shrugged blandly. “I’ve seen injuries like this before…By chance you were in the Army?”
“I haven’t seen injuries like this since I was starting out at the dental clinic on Ft. Stewart…Seems there was this wild girl named Screaming Mimi…What a wild one. We use to let her sleep it off out back behind the bar by the dumpster…” the dentist chuckled.
“Bingo,” Stone thought. He then noted, “Well I have something for you…”
The judge at night court thought Stone’s story humorous and set bail at two grand.