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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

DANCING ALL THIS MESS AROUND

Stacie like to pretend that she was from Planet Claire. A few of our friends thought this strange, but to me it was just perfect and probably true. She barged into my life early into my first month or so of sixth grade. Looking back, it is a miracle that she didn't drag me down the sad road she chose for herself. Not that she didn't try.

I was in process of making friends with older kids, but when my dad banged on my door to tell me that there was someone on the phone for me. I had been staring at the Texas history book I was being required to read and I was planning my escape from that shitty town, my father and my life. I was dreaming of Manhattan and roaming the streets with Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop. But all of this was pushed to the back of my mind when I picked up the phone, waited for my father to hang up on his end and was greeted by hyper girlie voice singing "Planet Claire"

I laid on my bed and listened to this odd girl singing one of my favorite songs. She was totally out of tune but I was impressed that anyone actually liked the song besides me and a few of my freaky older friends. She sang the entire song. Then there was silence. I asked if I knew her. She said no. I asked her why she had my number and why she sung a B52's song instead of saying a simple "hello." I don't really remember how I phrased those first questions, but I am fairly certain that I didn't let on that I thought it had been funny and rather cool. I was holding my cards. But, I do remember exactly how she answered these questions.

"I got your number because I heard you have weed and like cool music. I love weed. I love cool music. Me and my friend want you to come over here and get stoned with us. She's from Jasper. I'm from Planet Claire. I don't have any money, but you will love me."

She was right. No homework was done that night. We sat under a bridge by a drainage ditch, smoked a lot of pot, talked and Stacie had her boombox blasting B52's and Pretenders. I would later turn her on to Patti Smith Group, Led Zep and Stevie Nicks. But that night it was all about new wave and bonding. Stacie demanded a lot of her friends. She was unpredictable, prone to doing odd things just to get reactions and fearless. She expected her friends to be the same and she could care less what anyone thought of her. I loved Stacie. For the duration of middle school and high school we would remain friends even when no one else would have anything to do with her.

I enjoyed it when she would show up at the donut/sno-cone shop at which I was employed. She was get in line. I'd be selling donuts to trailer park trash while the shop owners were in the back doing their real business, drug dealing. The shop was a front. I was too young to work, but I was paid under the table and had easy access to dope. Interestingly, the donuts were quite popular in this very bad part of town. Stacie would always find a ride there. As she would approach the counter she would start to make odd noises. The other folks in line would try not to stare. Sometimes an older person would ask her if she was OK. If that happened the whole scene went much faster.

Stacie's odd noise making would be followed by odd jerking motions of her impossibly thin body. Her blonde hair, teased to look like Bette Midler's from THE ROSE (her favorite movie) would shake as much as her ass as she fell to the dirty floor spazzing out. The reactions would always vary. And, of course, this is what made these little planned moments from Stacie so interesting. Most could never quite decide if she was really having an attack or if she was screwing around. Watching my customers scurry out of her way was the funniest thing about the whole sick act. There would always be someone caring soul would scream at me to call an ambulance. At this point I would normally take a couple of donuts and toss them at her face advising that she just needed sugar. Mouths would drop. Stacie would stop, examine one of the donuts shove it into her mouth and, in a completely calm tone, would thank me. She would then stand up, spit the chewed donut out and say in an almost robotic voice, "Matthew. Fuck me. Fuck me, now. Fuck me hard." ...at this point most of the customers would leave in a state of confusion. We would start to laugh. My boss, Lynda, would emerge from the back and be so amused that she would insist I give Stacie as many donuts as she wanted. Stacie would eventually be hired to work with me. However, it was a short span of employment for Stacie as she grew fond of messing up customers sno-cones by mixing all flavors of the pure syrups without any dilution. She kept this horror in a hidden bottle under a counter light panel. If she didn't like the way a customer looked or smelled she would douse the shaved ice with this thick and sickening goop. We were children. To her it was funny. To Lynda it was poor customer service. Spazzing out on the floor was OK, dealing drugs from the back of the store was OK, but making a customer puke was just wrong. Lynda was not amused.



In the summer of 1987 I was clean. No longer (or seldom) partaking in any drugs other than a sometimes toke. By this time Stacie had gone from one addiction to another. The oddest addiction was to religion. Stacie went on a strange Jesus-trip which one could never be sure was for real or a for a joke. If I cornered her and asked for an explanation of any odd action or turn of personality she would always whisper, "I'm from Planet Claire, baby." After she got over her Jesus/Holy-Roller Phase she confessed that she had deflowered every Pentecostal and Baptist boy in our town. She told me that she liked to do this in the church on Saturday nights. The Jesus Freak Phase ended because the minister's wife and a Church Elder walked into the church late one night to discover Stacie "doing" the minister's son. She told them that she thought she was possessed by the devil. Oddly, they believed her. An exorcism was performed the next day. She didn't enjoy it as much as she thought she might. She walked out as soon as she faked speaking in tongues. This was one of Stacie's favorite stories.

In the summer of 1987, Stacie was back into drugs, sex and rock-n-roll. I was ambivalent in my opinion about her situation. I loved her. I worried for her, but I didn't feel I could pass any sort of judgment. Actually, I am not one to judge people. At least, I like to pretend this is the case.

Stacie had called me up out of the blue. She asked if I could take she and a girlfriend to the beach. She wanted the three of us to spend the night talking and listening to the waves. I remember thinking that I didn't want to hang for that long because I knew that I would be destined to fall back into that cycle of addiction that I feared. At this time I was seeing a shrink and was trying prescribed meds to stay clear of pot and valium. ...my drugs of choice at the time. But, I wanted to see Stacie and I was cool with driving them to the beach if they thought that they could get back on their own. She told me that would be no big deal. They would just hitch a ride back the next day.

I drove to the address Stacie gave me. It was a nice home in a very nice area of our little town. However, once I walked into the house I was nearly knocked out by the strong scent of skunk weed, ammonia and body odor. There were 3 Harleys in the living room. Actually, I believe those were the only furnishings I noticed aside from some boxes. The house was full of fat, tattooed Hell's Angels types. I told this was scary looking guy that I was there to pick up Stacie and her friend. He gestured down the hall and yelled, "Honey! You got a visitor!"

I stepped over a nude girl who was either sleeping, passed out or dead. My instincts told me to run, but I wanted to see Stacie. So, I called her name and she came bounding down the hall toward me. Her hair was long and straight now. She jumped on me. Her legs wrapped around my waist. She couldn't have weighed more than 90lbs. Her surly lesbian pal came walking up behind her. Her name was Honey, but Stacie introduced her as Bull Dyke.

I can no longer remember the friend's name, but I didn't like her. As we drove out of the neighborhood the Bull Dyke told me that I was cool because I turned Stacie on to Stevie Nicks and that if anyone ever tried to cut Stevie down she would take them down, but for good. Charming, but loyal.

Stacie asked if I could stop by this package store on our way. Bull Dyke wanted to pick up some beer and whiskey for the beach. No problem. I pulled in and BD got out. Stacie laid her head on my lap and started telling me that she had decided she needed to get her shit together like me. I told her that my shit was a work in progress. I remember she laughed. She asked after a couple of former friends who no longer would talk with her. She told me that she thought she might want to go to college like me. She had all of these plans. She was talking like a junkie. I felt ill.

BD got in the car holding a large sack. I asked her if she had gotten me a wine cooler like I had asked.

"DRIVE! NOW! FAST!"

I followed her orders. Bull Dyke was acting funny and demanded that Stacie light up a joint for us. She refused to give me anything to drink. Stacie told me it was for the beach and I would have to stay if I wanted a cooler. Bull Dyke then called me a silly faggot for drinking pussy shit like wine coolers.

I wasn't going to screw with Stacie's new friend. I drove them to the beach. The sun was starting to set. I had given in and the three of us had a decent buzz going on. Bull Dyke was still being a bitch, but the mellow feeling of my high made it ok. Stacie begged me to stay the night. I declined and left them standing on the the road leading to the water. I watched Stacie in my rear view as I drove away. She looked so sad and lost to me. But, I knew I couldn't do anything about it. She was needing to do whatever it was she was doing. That was her way.

Fast forward to the end of 1988. Stacie had been missing for well over 8 months. Her mom and sister presumed her to be dead. I just figured she was on a junkie holiday. Then, one day I got a collect call from the state penitentiary. It was Stacie. She had run off to Houston, got hooke on H, had been turning tricks and in an angry fit tried to murder a pimp. She shot him several times, but failed to kill him. That was her saving grace. It was only attempted murder. She explained that she had gotten off easy with just six years and expected to make parole within three.

She could only talk for a short time. She wanted to "level with me" and get "it right" because she was going to make a new start and get her shit together after she got out. She lost track of what she was going to tell me and went on and on about all sorts of post prison grand plans. Stacie was still talking like a junkie in need of a fix. She stopped talking for a few seconds, then told me she loved me and that she had to get off the phone. I asked her if should could tell me whatever it was that needed to be leveled.

"Oh, yeah. Remember that day you drove me and Honey to the beach?"

How could I forget?

"Well, we robbed that store. I was so worried about you driving back into town in that car. Honey had used a gun and I was so worried you were going to take the shit for that one. Guess we all lucked out."

The phone went dead. Her time was up. I was sort of surprised to discover that I had unknowling taken part in a felony. But, then what could I expect? Stacie was from Planet Claire.

14 Comments:

Blogger ginab said...

Really, I love writers that admit to what they cannot remember. Serves up a nice hook here, if you don't mind the constructive mode coming from me. Let me know if you do first before I dig in a little. I've been scolded and want to be careful. What's minor to me could me someone else's heart or soul or worse: both. Me? For my stuff? I'm never attached.

I believe you wrote this memory off as you would any blog entry: fresh from the top. Definitely characteristic of a writer. Your dedication, your energy, your flair deserves a standing ovation.

APPLAUSE

-g+bb

9:11 PM  
Blogger jungle jane said...

jesus matty you are SO rock and roll.

Damn, poor Stacie. I would love to hear part II of this story and I hereby set you an assignment of tracking her down and finding out whether prison straightened her out or simply dragged her down more.

Reading this made me want to have an exorcism. I never thought of doing that. I could film it and upload it to my blog. yes i could.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Me said...

Another beautiful story Matt.

11:40 PM  
Blogger laurenbove said...

Matt this is killer. Forget "A Million Little Pieces. Who needs it. We've got The Amazing and Captivating Adventures of Matt The Great."

BTW: Feel free to use that title in your memoirs. ;)

5:38 AM  
Blogger matty said...

(A bow to Gina) --- but, I'm not a writer. I gave that idea up a couple of years ago. Just for me. And, right now I am all-consumed with a new job so I just transcribed a couple of old peices that I never felt were quite right, but held on to anyway.

Jungle Jane! LOL! You are rock and roll --- I am just in your audience! Yeah, I think "Stacie" lived life as if it were art 24/7 while she chased her "demons" down. Despite it all, she is a good person. Full of love, creativity and oddly funny. I don't really have to trace her down, but I don't have a part II. She did pretty well her first several years out of prison. A couple of bad relationships, but met a cool girl who also had battled addiction all her life. They came up to hang with me and my ex one day in the late 90's. I was having a rough year in as we moved into the new century. I arranged to visit her and her partner while on a business trip. When I arrived it was her partner who picked me up. "Stacie" had gone missing for several days. Her partner, "Jo" came home from work on the 4th day she was gone to discover that the house had been cleaned out of all valuables, Jo's second car was missing and their joint bank account was cleaned out. They found Stacie a day later in some crack den. She and some guy had taken everything and sold it for drugs. Jo got her into rehab. I visited her, but I decided that I wasn't up for it anymore. I held her for a few minutes. Realized that her reality could so easily had been mine. Jo was thinking she needed to end it with Stacie. I told her that I couldn't disagree. Stacie was still talking about big plans. And, that is the last time I communicated wtih her. I felt it was just not healthy for me.

However, last I heard from my mom she ran into Stacie and she looked good. She fights an on-going issue with her liver and was working as a manager of small shop.

I miss her.

Meredith -- LOL! Thanks.

Lauren -- Hi!!! I always wanted to steal that title Carrie Fisher used in POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE for my memoirs, "Night of a Thousand Shoes"

6:36 AM  
Blogger ginab said...

For not being a writer, Matty, you write A LOT.

By the way, no tattooing my friend Ing. No way.

9:31 AM  
Blogger joe said...

matt, you can't say you're not a writer. you write beautifully, profusely, and with a style that's you. you write, so you're a writer to me. great story!

10:32 AM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Oh, Matty. That was wonderful and brought back many memories - sigh. Do you think your readers will understand that every single word of it is true? And that this is representative of only a tiny, tiny particle of your very interesting young adulthood? Damn, Matty, you take my breath away.

I think BullDyke was the one who found my phone number written on something at Stacie's house and she called me at 3:00 a.m. when I had the freaking FLU, accusing me of cheating with Stacie. She was yelling at me and threatening to "cut me" and that she had my address. I was sitting in my little suburbia pink bedroom in my mother's house at 3:00 a.m. YELLING "But I'm not a lesbian, you bitch!!" and my sweet grandmother toddled by my room saying, "Something wrong in there?" Oh yeah, that had to be BullDyke calling.

3:41 PM  
Blogger matty said...

Joe -- you're such a sweetheart!

Jen -- LOL! I was having dinner with Milford tonight and explaining to him that I had "toned" things down when I wrote these little pieces because a friend felt that it was all too over-the-top. LOL! I had forgotten about your fun phone "chat" with Bull Dyke! Oy! Your poor Grandma! ...you've got some interesting stories to tell! But, I think we all do. ...don't worry I won't post the one about us! (lol!) Love you! m

...but it has to do with that room your brothers had, an afternoon of 'reading a play' and then my father taking me to see CAT PEOPLE at the Gateway Cinema. LOL! Ah, we were such innocent children full of light. Actually, I guess we were if you think about it.

10:42 PM  
Blogger ing said...

Matty:

Don't even worrry about words like "writer". Just keep doing what you do. These are so much fun to read.

The revelation in the end -- didn't you feel a little betrayed there? I was wholeheartedly surprised by the narrator's reaction, which is super neutral. There and only there, you seem to be hiding out. Did your feelings change in some way at that point?

Matty, this is truly good reading. xo to you.

8:03 AM  
Blogger laurenbove said...

Matt: You are totally adorable.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Pixie Sprinkle said...

Matt I LOVE your shady past! want a t-shirt with "Matt drove the getaway vehicle" on it!

1:15 AM  
Blogger ginab said...

Oh yeah Ing is right I think to not worry about "writer", but I generally accept that those who enjoy writing are, well, writers.

Been busy and wondering how Ing is actually, but I wonder what Planet Claire might look like, its currency, its trade, its uniforms, the name of its galaxy, the name of its nearest star.

I'm dickering around, about to eat and read the NY Times...then, plunge again back into blah.

-g+bb

2:35 PM  
Blogger James Stanfield said...

Well, I remember the donut shop, and stacie. Now that I know she was from Planet Claire I like her even more.

You know, maybe I don't really remember the donut shop itself, just the photo the parents put up in the hallway of you. You were very sad while working the counter. Why was that hanging in the hallway?

8:44 PM  

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