Author Topic: Donna Lou Plus Two!  (Read 920 times)

Offline Mr.Jack

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Donna Lou Plus Two!
« on: August 18, 2006, 06:39:19 PM »
I first posted Donna Lou's story last month.  I've included it at the end of two new stories.  Hope you like them and will respond. 


Hoop Nightmares

 St. Paul’s Catholic Church was our parish and I attended St. Paul’s School for all eight grades.  The girl’s jumpers and the boy’s neckties were forest green and emblazoned in yellow with S-P-S, which of course, stands for Spaghetti, Peas & Sauce.  In the seventh grade I tried out for the school basketball team. 

My father coached a girl’s C.Y.O. team, and I was around basketball a lot.  In fact, my bother Kevin took basketball quite seriously.  He practiced ball handling in the basement for hours while wearing blinders that prevented him from seeing his hands and the ball below.  He went on to co-captain his high school state championship team and he played semi-pro ball for the Army on promotional tours.  My brother Brian became a state champion wrestler.  A few years earlier, I had certainly looked the part of budding athlete,  but soon it was evident that I wasn’t keeping up with the rest of the boys. 

Despite occasional, fleeting moments of physical grace, I was kind of a clod.  I think I even attempted one of those underhand foul shots during a game.  I practiced every day with the team but I was relegated to the omega dog role and along with my regular tasks, I was now awarded the responsibilities of ball boy.  I probably would have been dispensing clean towels too, but we didn’t have a shower.

  The St. Paul’s locker room was down a couple of stairs from the gymnasium’s green and white speckled floor and built behind the adjacent stage.  While the vast majority of St. Paul’s School facilities were quite nice, the locker room had no electricity, no running water and was a tight fit when all twelve team members were in there.  I believe the state of that locker room, and the fact that it didn’t have a counterpart for an opposing team, are the primary reasons all our games were ‘away’ games. 

There was a light fixture in the shower’s ceiling and one of my young comrades apparently removed the clear glass globe and added a little something extra.  It must have been one of us for no one else ever entered there.  Many would soon claim to be the responsible party, but I did not witness the vandalism myself.  The story I heard, though, was that some person or persons peed in the globe and then returned it to its watertight, perhaps nearly airtight fixture. 

  Urine is yellow, right?  Well, nature lovers, my observations over the next months show that familiar tenet is only true over a finite period.  Although the intervening years have clouded my memory of the exact order in which the colors arrived, I distinctly remember translucent chartreuses, layers of dusty orange, and the most delicate opaque teal appearing in the globe.

   I did make occasional, brief appearances in games.  I was big enough to plug a lane and could be a formidable defender.  On the other hand, my scoring for the entire season was in the single digits.  One game they made me the official timekeeper.  I was clueless.  “Start the stopwatch when referee waves and stop it when he blows the whistle. Okay?” The man who entrusted me, the seventh grader, with that fine timepiece then turned and left.

  I would get into games when the scoreboard showed we were way ahead, or more likely, way behind.  Some games our best players would foul out.  Then our lesser players would foul out, and then maybe they’d let me play. 

Near the end of the season, a game was winding down to another hard-fought loss.  There had been plenty of action, but I hadn’t been on the floor since the warm-up.  With less than ten seconds to go, without taking his eyes from the action on the floor, the coach called my name.


  I jumped up at my end of the bench in anticipation of a few seconds of playing time, perhaps sparing one of the starters a potential injury.  Who knows, I might block an inbound pass, and with a little luck we could make the final score a little more respectable.  My teammates on the bench looked up at me as I stood there for a long, tense moment.  When the coach finally took his eyes off the game, he glanced my way and said, “Don’t forget to bring in the balls.”

  The next year I didn’t make the team.


The light flips on and startled me awake.  I jump off the bed and stare back at what I guess is a Puerto Rican woman holding…whoops…dropping a pitcher.  Oh yeah, and now she’s screaming something in what I guess is Spanish to some person or persons who, I guess, are in the adjacent room. As I struggle with my sneakers, four work boots appear in the puddle in the doorway.  The first guy is big, the second guy is massive, and both are a full head shorter than I. 

As Señors Grande and Mui Grande Custodio block the door, a third man appears between but just behind them.

“Are you on drugs, boy?”

Well, at least it’s English.  The supervisor is a white-haired African-American man with a level tone and eyes that reflected years of heavy burdens.

“No, no drugs.  I...I’m just sleepin’ here.”

“I’ve already called the campus police.  Let’s just take it easy here until they come.”

I’m in a tiny room off a teacher’s lounge at Buffalo State College.  I’m fifteen years old and I had run away from home. I had a young friend, Pat Gruber, who attended speech therapy sessions at Buffalo State and he had given me a campus tour. 

Inside this room was a sink, a countertop with a radio perched on it, and a bed.  As it was Saturday evening, I didn’t expect there would be many teachers around.  It also saved me the scary prospect of knocking on dorm room doors looking for someone who would let me crash on their couch.  I sent Pat home and started settling down for the night.  I cracked the window open and cold air streamed in; turned on the radio at whisper volume; slipped off my sneakers and lay down in the dark.  It was about three o’clock in the morning when the woman with the pitcher appeared.

In the few minutes before the uniforms arrived I tried to work out a tale to tell.  I do not want to face my parents, especially with an armed police escort, so I’m going to try to escape the police as soon as an opportunity arises.  I’m not going to tell any of these people the truth.  The supervisor kept me talking, so I didn’t have a lot of time to think things through.  I was going to have to improvise the best I could. 

The officer in charge was Husky Squat Corporal.  One pace behind him stood Silent Tall Officer.  They didn’t search me and I told them I didn’t have a wallet.  I put on my coat and soon scrunched snow underfoot as they escorted me out of the building, and into their police cruiser.  The drive to the campus police building took a couple minutes and the cruiser stopped in a parking space marked ‘Staff Only.’ 

My answers to the interrogation at the cramped campus police office were full-on fiction.  Not inspired fiction, but fiction nonetheless.  My thoughts focused on another boy’s bus pass I had in my wallet.  I could give them bus pass guy’s name, but not his address.  I did tell them I had come with a friend and when they asked his name I told them his name was McCracken.  That was a stupid mistake, but I hadn’t hesitated.

My plan would have the uniforms take me to an address about six blocks from my neighborhood. I would make my escape en route or upon arrival at this address I pulled out of my ass.  I went on lying and said we didn’t have a phone because we’d just moved in.  I felt they would have to take me “home,” and eventually they agreed.  We three bundled up against the 20-degree air and returned to the cruiser. 

I sat in the back of the cruiser as my escorts drove from the station to the campus gates past old elms and rolling lawns covered by undisturbed snow.  I had the feeling that something seemed out of place, and I soon noticed what was missing.  There were no door handles in the back seat.     

Curses!  Foiled again! I can’t get out!

“Uh, guys,” I said, “I’ve been lyin’ to ya.  You know my friend, McCracken; well, I’m him, that’s my name.”

Corporal Squat executed a quick u-turn and started back toward the station posthaste.  Entering the designated parking space the cruiser skidded on the snow and rammed the ‘Staff Only’ parking sign.  The bumper screeched over the sign’s metal pole bending it from vertical down to about 30 degrees.

The corporal turned back to me from the driver’s seat and hissed, “That’s another twenty-five bucks you’ve cost the state, boy.”


Oh is for Orgasm

The last time I talked to Donna Lou, I called her at a number I got from her mother in Montgomery.  Donna Lou’s new mailing address was Central Park West and she sounded as if she’d found someone to take care of her and maybe someone to love.  As usual, I thought she had her priorities straight.

She had curly, shocking red hair, freckles in spades, and the body of a tall ten-year-old boy.  Her pink and silver braces set off her sparkling dark blue eyes beautifully.  Her energetic manner and infectious smile attracted attention like an elephant in an elevator. 

We met the first day on the job in the spring of 1982 at Silver Dollar City; the 1880’s theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  Dolly Parton bought the park a few years later.  She gave it a makeover, expanded it, and dubbed it Dollywood.   

The biggest attraction at Silver Dollar City was the steam train.  I’d won a job as the comedic conductor.  They hired Donna Lou to be a standard singing, can-can dancing saloon girl.  Part of the job was to develop a character that we’d slip into during performances and anytime we were ‘on the park.’  She decided to be a spacey, loud floozie named Flora Dora.  Flora Dora Floozie. 

Thrown together from day one, Donna Lou and I had been the first entertainers from out-of-town to arrive.  The arrangements were for us to live with two or three other yet-to-arrive entertainers in a house rented for the season.  The trouble was the house wasn’t ready yet.

The landlord was remodeling his ‘new’ in-town house, and he currently occupied our rental house.  Mr. Elrod and his family would be staying in their old house until renovations on their new house were more thoroughly completed. 

The town house thus became our temporary residence. It was a very nice place with cut glass windows and old wood everywhere.  Plastic tarps covered new carpet and there were freshly painted walls throughout.  They weren’t going to let us stay here long…perhaps a week, they said.

Until then we were to make the best of it.  “Oh yeah,” Mr. Elrod said, “There’s one other thing.  There’s only one bedroom ready, but it’s got two beds.”  With that, he left us.

As we became more acquainted, the evening wore on toward the inevitable rendezvous in the bedroom above us. I tried to be my congenial, empathetic self, hoping it might pay off in at least a week of freak.

When the time came to retire for the evening, I got into my bed wearing a t-shirt and shorts.  She stood in the aisle between the beds and removed her top bearing her nearly flat bosoms.  She quickly put on a gown, sat on the edge of my bed, and looked into my eyes. 

“Jack,” she began in her sweetest Alabama modulations, “You and I are going to be friends.  You see normally, when there’s any kind of sexual tension between me and a nice young man, I just go ahead and do it and get it over with.”

“Well, I…”

“But, I just had an abortion and the doctor says I can’t have sex for a while, so you’re going to be my friend.”  She kissed my forehead and slid under the covers of her bed.

Donna Lou worked almost exclusively in the saloon and I was on the train, but we saw each other occasionally while working and two or three times a week for coffee or out with the crowd to Ober Gatlinburg for drinks and dancing.  She was quite popular, and within a few weeks, she fell hard for a young musician. 

When the bosses announced she’d be leaving to study in New York, there was a semi-spontaneous surprise party with cake and sodas in the saloon.  Nearly the entire entertainment staff attended and after remarks from the management team, Donna Lou, in her usual stage make-up and lavender floozie dress, rose wide-eyed and spoke to the crowd of sixty or so gathered in her honor.

“It’s been great being here with all of you these last four and a half months and I’m really gonna miss you guys.”

She paused briefly…then added emphatically, “Best oh’s I ever had!”  She giggled and plopped down in her chair.  The crowd went wild.