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Rattling On
by Ace Toscano

     "I don't believe it -- Carla Brown! Or should I say Carlotta? Or should I say... Carlotta. I was just thinking about you, you know."

     "No me, meester. I yoose comeen for wahcheen floord."

     "I saw you in your car one day and I chased you up the street. But, you didn't recognize me. You didn't recognize me without my hair. I knew it was you, though. You haven't changed! Can you imagine that, Carla -- you haven't changed at all."

     "My name es Maria! I yoose workeen 'ere, wahcheen floord. Look aqui -- el mop."

     "I love Donna, too, but she didn't know me. Bet she told you -- bet she told you everything. But she didn't... didn't... I just don't know, anymore. I just don't... know"

     "My name es Maria! Joo no know me!"

     "I got some money underneath the bed in an old tin box. Smells like dust. Let's get an ice cream soda -- chocolate for me, strawberry for you."

     "Ahhh, I no sinkeen..."

     "And we won't cry 'cause the kite is gone, 'cause the wind's too strong and the darn twine cut me clear to the bone... right here."

     "Me no see nusseen."

     "And they took everything, you know -- every thing! They took it when they took me to that place. There's nothing left for you. They even took the cat. My darn old Jimmy cat... He always wakes me up and gets me out of bed. That's why I don't get up much anymore -- 'cause they took away my Jimmy cat when they took me to that place."

     "Joo like cat, meester? Me like cat. En Espanol es 'gato.'"

     "Lainie, don't hate me! It's not my fault. It's the wind, the mean old nasty wind. It's not... it's not... I'm sorry. I... I... I... I'm sorry."

     "Meester, please! No cry. Dio' mio, no."

 


 
     "Terrific! Look who's awake this morning. Maybe we won't have to work around him today. Get some light in here, Maria, pull the curtains back. MR. ROMANO -- HOW ARE YOU FEELING?"

     "Es vehdy sad, today. Wuss cryeen."

     "Crying! Tch-tch, shame on you, Mr. Romano. What's there to cry about, hm? WHAT'S THERE TO CRY ABOUT, MR. ROMANO? He probably doesn't know. Do you? What's your first name, anyway. Let me see -- Dominic? DO YOU, DOMINIC? Look! It's a beautiful day outside. Look at that sun!"

     "'E sayeen es too much windy."

     "There's hardly a breeze."

     "I'm sorry, Lainie, there's nothing left for you. They took it all when they took me to that place."

     "Ahhh, hear that? He's talking about his daughter, now."

     "Ahhh..."

     "ISN'T THAT RIGHT, DOMINIC -- help me get him in that chair -- LAINIE, SHE'S YOUR DAUGHTER, ISN'T SHE?"

     "I'm sorry."

     "No need to apologize -- goes with the territory. Right, Maria?"

     "Si."

     "HAS LAINIE BEEN TO SEE YOU? Probably not. She doesn't' live around here anymore. Hasn't for years. RIGHT? SHE MOVED AWAY? She moved out west when she got married, to Colorado, Wyoming or someplace. She probably doesn't know he's here. DOES SHE, DOMINIC? DOES ELAINE KNOW YOU'RE HERE? Probably not."

     "Joo knoween 'er, 'ees daughter?"

     "Used to. We went to grammar school together. DO YOU REMEMBER ME, MR. ROMANO -- PEGGY FISH? WE USED TO LIVE DOWN ON SUSSEX? Looks like we sprang a little leak, here, didn't we? GOTTA EMPTY OUT YOUR BAG, DOMINIC. Watch him while I get some sheets."

     "Don't go, don't go, please."

     "Es okay, meester -- chee comeen, chee comeen. Don' cry. See! I telleen joo, chee comeen."

     "What's the matter, now?"

     "Es cryeen."

     "You're wrong, Lainie. I'm not mad. I'm not mad at all! You just don't understand."

     "And I don't think I want to. Now, quit being such a downer. Think about something else awhile. CHRISTMAS, DOMINIC -- TRY THINKING ABOUT CHRISTMAS. TWO MORE WEEKS, YOU KNOW. Have you done your shopping?"

     "No, no jet."

     "Pull that corner for me. Good. Thanks. Me neither -- I've really been bad this year. 'He knows if you've been bad or good -- RIGHT, DOMINIC? -- so, be good for goodness sake!"

     "HEY!"

     "HEY? Did you hear him? Right on cue. I didn't think he was listening. WELL, YOU FOOLED ME, DIDN'T YOU, DOMINIC? Help me get him back. 'Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa-la la-la-lah...' Up... up, that's a good boy, Dominic, help us out a little. Good. Now, isn't that better?"

     "Poor Cholly."

     "Whoops, 'fraid you're losing it again. Well, least you're talking. Least he's talking. I HOPE YOUR FRIEND COMES BY TODAY. Poor man, sat here yesterday all afternoon and this one never even opened his eyes. YOU'D BE BETTER COMPANY TODAY. Let me go see why he didn't get a tray. TALK TO MARIA."

     "'E call me 'Carlotta.'"

     "No kidding -- Carlotta. Well, I've been called worse!"

     "An', 'e cry, alla time cry. Me no like him cryeen."

     "Don't let it bug you. They rattle on like that sometimes. Especially, near the... Don't let it bug you, really."

     "Betty? Betty?"

     "Es me."

     "Don't go, Betty. Don't leave me here alone. Don't leave me here..."

     "Es okay, meester. Joo no alone no more. See -- es me. Es me, Carlotta."

 


 
     "Hey, Dommy! You baldheaded sunova beee-ooooh... Sorry, nurse, thought he'd be alone, again. Okay, if I come in?"

     "Sure! LOOK WHO'S HERE, MR. ROMANO. We were wondering if you'd be back today."

     "Course I'm back! She tell you I was in here, yesterday? Waitin' for your sorry ass to come to life? You was out of it, bubby, and I mean out, stringin' z's like Rip Man Winkle. You told 'im I was here, right, din't ya, nurse?"

     "I mentioned it, but I doubt he understood. Too bad you weren't here early -- he was talking a blue streak. A REAL BLABBERMOUTH, WEREN'T YOU, DOMINIC? I think he's tired now. DOMINIC, DO YOU KNOW WHO THIS IS?"

     "Course he knows who this is! Know how far me an' him go back? Tell'er, Dom -- almost fifty years. That's right, bub, almost fifty. We sure passed a lotta water, ain't we? I ought'a be sacked out in the very next bed, and I would be, too, if it weren't for the grub they're dishin' out . What's that you got him eatin', now?"

     "Soup."

     "Soup, eh? If that's wha'cha wanna call it. Looks like a puddle of nose onions t'me. No wonder ya don't wanna wake up, Dom -- I wouldn't wanna neither if I had to stare at a bowl full of that there! Shame on you, nurse. How's he doin', anyway, better?"

     "Well, he hasn't been eating, which is bad."

     "Lunch? Hell, he doesn't eat lunch. I could'a told ya that. Right, Dom? Not even clam chowder on Fridays, anymore, 'cause he claims the clams get stuck between his teeth, which is a pretty neat trick of the 'magination since last time I looked he only had three. No, he ain't one for lunch anymore. Right, Dommy? Hey -- Hoot says hi, and decent Charley, and fat Gus, and all the boys down Red's was askin' 'bout ya, too. They say they're tired of buying their own drinks, so hurry up and get your ass out'a here. Oh, and Raji wants to know if he should keep playin' your numbers, and I told him no sense quittin' now 'cause it'd be just like them sonova bitches to come in the minute ya stop. You can straighten out with me when you're back on your feet. And the gang over the fogey hotel says hi, least them that's still able, and there wasn't any mail, in case you were wonderin'."

     "Tommy."

     "Whad about Tommy?"

     "He means you. He's calling you Tommy."

     "Nooo, he knows who I am, alright. We've known each other fifty years. He's talkin' bout that no good bull shit artist, Tommy Shay. Well, I ain't the one you should be askin' about freakin' Tommy Shay, you baldheaded pervert, and you damn well know it! Sick or well, yer a pain in my bony Polish ass, ain't ya, bub? Look at 'im, now, he thinks he's funny. Ya think yer funny, don'cha? Well, I'd jump you right now, you senile old fart, if I wasn't 'fraid of gettin' tangled to death in all them tubes and that. What's that, nurse, oxygen?"

     "It helps with the breathing. COME ON, MR. ROMANO, HERE, TRY SOME. He didn't eat anything this morning and all day yesterday."

     "Tom... Tommy Shay."

     "Aw, shut up an' eat, why don'cha! Wha'd'ya wan' 'em to do -- stick a freakin' hose down your throat and pump ya full of monkey pus? That's what they're gonna do, ya know. Tell'im, nurse."

     "Or, put 'im back on IV. You really have to eat, Dominic."

     "Betty?"

     "There he goes again. He really was talking up a storm this morning, not making a lot of sense, but talking up a storm."

     "Well, makin' a lotta sense ain't somethin' Dommy's known for. But, he's got somethin' there. You do look somethin' like her, his Betty, more'n a little, too. That was his wife. Spoiled the shit out of 'im, too -- prob'ly fed 'im like you're doin'. Say, how 'bout givin' me a shot? Maybe I can get 'im to eat that stuff. Wha' say, goombah? We'll pretend it's lasagna."

     "Be my guest. I'll leave you alone. If you need anything, just buzz."

     "Oh, we'll be alright. Right, Dom? Everything'll be copacetic. Here, bub, have some lasagna. Bye... She's gone. What's the matter with you? Wha'cha callin' her Betty for, dumb ass? The woman thinks you're loony. Keep it up and they'll be shippin' your ass out to Whisperin' Pines. That wha'cha want? It'll take a court order to get ya out. And she looks more like Sea Biscuit than your Betty, anyway. Now, open up that big mouth of yours."

     "Betty."

     "Yeah, Betty... sweet old Betty -- S.O.B. I used to call 'er that, remember, just kiddin' 'round. Ya know, I probably never told ya, but all those years I used to come 'round your place, I... Well, I might as well come right out and say it -- I was jealous. Not that I wasn't happy for ya, too, I was. But... I just wish it could'a been that way for me. Know what I mean? You're one lucky sonova bee, Dommy boy, that's all I know."

     "Betty."

     "Right. And Dom? Hope ya don't mind, but I gave Lainie a call and told'er you were here. Thought I should. I think she might come. Nuff said about that. Now, open your freakin' mouth -- lasagna!"

 


 
     "Daddy?"

     "Betty?"

     "No, it's me, Daddy, Elaine. You probably thought I wouldn't come."

     "I'm sorry."

     "Me, too."

     "Don't hate me 'cause the kite is gone."

     "I don't, don't worry. How ya feelin' -- pretty good?"

     "Cut me to the bone. The mean ole nasty wind..."

     "I remember... when it got loose and we chased it through the woods. I can still see you running, Daddy, and jumping, trying to catch the string. Something tripped you and you swore, but you got right up again. I think I was crying. Maybe fell, too. We never did find it, though."

     "The mean ole nasty wind..."

     "I know, the wind... I was wrong, wasn't I -- blaming you. I was a fresh little girl, very fresh. Guess I don't have to tell you that. -- Daddy... I'm sorry I stayed away so long. I really should've come to visit, even if you and Tony didn't get along."

     "Cut my finger to the bone."

     "You were only worried, you and Mommy -- I shouldn't have been such a brat about it. I really missed you, Daddy. -- Is it okay if I hug him?"

     "Lainie girl, Lainie girl, Daddy's little Lainie girl."

     "Oh, Daddy, please -- would you sing that one more time?"

 

THE END

 

Copyright 1998- by Ace Toscano. All rights reserved.

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