Friday, April 22, 2011

Is it Easter Again Already?

I'm about to hit the road and head down to Bethesda to spend the Easter weekend with my mother. I had every intention of avoiding her this Easter, but last week when one of my Twitter friends (@maddjudd) asked me to "Say hello to your momma," it gave me pause. I know I'm all conflicted about her relationship with Mr. "Call me Brad" Huggins, but that isn't really her fault. That's something I have to deal with. Meanwhile, she's still family and, at this point, I have damn little family to lean on right now. Maybe it'll be good for me to put Carla Puckett in the closet for the weekend and go back to being Angie for a few days, especially after this past week.

On Sunday, Geoffrey (a.k.a. Hank) and I went down to Chester Schifflet's house on Kent Island for his cook out. Good thing he had a nice deck because his back yard was a swamp after all the rain we had on Saturday. Sunday, however, was bright and crisp and beautiful. Can't say the same for the company. We spent the afternoon drinking cheap beer and eating burnt burgers-from-a-box while Chester's friends "entertained" us with crude jokes and narrow-minded opinions about how to fix the world's problems (or at least the tiny scrap of world they choose to acknowledge).

Geoffrey has a much easier demeanor when it comes to this sort of thing, so he did most of the socializing. I spent most of my time with Chester's girlfriend, Amber, who seemed even more quiet and reserved than usual. At one point, she looked like she was on the verge of tears, so I corralled her into one of the spare bedrooms where we could talk privately. It turns out that Amber is pregnant with Chester's baby, but she hasn't told him and is not sure she wants to have it. She knows that Chester and his best friend, Ryan Mayhew, "are planning something big" in the next few months, and she fears for what will happen to him. Amber doesn't want to bring a child into the world just when the father may be dead or in jail. The poor girl cried on my shoulder for about an hour. Unfortunately, I didn't know what to tell her. I'm against abortion as a rule, but I don't want another racist loser coming into the world either. What's more, I had to know what this "something big" was all about so Geoffrey and I could stop it. That meant getting closer to Ryan Mayhew.

After I had managed to get Amber calmed down with promises to get her help, I walked into the living room where Geoffrey was already engaged in a passionate conversation with Mr. Mayhew himself. They were having a "scientific" discussion about racial purity and how certain races have genetic imprinting that predisposes them to bad behavior like violence, lack of industriousness, and criminal tendencies. Geoffrey's deep brown eyes blazed with intensity as he wowed Mayhew with a hate-filled diatribe so unlike the real Geoffrey I know. It chilled me to the core. Between Amber and Geoffrey, I was emotionally drained. I just wanted to go home.

Geoffrey returned to his old perky self as we headed up to Chestertown in his growling Trans Am, but I knew this performance had to eat at him. The next couple of days, he was still out of sorts and Tuesday night, he got completely hammered at the bar. I offered to drive him home and I spent the night there. We were up until dawn as Geoffrey unloaded about his divorce and missing his kid. Playing duel roles in the same body had taken its toll, and he was beginning to regret ever entering this profession. I was beginning to have doubts as well. Despite telling myself that I would never have romantic notions about being a counterterrorism agent, I had romanticized it all the same. What I didn't factor in was that I would have to play people I would otherwise throw mud on if I saw them on the street. Once you fall into these roles, you can't help but wonder how much of these characters are really you.

Anyway, I asked Prune if I could have off this weekend and now I'm heading home to forget all this for awhile. I know my mom will not like the orange highlights I put in my hair. People in Bethesda are mostly Nationals fans, but the customers at the bar in Chestertown are mainly Orioles fans. I thought the orange streaks might give the struggling team some luck, but so far the results are mixed.

I'll let you know how the weekend went. In the meantime, here's some Easter humor from my favorite comedian, Patton Oswald:

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Best of Times and Worst of Times

This morning I find myself in one of those strange moods where I just feel out of sync. Jittery, restless, full of anxiety but not sure exactly why. It's as if all the chemicals in my body got jumbled up overnight and created whole new compounds that do not sit well with my organs. I don't want to stay in my apartment, but I don't want to go out. At least I can understand the not wanting to go out part.

It started a couple of days ago. I was working at the bar and decided to take a break by sneaking into the alley. That's where the cooks and some of the other waitresses usually hang out when they want a smoke. I don't smoke myself, but I don't mind hanging out with the smokers if only to get away from the din of the bar. Anyway, I went into the alley, but no one else was out there. The rain had finally subsided, leaving only a chilly damp breeze in its wake. I just stood there, enjoying the cool, fresh air when I heard some shuffling behind one of the dumpsters down the alley. Natural curiosity caused me to take a few steps closer to the dumpster, thinking I might spot a cat or a rat. Once I got a few feet from the can, however, a person stumbled into view and started to run away. I only had an instant to see his face, but I could have sworn it was one of those creatures I ran into in Vegas so many months ago. It froze me to the core, flashing back on an event that seemed like a lifetime ago. I ran into the bar and went back to serving drinks, hoping to block the whole event from my mind.

It almost worked too. After sneaking a few shots of bourbon, I was feeling pretty numb by the time I went home. The next morning, I was beginning to chalk it up to a trick of the light. Probably just some bum with dark eyes and a funny complexion, I reasoned. Then, while eating my Special K, I spotted a white panel van parked in the lot. This was too eerie, too sinisterly similar to last summer. Rather than risk what happened last time though,I chose to ignore it rather than confront them head on. That's what my boss, The Colonel, told me to do. This just isn't in my nature, though.

I was grateful to see Geoffrey last night at the bar. I hate to sound all girly and soft, but he's really become a rock for me. He's always calm and ready with a joke. It's not false bravado either. He's just genetically impervious to stress. Also, I think he's really enjoying this character of Hank that he's playing. He was already sporting the 70s hairdo and the cheesy moustache, but when he picked me up for a date last week, he pulled up in a 1977 black Trans Am like the one in Smokey and the Bandit! I think he spent too much time watching TV as a kid and he's developed Burt Reynolds disease. Anyway, it's kind of cute, except when he starts talking about turbo-charging and horsepower. Here's a picture I took of Geoffrey's Trans Am outside his mobile home:

It's a cramped little place he lives in down in Centreville, but he keeps it maticulously clean. Lucky had a much bigger trailer in Vegas, but he was a bit of a slob. I actually wouldn't mind moving in with Geoffrey and get out of this little dump I have now, but I wonder if it would be taking our cover too far. I already feel like I'm falling for him, and I suspect he has feelings for me too. I just don't know if it's wise to get too attached. What happens after this assignment is over? Will my attachment to him cloud my judgment at a critical moment? As my boss always says, romance does not mix well with our profession.

Speaking of the job, there's where the sweet meets the bitter. I love being with Geoffrey, but these racist, anti-government hardheads that we have to play eat away at my soul a little bit. We've been spending a lot of time with this kid Chester, playing into all his paranoia and alienation angst. Geoffrey is quite good at it, but I don't say much. It makes me squeamish. I'm afraid I might blow our cover because of my reticence, but since Chester's girlfriend is also pretty quiet, I don't think Chester pays much attention to me anyway.

We know Chester is friends with Ryan Mayhew, our real target. and it looks like we might actually get to finally meet the guy. Chester inherited this nice house on Kent Island after his parents were killed in a car accident a few years ago, and he's inviting a bunch of people over on Sunday for some grillin' and chillin'. We hope this will be our opportunity to find out what exactly this Mayhew person is up to.

Wish us luck! I'll let you know how it goes.