Lunch With Truman's Corpse

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Truman is acting strange during lunch.

I’M SITTING IN DELMONICO'S SEAFOOD GRILLE WATCHING A WOMAN in the corner of the dining room: naturally tan and attractive, moving her hands, enthusiastic, telling a story to the man across from her who nods and wipes something nonexistent from the rim of his glass. She looks familiar - dressed casually, wearing sunglasses even though the light in the restaurant is faint and for a brief moment, I close my eyes and maybe I fall asleep. When I reopen them, Julian is sitting across from me staring down the room at the same tan woman.

“She looks like Lauryn,” he keeps his eyes fixed.

“Yeah…I noticed that too.”

The summer after graduation, Julian blacked out while driving back from Victor’s going-away party and smashed his red ‘91 Audi Quattro into the bedroom of an eighty-six year old woman’s one-story chalet, killing her instantly and setting loose her extensive collection of uncaged exotic birds in a multicolored cluster that, he claims, was so vibrant, it caused him to regain consciousness. I was in my ’92 BMW M3, following him to the In-N-Out Burger on Sunset Blvd and we were on Courtney Ave when it happened and it was THREE AM. He was wearing my blue Emporio Armani four-button wool sweater and I remember this distinctly because when I was following the ambulance I could see the paramedics through the window cutting Julian out of his clothes and I was screaming at them to just take two seconds and just unbutton the thing instead, but they kept cutting, ruining. Of course, I would never have worn it again anyway because it was soaked heavy in his blood like someone had used it as a mop.

Now, in the restaurant, he wears a grey Gucci wool knit ski cap and a filthy version of the beltless Ralph Lauren knee length raincoat I bought him a few years ago for Christmas (that year he had bought me a brown and grey Fendi silk scarf that cost about half as much).

It’s been maybe a year.

“You look good,” I lie. He looks horrific.

“Thanks Roman,” he sighs, “I feel… horrible.”

I notice his weight. He’s carrying at least thirty extra pounds - especially noticeable around his jaw line which was already weak to begin with. He is sickly pale. His scars are deep and randomly sewn across his forehead, and at the base of his chin. He has a new tattoo, red and chapped, vertically written on the side of his neck, that is illegible.

“You do?”

“Yeah,” he rubs his eyelids, “…really horrible…actually,” he moans then looks up and I notice the retina in his left eye is damaged and bloodshot. It’s fixed on the table as he looks around and I realize the same eye, the left one, is amblyopic.

“But everything…I mean your arms and legs and… everything are fine? Are working fine?”

He starts laughing for some reason and the table shakes a little and I feel insulted and consider telling him the truth: that I actually don‘t care if they work fine or not.

“Yeah man, I guess,” his laugh, his smile fades into cold silence and when the waitress walks past us, blocking the light, he looks like a corpse. Vacant and disconnected.

“Well you look fine Julian. Your face looks… just fine.”

He doesn’t respond and I change the subject.

“Are you still at UCLA?”

He shakes his head no, explains that he never went in the first place and that up until last month he was still having surgeries. He describes them.

Surgery number one: Julian fell off the table and re-broke the metatarsus bones in his right foot.

Second surgery: Julian wasn’t given enough anesthesia and woke up, mid-operation, with a plastic surgeon reconstructing the bridge of his nose.

Latest surgery: Julian was given too much anesthesia, bit off and swallowed a chunk of his tongue during a seizure.

Our food arrives and I’m telling Julian to change the subject and to stop initiating conversations about his surgeries and while he struggles to swallow small bites of his Orange Roughy with lemon and pepper, I study the scars on his face and the bizarre dilation of his left eye. I, in all honesty, cannot fake an appetite.

In the hospital the night of the accident, Julian was given OxyContin or Demerol or something and was drifting in and out of reality, bandaged, rambling at me about how God had saved his life and how the birds were a sign from God and that he needed to go to church and be a better person. I reminded him frankly that he had just killed a woman because he had blacked out after having done a line of coke off the back of his hand and that it was the furthest thing from an act of God, but he was so glazed over that nothing registered and he didn’t understand. He just kept rambling nonsensically. I think I told him he was acting satanic.

“So…” I take a drink and think of something to ask, “are you still with Amanda Price?”, I ask this for some reason, knowing she had left him right after the accident and she was dating Doug Levin.

“No. We broke up. She’s dating Gregg Levin‘s older brother,” he pokes at his food absently, “I’m seeing someone named Rose now.”

“Do I know her?” I don’t think I do.

“No man. I met her at church. She has red hair,” he still pokes at his plate, reciting this dully.

“That‘s great Julian. I’m happy for you. What’s her opinion on…um…everything that happened?’

He looks up, charged, “The accident? She thinks it wasn’t my fault. That it was a miracle and that I should thank God every singlechance I get. She thinks the birds were a sign just like I thought and that the old woman was probably a sinner and was probably a miserable person anyway,” he murmurs quickly, then gawping across the room at the couple, out of breath, “Are you still seeing Lauryn?”

I nod, “Yeah… I am. She’s in San Diego with her mom this weekend. Doing something with - ”

He interrupts, “ - that’s great man. Rose’s mother lives in San Diego, Rose’s up there this weekend staying with her doing something with…,” his voice trails off as he moves stiffly into his back pocket and pulls out his wallet, then a picture from the wallet.

“This is her,” he unfolds the picture up in front of me, thin and translucent, up to the light and I notice a body of text on the back and realize it’s been cut from a magazine. The girl in the picture is maybe twelve, blonde hair, and modeling something for Levi Jeans. He pulls it away and I stare again, for a long time it seems, into the damaged retina that’s shuddering crazily, sideways, involuntarily toward the window.

“That’s her?…”

“Yeah man. That’s Rose. She’s a veterinarian. She’s helps sick animals and heals them,” he smiles and I notice he‘s missing two of his front teeth. He appreciates the picture before returning it to his wallet.

I humor him, “Well… she’s beautiful man. Congratulations.”

I’m wondering. Brain Damage most likely. Maybe it’s his medication. Heroin? He’s mentally unbalanced. Deficient. Damaged.

He talks about Rose’s musical preferences, her favorite food, her family history, her likes, her dislikes, her job, her aspirations, her faith, reciting these make-believe elements from memory, as if reading them from a list. With more details, I become uneasy. I feel embarrassed being apart of this fiction, this fantasy that spurs like truth from Julian’s mind, this figment of his imagination manifesting itself much to my appall. His nose starts to bleed and he excuses himself from the table.

I have things to do today. I should not have come here. My very first memory of Julian: watching him beat a small cat to death in the woods behind his father’s office building with a golf club when we were twelve. I remember staring at him, him kicking the dead cat toward me, crying and repeating, “why didn’t you stop me Roman?”

The tan couple across the room is getting up to leave and I consider doing the same - be gone when Julian returns, but I don’t. I stay. The woman, as she passes me, sunglasses on, looks more like Lauryn as she gets closer and I realize I feel more familiar with her, a complete stranger, than I do Julian - this version of Julian.

He returns to the table with blood on the lapels of the raincoat I gave him. Jesus, he is a mess. I’m pretty sure he did a line of cocaine in the bathroom.

“You alright?” I ask.

“No man. I don’t think so.”

I pay for the lunch because Julian doesn’t have money and when we stand up to leave I try to read his tattoo which I think says UNBREAKABLE. He says goodbye, calls me the wrong name, doesn’t thank me, aimlessly drives down Ventura Blvd. in a daze, looking unnatural inside his father’s new ‘93 Mercedes-Benz 560SL all-white convertible.

This is the last time I ever want to see Julian, I’m positive. He is miserable. I imagine him now, driving home at illegal speeds, too slow, too fast, running stop signs and doing lines of coke while turning, tires skidding. I imagine him losing concentration, nose bleeding, drifting off the road then jerking the wheel, compensating, laughing nervously. I imagine him sitting at a table, talking to a nonexistent lover, a ghost, laughing, fighting, pleading, sobbing, still isolated. I imagine him creeping and wandering at night. I imagine him getting ill, mixing medication, becoming addicted to Vicodine, OxyContin, hurting himself intentionally, falling in love with his bedside nurse, addicted to her, watching her from outside her bedroom window. I imagine him going to jail for rape or molestation. I picture his expression - frustrated and confused, he’s committing suicide, hanging himself, swinging dead from the ceiling of a gymnasium in an abandon elementary school in Pasadena for days as boards creak then finally give way to his weight. I imagine what the newspaper will say. The picture they would use - a clean-cut, fresh, seemingly innocent version of Julian before the accident (even though that Julian was completely self-absorbed and would have never have killed himself). I imagine his funeral: empty rows of pews with a grandmother crying and me in the back row, emotionless, checking my watch. I picture what he looks like dead. I think about the moment directly before he dies when he realizes that the accident was not an act of God. The birds were nothing. I imagine he will die barely smart enough to accept everything. The murder having no positive effect, no hidden meaning, no life-changing message. It was murder. It was nothing. I’m tired of helping Julian. I imagine my life without him and it just seems the same. I imagine him in hell.


Submitted: September 21, 2009

© Copyright 2021 Guy McEvoy. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Etherial

"apart of this fiction" - a part, two words.

Hmm..Interesting concept.

Now, I am a little tired but I didn't seem to quite grasp your story.

The title is attention grabbing and yet.. he doesn't seem to be dead physically?

However, mostly, I found that your story just simply..failed to truly captivate me. I really truly didn't "get" it - didn't get the characters and didn't get the plot and hence, didn't get the "point" of the story.

With the characters, I was a little disappointed because well, neither of the characters seemed to change or progress throughout the story - it was just kind of a recap of what happened one night at dinner, in a seemingly character-oriented story.

As for the plot, I'm not sure if I didn't get it because..well, because of me or because there was no concise plot. Two guys sit down to dinner, yes, they're peculiar characters but..SO WHAT? -- That's the big question, the "point of the story" that's never answered - the most significant downfall.

Or perhaps I missed it?

Usually the "so what?" is described in conflict - actually, it always is - so..what is the conflict in your story? What is it that makes your story meaningful? Why should the reader care about your story?

I think once you can answer and include these questions in your story, it will be spectacular. :)

Wed, September 23rd, 2009 1:26am

Guy McEvoy

Hmm. Well it seems you didn't get it at all. This is an example of literary fiction. A story that focuses more on style, psychological depth, and character. You didn't find a plot because there is no plot. The point of this story is to portray the end of what used to be a friendship - but from the back stories and flashbacks, we can see it wasn't a healthy friendship to begin with. You ask "so what?" - to show the effects of cocaine, to show the selfishness of the two over-privileged characters, to portray the concept of friendship, to show mental instability as a result of loneliness and a wreck caused by poor decisions. It's the story of a guy (Roman) who has lived his life watching his friend make poor decisions and not doing anything about it, and as a result, he becomes disgusted at what it's turned his "friend" into.

Wed, September 23rd, 2009 1:42am

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