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Pure Imagination - "Joan of Arc" Part 3

The following is part three of the story “Joan of Arc,” concerning the temporal displacement and inebriated escapades of a womanizing retirement community activities director. You can read parts one and two here.

Sun. April 22, 2012 — Chica Chica Boom Chic (Uma Noite no Rio)

Well you can better believe I drank myself senseless on Monday night, what with Anne Frank materializing out of who-knows-where with a salty mouth and a fake ID and Joan of Arc armed and armored and gunning her hog past Jimborooni’s and all. Who knows what all I drank, but the next morning I sure was in a bad way. I was seeing double and was bruised in strange places and to top it off my alarm clock hadn’t gone off and I’d woken up at noon, which meant the old folks had probably been clamoring for an hour for a canasta game that would never come.

I arrived at Foxwood an hour later with a throbbing head and dark sunglasses and strode right past the receptionist, who, unprovoked, gave me the finger and insulted my manhood under her breath. When I entered the common area I expected a throng of irate canasta-loving old folks to be waiting to give me the business, but instead I just found old Bill Danielson watching risqué country music videos on the television and Dinah Steinberg staring wheelchair-bound at the million identical fleurs de lis on the wall. Where was everybody? The common area was never this empty on a weekday. I had a guest speaker coming in fifteen minutes to talk to the residents about bone brittleness and usually the resident assistants would have already started wheeling in the old folks from assisted living by now, but there wasn’t an RA in sight. I walked into a hallway and found a nurse emptying a syringe into a medication cup and asked her where the hell everyone was, and she rolled her eyes and asked me why the hell I was even there.

“What do you mean, why the hell am I even here?” I said.

“It’s Sunday, dumbass,” she said. “You don’t work on Sunday.”

“Like hell it’s Sunday. It’s goddamn Tuesday and I’ve got old Donny Bruskewitz from the VA clinic coming in fifteen minutes to talk about bone brittleness and the goddamn RAs haven’t wheeled in a single resident outside of Dinah Steinberg who I know for a fact isn’t going to pay a lick of attention to Donny’s lecture on account of she’ll be staring the whole time at the goddamn fleurs de lis on the goddamn wall.”

The nurse put her syringe down and gave me the evil eye. “You’re a real jerk-off, you know that?” she said, turning away curtly and carrying her tray of medication swiftly down the hall.

Well now I was just completely bamboozled. First I wake up next to Joan of Arc naked as a jaybird on Saturday morning and then I see Anne Frank cursing up a storm in Dutch outside of old Jimborooni’s and then Joan’s riding a Harley Fat Boy with skull and flame decals across the railroad tracks and now the entire staff of Foxwood is in confederacy against me, pretending it’s Sunday when it’s really Tuesday just to get my mind all hobbledy-gobbledy. I hadn’t even slept with any coworkers since January. Why was everyone giving me the business now? Well, I figured, you know what, screw them, if they wanted to pretend it was Sunday, then I was going to pretend it was Sunday too. I walked out of Foxwood past the RNs and the old folks and the bird-flipping receptionist and got in my Honda Civic and drove home, Cheap Trick telling me they wanted me to want them as I passed car dealerships and steakhouses and law offices and churches. But on the ride home I started noticing some funny things. Like, for instance, all the church parking lots were unusually crowded for a Tuesday afternoon. And all the law offices had Closed signs hung up in their windows. And after Cheap Trick had faded out and a prerecorded gravelly voice identified the station the disc jockey wished everyone a happy weekend and urged his listeners to go to Ponderosa Steakhouse’s Sunday brunch buffet and tell them that he sent us to get two dollars off our first beverages. At a red light I checked the date on my cell phone, and sure enough it said Sunday, April 22nd, 2012. Sweet goddamn. The light turned green but I didn’t budge, the cars behind me honking up a storm and passing me on the left and the right and their drivers shouting all sorts of suggestions of what I could do with various parts of my anatomy. Some of the suggestions were in Spanish. Others were in Russian and Jamaican patois and Chinese. One was in an angry yet still lovely-sounding French. I glanced away from my phone at the first putain de merde and who did I see cussing me out in a Romance language but old Saint Joan, driving a beat-up Chevy Impala with two Mondale-Ferraro bumper stickers and spinning chrome rims and no muffler. In the passenger seat was Anne Frank, who stuck her right hand out the window and flipped me the bird. What in the hell. Joan’s Impala roared away down Bluebottle Road but I was too bamboozled to follow her. I just stayed at the stoplight for another ten minutes listening to Foreigner telling me they wanted to know what love is and REO Speedwagon telling me they couldn’t fight this feeling anymore before I finally worked up the nerve to let my foot off the brake and drive to Jimborooni’s, where the same Knicks-Hawks game I had already watched two days ago was wrapping up on the bar’s big screen TV. Boy did I need a drink. Boy did I need a lot of drinks. I watched the Knicks-Hawks game and announced all of the critical final plays five seconds before they happened and got everyone all sour and riled up. No one was impressed. They just thought I was a real son of a bitch. I told everyone at the bar that if my Knicks-Hawks predictions weren’t enough for them I could tell them the names of every single bingo winner at Foxwood Prairies tomorrow afternoon, but that just made everyone sourer. The Knicks game ended and the bartender switched the TV to the Lakers-Thunder game, which I hadn’t watched the previous April 22nd, 2012, so I kept quiet and knocked back my Heinekens and gazed across the bar at a beautiful Brazilian woman in a fruit hat who either looked a lot like Carmen Miranda or, seeing as how things had been going lately, was actually Carmen Miranda. Boy was she something. The more Heinekens I drank, the more I felt like trying to saunter over to Ms. Miranda and ask if those were bananas on her head or was she just happy to see me, and yet the less capable I became of actually physically reaching the other end of the bar without falling over or walking into a table or otherwise sabotaging my efforts to seduce the Brazilian Bombshell, who had already been bought several Miller High Lifes by a table of collar-popping community college students who had probably never heard of Carmen Miranda but nonetheless admired her midriff-baring dress. Alcohol was funny like that. It always made you more likely to attempt difficult tasks while simultaneously making you less likely to accomplish them. Well, I never did saunter over to Carmen Miranda, at least not to my recollection. Instead I somehow wound up in a flowerbed in a stranger’s backyard at around ten or ten-thirty, and then after a wrong turn or two or three I found my way back to the Jimborooni’s parking and tried to get into my Honda Civic, but realized I no longer had my keys. Boy when it rains, it pours, as they say. And then it started actually raining, and then actually pouring, so I went back into Jimborooni’s and ordered some more Heinekens. Carmen Miranda was nowhere to be seen. Who knows if one of those community college kids had gotten lucky or not. I wouldn’t have bet on it. Of course, I was pretty sure I hadn’t gotten lucky, either. I still had bits of geraniums and lilies of the valley all over me from sleeping in that goddamn flowerbed. I wondered if Carmen Miranda ever kept that fruit hat on when she made love. It had to be uncomfortable. But so were high heels and strapless bras and thongs, and women wore those all the time, and you couldn’t even peel and eat them afterward, or put them in a freezer to later add to a fruit smoothie, or stick them on top of ice cream to make a banana split. Boy was I losing it. I just wanted to go to sleep on a Monday and wake up on a Tuesday like everyone else. But apparently I couldn’t even do that. So what the hell could I do then? Order another Heineken. And so I did.

Matt Gajewski is the author and host of Pure Imagination, a radio show that aired on 90.5 WVUM and continues as a podcast, with all old episodes archived on Pure Imagination’s website. There will be live performances of the brand new story “Pecos Bill” at Miami’s Sweat Records on Saturday July 28th and Brooklyn’s The West on Saturday August 4th.



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