Home > The Good Luck of Right Now(8)

The Good Luck of Right Now(8)
Matthew Quick

That night, after she bailed me out of jail and took me home, Mom told me that self-gratification—while it was technically a sin in the Catholic Church, sometimes referred to as the sin of Onan—was probably the path for me. She wasn’t really mad at me for getting arrested, especially after I told her what had happened—how the pink-haired woman had basically jumped out of an alley and began to rub against my leg before I could say or do anything. Mom nodded and said she wished she had told me about self-gratification before all of this happened, but such talks were usually the job of the father, and my father had died far before I was old enough for sex talks, so Mom really isn’t to be blamed.

That night Mom came into my room, sat on the edge of my bed like she used to when I was a boy, pointed above my headboard to the crucifix—her gift to me when I was confirmed—and she said, “That guy hung out with prostitutes. He got arrested too. So you’re in good company, Bartholomew. Don’t let this rip you apart inside, okay?” When I didn’t respond, Mom said, “I wish you had run into a Vivian Ward instead of an undercover cop.” She was referencing Julia Roberts’s character in Pretty Woman, which I don’t have to tell you. “I want more. I want the fairy tale,” Mom said, just like Julia Roberts said to you in the movie. “I want the fairy tale for you, Bartholomew. If I couldn’t have it, I want it for you. So keep believing in fairy tales, okay? Keep believing that even some prostitutes are good-hearted women. Believe. Pretend even!” I don’t know why—maybe because Mom was always so hopeful for me, and I never could manage to confirm her wild suspicions about her only son—but I had to turn my face away from her. I felt the tears coming, the pressure building up behind my eyes. Mom ran her fingers through my hair for a few minutes, like she did when I was a boy. Even though I was too old to be tucked in like that, I was glad she did what she did. It made the angry man in my stomach fall asleep. It was like her hand was able to perform a miracle that night. “I want the fairy tale for you, my sweet, sweet trusting boy,” she said once more before she turned out the lights and exited my bedroom.

My father was most likely murdered by Catholic-hating Ku Klux Klan members, and I therefore have no memory of him. People forget that the KKK hated Catholics just as much as they hated Blacks and Jews, once upon a time. Mom said no one cares if you hate Catholics anymore because of all the pedophile priests, which is why people forget that the KKK probably still hates Catholics. (Mom also said if priests keep molesting little boys, the KKK would soon have a higher approval rating than the Catholic Church.) This is also why my father’s killer was never brought to justice, according to Mom, nor did any newspapers cover the murder, which is maybe why I couldn’t find any record of it at the library.

“It was once very hard for Catholics in this country,” Mom used to say when I was a boy. “Your father—a good Catholic man—went out for a pack of cigarettes and never was seen again. The police say he left us for another family up in Montreal, where he was originally from, but we know better.”

So Mom did her best and can’t really be blamed for my arrest. I once asked her if my father was also a good pretender, and she said he was. Apparently, he was a lot like me.

Why didn’t my father get to give Mom the fairy tale?

Why do most people fail to give each other the fairy tale?

Do you know why, Richard Gere?

Has your moviemaking taught you this?

Your admiring fan,

Bartholomew Neil

3

SADLY, I DO NOT THINK I AM TELEPATHIC

Dear Mr. Richard Gere,

I woke up this morning, put on coffee, and tried to listen to the tough (or lazy) morning birds, but the tiny angry man in my stomach was raging, screaming, Idiot! Neanderthal! Stupid!

It was quite disconcerting because I had no idea why he was upset. Usually I know right away what’s bothering him, because it’s usually what’s bothering me.

I racked my brain, but I couldn’t remember.

I fixed my coffee, and when I took my first sip—it came to me.

I had completely forgotten the point of my last letter, going on and on about unrelated past things. I didn’t even tell you the most important part about yesterday’s trip to the library, which makes me feel that I am indeed a gigantic emphatic moron.

(I get sidetracked easily by interesting things, and for this reason, people often find it hard to converse with me, which is why I don’t talk very much to strangers and much prefer writing letters, in which there is room to record everything, unlike real-life conversations where you have to fight and fight to fit in your words and almost always lose.)

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