Marc of the Beast

Note to self: Be careful with whom you decide to share your milk break in kindergarten. That arbitrary schoolmate could very well end up becoming your ethereal spirit guide someday. That, or the unnerving, earthbound entity that haunts your dreams and threatens to shake loose the foundation of your tenuous grip on reality. Whatever. I’ll lean toward the former for convenience’s sake. The car needs brake work, so thaumaturgy just isn’t in the budget this month.

Halloween had just passed, and I spent the day as usual – neglecting to open the door for the juvenile mooching miscreants.

Let the little bastards knock until their knuckles bleed. I was not going to waste my hard-earned food stamps, I mean SNAP benefits, just so the neighborhood kids could have a free sugar rush.

Screw that.

They’ll learn soon enough that when and if they make it to adulthood, they’ll have to do a hell of a lot more than bang on some random door in order to get free stuff handed to them. Well, unless they’re female. And hot. And not terribly bright.Then it depends solely on how old and desperate is the guy behind said door, and what exactly they are willing to bang. Still, theoretical lesson learned.

And besides, I was kind of busy. Today was All Saints’ Day in the Catholic Church. The day when the Church honors the “saints,” or the departed who have died in martyrdom and heavenly glory and are now in the presence of the Lord. (As opposed to the other poor dead slobs who get thrown a bone tomorrow on All Soul’s Day, or the Church’s equivalnet to “And the Rest” before Gilligan decided that the Professor and MaryAnn should probably not be burning in hell while the Howells got a free pass to Paradise.) And I, being a devout Cafeteria Catholic, naturally felt that nagging spiritual urgency to try and contact the Dead.

But not until after shopping. For today, you see, was also “Autumnal Carnage Day.”

There are four major Carnage Days on the Gregorian Calendar:
1) The Day After Halloween (Autumnal Carnage)
2) The Day After Valentine’s Day, otherwise known as John’s birthday, or “Not My Problem Day”
3) The day after Easter (Ressurectio Carnage)
4) The Day After Mother’s Day (Vernal Carnage: For what better way to honor the woman who has sacrificed her life for you than to buy some half-priced waxy Palmer Chocolate?

There are also two lesser days: St Patrick’s Day, aka Deceitful Carnage, wherein the stores and various drunk relatives on your mother’s side try to convince you that those “Irish Potatoes” are actually a treat and are damn well worth $7.50 a box even at half price. Get thee away from me, Satan! Cream cheese and cinnamon do not a confection make. In Jersey, we consider that more of kitchen mishap that you save until May to present to your mother because she’ll eat anything if it’s wrapped as a gift.
And Father’s Day doesn’t count at all because half off meat sticks from Hickory Farm are just too troubling to consider.

As for the “contacting the dead” thing, it’s something I’ve been doing every year since high school. Ulterior motives more than necrophilia, actually. (I wasn’t in the Key Club, I had to do something to keep from looking lame in year book.) Besides, when your parents are too cheap and/or stupid to send you to a private school, thus condemning you to slowly die another day in the public school system, you will grasp at any, any straw for a day off. And Holy Days of Obligation serve as great paydirt in this regard because your sudden your piety won’t be challenged at all. No one gives a shit. (Ah, the halcyon days before No Child Left Behind.) Apparently, in my teens, I was Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Shinto, and Rosicrucian) So, here we had All Soul’s Day, when the Vatican decided that the veil betwen the world of the living and of the departed was kinda…gone. Perfect day for me to stay home and talk to loved ones who kicked too early, thus fucking up the rest of my life. Thanks,guys, and screw you, too.

Mexico has The Day of the Dead, I know this because of Grim Fandango. (Great game, btw. The hero was voiced by Ugly Betty’s dad. You’re welcome.) The premise is so similar that I suspect it was bogarted from us, but since I don’t speak Spanish, I have no way of fact checking. Anyway, unlike “Mexico’s” (cough) Day of the Dead, I refuse to follow fuzzy customs like setting out food, gifts, warm towels, etc. The way I see it,if my scintilating personality isn’t enough to entice spirits to leave their final reward and hang out for a while, that’s not my issue.

It is theirs, however. For I never got a visitation. Not once in all those years. Or so I assummed.

The Social Security Death Index is both an extremely useful and unsettlingly creepy tool. On the one hand, it’s great for stalking old crushes, and checking triannually to see if your ex is worm food yet. Good times.

It’s not so fun, however, when you find out that the kid from grammar school about whom you’ve occasionally dreamed through the years and always meant to look up because he talks to you in your sleep as if you were chatting over coffee, died fifteen years prior.

Now, let me emphasize (in as much as this needs to be emphasized) that I am in no way psychic, clarivoyent, or “senstive.” People just assume I am because:
1) I tell them I am
2) I’m Italian. (Old World ethnic peasant vibe)
3) I read fortunes with standard issue playing cards.
Plus, according to my mother (not the most credible source these things, granted), I was “born with the caul on my head.” Which, in European families, is a sign of great psychic and spiritual ability. As opposed to, say, in the U.S., where it just means having a half-assed, incompetent obstetrician.)

I use regular playing cards as opposed to tarot cards because this way, no one can figure out what the hell I’m looking at. (Usually, my cuticles.) I manage a pretty convincing cold read, and really kick ass with “eerie accuracy” during my warm reads. I come from a very ancient line of Italian grifters..I mean, practitioners of Benedacaria. Which is basically a loophole so that Catholics can practice deceptive magic, invoking the power and guidance of the saints blah blah in order to dupe the local peasantry in exchange for chickens, alcohol, sundries and dry goods. (Yes, Martha, my friend. I do know that you have obsessive thoughts about your boyfriend cheating, not because the queen of spades is whispering in my ear as much as the fact that you bitch to me about it every freakin’ day on the phone.) To this day, my very non-ethnic mother swears that Uncle Nicky aka “The Uncle,” was able to cure my brother’s infantile colic by tying a black ribbon around his baby wrist, and performing some secret rite behind closed door.

He locked himself with the baby for half an hour, taking only a bible and a flask of amber brown liquid. And when we finally let us in the room, Johnny was sound asleep, and Nicky was worn out from vomiting out the evil spirits that had apparently been exorcised from your brother and gone into him!”

When I pointed out that holy water usually isn’t the color of whiskey, I was met with the cold stare reserved for the blasphemer.

Now, as for Marc. He was, and quite frankly, still is, the most interesting male I’ve ever encountered. A pretty impressive feat, considering I met him when I was in kindergarten. He sat across from me at the roundtable the teacher had set up in lieu of real desks. (Why bother? We were stupid five-year olds, or some skewed reasoning like that.). So I got to stare at this odd little boy pretty much all day long, which since this was morning kindergarten back in the seventies, was about one-hundred, fifty minutes.

He stood by me during the “goat debacle,” when that bitch, Miss Cole, gave me a completely unwarranted large, red “F” on my worksheet. “Place a mark in the box next to the picture if you can do something to it to make it make a noise.” Simple enough. Lawnmower, drums, electric fan. A goat? Sure, why not, I reasoned. If you kick a goat, it will probably make a noise. She wasn’t buying it, I got a fail on the paper. A failure at five? (She’s dead now. I win.)

Marc understood, and said he definitely saw my point. Then we shared the bread and water he had been gvien by his mom as a snack, both laughing until we hurt at the irony of being served prison food. And thus, a friendship was forged out of childish hyperbole.

Marc was one of thos kids that had other stuff going on outside the micrcosm of Franklin Elementary school. Band. Theater class. He wasn’t a jock, or a brain. He just was. Always a desk away. In second grade, Miss DePaul (an ex nun who was loathed by the adminstration but adored by us) used to stop the class at random intervals in the afternoon for no other reason than to let Marc do acting improv in front of the other students, while I was chosen to be the class cop, sitting in front to make sure no one was talking out of turn. I never reported anyone. I never really cared.

Man, these were the salad days.

And as to be expected, Marc’s pre-puberty, non-conformist behavior brought about accusations of being “a fag.”
That was back in the early seventies, mind you, We didn’t know what being a fag entailed, but we knew it was probably a dig of some sort. (Funniest joke in the fourth grade: Whats pink and drives a chariot? Ben-Gay. Heheh) I never believed the rumors, though. Not that it would have mattered. Even when we got to the age of crushes and “toe in the water” dating- thirteen or so, I was never seen as dating material. By anyone ever. I was always just the platonic female friend, the hideous, gruesome platonic female friend.

Now, to John’s credit, the guy did propose to me sight unseen after chatting online for over a year before there was a World Wide Web. Which is either terribly romantic, or extremely foolhardy. (Did he even consider that I might accept??) Apples and oranges.

Still, I did always kind of feel that Marc and I were supposed to be. Meant to be. And eventually would be,had he not fucked up and gotten involved in drugs and God knows what else after his mom died. We were in eighth grade, reading aloud from Farenheit 451, when he was called out of class. She was killed by an oil truck. It just rolled on her at a routine stop for a traffic light. Just like that. Leaving him to have to move down the shore to live with his estranged dad, an ex-cop turned Radio Shack sales haunt, along with his older sister, Michelle, who happened to be best friend’s with my sister, who also happened to be killed in a traffic accident at a stop light. And also happened to share the same birthday (August 25) as Marc.

My life is just a series of what the fuck coincidences.

So, Marc now haunts my sleep. Sometimes. I’m not sure why.

Maybe, he’s just trying to make up for lost time. Or make amends for being such a superfical jerk when he got old enough to notice girls, but not notice that I was one of said girls.

Maybe I’m more desireable now that he’s surrounding by so much rotting flesh and decay? Although, he’s assuredly not an incubus, nd has never been anything but a genteman. Which works out well since, aside from the fact that ectoplasm is hell on the sheets, I won’t even screw my husband these days, never mind some long dead guy. I’m certain the experiecne probably would be more or less indistingusiable, anyway.

Or maybe, he’s just simply lonely. When Marc makes his nocturnal visits, we basically just talk. No portents of doom. No foreshadowing of disaster. Hell, not even a few winning lottery numbers. (Jerk.) Just banal and nostalgic conversations about Zoom, Mork and Mindy, The Electric Company, Laverne and Shirley, etc. Which is fine. Even if I’m imaging all this because of menopausal fever dreams, it’s a pleasant enough delusion not to cause concern. No need for exorcisms or antipsychotics. Just lie back and enjoy the ride. And try not to wrap my mind around the thought that while Marc died way too young, Eddie Mecca goes on and on.

Man, Fate is one twisted bitch.