In summer 2016, my short story IT WAS A DARK DAY~NOT A STORMY NIGHT~ IN TUCK-TEA-TEE-UCK-TUCK was a finalist for that year’s Carter V. Cooper/ Exile $15,000 Short Fiction Competition, and later included in CVC Anthology Series, Book Six, as well as being published in 2017's ELQ: Exile, the Literary Quarterly, Volume 40, No. 4,
Copyright Frank Westcott, 2016. All rights reserved & all that legal stuff.
IT WAS A DARK DAY ~ NOT A STORMY NIGHT ~
“IT WAS A DARK DAY ~ NOT A STORMY NIGHT ~ IN TUCK-TEA-TEE-UCK-TUCK” is, I hope, a fun romp of nostalgia through Vegas, looking for a golf ball and encountering an angel, of all things. In drag, yet! Or she might have been. Written in Las Vegas, at a table at Parasol Down waiting for my outside table to be ready. Happened to have my laptop with me. So started writing, taking off on the ol’ concept-line “It was a dark & stormy night…etc” And here is the story that emerged, after my table was ready, and over the coming months, all triggered by my initial tap-tapping this on the keys… “IT WAS A DARK DAY ~ NOT A STORMY NIGHT ~ IN TUCK-TEA-TEE-UCK-TUCK. Yu thought I was gonna say FUCK. Tuck-ter-up-tuck or fuck or whatever it was you thot I was gonna say. Like that. But I didn’t. I said tuck-tea-ea-ea-up-tuck. Without the exa ggeration on the tee or tea...”
Wonky spelling my relish! Dessert! Off meat, so relish only. On my relish-dog! & FUN! ! TOO ☺ ! Enjoy ! Oh! That was August-ish 2015-ish!
The story was published in the CVC/Carter V. Cooper, Short Fiction Anthology ~ Book Six, Exile Editions, Toronto, Canada, in 2016 and in ELQ/Exile: The Literary Quarterly, Volume 40, Number 4 in 2017. And it was shortlisted, a finalist, for the Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Prize in 2016.
IT WAS A DARK DAY ~ NOT A STORMY NIGHT ~
I LOST MY BALL ~ THE GOLF COURSE ONE
IT WAS A DARK DAY ~ NOT A STORMY NIGHT ~ IN TUCK-TEA-TEE-UCK-TUCK. Yu thought I was gonna say FUCK. Tuck-ter-up-tuck or fuck or whatever it was you thot I was gonna say. Like that. But I didn’t. I said tuck-tea-ea-ea-up-tuck. Without the exa ggeration on the tee or tea. Tee ’em up sayeth the wizard or wizardette. I can’t remember. Was so long ago. ANY way. Lost one in the war. Like I said. Wished I could tea ’em up one more time. From the golf course one more time. Would aim straight. Me. Right at the hole. Putter notwithstanding and cold and metallic and clunky especially when the ball dropped into the hole. The clanging thing that clunked. Cement mixer putt tee putt tee. Deeply. With Dizzy Gillespie. When your ball dropped. The only one I had left. The other lost in the war. Like I said.
Wished I had another ball to drop. Got distracted by a high flying Bird (Charlie) and remorse and sorrow (Billie) and waved at a wing on a feather and rejoiced forever more and forot my ball in the cup and walked away. The war. You know. Left it there. No tee either. Last one in the bag fell through a slot in the bag where a knife ripped thru the material and the tea bag, no tee bag, tee-thing, fell through onto the course and grass where we walked yesterday. Too. IN the dew. Early. When rains came and washed evidence away from our feet of where we had bin and were going, in this celebratory wonkiness, even if we didn’t know how to punkuate and spell out our stories and wanted one more ball… to tea it, tee-it, up one more time.
The gymnast, doing back flips on the green, and peeling money out of her pocket in mid-air waving it at me. The money. Honey. Her bu tt. And wiggling her toes just before landing. She was good. IN this stream of consciousness air she travelled in looking for my ball. The first one lost. The wife. Who ate my ball and squished the life out of me as she raped me with her money grubbing heart. I lost that ball. If you get what I mean. Wife who choked on it and killed herself in manic depression and psychotic episodes spreading pablem all over herself instead of the baby. And throwing things at me. And maybe the baby. I hated her for that. Creating the worry. What she might do to the baby. So I stayed home. To protect the baby. And never golfed again. Or played hockey for that matter. Loved hockey. The challenge. The Rocket. The flow. The Belliveau. The ice. Man-cometh notwithstanding LeFleur. And the sound of blades on ice chipping nuance out of movement, supermen dancing like Dina Ross, make that Diana Ross in her youth, before she got fat and didn’t dance so much. But farted in the song while the music was playing along and her feet not dancing like they used to. She always smiled. At the fart spots. IN a song. But everybody thot she was smiling at the song. Something in the song that made her heart tingle or jingle, or bell ring out of that numace, friendly as it was and only smelling like yesterday’s dinner because she digested things slowly. Especially now that she was older. She digested more slowly every day. But she still sang at the same strange tempo for every song in the track of time she reminisced about on the stage of The Venetian where people remembered her as she was, then, before, and saw nothing about the now where she was fat and old and moved differently, but joy-ed in the fact she was still singing, still teeing-it up, and her audiences loved her. Still. IN the memory of time. And me searching for balls on a course long played and lost to and forlorned one more time many times. And she with fingers splayed over the keys of a piano in memory of herself and bowed at the end of the stage performance to reminisce about how it was and never would be again and her daughter and grandchild cried in the stands where everybody sitted in memory or their memories that they had yesterday before the show started.
I looked, of course, for my other ball. Hoping to find it not sunk into oblivion in some desert course where memory linked up with time seeking refuge, nothing important, just a place to rest, and ref, and uge, trumping time with the Donald Truming at another hotel in golden Vegas, signs under skies of sorrow and remorse, wondering where the Donald had gone, ducking a quack or too at the audience having lost his balls when he played someone else’s course and ran for President.
Balls wipe tees of glory out of golf bags wet from the morning dew and this isn’t a story, it is a recollection out of time, twisted by memory and tees and tea and Diana Ross dancing on a stage out of home memories where photos and phone booths still existed, and people were not just taking ‘selfies’ to adorn Facebooks, and internets and surgeon themselves in operations of gold, self-indulging themselves, wanna be’s in the making, when only and all they are doing is acknowledging their existence. To themselves. Because nobody else is doing that. Self-seeing their existence. Other than a “like” or two on something they post which gives them credence for more. Posts. Of self. And heart. And start. Starting to reminisce before their time is up. To reminisce what never was. Reminisce: a revenge against the future.
I went searching for that ball. The last one. In an old bag lollipopping out of mind for years in a backroom where I kept it, and found only wife number three and realized I hadn’t met her yet. Or if I had I hadn’t met her yet as a wife, so didn’t know her as a wife. Couldn’t. As I say: Can’t know something as something before it exists as that something. So, if I knew her as a person, I couldn’t know her as a wife if she wasn’t. Yet. SO, I left it to the muse and angels, if either existed, to figure it out. To lament. Talking about non-existence. And where we get the where withall. Somebody asked once where my stories came from.
“Got me…” I said.
“Got you?” she asked.
“You got me here. There. & everywhere,” I said thinking of the Liverpudlians and a song they beetled out of nowhere into Nowhere Man and wrote Here There and Everywhere too, singing forlornly of drums and metro-nones-&-kowns behind the beat, and Paul McCartney had to re-do the track in time with night, when he went back into the studio when no one was looking, and did it right… the timing… and had tea after, and during and set the record straight, back in the day they still made records instead of ituning downloads in cyberspace to your device and ear, wishing you could just hear. Sound clouds be damned. Cloud music sounds like an angel’s whisper on a wing of prayer, Aretha Franklin-ing Respect, hoping to be a song but too distant in the ear, from the ear, to sound like music or an angel shitting herself, and dropping out of the sky. Then I thought I hoped angels didn’t exist, if they started shitting listening to music from clouds, and I clouds, and u clouds, and cybernuts butting their heads against walls of cyber-fabric nuancing nothing, and Taylor Swifting themselves out of old tunes iShaking i-it Off, one more time, and hoping angels didn’t know how to shit too. Down a hole. Or if they did, didn’t. That’d be shitting bricks for walls of Jericho tumbled down as somebody blew Gabriel’s horn, into plasmacy of sound anew, out of old histories making no sense, but sounding like music. And Quincy Jones smiled.
I lost my ball and wanted to Lawrence Welk it and follow the bouncing ball of the tune out of destiny, bring it alive once more. But I culdn’t follow it or the tune without the ball. Even if the music played on.
THE SONG SANG ITS WAY OUT OF A HOLE ~ A GOLF HOLE
So here we are. WE are. At this point in the story. The non-story that this is. Withut a plot. Or spelling. And the plot is a grave you buried your hat in hoping no one would find it. But when they dug you up. They found only your hat and you had left. Already vacated the premises. Rent due. Paid up. Before due. And you left without a word. A typo in the memory of plains and planes flying in and out of Vegas where Angels fear to tred only. When they have their gambling shoed on and forget their wings at hme and look like evrbody else.
There is romance in the novels of form and less formlessness… a thing of the past and future ’cuse it can’t be form unless it is formless, and how can formless be form anyway. And if formlessness is a form, then it has to be formless before and after, in its form in the past and future. The present I have trouble with. It sucks. The past I know. The future I forsee. But the now… what the hell is that? You lose your ball in the now, and go looking for it where you think you lost it, and hope to find it in the future, ’cause you aint got it now. You aint got it in hand. So I wad the streams of the past and future. Wade. That is. But you can wad them if you want. Plug them up. No flow. Just adman the dam of consciousness, so you don’t recognize the past and the future, and you think you only lost one ball, but you lost them both. The first wife ate them. And the second wife had none. So the kid wasn’t yours. But you treated her like a daughter and her kids as your grandkids. ’Cause there is more to being a father than DNA.
“It aint about blood,” the angel said looking like a dream lifted out of a lament in Vegas shoes and glittering gold dresses. She wore more than one at once.
“Why are you looking like an angel?” I asked.
“Because I am,” she ansered once and twice, and then again making it thrice. I put more ice chips of nuance in her drink and… to see if that would help.
“You ARE an angel or YOU ARE looking like one?” I asked.
“Both,” she said. “It’d be hard to look like one, if you weren’t one. And you’d be an impster if you did.”
“Impster? You mean imposter,” I said.
“No. Imspter. An imp being a playful kind of thing. An impster. New word I invented on my way down.”
“Down?” I asked. “down from heaven… the heavens… Le Fleur… a sky thing?”
“Escalator,” she answered. “Took the escalator down from the main floor.”
“To the casino.”
“Well this isn’t a spa,” she said and jangled black and gold $100 chips in her angel apron. I couldn’t know if she was an imposter, impster or angel or what. She looked like all three.
“I dress for all occasions,” she said. "Thus the dresses. Plural. Fits. Kind of fluffy don’t you think?”
“Cloud-like,” said I. “Icloud, u-cloud, angel-cloud… some cloud. Cumulus, anyway.”
“Always liked cumulus,” she said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Makes me think of cumilingus,” she answered matter of factly.
“A raunchy angel,” I said. “Or at least one who’s a look-a-like angel-thing-person, doing it up right to look golden. Frailed. I mean finged. Fringed. Beaded. Gowned in sorrow and remorse, angel singing in the background where Diana Ross calls Aretha out in response, out of respect, while she does Swing Low Sweet Chariot. Never seen a chariot. Don’t know if how they can swing. Swing low. That’s it. That’s what Aretha and Diana does do in the Moneting-moment, where I listen to sounds of this angel breathing look-a-likes out of her nostrils of heavenly wifts and wafts, she pretends to portend. Maybe she’s a which in wolves’ angels’ clothing. Note the plurals. Angels. She wears three dresses.
THE FINAL ONE ~ WOLF BARKING AT THE DOOR ~ LIKE A DOG IN WOLF’S CLOTHING & THREE DRESSES
Back to the beginning. IT WAS A DARK DAY ~ NOT A STORMY NIGHT ~ IN TUCK-TEA-TEE-UCK-TUCK. Yu thought I was gonna say FUCK. Tuck-ter-up-tuck or fuck or whatever it was you thot I was gonna say. Like that. But I didn’t. I said tuck-tea-ea-ea-up-tuck. Without the exaggeration on the tee or tea. Tee ’em up sayeth the wizard or wizardette.
I was beginning to think this being, this angel in drag, was a glittering cocktail waitress of old, in high heels, dress underwhich she wore a short butt-tight, high-thigh, thong thingy, making her look like a glittering sequined queen of cocktails, cockatoos, cunts, cockadoodle, any-cock’ll doo. Didn’t lift her dress. Make that dresses. To find out. Can get arrested for that. Even in Vegas. But I looked anyway. Between my teeth. IN the mirror. And watched as she hoisted her dress. Another and another. To let me see she wore cocktail stockings, and a bustier brace that showed her boobs if she bent over, but she didn’t and didn’t lift her dress, dresses, that high ’cause they, the dresses were tight at the waist. And I wondered If I was tight. At the girth and in alcohol count. ’Cause how’d and wh’d look for golf balls in a casino in Vegas when the course was outside up the street and no swings there where you were in the casino, waging war with an angel look-a-like wanting to gmble her life away, under cigarette trays, Lucky Strike, Cohilas, Camels, in the sky of the old days when you could get hookers, and trays and a smoke all in one pack, standing in front of you in the shape of a cigarette girl with Betty Grable gams.
I looked at her and wondered. “Were you that cigarette girl in another life? Tahoe maybe. IN the seventies? The forties?”
“Yup,” she said, spreading her wings like she was with John Travolta in a bad movie and worse costume, the backing by and Paul McCartney’s band with Linda, not stuck on this bird look-a-like angel thing, Wings doing Jet in the 1974 Band on the Run-ing it, out of time when this angel-bird-cocktail waitress-cigar smoking, cigarette dispensing, wannabe oldie, rocked in Vegas or Tahoe or both. In the 70s when bands rocked and there was no “CJ,” or no “Country Jazz,” the “CJ” way… to bring it, music, back to where it belonged. Sounding like a song. Tee-ing it up with respect shown. And there was a wife number one. INStead of some hip-hop disaster, only a clutter of clatter, sounding like subways click-clacking their tracks ~ tracking their tunes, alleged, out of times past when a song was melody instead of the natter we spoke of just now. And I look at this angel wanna be, three dress ’n all, and wonder how I got there. Here. To get there?
“You took the escalator,” she said.
And I danced a little jig. Two stepped, and East Coast three stepped, and wondered how I learned to dance that way. Hadn’t before.
“Early lives,” she said.
“What?” I said.
“Early lives,” she said. “You learned… knew… how to do that in earlier lives before this one.”
“Oh how many lives have I had.”
“Four,” she said.
“One, two, three, four… straight ahead… beat. Tap-tap-tap-tap. Four. Beats to the bar. Like that.”
“Are you a which. Witch?” I ask.
“Which?” she said.
“What?” I asked for explanation, asking, “Who’s on first?”
“That’s right! Who is on first. With Abbott and Cosstello. But you asked if I was a w-h-i-c-h, like which way did she go? Then you said witch, w-i-t-c-h, as in with a broom. That flies. And you ride on.”
“Cool,” I said. “I mean the latter one with the broom.”
“I take elevators. No…. escalators. Take elevators too. But hard to hit the buttons.”
“With your wings.”
“Yes. John Travolta figured it out. He just stuck his finger through the feathers.”
“The Bird flappin’ finger or the Peter Pointering flappin’ finger?”
“Neither and either. Angels only have one finger when they wear their wings. So they flip birds and point..”
“And push elevator buttons.”
“Yes,” she says. “If you can get yur finger out of the feathers enough to find the button.”
“Did you find my golf ball?” I ask.
“Yup. Right here in my wing pocket…. Right under my skin. Here. See?”
I reach under her skin. Her feathers. She calls her skin her feathers. Or the other way around. I can’t find her pocket. Only hemoroids. Suppossi-stories.
“My ass!” she says.
“You got your finger up my ass.”
She inhales and smells of smoke. Cigar and cigarette combined. She farts like Diana Ross in song, and sweet smells Aretha out of a melody in the rafters, where she reaches when she sings gospel. And I wonder where I have been and reach for my balls, and find teo, two, and wonder where the one I lost in the war went, and where the two went that my first wife ate, making me ball-less for wife number two, where I fathered the child anyway. Who does have my DNA, I found out later. And the grandkids are mine. And so is she. The daughter. The baby.
“So you wanna go golfing?” asks the angel, the cocka-two-itll-doo person, heavy with wings.
“You got balls?”
“No… but you do,” she says, bent in sorrow and lament over the hole where a clanging thing had been heard to clunk.
I smile. Go for tea. The pot kind you put a bag in. And purr, pour, from a spout. I linger at the tea table and drink my honey with it, and wonder where she went, the whatever, whichever, witchever, it was, is, I had these conversations with… while trying to get my balls back. Find them. After I had lost them. And I realized I hated balls of the white dimpled variety you smack off your tee, with a club in your hands, when all you need are what’s between your legs to swing with, and only one club, not a whole bag full. I know the (?) angel did not/does not exist. OR the witch, if that’s what she was. But the wonky story does. Celebratory in the writing. And that makes it all true. Mark Twain said so.
“Tee-uck-tuck. Tea anyone?”
THE BACKGROUND: I had wandered down to one of my favorite haunts at the Wynn, Las Vegas, called Parasol Down where there is a waterfall and outdoor seating at tables I like. The outdoor seating was full. One of the hostesses, who knew me, asked if I'd like to wait inside at a table, because some were leaving soon outside. And she'd bring me some tea in the meantime. Thus the 'TEA" in the title. I happened to have my computer and in my bag writing stuff, so pulled it out and started rambling on the keyboard. FOR FUN! TO-PUT-IN-THE-TIME. Saw my "TEA" in a cup and wrote IT WAS A DARK DAY ~ IN TUCK TEA-TEE-UCK-TUCK, playing on the word tea and thinking of golf balls and tea and how you could put a tee in water and not get tea, but you still had tee... well a tee... in the cup... and on it goes... went. Silly-dom for sure. I was having fun. And the story began. Then, happily, this romp of the story-kind continued over the coming days then & there... & I refined-got-publishing-ready, the tale at home, back in Canada to where it is now. And got published as... and... Then the publishing events occurred...as mentioned. Neat.You never know where a story will emerge, or how, or when or if... I LOVE THAT ABOUT STORIES. They are alive in their own right. And come to you in a how, and why, and way they want to. Out of your control. Well mine... Happily... So...