Do you remember Beulah Minor? Oh, sure, everybody says that they remember Beulah Minor, but only a handful of people actually do. Beulah used to play first trumpet for the executioner's orchestra on the planet Bezelda. This was long before Jerry Grogan became a naturalized citizen there, of course (please refer to my novel Yerba Mate – if you cannot get a hold of a copy, you have the choice of time traveling into the future to obtain one from almost any North American or European home, bookstore, library, college, university, synagogue, or brothel, or of taking my word for it).
Beulah held almost everyone in high esteem. She was known for this. In her high school yearbook, there was a tiny, little listing by her picture, and it read “most willing to hold someone in high esteem.” People had her number. They were on to Beulah Minor. This was many years before she was shot by the policeman in the woods outside of Bennington, Vermont (please refer to my short story “Priceless and Serene.” If you cannot get a hold of a copy, well, it looks like you are up die scheissenfluss, as we used to say in Tulsa).
In case you are wondering, “schiessenfluss” is the author's manner of rendering a pidgin-German translation of “fecal matter river.” Why the author chose to do this is anyone's guess.
There was one person, however, that Beulah Minor did not hold in high esteem, and that was Crackface Eddie. Crackface Eddie was a dealer of the extreme variety, and he would calculate the molecular weights of all contraband that he peddled, and sell it by the mole. Crackface Eddie got his name after a barroom fight when he was young, and it actually had nothing to do with illegal drugs – the name, that is, not the fight. The fight had everything to do with illegal drugs. Eddie got sliced by a man who had a razor. The man wanted some chemicals that Eddie had up his sleeve and in his pocket and, sadly, within his bodily cavities. The man with the razor, when told that he could not have the chemicals, sliced Eddie's face with said razor, leaving a wound from upper lip to forehead. Eddie's colleague, Finchbreath Hernandez (don't even try to figure it out), said that the new scar made Eddie's face look more like his backside, and that his face now reminded him of a plumber's derriere. “Crackface” was born.
Before the “Irreputable Naysayer's Narcotic Act” was passed, people were always trying to obtain illegal chemicals (in any molecular weight, it seemed) so that they could render them into liquid form, place the liquid into a syringe and then inject the lovely little chemical cocktail into their veins. The chemicals would course through the person's body and sometimes render their brains as pliable as salt-dough. Sometimes their hearts would explode. Sometimes their eyes would bleed. Life was fun and unpredictable back then. Hooray!
Beulah Minor once received a lovely gift from Crackface Eddie. Beulah had tried to purchase a Mother's Day gift from Eddie, and Eddie made it difficult for her. I mean, really, who buys only 20 milligrams of methamphetamine for a Mother's Day gift? Eddie was adamant about only selling less than a quarter gram a day, and he was getting near his daily limit when Beulah showed up. She pleaded and pleaded, but it was no use. Eddie stood fast. He always used to say “what good is a rule if you don't keep it?”
A good saying, I suppose.
Beulah was beside herself, but Eddie was unwavering. He did, however, sweeten the deal, but promising to give her a wonderful, lovely gift if she went away with only 20 milligrams.
Beulah though about it, and decided that there was probably no other meth lab open at that late hour, and she would otherwise be unable to purchase a gift for dear old mumsie on the eve of Mother's Day (all the pipe-wrench emporiums were closed, after all).
Beulah quickly nodded her head and got out her credit card. Crackface Eddie swiped it, closed the deal, and gift-wrapped the tidy little package.
“My gift?” whispered Beulah Minor in a voice as light as cotton.
“Memories,” said Crackface Eddie, smiling a greasy, toothless smile, “which are better than the real thing.”
Beulah walked home several inches above the sidewalk.
The next day, after her mother's brain had been rendered as pliable as salt-dough, her heart exploded. Beulah watched as her mother took her last breath and as her eyes fluttered shut like the closing wings of a briny-flower moth.
The days ahead and behind were cold and broken like a glass-shard siren. Veins and nerves and breath of stale air, nestled in lungs that shook at the slightest suggestion of a human touch.
But the memories were better than the real thing.