Perry and Tammy walked me up my brown brick steps. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or suspicious. I said, “Thanks so much. Hey, wait a minute! We didn’t go to Momma’s funeral!” How in the heck could I have forgotten that? The whole reason we went down there.
Perry said, “It’s done.”
“Whaddaya mean by “It’s done?” I asked angrily.
“After the autopsy, they cremated her. Saved us money. I have the death certificate, so we can proceed with disposing of her estate.”
No. Not again. This is just like when Tammy had Daddy turned and burned. He wanted a Christian funeral with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. And now they’d done the same to Momma.
“But she wanted to be buried with her babies on Make Believe Island.”
“We don’t even know who owns that Oh-Donna. Her gigolo is dead, so what was the point in burying her anyhow? Nobody would visit her grave.”
I smacked him in the face.
He grabbed my wrist. “Don’t you knock me down these stairs Oh-Donna.”
I had a habit of shoving him down stairs. Well, the three stairs from the living room to the foyer of our childhood home. “When did you have time to get the death certificate?”
“Sleeping beauty, do you really need to ask about time?”
He was right. I was off in another dimension. Damn it. Why can’t I be two places at once? No, just one place. In my dreams.
Tammy snatched my key and unlocked the door. I tried to block her from going in, but couldn’t. Miss Muscle and all that. Perry squeezed by too. Norma Jean followed. So that left me standing out under the portico.
I stomped in and yelled, “Get out! Get outa my house now!”
Perry said, “Oh-Donna. You are retarded. We have to stay and take care of you.”
“I am not retarded!” Oh God, are they right? Am I retarded? How could I have not realized we didn’t have a funeral for Momma? And maybe that’s why I was such a convincing handicapped person in Florida. Not one person questioned why I had a Great Dane when it was clearly against the hotel rules to have a pet over twenty pounds.
Tammy said, “I am your new roommate Oh-Donna. Since you had me evicted from my apartment, I have no other place to go.”
“I did not have you evicted. Why would I do that?”
“You stopped paying my rent.”
“I did not. I never paid your rent.”
“You were executrix of Daddy’s estate. He paid my bills.”
I remembered Momma’s check book. “Momma paid your bills.”
“Well you turned her against me and she stopped. They don’t have any grace period. The rent wasn’t received. They booted me right out. All of my things are gone. And—” she began to sniffle, “they even ripped my Manhattan skyline mural off the living room wall.”
I remembered how cool that looked, enhanced by white theatre lights installed around the perimeter of her living room ceiling.
Perry said, “Tough break, Sis. But not to worry. We’ll stay here while we rebuild Little Mount Vernon.”
I suggested, “Perry, you have a fine house in Georgetown. Why don’t you two go there?”
“I’m selling it.”
“Why?” Oh, I know why. Momma isn’t paying for it any more.
Perry said, “We’ll use the insurance money and rebuild Little Mount Vernon. We’ll move back in and it’ll be just like when we were kids. We’ll have a wonderful time.”
I didn’t remember having any particularly wonderful times with him and Tammy in that childhood home. “You’re up to something Perry Lucifer Payne...”