The True Story of the Gypsy's Wedding
Kyle Bradley Cassidy
Some stories are embellished each time they are told until they either become unbelievable or a kind of legend. Others are that way the very first time...
I hear through Ross that you got a letter from that crazy fucking bastard Cambridge. That Bedlam's poet is so completely wacko he should be set on fire. A genuine psychopathian, if you don't mind me inventing my own adjectives. There are none which exist that even begin to describe him adequately. I once saw him eat seven hits of blotter with his Captain Crunch and then strip naked and go for a walk in the park, all the while gnawing on old tin cans and fruit rinds, blabbering about "Ninja Mind-Wave Energy." Now I don't know what he told you, but I'm sure that anything he said, especially concerning me, is so wildly exaggerated so as to be almost completely unrecognizable. His mind has gone to fish-bait. So, lest I be slandered, I wanted to tell you the real story of Cambridge's wedding.
Firstly, Derrik Cambridge isn't his real name. He made that up. His real name is Derrik Duck-That-Squats.
Also, you ought to know that I was married to Dominique first. Oh yes, for three months of hell in 1988. She divorced me when I first brought that maniac psychopath over (then moved in with him, which was really weird, because he was living with me). Things got a lot better then. Our sex life improved drastically. Those two lunatics were made for one another. I wanted them to get married. Cambridge was the one who wasn't ready, he thought he could just walk into a life of weirdness, filled with sick, deranged relatives and flower- print wallpaper, with hideously colored saprophytes clinging to his neck like cellophane polyps filled with hot, stinking, rotten fish entrails. He was unaware of the dangers up ahead; badness was at every turn. A real sick, weird badness, the texture of brains that have been bashed out with an aluminum softball bat and danced upon by little feet in Docksider shoes. That's the one thing about Cambridge: he never knew when the sickos were trying to kill him.
"This whole thing's getting too weird," I said. "You look like a fucking waiter in some godawful Village bagel shop that sells sixty varieties of bottled water."
He paused at this and squinted at himself in the mirror, then peered over the tops of his wire-rimmed John Lennon specs. He said nothing. I continued:
"You know where bottled water comes from, Cambridge? Have you any idea?" He shrugged and pulled his black hair back into a speculative pony tail.
"Other people's taps," I said. "Some guy in Hoboken, or Queens, or -- darn it, Cambridge -- from Pickensville, Alabama for all we know, filling up hundreds of empty 7-Up bottles and gluing new labels on them. Probably fills up his bathtub and submerges them, and then he sells them to people who believe that since it's in a bottle, it must be better than what's coming from their tap. Out of sight, out of mind. I'll bet he doesn't even wash his hands."
"Hair up or down?" he asked.
"It's hopeless. You're doomed."
"You're an art deco waiter with a fake European accent."
"You're one of those painted dweebs from fucking Motley Crue. It's the tuxedo, guy. The tuxedo makes you ambiguous. You weren't built for tuxedos. Roger Moore looks great in a tuxedo; you look like some fucking carpet-monster-hair-bear-penguin."
"Hmmmmm..." he said noncommittally. Then, "I'm going to head on over to the church."
"Sure, you sick, crazy motherfucker, go, go to the church. It's full of Nazis and bats, and stoned Polynesian women with grotesque ovarian cysts who'll probably gouge your eyes out with sticks and fill the empty sockets with black lumps of coal. Churches are crazy, dangerous places. Have you considered taking a gun? Any sort of weapon?" I reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a dangerous- looking K-Bar Bowie knife, which I proceeded to wave menacingly in the air. It was almost fourteen inches long, painted dull black and weighing about nine pounds. Any bozo could easily use it to crack open a coconut with one blunt and inarticulate blow.
"Government issue," I said. "Cuts through a human limb like a Ginsu through a ripe tomato. Here, strap this on in case things get crazy. Anyway, you'll need it to cut the cake."
"No, really," he said, swilling the last of his rancid Saint Pauli Girl and rising with a bizarre, awkward, semi-debonair swagger, "I think I'll be okay."
"Fine by me, pal," I said, setting down my glass of whiskey and bending to strap the knife to my own leg, "I'll be there to back you up if things get out of hand. You just give a war-whoop if those cannibalistic old ladies with the flowered hats start eyeing you lasciviously. It's mean down there, old boy. Organized social gatherings -- ugh! It skeeves me to think of them. But you can count on me."
"I'll do that," he said, picking up his keys and lurching out of the room like Abe Lincoln. He stuck his head back in the door.
"Bring my luggage down with you, will you?" He stumbled out of the room in a marriage daze. I'd seen it before, on my own face even. It's not a pretty sight.
"Don't let them domesticate you!" I called after him.
Then, with the house relatively empty and quiet, there were things to be done -- crazy, evil things. I took the jar out from under my bed, where it had been sitting in a shoebox full of ice cubes all night, and went into Cambridge's room. His honeymoon luggage sat completely unguarded on the bed, waiting for me to load it into my ugly old Cadillac and drive it off to the church. Opening the nearest bag, I dumped in eleven South American Hissing Cockroaches -- they were three inches long, looked like crazy sparrows in the air, and when frightened, hissed like a pierced dirigible. They were hissing like mad now, even though I had set them in the ice to keep them sedate. Several of them reared up like gophers as I slammed the lid down. The suitcase hissed frightfully for a full two minutes before the bugs nestled down in the clothes and got calm.
"Yes, you fierce, ugly brutes, the fun's just about to begin." I carried the suitcases to the door and somehow roused the dog from her hidden lair. She clacked along behind me on the hardwood floor like a bag of castanets in need of some toenail clippers. She sniffed the cases and my hands for signs of edibles.
"He doesn't believe me, Petunia, old girl. But you just wait. When he sees the life they've got picked out for him, he'll start clawing at the walls. I bet one of them's going to offer him a job in the mail room of some widget factory." Petunia banged her tail up against the wall and stared up at me with limp, woeful dog-eyes. I walked into the kitchen and she followed, scavenging for food like some monstrous four-footed vulture. I opened the fridge, which was empty save for a pizza crust and a plate of jalapeno chili that Cambridge had made the night before while tripping on animal tranquilizers.
Petunia looked up at me balefully. She was a two hundred-pound mongrel pit bull and Russian wolfhound with a mouth full of butcher knives and a photograph of the devil behind her eyes. She drooled worse than my great aunt Winny on Thanksgiving, and wagged her tail like Godzilla whenever she was happy. To open the fridge and produce nothing for her was tantamount to suicide. I split the booty evenly. She licked up about half a pound of the chili with the first swoop of her tongue, which resembled a slab of raw beef. There followed about ten seconds of absolute silence where she looked up at me quizzically, and then her eyes rolled back into her head like ping- pong balls. She started to quiver like a plate of Jell-O on a buckboard being driven across a frozen, furrowed field. I could see her legs going limp, her ears falling like wet washcloths down past her face. Then she howled in the excruciating manner of a dozen men being horribly castrated by fire and dull knives. She leapt blindly and savagely for my throat.
"Jesus Christ!" I shouted, flying onto the stove and diving through the window which connected the living room with the kitchen. The howl turned into a strangled whine and there was much thumping from the kitchen, reminiscent of a pressure cooker filled with live, crazed, cast-iron rats.
I savagely kicked the sofa where Kim the green-haired punk rocker had been sleeping with her guitar in an MTV-induced trance for the past seventy-two hours straight.
"Jesus Christ!" I shouted again. "Wake the fuck up! It's the end of the world! The fucking Four Horsemen are here! Move!" I grabbed her arm and started to drag her to the door.
"What is it?" she shouted, "What the hell's going on?"
"Somebody gave the dog amphetamines -- Cambridge and that crazy pack of dope fiends he calls friends! She's gone start raving mad! She's chewing through the goddamn walls! We've got to get out of here!" There was some wheezing and a crashing sound from the kitchen, as though two drunken knights were settling a hundred-year-old border dispute with a pair of rusty ball peen hammers.
"We don't have much time. The flesh-eating brute is wired, and it's not going to be long before she figures out that the kitchen door's wide open and she has us backed into a corner, tearing chunks of flesh from our bodies and spitting them onto the floor!" I started throwing random objects into a shopping bag. Kim wandered into the kitchen, scratching a morning mop of olive hair, while Petunia lay on her back sputtering like a diffused bomb, her paws twitching limply in the air. Kim came back into the living room a minute later using a soup spoon to eat freeze-dried coffee from the can.
"Dog looks okay to me," she said, "Though she's had some of Derrik's jalapeno chili... Probably nothing in her mouth but seared flesh and irreparably damaged nerve endings." She sat down on the sofa, munching. I stuck my head back into the kitchen. Petunia's eyes hung open on her head like watery fried eggs-glazed over and sightless. She was making pitiful whimpering noises.
"A minute ago it was raging like a cow moose with menstrual cramps," I called through the connecting window. "Seems to have calmed down now."
I threw some water on her.
"Uh-huh," grunted Kim, chewing a mouthful of coffee grounds. The suitcases, agitated by all the noise, hissed like a basket of distempered cobras.
"What's that noise?" she asked.
"Gas leak," I replied, "let's get the hell out of here before the place explodes in a foul-smelling fireball and blows charred scraps of our ragged bones and flesh onto the hoods of cars twenty miles down the river. Help me get the dog in the car."
"Get the dog in the car?"
I shrugged, "Who knows what wild, crazy silliness will happen? We may never come back. We may be captured by rodeo clowns and forced to sell our bodies on some lonely dude ranch in Waco, Texas, until we're too darned old and too stinking ugly to continue. Communist Space Aliens may beam us up into their ship and spirit us away." I opened the bottle of Jack Daniels and took a long swallow. "Who knows."
Kim shrugged and grabbed Petunia's back legs. I took hold of the two that were left -- they were thick like a wrestler's wrists -- and together we half-dragged, half-carried her slobbering inert form to the car, heaving her into the back seat like a hung-over side of beef. Kim held the bottle of Jack Daniels while I went back into the house and got the luggage and the shopping bag full of debris which I threw into the trunk. We roared off with the top down and Kim stoically hurling large, white hunks of cauliflower at road signs and pedestrians.
After a few minutes she pulled a Running Sores cassette from somewhere -- her bra or another dimension -- and shoved it into the tape deck. As degenerate noises invaded the air, Petunia began whining once more. Small children ran in fear. Kim leaned back and put her feet up on top of the windshield, wiggling her bare toes.
"Cambridge is up to his ears in vile fluids this time," I shouted over the music.
"Umph," grunted Kim.
"This is not good -- this is way uncool. Some killing might have to be done," I said, accelerating around a blue mini-van filled with surfers.
"Umph," grunted Kim again without turning her head. She was starting to twitch on what I could tell was going to be a serious caffeine high. She must have eaten a quarter-pound of raw coffee. That's bad news, even for someone traditionally in a state of such arbitrary chemical imbalance as her.
The church was in a state of maximum consternation when we arrived. Men in black tuxedos were running about higgledy-piggledy, animated on the front lawn like epileptic penguins. Women in long white dresses and flowers were agitatedly discussing something at a fevered pitch.
"You'd better take this," I said to Kim, pulling an orange life preserver out of the shopping bag. "It looks pretty hairy up there."
She only grunted again, but her eyes were open now, wide like saucers and her feet were tapping like a double bass player doing a roll. I pulled another life preserver out and over my head, snapping and tying it in case an avalanche of raw sewage come down around us. I, for one, was going to be a floater, not a sinker.
People were running up and down the church steps like maggots over stale roadkill. Fat people, ugly people, the same crazy Philistines who are at every wedding. They come included in the price of tuxedo rental, I think. Then there were a lot of Cambridge's relatives from the reservation milling about. You could spot them easily because they all had long black hair and they were, every one, unimaginably intoxicated.
"What the hell's going on?" I asked one of the wedding clowns. She eyed my life jacket and I waited for her to say something stupid so that I could jump on her head or maybe slash one of her ears off with the K-Bar.
"Derrik's locked himself in the bathroom!" she wailed in response, casting her hands over her face in anguish. "He's got Dominique in there with him and he won't come out!"
Kim was shaking all over now, and although it was about a hundred and four degrees, her teeth were banging together faster than a fly's wings. She wasn't wearing her life preserver -- she was just holding it by the strap and dragging it behind her.
"I knew this was going to happen," I said to Kim. "He couldn't take it." We stomped off into the church.
There were about thirty people clustered around the bathroom door, most of them men -- though I recognized Dominique's mother from photographs. She was in hysterical tears. None of them were Indians, so I assumed they were all related to Dominique. Cambridge's relatives, I later discovered, were taking this opportunity to savagely devastate the unguarded sacramental wine stored in the basement.
"Derrik, please come out!" Dominique's mother choked. A tall man with graying temples and a belligerent attitude knocked sternly on the door.
"Derrik, this is serious now. Just let Dominique out and we can talk. Just let her out, Derrik. Don't make me angry."
"Don't frighten him," counseled a short, fat, Peter Lorre type. He dabbed his forehead nervously.
"I knew that Indian was bad news. Damn heathen savages," someone said.
"Everybody out of the way," I roared, coming up behind them, "I've just escaped from an institution and may kill again!" Nobody insults Cambridge's relatives. They all turned to look at us. Kim was rigid as a board, rhythmically pounding her head on the wall like a woodpecker.
"Who the hell are you?" demanded the authoritarian with the aforementioned graying temples.
"The United States Fucking Marines, you sorry aphids," I said, widening my eyes insanely and ripping the K-Bar from its sheath. There was a squawk and everybody jumped back about three feet. The guy with the temples pointed an accusing finger.
"You -- "
"Shut up, you gnarled, ugly toad of a man!" screamed Kim, yanking the flowers out of a vase and tearing them apart with her teeth. She probably had enough spare nervous energy by then to rip a horse in half.
I banged on the door as hard as I could, shouting, "Cambridge, old buddy, hang on! We're here to rescue you! We're busting you out! I've got your R2 unit, I'm here with Ben Kenobi!" I shoved the knife between my teeth and raced down the hallway, grabbing Kim's hand. With the other one, she was swinging her life jacket around her head to keep the weirdoes at bay. Through the church and down the steps we shot like living arrows, scattering old people with menacing gestures and fearsome war whoops, around the side of the building, looking for a frosted window. I could hear the rumble of pursuers behind us; the savage, carnal cry of caterers, lousy insurance salesmen, and used- car dealers whose wives are ugly and know how to play bridge.
"There," said Kim, pointing.
"Give me a leg up." She cupped her hands together and I stepped in them. She lifted me to the window.
"Derrik!" I shouted. "Open the window!"
"I tried that," he coughed back. I could see the hazy outline of his face through the glass. "It's locked, or stuck, or painted shut or something. Get me the hell out of here!"
"Well then, back off, back off," I shouted and when I heard him scramble away, with four clean blows from the K-Bar I smashed the windowpane and brushed the chunks into the bathroom. They tinkled and cracked on the tile floor. A thick cloud of marijuana smoke boiled out.
"Come on," I said, "hurry."
"Those disgusting and foul-smelling Nazis are coming," groaned Kim through gritted teeth.
Dominique came out feet first in her long, white wedding gown, a half-empty bottle of Southern Comfort in each hand. Cambridge lowered her down.
"Here," I said, taking off my life jacket and throwing it around her neck, "You'll need this; the rancid treacle's really deep out here. You'll have to wear this to keep from drowning in it."
"Here," said Cambridge from the window. "Catch." He threw down Dominique's veil, which I caught, and her bouquet, which Kim leapt wildly to avoid. Cambridge jumped down.
"You were right: I couldn't take the banality. It's a nightmare in there. I was going nuts being surrounded by all those weirdoes."
Just then the crazy barbarians rounded the corner of the church not thirty feet away -- macho-men in tuxedos trying to save Dominique from us crazy barbarians.
"There they are!" someone shouted.
"My car's out front," I said to Cambridge. "Keys're in it."
"We've got to get my Uncle, Belching Eagle," he said urgently, bobbing on his feet like a baseball player getting ready to steal third. His feet were bare and he had cut off the legs of his tux just above the knees. The jacket and the bow tie were gone.
"Well, where the hell is he?"
"Passed out in my car."
"Go then, go!" I brandished my knife at the macho-men and shouted: "Die, you shiteatingnazirepublican pig-fuckers! I'll crack your skulls open and stuff them with dry leaves! I'll feed your intestines to dogs!"
I put the veil on.
Kim gave a primal scream and charged them, swinging the life jacket. Cambridge and Dominique disappeared around the back of the church. The vermin swarmed around us. Kim bellowed, rushing the Nazi- king and clocking him in the side of the head with the life jacket. It made a sound like a wet blanket falling a dozen stories onto a cardboard box full of peanut shells.
"Die, you scum-suckers!" I shouted and ran at them. They quivered momentarily and then fled like the maniac pansy-cowards they were, splintering into a dozen different directions and fleeing for their very lives, yelping like dazed and wounded hyenas with rock salt in their haunches. I screamed incomprehensible obscenities and raced off after them with Kim five steps ahead of me screaming: "Cannibals! You'll drown in your own blood!" We routed them like Custer's army, until they had mostly shinnied up trees or squirmed beneath cars where Kim would set their ugly, protruding feet on fire with an old Zippo and a can of lighter fluid. When we reappeared around the front of the church, several of Cambridge's relatives were lying asleep on the lawn, lazily dressed in buckskin tuxedos and feathered headdresses. Carnage and mayhem were everywhere. Squirrels and turtles ran amok. The air seemed to be filled with a maelstrom of burning leaves and shrapnel. Derrik and Dominique were sitting in the back seat of the car. He had Petunia's massive head in his hands and kept trying to push her out of the car shouting "Kill! Kill!" But all she would do was lay there and drool like a diarrhetic rhinoceros with inflamed salivary glands. Several of the remaining macho-men surrounded the car and Dominique was busily heaving coffee cups and chunks of cauliflower at their pea-shaped heads while crazily waving a sharpened stick in her left hand. Kim and I jumped into the car, almost causing serious bodily harm to Derrik's Uncle, Belching Eagle, who was lying comatose across the front seat.
"Scurvied ruffians!" I bellowed, throwing the car in gear and scattering them like chickens, Kim firing off a barrage of viscous and accurate snot-hockers as we passed. Down the lane we raced and vanished over a hill. Dominique's veil flew off my head in the wind and sailed upward and upward into the air, as though it were made of helium, waving its arms like a crazy, lazy, friendly space octopus saying good-bye as it climbed home through the atmosphere. In the rearview mirror, just as we reached the top of the hill, I could see the losers shaking their fists at us.
And that, Hobby my friend, is the true story of the gypsy's wedding. About thirty miles down the road we stopped at a bar where Belching Eagle was forced back into consciousness by way of five or six gallons of ice water, and being a medicine man, he married Dominique and Cambridge in a very cosmic and perhaps even legally binding manner, then suddenly relapsed into his state of alcohol- caused catatonia. We left him there, propped up on a bar stool.
"Where to now?" asked Dominique frivolously. She kissed me hard on the mouth. Her tongue slid down my throat and into my stomach like a raw oyster. She put her arms around our waists -- Derrik's and mine -- hugging us close.
"Swaziland," I said.
"The Caribbean," said Cambridge.
"The Caribbean," I assented. "Sounds good." He went to get some clothes from the luggage in the trunk, but I stopped him, making hasty assurances that he looked just fine. Now that we were all in the same boat, I had to think of a way to get rid of half a pound of South American Hissing Cockroaches as unobtrusively as possible.
"I'm not going," said Kim. I looked at her. "I can't go anywhere, I don't want to go anywhere."
"There will be wacky times, and wild orgies in the big bed," I suggested gleefully.
"We'll beat stray tourists with rocks and sticks until they bleed from many orifices, and we'll inject small animals into our bodies..." added Derrik, climbing into the front seat without opening the door.
"Good company," offered Dominique, now sandwiched in between us. Still, Kim shook her head, twisting her lips into a wry pucker that drifted off to one side of her face. Derrik snapped a picture of her with his Nikon and we left Petunia with her.
"Go back to our house and burn it down," I said, getting in the car. "As a favor to me." Kim nodded serenely and patted Petunia on the wet snout. The dog moaned, or farted, or something, and lifted its head in a forlorn ignorance.
The three of us stayed together for about four years down there; it's hard to tell time when the water's so blue, you know? But finally the jungle rot and the perpetual hangovers from Cambridge's bad coconut rum caused me to head back to civilization.
The last I ever saw of Cambridge and Dominique was about two years later: they had bought a boat and were running bananas or mangos or something from Honduras or Nicaragua or some place and living in a tin shack with a family of Rastafarians on a little island off San Paulette. They had the one kid then, named Zongo or Jungle Boy or Tarzan or something. She'd just finished her book and he was trying to raise capital for a mosquito farm, I think.
You just ruminate on this, Hobby: Cambridge baked his brain in the sun down there. Whatever he told you about the wedding probably wasn't true. I've told it like it was.
Yours, Et Cetera,
Kyle Bradley Cassidy (email@example.com) lives in Philadelphia with his lovely wife Linda and her 28-pound cat Thunderbelly. He has been a frequent contributor to InterText. He also has a great collection of fountain pens. (Bio last updated in 1996.)
InterText stories written by Kyle Bradley Cassidy: "Circles: A Romance" (v2n6), "What Are You Looking For, China White?" (v3n2), "The Nihilist" (v3n3), "The True Story of the Gypsy's Wedding" (v3n5), "Bread Basket" (v3n5), "The Monkey Trap" (v4n5), "This is the Optative of Unfulfillable Wish" (v6n1).
InterText Copyright © 1991-1999 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 3, Number 5 of InterText. This story Copyright © 1993 Kyle Bradley Cassidy.